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Going to Old Town Pasadena

I am going to Old Town this weekend. I have not been there in a few months and would like to try something different than the regular places on Colorado. We will be parking behind the theater off of Union so we need something walking distance from there. It's my friends 31st and brothers 21st. No hip places or loud. Just something different and cozy.

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  1. Kuala Lumpur on Green St between Fair Oaks and DeLacey if you want something different.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bon Vivant

      Thank for the reply.
      What kind of food do they have there?

    2. Malaysian food. The cooking at Kuala Lumpur has a lot more finesse than the cooking at Little Malaysia. While there are good restaurants in Old Town, Kuala Lumpur is a foodie restaurant and has been a Jonathan Gold favorite for almost 20 years (it's not a dive though).

      1. If you get to Luna Negra (across from Kuala Lumpur) before the flamenco show, it can be cozy and not loud. (The tapas are not as good as Bar Celona on Colorado, but Bar Celona may be too hip for your criteria.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: ozzygee

          Great, I would not mind staying for the flamenco show either. Do they serve mix drinks? What kind of food can I expect there?

          1. re: silvana

            La Luna Negra is spanish food, they serve hot tapas and cold tapas. They have house made sangria and I believe a pretty full bar, not sure since I always get their sangria.

        2. the tapas at bar celona are not that good.

          2 Replies
          1. re: revets2

            I don't disagree. I'm not basing my original opinion on tapas in general (having never been to Spain). I just have had better meals at Bar Celona vis a vis Luna Negra.

            1. re: ozzygee

              true. my point is i don't think the food is stellar at either restaurant, IMHO.

              still trying to think of a restaurant that fits the criteria in old town. tre venezia is the best in the immediate vicinity and it's pricey, but it's a good birthday spot.

              yujean kang on raymond is also good.

          2. La Huasteca for gourmet style Mexican food. Very good and reasonable for the quality and Mexican dishes you won't find elsewhere.

            1. La Luna Negra at least has more variety of tapas than Bar Celona. Don't care for Bar celona tapas.
              For exponentially better food, Tre Venezie, also on Green street, west of la luna negra. Very quiet, cozy, fabulous northern Italian food. Green st. is a little bit longer walking distance than the ones I list below.

              When you walk back up to your car, stop at Tutti Gelati for excellent gelato, right next to the Laemmle. Above Tutti Gelati is Cafe Santorini (mediterranean), they have a nice rooftop patio.

              Or try Xiomara on North Raymond (Latin), or its cafe version, Cafe Atlantic (walk through Xiomara to get to it).

              Not really sure what you mean by different, but these are all nice, relatively quiet places with some good food.

              For something that probably definitely is in the "different" category, try Tibet Nepal House on Holly Street.

              1. i like gyu-kaku on green near luna negra. its japanese bbq that you cook at the table. kind of like korean bbq, but smaller pieces and more subtle flavoring. i've not been to the one on green in old town pasadena, but i used to frequent one on pico in west la fairly often. might not fit your definition of cozy, and the west la branch has a little bit of a hip vibe, but the food is good and its a fun place.

                3 Replies
                1. re: go_bears

                  We've been to the Gyu-Kaku in Old Town and enjoyed the food and service very much...but it must be said that we were there as a guest of one of their staff who was celebrating getting her degree, and (a) her co-workers really like her, so I suspect we were all getting some measure of special treatment, and (b) we weren't paying for anything. Still, what I could see of other tables indicated that they were all well-served and happy with their food. I was glad that we were getting comped, though - any but the most ordinary items, I thought, were priced a good bit higher than I'd feel comfortable paying.

                  As for our recommendations in the area, Kuala Lumpur is the only place I really tend to want to revisit. Very comfortable, delightful food, good prices.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    true. prices are probably a bit higher that you might expect, but they do use very good quality meats and also have alot of unique menu items. it'll probably be about $20 to $25 per person for food only.

                    also, they have happy hours something like before 6:30 and after 9:30 pm on weekdays where they have a specific menu items for half price and 99 cent kirin draft beers. not a bad deal.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      i've been to gyu-kaku twice and loved it ! it might be pricey for the volume of the meat but i think it's high quality and it was neat to cook the food on your own - i just wonder when you get a big group and alcohol does that = someone torching a finger, hand, arm, eyebroews , etc ? i've been wanting to try la luna since i walked by it to get to gyu, but haven't yet - it's a nice looking place.

                  2. Crepe Vine Bistro. It's very cozy, and offers delicious crepes, appetizers, and entrees. It was recently rated high in Zagat.

                    1. Crepe Vine wasn't so good when i visited, but the kitchen was burnt out so they only had a limited menu.

                      Chado Tea Rooms are nice for a cuppa, tho the food plain.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: johnnypd

                        my experiences at crepe vine were similar. the crepes were tough and everything else was a bit oversalted and not very fine. the fondue expensive and nothing special, served with only stale bread.

                        if one goes, i'd caution on the outside tables. when the trash in the alley is ripe, it's rough on the olfactories.

                        it does seem to be popular, though.

                      2. Try Shaab on Raymond at Union for Shabu Shabu. Their sushi is not bad either.

                        1. Thank you all for your replies, I am leaning on Luna Negra or Tre Venezie. Afterwards I would like to go to Cafe Santorini, what is the address?

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: silvana

                            Just be forewarned. Tre Venezie is expensive, but good. La Luna Negra is, um...less expensive, and food decent - more colorful atmosphere. They are quite different, imo.

                            1. re: chica

                              Tre Venezie is not that expensive, that's a myth perpetuated on this board. Depending on what you order, you can pay about the same at other lesser restaurants.

                              1. re: slacker

                                The food is not expensive for what it is: fine dining. Just set your expectation levels, and wallet, to that caliber.

                                I think what adds up is the wine costs and their corkage fees. ($18, 2 bottle minimum.)

                                1. re: slacker

                                  Dinner appetizers, $8.50 to $14.50; first courses, $14 to $23; main courses, $14 to $35; desserts, $7.50 to $12.

                                  you make the call.

                                  i'd be interested in how and what you order to keep your bill manageable.

                                  we like it, but never feel like it's value for the $$$ compared to other restaurants. we still punish ourselves in our forgetfulness and go. the things we tend to like to order seem to be in the upper range. think the food is good here.

                                  1. re: slacker

                                    It may not be that expensive to some, but my last two visits - neither recent - totalled more than $175 for two with modest wines. I am reluctant to return because of the perceived burn. I am sure that if you order only a main course and a glass of wine it would be more tolerable.

                              2. tre venezie is definitely the best choice for food quality. if you go there or luna negra, park instead at the de lacey lot between colorado and green.

                                are you going to cafe santorini for drinks afterward or are you eating twice? they don't usually serve just drinks on the patio, but if they're not busy, perhaps they'll accomodate. it's getting a little chilly this time of year for the roof. bring a jacket and sit under a heat lamp.
                                64 West Union Street
                                Pasadena, CA 91103
                                626 564-4200
                                walk past sushi roku towards union street, make the first left at the next alley-way and entrance is at the bottom right.

                                skip tutti gelati. run by the laemmle down the street in the playhouse district (2 min. away) and grab authentic gelato at BULGARINI next to vroman's. you can grab gelato and sometimes they have music in the courtyard on sat. evenings. or you can grab a coffee at the coffee house at vroman's and sit with your gelato. it's the real deal and shouldn't be missed with a visit to pasadena. if you go to vroman's, there's ample parking in the back.


                                another fun dessert idea without moving the car might be going up to (i can't believe i'm about to say this) the melting pot on colorado across delacey from tiffany, go to the bar, and order chocolate fondue and an after dinner drink. it's a pretty spectacular presentation, a little too sweet, but fun and communal nonetheless if you must stay in old town.

                                or go to leonidas for a rich cup of hot chocolate if it's a chilly evening.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: revets2

                                  We go to the Melting Pot, sit at the bar, and order chocolate fondue, too! Hehe. That way, we avoid going deeper inside the restaurant and smelling like the food coming out, but still have a fun dessert experience.

                                  I really like the tableside-flambeed chocolate with caramel and nuts - but I have them replace it with dark chocolate.

                                  1. re: revets2

                                    agree on bulgarini gelato at the laemmle movie theater. its worth the short drive from old town. the gelato is as good or better than any of the gelato i had on my honeymoon in italy last year.

                                    you don't need a movie ticket to buy gelato, just let the movie ticket taker know you are just buying gelato. he sells from a cart that is just to the left of the entrance doors. the courtyard between vroman's and the movie theater is a pleasant place to sit and enjoy.

                                  2. I think One Colorado Plaza is both the address and the name of the plaza it is located in. It is in the building across from the theater you referred to earlier (above the gelato shop).

                                    1. Depending on what kind of shoes you'll be wearing, and how much running around all over pasadena you want to do:

                                      Of the places named above, Cafe Santorini is the closest, Tutti Gelatti is in the same building, which is next to the Lammaele box office. You will be in the One Colorado square, where there is a Gordon Biersch, Johnny Rockets, Il Fornaio, Sushi Roku. On weekend nights there is live music and sometimes movies shown outdoors (not sure of schedules, you can google it--"one colorado"), there is a very nice area with table/chairs for public seating right in the middle of the square.

                                      La Luna Negra, Trattoria Tre Venezie, and Kuala Lumpur are about 2 blks south and about 2 or 3 blks west of where you're parking. Personally, I would not go to Kuala Lumpur for a birthday dinner. For me, it's more of a place I might go to on a random weekday.

                                      And Vroman's as mentioned above, you will have to get in your car and drive to.

                                      1. La Luna Negra, Trattoria Tre Venezie
                                        Do these placed take rsvp? Do they have valet, how much usually?

                                        1. you must make reservations at tre venezie. they do have valet. don't know how much as we usually self-park south where there are no meters or i park in the lot on delacey.

                                          1. We ended up going to Luna Negra on Friday. They gave us a table right in front of the stage. They had a live band playing some classic Spanish love songs (it was nice). My brother decided to order the sangria, but since I am not a wine fan, I ordered a diet coke... for appetizers we had the calamari (which was very tasty) and some empanadas, I don’t remember what they had inside them, but they were very different from the Argentineans ones I am used to, but they were very good also. For entree my brother and I shared the Paella con Pollo (chicken). It was good!!!! They have this green sauce on it with some veggies. My mouth is watering again. I don’t remember what my friends ordered for their entrée. We did get dessert, the champagne with strawberries and the chocolate covered strawberries as well. WOW
                                            Everything was good, the atmosphere as well. If you don’t like to feel crowded then you should not go here that is for sure. The tables are very close to each other, but unless you stink I don’t care. The only downer to the evening was a lady vomiting on herself outside of the restaurant when we were waiting for our car!!! After enjoying such a wonderful time there and still savoring our food, having to go outside and smell and hear that... no words can describe it...

                                            1. Glad you enjoyed La Luna! that used to be my go-to place in old town.
                                              Too bad about that hurling--Yuck!!

                                              For future reference, there are two very close by parking structures with 2-hour free parking, one on Green betw Raymond and Fair Oaks (just east of La Luna), and one on DeLacey next to Twin Palms (just north of La Luna).