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Recommendations for Weekend in LA/Pasadena?


I live in the SF bay area and usually post there. I'm heading down to SoCal to see some friends. I will be staying with a friend in Pasadena (1 block from Caltech). I was hoping to receive some good restaurant recommendations in the Pasadena and West LA area (though K-town/Hollywood/ south La Brea is also good). I'm looking for any of the following types of places:

1)Good, authentic sushi (Toro,aji,uni, scallops, mirugai, i.e really fresh fish and unique fish as well), $60/person should be the max.
2)Californian/Seafood ($60/person)
3)Deli, i.e esp. pastrami sandwiches
4)Mexican food, especially Al PAstor/carnitas/goat/fish tacos
5)Brunch/late breakfast (Pancakes/waffles/eggs bendict..etc)
6)Korean BBQ
7)trendy places to go Bar hopping...

Thanks for your help in advance. I really appreciate any input you can offer.

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  1. 1) Z's sushi in Alhambra (very close to South Pasadena). Sit at the sushi bar if possible.

    2) Parkway Grill in Pasadena has great seafood and bistro fare. But with wine, it will run over $50 per person. I hear Magnolia on Sunset in Hollywood is good and not too pricey. Hungry Cat in Hollywood is known for their seafood, also very trendy - might get out of there for just under $50 a pop.

    3) One place only: LANGER'S in downtown LA.

    4) Loteria taco stand in the Farmer's Market at the Grove. Or, Yucca's on Vermont in Los Feliz (a tiny stand - get it to go).

    5) Coffee Table in Eagle Rock, Marston's in Pasadena, Campanile on La Brea in Los Angeles (amazing sour dough pancakes), BLD on Beverly in Los Angeles.

    6) Tons of places in K-town - most of them good. Not sure about specifics, tho.

    7) 4100 bar in Silverlake, Downtown Standard Hotel rooftop bar (but it'll cost you $20 per person and the doorman is picky), Bodega Wine bar in Paseo Colorado in Pasadena, Cinespace in Hollywood...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Clare K

      if you go to the Standard on Tuesdays there is no cover

    2. 1. Sushi Ike in Hollywood (6051 Hollywood Blvd # 105, (323) 856-9972)

      2. Derek's Bistro (http://dereks.com/


      3. I'm not a pastrami fan, but if you are then Langer's would probably be the place to go (http://langersdeli.com/


      4. Babita (1823 South San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel, (626) 288-7265)

      5. Mike and Anne's (http://mikeandannes.com/


      6. Soot Bull Jeep (3136 Wes 8th St, Los Angeles, (866) 564-0014)

      7. ?

      Enjoy your stay.

      1. If you're staying 1 block from Cal Tech, you might be staying next door to me!

        1) In the Pasadena area, Z Sushi is definitely the place to go. It's not the best in the county, just the best in the area. Studio City (San Fernando Valley) probably offers the most "best" sushi places. Do a search on this board for Nozawa. It's not for everyone, but many consider it about the best in town that won't cost $300/person. A reasonable Studio City alternative (and my favorite) is Tama Sushi. Again, there are many other posts on this board about Tama. Can't recommend anything in WLA, since I'm hardly there any more, but I've often read positive things about a place called Mori Sushi. Again, lots of comments on this board.

        2) There aren't any great seafood places in Pasadena. For California cuisine, here's another vote for either Parkway Grill or Derek's (both in Pasadena).

        A new place is set to open in Pasadena, supposedly this Thursday, which has a lot of potential. The chef, Sara Levine, really knows her stuff.


        3) Langer's. NOTE: Langer's is only open until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and is closed on Sunday. Right off the MacArthur Park stop on the Red Line, near downtown.

        4) Lately, I've gotten hooked on La Estrella, in Pasadena - the one on the NE corner of Foothill & Altadena. Another poster mentioned Babita in San Gabriel - fantastic upscale Mexican regional cuisine, but definitely NOT a taco spot. The total opposite end of the spectrum. But excellent. It can be costly, if you order expensive wine. Main courses are in the $18-$25 range, IIRC.

        5) In Pasadena, Greet Street restaurant is a favorite late breakfast/brunch spot. In San Marino, it's Julienne Bisto.
        Julienne is closed on Sunday. Another good brunch spot in South Pasadena is Firefly Bistro. http://www.eatatfirefly.com/
        The food can be a bit hit-or-miss, but in my experience, the lunch/brunch menu is more successful than their dinner. Great outdoors (tented) patio. Perfect spot for brunch on a day that isn't freezing cold. Just steps from the Mission St. stop on the Gold Line.

        6) Soot Bull Jeep, in Koreatown. Great bbq, done over real charcoal. NOTE: don't wear nice clothes. You'll leave smelling like BBQ, guaranteed. The place is VERY smoky. It's a lot of fun, and the food's great, but you WILL smell like your dinner afterwards.

        7) I'm not one to do much barhopping, and certainly not at trendy places, but my favorite watering hole is Ye Rustic Inn in Los Feliz. It's a popular joint, but not trendy. It's basically a neighborhood dive bar. Very friendly and unpretentious, but that's not to say that "trendy" people don't go there. Excellent wings, by the way.

        Enjoy your stay!

        1. Hide Sushi for affordable, high quality sushi in West LA. You might also try Sushi Gen, which is downtown.

          If you're interested in good mexican food, then I would suggest Tacos Baja Ensenada in East LA, the taco truck in Venice on Lincoln/Rose, and any number of taco trucks that roam Whittier Blvd in East LA.

          Langers for pastrami -- you've got no choice in the matter.

          For Korean, I strongly recommend Sa Rit Gol. It's as authentic as I've seen in K-Town. The panchan are outstanding. I've been raving about it on chowhound for weeks and have yet to hear someone disagree. If you're looking for something a bit more anglicized, then you might try Chosun Golbe, which is very good, but it's no Sa Rit Gol.

          For good breakfast, there are a ton of options, all dependign where you are. In Pasadena, people like Marston's, which is pretty good. In downtown LA, there is The Original Pantry, which I love because it is a throwback and it is a part of LA history. I would recommend that.

          1 Reply
          1. re: glutton

            For breakfast, just walk to Pie & Burger on California (just before Lake). They open at 7am on weekends.

          2. I'm a SF transplant myself, now living in Pasadena. Welcome!

            1. A number of people have mentioned, but Z Sushi is the best sushi in this area and definitely one of the better sushi restaurants in LA (given the price). Sit at the sushi bar towards the left. That is where the head chef works. His name is Toshi & is very nice. The only thing to be aware of at Z is that Toshi tends to take his time so if you're impatient, don't go there.

            2. Haven't been to enough to say but have tried Parkway Grill and Little Door. Decent but nothing like what's available in the Bay Area.

            3. The Hat. Old school, artery clogging, nightmare causing, pastrami sandwiches.

            4. Tonny's (Goat, Chili Verde, Pozole), Tacos Baja Ensenada (Fish Tacos), and Taco Truck (Don't know the name) on Fair Oaks (at the Nisikawa Auto Service).

            5. Pie n' Burger (Good ole American diner experience), Marston's, Juliennes, and Crepe Vine.

            6. Not a big bar hopper but Magnolia looks decent.


            1 Reply
            1. re: phooi

              Magnolia on Lake is quite nice-- you step inside and forget that you're in the middle of the sleepier part of Pasadena. And the all-day happy hour on Mondays is AWESOME. all the food is half price and i love their cheeseburger, their delicate crispy onion rings, and their fries trio (two types of potatoes and yams with 3 different dips). Salads are a little heavy on the dressing but good.

            2. Hello,

              1. Sushi - Futami in Monrovia, in the Pavilion's shopping center on the corner of Myrtle and Foothill.

              3. Deli - Billy's in Glendale.

              4. Fish Tacos - Senor Fish, one location on Mission St. in South Pasadena, another location on Mountain Ave. in Duarte next to the Walmart.

              5. Breakfasts/Diner - LeRoy's on Huntington Drive in Monrovia.


              1. California/seafood and also brunch: The Raymond in South Pasadena: http://www.theraymond.com/index.html

                Breakfast/brunch: Marston's in pasadena: http://www.marstonsrestaurant.com/

                I don't exactly do a lot of bar hopping, but here are a couple of trendy/scene bars:

                Geisha House in Hollywood, sceney and pretty hot: http://www.geishahousehollywood.com/

                The Standard in Downtown, rooftop bar, also has great cabanas and infinity pool: http://www.standardhotel.com/

                SkyBar at The Mondrian hotel in West Hollywood was always the place to go, think it still is: http://www.mondrianhotel.com/mondrian...

                Bar hopping in Pasadena:
                Villa Sorrisso (probably the hottest bar in pasadena): http://www.sorrisopasadena.com/

                Bar Celona, the bar side, sometimes on weekends a bouncer is posted outside and there's a short line to get in: http://www.barcelonapasadena.com/

                The Yardhouse in the Paseo (shopping mall), this is a chain, but it's got a happening bar.

                1. This doesn't answer any of your specific cuisine requests, but you might want to dessert at some point, even though you didn't mention it! There is a yummy frozen yogurt place called "21 Choices." It's the same idea as a Cold Stone Creamery, if you're familiar with that. They have a few delicious flavors of soft-serve frozen yogurt and an endless array of "mix-ins" for you to choose from that they will blend in. I'm not sure of their address, but they're right along the main street in Pasadena (Colorado Boulevard?) with all of the shops and restaurants.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: ehermann03

                    It's on the corner of Delacey and Colorado, across from Crate & Barrel.

                    1. re: ehermann03

                      i ALWAYS go for the premixed express options... they change every day and are DELICIOUS. check out the daily flavors at 21choices.com/pasadena.html And the best part is, if you're doing express (i.e. NO added mix ins) you can go straight to the front of the line (which is especially nice because the line usually snakes out the door!)

                    2. Sushi - either Z-Sushi or Futami
                      Seafood - there's ot much good aroud here, but McGrath's in Arcadia is ok. Don't let anybody tell you Cameron's - it's truly miserable
                      Pastrami - The Hat
                      Mexican - Rudy's in old town Monrovia
                      Korean - Young Dong Garden in Arcadia

                      1. 1. Sushi Sasabune on Wilshire and Centinela. Sushi Gen in Little Tokyo. Hide for a cheaper (cash only) option. Echigo for an in between.
                        2. Lucques or Table 8
                        3. Langer's
                        4. I defer to the other posters on this one
                        5. Toast for the scene, Doughboys or Urth Caffe for better food (all in the W. Hollywood area). Marston's in Pasadena has decent brunch, but portions are excessively huge. Get the french toast. I also really like M Cafe de Chaya, health food place. BLD does a decent brunch.
                        6. Tons of places in Ktown - Soot bull jeep or Chosun Galbee are the most popular.
                        7. lots of good bars near melrose, such as El Guapo/Bungalow club. Also in the Fairfax/WeHo area such as El Carmen, the Dime.

                        1. Re bar hopping, avoid Cinespace unless you want to get inundated with second-hand smoke.

                          Avalon, Ivar, Hollywood and Highland, The Standard, Saddle Ranch Chop House and nearby Miyagi's.

                          1. 1)Sushi: Z sushi or Sushi Gen in Koreatown (2nd and Central)
                            2)Californian/Seafood: Holly Street Bar and Grille is cute, on Holly Street. maybe a little bit below your price range. but their beautiful brick patio outdoors is SO LOVELY on a warm night like we've been having
                            3)Deli: I like Vince's deli across the street from Huntington Hospital on California Blvd... don't know if they have pastrami
                            4)Mexican food: La Serenata de Garibaldi in Boyle Heights
                            5)Brunch/late breakfast: Marston's on Walnut or Green Street Cafe
                            6)Korean BBQ: Chosun Galbi in K-town
                            7)trendy places to go Bar hopping...: Go to The Well (Hollywood), Lola's Martini Bar (Hollywood), heard Social Hollywood is HOT*

                            *N.B. to the SF-ite: there is no "bar hopping" per se in L.A... too spread out. Make a night out of one place because otherwise you'll have to drive and pay for parking over and over again....

                            1. Agreed that bar-hopping is pretty hard in LA, but there are several places where it can be done.

                              WeHo around Santa Monica & Robertson have several close set bars -- (Abbey for Cocktails, Voodoo Room for tiki/tropical drinks, Bin8945 for wines) - the Abbot Kinney area (though a bit out West from Pasadena / downtown LA) also has a nice bunch of watering holes.

                              Hollywood & Highland area also have some pretty happening bar/lounges too (L'Scorpion, Black Steel's or Geisha House's bar)

                              Also can be done in Pasadena too, but it has to be more planned out and less spontaneous, the decent bars are all a bit aways from each other.


                              1. alrighty....

                                #1-> sushi-> sushi gen-downtown
                                z sushi-so pas/ alhambra
                                matsuri-pasadena on green
                                yoshida- san marino
                                #2->cali/sea-> parkway grill-510 s arroyo parkway

                                #3->deli-> i extremely 2nd Billy's in glendale. its i think on orange, otherwise Solley's off of van nuys

                                #4->mexican- El Atacor #11-2622 N. Fig.

                                #5-> brunch- marstons
                                firefly bistro
                                the ritz carlton
                                twin palms
                                mike and anne's
                                #7->bar hopping in pasadena- magnolia's on lake
                                bodega (magnolias sis, wine and beer only) in the paseo colorado
                                mi piace (usu only on weekends)
                                my favorite, the ritz carlton

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: caitybirdie

                                  How much is parking at the Ritz? Valet only?

                                  1. re: mc michael

                                    I usually valet, as the surrounding streets are residential. Validation ends up with around $10. Pricey, but worth the hassle.

                                    1. re: chica

                                      i usually go to the bar, and you ask them to validate ur parking, and valet ends up being like $5-$7 i think

                                2. for tacos (esp. late night after your bar hopping) you should hit the el pique taco truck on york in highland park. its not far from pasadena, on york inbetween ave 56 and 57, in the car wash parking lot.

                                  FANTASTIC tacos. make sure to get the asada, cabeza and lengua. the al pastor is good too.

                                  don't let your friend scare you off highland park. this is a great truck.

                                  down the street a bit is la huarache azteca, a great sope and huarache place that has outstanding daily specials. this place is good and cheap.

                                  i also second la serenata de garibaldi.

                                  for breakfast, you could go for great tamales and chiliquiles at lilliana's in east LA on cesar chavez east of the 710 freeway.

                                  i would head to little tokyo for sushi - its only 10 minutes or so from pasadena and the quality is so much better. try izayoi, an excellent izakaya place with good sushi. they are expecially good with the silver skin fish.

                                  for korean, try chosun galbi or sat ri gol, both on olympic in k-town.

                                  have fun!

                                  1. Pita! Pita! on Lake and Colorado. Their food is very tasty... get the pita chips and humous.