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First date in Pasadena

I am going on a first date so I’m looking for a place with a nice but not stingy not too fancy but nice atmosphere something fun perhaps. The food is very important, as she is a cook so I want something where the food will be top notch. I ran a quick citysearch on it and a bunch of steak house places popped up. I'm not a big meat an potatoes guy although I like a steak I don't want to pick just a steak place, I love Asian food, and south American. I saw Japan bistro and a few other places that look interesting what are some of your suggestions.


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  1. Actually i'd prefer something japanese, french, or spanish.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Ben7643

      Just because you said Japanese or French, I'll throw out Maison Akira. It's Japanese owned w/ Japanese influences, but still mostly French ingredients & technique. The food is very good.

      I think the room is too fancy for a first date, though. Maybe keep this up your sleeve for a followup date where you gotta up the ante.

      1. re: Professor Salt

        Yes i'd agree too fancy I went there once before it was very good how about one of these ??

        Japn bistro



        Bistro K

        La Luna Negra

        1. re: Ben7643

          Are we talking dinner? Julienne in San Marino is a great breakfast and lunch spot, but it isn't open for dinner.

          You might consider Vertical Wine Bistro in Old Town, which features mostly small plates and has quite a variety of wines. Sharing a few small plates can help get things going.

          Shiro in South Pas is an excellent restaurant, and I seem to recall that it's quiet enough for a date place.

          I've tried Bar Celona (tapas) but not Luna Negra. I liked Bar Celona, but I don't have many points of comparison for tapas.

          I went to Japon Bistro a couple of times, and liked it well enough, but when I'm in the mood for sushi in the area I usually wind up in Alhambra, at Z Sushi.

          While it wouldn't be a good first date place because it's too intimate (the place has like 6 tables), keep Cafe Verde in mind. It's also BYOB. A real gem of a restaurant.


          1. re: Ben7643

            Of your list, I've only been to the latter 3.

            Julienne (as stated below) is closed for dinner

            I think Bistro K has amazing food, but the small restaurant might be too intimate for a first date.

            La Luna Negra - if you go on the weekend when they have loud music you will not be able to hear each other and it would be a first date disaster.

            I think Bistro de la Gare (S. Pas) would be a good option. The rooms can get a little noisy, but not unbearably so - and I think it would work well (and the food is good - and it's French)

            I love Jack Flash's Vertical Wine Bisto idea... I think it would be a great first date type thing.... I'm fairly certain there's a menu online.

            Also to consider - Mike & Anne's in South Pasadena - doesn't fit your ethnic food requirements - but I think would make for a lovely first date (there was a good write up on it yesterday or so...)

      2. Since you listed French, I thought of the Crepevine. I went there today because I remembed many suggestions for it here on CH. It was a lovely space and the people there were nice. http://www.thecrepevine.com/
        There's a Japanese BBQ place next to La Luna Negra that I've been meaning to try. Here's a link http://www.gyu-kaku.com/ in case you want to check it out.

        1. Why not sit outside at Saladang? It's a very pleasant place to sit and the food is pretty good.

          Unfortunately, I hold most Pasadena restaurants in fairly dim view, so I cannot recommend a lot of places for a first date. I would suggest leaving Pasadena. If the food is really important, then go to Arcadia and eat at Din Tai Fung. A cook will appreciate their juicy pork dumplings, no doubt. Or drive down to LA and get some Colombian (try Chibcha on Sunset/Rampart or La Fonda Antioquia) or Peruvian food (there are recs on this board).

          4 Replies
          1. re: glutton

            Din Tai Fung is a horrible first date place. They rush you in and out, and expect you to be done with dinner in 30 minutes. Also, it's so crowded that it would be hard to talk and get to know each other.

            On the other hand, I second the Crepevine bistro recommendation. It's fun, not too pricey, and intimate enough where you can talk to each other. You can stroll Old Town together afterwards.

            1. re: WHills

              I had a wonderful first date there. It was for dinner on a weeknight, so maybe that was the difference.

              1. re: glutton

                I enjoy the food and wine at Crepevine and think it's a lovely spot for a romantic date - HOWEVER - I typically stay away because I hate smelling like a place when I leave... and they are one of the worst offenders in town (topped only by The Melting Pot (yuck!) - at least you'll enjoy decent food at Crepevine!).. I think they have issues because it's a tiny space - but hopfully they'll do something about ventiliation SOON! (Has anyone been recently? - my last visit was about 5 months ago -- would be curious to know if the issue has been fixed).

                1. re: The Oracle

                  I went pretty recently and didn't experience anything like that. It wasn't very busy when I went (nearly 2 in the afternoon on a Wednesday) so that may have been a factor.

          2. I would suggest Cafe Bizou on the corner of Holly and Raymond. Nice date atmosphere, good menu selection, and reasonable prices. They also have a very minimal corkage fee.

            1. OK thanks for the tips everyone :)

              I have it down to two suggested on here and one i found on CHOW

              Which do you all think is best?


              Mike & Anne's

              Vertical Wine Bistro


              2 Replies
              1. re: Ben7643

                love the food at bistro k and it is fun place where you have to "byo" food is amazing and very reasonable for tasting menu.
                i also like shiro but if your choice is between the 3 above...i would pick firefly for atmosphere and mike & ann would be my second since i never been to vertical :)

                1. re: Ben7643

                  Vertical...Get the pork, it is very good

                2. Wow, every time I say "Bistro K" I get deleted.

                  I haven't been to Mike & Annes nor Vertical, but I'd probably go to one of those over Firefly. The setting is lovely at Firefly but the service is sooo slooow, and the food is a little uneven.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: slacker

                    I couldn't agree with you more!

                    1. re: kajtf

                      I say pass on Mike and Anne's. The service is horrific. Has been the 3 times I was there and friends say it has not improved. Firefly has very average food. Vertical wins hands down as the best food, wine and ambience in Pasadena! You cannot miss!

                  2. Does anyone have a link to Bistro K??? I've read some reviews sounds like the food is great the service is slow. But I have no clue what it looks like other then a bad pic on citysearch. Also how about a link to a menu?? the link to the menu on chow is dead. Sounds like firefly is a no go. And either vertical or bitro k are the ones to choose.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Ben7643

                      Here's the link to the menu...


                      My vote is: First date: Vertical (food is decent, atmosphere is nice - menu is also online). I wasn't bowled over by the food as I thought I would be - but it's definitely better than average and it's an overall nice atmosphere for a first date. Second date: head to a wine shop, buy some wines together ... then head to Bistro K (amazing food! intimate setting - prepare for a leisurely dinner. it's small - think country cottage - inside maybe sits 30?? tables are tight - lovely (again, small) outdoor patio - but might be too cold for that!


                      but... I'm still pulling for Bistro de la Gare

                      Definite no on Firefly - can be a romantic space (think tented backyard with strung lights) - but the food is unimpressive, IMO.

                      Good luck - and please report back!!

                      1. re: Ben7643


                        As much as I like Bistro K, I would seriously caution against going. Service is v-e-r-y slow and the food is somewhat cutting-edge. The former is bad because it can create awkward moments of silence as you wait for the food to arrive, and the latter may be a negative depending on the palate of your date.

                        Vertical Wine Bistro isn't a bad place to go -- lively atmosphere, safe menu.

                        I haven't had a bad experience at Mike and Anne's, so they get my vote as well.

                        Good luck and have fun.

                      2. I made a reservation at Vertical but I definitely want to try Bistro De La Gare in the future. I just think it looks a little more formal then Vertical and perhaps is better for a later date. Thanks guys and gals i'll let you all know what I think.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Ben7643

                          wow...didn't realise that firefly's food has gone downhill that much..i havent been there in about year or so.
                          have fun at vertical and let us know how it was.
                          also thought about place called 561 which is run by culinary school in pasadena..had very good service and interesting food in the past.

                        2. OK so here is my brief review on my experience at Vertical. The wine selection was top notch we did a tasting of about 6 Spanish red's. The atmosphere was nice definitely not too loud and the servers were friendly but "other then the owner who was very knowledge-able" the waitress did not have a clue about the wines. The food was mediocre to good not superb but not bad, I think it’s a bit overpriced. Dinner for the two of us was about 130.00 before tip that includes the wine. The only thing I can recommend on the menu that we got was the pulled pork everything else I was not a real big fan of, oh and the beet salad was good. Although I had a nice time and the food was OK I would not go back as it did not excite me.


                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Ben7643

                            I think Vertical has gotten some mixed reviews on this board. I'll still have to try it.
                            So is there a second date?

                            1. re: Ben7643

                              now you have first date under your belt...if there is a second...do yourself a favor and go to bistro k..take one or two good bottle with your own stems and have a great tasting menu for under $60ea ;)