HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >

El Cholo in Pasadena

calabasas_trafalgar Oct 4, 2006 04:11 PM

How does the food here compare to the original downtown? I'm going tonight.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. s
    silverlakebodhisattva RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 4, 2006 09:35 PM

    It's un-wonderful.

    The Western location (not really downtown; now really mid-city/K-town) at least has nostalgia value, though that's diminishing. Pasadena's an attempt to retroactively create nostalgia. It's sort of like the relationship between pre-Katrina French Quarter New Orleans, and the part of Main StreeT USA in Disneyland which LOOKS sorta like the French Quarter...


    1 Reply
    1. re: silverlakebodhisattva
      PaulF RE: silverlakebodhisattva Oct 4, 2006 10:29 PM

      Same goes for the one in Santa Monica.

      Though you'd never know it by the crowds that form to eat there.

    2. s
      slacker RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 4, 2006 10:30 PM

      Have been to both, but haven't been to either in a long time since I don't really like the food there. As I recall, food quality is about the same. I think the margaritas at the Western one is better, one time at the pasadena one, the almost-virgin margarita was served in a big plastic cup.

      Maybe you can try Mijares in pasadena instead. Food quality is probably not much better, but at least you'll get decent margaritas and a terrifically fun atmosphere.

      11 Replies
      1. re: slacker
        calabasas_trafalgar RE: slacker Oct 4, 2006 10:36 PM

        The wife hates Mijares(and I'm kind of ambivalent)but at least she likes El Cholo...

        Any recs for Yucatan-style in the SGV?

        1. re: calabasas_trafalgar
          Dommy RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 4, 2006 10:45 PM

          El Portal supposedly has good Yucatecan dishes. Haven't had a chance to try it yet tho'...


          1. re: Dommy
            ozzygee RE: Dommy Oct 4, 2006 10:54 PM

            El Portal IS a good, solid (if somewhat predictable) Mexican restaurant with an emphasis on Yucatan dishes (which are the reason to go there). And you won't feel like you're in Disneyland.

            1. re: ozzygee
              Eat_Nopal RE: ozzygee Oct 4, 2006 11:51 PM

              El Portal is alright.... not much Yucatecan cuisine on the menu.... whatever they had was ripped out from the Tourist restaurants around the Mayan ruins... that is to say... virtually nothing that everyday Yucatecans would eat.

            2. re: Dommy
              calabasas_trafalgar RE: Dommy Oct 4, 2006 11:17 PM

              where is it?

              1. re: calabasas_trafalgar
                ozzygee RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 4, 2006 11:36 PM

                695 E Green St
                Pasadena, CA 91101
                (626) 795-8553

                The parking entrance is off Green just past El Molino (on the left). It's in a "patio mall".

                1. re: ozzygee
                  slacker RE: ozzygee Oct 4, 2006 11:41 PM

                  Too bad Merida is gone...

            3. re: calabasas_trafalgar
              slacker RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 4, 2006 11:47 PM

              Wow, that's the first I've heard of anyone hating Mijares. But to each their own. I used to go there a lot and almost always sat at the bar, and always had a slappin' good time.

              1. re: slacker
                Joe RE: slacker Oct 5, 2006 03:29 PM

                Well, here's a 2nd thumbs down for Mijares (and El Chollo). I've been (on and off) going to Mijares for the last 20 some odd years. I know the owners personally and meet friends there (central location) infrequently for drinks. I've NEVER comprehended what people find so good about their food. Every time that I give the place "another chance", I remember why it's been so long since I've been back. I can't say anything bad about their margaritas; they do make some pretty good ones and the bar scene isn't all that bad.
                Same thing goes for El Chollo. Mediocre food but good margaritas. Not a big fan of either. The only major difference is the ambiance and the prices; El Chollo being the more expensive one.

                1. re: Joe
                  slacker RE: Joe Oct 5, 2006 06:47 PM

                  Right, I never said the food at Mijares is anything to recommend. Just that I really enjoy the place, and the bar is really great, people are friendly and it's really comfortable in a Cheers kind of way.

              2. re: calabasas_trafalgar
                Eat_Nopal RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 4, 2006 11:53 PM

                BTW.... SGV has one of the best Mexican restaurants in the country... Babita... their seasonal menu sometimes includes Yucatecan specialities... I once had Venado en Zic (Deer marinated in Achiote)

            4. Alimentary My Dear Watson RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 4, 2006 11:38 PM

              The food at the Pasadena outpost is good, the same as the Western Ave. one: reliable, gringo-ized food. If you like what you get at the Western Ave. one (as I do) you'll be happy.

              BTW, I've eaten at least half a dozen times at the Pas. location and have never been served anything in a plastic cup, and the drinks have always been strong. (Not gainsaying the other poster, but if it it happened to me I would have sent it back immediately.)

              As to the architecture, they weren't building Mission adobes in the 1930's either, so the Pas. location is no phonier than the Koreatown one.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Alimentary My Dear Watson
                slacker RE: Alimentary My Dear Watson Oct 4, 2006 11:45 PM

                They were serving everyone margaritas in big plastic cups that night. Maybe my batch got really watered down, or that's how they were making it all that night.

                1. re: Alimentary My Dear Watson
                  Eat_Nopal RE: Alimentary My Dear Watson Oct 4, 2006 11:49 PM

                  Agreed.... food is fairly tasty & not too cheesy / cheapened relative to other Tex Mex restaurants of its type.

                  The Tequila List is good....but be WARNED! Do not naively ask for the most expensive tequila in the house without looking at the menu (I witnessed a pathetic Suit pull this stunt off at the bar a few months ago.... then his eyes were bulging when he saw the bill at $100 per Shot * 6 or so people in his party * a few rounds.... my colleague & I were laughing in anticipation the whole time).

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal
                    ilikefood RE: Eat_Nopal Oct 5, 2006 02:36 AM

                    Anybody who orders "the most expensive" anything w/o knowing the price deserves whatever bill they get. They're showing off while showing how naive and uneducated they are about bars, restaurants & Tequila- that good stuff can get Really expensive.

                2. Alimentary My Dear Watson RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 5, 2006 01:30 AM


                  I almost was going to warn the OP to ignore any upsell attempt on the margaritas. They really push you to let them make a custom margarita at the table for you, but it's inferior to the house marg and over 2x the price!

                  Don't ask me how I know. :-(

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Alimentary My Dear Watson
                    ilikefood RE: Alimentary My Dear Watson Oct 5, 2006 02:13 AM

                    If true, that "custom Margarita" scam is disgraceful. I've eaten at El Cholo Pasadena, Santa Monica & the original. Liked the original the best. As for other 2- 1 is same as the other. The new ones aren't directly affiliated w/ the original- my understanding is-franchised w/ family connection. I gotta agree w/ prev poster about the Disneyland style adaptation of the original. But the design and atmosphere is nicer than your avg Mex eatery (tho avg Mex eatery can have better food). Food is good but not distinctive or exceptional.
                    Def consider: La Huasteca, 45 S Fair Oaks, I've not eaten there but do Chowhound search: "La Huasteca Pasadena"

                    1. re: Alimentary My Dear Watson
                      calabasas_trafalgar RE: Alimentary My Dear Watson Oct 6, 2006 10:17 PM

                      Thanks, but neither the wife or I drink. The food was almost identical to the one on Western, not bad, not the greatest. I wo't fall for their valet parking scam again, though. Plenty of spots on the street.

                      Anyone know of anything similar to the fabulous La Paz in the SGV?

                    2. yinyangdi RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 5, 2006 01:54 AM

                      Mijares = yucky!
                      El Cholo = yuckier! (and i'm not just singling out Pasadena location)

                      1. Eat_Nopal RE: calabasas_trafalgar Oct 5, 2006 04:31 PM

                        Here is an idea for Pasadena.... try Dona Rosa, it is somehow related to the El Cholo people but quite a different format & I think better food (specially for the price).

                        What is Dona Rosa?

                        Its a combination Taqueria & Bakery, in a new pristine, fairly stylish (in a Chipotle chain type of way) building with plenty of parking and good bathrooms.

                        What do they serve?

                        In the bakery realm... tortillas made on the premises (quasi handmand using a modified Pasta machine), Mexican Pastries including Pan Dulce & Tres Leches Cakes.

                        In the food realm.... Tacos, Tortas & other Antojitos, some very good Soups & Stews, basic entrees like Carne Asada & fruit salads.

                        They also have Beer, Tequila, Margaritas, Hot Chocolate, Coffee & Aguas Frescas.

                        Overall a pretty decent place. As for me.... I usually have the Caldo de Res (Beef & Vegetable Stew), a Fruit Salad, a Vanilla Custard Empanada & Coffee (about $12 with Tax & Tip)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Eat_Nopal
                          ozzygee RE: Eat_Nopal Oct 5, 2006 04:38 PM

                          It's also a casual/counter service type place. The food is much better than at El Cholo. They bake their own bread and pan dulces (which are pretty good if not the best).

                          If the two restaurants were people, you would think Dona Rosa was adopted.

                        Show Hidden Posts