nice dinners in Pasadena
any recs for better restaurants in Pasadena?
No chains, steakhouses, sushi or Chinese.
Places like AOC, Cafe Pinot, Table 8, Cafe des Artistes, Asia de Cuba, Cobras & Matadors...
2 suggestions for you:
Cafe Bizou has great food, $1 soup or salad with entree. Corner of Raymond and (Holly?).
If you're into Mediterrean food, Cafe Santorini is also a strong choice, with a patio that is beautiful, especially if you go on a cool evening. If you go to Cafe Santorini, be sure to save room for the yummy gelato downstairs.
Bizou is solid, but Santorini has been terrible the last two times i went. first time, the chicken was as dry as cardboard. second time, they had a veal flank steak on special. it was literally one of the toughest, chewiest, least flavorful pieces of meat i've ever had. my jaws hurt just from the memory of it... not cheap, either.
I no longer live a stone's throw from Pasadena so, I may not be up on the very latest restaurants but here are a few.
Celestino or Tre Venezie are both very good Italian. I've never been but many on this board like Brigante quite a bit.
Derek's and Bistro 45 are both places that seem to have their fans and detractors.
Xiomara is a good choice for upscale nuevo latino.
Bistro K is another place to think about but the ownership and/or chef has changed of late and I am unsure what its status is.
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the closest thing to AOC is VERTICAL WINE BISTRO. not quite as fine, but solid. you might also consider RED, WHITE & BLUZZ. closest thing to COBRAS is LA LUNA NEGRA or BAR CELONA neither of which comes close to the food quality of COBRAS. closest thing to CAFE PINOT is probably PARKWAY GRILL...solid. i have not been to MADRE'S in a long time, so perhaps someone else can comment on what's going on there.
XIOMARA and BISTRO K have both turned over...we hear not such good things. we like CELESTINO and BRIGANTE, but they're both more neighborhood joints. not sure i'd cross town for it.
I recently went to Xiomara and was pleasantly surprised by the food based on other chowhounder's post. It's the same chef and the service was good. I posted about it here http://www.chowhound.com/topics/413074
I was so impressed that I am holding my rehearsal dinner there. I must warn you that they are planning some remodeling in the next week or so that may affect service and quality. The named hasn't changed yet, but it is in the works.