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Your favorite dinner spot in Pasadena?

My husband and I will be in Pasadena on Friday night so we thought we'd grab dinner after our appt. We are going to a wine bar that serves tapas on Saturday, so we don't want to do Vertical Wine Bistro. Any other suggestions? Top consideration is quality of the food. I might have tried Bistro K--not really looking for anything that formal but given all the good reviews I was really hoping to go soon--alas, my timing was bad. We will be eating on the late side - 9 PM - if that matters.

The places I have dined in Pasadena that are still there are Crepe Vine (not bad but I was not a big fan), Barcelona (did not like at all) and Arroyo (just ok). We also tried Shiro, and were disappointed. The food was fine but seemed a little pricey for the quality, and the atmosphere was odd.

Any suggestions? I have not kept up on the openings in Pasadena so maybe there is something new? Or perhaps an oldie but a goodie I have yet to try?

Thanks in advance.

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    1. re: ipsedixit

      I like Derek's as well, but the times my husband and I have been there, I almost feel like we are the only ones there. Not in terms of service, which is a good thing, and they do have very good service...but we are essentially the only people in the restaurant, and I feel like everyone can hear what we are saying, which makes me feel uncomfortable.

      I also have really liked the Raymond when we have gone there...haven't been in a while even though we could easily walk from our house!

      I also really enjoy Cafe Bizou, Mike & Anne's and Bistro 45.

      We are trying Briganti in a couple of weeks...I am so excited!

      1. re: Spiff

        Derek's has consistently disappointed, especially for the price.
        Fave of the moment is Maddeleine's on Green Street not far from Lake. I am also one of the few who remains a fan of Bistro 45.
        But the consistently best dinner in Pasadena is the Arroyo Chop House. Steaks are often not quite right on and the prices are high, but the service is so professional, the ambience so well done, and overall product is such that this is the only place in Pasadena that can claim "big city" status. There is even a rare bargain on the highly overpriced wine list. Stay away from the Californias and try the 2004 J Drouhin Gevrey Chambertin for $60 - less than 2x discounted retail - one of the few really good affordable Burgundies these days.

        1. re: Griller141

          Yes, truly enough, while OP did not feel Arroyo was all that good, the Chop House may still be one of the 2 or 3 best restaurants in Pasadena, along with its sister next door, the Parkway Grill.
          Cafe Bizou warrants no further comment.
          btw - byo and pay the corkage at either the Chop House or Parkway and you will be fine, even though the initial reaction might be outrage - still your best value.
          Other that those two, Bistro 45 still delivers the goods, has a good wine list, and has been there for around 16 years for a reason, similar to those referred to above.

    2. Have you tried Maison Akira? They serve a fusion of French/Japanese dishes. You can check out the menu at maisonakira.com and located at 713 E. Green st.

      1. A bit formal, but certainly "oldies" that are still good, are Parkway Grill and Arroyo Chophouse. :)

        1. For me, it's gotta be Red White + Bluezz. Yes, it's a wine bar, but it's not a tapas bar, offering great renditions of American faire. The Kobe burgers are monstrous (and intimidating) but my favorite there is the short ribs.

          1. I just checked the website of Parkway Grill, and that's actually where I ate, not Arroyo. I had them confused.