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Lunch in Pasadena?

hi- we are going to Pasadena for the day on a Saturday- museum in the afternoon- where to go for lunch first? I was thinking we could arrive mid-morning and stop by the Huntington Hotel to see it. Would that be a good choice for lunch- or, I thought we could just stop there and then head somewhere else to eat- any suggestions? Not over the top, but nice-
I've heard of Raymond- do you hounds like that?

Then later in the afternoon I thought we could check out the "Old Pasadena" stretch of Colorado Blvd- good idea, or something better?

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  1. I would not necessarily recommend the Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel for lunch, it's a bit fussy. Same with The Raymond.

    For lunch, I would recommend either Mike and Anne's www.mikeandannes.com for updated American fare, or Briganti www.brigantirestaurant.com for Italian.

    Might also consider Julienne in San Marino for some sandwiches and other gourmet treats. www.juliennetogo.com

    Also, if you are in Pasadena, head up to Altadena for some gelato at Bulgarini

    Bulgarini Gelato
    749 E Altadena Dr.,
    (626) 441-2319

    Enjoy your visit.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Bulgarini is very good, but miles out of the way if you're just coming up to spend the day in Pasadena. If you're craving gelato, Tutti Gelati in Old Pasadena is actually quite good.

      1. re: Amuse Bouches

        i second JULIENNE. be prepared for a wait. there is some nice shopping across the street, next door (nice prints), and in their marketplace.

        IMHO, i don't think TUTTI holds a candle to BULGARINI. TUTTI is a bit too sweet for me and it's a totally different product than BULGARINI, but more similar than what you find in the majority of places in OC and in italy for that matter. if you want gelato made artisanally from totally fresh products (no pastes or powders), go to BULGARINI. they also have a cart in the LAEMMLE THEATER on colorado and they are open starting at noon, if you don't want to drive up to altadena. it's also next to VROMAN's, pasadena's treasured independent bookstore. you don't need to buy tix for the movie's to get gelato.

        Laemmle's Playhouse 7
        673 E. Colorado Blvd.

        1. re: revets2

          Bulgarini does have an edge on Tutti (though I prefer Tutti's zabaglione - actually less sweet and with more marsala flavor than what I tried at Bulgarini) but their shop in Altadena is hella out of the way. The Laemmle is a good alternative, and Vroman's is always worthwhile.

    2. If you want to stop and look around the Huntington early on, I'd suggest lunch at Julienne's in San Marino, just down the hill behind it on Mission Rd. (check your Thomas Guide for particulars - you DO have one, of course?). Very nice salads and sandwiches, pleasantly upper-crust casual. The roast lamb sandwich on rosemary-raisin bread is a treat, and they have a good burger, too. Depending on which museum you're going to, if you went by the hotel first you can go from Julienne's a half-block west to Los Robles Ave. and then north, which will bring you right up into the middle of Pasadena. If not, a left on Oak Knoll, the road in front of the hotel, will take you to Lake Avenue, another north-south thoroughfare and a shopping trip of its own.

      By all means check out Old Town - just don't expect too much charm, as it's pretty much just an outdoors mall. If you park in one of the Old Town garages you get the first 90 minutes free; if on the street, the meters must be fed up until midnight 7 days a week.

      7 Replies
      1. re: Will Owen

        I agree with the above, especially Briganti. Regarding Old Town, I think it has a great deal of charm--the buildings are beautiful historic structures, you just have to look past the glaring chain restaurant signage. And there aren't too many places in LA where the alley ways are charming, and have plaques indicating the name of the alley.

        1. re: slacker

          thanks to all of you for the terrific suggestions- we look forward to it!

        2. re: Will Owen

          The lots that are first 90 minutes free are School House between Fair Oaks & Raymond on Green and Delacy on Delacy at Green. The parking at Parsons is not free and the structure on Union is not free and on weekends I believe they slap you with a $5 flat fee or something to that effect. I'll third Julienne's!!! I've not heard of Mike and Ann's so I'll have to check it out. Is Gail's open for lunch on Saturdays? I'm probably going to get pounded for this but, I like the atmosphere at Il Fornaio too which is in Old Town but it is off of Colorado.

          1. re: Fru

            Gale's is open Saturdays for lunch. http://www.galesrestaurant.com/contac... tho' I find that a better dinner choice or for business lunch...kinda dark inside and given it's probably going to be a nice day out, would choose elsewhere. I've only been at night, is there a patio out back?

            1. re: Fru

              the food has been pretty consistently ghastly at IF. we are always lured in by the ambiance and are usually regretful.

              1. re: revets2

                we have the same problem...drinks, glass of wine, bowl of soup ok...otherwise, our experience is that the food/service is both methodical and indifferent.

            2. re: Will Owen

              Just to clarify...Metered parking (at least on the streets off of Colorado) are enforced until 8pm on sunday-thursday. Midnight on Friday & Saturday.

            3. If you do want to go to Old Town, I actually really like Le Pain Quotidien which is very close to the Delacey/Green parking structure. Their hazlenut spread is fantastic, and we've always had very good meals there. Alternatively, if you want something quick and easy, I like Father Nature just North of Colorado on Delacey. They make great lavash wraps, and their fries are excellent. Also, I've heard good things about Tibetan Nepal House, but unfortunately I haven't been so I can't quite speak for it. Finally, since you're there on Saturday, you can also stop by Violet's Cupcakes on Holly Street, just North of Colorado. I prefer it much more than Dot's on Arroyo. Have a fun Saturday!

              1 Reply
              1. re: wenster

                Had some wraps from Father Nature brought in to a meeting a few weeks ago. Very good indeed, lovely roast veges and good tender chicken on the ones I tasted.

                Tibet Nepal House is good too - I believe I did a short review of this place a month or so ago that got into particulars.

                My "not much charm" evaluation of Old Town had nothing to do with the architecture, but the swarms of pedestrians milling around in it. Most weekend days or nights, for instance, you can NOT walk past the Cheesecake Factory's corner without stepping out into the street. But of course not everyone despises crowds as I do, or we wouldn't have any, would we?

              2. Julienne all the way. Only downside, no alcohol.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mc michael

                  i enjoy a glass of wine almost every time i'm at JULIENNE. they have a very acceptable selection for a place that serves primarily lunch and if you like it, you can buy the wine from their marketplace.

                2. if you like Thai, check out Saladang Song on Fair Oaks at Del Mar

                  1. wow, just checked and found out it costs $12.50 for valet parking to go walk through the Huntington Hotel (assuming we don't eat lunch there for a partial validation). Guess we'll skip that- seems kind of steep for a half hour or so visit- and just concentrate on all these great ideas of places to eat! Early lunch, then museum, then a snack after... that sounds ok! Thanks for all the help...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ochound

                      you can park across the street on hillcrest, cross the street, and walk over. it's not a pain and actually enjoyable.

                      1. re: ochound

                        I agree with Julienne's . I love that place. Not sure if BRiganti is open for lunch. That is my fav Italian in this area. Very authentic

                        1. re: ochound

                          Yes, just park on the street. It's a very nice and $$$$ neighborhood.

                          Btw, if the museum you're going to is the Norton Simon, be sure to try to catch the Sister Wendy film, there should be a shedule on their website, it plays in the theater.

                          If you're headed to the Huntington museum/gardens, well, try to catch it all! But note that the main residence building is under much needed restoration.

                        2. should have asked this question in my original post! What's the best way to get to Pasadena from Orange County- Newport Beach? The online maps say take the 5 all the way (to the 2, then the 134), but I've also been advised that the 57 to the 210 is the way to go. We're going to end up at the Norton Simon, but will stop at the Huntington Hotel first, if that makes any difference...

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: ochound

                            Those directions that get you onto the 134/210 basically loops you up further north than you need to be. If you're coming up in the morning, I think the 5 should be ok going north, it's bad going south. Do 5 north, 110 north, the 110 ends in Pasadena, where it ends in Pasadena, at the light, turn right onto Glenarm, right on El Molino, left on Oak Knoll, right on Oak Knoll Ave. There are also signs to help direct you.

                            1. re: ochound

                              I personally would take the 55 north to the 5 to the 605 north to the 210 west (exit Fair Oaks or Lake). This would drop you right in Old Town Pasadena.

                              That way you avoid most of the inevitable traffic on the 5 through the central part of LA. The 605 is usually pretty clear and the 210 west should be a breeze.

                              I think this is the way to go even if you're going to the Ritz or Julienne. Just exit lake and take it through Pasadena, it turns into Oak Knoll after California Blvd. Oak Knoll takes you right past the Ritz and if you make a right at Mission, you'll be about a block from Julienne.

                              1. re: ochound

                                we and our friends do this commute more than we'd like to. if you are traveling on the weekend, you may still need as many HOV lanes as possible. we detest the I-5 anywhere south of dodger stadium. too many trucks.

                                we take the toll road to the 405 north (HOV) to the 110 north (awesome HOV until just south of DT) right into pasadena.

                                - take the 110 until it ends and make a right at the first light at glenarm
                                - past armstrong nursery, through the traffic circle to the next stop sign where glenarm dead ends
                                - make a right, then the first left (there is a sign there for the ritz)
                                - make the first right at oak knoll, hotel is on your right
                                - park across the street on hillcrest

                                that's how we would go on a weekend day.

                                1. re: ochound

                                  we often drive from la canada to newport. to avoid traffic, we take the 210 to the 57 to the 405, etc. seems to work most of the time. only if we are leaving EARLY (before 8am) on the weekend, do we take the 5. you also may want to check out the sigalert website before you leave. it has helped us make the decision many times.