Coming to LA/Pasadena (mainly Pasadena), could use some recs
We (two of us) are flying into LAX from Philadelphia this Friday, flying out the following Thursday. We''ll be staying at the Sheraton in Pasadena most of the time, though I was planning on spending Wednesday night at a hotel near LAX so we don't have to drive there during morning rush hour for an early flight the following day. We'll also be visiting family in Sunland quite a few of those days, so feel free to mention any places around there, though from what I understand so far Pasadena is probably where the better restaurants are. I'm looking at Google Earth and it looks like Pasadena is pretty walkable. We're used to walking around Philly, walking would be preferable to driving if possible. We'll be going to Real Food Daily one day.
Anyway, we'll probably be eating out most of the time we're there, so any recs would be welcome. Places that get their ingredients locally would be nice, cuisine type is less important, though we could do without Italian since we're surrounded by it here in Philly. Neither of us is vegetarian/vegan, though the people we're visiting are vegetarian. We won't be eating with them all the time, though.
- Some decent breakfast places near the Sheraton. A place with great biscuits would be fantastic. I searched a bit and Greene Street Restaurant is not far away, ditto Yaihira, Julienne, and Europane. Are these places still open/good?
- Good, casual lunch. We're not looking for fine dining at lunchtime, my favorite lunch is a $5 plate of tacos al pastor.
- Great dinners in Pasadena/Sunland. As I said, we'll be visiting Real Food Daily once. For dinner, we're looking for more upscale places, nothing that has a dress code though. We are pretty adventurous eaters, our favorite restaurants here in Philly are a place that serves house-made pig-lung sausage and their own charcuterie (among many other delicious things) and another place that serves venison tartare sashimi-style. So don't hold back recommending a place. Ethnic is good, steakhouses are a no-no.
- One dinner for the two of us, within cab ride distance of LAX, for the night before our flight. I have no idea where to go here. It will likely be a long while before we get back to LA, so we'd like to have something memorable. Doesn't have to be expensive or fine-dining.
Near LAX (Airport)
To take a sandwich on the plane
Original Rinaldi's (Italian combo, Meat Ball sandwich, Hot Chicken sandwich or anything they make)
323 Main St.
El Segundo, CA 90245
From N. Sepulveda Blvd go West on E. Grand to Main St.
From W. Imperial Ave. Go South on Main
Right across from the Fire Department
Big Mike's Philly Steaks and Sub (Best Cheese steak in L.A., Get the 18" – Nuff Said!)
507 Main St.
El Segundo, CA 90245
Breakfast, lunch dinner
Pann’s (Fried Chicken wings and waffles, pea soup, Chicken Fried steak, Hash and eggs, Burgers and shakes all in a Googie Dream)
6710 La Tijera Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
Cross Street: La Cienega Boulevard
In or near Pasadena....
Rosco's House of Chicken and Waffles (Chicken and Waffles for Breakfast, lunch, dinner
"The Dianne" (A Chinese chicken salad) at the Green Street Café in Pasadena. A really big meal that is enough for two but eat it yourself. Also, I like the breakfest here.
Green Street Café
Auntie Em’s Kitchen (Breakfast, Lunch, Soups, Sandwiches, Cup-Cakes and very good coffee
)4616 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90041
mon-fri 8am to 7pm & sat-sun 8am to 4pm
Steak in Pasadena
Clearman's Galley (Aka, The Boat) Chili cheese burger, Boat menu served at North Woods Inn M-F until 4:00 pm, while the boat is rebuilt. Also the North Woods is also a good place for steak dinners, shrimp and fried chicken, try the special platter. Check the link
7247 Rosemead Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA
Connal's Burgers, Salads & Subs (Great Boston Shake, B urgers, Salads, Roast Beef, Pastrami, Corned Beef, Turkey Breast, Peanut Butter & Banana Shake))
1505 E. Washington Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91104
(West of Allen, East of Lake, North of the 210
Pie 'n Burger (reakfast with very good pancakes, Burgers & Pie)
913 E. California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91106
Crocodile Cafe - Pasadena (Good Burgers)
140 S Lake Ave
Pasadena, CA 91101
Julienne (French Toast Julienne with Pure Maple Syrup, $8.95, Tuna sandwich is very good)
2651 Mission Street
San Marino, California 91108
(626) 441 2299
Connal's Burgers, Salads & Subs (Avocado sandwich, Egg salad sandwich, Burgers, Salads, Roast Beef, Pastrami, Corned Beef, Turkey Breast, Onion Rings, Boston Shakes)
1505 E. Washington Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91104
(North of the 210, West of Allen, East of Hill )
sorry, but i have to object to crocodile cafe on lake - sadly, not for food reasons. one sunday afternoon i was seated outside with some friends & we were the only table consisting of non-white patrons (two asians & one black). not only did we get our orders taken much later than other patrons seated around (and after) us, our food arrived later than food ordered by patrons who ordered after us (some ordering the same thing). and i'm not all that crazy about their menu anyway.
From the artwork inside the Northwoods it does not look to me that the future home of the Boat will appear like a generic strip mall like building. It will look like an old Wharf with the same old boat docked in front. Judging from the great job the Clearman family did designing the inside / outside of The North Woods Inn, I am sure the Boat will be the best Sports bar / burger place in SGV. For now, at least, we can still enjoy the Boat menu at the North Woods -- IMO, the best cheese burger in SGV. Note, you must specify the Galley menu.
Clearman's Galley (Aka, "The Boat") Chili cheese burger, salads and cheese bread / toasted. Boat menu served at North Woods Inn M-F until 4:00 pm, while the boat is rebuilt. Also the North Woods is also a good place for steak dinners, shrimp and fried chicken, try the special platter. Check the link
7247 Rosemead Blvd.
San Gabriel, CA
re: Jack Flash
A “Zoo” says it right. I cannot believe how close the new building has been placed to the North Woods. It actually wraps around the back corner and has such a clash in architecture -- Concrete tilt-up vs. Mountain cabin. I hope they paint a forest scene on the side of the new building.
As for the Boats new location between the Fire Department and the old Palm Reader. IMO, those two places will enhance the Wharf-like ambiance of the new Boat. For now, The North Woods does a good job with the Cheese burgers from the Boat menu but they do not offer the fish and chips which I miss.
Great pic of the Boat
re: Jack Flash
The Boat is being moved to the opposite side of Northwoods in. It will be located on Rosemead south of Northwoods in. This is what I was told by the cashier at The Boat a few years ago, let's see what happens. Since we are talking about these two places, how about the blue cheese dressing and cheese bread? My mouth is salivating just typing about it. My friend told me that for $5.00 you can have the pre-dinner salads and cheese bread. I don't know if this is true, but I will try it out one of these days.
Good list, JeetJet! Also, for good cheap Mexican try Tonny's, on Orange Grove just one door west of North Lake - their birria de chivo and pork dishes are particularly good. Good and pricier Mexican is El Portal, in the arcade on Colorado between El Molino and Oak Knoll - pretty good cochinita pibil.
And I will double the recommendation for Pann's, a place I always have to visit when I'm near the airport. Breakfast served anytime - my favorite phrase in the English language - includes excellent biscuits and grits (though I get some disagreement there).
re: Will Owen
re: Will Owen
Thanks Will, how could I forget Mexican food which is what I eat several times a week. I have included the addresses below but the I found El Portal to be on Green St. That arcade must be two-faced as far as addresses are concerned. Mexican food is a must, if you want to get a taste of L.A. Good fish or shrimp tacos are a must. I included what I think are among the best (based on a day-long taste test drive by three of us) which are at Tacos LA Bufadora. I rate these higher than Tacos Baja in E. LA. Maybe someone might have a rec for something closer but IMO, these are well worth the drive.
Tony's Restaurant (Mexican food, birria de chivo (Goat), and pork dishes)
843 E Orange Grove Blvd (West of N. Lake Ave.)
Pasadena, CA 91104
El Portal (Mexican Food, cochinita pibil)
695 E Green St (between El Molino and Oak Knoll)
Pasadena, CA 91101
Tacos LA Bufadora (Fish and shrimp tacos and burritos)
10990 Lower Azusa Rd
El Monte, CA 91731-1352
The arcade is two-faced - that's what arcades do. El Portal is at the back, and is in fact closer to Green Street - and so is their parking lot, if you don't want to be on the street. However, we almost always come in from the Colorado end, as we're usually coming from Vroman's or the Laemmle Playhouse.
I've not really researched the fish-taco scene in depth here - I tend to stick with Señor Fish, especially since they added scallops to their menu. The thought of a scallop taco will make me sigh and weep, and you don't want to know what actually eating one will do ;-) Several locations, the closest/handiest being at the corner of Mission and Grand in South Pas.
re: Will Owen
I have never been to Señor Fish but have read some good reviews here. I also have a friend who eats at Little Tokyo location and told me to go because of the fish tacos. About that scallop taco, every time I eat at the North Woods Inn I order that Special Platter (Steak chunks, Large deep fried scallops and fried chicken) I focus on those scallops wishing they were in a taco with that cabbage and white sour cream sauce. Now you mention that one exist. I will try these the weekend.
I also have never been to El Portal but recall several post about it. I think one post mentioned it has a outside patio, good soup and is the place to go either before, or after, the Laemmle (IMO L.A.'s best movie house that shows some hard to find movies), or Vroman's (my fav book store).
Señor Fish (Fish tacos or scallop tacos)
618 Mission St. (corner of Mission and Grand)
South Pasadena, CA 91030
-b'fast - green street is great (and walkable) but you won't find good biscuits there. europane is good for their pastries (also walkable). julienne's is not walkable, but worth a visit (think cute, french bistro type place) in a quaint, upscale neighborhood that has cute shops to poke around in. Check out the market adjacent to the restaurant.
-casual lunches: if you are willing to explore a bit - i'd actually head you towards downtown to check out los angeles eating landmarks (phillipes for a lamb sandwich, langers for pastrami) - will you have a car? if not, the metro can get you there. you can also find amazing chinese food if you take a 15 minute drive east (not metro accessible). Also - if you have a car, you might want to go on a taco truck excursion in Highland Park (about a 10 minute drive) ... do a search for taco's and you'll have a billion recs.
-great dinners - in pasadena - go to Parkway Grill - I'd recommend the fish (you can search on this board - tons of reviews). In old town - I like Crepe Vine (small, bistro - great crepes). If you Metro it - head on the Gold Line towards downtown, get off at Mission (about 3-4 stops) and head into South Pasadena (again, do some searches) but my rec would be for Bistro de la Gare.
The only thing I can think of on the way to Sunland - for a casual dining lunch spot is Dish in La Canada ('american' fare) (but that's closer to Pasadena than Sunland).
Enjoy your visit!
If you want to compare the local philly cheesesteaks with those of Philadelphia, you may want to check out Fredo's Phillys in Pasadena for lunch, which probably offers the best philly cheesesteak in the area. I usually get the "works" cheesesteak. Whatever cheesesteak or hoagie you order, you'll get a footlong sandwich.
It's a small, very casual joint where you walk in and sit at some small wooden tables with some old wooden chairs (or you take your sandwich to go), but it might be a nice comparison test for you.
It's in Pasadena, but you'll have to drive there from the Sheraton. The storefront is on the east side of Lake Avenue right next to Rosarito #2, and parking is in the rear.
720 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104
If I were coming from Philly, these would the places within a 15 minute drive that I would definitely try.
Din Tai Fung in Arcadia for soup dumplings, but you must go on a weekday before 11:30 a.m. or before 5:30 p.m. for dinner if you don't want to stand in line for an hour.
Authentic Cantonese style food at Full House in Arcadia (try the Peking duck for $10).
El Cholo in Pasadena, although not as good as the original one, is pretty good Mexican for a chain.
Sushi Z in Alhambra
Kiyosuzhi for really cheap lunches under $10 for sushi/sashimi in Arcadia
Yoshida in San Marino
DINNERS or LUNCH (moderately to not expensive):
Crepevine Bistro in Old Town Pasadena for French food and crepes
La Luna Nega for Spanish Tapas in Old Town
NICE DINNERS (more expensive):
Arroyo Chophouse for steak in Pasadena
Parkway Grill in Pasadena
Good recs. I noticed you mentioned Din Tai Fung Dumpling House. I have been tryiing dumplings the past few weeks and focusing on Valley Blvd. spots. I have been happy with some on Valley. Today I followed your rec and tried Din Tai Fung located in the left rear area of the large parking lot off Baldwin. I tried the "Jucy Pork Dumplings", and the "Shrimp & Pork Dumplings." These were, IMO, better than the others I have had. The flavor was not over-done, in-you-face -- no afta taste til afta midnight. The flavor was very good and the anount of broth/soup was perfect. Moreover, the quality control was perfect -- an equal amount of broth in each dumpling. I allowed them to cool so that I could eat them whole without having to cut the tops so the steam could escape. I find that cutting them lets the soup escape also. It is better to put one in your mouth and let it all burst when you bite it. Also, cuting them can be a problem. Last week my son blew-out his tie when one squirted all over his shirt while cuting it open. However, eating them whole can also be a problem (Scalding your mouth) if you do not allow them to cool.
I got there around 1:30 pm and they still had a full house from the lunch hour so I got my order to go. While I wiated for my dumplings I took the time to watch the cooks through that big window at the entry (I always trust a place more when they offer a view of the kitchen). The view reminded me of watching Anthony Bourdain’s Shanghai episode last week. So many cooks squized into that small space working so hard and fast. It was like having a show included for the price of lunch. The to-go packages and bag were so well put together -- Attractive and safe to transport. I ate the dumplings right out of the boxes they were in -- easy to hold and easy to eat from.
A good dessert after Din Tai Fung is to head North a couple of blocks to Beard Papa's for those cream puffs that are taking over the world.
Thanks for that rec.
Din Tai Fung Dumpling House (#50, Juicy Pork Dumplings – 10pcs $6.75, & #53, Shrimp & Pork Dumplings – 10 pcs $7.25)
1108 South Baldwin Avenue
Mon to Fri 11:00 - 2:30 & 5 - 9:30
Sat 10:30- 2:30 & 5 - 9:30
Sun 10:30 - 2:30 & 5 - 9:00
Beard Papa’s (Cream Puff’s)
860 S. Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007
For Breakfast you can always go to marstons too. They do goo breakfast there. Camilo's in eagle rock is good ( tough a bit far) and like someone above mentioned julienne and dish are good.
I have yet to go to europane. But a lot of pple on the board swear by it.
While you're in the area you really owe it to yourself to go to SGV for some chinese food. Not gonna get the stuff you can get here back home .. If you have time one morning i highly recommend dim sum at NBC seafood or 888 seafood for the cart experience ( and that way you an point out what you want instead of having to go off a menu.
Sushi Roku might be a good option though a bit pricey for dinner .. More for possible star watching, but the food is decent too.
Decent Lunch Spots in Pasadena
Fredos Philly ( thought you may not want anythng to do with one of our cheesesteaks)
Tonny's ( Great Mex, I love the aguas frescas/shakes idea on a hot day)
The Hat ( been around forever, it is what it is, huge portions be preped to split)
Lebanese Kitchen off Washington for some pretty good Kebab and Falafel.
La Estrella has good hole in the wall Mexican too
Anyone know if Ricks is Still around? _ if so its good for a burger or if you like the ground beef taco thing.
I like Saladang/Saladang Song for ambiance and good food (yes there is better in other parts of l.a. blah blah blah). Still a place I do for a lot of first dates.
Shiros in So.Pas ( Get the fish)
Arroyo Chophouse/Parkway Grille
Babita in San Gabriel ( I haven't been but everyone seems to love it on these boards, this is next on my list when i have an 'Occasion')
I would reccomend DTF in arcadia too, but the line is always so long there and there are no reservations so if you wanna do it go for it but be prepared for 1hr + wait.
I think thats a decent list of the area though I feel like i'm forgetting something ( or things)
very decent list =)
is this the same sushi roku that they have in vegas? how's the quality? i didn't like the sushi roku in vegas too much because it was way to expensive and i found the flavors lacking. i think i was also a bit put off re the charge for rice and miso soup... hahah but i must admit, the vibe was really fun...
if i'm not mistaken though, the owner has another restaurant somewhere by the grove that is a filipino fusion type cuisine.. that was actually really quite tasty... an di would prefer it over sushi roku.... unfortunately i forgot what it was called... *oops*
great rec on sgv though =) i would also add to have some korean food while they are in town... when i'm traveling, i find myself craving la korean food all the time...
i hear parkway grille is great too... and i was gonna check it out with some friends, but it was not within budget at the time...
oh and if you are in the mood or a good creative coffee, equator in pasadena is really very good. their coffeeshakes are like desserts themselves. =) and make sure to also pick up some chocolate snacks over at leonidas =) their truffles are yummy.... i say snacks because i usually eat about 3-5 HAHAHAH =)
same one.. think pasadena was the original and they have one on the west side now too. its not the best but its serviceable .. like i said more for pple watching than the food.
Korean would be good too but i always feel like korean is hit and miss with pple .. if you're into spicy by all mean .. a few ok places in arcadia and san gabriel but if you wan the good stuff you're gonna have to drive into k town.
Every time I go to another city for several days, I try to squeeze in time for a pizza. This is what I would do...
Petrillo's Pizza Restaurant and take-out (IMO, the best in L.A. High quality cheese, Pepperoni and sausage on a very good pizza crust. The negative here is they give you too much. Therefore, you could ask them to be easy on the cheese, Pepperoni and sausage. Also, if you want a thin crust you must SAY SO. It is not on the menu so You Must Request thin crust and pie cut – not squares)
833 E Valley Blvd (maybe 10 - 12 min drive from Pasadena)
San Gabriel, CA 91776
Casa Bianca Pizza Pie (This place is close to Pasedena, but IMO, don’t go here! They serve pizza on a cracker dough crust – not pizza crust. They top it with a small amount of cheese and sausage that is almost as good as Petrillos and the prices are nuts)
1650 Colorado Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90041-1436
As for ice cream, Go to
Fosselman's Ice Cream
1824 W. Main St.
Alhambra, CA 91801
I "third" Fosselmans. Absolutely the best treat in this entire area. We are so lucky to have it! I spent my younger days as an ice cream scoop girl in another, unrelated store- and gained about 5 pounds when I started that job. However, I know that if I had worked at Fosselmans, that number would be more like 20! That place is fabulous!!!!!!!!!!! I still haven't tried all the flavors- but I'm working on it! Truly great quality ice cream. There is also, of course, really something to be said for supporting local, family oriented places. Fosselmans represents everything that is good about living in such a warm, sunny climate.
Speaking of pizza, Iv'e never been there but would you recommend Avanti? And for the OP, maybe you would want to check out some dim sum. I would recommend Full House in Arcadia or 888 in Rosemead.The ever so popular Pinkberry finally opened on Fair Oaks in Old Town Pasadena if you want to give that frozen yogurt a try. Marston's does do a good breakfast, I would recommend going on a weekday morning though since it is a small space and usually gets crowded. I'd also second (third?) the recommendations for the Crepevine and Parkway Grill.
I was not really serious about my rec for a cheesesteak. I expected some fun from other Hounds for that rec. L.A. Hounds once responded to a post requesting recs for a person visiting from Paris. One Hound suggested a french restaurant. Another Hound, Diana, replied, “You're kidding, right?” Jack Flash followed-up with, “Reminds me of the Simpsons episode when they go to Japan...and eat at a Planet Hollywood-type American "theme" restaurant.”
I hope you do try some good Mexican food and drive south to Valley Blvd for Chinese food. I read the other boards from other cities and it seems that when Hounds return home from LA they crave fish tacos, Dim Sum and Dumplings more than anything else.
888 Seafood Restaurant (Dim Sum)
8450 Valley Blvd Ste 121 (just West of Walnut Grove)
Rosemead, CA 91770-1681
J&J (or Jin Jiang and have Shanghai style dumplings, aka, “soup dumplings”)
301 West Valley Blvd., #109
Mei Long Village (Shanghai style dumplings, aka, “soup dumplings” and the House Fried Rice
301 West Valley Blvd., #112
Paris co-worker post
Actually, I like the cheesesteak at Luigi Ortega's. For me, it's second only to Markie D's in Culver City, but LO does it well, and their fries are great, too.
No one's mentioned Bulgarini Gelato yet, so I'll throw that into the mix as well.
749 E Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA 91001
Saladang Song on Fair Oaks Ave. - great outdoor patio and wonderful Thai food with a menu that goes beyond most standard Thai fare. A short walk from the Sheraton.
Vertical on Raymond St. in Old Town Pasadena. Great wine selection, nice interior, very tasty menu of charcuterie, small plates and delicious entrees. You could walk to it from the Sheraton or take their shuttle.
If you're driving from Pasadena to Sunland (or back) on the 210, you'll pass through La Canada Flintridge, which is home to Los Gringos Locos. There are better, more authentic mexican places nearby, buy none that have margaritas or guacamole as good as the Gringo. They make it tableside to order. My recommendation is no onions and ask for it spicy. Stop in, get an order of guac, and a double margarita on the rocks.
Most of the recs on this post (and most of the really good food experiences such as Arcadia or the San Gabriel Valley for Chinese food, or Studio City or West LA for sushi) would require some driving, however if you really would prefer walking, you could check out some of the places below that are walkable from the Pasadena Sheraton. First to answer your question: Green Street, Yahaira, Julienne, and Europane are all still open and all are pretty good. Julienne is not walkable, but the rest are within reasonable walking distance.
A breakfast place: In addition to Europane or Green Street, Marstons is about a ten minute walk away, at the corner of Walnut and Raymond. Very good traditional style breakfasts. Very crowded on the weekends though. Or for a quick breakfast you can check out the bakery section of the upscale Gelson’s supermarket in the nearby Paseo Colorado mall. Its near the corner of Green and Marengo and its only about a five minute walk away.
Casual lunch: In addition to Europane, Mediterranean Café is about a fifteen minute walk, located just behind Lake Avenue on Shoppers Lane just north of Cordova. Kebabs, falafel, hummous,etc… very good and very reasonably priced. Also, Yahaira is a pretty good lunch spot that it seems like you already have some info on. If you do Yahaira on the weekend, go across the street into the lobby of the Laemmle movie theater and try Bulgarini Gelato from the cart if they are there. They used to be there only on the weekends. (Are they still at the cart in the movie theater since they opened up shop in Altadena? Maybe some of the others posters can chime in). Also if you are over there, you can stop in at the Famima at Colorado and Madison to get and idea of what a 7-11 type convenience store in Japan looks like.
Ethnic dinners in Pasadena – Tibet-Nepal House for Himalayan food (you can try yak meat, but I liked their other dishes better), Azeens for Afghani food, and Gyu Kaku for Japanese charcoal grilling at the table. All three are located in the Old Town Pasadena area, offer unique experiences, and are probably about a fifteen to twenty minute walk away from your hotel. Also, Bistro 561 is less than a ten minute walk away and is the restaurant of the cordon bleu culinary school located in Pasadena. The meals are prepared by the students. There’s also a much more casual School Café located around the corner that has more simple meals prepared by the students that could serve as a casual lunch. I think its kind of fun to eat meals prepared by the students and it supports the school. They are only open on weekdays and are located at the corner of Green and El Molino. Also, if you like Al Pastor there is a taco truck that comes out at night on Fair Oaks, just north of California located in the Nikimura (or something like that) Auto parts parking area that has pretty good al pastor. Its probably about a 25 minute walk though, and it might not be worth going there if you have good al pastor at home. If you want to try LA’s newest snack fad you could try Pinkberry (on Fair Oaks near Colorado) which is Korean style tart frozen yogurt with fresh fruit. Some love it, some hate it, I’m somewhere in-between, but if you go stick to the original yogurt instead of the green tea.
Dinner for two near LAX – That’s kind of a tough one. Nothing really close to the airport except for Shula’s steakhouse, and you mentioned that you don’t want a steakhouse. Do a search on the Manhattan Beach and Marina Del Rey areas. Those might be your best bets.
I'm originally from Philly and I know part of what you're looking for. We have hardly any decent Thai in Philly, here they are on every other block. There's a place on Arroyo Parkway south of COlorado in a hotel on the left heading south, but any place will do. Better Sushi, do a search for Pasadena and sushi. Tommy's Chili burger is to LA what pats is to Philly. They're all over but Beverly and Rampart is the original and it's a stand where people eat standing just like PAt's. Also Lunch at the Hat, another landmark, pastrami mound sanwiches and oily greasy chili fries. Lake north of the freeway about 5 blocks. Chinatown, lunch at Phillipes, '40's atmosphere, the originator of the french Dip, foods good not great but the place is nostalgic to the nth degree, just stop in because nearby is Dim Sum, the real deal, anything that sounds like a network in chinatown ABC etc. will be good, great is not nearby, but you'll be a happy clam with whats downthere, if youv'e never done dim sum where they wheel carts to your table, this is a must. There are Morrocan restaurants, Dar Megreebs, Moun of Tunis, etc. YOu sit on pillows eat with your fingers, and watch some bloated Belly dancer. Mediocre food but a must drink before or after dinner, is Yamoshiro's above Hollywood, best view and quite a bar scene.
I agree with the core advice others have given:
Take advantage of what is special in LA, not things that are equally or better made back home. Chinese and Mexican are two possible categories.
Today I went to one of the Mexican restaurants that is a hound favorite:
3447 N Verdugo Rd
Glendale, CA 91208-1520
Phone: (818) 957-2711
It's not horribly far from Pasadena. The place is far from chi-chi; it's real and the food was great.
I thought I'd have the time to write a detailed follow-up report, maybe I will at a later date, but here's the short version:
Senor Fish - Very good, though we were fresh off the plane and hadn't eaten in 5 hours, so that may have factored in. I had grilled fish tacos, my wife had fried, we both thought ours was the best.
Saladang Song - Eh. Service was rushing us along as if the place was packed, but it was actually only 1/3 full. Entrees were dropped off at our table while we were still in the middle of our appetizer. The tofu in the green curry dish had just been sliced from a raw block and dumped in, yuck. My Pad Kee Mao Ped had big, long strands of rubbery duck skin running through it. Is that normal for this dish? It shouldn't be.
Marston's for breakfast - Not bad, but nothing special. Definitely not worth the line outside.
Green Street for breakfast - Ugh. Horrible. Avoid at all costs. The only edible thing was the zucchini bread.
La Luna Negra for lunch - Pretty good, but we're spoiled for great tapas here in Philly and this place didn't hold a candle to our local faves.
Yahaira for breakfast - One of the best meals of the trip. Yum.
Europane - I just had a couple pastries, they were good. Not much to report.
Vertical - Pretty good, but still not as good as what we've got here in Philly. The wine flights were good and not terribly expensive. I didn't realize that Yujean Kang's was right across the street, that probably would have been a better bet.
Crepe Vine - Easily the best meal we had in Pasadena. Great service and good wine list. When and if we return to Pasadena, this place will likely be the only place from this trip that we'll return to.
Tonny's - Eh again. Tacos were not so good, lots of fatty, gristly meat. I had the birria de chivo, flavors were good but it was also very very fatty. That may be traditional for this dish, I don't know. Their salsa is great.
Shula's at the LAX Sheraton - It turns out this place was actually IN our hotel, and we were beat, so rather than drive somewhere we ate here. That was a mistake. Our meal took TWO hours, and consisted of a decent spinach/artichoke dip, a crab cake with nearly undetectable levels of crab, a lame salad, an OK but insanely overpriced burger, and a dessert that came out of the freezer. Even for a chain, this was pretty horrible.
We had a great meal at Cru, though that's in Silverlake and not Pasadena. Real Food Daily was good too. We went for dim sum at Ocean Seafood in Chinatown, I've never had dim sum so it was quite an experience.
Sorry you didn't have better luck at Song. The bottom line is that to sample the best of what LA has to offer foodwise, you can't stay in Pasadena. For the higher end, you have to generally go west of Griffith Park and the Hollywood Hills and for the ethnic you have to head for various far flung enclaves.
You have now entered the "Pasadena Zone" do do do do do do do ....
Mediocre at ever turn, sadly. And I live here! Euro Pane and Crepe Vine are probably the more unique of the two. You couldn't be more right about Green Street. I've had decent carnitas tacos at Tonny's, but I can see this.
Next time: Hop the Gold Line for the Mission stop in South Pas. Several very cute restaruants right around there, and for some reason, just a notch up from our blase offerings in the Dena. And there are some good spots in Eagle Rock, some with mediocre food too, but way better ambience. Or even better, just hop in the car and explore another neighborhood.
Yeah, before we left for CA I had heard horror stories of the LA traffic, so we figured it would be best to stay in Pasadena if possible, since I had to attend a work function in Pasadena a couple days. We won't do that next time. Traffic turned out not to be as bad as I'd heard, and I didn't know that the Metro was so accessible. I'll go back to Crepe Vine, though.
Just a heads up on traffic -- you were here in prime vacation season, don't trust your experience of travel times.
I found myself grinning at going 70 mph on the 405 enroute to Santa Monica from Pasadena the other day -- during the morning rush. Then I did 70 coming back. We don't get those speeds during daylight hours very often.
Whatever time you spent on the roads, add 50-100% more during "normal" times of the year.
Hate to see you miss a lunch!