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Pasadena is weak!

Before I moved here, I heard lots of, "oh there's so many GOOD restaurants in Pasadena" - but I don't see it. Anyone else agree?

I do enjoy a few spots, the Mediterranean Cafe on Lake, King Taco on Arroyo, and Zankou are good for cheap eats. Had Valentine's at the Ritz and it was good (though very expensive). Kansai makes a decent soba, and the bolognese at Louise's isn't half bad (for a chain-type place).

But overall, I'm disappointed, especially in the Old Town area. Tre Venezie was WAY overpriced. The lasagna at Mi Piace would have been good if it wasn't cold. And I don't care what anyone says, Pie & Burger simply doesn't hold a candle to Father's Office, The Counter, or even In-N-Out for that matter! Don't even get me started on Cafe Santorini, Afloat Sushi, or Rock Island Wraps...

Where's the awesome pizza joint? The Italian/Jewish deli for ridiculous sandwiches under $10? The outstanding sushi or seafood restaurant? Am I just not looking hard enough?

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  1. Yeah, you are not looking hard enough. Look a bit beyond Pasadena and you'll find some good places.

    The awesome pizza joint is just around the bend in Eagle Rock, called Casa Bianca. It's famous across LA.

    The Italian Deli that has ridiculous, cheap sandwiches is actually down the street from Casa Bianca, though the name escapes me. Shouldn't be hard to find.

    The outstanding sushi resto is Z's, in Alhambra. It's 10 minutes from Pasadena.

    And the amazing pasta dishes are at Briganti, in South Pasadena. Better than Tre Venezie, IMHO.

    I also think it's odd to compare Pie & Burger with a place like Father's Office. That's a gourmet burger place, whereas Pie & Burger is a simple mom/pop cheap-o diner. If you want foie gras on your burger, that ain't the place to get it.

    Besides, look where you're eating: Louisa's? Everyone knows that place is a joke, as is Mi Piace.

    Look harder.

    Clare K

    19 Replies
    1. re: Clare K

      I REALLY dislike Casa Bianca, to me it tastes like Tostino's frozen pizza. The sad part is that I waited months and months to go there, until there wasn't a gigantic line outside.

      1. re: lesupersteph

        Agree...Casa Bianca is over-rated...however, I prefer NY style pizza...service wasn't very friendly either.

        1. re: lesupersteph

          I agree. Casa Biance is the most overrated pizza place in LA. It is not worth the wait.

          1. re: sugarpie

            I agree. Casa Bianca is bizarrely overrated. Mamma's Brick Oven is good for NY style pizza. Settebello is good for Neapolitan style.

            1. re: ib_me

              And the luggage room, while not falling under any traditional style that I know of is fantastic.

          2. re: lesupersteph

            Try Mamma's Brick Oven
            710 Fair Oaks Avenue
            South Pasadena, CA 91030-2604
            (626) 799-1344

            They're not the best pizza in LA but are pretty good. Fast, friendly service too.

            1. re: lesupersteph

              Wow, all this time, I thought I was the only one... I'm sorry CB lovers, their pizza was just about the worst pizza I'd ever eaten... I did enjoy the sausage/eggplant ingredients, but I disliked the crust... Sorry.

              1. re: darrelll

                Hi Darerelll... Really, CB is the worst pizza you've ever eaten?? Then you've lived a charmed life as a pizza consumer, I'd say. Me, I'm middle aged and I reckon by the time an individual has lived for 40+ years, the've eaten hundreds/thousands of slices of pizza procured from dozens/hundreds of establishments. In 40+ years I've consumed hundreds of really really mediocre-to-bad-slices and/or pies (a place in Cairo/Egypt comes to mind), all of which were well below the consistent standards of CB. While many such as yourself rate CB very lowly indeed, I don't understand how it can be the worst of anything. If CB is the worst you've ever suffered thru, then the angels have surely smiled upon your doorstep...

                1. re: silence9

                  Canned mushrooms, sauce that tastes like canned and soggy, soggy crust. CB's certainly was the worst pizza I've ever had in a restaurant.

              2. re: lesupersteph

                Yeah Casa Bianca is lame. After all the rave reviews I got about the place, I get there and they use canned mushrooms? WTF? The sauce is a little close to Ragu too. The atmosphere is fun and unique though so maybe thats the draw. Try Genovese's, its great for pizza or meatballs.

                1. re: Clare K

                  I happen to really like Brignati, but I have only been there once for lunch, the carpaccio appetizer was nice.

                  1. re: lesupersteph

                    Yes, I totally agree. Briganti is lovely.

                  2. re: Clare K

                    In regards to the sandwiches down the street from Casa Bianca, are you talking about Mario's Italian Deli in Glendale?

                    1. re: Clare K

                      I noticed none of Clare's recs are actually in Pasadena, but in neighboring cities. S. Pas is its own city and ought to stand alone for its great neighborhood spots. Ditto on Alhambra and Eagle Rock. In Pasadena itself, I like Europane for croissants and egg salad. Not much else comes to mind, honestly, and I love Pasadena.

                      1. re: FrancFoo

                        There have been significant changes in the five years since Clare K posted this. Some good places that didn't exist back then:

                        Sushi Ichi
                        Sushi Kimagure Ike
                        Musha Izakaya
                        Bonnie B's Smokin' Barbeque Heaven
                        House of Basturma
                        The Slaw Dogs
                        Dog Haus
                        The Counter
                        The Royce

                        Admittedly, a number of "weak" places have opened during the same period, too.

                        1. re: Peripatetic

                          Let's not forget both Haven's and Congregation.

                          I like Congregation for the FREE PAAAARRRRKING!!@#$!@#$! But Haven's beer list is also fantastic with some decent food to boot.

                          Good times Pasadena. Now can you please FREAKING STOP CHARGING METER ON SUNDAYS? Also, let the 710 finish?

                          1. re: Peripatetic

                            AKA Bistro should be included as well.

                            1. re: foufou

                              The Luggage room (Great)
                              and the chains, Lemonade (decent) and Tender Greens (Good)
                              Abricot (good)
                              Also enjoyed POP chmapagne
                              Malbec (good)

                      2. Thanks for the recs Clare...as far as the burger thing, I really don't care what a place "calls" itself, I'm just looking for a good burger. In-N-Out was in that comparo, too.

                        I guess it wasn't obvious from my post that I'm not in the same "everyone knows" Pasadena restaurant clique as you...perhaps I should've been able to tell through some mysterious form of osmosis that Louise's and Mi Piace are jokes?

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: trojanhorse

                          Lucky Boy on Arroyo Parkway makes a delicious burger, and if you like breakfast burritos, they make the best of any I've tried in SoCal!

                          1. re: SoCal Foodie

                            SoCal - how do you order your breakfast burrito? I got one with bacon and I took it to go - it was opened up about 5 minutes later and it was really cold (cheese wasn't even melted)... what am I missing (perhaps bad time of day?)

                            1. re: The Oracle

                              The Oracle: I just order mine with bacon and usually take it to go. I haven't experienced a cold burrito yet and have been going here for years. Give it another try - it must have been an off day!

                            2. re: SoCal Foodie

                              I order one of Luck Boys special, famous breakfast burritos a while ago and was super disappointed. It was super dry, dry cheap sausage, dry eggs, dry hash browns... just bad.

                              1. re: SoCal Foodie

                                I love the Lucky Boy breakfast burritos. I get it with ham, as it's too much bacon fo me. I've probably ordered 50 of them over the years, all but 2 to go, and none of them cold by the time I got home to Hollywood.

                                1. re: SoCal Foodie

                                  Lucky Boy has never disappointed me. Their salsa is amazing!

                              2. No osmosis necessary :) Louise's is a well-know, bad chain resto, and Mi Piace is regularly ripped here on Chowhound. Sorry to assume you might have read about it here.

                                Do a search for Pasadena and you will find lots of posts on the places to go.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Clare K

                                  Dude, try Bistro 45 and Celestino's and Marston's and the Raymond House and the culinary school sit down (green st) and lunch spot and Saladang and Fredo's cheesteaks and Top's has the best bacon cheesburger in the damn world. That's all in Pasadena proper. Oh yeah and we live adjacent to the best chinese food this side of the pacific. I mean you really can't throw a rock without hitting some place that's outstanding.

                                  1. re: illmatic85

                                    I'm glad to see someone else refer to The Raymond Restaurant as the "Raymond House." I've never been able to call it anything else. It is my mother's favourite restaurant, out of all the places she's eaten around the world. I like it too.

                                2. Try some of these places in Pasadena proper...
                                  some of the best chinese you'll ever have is at Yujean Kang's on Raymond...
                                  right next door is Xiomara... gourmet, unbelieveably good (but pricey) cuban fare... Tarantino's Pizza on Green St. is good if not nearly as good as Casa Bianca...
                                  Gayle's on Fair Oak's for everyday fresh Italian....
                                  Sushi Roku in Miller Alley is good...
                                  Porto Alegre for Brazilian BBQ (Churruscaria)...
                                  if you want a sandwich, instead of italian or jewish try Lovebirds on Colorado just east of Lake. Very Fresh, very good and unique.
                                  Akbar has the best Indian food around, although, people have differing opinions...
                                  South Pasadena and Eagle Rock have Bistro de la Gare and Cafe Boujolais respectively for French fare...
                                  for Salads and anything that goes with them... Green Street Restaurant... just e. of Lake.
                                  Those just came off of the top of my head... there are many good options in Pasadena, although there are many mediocre options as well.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: eatnitall

                                    I second Lovebird's and Cafe Boujolais.

                                  2. Here's a place to try pizza, it's in San Marino which shouldn't be too far from Pasadena.

                                    Tony's Pizza (corner of Del Mar Ave. & Huntington Drive)
                                    2555 Huntington Dr
                                    San Marino

                                    Their pizza reminds me of east coast pizza.

                                    The best french fries I have ever had was at the Cordon Bleu Culinary School on Green St.--call in the order, because the wait can be long and parking sometimes difficult during the day.

                                    1. from what I've heard, Bistro K is extraordinary (in South Pasadena)
                                      JJ Steakhouse is pretty darn good too.
                                      There are a lot of bad restaurants, but there are good ones there, like the ones listed above.
                                      But restaurant for restaurant, Eagle Rock is better (which isn't far from Pasadena)

                                      1. If you like Thai food I highly recommend Saladang and Saladang Song. They are two Thai restaurants on Fair Oaks, next door to each other. The first one was so popular that they built another one right next to it. The menu's differ a little but both have a very fun atmosphere, aren't too expesive and have very good food.

                                        1. Yeah, you're right. Pasadena sucks.

                                          Don't ever go to Briganti and get any of their pizzas or pastas. Not worth it. Or, for that matter Bistro K or Bistro de la Gare -- both offer unimaginative food with that very off-putting corporate feel to it.

                                          Oh, and Derek's Bistro? It sucks, esp. any of their pork or lamb chop dishes.

                                          Plus, if you want grilled seafood items or kebabs why would you ever try Gerlach's Grill? Idiot owners - they give you so much food and make it with such fresh ingredients you'd think they were trying to court return customers.

                                          Then there's Tarantino's. Go there only for pizza and pasta only if you enjoy the masses of crowds that are always at that place -- the owners must be paying for these "extras" to staff at the restaurant to make it look like people actually enjoy the food there.

                                          Burgers? Don't get me started with Connal's or Wolfe Burgers. Neither of those places could make a burger if you gave them the patty, bun, lettuce and tomato slices. Plus, why would you ever try any of the shakes or malts at Connal's? There's no reason to actually enjoy a dessert, right?

                                          I could go on, but like you, I think it's pretty obvious Pasadena is weak ...

                                          16 Replies
                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            ipsedixit, you forgot about that horrible Europane place with their completely unathentic crossaints and pasteries. Oh and I hear their egg salad sandwich is just a big waste of time and money. It's a wonder people flock there by the dozens day and night...they must be part of that paid extra crowd you speak of.

                                            1. re: Clare K

                                              Ooooohhh, sounds like my kind of place. ;)

                                            2. re: ipsedixit

                                              LOL! Love it.
                                              But I must say, I lived in Pasadena for many many years and practically still do, and it does take a lot of hard looking around to find places like Louise's and then Afloat Sushi.

                                              1. re: slacker

                                                I do agree that precious Old Town restaurant real estate is being consumed by a slew of mediocre restos. Get Lousia's, the Cheesecake Factory, Mi Piace, Bar Celona, Villa Sorrisso, Kabuki and the like outta there and let's get some good ones in there.

                                                1. re: Clare K

                                                  No, leave Louise's and Cheesecake Factory and the like there, please - otherwise the teeming masses of dolts who wait in line for those places will be crowding into ours instead!

                                                    1. re: Clare K

                                                      Yeah, so next time any one is on the 'hood, make sure to drop by Louise's, Hurry Curry, California Pizza Kitchen, McCormick's, PF Chang's, Yard House, and Hooters.

                                                      I especially like the steamed and pan-fried dumplings at PF Chang's. Look out Dumpling Master and Dumpling 10053, you've got trouble brewing in your backyard ...

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  A prescient post. There really are no great restaurants in Pasadena. Don't get me started on the Emperor's New Clothes Casa Bianca. If you want to pay for the likes of Josie without getting much for it, then by all means, Tre Venezie. Maybe Maison Akira for value or Bistro 45 for romance (The Raymond is less than tolerable in this area). Derek's is a consistent bust. Ritz is a good place to drop a wad and be fairly comfortable, but I challlenge anyone to remember what you had two days later. I remain fond of Arroyo Chophouse, but mainly because you don't always feel let down - Pasadena's only great restaurant IMHO. But to go a step further, this is a problem with all of LA. There are a few good steakhouses (like Arroyo, Cut, Mastro's - yes I would put them in the same group), but then Des Moines has good steakhouses, too. Providence and Bistro K are for the innovation for its own sake and foam lovers. Spago is probably the most reliably great experience left, and then only for the tasting menu.
                                                  I realize that if this post weren't so totally buried there would be a storm of protest. But I end up in NYC, Chicago, and SF frequently and there is no problem with numerous great places. You will pay dearly for some of them but at least you leave satisfied.
                                                  It could be worse. See today's LA Times for 2 hour waits for Olive Garden in Palmdale. Count your blessings.

                                                  1. re: Griller141

                                                    Price: yes, that is a factor. LA is not really a union town in terms of food. The prices for good food are lower, not as low as New Orleans, but significantly lower than NYC, SF, Chicago, Tokyo, London, et al. You have a bargain here in terms of good food from a multitude of ethnicities. Count your blessings.
                                                    As for 2 days later, as Batali says, "All my best work is poop the next day." Storm, storm, storm.

                                                    1. re: mc michael

                                                      Prices for ethnic food is much, much, lower. But prices for mid-to-high end food are actually lower in SF. It's possible for me to rattle off a dozen, maybe two dozen restaurants where I can have dinner and a glass of wine for under $30/pp in San Francisco. Under $50, even easier. Without going deep into suburbia, I'm hard pressed to think of more than a handful of places where I can eat a "fancy" dinner and have wine for under $50 in Los Angeles.

                                                      $30 plus a glass of wine at Opus stands out as one delicious exception, but even the hounds on this board who have been eating their way through LA for years herald Opus's prices as startlingly low.

                                                    2. re: Griller141

                                                      for cuts and meat eaters, places east of Pasadena offer better variety as there is still a lot of local meat and produce that is raised and grown in the western parts of San Bernardino county and where most of LA County gets it's local produce that is not imported. Try restaurants in Claremont(the Village), and few others around, although steakhouses have been closing faster in the last few years as people that ran them moved out.

                                                      1. re: b0ardkn0t

                                                        This isn't my impression - the "Chino Dairy Preserve" (SW San Bernardino Co.) is now houses (was never beef cattle anyway), and the produce fields you might be referring to (Bloomington/Rialto?) are, uh, more houses.

                                                        My impression is that most of our (= L.A.-area) truly local produce comes from the west, in Ventura Co. (on the Oxnard Plain or along the Santa Clara River valley), but who knows for how long.

                                                        I also doubt if geographical location of the restaurant has much to do with it - owners are either gonna buy local or they aren't, and right now it's usually the high-end ones (Hollywood/Westside) who seem to be going for it.

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        Connal's, Wolfe Burgers, and Gerlach's are fine, but nothing to be beating your chest about. Tarantino's is pretty blah.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          I second that. Pasadena sucks. Sushi Roku isn't even authentic. There is no good sushi in Pasadena..Try Sushi Sushi or Sasabune (westside). No good Italian either...stay away from Colorado. Maison Akira is only mediocre and a lil run down. Shiro also medi. Skip Saladang/Salason if you want authentic thai. You can try Rambutan for up scale, or thai town for what the locals eat.

                                                        2. Manny's, Yujean Kang, Xiomara, Europane, Green Street, Magnolia, Smitty's, Lucky Boy, Pie N Burger, Red White & Bluezz, Mike and Anne's, Shiro, Bistro K, Presidentwo, Zankou, The Hat, Tonny's, In N Out, Green Street Taqueria. Start searchin'.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: mc michael

                                                            Nice job ipsedixit and mc michael...thanks for affirming just how lame Pasadena is...wouldn't want to mislead or disappoint anyone ...propbably should add Puebla Tacos, and Tops to the list of lousy cheap eats, Cafe Verde for bistro food, and Smitty's for drinks...yeah, we stink.

                                                            1. re: Local

                                                              Cafe Verde has such potential, too bad they under-season all their food. Seriously, have they heard of SALT? They would be a great place to go since they don't have corkage.

                                                              I must say though, I really do enjoy the braised shortribs w/ creamy polenta for dinner and the red flannel hash for brunch at Mike & Anne's in SoPas.

                                                          2. No, no. Trojanhorse is on to something. I love and live in Pasadena, but I'm not wowed by one single place. It all suffices, but almost nothing is a draw. With that said, some of my personal favorites...

                                                            Just had the carnitas tacos at Tonny's, and I'm so glad I read about it here. I saw it forever and never thought of stopping.

                                                            I also recently and FINALLY after six years in LA had Roscoe's chicken and waffles. I love the chicken. The SO is completely fixated on the chickent, to the point where everytime I ask, "What should we have for dinner (lunch/breakfast)?" he says,"oooo.... roscoe's!" It's bad.

                                                            I do like Green St. Taqueria; the carnitas are good and the potato tacos are good.

                                                            Europane for the chicken salad, and if you like egg salad. Hard to beat for the pastries.

                                                            Mike & Anne's was OK, but I have a feeling it's not as good as I want it to be. Smitty's is OK for the burger and the chips at the bar. Magnolia isn't real food by any stretch; simply bar food.

                                                            I really enjoyed my recent meal at Shiro. The catfish was delicious, as I heard it would be.

                                                            We only eat Manny's for delivery, which works for us. Pizza is decent, but we like their chicken wings.

                                                            I like Akbar for Indian, but I probably frequent Radhika's on Shopper's Lane more. I'm a sucker for the matar paneer.

                                                            My last meal at Xiomara was horrible.

                                                            For wine bars, take your pick: Crepe Vine in Old Town, Madelain's on Green, Vertical on Raymond. All have decent food.

                                                            Another personal fave is Japon Bistro on Colorado near Lake. Only for the spicy tuna stuffed peppers.

                                                            As for a good deli, I took the Hounds advice and shot on over to Glendale for Billy's, which took care of a pounding corned beef craving i had a few weeks ago. If that's not what you're looking for, a block over is Porto's for Cuban. Papas rellenas, my friend. Papas. Rellenas.

                                                            1. My favorites in Pasadena are Saladang Song, Yuejean Kang, La Luna Negra and Pie 'N Burger (and you really can't compare it to Father's Office; whole different approach).

                                                              And venturing just to the greater San Gabriel Valley opens up a whole world of opportunities.

                                                              1. My new fave (gonna try it for lunch Friday) is Central Park on S. Fair Oaks - perilously close to Old Town but pretty damn good anyway. Maison Akira if you have the bucks and want to treat a date to something elegant, though it's not ruinously expensive as, say, Tre Venezie. Green Street gives good lunch, and some like it for dinner (eh...). And let's agree to disagree about Pie'n'Burger...though I think I like their tuna sandwich better than the cheeseburger.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                                  Oh, others to add are El Portal for cochinita pibil and Yucatan seafood, good chile rellenos, Imperial margaritas and patio dining, and their sibling Yahairas for breakfast; Lebanese Kitchen on Washington, west of hill; TipTum for filipino/thai; the little Mijares at Washington/Allen for chile rellenos and chicken tacos; Rosarito mexican on Foothill at Craig, next to In N Out - burritos... Happy exploring!

                                                                2. Thanks all for the recs! This has given me an awesome list of new places to try.

                                                                  To the few who were oh-so-cleverly sarcastic...sorry if I hit a nerve, didn't mean to get anyone all defensive about their pride and joy hometown. To be fair, I never really thought that Pasadena was all THAT bad (perhaps my title mislead, although give me credit for being attention-grabbing). But, like some others who posted, I DO feel like there are a lot of ho-hum, mediocre eateries in Pasadena. Even places that are sometimes lauded here, like Wolfe burgers, Pie n' Burger, Central Park, Saladang/Song, and yes even the vaunted Europane (La Brea bakery is better, and doesn't have the attitude. Before you point it out yes I know Sumi came from there).

                                                                  That said, Tarantino's is pretty good. The Dianne salad at Green St. is good. Magnolia is an awesome place for a drink, and good bar food too. The skirt steak at Porto Alegre is very good, and Gayle's does a great burrata appetizer. And after lunch today at Matsuri, I definitely recommend that place as well.

                                                                  Tops on the list to try are Yujean Kang, Maison Akira (heard it's awesome), breakfast burritos at Lucky Boy (ditto), Tony's pizza, and Tonny's.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                    If the burrito at Lucky Boy is not your style, try any of the several at Gerlach's. Or, try em anyway.

                                                                    1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                      hee hee ;-) all in good fun and with the intent on broadening your eating horizons - enjoy and do report back...and Akira is excellent! ( I unfortunately have to agree about Europane, tho' not sure that La Brea is the trump card...but Europane just doesn't seem to be a the same level as its first year...oh well...).

                                                                      1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                        trojanhorse- How many Pasadena eateries have you eaten at?
                                                                        What city is(or cities are) your benchmark that led you to your opinion of Pasadena?

                                                                        1. re: ilikefood

                                                                          Well between my earlier posts I've mentioned quite a few, and believe me there are plenty more. Due to the nature of my work, we eat lunch out every single day, and often dinner as well. I've been to Parkway Grill, Arroyo Chop house, nearly every place on Lake except that Caribbean cafe, EVERYTHING in Old Town, etc. etc.

                                                                          My main places of comparison are the areas in and around San Francisco and Seattle. Maybe it's just mid-priced, non-chain LA food that I have a problem with...I don't know. For those familiar with the two cities I just mentioned, it's thinking of places like Zachary's pizza or Salumi that make me all misty-eyed!

                                                                          1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                            I miss SF too (I lived in the Mission and worked in the financial district), but there are some good places here. I can't walk to half a dozen awesome places like I could when I lived on Guerrero (here's a tally: Slanted Door, Ti Couz, Truly Mediterranean, Taqueria Castillito, Sunshine Vietnam, and Bangkok 16; I walked to every single one, most between 11pm and 3am), but if you look around, there's good stuff.

                                                                            Tonny's is a good first choice.

                                                                            Then hit Lebanese Kitchen and hope it's on a good day (it can be amazing).

                                                                            Sahara's kebabs and falafel are good -- their falafel is the best I've had.

                                                                            Senor Fish is another mandatory stop. Ceviche and seafood quesadilla, or the lunch special with three fish tacos. Underrated as hell. You should try it.

                                                                            Big Mama's is serviceable.

                                                                            Most of the other pseudo-ethnic places (Presidentwo, Radhika's, etc.) are shitty. Save your money and go to Thai Town or Little India or San Gabriel (eg. Golden Deli, Vietnam House, etc.). If you're going to Saladang and the like, keep driving and take a field trip to Monterey Park. China Islamic is a good start, not least because it will get you to take a look around on Garvey.

                                                                            Things are more spread out here than in SF (or DC), but it can be a great town.

                                                                        2. re: trojanhorse

                                                                          Good response in backing off your OP. Obviously you spoke too soon and have a lot more places to try. There are a lot of eateries in Pasadena compared w/ most cities and like every city w/ a lot there are a lot of ho-hum eateries. It seems your disappointment w/ some "lauded" eateries influenced your "weak' statement. Except for Central Park, which I think is good at a very good price, I wouldn't strongly disagree w/ your opinion on the "lauded" places you mention. But you've already found places to contradict your OP, will find more, w/ more to be found close by outside the borders of Pasadena.

                                                                          1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                            It sounds like you've eaten at a fair share of Pasadena restaurants, low-end and high-end, good and bad. So don't take any guff from people here. (But the egg salad sandwich at Europane is amazing, I must say).

                                                                            Tony's isn't going to blow you away. It's just the closest you're going to get to NY/NJ style pizza. I'm not sure Tonny's or Lucky Boy is going to do much for you either, given your high standards.

                                                                            I would say that the nice thing about Pasadena is that traffic to downtown (110) and Glendale (134 W) and Monterey Park/Alhambra/San Gabriel is pretty reasonable, so venture out there, but it sounds like you're looking for lunch spots mostly.

                                                                            Also - for lunch, try the Persian place near PCC - forgot the name (Haider Baba?).

                                                                          2. Overall, I agree with your comment. There defintiely are restaurants in Pasadena but they don't "wow" you or grab you -- leaving you want to come back again. Most leave you wanting more. Lake Street is like a barren cupboard in the kitchen. Yes, on Casa Bianca and Italian Deli but it is not in Pasadena per se.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: chowchi1

                                                                              chowchi1 -So, what restaurants have wowed or grabbed you?
                                                                              How many restaurants have you eaten at in Pasadena? Also, if you would, name some of those considered the best of Pasadena that left you not wanting to go back again?

                                                                              As for myself, in my whole life time I've eaten at about a dozen places that have wowed and grabbed me , 2 in Pasadena - Akira Maison and Parkway Grill, but plenty in Pasadena that left me wanting to go back.

                                                                            2. Just think about one thing - how often would you have eaten near the 3rd St. Promenade in Santa Monica if you lived there? The rents there, like old town pasadena, are lethally expensive, and only the high volume chains can afford them.
                                                                              Just stay out of old town, and the rest of the town opens up all the horizons you have been exposed to.
                                                                              Even some of the better ones have already disappeared as the rents got too high and the volumes got too low - Kuala Lumpur left, Xiomara is leaving, Nonni, and many more that even a Sherman Oaks resident here realizes have not lasted as the economics did not work.
                                                                              Funny thing in all the postings so far, no one mentioned the Parkway Grill, Arroyo Chop House or Houstons, all on Arroyo Parkway, not far from old town. All good in their respective ways, none inexpensive, yet all doing a very good job at what they do best.
                                                                              And for Chinese in every variation imaginable, all you have to do is drive a few miles south, east, or southeast of the city limits and the world opens up to you.
                                                                              Get out of old town, it is the TrojanHorse of Pasadena!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: carter

                                                                                Xiomara was overpriced and not very good. Good riddance.

                                                                                Kuala Lumpur was too damned sweet. Their rojak was good, but their laksas sucked. I liked the owner and the staff was friendly, but Penang (or good old Malaysia Kopitiam in DC, which is a whole other kettle of fishy-smelling fish) tastes like an entirely other cuisine. Not a good sign. FWIW, every other Malaysian place I have tried in Los Angeles has fallen far short of the ideal as well; I suppose most Americans do not see the appeal of assam laksa (which seems to be the national breakfast in Malaysia and southern Thailand).

                                                                                As you said, once you drive south, east, or a little west (I feel like Eagle Rock is being gentrified to death, driving the good stuff south to Highland Park), with a decent tour guide, you can eat at some amazing places for pennies on the dollar compared to Pasadena. True gems are few and far between in this town... any resident needs to admit it.

                                                                              2. Well, to be correct, it's Lake Avenue. There among others can currently be found Pie N Burger, Magnolia, Crocodile Cafe, Green Street, Smitty's, The Hat and Roscoe's. We pause a moment to mourn the passing of Monaghan's, Konditori, The Chronicle, La Couronne and Pinot Pasadena (sigh). If the past is any gauge, there will eventually be other restaurants there too.

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: mc michael

                                                                                  and before that the Stuffed Shirt, Blums, and Northcotts !

                                                                                    1. re: Chauve Souris

                                                                                      Zikes...was trying to remember the place before the Chronicle- that's it!

                                                                                  1. re: mc michael

                                                                                    Cannot imagine too much mourning of most of your list, save maybe the wine list at Chronicle, and to a lesser extent Couronne. PPasadena was a sham, the worst of all the Splichal Pinot incarnations and of course the first to die.

                                                                                    1. re: carter

                                                                                      Forgot to mention Avanti which is also on Lake.

                                                                                      1. re: mc michael

                                                                                        Have you tried the apple, toasted almond and roasted garlic pizza? Delish.

                                                                                  2. Also check out Tibetan/Nepalese food at Tibet Nepal House on Holly and Azeen's Afghani on Union. Both are great ethnic eats options in Pasadena.

                                                                                    1. Hey, I forgot to mention Julienne a few miles away in San Marino. Good Frenchy stuff.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: mc michael

                                                                                        Oh yeah. Great breakfasts at Julienne. I like their huevos rancheros. Totally inauthentic, but totally delicious.

                                                                                      2. As for Lake AVENUE: Pie N Burger is good but some times I feel nostalgia trumpets reality. Wolfe's is ok as well but ok. Crocodile Cafe -- please -- they are everywhere, might as well add in Koo Koo Roo & Baja Fresh. Not impressed with Green Street. Roscoes chicken is underwhelming and is in other locales around LA. Smitty's is closer to what an urban city bar strives to be and The Hat overall gives you the most bang for your buck and delivers what it promises.

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: chowchi1

                                                                                          Yeah, especially if you like your fries by the grocery bag! No kidding - moving here as I did from a place where "large fries" means enough for a normal person to have almost enough of, I confidently ordered "large fries" with my first Hat cheeseburger, and wondered why the guy looked at me funny. So when he put what looked like a whole family's order on the counter and called my number, it was a jolt. Yes, a bag-o-fries the size of a backpack! The crows and the squirrels in the back yard ate really well for a day or two.

                                                                                          1. re: chowchi1

                                                                                            Not only is Crocodile Cafe not everywhere, the one in Pasadena is the only one in business!

                                                                                            1. re: carter

                                                                                              Crocodile Cafe
                                                                                              626 N. Central Ave.
                                                                                              Glendale, CA 91203
                                                                                              Phone: 818-241-1114

                                                                                              1. re: chowchi1

                                                                                                Crocodile Cafe
                                                                                                7007 Friars Rd. Suite D394
                                                                                                San Diego, CA 92108
                                                                                                Phone: 619-297-3247

                                                                                                That's the complete list (from http://www.crocodilecafe.com/location...). Yup! They're EVERYWHERE -- I mean, you walk through most parts of LA and you can't throw a stone without hitting a Crocodile Cafe.

                                                                                                I went semi-regularly to the one in Glendale as it used to be in the parking lot of my office... it doesn't suck.

                                                                                                1. re: chowchi1

                                                                                                  Closing any day now, as soon as building permits are acquired and the tenant vacates - been on a 2-year lease for nearly 2 years now.

                                                                                                  1. re: carter

                                                                                                    Good. The world needs LESS (expensive, shitty) food, not more.

                                                                                            2. Take Out:

                                                                                              Gerlach’s Grill (626) 799-7575
                                                                                              1075 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105
                                                                                              x-st = Glenarm
                                                                                              Grilled fresh fish with an emphasis on both Middle Eastern and Mexican cuisines.

                                                                                              Father Natures Lavash Wraps (626) 568-9811
                                                                                              17 N De Lacey Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103


                                                                                              Gale’s Restaurant (626) 432-6705
                                                                                              452 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                              Celestino Ristorante (626) 795-4006
                                                                                              141 S. Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101

                                                                                              Chinese: (nice neighborhoody places


                                                                                              Grandview Palace (626) 564-0808
                                                                                              590 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                              Grandview Palace II (626) 564-0808
                                                                                              2582 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107


                                                                                              Marston's Restaurant (626) 796-2459
                                                                                              151 E. Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91103

                                                                                              Julienne (626) 441-2299
                                                                                              2649 Mission Steet, San Marino, 91108


                                                                                              Saladang (626) 793-8123
                                                                                              363 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                              Saladang Song (626) 793-5200
                                                                                              383 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105


                                                                                              Tibet Nepal House (626) 585-9955
                                                                                              36 E. Holly Street, Pasadena, CA 91103


                                                                                              Shaab Restaurant (626) 683-1150
                                                                                              77 N. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91103
                                                                                              (recommended for shabu-shabu)

                                                                                              hope that helps

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: yinyangdi

                                                                                                  Gale's has GREAT pizza - try the prosciutto and arugula one.

                                                                                                2. We moved from Pasadena a few years back, but there used to be a great Italian deli and produce store in the little strip mall at the NE corner of Lake and Mountain. Don't remember the name, but it was one of those places where you'd go in and they'd offer you samples of the cheeses and different varieties of salami and such, and you'd leave with 5 times as much as you intended to buy. They had a great aged peppato cheese and some outrageous garlic salami. Yeah, they'd make you a sandwich, or just sell you the ingredients to go home and make it yourself. If they're still there, I'd highly recommend it.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: GVDub

                                                                                                    Pietro's is the place you are looking for I think. they make a good sandwich.

                                                                                                    1. re: anniegg

                                                                                                      Or Roma Market (right next door to Pietro's).

                                                                                                  2. Weak is accurate. Defensiveness/sarcasm won't deliver the goods. Look at Pasadena as a gateway: to NewChina(SGV), Downtown, Hollywood, Glendale, SGV and the mountains.

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: pisang goreng

                                                                                                        it is now called Scarantino’s...new operator/owner is one of the Scarantino family who actually owned Dino’s. Friend went recently and said despite supposed remodel and minor modifications to the menu, the place pretty much is the same, both ambiance and taste-wise, tho' the prices have definitely gone up.

                                                                                                      2. Eh, quit yer whining and put a little work into it. I guarantee it's out there if you're willing to look.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Clare K

                                                                                                          Yes. All I've heard from the OP are some of the standard, more known restaurants. Clearly only a little bit of effort had been made in exploration, and then immediate frustration and the inevitable comparisons to other cities. I had lived in Pasaadena for many years and there are still numerous places I don't know. It's a big town, you gotta travel around.

                                                                                                        2. Pasadena is OK, but I think there is better food elsewhere in the San Gabriel Valley. Of course, I'm a big fan of Chinese and Vietnamese food, so I'm very biased. Here is my personal collection of mini-reviews of some other restaurants in the SGV: http://www.geocities.com/raytamsgv

                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                          1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                            Nice site. I share your affection for Din Tai Fung.

                                                                                                          2. To the OP: Pasadena is a large town at 150k pop., but it's ridiculous to expect it to have the variety in, or quality of, cuisines that LA, SF or any other large city has. There are some good places to eat, but the best food is Pasadena-adjacent. And that's the beauty of Pasadena; you have all the great places to eat in LA, SGV, etc., without having to live there.

                                                                                                            As for you seeking out the best food in Old Town, well, Old Town is basically a mall with better architecture. There is little that is unique to eat or experience there. And the few places that are distinctive are gradually being priced out. So enjoy the small charms of places like Tibet Nepal House, or Azeen's, or hell, even Tortas Mexico, while you have them, because one day they may go the way of Kuala Lumpur.

                                                                                                            1. There are many chain restaurants in Pas, but there are too many restaurants to say they are all horrible.

                                                                                                              If you want Persian food (kabob, rice, etc.), try Raffi's in Glendale-- 10 minutes from Pasadena.

                                                                                                              Saigon Noodle in Old Pas on Raymond bet. Union and Colorado is good for a pho fix.

                                                                                                              Valley Blvd. in Alhambra and San Gabriel has a great stretch of Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants that cater to a mostly Asian population. This is only a five to ten minute drive from Pasadena.

                                                                                                              Other than that, there are plenty of smaller restaurants in Pas. Try them out and decide.

                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                                Am I losing my mind, or did I never say that they're all horrible? Unless somehow, "overall, I'm disappointed" translates to that for you...

                                                                                                                1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                                                                  It was your headline that got you in trouble. The "weak" + exclamation point indicated that you felt pretty passionately about your dislike of Pasadena restaurants. Well, now you have lots of new, great places to try. Please report back.

                                                                                                                  1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                                                                    Trojanhorse, sorry if I misunderstood you. One night when I was hungry, before I contributed to or saw this post, I did a general online search for "food" in Pasadena, and I found something like 300,000 matches. I started looking at the names and addresses of the restaurants. Many were chain restaurants, but many were also non-chain. I was overwhelmed with the number of restaurants (which probably isn't really 300,000, but I only read through a few pages of them). In any case, my point was basically there are so many restaurants here in Pasadena-- so many to try. That's why I said, "Try them out and decide." I would have to do the same, before making any broad comment, but overall, I am quite satisfied with the food options here. :) I think your original post definitely set off a great discussion-- wow! :)

                                                                                                                    1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                                      One more note: a narrower seach provided 1600 results for restaurants and bars in Pasadena. I do not remember exactly how I procured the first results of 300,000 restaurants (obviously, that can't be). :)

                                                                                                                2. I agree that Pasadena is not a restaurant town like, for example, San Francisco. I loved Cafe Jacoulet, but neither Bistro 45 nor Glendale's Cinnebar is/was able to capture its magic. And remember Lyon's?

                                                                                                                  I have had several wonderful Valentine's Day dinners at Derek's though.

                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: judge dee

                                                                                                                    Well, your honor, Lyon moved to Little Tokyo where it's known as Grill Lyon: http://www.google.com/maps?hl=en&...

                                                                                                                    1. re: mc michael

                                                                                                                      I understand it's now run by their son.

                                                                                                                      1. re: judge dee

                                                                                                                        Was there last month. Tadayoshi and Keiko are still running Grill Lyon. The son is now working side by side with Tad.

                                                                                                                    2. re: judge dee

                                                                                                                      What's with the new Delacey Club 41? Anyone been?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Griller141

                                                                                                                        New? DeLacey's has been there forever. I think they tried some sort of revamp a year or so ago, and added that strange miniscule "patio" seating. Haven't stepped foot in there after the bar full of old geezers experience years ago. They did used to make a really good table-side true (with the raw egg yoke and all) caeser salad.

                                                                                                                        1. re: slacker

                                                                                                                          Actually, it was under the old owners since 1988 and was sold last year. It apparently reopened last year after being closed for a few months and has tried to keep the same menu. Have not been there since the new incarnation and was wondering if it was any different.

                                                                                                                      2. re: judge dee

                                                                                                                        Hey Your Honor,
                                                                                                                        I haven't heard the words Cafe Jacoulet in a long time. I actually used to work there. Robert is at Bistro 45 and everybody knows about Shiro...Just last week I was craving that simple grilled chicken breast salad they used to serve-that vinagrete was the key.
                                                                                                                        Good to know that at least a great restaurant is in Jacoulet's old space; Yujean Kang.

                                                                                                                      3. Anyone been to 54 Holly? I have had good breakfast there a few times, its a hole in the wall, but there is something about it.....

                                                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: anniegg

                                                                                                                          yes, i like the hole in the wall aspect, but did not care for the food. Still, might go back just for the whole feel of the place.

                                                                                                                          1. re: slacker

                                                                                                                            while we're asking/expanding this thread, how about Cafe Variety, on Lake just north of Union?

                                                                                                                            1. re: Local

                                                                                                                              It's okay, good for Sunday brunch, but I don't know how much longer they can possibly last if they don't get some more customers in the door. Good brunch, though; tasted like it was made to order, instead of just a garbage disposal for the Friday-Saturday scraps like you get at most places for brunch.

                                                                                                                          2. re: anniegg

                                                                                                                            I went there trying to fill the hole that Union Stree cafe left in my heart, but, alas, I could not. I like the greasy spoon vibe, but the food was just merely okay.

                                                                                                                          3. Today, while driving home to Pasadena, I realized, again why it is a great place to live, foodwise.

                                                                                                                            Firstly, you can basically find any kind of restaurant, chain, hole-in-the-wall, or otherwise in the city, that range through the ethnic diaspora of LA, California, and possibly the world.

                                                                                                                            Second, if the food is not to your standard, you are about 5-10 minutes away from the following cities for more great food:

                                                                                                                            Glendale-- Persian/Armenian
                                                                                                                            East LA-- Mexican/Salvadoran
                                                                                                                            Korea Town-- Korean
                                                                                                                            Alhambra/San Gabriel-- Chinese/Vietnamese

                                                                                                                            What more could one ask for? Pasadena rocks!

                                                                                                                            1. Ah, pasadeener. We chow there if unavoidable but let's face it, the hounds have spoken & there's no positive consensus on any major Pasadena eatery. I.e, nothing reallllly houndish. Tai better in Taitown, deli & Italiano better in WLA, Chinese in SG, etc, etc. Seafood, forget it.

                                                                                                                              So what's a body to do? With guests in tow Saladang's our place for Tai, kinda cool even if the chow is so-so, but on our own, Chandra is more inviting & less pricey. Green St is OK & pleasant for American faire. Radhika's is OK but uninspired for Indian & a tad pricey. Il Fornaio has decent bread & middling/inconsistent pasta (other Italians in Pasadena either suck or are overpriced). Sad, really sad.

                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                  I guess I'm thinking "greater WLA" including Nate'N Al's in BH, Factor's on Pico and even some stands in Farmer's Market. If you wander too far West you probably drown before having an adequate deli fix.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: bernardo

                                                                                                                                    Hi.. Juniors (at Pico & Westwood) doesn't get tons of respect, but it is pretty solid for the westside...

                                                                                                                                2. re: bernardo

                                                                                                                                  Tonny's and Lebanese Kitchen (and maybe the Tibetan place, Azeen's Afghan, and Sahara) are basically the stand-outs... funny how you mentioned none of them. 'The Hounds' as you put it, are unreliable, anonymous, and mostly sheep as far as I can tell. If you can't find a decent place to eat in the downmarket parts of Pasadena, that's pretty sad.

                                                                                                                                  What's a body to do? Attaching a brain and exploring a bit would be a good start! Never look for good food in high-rent districts -- the rent steals all the ingredient money.

                                                                                                                                  I wouldn't drive here from elsewhere just to eat (duh) but since I live here, I put a little effort into digging out places that do something very well, and patronizing them often.

                                                                                                                                  Actually, I probably would drive a few minutes for Tonny's, and if the original Caroussel weren't so close to my parents' house, I might drive to Lebanese Kitchen or Sahara, as well.
                                                                                                                                  I can't think of any other Tibetan or Afghan places locally so that would also merit a few minutes' drive from some other burgs (admit it, Glendale is great for Armenian, Porto's, and not a whole awful lot else, for example). If Senor Fish didn't also have a downtown location... well, you get the idea.

                                                                                                                                  There are good places here, but 'Hounds' seem to be in the "I'm going to spend $40+ a head on dinner" mode, when at those prices you would often be better off cooking with good ingredients (economies of scale no longer apply at those prices, you're paying for rent and linens).

                                                                                                                                3. I have to agree about seafood in Pasadena or SGV. Where pray tell? Occasional specials at the better places, but consistent menu items for the cravings we have....

                                                                                                                                  1. So, trojan, as I sit here sipping my wine and munching on my leftover shrimp n garlic pizza from last night at Tarantino's, I think about the title to this thread and I say to myself, "Eh, not so much."

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: mc michael

                                                                                                                                      Well, that's nice, but if you think that Tarantino's is so outstanding that it makes up for everything else in Pasadena, I really think that maybe we have different standards.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                                                                                        I don't think there's such a thing as make ups. I just eat one meal at a time. I had a good meal at Tarantino's.

                                                                                                                                    2. BTW, I don't believe anybody's mentioned the great gelato from Bulgarini: http://www.bulgarinigelato.com/

                                                                                                                                      1. Long story short, I agree with the OP's premise.

                                                                                                                                        1. I like Mediterranean Cafe too, but the Pasadena location of King Taco is their weakest. It is silly and nonsensical to compare the offerings in Pasadena, with a population of about 140,000, to places like San Francisco, New York City, or Chicago.

                                                                                                                                          Old Town is primarily tourist, but there are a couple of gems I enjoy, e.g., All India Cafe (very good and more reasonable than other Indian restaurants in Old Town) and La Huasteca for gourmet Mexican.

                                                                                                                                          For sandwiches, check out Lovebirds. El Portal for Yucatecan and margaritas, green curry at Saladang is good (check out Green Papaya in nearby Alhambra too), and I haven't been in a while but used to like Greco's for pizza. Z Sushi on Alhambra/San Marino/South Pasadena border has also gotten great reviews here.

                                                                                                                                          1. Pasadena does seem a bit odd in that I've always thought it to be one of the more visited places, but seems to have a larger than normal supply of not-so-good chains. I can't think of many destination restaurants that I would want to drive an hour to get to there, unlike the area in LA surrounding the farmer's market (Mozza, Campanile, AOC) or San Gabriel Valley.

                                                                                                                                            I guess the sacrasm is lost on me as I don't think Wolfe Burgers is anything to write home about. I'd rather have an In-N-Out burger.

                                                                                                                                            Tonny's, El Portal are solid and OK if you happen to be there. Everytime we drive to Old Town to shop I have to think real hard on any place that's decent enough to muster enough enthusiasm for the long drive.

                                                                                                                                            1. Old Pasadena, being a victim of its own success, has become a chainopolis and isn’t a Mecca for “GOOD” restaurants, but it does have a few. I also agree that Pasadena is not at the top end of cities with # of “GOOD” restaurants, but the total number of such cities above Pasadena is minute (San Francisco, Santa Monica being examples) IMO.
                                                                                                                                              That said, I think most Chowhounds very familiar w/ Pasadena restaurants/eateries (r/e’s) would agree w/ me in believing that “Pasadena is weak !” in r/e’s is just a ridiculous silly statement.
                                                                                                                                              This is just another example where Chowhounders strongly disagree. Anyone has the right to believe Derek’s Bistro is no better than McDonald’s. Expect whatever you want from Pasadena*, but it won’t change the fact that Pasadena has a lot of good r/e’s.
                                                                                                                                              We that agree w/ that can take solace in the fact that trojanhorse, chowchi1, etc just can’t eat out at the vast variety of Pasadena restaurants, and if they do they’re dissatisfied and therefore ripped off. Also believing in a just God, I expect they’ll spend eternity, weeks at a time eating out in each of the 99.999% of communities in the US below Pasadena in quantity, variety, quality of r/e’s. And God said – “Let them eat at Applebee’s over, and over, and over again.”

                                                                                                                                              *Trojanhorse – since price figures in your def of “GOOD” (Ritz being good but expensive),
                                                                                                                                              expect Derek’s Bistro quality at McDonald’s prices if you want.
                                                                                                                                              Also re: your comment about “Where’s the awesome Pizza in Pasadena?” I ask- Where’s the awesome pizza in all of LA? Casa Bianca, minutes away in Eagle Rock has what is overwhelmingly (but def not universally) considered 1 of the best pizzas in LA.

                                                                                                                                              Finally, trojanhorse’s topic is limited to Pasadena only, very legit. OK fine trojanhorse tell everyone who told you "oh there's so many GOOD restaurants in Pasadena" they were wrong and check out the large # of “GOOD” r/e’s in the area. From some of the best Chinese & other Asian food in the country, to Bistro K, Shiro, Brigantie in South Pas, to Café Amore & other r/e’s in Monrovia, to Julienne in San Marino, to middle eastern in Glendale (plus Wahib’s in Alhambra). For Italian deli try Claro’s- Arcadia & San Gabriel or Italian Bakery and Deli in Eagle Rock. All in less travel & parking time than you’ll find in SF, Seattle, or Los Angeles. I wish there was a good Jewish deli in the area but there aren’t. I don’t think there are any Jewish delis in LA where you can get a “ridiculous sandwich for under $10” w/ tax, tip. For excellent sandwiches try Lovebirds on Colorado near Lake in Pas. For seafood, McCormick & Schmick's, very good quality in excellent mission style interior, and you can't beat the $16 1 1/2 # lobster special on Mondays (order 2 if you're a big eater).

                                                                                                                                              8 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                                                                                                "Where's the awesome pizza joint? The Italian/Jewish deli for ridiculous sandwiches under $10? The outstanding sushi or seafood restaurant? Am I just not looking hard enough?"

                                                                                                                                                We don't know the extent of how much you've looked, but thus far, you simply don't like the ones you have tried in Pasadena. It really boils down to personal preference. Your definition of "GOOD" pizza is different from another Chowhound's. Frankly, you're ever as much entitled to you beliefs and to "fully stand by" your original post as any other poster who replied.

                                                                                                                                                Perhaps if you had, as another poster suggested, phrased your title differently, you wouldn't have received such a barrage of discontented replies. The ire rises not only from the word "weak," but the entire city of Pasadena you stereotype it in. As you admit, there are some good joints, though most of them are not -- to you. It's rare to find any fairly large suburban city in LA bereft of any chowworthy eateries.

                                                                                                                                                But, back to your original question, since you asked, "Before I moved here, I heard lots of, "oh there's so many GOOD restaurants in Pasadena" - but I don't see it. Anyone else agree?"

                                                                                                                                                Clearly, the majority LA Chowhound population says, "No."

                                                                                                                                                1. re: chica

                                                                                                                                                  Thank you Chica-as well as to those others making similar points on this post over the last few days.. Well said. Speaking as a Pasadena native circa 1956+, I've experienced both an evolution and devolution in the available contributions to the food chain, and again, speaking only for myself, ultimately, all things considered, I find it ain't too shabby. De gustibus non est disputandim. Stick a fork in it, I'm done.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Local

                                                                                                                                                    I'm perfectly willing to accept the results of an objective survey ranking different parts of town in greater LA as destinations to which hounds drive the longest distances or the most often for the express purpose of chowing down well. May the best destinations win and the stinkiest lose. And a plethora of mea culpas from infidels should Pasadena be among the winners.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bernardo

                                                                                                                                                      There really is no objective results to speak of, given that every part of greater LA has so much to offer individually, and that's what makes the greater LA area so fantastic as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                      Otherwise it's one big moebius strip of trying to find a Chinese restaurant in the SFV, a Korean restaurant in Los Feliz, an Indian restaurant on the Westside, a French restaurant in the SGV or a pizza parlor in Little Saigon.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                                                                                        I think if you gauge the responses to threads for top restaurants in LA or THE restaurant people want to try not many are in Pasadena. Not all the responses are for high end expensive restaurants either.

                                                                                                                                                        One thread I can find is: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/357742

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                          That's a good thread. I think Pasadena is more about eating day in and day out, not a one time fantasy meal that you may think of for years to come but never repeat due to price, reservation hassles, extinction, etc.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mc michael

                                                                                                                                                            That's a very good point, and well said.

                                                                                                                                                            I've also noticed a lot of sheep behavior, so I hardly think the measure of a good restaurant is just in the length of the thread.
                                                                                                                                                            I was reading a San Francisco thread about the "homemade" baba ganoush at some eatery that apparently everyone had raved about. Then it was found out that that baba ganoush actually came out of cans. Now, THAT is hilarious, and an indication of sheep.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: ilikefood

                                                                                                                                                  Best delis in the L.A. area...Langer's in Los Angeles and Brent's in Northridge. Both worth the drive!

                                                                                                                                                3. At least you're getting a huge Whole Foods in Pasadena, which will be nice.

                                                                                                                                                  For some reason, Pasadena restaurants don't get as high a profile as a restaurant in let's say Venice or on La Cienega.

                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

                                                                                                                                                    We already have a Whole Foods in Pasadena on the east side in Hastings Ranch.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Local

                                                                                                                                                      Still, I can't wait for the new one, it'll save me a few miles, and I might also shop at Granny's Pantry more because of it, to help make sure big ol' WF doesn't kill off little Granny's.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: slacker

                                                                                                                                                        The new Whole Foods is going to be like 76,000 square feet. I think that's so exciting. I wish we had the room out here in SM to build like that.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

                                                                                                                                                          yep, I'm watching the monstrosity take form. Can't wait, too. Looks like it'll be two stories. They had to keep a bit of the facade from the the building that used to occupy the space. I love Pasadena for loving its history.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Frank_Santa_Monica

                                                                                                                                                      Right premise, wrong streets. Beverly and Melrose have higher profile openings (Mozza, Hatfield's being the most recent).

                                                                                                                                                    3. If you dare to venture to the "ghetto" of Pasadena, on Fair Oaks and Washington there's a Lousiana Fried Chicken and Seafood (I know, I know....), which is owned by a guy who used to run a Chinese takeout place in Philly, which served Philly Cheesesteak EGG ROLLS. Anyways, he's making them there now and they're yummy and cheap, too! The chow mein is good, too =)

                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hey sugar

                                                                                                                                                        How's the fried chicken at this place? (It has no relation to the Lousiana Famous Fried chicken chain, so I was curious).

                                                                                                                                                        BTW, it's not the ghetto, it's "Northwest Pasadena." We don't want to scare the tourists....

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ozzygee

                                                                                                                                                          To me, the chicken is pretty good - I like the wings and crispy skin - but I'm no fried chicken expert.

                                                                                                                                                          And I think the deal with Louisiana Fried Chicken is that each one is separately managed, with slightly different menus and they just use the franchise name? For example, this one also serves Chinese food and seafood, in addition to the regular Lousiana menu.

                                                                                                                                                          And NW Pasadena...gotcha ;)

                                                                                                                                                      2. Maybe it's just me but I look forward to Italian just about anywhere in LA, for BH, say, Il Pastaio, Da pasquale, Il Buco, Enoteca, etc etc. Same with Brentwood, SM, West Holywood, just about anywhere in LA. The mere prospect of Italian in Pasadena leaves me cold. Maybe Tre Venezie is OK in a pinch, but I agree with other hounds who've been underwhelmed by inattentive service and high prices.

                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bernardo

                                                                                                                                                            lol...Drago owns, after all, both Enoteca and Celestino's ;)

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: chica

                                                                                                                                                              Haha that's funny, there's some westside-centric mentality for ya. I think Celestino's is excellent. Love those waiters, too.

                                                                                                                                                          2. I've had several excellent dinners at The Spot on Lincoln - http://www.thespotpasadena.com/

                                                                                                                                                            No alcohol served, but no corkage fee (near as I can recall) - place can get REALLY loud on the nights that there's a live band and the tables don't turn fast on those nights (lots of people just sitting and listening to the music). Usually just one server for the room, but we've still had excellent service.

                                                                                                                                                            I keep meaning to make it there for lunch ... or breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                            1. TIBET NEPAL HOUSE IS AMAZING. I drive 35 minutes just to eat there. Try the vegetarian steamed Momo's (wonderful Tibetan dumplings) and the grilled meat plates like Himalayan Chicken. Also, I like Nepali milk tea a great deal, but for me, it brings back memories of being in Nepal. My friend thought it was bland. I've been to the buffet once, which was fine and very inexpensively priced. But nothing tops the momo's and grilled meats.

                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: swisscharred

                                                                                                                                                                The green sauce that comes with the dumplings at that Tibetan place is some of the tastiest stuff on earth. If they sold it for take-out, I would buy it by the quart.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ttriche

                                                                                                                                                                  Green sauce as in Thai, Indian, Goan or completely different? Mint, garlic,green chili, clilantro, or what?
                                                                                                                                                                  Dumplings like deep fried simosas & pakoras,or falafel, or doughy Chinese dim-sun, or what?

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bernardo

                                                                                                                                                                    Dumplings like Afghan aushak or mantu. (Get the lamb version, you won't be sorry.)

                                                                                                                                                                    Green sauce something like cilantro chutney, but with the volume pegged to 11, and far more complex than I am able to do justice. It's been a while since I visited the place.

                                                                                                                                                                    You really should give them a try, the sauce alone is worth the trip.

                                                                                                                                                              2. It isn't about dissatisfaction and feeling ripped off. It is about quality food. Sometimes, we are all guilty of being "homers" for all that is around us until perspective sets in. Once, you have experienced something more and better it is not as easy to just accept what is and that applies to food and to the overall state of restaurants in Pasadena. I am willing to travel for good food meaning going beyond one's own neighborhood for those special gems whatever the food type may be. And their is great joy in finding those places. Pasadena does have a few of these gems but beyond that it is still very average on the culinary plane. And as for Applebee's, been their, done that, not a fan! May the delicious, taste-tempting, epicurean delight of now defunct Beadles Cafeteria resonate in your dreamscape over and over again!

                                                                                                                                                                1. I don't get it Trojan. Are you trapped eating in chain restaurants on Colorado Blvd. or something? Almost all the restaurants you named are part of a chain -- from King Taco and Zankou to Mi Piace and Afloat Sushi! Or is your definition of "good" something strange and elusive? The burgers at Father's Office are very good....for a BAR. You aren't calling Father's Office a "restaurant" are you?

                                                                                                                                                                  I'm not even going to start naming all the "good" restaurants in this town. Others here have done a fine job. But I will suggest that you might try locally-owned, INDIVIDUAL restaurants -- even in Old Town! Places like Saladang Song or even All India Cafe, NOT the Louise's Trattoria or Cheesecake Factories on "the strip!"

                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Reeter1

                                                                                                                                                                    Part of the problem is the ambiguity in the term "weak". Certainly you can find adequate chow like Saladang or All India in Pasadena, but although hounds often go to great lengths to sniff out exceptional chow, my guess is not many would drive long distances to chow down in Pasadena. So how one sees this depends entirely on their criteria for "weak".

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: trojanhorse

                                                                                                                                                                      Don't go away with a bad taste in your mouth. As this thread has at times shown, there are good places to eat in and around Pasadena--you just have to search them out. BTW, it's Monday so food is half off at Magnolia IIRC.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. Y'now, Pasadena eating is more than just Old Town and Arroyo Parkway. Some of the best places I've found are in less traveled sections:

                                                                                                                                                                      Domenico's on Washington east of Allen
                                                                                                                                                                      Robin's BBQ in Hastings Ranch
                                                                                                                                                                      Sushi of Naples on Green St(in the theater district) - better for hot food than sushi, though

                                                                                                                                                                      don't limit yourself geographically!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Re: Father's Office- They can make the best burger in the history of mankind and they're still disqualified fr: being a "GOOD" place to eat due to the combination of crowds/small place, no table service and every man/woman for themselves in getting a seat anarchy they perpetuate.
                                                                                                                                                                        OP- Just a fact about FO nothing to do w/ Pasadena. Putting some perspective on your opinions.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. OP- OK - so you've spent a lot of $ eating out in Pas that has left you pretty much disappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                          BTW,I'll have even more fun eating at M&S on $16 lobster night, maybe because I have your blessing to have fun.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Almost 150 posts & no one’s mentioned a terrific gem on Lake Avenue that’s worth the drive – Tropical Caribbean. Family-run storefront dishing up remarkably delicious Caribbean fare. No alcohol, but a smile & TC name-drop at Vendome Wines behind the restaurant will get you a discount on a btl that TC will gladly serve for you.

                                                                                                                                                                            In all candor, there aren’t very many places the Grubs recommend in Pas, but here is the short list:
                                                                                                                                                                            Tibet Nepal House
                                                                                                                                                                            Saladong Song
                                                                                                                                                                            Gerlach’s Grill

                                                                                                                                                                            In fact, Pas has almost as many places on the Grubs’ WNR (Will Never Return) list:
                                                                                                                                                                            Parkway Grill (overpriced mass-produced food carelessly prepared & served)
                                                                                                                                                                            Derek’s Bistro (overpriced individually prepared food carelessly prepared & served)

                                                                                                                                                                            South Pas is home to 2 genuinely wonderful restos:
                                                                                                                                                                            Bistro K

                                                                                                                                                                            For specialized Joneses in Pas, there are:
                                                                                                                                                                            Burger Continental for the world’s best BLT
                                                                                                                                                                            Sushi of Naples for satisfying, undumbed-down nigiri
                                                                                                                                                                            Café Bizou for decent bistro fare & low corkage
                                                                                                                                                                            Sushi Roku for happy hour

                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Grub

                                                                                                                                                                              Burger Continental has some truly frightening food
                                                                                                                                                                              Saladong Song is not bad but I'm astounded that people would choose it as exceptional

                                                                                                                                                                              Tonny's and Lebanese Kitchen strike me as notable omissions from the above list.

                                                                                                                                                                              I have passed by Bistro K dozens of times on my way to mail things at the South Pas post office. It looks like I should plan on going there for a special occasion... thanks for the tip.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Grub

                                                                                                                                                                                I think Song has great Pad Thai (I know, very common, but great!) and it's not expensive at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                I live right up the hill from Gerlach's and have walked there several times for food and have NOT been impressed at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                I also think Cafe Bizou and Sushi Roku are fun with groups of people...

                                                                                                                                                                                We really like Gale's on Fair Oaks and Arroyo Chop House.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Here's another one worth trying:

                                                                                                                                                                                Il Capo Cafe and Deli
                                                                                                                                                                                1001 E. Green St.
                                                                                                                                                                                Pasadena 91106
                                                                                                                                                                                (626) 683-0550

                                                                                                                                                                                There are a couple of reviews elsewhere on chowhound already. It's an argentine/spanish/italian restaurant. I really like their beef empanadas and the calamari roman style.

                                                                                                                                                                                Not a destination restaurant but pretty decent.

                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                1. I would have to agree....Pasadena is weak! Old Towne Pasadena is perhaps the largest gathering of mediocre restaurants. It's unfortunate because over the years, they've done a real nice job with that area. But for the most part, the "white linen" restaurants in Pasadena are frequented by Pasadena's elite socialites and most of these folks could didn't tell the difference between a well-prepared foie grois and a plate of liver and onions! To my amazement that continue to line up and dine at Parkway Grill for faux Spago-esq food and it's sister restaurant, the Arroyo Chop House for the clubby ambience but average cuts of meat. Although we live in the area, we find ourselves driving across town for real food (e.g. Mastro's, Pizza Mozza, Angelina Osteria, Madeo's, Sushi Gen, La Serranta). But having said that, there are a few positives in Pasadena...the best Italian is definitely Celestino;s on Lake Avenue. For Mexican, you're much better off at Los Tacos (California and Fair Oaks) or the taco truck ....the ever popular Majeres is really awful (but the natives feel safe there). Yes Saladong is truly wonderful Thai food. Pie n'burger...it's okay but definitely not in the same league as the Apple Pan. I

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eatlotz

                                                                                                                                                                                    On the weekends, Old Town is frequented by everybody. Those restaurants seem to get a very diverse crowd. Which restaurants are the "white linen" restaurants of Pasadena?

                                                                                                                                                                                    Here are some decent places in the heart of Old Pas:

                                                                                                                                                                                    Noodle World (on Colorado, near Raymond)
                                                                                                                                                                                    Saigon Noodle (on Raymond)
                                                                                                                                                                                    21 Choices Frozen Yogurt (Colorado and Delacey)

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. We're still talking about this?

                                                                                                                                                                                    If we divided up the Los Angeles Area into Pasadena-sized slices (~25 sqmiles, ~125,000 people), I would say that Pasadena would do quite well.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The 3rd Street Promenade is larger, more crowded, is more difficult to park, and has far more mediocre destinations compared to Old Pas. Would anyone ever say that Santa Monica was weak?

                                                                                                                                                                                    Alhambra, Arcadia, San Gabriel, and Monterey Park form a Pasadena-sized area. The highs might be higher than Pasadena proper, but aren't the lows and mediocre just as bad? For every hole-in-the-wall gem, there are a dozen more than are nothing more than just a hole.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm really not trying to flame here, but I can't remember ever going to Pasadena itself (South Pas is a different story) specifically for food -- whereas I have definitely gone to Santa Monica and Monterey Park specifically for food.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think the restaurants there are "mediocre" any more than restaurants anyplace else are "mediocre" -- but Pasadena seems to be lacking in "destination" restaurants, which is a durn shame, because it's such a beautiful city and has the income diversity and the ethnic diversity to host a lot of really great restaurants at all price points.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I say this as someone who lives in a place that's almost completely frequented by tourists and PFAs -- if you want a large swath of mediocrity, just drive Harbor Boulevard from Chapman to the 91 -- there is redeeming chow in just about every corner of LA. Some places just have more than others, but I can't think of a single "Pasadena-sized slice" in the Southland that's devoid of chow -- not Scary Inland South OC, not Scary Inland Northeast OC, not the Pomona Valley, not even, dare I say it, Calabasas and Thousand Oaks.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Thought this thread had died down, but guess not.

                                                                                                                                                                                      Another interesting info. My hubbie send me a link to this map that someone constructed. It listed the restaurants in Jonathan Gold's Where to Eat Now list. Note that the Pasadena isn't very well represented here. I always thought that there are a lot more noteworthy restaurant around the Mozza/AOC/Campanile area of LA than most and the map graphically illustrated that.


                                                                                                                                                                                      If it's any consolation there's not much noteworthy restaurant apparently east of 605 either.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                                                        This is really interesting (the map). Thanks for sending it. It makes me think J. Gold lives on the West side (B. Hills or West LA). There's not much marked in East LA or Glendale either, and both places have good food. I don't know. I think good food can be found anywhere, depending on one's taste and budget. I've heard you can find really good Mexican food in Montebello, for example, but there's not a single restaurant recommended there on this map. Inglewood-- one restaurant (interesting). Bell, Huntington Park, Commerce (nothing). It's pretty interesting to think about why some places are represented and others are not.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                                                          Hmm...interesting. Porto Alegre...has anyone tried this place? (Even though that's hardly a stellar recommendation by J. Gold.)

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Jonathan Gold lives in/around Pasadena. This was revealed by Evan Kleiman during a conversation on her radio programme "Good Food" (89.9 KCRW, Saturdays). Jonathan good-naturedly chided Evan for "revealing industry secrets!" =)

                                                                                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sanangel

                                                                                                                                                                                            Altadena, if I'm not mistaken. My wife and I correspond with him whenever possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sanangel

                                                                                                                                                                                              I have no explanation then, for the void (on the map) of other areas in LA County. Maybe the Times asked him to focus on specific parts of the city of Los Angeles. Maybe not. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                                                                                                                Where to Eat Now is a constantly changing list of restaurants, much like Essential 99.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the info. (I've never heard of Essential 99.) So maybe the map for Where to Eat Now always changes too. That would make sense. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Where to Eat Now changes on whatever whims/experiences Gold has. Essential 99 changes annually.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: katkoupai

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Would hope that since he lives in the SGV that part of town should be well covered. I assume he just reports on the more noteworthy establishments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I think for most people anything east of 605 draws a blank stare...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dream on. There are places east of the 605 that offer great choices. Times columnist Irene Virbila recently gave the Chophouse in Claremont 2.5 star rating, the highest recently even as she reviewed restaurants on the Westside(Beverly something, Melrose, etc.)
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The only reason you are unaware of them is because you are Westside centric, and really what a pity because the best(and most numerous) Asian restaurants outside of China are in the SGV, not San Fran, NOT New York, not Vancouver, etc. And there are so many more options in the SGV that have never been mentioned as destination places. Mostly Asian, but also steakhouses, and a few Italian Places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: b0ardkn0t

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Your post is kind of funny because I live east of 605 for last 11 years, not Westside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Since the last post (March 2007) yes there are some more reviewed near my neck of the woods. Yes, Three Forks was reviewed, and I saw more ho-hum reports about that at Chowhound than good things. Gold also reviewed Earthen at Hacienda Heights, which I knew about for years but he finally gotten around to checking them out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I was born and raised in HK, lived in NY for many years, visited Vancouver, SF (numerous times), lived in SGV for a few years, so yes I know where the good Chinese restaurants are.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      BTW, most SGV valley restaurants reviewed are WEST of 605, not EAST of 605...

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                                                                        That is true notmartha, west of 605 does includes Pasadena.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        That being said though, for the little name recognition any places east of 605 (as in we do not catch the international attention the westside does(or rather the loud obnoxious self-aggrandizing, and horrible traffic/parking to boot) we do offer decent eateries even if few and far between as compared to the westside. you lived here for what 11 years? Try upwards of 20, and I still haven't seen or eaten at many restaurants in the entire area known as the SGV. The point is there are hidden gems out there that do not trumpet their eats (a sign of modesty, and prudence, but also a fact that we do not want the heavy traffic foot and vehicular that plagues the westside all the time) whereas eateries on the westside make many dishes we can make here on the cheap(and the produce is more local since items not imported, especially meat and dairy, usually were brought over from the eastern portion of the SGV, and I know for a fact that restaurants and farmer's market's on the westside rely heavily for fresh produce/meat/dairy from areas this side of town.) I know I visited and ate in SF many times, SGV offers more variety towards eats(Asian) than SF.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: b0ardkn0t

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Well, call me picky. Nobody can cover every single restaurant, not even a professional food critic, but so far I have to say while the asian eats in Rowland Hgts area are quite fine (say better than NYC), I still find myself driving to Monterey Park to have good dim sum, dumplings, etc. There is no Boiling Crab here either...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I also kept finding myself driving to westside to go to places like Terroni, Craft, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          To get good cheese, or gourmet groceries have to go to Beverly Hills, or Surfas. Nothing close to here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          The only other good ethnic non-Asian food I can find nearby is Mexican at La Habra/Whittier area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Even though this thread says Pasadena is weak, I do find myself going to Original Tops in Pasadena for American fast food fix. After trying that, I found Frisco's lacking. Sigh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          P.S. I found the non-cart style dim sum in Vancouver way before any of those show in LA. I think their cantonese maybe ahead of LA. Hong Kong is of course another league.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: notmartha

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I do have to agree with you on Monterey Park, ate and dined there for the last 20 years or so, and they do have the best when it comes to various Chinese regions, in the LA area(although for the variety/quality in restaurants and ingredients (taiwanese, Hong Kong, northern (cantonese), pan-asian I would still have to say the western hemisphere). Have not eaten at any asian eateries in Vancouver and I will take your word on Cantonese since I've only eaten meals on the go there(although cantonese has been prepared here for over 20 years, and every year it grows and is refreshed with recent asian migrants).
                                                                                                                                                                                                            As for gourmet groceries (of the Euroepan variety)I will have to give praise the westside hands down as having the most availability of fine cheeses and a few other foods, including some from up north, and European, but we do keep some of those stocked in local specialty grocery stores. What I was referring to was fresh ingredients, if not looking for imported meats and cheeses (or wines) then there are plenty of fresh ingredients available from parts of the Inland Empire and eastern SGV, and I do know that some of the local produce/dairy makes it's way to most grocery stores /farmer's markets in Southern Cali, and the nation. Pasadena environs though offers a lot of California fusion style food especially as local hospitality programs(Pasadena, Pomona) up their quality although I can't say those in Santa Cruz still do not beat these down here on wine and olive quality. Pasadena environs(relative) are the birthplace of American fast food as McDonalds was born east of here in San Bernardino(IE) and In-N-Out was born in Baldwin Park in the 1940s(SGV) complete with the drive thrus and drive-in movie theaters a lot of midwestern influence including the mom and pop malt shops, etc..

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: b0ardkn0t

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Think Route 66 from Illinois to Pasadena. Also influence from the Indiana Colony that settled in Pasadena, and German(Baptist) immigrants in the 1800s to El Monte, Covina areas, which is why the region became known for milk production (Altadena milk, eventually Chino Hills area as well) and canneries.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              All in all though yes, restaurants on the Westside are destination restaurants. Which is great they offer a lot for the locals and the tourists, but for everyday nonexpensive yet quality food we do have enough restaurants in the SGV that satisfy those conditions, although we could use more destination restaurants especially in the eastern portion of the SGV. to avoid the traffic of the Westside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: b0ardkn0t

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "...you lived here for what 11 years? Try upwards of 20, and I still haven't seen or eaten at many restaurants in the entire area known as the SGV."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Just 20 years? That makes you a bit of a new comer. I remember when they opened Dai Ho market in Monterey Park and Deerfield Plaza. Back then, we had to bike to school, uphill (both ways) during Stage 2 smog alerts. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                3. You should try This and That Here and There Cafe. They are right across from Target in the Playhouse District. They have great burgers, my favorite is the MOFO burger, it's so good. They also have some cool grilled sandwiches and serve breakfast all day. My favorite sandwich is the This and That sandwich. It's a 3 layered sandwich with pastrami, bacon and turkey. I get that with fries and a drink for about 7.50 The price is very reasonable for the big sandwich and lots of fries they serve. Here's their website.


                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: handycrafter77

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Whenever someone whines about Pasadena and gets one of these long threads started, it is ironic how everyone gets all nasty and defensive, and yet the thread ends up filled with recs from other towns like Eagle Rock (like Casa Bianca, as if that is so great), Glendale, and South Pas! And the comments about how easy it is to get to all these other places from Pasadena!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sure, there are great places like Sahara and their fabulous falafel, and yes, there are some good dives like anywhere in the LA basin, and yes, thankfully Cheesecake Factory pulls the crowds away from the better places, but come on now . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MaryT

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Let em whine. I'll just keep circulating among Red White & Bluezz, Magnolia (Monday nights), Fredo's, Europane, Green Street, Smitty's, The Nose, Green Street Taqueria, Tarantino's, Manny's, Celestino's, Houston's, Lucky Boy, Presidentwo, et al.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mc michael

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have lived in Pasadena and now South Pas for over 20 years now. When I first got here the food situation was pretty weak. Then Old Town started to take off and there was some good food there. Now, quite honestly, the high rents have made it mostly high end chains :( On the plus side South Pas now has a number of fine places, as noted above. Although quite honestly my wife and I got into Alhambra, Rosemead and San Gabriel for ethnic food most of the time now. Our current favorites include The Green Papaya, La Vie, The Tofu House (Korean) and innumerable Chinese places).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh and whenever I start feeling sorry for myself I try to find a good meal in some other city outside of NY or SF.


                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Without reading through all 169 replies in this thread, I must plug Dave's Chillin-N-Grillin for the best sandwiches. Dave is a Boston transplant and somewhat of a sandwich artist. I highly recommend his very excellent pastrami. Not to fatty, it's served warm with gooey cheese on a 6" sub. Also makes a great tuna melt. Not exactly Italian or Jewish, but delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dave’s Chilin-N-Grillin
                                                                                                                                                                                                    2152 Colorado Blvd.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Eagle Rock, CA 90041

                                                                                                                                                                                                    (positive blog review: http://la.foodblogging.com/2005/06/29... )

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I agree with you in regard to Pie & Burger, but if you go across the street to Burger Continental, Lake & California, Great food, great portions, but you don't necesarily go there for the burgers, regrdless of the name.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you like Thai food, there's Saladang, & Noodle World next to Cheese Cake Factory On Colorado.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm not a big fan of "chain" restaurants but you have Kabuki, for sushi, although there are better sushi place in Pasadena, Hurry Curry, if you like curry, McCormick & Schmicks for Seafood, and my favorite for beer....a beer lovers "Paradise" The Yard House which actually has decent food! So, with that said, I have no clue about Pasadena being weak!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ollie

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Dear god.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Burger Continental, Hurry Curry, and Noodle World?

                                                                                                                                                                                                        That representation of Pasadena would make Waco, TX look like a gourmet mecca.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ttriche

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I ate a lot of burgers at Health Camp (?) on the traffic circle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Ollie

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I can honestly say your faves are all bad in my book and give pasadena a bad rap....

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: monkey

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Russell's makes one of the best bacon, egg & hashbrown breakfasts I have ever had. I love their bacon. They have tried to make it more upscale to appeal to locals for dinner but I have never been. Sachi Sushi & Matsuri are pretty good mom & pop Japanese Restaurants. A friend of mine loves Sushi of Naples because of Fuji. Haven't been to BC (Burger Continental) in years but I remember it being a lot of fun. They have to have the worst hummus I have ever tasted. Pasadena Sandwich Co on Madre at Foothill is exactly what the name says-a sandwich shop and a good one at that. I have been eating at Cafe Bizou since it opened in The Valley and al though I like the atmosphere in Sherman Oaks better for people watching (alter kakers & celebs) I live in Pasadena. I won't continue because I would repeating much of what was already said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Fru

                                                                                                                                                                                                                i have to agree with pasadena sandwich co! the sandwiches are so big, i have to eat some of the meat and cheese with a fork just so i can get it small enough to wrap my hands around it. most people have to save half for dinner, you can seriously make 4 normal sandwiches out of one of these. the meats are made fresh daily on-site, and the average sandwich probably costs aroung $7-8. it's a real hole in the wall, though, and the hours are very limited (i think they're closed by 3pm and they're not open sundays). great for takeout, though if you opt for table service, they are friendly. i love the virginian. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                south pas residents swear by hi lite (sp?) over on fair oaks. i've never been there, but i have had half a yummy breakfast burrito from a friend who calls it a great "greasy spoon."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mbf626

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi Life Burgers. Their chili cheese fries are really good (definitely with ranch).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Fru

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yay! Someone finally mentions PSC. It may not be a true "deli" but they have excellent and VERY large sandwiches, including pastrami.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I live in Santa Monica and am far from a morning person. Nevertheless I have gotten up early on more than one weekend to drive all the way out to Pasadena to make it in time for the breakfast at Julienne (which lasts, I think, until 11:30 or so). The potato Cakes are amazing. As is the creme brulee french toast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Yoshida on Hutington Dr.(5 min from Pasadena) has excellent sushi. It's not Sassabune but Yoshi serves the best Japanese Sushi in the SGV that I'm aware of. He usually has live uni for those that indulge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Sarsa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Also check out Z Sushi in Alhambra, next to the In-N-Out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for the sugestion, I noticed it mentioned in the thread-I will check it out. Speaking of Alhambra for a won ton soup meal try Won Ton Time on Valley and Garfield next to the Starbucks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I see I forgot the mention that Yoshida is in San Marino on Huntington Dr.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Basing your Pasadena dining experience primarily on Old Town is like basing your L.A. dining experience on Hollywood Boulevard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  King Taco, Louise's and Zankou are chains. Get outta town! No wonder you don't get it. At least pick some one-offs. Afloat Sushi is like dog food. It's conveyor belt sushi. Rock Island Wraps? You actually ate at these places? C'mon! Your ChowPoints™ are dropping by the second.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I lived around Pasadena for about 12 years, and I'd agree to a certain extent. The OP's statement is just a little off. There just aren't any GREAT restaurants in Pasadena. Everything is just pretty good... nothing really to write home about.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If I'm looking for good food, I'm usually headed away from Pasadena. The only reason I drive specifically towards Pasadena is for the Taco Truck at the Nishikawa lot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: andytseng

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mmmmm.....taco truck! I'm flying 3,000 miles tomorrow to L.A. and that truck is center on my radar. Can't wait!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Pasadena is one of those odd places like Beverly Hills & Brentwood that has money, tourism, investement... and yet the food is mediocre.... or it least its not the Chow paradise anyone expects.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Frankly... there are just too many shallow, Food Network watching, Hummer driving, Educated-But-Not-Cultured, Sub-urbanites... kind of like Orange County but with better location, architecture and less pomp.... but still culinarily kind of clueless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree with you about OC culture, but Pasadena is well ahead of the ball game in terms of OC foodies, I would say this about Pasadena: most people that live in the area know a little of this a little of that and many have traveled to other places and eaten at great restaurants here and abroad, I just don't think most of the population's interest(or priority) is in bringing in authentic(ethnic) cuisine or high end restaurants, as they can find that in other areas, in some respects I think Pasadena is more about comfort food(think burgers, cupcakes, chicken n waffles, etc; simple things yet well executed, not frilly) and experience yet friendliness and down to earth for everyone not just the pretty people(or unwarranted pretension which is a major put off)--maybe a reason the happening nightclubs aren't found in Pasadena, which sets it apart from the westside in some respects. Also when comparing to other cities Pasadena does have high end options that aren't too shabby.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I like Gayle's off of fair oaks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        eating at the culinary school's restaurant off of Green was nice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Saladang & Saladang's Song for Thai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lucky Boy for huge ass breakfast burritos
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Lovebird's is cool
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Houston is good for prime rib
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Philly's Best just opened for Cheesesteaks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yoshida's is awesome (but really san marino on huntington though)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        TONS of chinese off of valley also (mei long village, little sheep for hotpot, etc)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Din Tai Fun for dumplings in Arcadia

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Wow! You are eating at all the wrong places and making terrible assumptions of Pasadena! There are actually some really great places, like ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In Old Town: Malagueta, Lucky Baldwins, and Yahaira Cafe (a little beyond though).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pizza: Tarantino's
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Italian Deli: Claros (in Arcadia)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sushi: Tokoro

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You are also missing out if you haven't eaten at Smitty's or Parkway Grill for nicer American, Saladang for Thai, and El Portal and Cafe Verde for Mexican to name a few other favorites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And don't get ME started on Pie N'Burger. I could eat In N Out several times a week, but would still prefer a Pie N'Burger any day over that. You can't order pie and milk shakes and chili at In N Out!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pasadenaerin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I LOVE
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They have amazing meats and other great things...love their wine selection and the potato chips at the bar ROCK!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Bistro 45 has always been enjoyable along with Arroyo Chop House.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            SHIRO is my fav on that side of town!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I feel the reason Pasadena has recieved a bum rap has to do with the reputar it has acquired over the years. Too many resturants have moved in and many of them are all show with nothing to hold. Many places (especially in Old Town) have a very snotty attitude which works against them. I can handle mediocre food if the service is ecceptional! If you stay off the main road and visit the mom and pops off the beaten paths you can find atmospheres that are more then welcoming. Businesses that want you there and treat you accordenly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have to say when I want a gormet meal, I can make it myself. But when I go to a restuarant I am there for a shared experience with the people I attend with. Not to negate quality, but for me food comes second.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mike Alva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pasadena has a lot of good places for eats both ethnic and upscale. I've never encountered attitude from anyone. If I want a "shared experience" then I definitely head to the westside, since you'll be sharing not just with friends but with everyone else there. Pasadena offers a more intimate setting for the most part and makes the several upscale eateries in the area seem more so upscale. Over on the westside sometimes I feel like I'm at Disneyland/Six Flags with so many club goers/frat guys/gals/20, 30 somethings looking for a happy hour in a restaurant--wall to wall in some restaurants, and not the service, but the patrons are the ones that ruin the service for me, and some of them are the ones that give attitude. On the other hand you go to a restaurant for the food not the ambience, which is why I like many restaurants on the westside, despite the atmosphere, because some things you can only find on the westside given the affinity for out of towners to open new places there. On the ethnic point, yes Japanese and Persian are well represented on the westside but other than that, it doesn't do justice to the rest (and larger) LA ethnic communities, for example you are more likely to find more upscale while still true to Mexican food in the environs near Pasadena(i.e. Babita) than on the westside (where I've not found a decent Mexican restaurant; mostly tex-mex creations, in other words mostly cheap eats found in any chain restaurant, or tuly hole in the walls that serve food only so-so compared to hole in the walls found near the Pasadena area, with the sole exception of Southern Mexican which excludes the whole rest of the country), nor decent authentic Chinese(of any particular region; though they are the largest ethnic community after mexican/central american followed thereafter by Filipino(which you will also find better on eastern half near Pas)/Korean/vietnamese in OC/Thai/middle eatern/ jewish/Russian/Peruvian etc.) On the same ethnic note, I've generally found that for Italian there are options from upscale to mid to low end places, whereas on the westside, it is either mostly completely upscale or completely low end, while in Pasadena, and environs you can find many good mid range laid back restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. check out madeleine's as well. it's on green, a few blocks east of maison akira.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              for good sushi, hit up yoshida's in san marino. it's a hop/skip/jump from pasadena.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I'm surprised no one has mentioned Maison Akira. Granted, you may have to mortgage the house, but the French food here is just ecstasy! I haven't tried the Japanese fare, but why stray from perfection?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I second the profound sighs for The Honker and Konditori, and also Miyako's with the grease-pit tables. Pasadena has evolved. And for those that can gain entry, there's the Athenaeum at Caltech!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tintinmilou

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  actually Maison Akira is mentioned a few times circa 2007 posts, and I still like the food there, tho others have expressed lesser opinions then and now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. WOW! 214 posts and counting about how lame (or not) the food scene is in Pasadena. Sure, there are a couple of gems but really, you can do much better in virtually any category by leaving the city limits. In fact, it can be a game. You like _____ in Pasadena but there is much better ______ at ______.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: orythedog

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Excellent idea. If more people would leave Pasadena on weekends, I would not have a problem getting tables. Go!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mc michael

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Second that, and please include all those other like-minded persons in your entourage! I'd love to be able just to drop into Noir and sit anywhere...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have read this whole thread and was amazed not to find El Toreo on anyone's list. If im in old town this is the only place i will eat. Its been there forever, the food is good and they have wonderful table salsas.... Its a wonderful contrast to the Cheezwhizcake Factory just steps away. I have no idea how they survive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As someone who lived in Pasadina once upon a time and who visits twice a year to visit my mother..... Pasadena seams to be a wasteland of chain restaurants. Ok maybe not that bad but compared to Seattle (home) and its neighborhoods there is no comparison. There are few neighborhood breakfast places, independent coffee shops,Independent restaurants serving interesting and "modern" cuisine, sushi or seafood, even good pizza. There is plenty of money around.. i don't get it. Actually all of LA seams like this to me. If you want good food you ether need to go Ethnic (not a complaint) or $$$fancy and there in just not that much in between.. except chains! Its the opposite of somewhere like Portland OR. were there are lots of moderately priced, independently owned restaurants serving interesting food....... and few chains.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, im heading to Pasadena soon and im not looking forward to my choices. That's why im here...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        El Toreo
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        21 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: newbflat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          part of the problem with Pasadena is that much of the money is held by folks much older, set in their ways, and they go to the Parkway Grill, Arroyo Chop House, Smittys (aka Smith Bros restaurants), Ruth's Chris, etc., or eat at home. They seldom ever get into old town, and especially not on weekends when the bangers tend to show up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Arroyo Chop House
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          536 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Parkway Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          510 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: carter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe that will change with the gentrification of Old Town (and the surrounding areas) with the mixed use projects and new condos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Surely hope so as there are many closed or should be closed restaurants available for the right operator.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And due to high rents in old town, that is why some are opening east of it rather than paying those too high rents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: carter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Going east may not be the panacea, esp. if the Playhouse can't get out of bankruptcy intact. That said, Elements Kitchen seems to be doing ok.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Elements Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                37 S El Molino Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't think the Playhouse is justification for not going east. Once it's curtain goes up, all those parking stalls are taken for that entire evening, not turned over for restaurant patrons. Same for the Civic.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hear Elements is doing fairly well, and with Ruth's Chris, Europane and of course the paseo across the street passing off what some refer to as dining options, it has become a busy enough dining destination separate from Old Town, and easier to get into and out of, as well as park. And when Urth Caffe opens at the corner of Madison, it will further enhance the area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: carter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Your critique is dated. Yes, there are old folks in Pasadena, but there are eaters of all ages. Old Town is a youth culture place and not conducive to producing great food. There are many other restos not in Old Town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mc michael

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                While your comment is spot on regarding the new customer base in old town, meaning in the past ten years or so, it does not possess nearly as much per capita disposable income to devote to dining, nor in many cases the desire to spend it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Drinks become more important, as just one justification.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rents or mortgage payments have a strong bearing on that as well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weekends draw from the entire SG Valley, which is good.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Problem is, landlords see that business and feel the tenants can pay high rents, while their actual weekly volumes are skewed toward Friday and Saturday and drift markedly lower during the rest of the week, which is why the older folks like Old Town on Weeknights, if at all, meaning Bizou, Cheval Blanc, Yujean Kang, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: carter

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I can recall when people in Pasadena only ate out on Friday night, Saturday night and Sunday breakfast/brunch. I think this has improved but is currently weathering the effects of our economy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. re: newbflat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You need to look around old town a little more, eg, Red White + Bluezz, Vertical, Yujean Kang. You might also check La Grand Orange. As for good pizza, try Tarantino's on Green St (no, not in old town).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mc michael

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LOVE Taratino's! That's my fave pizza place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: brattenheimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I can't get past their pasta and garlic bread with cheese! The Pepe Salad is really good, too. One of these days I will get around to ordering a pizza!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. check out Thaitalian in old town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MaryT

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, Thaitalian closed over a year ago. That location is now Naga Naga - a very mediocre ramen shop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Lived in Pasadena for most of my life... there are some damn good places to eat. To be honest many of my Pasadena brotheren have pointed out many so I am not going to relist. Why I am writing is for all those that diss Pasadena after hitting up the tendy places and say Pasadena sucks! Yes those places suck and no Pasadena it not New York or SF but there are some good eats!!! Some cheap some not so... One thing I disagree is Cafe Santorini, I love that place! Is it the best place I have EVER eaten... no but they do have good food and at good Pasadena prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Cafe Santorini
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          70 W Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I like Porto Via for lunch on their patio or takeout. I thought the french onion soup at Hamburger Hamlet was great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            How about bars? Any artisan cocktails in Pasadena?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mlutsky

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are a few good eats in Pasadena - Le Grand Orange is good for food & drinks, Kang's Yujean Gourmet Chinese - both located on Raymond Ave., Arroyo Chop House is good for steak lovers - located on Arroyo Parkway, if you like Thai food - try "Saladang" (indoor seating) & it's next sister restaurant/next door (indoor and outdoor seating) neighbor "Song" - located on Fair Oaks/Del Mar, if you are looking for casual dining & like Mexican - try Mijares on Pasadena Ave. - they have amazing Margarita's & a mean garbage burrito (one of their specialties)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Arroyo Chop House
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              536 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: CaliGal888

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Nix Saladang. Better Daisy Mint or PresidenTwo.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Daisy Mint
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1218 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mc michael

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Daisy Mint by far has the best thai food in town (no corkage fee either). For tacos I say stop by the truck parked in the auto shop on fair oaks near del mar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Daisy Mint
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1218 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: mlutsky

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Elements Kitchen has artisanal cocktails. It's right next to the old Pasadena Playhouse. Each week, they focus on one ingredient and build drinks around it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Elements Kitchen
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                37 S El Molino Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: rborja

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Just cruising through - been a year since I looked in on this thread - and would like to add 1886 at the Raymond to the artisanal-cocktail list. The one called "Medecina Latina" or something like that caused Mrs. O to exclaim, "This is what a margarita SHOULD be!!" … and she dearly loves just about any margarita. Just to try the bartender out on classics, I had her make me a very old-fashioned martini, using Hendricks gin, and it came served in a very old-fashioned martini glass (rolled rim instead of flared) with a slice of cucumber, and it was close enough to perfect. Next time Mrs. O will order a Sidecar … the menu cocktails are $12; my martini was $14.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. I love Tops Burgers, they also have great fried zucchini and it won't break your wallet. Chop House I think you mentioned is wonderful; Green Street Restaurant behind the commons; Smitty's is good to have a burger and a glass of red; Wolf Burger is a classic; We like P.F. Changs even if it is a chain, they have great mai tais!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Green Street Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                146 S Shopper's Lane, Pasadena, CA 91101

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Brits on Colorado has the best British pub food in the are - especially their fish and chips!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Brits Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1770 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Kevitivity

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another note from 2011: Brit's is defunct. That space is now the newest branch of Lucky Baldwin's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lucky Baldwins
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    17 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. You want cheap..how about Continental Burger on Lake Street? It's been there since the 60's and it still has the hamburgers and greasy fries and outside patio . Just down the street from CalTech. Bring your PC and camera for entertainment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My favorite Pasadena joint right now ( I don't do Restaurants) is Dog Haus. It's a Hamburger & Hot Dog joint that serves amazing food. Been going there the last two weekends and haven't been disappointed. They serve their hot dogs on King Hawaiian bread, which is a sweet dinner roll. You'd be surprised as to the taste it adds to the dogs, I was. Even their Hamburgers are served on the rolls. It's a little messy due to the softness of the rolls but so what. I can say that the meat (dogs and burgers) is top notch. The menu is very adventurous, plenty of combinations to try.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Corner of Union and Hill one block north of Colorado Blvd. and the Pasadena City College Campus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dog Haus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      105 N Hill Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Everyone says this, but the best food thing about Pasadena is going to SGV for Chinese and Vietnamese food. Now, I know that's a copout, so I'll cop-in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Il Fornaio's pricey but not bad. Mi Piacci (sp?) is expensive but not bad. I think Buca's not a bad chain. Marston's has been solid in a lot of choices. A little pricey. I had some ok Indian food in Old Town w/ my pops. I think there's a Zankou in Pasadena, near the JC. Pretty nearby is a good Korean soon tofu joint.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The taco truck that used to be on Fair Oaks (near Shell Station?), was always ok for after bars shut down. As far as STELLAR? Head to SGV.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh yeah, in Arcadia, Zelo's has a mean deep dish pizza. I mean, standout. And pretty close is Din Tai Fung, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Din Tai Fung Restaurant
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Old post, but wondering what great bakeries are in the Pasadena area...?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (Will be going to Julienne for lunch, is it still as fabulous as it used to be?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Funwithfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For French-style pastries, Europane continues to be good, and now there's one across from the Paseo Colorado. There's a newish Armenian bakery up on East Washington, between Hill and Allen (okay, I think it's at least six years old) that an Armenian ex-coworker said was in her opinion every bit as good as Paradise in Glendale; don't remember the name, sorry, and I don't buy pastries but maybe once every few years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There are three bakeries on that stretch. Is it the one on the north side of East Washington, or the one across from Mission Liquors near Allen, or the other one that's closer to Hill? (The one across from Mission Liquors has large plate glass windows and cases of cookies, the other two have narrow storefronts.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We went to Julienne and had a FANTASTIC lunch. Their meatloaf is still as good as ever, and love the sauteed spinach that accompanies it. Does anyone have her cookbook?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                P.S. We stopped by Heirloom afterwards, but after my tarte tartin at Julienne I was too full to buy anything. But, if they had the Lemon Meringue Pie our waitress at Julienne raved about, I would have purchased it...maybe next time :).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. try Sushi Roku in 33 Miller Alley Pasadena, CA 91103-3643 (626) 683-3000 expect current sushi prices and delicious menu; and Mario Batali's new places,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              http://pasadenascoop.wordpress.com/20... If you've ever cooked from his recipes you gotta know it's great ; also excellent authentic tasty breads to drive miles for at le pain quotidien http://www.lepainquotidien.us/ There used to be a place called Thaitalian that had great innovative fusion pasta's at great prices, nice champagne etc. with hip, clean atmosphere but not sure if it's still there, we still dream about it, yum! All are in old town Gotta look in the little streets and alleys because not all are located on the main drag, the hold in the wall places are totally catchy & yummy, like in europe. Another thought if you're not satisfied with pizza out... make your own crust with home made mayonaise and wine in the dough and get creative with toppings or try Wolfgang Pucks restaurants a jaunt from Pasadena! There are excellent places in Pasadena, open your mind :~


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Sushi Roku
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              33 Miller Alley at One Colorado, Pasadena, CA 91103

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LiliCooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thaitalian has been gone for awhile. Naga Naga replaced it, a thai run ramen shop that'd I skip getting ramen at. Next to it is a new pita place opening up. Europane for bakeries is meh...not much choice bakeries wise. There is a new Lovebirds branch across from Gelsons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LiliCooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  lilicooks, are you saying that batali is involved in market on holly? i don't think there's any connection, but would love to know if there is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I didn't read any of the posts below yet. Old Town has really changed and not for the better. I wouldn't say Pasadena is weak though. Also surrounding areas . . . though someone is going to mention Casa Bianca, and I know I am in the minority here--but it sucks! Old Town used to have great places like Domenico's Old Town Pizza and Goldstein's Bagels, just to name a couple . . . Rising rents paved the way for Cheesecake Factory, CPK, and the likes . . .

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: apple7blue

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    not up and running yet but Settebello Pizza is opening in the old Famima space where Tender Greens is also planning to open. Aka Bistro in Old town looks promising in the old Gordon Bierch space. I could be mistaken but i think Lemonade might be opening an outpost on Lake St. in what used to be the michael Chiarello store. I drove by quickly and saw the verbiage in the window. The place next to the ramen place opening is Pita Jungle a mini chain from phoenix. Been there a few times and nothing worth writing home about but it's decent and hits the spot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the whole Lammele/playhouse area is going to be taking new food transformations within a year or so...let's just hope it sticks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tender Greens
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    6290 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: trolley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      YeS...Lemonade is moving into that space.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I feel your pain. I have lived in Pas. for a few years now and there is not much to offer when it comes to food. But there are a few gems out there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pizza: Del Monico's on Washington Blvd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sushi: Tokoro on Fair Oaks in South Pas. is pretty good. It's a little pricey compared to other offerings in the area and if you want your sushi to float by you, you will be disappointed. The staff knows their stuff and they have some of my faves like fresh wasabi and monk fish liver.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Deli: Vince's on California in South Pas. They are only open for lunch but they are good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Burgers: Not a whole lot to choose from if comparing to Father's Office and I do agree that Pie & Burger is over hyped and way to expensive. Just make the drive to L.A. and get what you want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nachos: Los Tacos has some good ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Burritos & Salsa: La Estrella is hands down the best. My Finace and i make special trips just to but the salsa. They are on Fair Oaks north of the 210. They also offer traditional stuff like tongue and cabeza. Yum!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Argentinian: Malbec on Green is really good. It's a little pricey but well worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Odds & Ends: If you really want a treat go to Fiore Market in South Pas. It is only open from 11-6 most days but the food is fresh and organic. I promise you will not be disappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Places to Avoid
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mike & Ann's - Expensive and unimaginative

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mi Piaci's - Food is okay but people really go for the bar. Get to know the bartenders, tip them well and they will take care of you in the future. Henry and Brian make really good drinks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Places to avoid unless drunk/stoned
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lucky Boy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mamma's Brick Oven Pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Overall try to avoid the chains. I mean seriously, Louise's? you might as well eat on CPK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mamma's Brick Oven Pizza
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    710 S Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91105, USA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Father's Office Bar
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1618 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    La Estrella
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    502 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: soolovely

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Isn't the pizza place you are talking about on Washington called Domenico's?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. i just moved here myself but have been working overtime trying all the local food joints. i've found quiet a few good spots. Personally, i dig:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Domenico's on washington for pizza (not the other location). good, old school spot. the pizza with broccoli sounds weird, but it's great!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      CHAM Korean Bistro.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Norma's Taco Stand in Old Town: Good, different tacos. Not traditional. Make sure to ask for them extra spicey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Stacked Sandwiches: I know it's not in Pas, but i have to mention Stacked in Arcadia. Close enough to where i live (east pas) and well worth the 2 freeway exit drive. FANTASTIC sandwiches.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Robin's BBQ on Halstead: Great BBQ and a solid sandwich with 3 meats.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nicole's Gourmet Foods: Great sandwiches, salads and cheese!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nicole's Gourmet Foods
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      921 Meridian Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: edisking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi edisking, welcome to Pasadena.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm puzzled that you like Robin's. I've been there twice and nearly everything I tried was mediocre (the blueberry cornbread was the one exception). What do you like there?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Pasadena does have some decent 'que in the guise of Bonnie B's Smokin' Barbeque Heaven:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There was also some excitement when Perdue's first opened, but it quickly began to get mixed reviews:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: edisking

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For tacos: try El Super Burrito (north side of Colorado/just west of Rosemead). More traditional and nothing added, but meats far surpass Norma's, IMO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Welcome to town, edisking!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          El Super Burrito
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3631 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I've got to give a shout-out to Quadrupel Brasserie on Union - one of the better meals I've had in my 10+ years in the L.A. area, and absolutely stellar service. The mussels in a lobster bisque as are delicious as they sound.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i agree..had the mussels during lunch...wow!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: thursday

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not a fan of this place. Not worth it for the $$. Had the stuffed mushrooms - pretty tasteless. Also tried the mussels - not that great. Also the service was pretty slow. Took almost 30 minutes to get the starters (mushrooms and a green salad).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Ok I'm biased being born and raised in the Pas area but you need to look further. First tip stay out of Old Pas the best place is Mi Piace. Fne dining, Dereks Bistro on the corner of Glenarm and Marengo the top rated in Pas according to Zagats. Next, Parkway Grill on Arroyo, (Mark is the best bartender EVER! Anywhere! And I have met many) or is sister restaurant Arroyo Chop house. Other notables Akira Maison, Japon Bistro (excellent sushi and great sake list) I know people who drive an hour to eat there. I love In-n-out and it good but a different burger than Pie n Burger, both rare great but P&G is recommended by New Yorker Mag, neither can be compared to the counter, one of the worst burgers I have ever had, and they never get my order right. Notable burgers, Lucky Boy, Topps, B-man and many more far above the counter. Pizza, best is Mommas in So. Pas, great hotdogs North Lake, great tri-tip sandwiches at How's Market only Th- Sunday. I can go on but will stop I encourage you to look around you come to find the local restaurants greatly appreciate their customers. As others noted get into Eagle rock, So. Pas, San Gabriel for Vietnamese and Chinese, Arcadia for dumplings. Tis is a very diverse area within 15 minute drive.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Lastly, welcome to Pasadena a very rich community, and where much of the growth of LA began.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Japon Bistro
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              927 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Parkway Grill
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              510 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Mi Piace
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              25 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Ate late last night @ Malbec. My party and I were very happy. I had the mussels/clam appetizer with a side of potato salad. It was delish and the staff very accommodating w/my need to be Gluten and Dairy free.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Malbec New Argentinian Cuisine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1001 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91106

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Kitchen Queen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Would the new Dog Haus beer garden be the place to look for craft beer in Pasadena, or are there other places?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Dog Haus
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  105 N Hill Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: redrover

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Lucky Baldwins and Intelligentsia (!) both have interesting selections of craft beer. Intelligentsia's is small but well curated, although it would be nice if they gave more attention to Craftsman than Eagle Rock. There's also the Yard House, which lists a large selection of craft beers. I've never been there, so can't comment on the quality.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A location of the Orange-based Haven Gastropub will be opening sometime soon where Brix 42 used to be, at 42 S De Lacey Ave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also a location of the Long Beach-based Congregation Ale House will be opening where Crown City Brewery used to be, at 300 S Raymond Ave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Both scheduled for "late 2011", but you know how that works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I walked by both Haven and Congregation today. Work is still ongoing at Haven (they are painting, no signs up yet). Congregation looks as if it could open at any moment -- signage is up and illuminated, furniture is in. They have an outdoor terrace with furniture just like the furniture at the Culver City-adjacent Father's Office.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Peripatetic

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Congregation has "looked" ready for at least 3 months, no?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TonyC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That could be. It's the first time I've actually looked inside, so I can't say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: TonyC


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Congregation is set to open on Sunday (December 4th):


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Haven Gastropub + Brewery is set to open on December 15th: