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?
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.
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...
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.
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.
There have been significant changes in the five years since Clare K posted this. Some good places that didn't exist back then:
Sushi Kimagure Ike
Bonnie B's Smokin' Barbeque Heaven
House of Basturma
The Slaw Dogs
Admittedly, a number of "weak" places have opened during the same period, too.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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
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.