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Oct 4, 2006 04:11 PM

El Cholo in Pasadena

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

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  1. 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

      Same goes for the one in Santa Monica.

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

    2. 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

        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

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


          1. re: Dommy

            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

              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.

              1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                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".

            2. re: calabasas_trafalgar

              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

                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

                  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

                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)

            3. 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

                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

                  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

                    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. Hilarious!

                  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

                    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

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