Non-Exotic in Pasadena Area - Help!
My semi-in-laws arrived yesterday afternoon for an unexpected visit (this is on top of our expected guests who arrived last night). They're good people, but not terribly adventurous when it comes to food. I feel bad because we drug them to a sushi place last night (already had reservations 'cause of the expected guests) - they ate teriyaki and tempura and actually tried some of the fusion rolls. I was really pretty impressed. And they said that they liked everything. (They weren't too interested in any of the "raw" dishes and we didn't push the topic, of course, but I was really happy to see them trying the cooked rolls.)
Today everyone's in Hollywood being tourists and they're supposed to be grabbing slices at Vito's (they're under strict instructions to bring me back two slices!). But I've no idea what we're going to do about dinner. Here's the constraints:
- Stay near Pasadena (would go to Eagle Rock or Monrovia, but probably no further)
- No "funny" utensils or "exotic" foods
- No Chains (whenever we visit them we end-up at Applebee's or Chili's and there's just too much good food 'round here to resort to a chain, I think)
- Reasonably affordable (entrees between $15-20)
- Not too fussy service (we took them to The Raymond, once, and they said service and food was too fussy for them)
- Would like to stay away from Old Town, if possible (though if there's a gem we'll gladly go there)
- Would like "safe" food for the in-laws, but also tasty and fresh options for our other guests (we were actually going to take the latter for Vietnamese tonight, but that's been canceled)
- Would like to avoid red-sauce Italian (nothing against those restaurants, as we eat there often, just think it's too basic for our other guests)
I'm thinking seafood (Cameron's or McCormick though I've never been to either) - one of the Smith Brother's restaurants (which one would you recommend?) - maybe Central Park Cafe (do they take reservations and do they have a dress-code - I don't know if my semi-FIL brought anything other than shorts)? Nano Cafe? Ideas?
Many, many thanks!
Due to lousy circumstances (the car that they'd taken to H'Wood yesterday got hit while parked in the parking garage - now waiting for repairs - apparently took forever to do the police report and then to get the tow truck into and out of the garage), we ended-up ... elsewhere last night (also didn't get slices from Vito's *sniff*). Anyway, expected visitors went and had a late-night meal at a Hong Kong-ish cafe down off of Valley or Las Tunas (I need to look for the menu they brought back). We went with the semi-in-laws to a rather abysmal chain, but they seemed happy with their food and my salad wasn't too bad.
Anyway, tonight we're going out for GOOD FOOD! Down to Mike & Anne's or Central Park, with Big Mama's Rib Shack and Robin's BBQ as back-ups. I'm sure everything will be marvelous.
Here's another vote for Mike and Anne's. Their gourmet burger is the only one I'd place above Father's Office in recent memory; plus, for families/medium sized gatherings the ambiance really is head and shoulders above FO. wonderful wine and microbrew beer selection, also.
If it's seafood, I know it's a bit far --- but The Hungry Cat in Hollywood is above reproach. Plus, if they're still tourist-ing around H-Wood then you have saved yourself a commute.
LARKINS - eagle rock and BYOB yipee
SMITTY'S - can be very loud
MIKE & ANN'S - south pas, sit outside tonight
FIREFLY - south pas
HOUSTONS - get there early for a table
also tonight, BULGARINI GELATO at the lake and altadena is screening CINEMA PARADISO outdoors and serving homemade lasagna, veggie pasta with salad and drink for $8.95 starting at 7:30pm, movie starts at 9pm, bring a bottle of wine, and a blanket. arrive later and bring your own chairs. IL POSTINO was well attended the other night.
I have the same problem when my in laws come out.Try Briganti in S Pasadena for Italian. I also think Green Street is a good suggestion. How about Club Delacy? The have a great table side Caesar, nightly blue plate specials and they make a good stiff drink not to mention that I think their prime rib is pretty good too. I know this is a chain but I still stand by Cafe Bizou even though it is in Old Town. You can park for 90 minutes free in the lot just north of the Armory. If you go for early dinner (which I suspect you will) it is no problem getting reservations or parking plus it is a good excuse to get a little walk in. They would probably appreciate that you can get a $1 soup or salad with your entree. You'll be walking by a great wine store. Maybe you'll want to stop for a tasting or two! We keep saying we'll take them to Casa Bianca in Eagle Rock but I've never been there when it wasn't a zoo. Maybe I just don't know when to go. We went to Columbos Italian Steak House in Eagle Rock last time they were in town (3 months ago) and the quality was surprisingly good. Real interesting crowd from old timers to young cool things. The music is good too!
What about Robin's Woodfire BBQ and Grill in Pasadena? Fits the criteria, grubs purty decent, prices are right and anybody from 'bout anywhere would feel comfortable. We really enjoyed the beef and baby back ribs, onion rings, blue cheese coleslaw and blueberry cornbread. Check it out here: http://www.robinsbbq.com/
Try Green Street Restaurant, just off of the backside of Lake Ave. Pretty simple menu and "non-exotic" but different enough to be a better option than your local Coco's or Chilis. For some nice Italian at reasonable prices, I definitely recommend Gales. Also, there's Taylor's Steakhouse in La Canada for a nice steak at a very reasonable price. For breakfast, try the Dish in La Canada. They serve dinner also, which may be suitable for your crowd (it's also casual/inexpensive/fairly simple food).
Central Park and maybe Julienne, or is that too fancy?
Central Park does not have a dress code; never needed a reservation.
McCormick's is a chain, but otherwise is a safe choice for seafood.
Among the Smith Bros. restaurants, I think Smitty's Grill might suit your needs best.
I think for safe, non-exotic Italian Gale's would be a good choice (and it's not "red sauce")
Another place to consider would be Mike and Anne's. www.mikeandannes.com
110 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91101
Central Park Cafe
219 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
2649 Mission St, San Marino, CA 91108
452 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105