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Pasadena Dinner

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On Sunday night. Visiting from San Diego and going to the Huntington all day and staying overnight in Pasadena (Saga Hotel). You come up with the BEST suggestions so I'm asking once again for help. Any great Vietnamese up there? Seafood? What's Old Pasadena like? Not super pricey but not necessarily cheap either. Once again thanks.

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  1. For Vietnamese, you're going to have to travel outside of Pasadena. I would recommend Golden Deli on Las Tunas <-- this place always draws in the crowd and I recently visited Nem Nuong Ninh Hoa on Mission and Rosemead near the high school. Our family friend (who is Vietnamese) claims that it is the best Vietnamese restaurant in San Gabriel Valley though you won't find pho on the menu. These are about a 10 min drive from your hotel. Old Town Pasadena has a lot of shopping. It has a variety of restaurants. The only one that stands out to me right now is the Crepevine. Yoshida in San Marino is near the Huntington Library and their sushi/sashimi is top notch. If you don't want to wander too far from your hotel then Gin Sushi and Top's Burgers are within walking distance.

    1. I think the adequate-but-not-great Indochine is pretty much it for Vietnamese here. Thai is another story - we love Saladang Song on Fair Oaks, several blocks south of Old Town. They have a corn fritter thing I've never seen anywhere else that goes with anything and is ridiculously good. President Thai, on the eastern edge of town on Rosemead, is pretty good and a little cheaper. The only seafood restaurant we've been to is Cameron's on East Colorado, an old-fashioned "fishing shack" kind of place that both sells fresh fish and cooks it. I've had an OK meal there, but it's expensive for what you get. The three Smith Brothers restaurants - Smitty's Grill, the Parkway Grill and Arroyo Chophouse - have gotten mixed reviews; they're expensive, and some say they're worth it. We've (mostly) enjoyed several visits to Central Park, a casual-dining place on Fair Oaks about halfway between Old Town and Saladang Song. Got a flatiron steak that was superb and a ribeye that wasn't, but my wife and her dad both tell me the sand dabs are excellent. Not very expensive, either. El Portal, well east of Old Town towards Lake Avenue in an arcade, is a somewhat upscale Mexican restaurant well-known for their cochinita pibil and a very pleasant atmosphere, especially if the weather's nice and it's opened up to the patio. Behind that, on Green Street, is a fairly expensive place that I think is worth it, Maison Akira. Akira's a French-trained Japanese chef, and the menu has both very lightly Japanese-accented French-style food and some Japanese choices, along with a good wine list and the most relaxing atmosphere in town.

      Old Pasadena tends to be kind of a zoo most nights, weekends especially. If you're driving and parking in that area, be advised that the meters run on nights and weekends, and they aren't cheap. There are several parking garages that give 90 minutes of free time, but they fill up pretty fast on weekends. Central Park is in that area - they have just a small lot, too - but I believe Saladang Song is outside of the zone, as are the other places mentioned here.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        Forgot to mention another Old Town place we like, the odd-duck Thaitalian. They do have a mixed bag of Thai and Italian dishes, all of them we've tried good to excellent, and as weird as it might sound it works well. Not dirt cheap but very reasonable, good wine list, silly cocktails if anybody wants them (Mrs. O has a fondness for these, especially if they're in a wild color) and extremely friendly service. On Colorado between Raymond and Arroyo.

        1. re: Will Owen

          Will-- I have been going to Saladang forever-- it's one of my favorite restaurants in L.A., so dependable. Is there a reason why you prefer Saladang Song to Saladang? I've never been to Song, but the original Saladang is so good I can't understand why Song gets so many more mentions around here.....

          1. re: amandine

            I don't know why we've not ever gone next door, really, except that we've gotten the impression that Saladang is a somewhat more formal, fine-dining kind of place, while Song's cuisine is based more on Thai street food, with somewhat friendlier pricing and a looser atmosphere. The dining room can get pretty loud - lots of hard surfaces in there! - but in nice weather the patio is a lovely place to be. And we really do like Thai street food!

            1. re: Will Owen

              Give it a try, and I'll give Song a try. Saladang proper really not all that formal. Service is incredibly speedy, most people there are families or groups of young people, and a few couples here and there. I love the warehouse look full of orchids.

              I don't know if they serve the Saladang salad at Song... but if they don't, then you REALLY need to head to Saladang! (shaved green apples with peanut sauce yum yum yum)

        2. re: crystaw

          avoid CAMERONs.

        3. VERTICAL WINE BAR in pasadena.

          at 3pm SILVER LAKE WINE has a structured wine tasting, then you can buy a bottle and take it across the street to GINGERGRASS for more than decent vietnamese. if you still have room, go to PAZZO GELATO on sunset or drive back to pasadena, get off on lake avenue and head north to BULGARINI GELATERIA. they close at 8pm.

          1. There is a Vietnamese place called Saigon Noodle in Old Pas. It is not fancy, by any means, and it is where I go when I want a quick bowl of pho, close to home. It is located on Raymond, between Colorado and Union in Old Pasadena. I wouldn't say it's great, but I would say that it's good. The interior is nothing special, so if you want a *nice* night out, I would go elsewhere. It is my favorite Vietnamese place in Pasadena, though. :)

            If you are here from out of town, I would definitely check out Old Pasadena. Even if you decide to eat elsewhere, it is just nice to take a stroll on Colorado Blvd.

            2 Replies
            1. re: katkoupai

              Saigon Noodle is probably the best Vietnamese in Pasadena by a long shot. Fortunately for our visitors, and the reputation of fair Pasadena, it's not going to be open at a reasonable hour on a Sunday night. Thank goodness.

              The Crepe Vine is a great little restaurant (not cheap, but good) and it's in Old Town, if that's how they want to roll. I personally think that a stroll around South Pas centered on Mission Street, near the Metro station, would be more fun on a Sunday afternoon. But then that leaves the question of dinner, and Bistro K isn't open on Sundays. Maybe Briganti's is, though. On the other hand, Tibet Nepal House is fairly unique and is near Old Town.

              Anyhoo, the moral is, let's not hose this visitor by suggesting Pasadena Vietnamese. :-)

              Whoever suggested an early dinner and Bulgarini Gelato has the winning plan, I think. It is So Very Good. Perhaps Tibet Nepal House (early seating) and then jet up Lake Avenue? Or the Crepe Vine (though I doubt it would be in any way speedy)? Neither is bad.

              1. re: ttriche

                Good point, ttriche. I don't know the hours for Saigon Noodle. I usually eat there in the late afternoon, midweek. I don't know if I've been there on a Sunday.

                I tried Crepe Vine for the first time recently. I thought the savory chicken crepe was good, but I thought the location was cramped (tight seating; small interior).

            2. Bistro K - french/cal bistro fare
              www.lqmanagementservices.com

              Briganti - for Italian
              www.brigantirestaurant.com

              Red, White and Bluezz - best wine bar in Pasadena
              www.redwhitebluezz.com

              1 Reply
              1. re: ipsedixit

                See above. The original poster is asking about a Sunday evening; Bistro K is not open Sundays (although it would be rather a coup if they went out with a bang by staying open this Sunday!).

                Is 750mL that bad? And what of Vertical?

              2. Babita in San Gabriel...we ate there when we stayed in Pasadena, and found it an easy drive (with street parking.)