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San Diego to Pasadena

I'll be up at the USC v. UCLA game for the weekend. I be staving at the Pasadena Hilton (Old Town), I need some recs for dinner on Saturday and Breakfast on Sunday (walking distance). I seen some of the other posts on the area, what is the current take on Luna Negra? The misses loves tapas and wine. A reccomendation for a nice bar that's not too crowded for after dinner would be great as well.

Thanks, and if your planning on comming to San Diego please let me return the favor.


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  1. Are you sure on your hotel location, the Pasadena Hilton is not in Old town, it is about a half mile east (if that is significant to you), on Los Robles, south of Colorado.

    1. You are correct, thanks for the correction, it is the Pasadena Hilton. 0.5 miles not a big deal, I'd could use the exercise, believe me. What's your spot when in the area? as you can tell, I'm a bit out my element.


      1 Reply
      1. re: stevuchan

        When in Pasadena I like Arroyo Chop House and Saladang Song (Thai). Here is an old report on the Chop House, it is still relevant:


        Here is a report on Saladang Song:

      2. You will be very close to Paseo Colorado. There is a good wine bar there called Bodega Wine Bar. It has good nibbly eats, not exactly tapas, but good, and you can walk from the Hilton:

        La Luna Negra is good, more real tapas style, though the dishes can be quite big. There's also Bar Celona, on Colorado in Old Town. It's a bit hit & miss but their wine is good:

        For a wine bar with non-tapas-style food, there's E's wine bar, also on Colorado in Pasadena (just noticed that they are now calling themselves a martini bar...hm..):

        Restaurant Halie is a more upscale wine bar, also located in the Old Town district:

        Hope this helps-

        1. I enjoy Luna Negra - they have a fantastic olive tapenade and I love their sangria. I'd call and see if they have live music on Saturday night -- they typically have music and flamico dancers and when they do - the room gets LOUD (you won't be able to carry on a conversation loud).

          If the mrs. likes wine, I'd suggest Vertical Wine Bistro (way over Luna Negra). It's only been open for about a month, and the people are SO nice. It's in Old Town (70 N. Raymond) and on the east side of Old Town (aka - closer to your hotel). It's a very lovely space with affordable wine flights, interesting selections and a small plates menu. OR, if you end up going elsewhere to dinner, it would be a nice spot to have some wine after dinner (it's only wine, not a full bar).

          Are you looking for a full bar, post-dinner?

          For breakfast - 2 spots come to mind -- Green Street Restaurant (about 1/2 mile east of the hotel) and Russell's (in old town, on Fair Oaks).
          Green Street Restaurant will have a wider selection (menu is online). www.greenstreetrestaurant.com
          Russell's has great, no-nonsense food. Yummy b'fasts!

          Have a great time! (and report back!)

          1 Reply
          1. re: The Oracle

            I second the vote on Russell's. They do have good breakfasts -- be sure to order hashbrowns.

            Another reason to eat there is to honor what Russell's used to be years ago when they had three or four locations in Long Beach, as well as one in Seal Beach. They served a fine hamburger in those days, but the hash browns were really superior to any others in the Los Angeles area (they're still good but not extraordinary), and their pies were beyond compare, with light and moist meringues that rose about a foot above the flakey crust. I once took a coconut meringue from Russell's on a flight, and people begged me for a taste after the toasty aroma began drifting through the cabin from a tall cake box with the lid half-open.

          2. There's a ton of winebars in Pasadena right now. Haven't checked all of them but the best I've experienced is Red White & Bluezz at the corner of Green & Raymond on the perimeter of Old Town (and they have a full range of drinks and food). http://www.redwhitebluezz.com/

            1. I really like La Luna Negra, so that would be my suggestion.

              Have fun!

              1. Thanks everyone, I will report back next week. You guys (and gals) are great.


                1. IMO La Luna Negra is TERRIBLE. Sangria tastes like it was made in their kitchen sink and every single dish is way, way, way over SALTED.

                  Also, Restaurant Halie no longer exists.

                  I would go for Red White & Bluezz. Great ambience, food, and wine selection.

                  1. I went to La Maschera Ristorante on Fair Oaks at Holly St. on Tuesday night for my b-day... loved the lamb sliders and the crispy veggie pizza blanca. Very warm service and generous wine pours. And the decor is SO beautiful-- classy Moroccan, excellent lighting, and fresh flower arrangements in nooks here and there.


                    GO TROJANS

                    For breakfast, walk up a bit more to Walnut east of Raymond to Marston's... excellent french toast, omelettes, and the restaurant is an adorable old house with a lovely porch.

                    FIGHT ON

                    1. Here's another new one. Vertical Wine Bistro, upstairs at (I think) 70 N. Raymond. See link.

                      It's got a warm, sophisticated feel to it. The menu was created by Sara Levine, who opened Opus after stints at Zax and Aubergine, among others. The menu consists of various small plates, meant to be shared, and for which there is a dizzying array of wines by the glass. We tried the fig poppers, charcuterie plate, salt cod brandade, and pulled pork. The pulled pork was sinfully rich, almost dessert-like (though not too sweet). The brandade is unusual; you either like it or you don't. The 5-meat charcuterie plate was a real treat, served with small slices of lightly grilled rustic bread and a garnish of cornichons, pickled jalapenos (actually, there were also a couple of other, skinnier pickled peppers both red and green). Several other items sounded quite enticing.



                      1. Jack Flash is right--Vertical is very good. I have been there three times now. I've tried the rabbit rilette, which was great but needed a few more toast points, the brioche-bun hamburger was outrageously good, the duck confit was everything you want it to be, with cippoline onions--my daughter actually couldn't decide which she liked better, the burger or the duck! This from a kid! We also had a side of perfect mushrooms. The cookie plate had way more cookies that we could eat, all of which were refigerator cold, and was lacking the promised nougat (the reason I had ordered it.) Last time I went I had pulled pork, which was fantastic. I can't remember the other dish, but it was perfect. I am very impressed. I think Vertical is comparable to AOC, but less expensive. The apple tart was about five times too big for two people, and was a little heavy and doughy, but I'm very picky about desserts. All in all, I can't recommend Vertical enough! Don't miss it!