HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Cool Restaurants in Pasadena

I'm going to be in Pasadena this weekend, down from San Francisco, and would like some tips on which cool restaurants I should go to


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Um, are there any "cool" restaurants in Pasadena?! I would try Firefly or 750ml in South Pas, or, in Eagle Rock: Larkins (healthy soul food) or maybe Fatty's (nice kinda overpriced vegetarian) or Blue Hen (vietnamese) or the Oinkster ("slow fast food") -- all on Colorado Blvd, just a stone's throw from Pasadena. Old Town Pasadena was sorta cool ages ago, now is just like a mall, but outdoors.

      1. re: ipsedixit

        ipse...when's the last time you were there? we were there about a month ago and it was less than mediocre. the waitress couldn't even name the chef, but the hell's kitchen gal is long gone.

        1. re: revets2

          Haven't been for about a year.

          Thanks for the update revets2, and apologies to TasteTV if the info is dated.

          1. re: ipsedixit

            No on Firefly.
            Yes on 750 ml, give Vertical Bistro a try, Tre Venezie, Dining Room at the Langham. I was going to suggest Neomeze. Was there about 7 months ago and enjoyed it but things tend to change apparently.
            If by cool you mean good food, try the above. If by cool you mean scene, go to Hollywood.

          2. re: revets2

            Really? Did not know that she's gone. No wonder the menu looks so different. Thanks for the info/warning.
            It now sounds like another waste of a very nice space.

        2. Don't know much about what is / is not cool, but know a bit about what is good / chow-worthy in Pasadena.

          If you want cool, could you please elaborate on what that entails?

          1. Indeed, what exactly is "cool?" La Grande Orange, which is in the restored Santa Fe R.R. station, is definitely cool. Food's decent and not too expensive.

            Vertical Wine Bistro and Red, White & Bluezz are both cool in their own way.

            And Cafe Verde, a tiny neighborhood cafe that serves very good food and is BYOB, is cool. Not hip, but cool in that you'll feel like you've discovered a secret dining spot because it's totally unassuming.

            Red White & Bluezz
            70 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

            Vertical Wine Bistro
            70 N. Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

            Cafe Verde
            961 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91106

            La Grande Orange
            260 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jack Flash

              La Grande Orange has many cool things about it, but a better and usually less pricey meal, in much calmer surroundings, may be found a block due west from there at Central Park. The sand dabs and the flatiron steak are both splendid, and the under-$10 burger is much nicer, if a tad smaller, than the more expensive LGO item.

              1. re: Will Owen

                Another good choice. LGO has a better wine list, though, and full bar if that's an issue. I suppose one could always go to LGO for cocktails & then skip across the park to CP for dinner.

            2. Vertical Wine Bistro. Chef Sara Levine is extremely talented, and the space is swell.

              1. TasteTV:
                I think Red White & Bluezz is cool.

                Please don't spam me again with your emails about the Chocolate Salon.

                1. I agree with the others- "cool" just isn't a word used to describe 99% of Pasadena's restaurants these days. It's unfortunate but true. Vertical is great- the small plates are easy to share and it's extremely consistent on both food and service. I also like Green Street Tavern and sit at the bar, order a few appetizers and chat with the bartender. Everytime I go in there it seems to have one obnoxiously loud party, but otherwise it's been good.

                  South Pas-wise, Firefly just doesn't cut it, but Briganti is good Italian, cute patio area. Mike & Anne's is also quite good but I wish they would create a bar or tapas menu for their newly opened bar area. I keep asking if they have a bar menu and they always answer no....so I keep asking hoping they will GET THE HINT ALREADY. Jeez. 750 ml in my two visits has been bad for me but others say it's greatly improved so I'd give it another go. E Rock-wise....still not much in terms of evening dining that would fit the bill.

                  Hope this helps!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tokyoastrogirl

                    Compared to 10-20 years ago, it is actually on the up and up though South Pas. still has that small town vibe. Get the Hint sounds incredibly self-conscious.

                  2. I am sure everyone's definition of cool is different - in terms of unique atmosphere, music, entertainment, clubby, etc?

                    We went to gyu-kaku (http://www.gyu-kaku.com) at Old Town Pasadena last weekend, and it's better than I expected. Kind of fun, sort of pricey, and tasted good (but not as good as the korean version). The cool part is the make it yourself smores. I don't know why, but cooking your own food over hot coals is kind of calming and relaxing for me.

                    1. TasteTV

                      Having just moved to Old Pas about a year ago, here are my picks...

                      I live on W. Green St so I'm partial to a couple of the establishments around me. Elements Kitchen is a current favorite. Great consistent quality, they just started serving brunch so you may want to try that. I haven't had dinner there yet, but it looks good. Check out their website, they've got their menu online. You'd completely miss this place if someone didn't tell you about it.

                      Green St Tavern is perfect for a laid back lunch. Wife loves their croissant bread pudding.

                      I've also listed a couple of cheaper eats options ... Lucky Boy's breakfast burrito is pretty serious & my new quick lunch place is Tede's Cafe.

                      I know it's not a restaurant, but you might be like all my SF friends who are coffee fiends. Jones Coffee is another local favorite. In the most random place (they're a coffee roaster in a commercial business area), but they play jazz on Sundays & it's a pretty cool place to hang out and enjoy coffee before getting on with your day.

                      Jones Coffee Roasters
                      537 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                      Lucky Boy Drive-In
                      640 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105

                      Elements Kitchen
                      107 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, CA 91105

                      Green Street Tavern
                      69 W. Green Street, Pasadena, CA 91105

                      Tede's Cafe
                      109 E Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103

                      1. Believe it or not, there are some cool restaurants in Pasadena. No one's mentioned Daisy Mint yet, and that place is definitely cool, and has good food at modest prices (BYOB with no corkage). The new Siena on Union in Old Town has character and Italian food good enough to compensate for the spacey service. Vertical Wine Bistro has an urban hipness that's a cut above the Old Town norm. TAG, you're right, Mike & Anne's does need a bar menu, but even without it it's still a pretty cool place. Europane for breakfast is cool, as is Little Flower Candy Co. for lunch. And the coolest of all is Fatty's in Eagle Rock.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: dunnbates

                          Oh- you're right- I completely forgot about Daisy Mint. The food is consistently fresh and delicious...the beef salad is one of my favorites as is the steamed fish w/ fresh ginger. I also really like Siena but again- you're totally right about the service. I hope they get that side of the business together because Pasadena needs a place like that. I didn't mean to offent Boardknot- my "get the hint" was my lame attempt at humor. Gourmet bar food at Mike and Anne's would motivate me to go there once a week. Little Flower Co has amazing sandwiches- you'd never guess it but her pulled pork is awesome.

                          The only one I can't get on board with is Fattys.....after several experiences of downright rude service and flippant attitude, I haven't been back. It seems to be a common experience with other posters. Has it changed management? How's the service? What's your favorite thing to order? I love the space and it's nice they have a wine list but I'm almost afraid to go back.

                          1. re: tokyoastrogirl

                            I've only been to Fatty's once-- a Friday night in June when my boyfriend stood me up (okay, he had to work late :). I had a wonderful experience. My server was very sympathetic to my condition, sat me at the community table, offered to get me a glass of wine, and kept checking back to see how I was faring.

                            I ordered the Moussaka, which was delicious. The menu identified too many ingredients in the dish for me to remember, but the result was just a wonderful texture and mix of flavors. The portion was just the right size and plated quite artistically.

                            I'd love to go back and try some of the unusual appetizers. Their wacky hours are the thing that throw me.

                            1. re: tokyoastrogirl

                              I had bad experiences at the old Fatty's, a few years back, but I've been several times in recent months and always had really delicious food, perfectly acceptable service and a good time. And I'm a carnivore, as are most of the people I've eaten there with. I've read the Chowhounds complaints, but every one of my experiences has been great, as have those of my friends.