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South Pasadena?

Making a trip from Silver Lake to South Pasadena tomorrow and looking for suggestions. Anything, really. A good mom & pop, Mexican w/margaritas, a decent trattoria, blah blah.

Please advise.

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  1. If you have never eaten at Bistro K, you are missing out on an AMAZING dining experience. They're on Fremont at El Centro and open for dinner only Wed.-Sunday. They have an "early bird" pre-theater dinner if you are budget conscious. Best to have reservations:


    We are SO lucky to have this as our neighborhood bistro!

    1. Julienne on Mission Street is great. Not technically South Pas, but just down the street in San Marino.

      1. Farmer's Market is Thursday nights, if I'm not mistaken. Firefly Bistro has their tapas menu on Thursday nights. For some reason, the roasted cauliflower still resonates with me.

        Reeter1's suggestion of Bistro K is a fine reccomendation.

        1. Yoshida in San Marino for sushi
          Parkway Grill in Pasadena
          Arroyo Chophouse in Pasadena for steak

          1 Reply
          1. re: WHills

            Chophouse last night. Service was not as good as usual, but still ok. Avoid the specials (really overpriced with no mention of the fact unless directly asked) and stick to wines by the glass (also overpriced, but less so than the bottles and with nice pours). Both the beef and seafood are reliably great. This is probably the best place for steaks around - I have found it very consistent, which is more than I can say for most of the competition (though many others disagree).

          2. Briganti is an amazing Italian restaurant that my friends and I love. Great pizzas but definitely opt for one of their fantastic, fresh pastas. Most of the ppl who work there are Italian. Good wine selection as well.

            Call for reservations or to see how busy they are before you go. Here is a post with photos:


            1 Reply
            1. re: Clare K

              Another vote for Briganti. I recently had the salmon and it was wonderful! Fresh, moist and cooked just right. The sauteed spinach was great and my only complaint about the broiled potatoes was that there weren't enough of them. The Montepulciano wine was good, but a little overpriced IMO.

            2. For Mexican, how about EL TOREO?

              Second the rec for BRIGANTI (www.brigantirestaurant.com


              El Toreo
              21 S Fair Oaks Ave
              626) 793-2577

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                Let me add GERLACH'S GRILL.

                Great grilled seafood and kebabs.

                Gerlach's Grill
                1075 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

                  1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                    Whew ... thank goodness.

                    I was about to think aliens had abducted the real "calabasas trafalgar" ...

                1. Yasmeen's at 818 Fair Oaks for some pretty outstanding and reasonably priced Lebanese. When I worked in S. Pasadena, I would eat there several times a week.

                  Their kebabs are OK, but their strength is the chicken shawarma and all the appetizers, esp the sambousik and the kibbeh meatballs.

                  1. Shiro's (high end)
                    Gus's (medium)

                    I really like The Raymond. Small craftsman house on Pas/So.Pas border (get good directions, its out of the way and easy to miss) if its nice out the patios are awsome. More of the martini than a margie place.

                    You are also only minutes away from some of the best chinese and vietnamese food in la. search san gabriel dim sum, chinese etc. all over this board.

                    1. I'm trying Briganti tomorrow, but no one has mentioned Mike and Anne's, which is a nice space with great food, and consistently attentive, polite service.

                      The recently made some small changes to the menu, but sweet potato fries are not to be missed! http://mikeandannes.com/

                      1. Went to Gus's once and everything was bad...Bar B Que unedible slathered in a thick sweet disgusting sauce. Prices were moderate but still felt ripped off since food was disgusting

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: monkey

                          It is on the advice of several people on this board that I have yet to try Gus's. I appreciate the "keep away" signs, and sparing me from a bad meal, but how DOES this place stay in business??

                        2. I saw several "regulars" in the bar area so it must be from the booze...no way it is from the food.....

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: monkey

                            But surely one can get booze from anywhere ...

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              gus's is one of the ONLY 2 bars in south pasadena. the old people, which is mostly all of south pasadena, go there. otherwise the other bar is carmines also on fair oaks, and the food is horrible. south pasadena doesnt offer much for food.

                              *i like grassroots health food store for their lunch. different and good. otherwise, munch company is just ok, thats on mission st. def mom and pop there. heirloom is just ok just off of mission on meridian. really not very much good food in so pas. a lot of people like going on sundays to the cookshack for breakfast. thats on huntington. its just ok, but def mom and pop.

                              1. re: caitybirdie

                                Au contraire! South Pas is not mostly old people anymore. They've mostly died off, being replaced by young families with children who have a million dollars (literally) to spend on a small, OLD craftsman house in a good school district. Still, some of my friends' parents are still alive and living in South Pas, so they keep restaurants like Gus's and The Barkley in busines. Avoid them. They are bland and easy to digest and filled with 85 year-olds.

                                Don't know where you've been eating, but South Pas is AMAZING for food considering its tiny square mileage. We have Bistro K, Firefly, Mike and Ann's, Bistro de la Gare, Nicole's, Shiro, Briganti, Oak Tree Inn (very good traditional Cantonese), Senor Fish (a fine chain), Union Bakery, Heirloom Bakery, and Cookshack -- which is way more than "just OK." ("Just OK" is Carrows, IHOP or Denny's.)

                                That is TWELVE very good restaurants (above average, easily over a Zagat 20) within a one mile radius! You'd be hard pressed to eat at all of them in a week, much less a day.

                                1. re: Reeter1

                                  i live in a craftsman house because of the school district, and i always go out of so pas for food. cookshack is just ok, carrows to me is horrible.... bistro k-good, firefly-alright, mike and annes-good, heirloom-wasnt impressed, i love so pas, but i am just not amazed my anything. i think living here, its all the same after a while......

                                  1. re: caitybirdie

                                    I too live in one of those overpriced diminutive craftsman homes in SPas. And I too agree that the restaurants could be better. Shiro is the best. Interior not up to quality of the food. Newcomers Brigante and Bistro de la Gare were both disappointing. Fantasea Grill can be excellent but the atmosphere and paper plates are depressing. Julienne in San Marino is very good and although pricey the quality is there.

                                  2. re: Reeter1

                                    I agree there are probably more good resturants in So Pas, based on population than pasadena. Briganti, Mike and Annes, Shiro, Bistro K, even Carmines, there is a new sandwhich shop near the gold line station too. Lots of options!!! Enjoy. I wish Sierra Madre could get half those resturants here :(

                            2. Ditto on Gus being nasty. I still am bewildered by them still being in business. I know there is a Cigar place next door, perhaps they play into the Man's man crowd.

                              Just about a block up from the Firefly Bistro on El Centro is a French Bistro called "Bistro de la Gare." I would recommend it.

                              There is also place recently opened called Mike and Anne's, I've heard good things about it but I cannot testify myself.

                              One caveat about Shiro, which I'm told is excellent. Every time I've tried to go there, they are closed. They do not post hours and I've had a difficult time getting them on the phone.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: czaplin

                                Bistro de la Gare is open only for dinner. I would also recommend it, though our last visit there was not stellar. To be fair, the folks up front had let the place get overcrowded, and the state of the kitchen showed up on our plates. A week night, even a Thursday (they get some walk-ins from that Farmer's Market, right out front), should be OK.

                              2. Went to Briganti last night. Spent a bit more than I wanted too...but walked away extremely happy. (I'll have to balance out the dining budget with a trip to Arco Iris or Casa Bianca - or Yuca's.)

                                The flourless chocolate cake was fantastic, BTW.

                                Big thanks, Chowhounds!

                                1. There's a japanese restaurant on Fair Oaks next to the Rialto theatre called Ai. It's been there for years. Pretty good, standard japanese fare as well as a small sushi bar. It does get crowded though on the weekends.

                                  1. Oak Tree Inn. As previously posted, great cantonese!!!!!!

                                    1. ipsedixit & caitybirdie: sounds like it might be a good idea to limit your grazing range to what your normally used to in the restaurants west of La Brea.

                                      1. We too frequent this neighborhood. Wish there was more good food though.

                                        Ditto the rec on the Oak Tree Inn. Great chinese food (if a tad salty), but the atmosphere isn't so great.

                                        I eat at Patakan Thai at least once or twice a week. Curry, Thai BBQ Pork, Gai Koowha are excellent. Soups are OK. Ridiculously cheap lunch specials (even on weekends) and everyone there is super nice. WAY better than Solodang Song up the street.

                                        Il Brigante is VERY nice, very authentic, and i would agree with others here in saying a bit overpriced.

                                        Julienne is lovely.

                                        Gus's IS awful, but we wind up there once in a while for their California Chicken Sandwich, Chef's Salad and tasty old school fries (everything else is bad). The waitresses border on charming, but the drunks at the bar can often be a little loud.

                                        Shakers is an OK coffee shop (i'd rather be at the 101), as is Wild Thymes - though everytime I'm there i feel as if I've been transported to somewhere in the Mid-West. Maybe its the crowd, or just the country-(un)inspired interior. What's with that rocking-horse pig?

                                        Looking forward to trying a few of the other recs here: Bistro K, Firefly, Yoshida, Yasmeen's, Shiro, Gerlach's. (that's a pretty big list, huh?)

                                        PS - Stay away from Carmine's. I've been trying to like this place, but the food is REALLY NASTY and way overpriced: $15 linguine pescador from a can, even the pizza is inedible.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: italianstallion

                                          I respectfully disagree with your assessment of Carmine's. Everything is really good and I do not find it overpriced - AND I LOVE the pasta pescatore with pink sauce (you can choose from 4 different sauces). The pizza is the best in the area.

                                        2. I recommned BRiganti and Mike and Anne's.They are two of my fav places in So Pasadena.l love the patio at Mike and Anne's. IT is so relaxing and romantic as well. IMO Briganti has the best Italian in the area...I would include Pasadena as well. Carmine's is average at best , if you are looking for basic , red sauce , ITalian American fare, it really can not compare to Briganti. However, they are two completely different cuisines.

                                          1. Don't go to Briganti! The service is TERRIBLE.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: cathyjo2004

                                              I think if you are going to put "terrible" in all caps, you ought to at least elaborate on what the issues with the service are. And was this a one time occurence or a trend over many visits? We go to Briganti often and always have had wonderful service, except for our last visit on Labor Day weekend. Our waiter was -- there is no kind way to put it -- a complete idiot. He had some sort of "Italian waiter" shtick that he was determined to put us through. An example: when I asked him about a Valpolicella, he told me it was "red and came in a bottle." The whole act was simply insulting to any serious diner's intelligence and we told him so. Yes, he was TERRIBLE, but I would never characterize the usual service at Briganti that way. We will go back -- but we will be sure never to sit in the "Italian waiter's" section again. He really came close to ruining yet another fine meal at Briganti.

                                            2. My one experience at Bistro K was highly underwhelming. The schtick is high end ultra-fresh cuisine, but our food was soggy like it had sat under a heat lamp. In hindsight we should have sent some of it back given the prices we were paying.

                                              I used to like Bistro de la Gare, but the last time we went there, the food was bad. The waiter was clueless (had no idea what cheeses were on the cheese plate, nor if the scallops were diver scallops or frozen.) When my steak arrived it was basically raw (ordered medium rare). Too bad, as I like the ambiance of this place, and our previous three dinners were fine.

                                              At this point, I just head out to La Vie in Rosemead for French food.

                                              I do like Mike and Anne's a lot, although my wife is despondent that they removed the red flannel hash from the breakfast menu.

                                              I have yet to make it to Il Brigante (my wife is not a big fan of Italian), but most people here seem to like it.

                                              Oak Tree is very solid slightly americanized Chinese food, at slightly high prices. Given the glut of authentic Chinese just to the south and east of S.P. you might go elsewhere for Chinese.

                                              Ai is decent Japanese food, at a reasonable price.

                                              For Pizza both Momma's and Nonna's are good, and very similar. Go read other posts about the soap opera, but the food is solid.

                                              Generally I head south to Alhambra or Rosemead for any Asian food.


                                              1. Just in case something was missed :-) check out the replies for the Gold Line Mission station here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/436841
                                                Agree with above posters, SoPas has an astonishing number of good eateries within its small borders.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: DiveFan

                                                  the orginal post is from jan so i'm sure backsab67 has taken their trip from silverlake to south pas...but no one mentioned 750 ml. i liked the food but i thought it was a bit steep for what is was and service was plain awful. not bad as in the "kitchen was backed up and the waiter was apologetic" kind of bad. but the kind where our waiter was pretty drunk and bordered on obnoxious. the food took way too long to come out and our waiter took way too long downing his wine at the bar. never again!

                                                  i like briganti but the server again can be spotty. but it's never as bad as 750ml. and the food is really delicious.