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Dinner in Pasadena on Dec. 31?

I just won a trip to the Rose Bowl and will be flying down on Dec. 31. I haven't been to that area in 30 years and haven't a clue where would be a good place for an early (7pm or so) dinner that night.

Any thoughts? I live in San Francisco and will eat just about anything. My sister is from Escondido and is less into the pricy meals I'm used to.

I looked on Open Table for places with availablity and cross-checked Zagat as a starting point. Any input on these places...all are on OT and rated 20 or more for food in Zagat. Or better suggestions? Help!

Arroyo Chop House
Celestino
Parkway Grill
Ritz Carlton Dining Room
Smitty's Grill
redwhite+bluezz

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  1. Arroyo, Parkway & Smitty's are all under the same ownership. Food is certainly the most interesting at Parkway. Smitty's is reliable for things like steaks & pot pie. Arroyo (I've never been) is, as the name implies, a steak place. I would guess that the meats are probably a notch better than Smitty's, given the prices. RW&B is a fine choice. I also like Vertical Wine Bistro, which is somewhat similar in concept. The food is more interesting at Vertical; the wines at RWB are more affordable.

    1. From your list I would rank in order of preference this way:

      1. Ritz
      2. Parkway Grill
      3. Celestino (tie)
      3. Smitty's (tie)
      5. Arroyo
      6. red, white and bluezz

      Dunno if they are open on NYE, but also consider (in no particular order)
      -Shiro www.restaurantshiro.com
      -Madeleine's www.madeleinesrestaurant.com

      2 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Red white and Bluezz is having their NYE party on the back patio. I haven't seen it- is it cold (sitting for 3 hours)? Is it nice? Is it noisy?

        1. re: CookieEater

          They have heat lamps, and the space can be charming. Noisy? I'm sure it'll be quite lively.

      2. Fabulous for you! However, keep in mind that this is also the night when 1/2 the world gathers for the parade along Colorado Blvd. And, this year, I understand from a couple of city employees, will have a heavier crowd than last year. (It rained but who knows so far in advance?)

        Unless you want to be mixed in with the crowds, I would stay clear of any place near Colorado. Smitty's is on Lake just eat of Colorado-You might be safe there but I'd surely make reservations if possible. The Ritz is nice. I've brought in the New Year there a couple of times. What about going to: Saladang 363 S. Fair Oaks. 626.793.8193. Awesome, innovative Thai. I sit outside but, Dec 31 might be too cold. Then in S. Pas there's Firefly Bistro http://www.eatatfirefly.com . Never been to Bistro K but, many hounds like it.
        For some ice cream fun, don't miss Busters on Mission at the railroad tracks.

        Happy New year and enjoy the game.

        (If float touring interests you prior to the parade, they're are available for viewing late in the day on the 31st and will be on display inside hangers at the park area across from the Rose Bowl in Brookside Park.)

        1. Used to be we'd cruise Old Town on NY eve and get an early dinner. We could've just walk into a restaurant if we were early enough. I don't know if that's the case. Yes it's going be a mad house in that area, but that's the whole experience right?

          Parkway Grill is very very good and it's away from the maddening crowd. I have not been to the Ritz for dinner, but be aware that you have to valet park.

          1. Arroyo Chop House I think can be a hit and miss. The first time I went there it was really amazing and was like one of the best steaks I've ever had. Second time around it was mediocre.

            Celestino is good. They have good pasta dishes, but I think their meat and fish are okay. Also excellent there are their eggplant parmiggiano appetizer and the mushroom souffle. The orange ricotta cheesecake is also amazing.

            The Ritz Carlton is good, in the tradition of Ritz Carltons.

            Might also consider Bistro 45 if it is open.

            If you don't want to go pricey, you should also consider going a bit down to Arcadia or Alhambra for Chinese food :)

            --burumun
            http://gourmetpigs.blogspot.com