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Early dinner chowspot by CalTech in Pasadena

We're looking for something scrumptious to have before a lecture, on a weeknight, should not break the bank. Ethnic preferred.

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  1. Caribbean Bistro
    526 S Lake Ave
    Pasadena, CA 91101
    (626) 795-0675

    This pan-caribbean restaurant has been through many name changes, but the food remains consistently good. The chef is from Venezuela but he serves a variety of caribbean dishes. And it's right around the corner from Cal Tech.

    If you want something dirt cheap, go to Zankou.
    Zankou Chicken
    1296 E Colorado Blvd
    Pasadena, CA 91106
    (626) 405-1502
    Only a one minute drive away.

      1. It's not ethnic, but Pie 'N' Burger is a throwback place. It always seems to generate a bit of controversy on this board, but if you like a decent hamburger with all the fixins', and other old-fashioned diner favorites like shakes, pies, etc., then this is the place for you.

        1. First off, as an alum, I feel the need to point out that it's one word: Caltech.

          And in order to avoid being labeled entirely as a grammar Nazi, let me point out that Saladang is on Arroyo, a few minutes away from campus. For an Americanized menu, go to the original; for something a bit more esoteric go to the sister restaurant next door in Saladang Song.

          11 Replies
          1. re: SauceSupreme

            As an alum, would you mind commenting on the various cafeterias at Caltech? E.g., the Citrus Bistro or Chandler.

            Worth going?

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I wouldn't go to Caltech for the culinary experience.

              The Ath has really gone downhill in recent years (both upstairs and downstairs). There is a prime rib/seafood buffet on Wednesday nights which is not bad, but possibly not worth the money.

              The food at the Citrus Bistro is OK, but I think one of its main charms is the environment. Less stuffy than the Ath, and less hectic and crowded than Chandler. Best place to go for a pleasant lunch on campus.

              The pizza at Chandler is a good value, and isn't bad. The mongolian BBQ is OK too.

              The food at the Broad Cafe is pretty limited. Painini's are the way to go.

              A lot of people eat at Ernie's Taco Truck, which is on campus in the mornings, and the afternoon. It's typically cheaper than on-campus options.

              1. re: bfez

                wow - though you don't recommend them, I never realized there were so many food stops on the Caltech campus.

                1. re: chica

                  do you need to be a student to be on campus, and go to the dining options ???

                  1. re: kevin

                    No - except the Ath - you need to be a member or know a member.

                  2. re: chica

                    Yeah - for a small campus - there are some options.

                    I forgot about the Red Door Cafe too, near Chandler. They have a few items, but they're really a coffeehouse. And the convenience store next to Chandler has typical convenience store food.

                    And also the undergrad Student Coffeehouse, which used to be open pretty late and had a pretty simple menu (burgers, fries, etc.) Haven't been there in a while, and don't know what's happened to it since the renovation of the South Houses. It was really for the undergrads though.

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  Citrus was only the planning stages during my tenure there, and so Chef Andre hadn't quite put his thumbprint on the on-campus cuisine. Broad hadn't even been built yet.

                  For the longest time, the best food near campus came from the sandwiches at Eddie's Market.

                3. re: SauceSupreme

                  Saladang is at 363 S Fair Oaks. A good choice for "Americanized" Thai (mainly less spicy than authentic Thai & tweaked in other ways for American tastes) very good, nice presentations. A little higher priced but still inexpensive & a little more upgraded atmosphere than usual Thai restaurants (but it's crowded- make reservations- & kind of loud). I haven't eaten at Saladang Song but I know it's more expensive.
                  As Sauce Supreme mentioned: "it's few minutes from campus"- very easy quick drive down California.

                  sassille-Since there are so many ethnic restaurants w/i 10 minutes of Caltech, maybe you could be more specific about type of ethnic and price range.

                  1. re: SauceSupreme

                    saladang and saladang song are both on fair oaks, just south of delmar on the west wide of the street.

                    1. re: SauceSupreme

                      Sorry for the misdirection; as all the repliers have pointed out, I have my streets mixed up.

                      Didn't get my degree in geography, apparently :D

                      1. re: SauceSupreme

                        Agree, Song is better but it's actually on Fair Oaks. Order the Shrimp crackers--they're awesome. Go very well with beer for a starter.

                      2. Thanks for asking about budget, something under $30 would be nice. No particular ethnic preference. We like all kinds of food, specially spicy and delicious.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sassille

                          What about Indian food. Go on Lake street, turn east on Cordova, and left onto Shopper's Lane -- next to Greenstreet is Radhika's Indian restaurant. That's the closest 'ethnic' to Caltech I can think of...unless Madres, which is Cuban, more expensive, and imo, not very chowworthy.

                        2. South Pasadena is pretty close to Cal Tech. Good eats there are Bistro K (French, no corkage), Briganti (Italian), Bistro de la Gare (French country), and Shiros (Japanese Fusion).

                          1. the halal kabob place across the street from PCC isn't bad.

                            1. By ethnic, I'm assuming you mean non-European. (Because otherwise, Tarantino's is one of my favorite Italian joints; cash only).

                              One resource you should consider is looking at the Little T, which is the Caltech handbook given to the undergrads. Good thing it's available online! Here's the restaurant section:


                              No, it doesn't quite come with the knowledgable reviews of fellow CHers, but it's a start, and gives you plenty of choices.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: SauceSupreme

                                FYI, the restaurant listed as Caribbean Treasure in the guide is the one I mentioned in my post above. It's now around the corner from Cal-Tech but it's the same owner, and the same food.