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Best Lunch in Old Town Pasadena?

Can anyone recommend a good place for lunch in Old Town Pasadena? I'm looking for out of the ordinary.

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    1. re: Cecilbee

      2nd! Yummy and different from ordinary dining experiences. I had a savory crepe. It was very relaxing atmosphere. There was a good crowd there but it was not overly busy. I dined in and didn't feel rushed. The service was very good and attentive.

      1. re: Cecilbee

        First time I went there was for dessert, it took an hour to get our table but it was DEFINITELY worth it! Went again for dinner and not so great. Service was great (ex: clearing the plate when everyones done.. i hate it when restaurants don't know the basics) and the waitresses were extra friendly. I ordered the steak and frites but it was not what i expected.... The garlic fries were good but the steak was over cooked. I ordered it medium rare and it was cooked medium well. It wasn't "melt in your mouth" perfect either. Its a filet mignon so it's pretty hard to screw that up, but they managed to. I'm hoping the food was bad because we went at a really busy time (First time i went they didn't take any customers because kitchen was backed up).

        Theres a great open face sandwich next to kabuki. It's a bit pricey for sandwiches but good ingrediets = good food.

        1. re: browndoggie

          For my personal taste, Tibet Nepal House was the single worst Indian restaurant I have tasted in 22 years in LA. (Close to it is the fast food buffet at the old location of Ambala Dhaba - now Ambala Express in Cerritos)

          For my money, one of the best lunch deals is Yujean Kang's in Old Town Pasadena (Raymond, between Union and Holly).

          1. re: suvro

            i agree not good at all. I would not recommend it to anyone.

            1. re: suvro

              "For my personal taste, Tibet Nepal House was the single worst Indian restaurant I have tasted in 22 years in LA."

              But Tibet Nepal House doesn't serve Indian food. They serve Tibetan and Nepalese dishes. There's some cross-over in the cuisines (Tibetan, Nepalese, and northern Indian), but it's unfair to say that a place is "worst" when you're comparing it to a different cuisine.

              I really like Tibet Nepal House and I like some of the Tibetan and Nepalese foods - do I like everything on the menu? Nope. But I have no problem finding all sorts of tasty dishes to expand my palate while dining there.

              Tibet Nepal House
              36 E. Holly Street, Pasadena, CA 91103

          2. Try Azeen's, it's very good afghani food, one of the few in the LA area. It's at

            10 E Union St, Arroyo Parkway
            Pasadena 91103

            Azeen's Afghani Restaurant
            110 E Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103

            2 Replies
            1. re: badseed

              I am no expert on Afghani food, but I had lunch last Tuesday at this restaurant, and came away underwhelmed. Perhaps my expectations were unrealistically high.

              We had the KABOB-E-GOUSFAND (Tender cubes of lamb) for $12.90. It came with pallaw (rice pullao) and their bread. Four chunks of marinated grilled lamb, but for $13 for lunch it was NOT a good value.

              We also had HOUSE COMBINATION PLATTER (atter of Aushak, Sambosa, Bulanee) for $8.90. All three components were fine, but nothing to write home about. The Sambosa (equivalent to Indian samosa - triangular turnovers) had more chickpea paste than ground beef. The Aushak (leef and scallion filled pancakes topped with yogurt and meat sauce) was also fine, but much better scallion pancakes can be had in the Chinese restaurants in Monterey Park/Alhambra. The Bulanee (turnover filled with leek, scallions and herbs) was similar to the Sambosa in appearance, slightly different in taste.

              We also ordered a side dish of GULPI (Stew of cauliflower cooked with ginger onions and tomatoes) for $3.90. While competently done, it was so similar to the generic cauliflower subzi at most Indian restaurant buffet lunches, that it was mostly wasted.

              The total bill for 2 came to $32 - NOT a good value in my personal opinion.

              1. re: suvro

                I was underwhelmed and disappointed with Azeens. Won't be back. Granted, my first experience with Afghani food... and I've never been to the country, but I would never recommend it. I'd rather go to Mezbaan for Indian.

            2. El Toreo, right next to Cheesecake Factory on Fair Oaks.

              Get the carne asada burrito (it's a lunch special)

              El Toreo
              21 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

              1. For a quick lunch - Father Nature has some good wraps (on Delacey, N of Colorado) ... then finish it off at 21 choices, next door, for some frozen yogurt!

                1. gaucho grill right on colorado. if you like argentinian food its really good and since its on colorado, its in a great location for shopping. barnes n noble, urban outfitters, sur la table, restoration hardware are some of the shops right nearby.

                  1. If you'd like a "different" experience, you might want to look into lunch at Famima on Raymond, just north of Colorado (http://www.famima-usa.com/index.html) - sandwiches, soups, pastries, Japanese, Chinese - all sold in what feels like an upscale 7-11. It's pretty interesting and there's some good food, though I've not had anything great.

                    25 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ElsieDee

                      I've had the (unfortunate) occasion to try some of the warm Famima offerings (the one in downtown LA) and came away rather unimpressed.

                      Don't know about the soups or sandwiches, but the boas and that chicken curry bread were rather awful, sort of reminded me of hospital cafeteria food straight from the depths of Sysco.

                      Perhaps the other stuff is good, but the ones I tried were most definitely not.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Ah, two of the things I haven't tried. I've had a couple of decent sandwiches - not the be all, end all of sandwiches, but decent. And I've tried a couple of their soups and enjoyed them. Haven't tried the sushi or dumplings - those are things where I'm convinced that fresh is the way to go. I guess, for me, at least part of the appeal is the novelty of the place.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I like Famima, and I go there often, partly due to convenience. The prices are high for some items, but the food is decent.

                          I like the iced tea that they have called "Dave," the mixed fruit plates and the salads that they have. :)

                          The address below is for the Famima in the Pasadena Playhouse District. There's also one in Old Town (already posted by ElsieDee). :)

                          I like Saigon Noodle for pho in Old Town. The service is fast, and the food is decent.

                          Saigon Noodle
                          Raymond, between Colorado and Union
                          Old Town Pasadena

                          621 East Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91101

                      2. Chado Tea Room
                        Tasty tomato basil soup, honey/poppy seed/strawberry/lettuce salad, caramel tea.

                        Tutti Gelati
                        Cinnamon and peanut butter are the flavors I have to get every time.

                        We enjoy this place once in a blue moon. The fresh tuna bbq'd is delicious.

                        Underwhelming to bad places I probably won't return to:
                        All India Cafe
                        Buca di beppo
                        Father Nature
                        Gelato di Roma
                        Sushi Roku
                        Yujean Kang's

                        1. For out of the ordinary, there's always the conveyor belt sushi at Sushi Afloat.

                          1. oh geez, i worked out there for years and was hard pressed to find anything other than drinking places in Old Pas. Despite having a lot of restaurants, there's just a better version of each type of cuisine elsewhere! Tibet Nepal House is someplace to try, I guess it's more of an experiment to find out if you like Tibetan food. The Chicken Place on the south side of Colorado next to Raymond is someplace we got takeout, but it's not out of the ordinary, just chowish. The half-order of chicken dark meat wasn't anything special but it came with a green sauce that was really tasty, and an iceberg lettuce salad with another tasty japanese mustard dressing. That was the best bargain on the block. I guess you could get sandwiches at Santorini and some of the gelato downstairs.

                            If you're willing to give up on Old Pas, the eating at Lake and Colorado is significantly better. I used to catch lunch at Euro Pane, technically a bakery, but she had great sandwiches and coffee and desserts. It's still my favorite spot in all of Pasadena. Celestino's on Lake was a "fine dining Italian" kind of lunch, and there was a hotpot place in the same complex as Trader Joe's. It might be closed now.