HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


4 days in Pasadena/LA

  • d

So, I'm with my girlfriend here on work (hers not mine). Staying in Pasadena but we have a vehicle. Would love to hear some delicious suggestions for our four days here in the LA area. we're adventurous eaters and we'll need to get 3 meals a day here (plus snacks). cheap or moderately priced places would be great though we'd probably be willing to splurge one night.

Your suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

thanks so much,


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. If you are in the mood for good Thai, try the beautiful Saladang Song (directly next door to its sister restaurant Saladang). It would make for a great lunch in the wonderful patio

    383 S Fair Oaks Ave
    Pasadena 91105

    Image: http://www.tolkinarchitecture.com/ima...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ernie

      I love Saladang Song too...had another good meal there last weekend. Not very expensive, considering the beauty of the patio at night.

    2. David-

      Welcome to Pasadena. There is basically no end to the amount and variety of food in Pasadena, but I would recommend Marstons (Walnut St. west of Marengo) for breakfast or lunch, but not dinner. Saladang on Fair Oaks for Thai, Gale's (also on Fair Oaks) or Sorriso (in Old Town on Colorado)for Italian.

      You may want to try Tre Venize (sp?) on Green Street, west of Delacy (remember that Green St. is one way, going east) or Celestino on Lake. Both are supposed to be kinda fancy, but I haven't had a chance to go yet. Others may be able to comment. Also the Raymond (a little further south on Fair Oaks) is supposed to be nice, too.

      If you just need some quick take-out food, try Himeko Chicken on Arroyo (yellow and black lettering), The Hat (on Lake, just a little north of 210 fwy), or Corner Bakery (near Lake and California).

      Enjoy your visit!

      4 Replies
      1. re: kotatsu

        I love the fries at The Hat, big, thick cut and they taste like potatoes. The burgers are good too. Chili dogs are not bad. If you need a greasy pastrami dip fix you can get that at The Hat also, don't try and eat two though, you will get a stomach ache, and not from the quantity of the food, but the overall greasyness of two is too much.

        1. re: Chino Wayne

          A good place for Chili dogs is Wolfe Burger, on Lake.

        2. re: kotatsu

          Tre Venezie - probably the best Italian in Pasadena. Better than Celestino or Il Fornaio or Mi Piace.

          Tre Venezie - 119 W Green St., Pasadena (626) 795-4455

          Celestino - 141 South Lake Ave., Pasadena (626) 795-4006

          Il Fornaio Pasadena, Old Town, 24 W Union St
          Pasadena, (626) 683-9797

        3. Here are a couple to start with:

          Burger Continental, 535 S. Lake Ave. They do have burgers but their Mediterranean specialties are what they do best. Beginning at 7:30 AM M-F they serve a buffet breakfast for about $5. Lunch and dinner prices are moderate and they are known for large portions. Printing the coupon at the URL below will save you 20%.

          Big Mama's Rib Shack & Soul Food, 1453 N. Lake Ave.

          You will probably want to spend some time in Old Town Pasadena. In an area of about 12 square blocks this former slum section was beautifully restored and contains well over 100 restaurants.

          Link: http://www.getcouponsonline.com/coupo...

          5 Replies
          1. re: Sam D.

            I second Burger Continental. There bleu cheese salad dressing at the salad bar is hella good! I've had their buffet too...lots and lots to choose from!

            1. re: Kai

              Burger Continental might be ok for undergraduates looking to squeeze every last dime, but otherwise it's crowded, dirty & gross.

              1. re: Java Junkie
                Piggity Anne

                and that waiter is positively gholish (the one who is partially bald, sweaty, portly and scowling). If you are going there make sure to order Everything (I mean even salads) WELL DONE.

                1. re: Piggity Anne

                  Awww...he's sweet and harmless!

            2. re: Sam D.

              No offense, but if you were a friend of mine and you recommended Burger Continental to me, I would be seriously upset with you for such a recommendation.
              Their food is at best mediocre. The setting is okay but the food and the service is awful. I would rather eat at Gerlach Grill on Fair Oaks or Lebanese Kitchen on Washington Blvd. before I stepped anywhere near Burger Continental.

              My 2 cents worth

            3. For something more expensive, as you so far have gotten affordable food, try Yujean Kang for upscale Chinese on Raymond in Old Town, Xiomara for Cuban almost next door, and virtually nothing else in Old Town. However, Parkway Grill and Arroyo Chop House, both on Arroyo Parkway just north of California, both owned by the Smith Bros., are both wonderful doing California eclectic and Steaks/Chops. Neither cheap ($60 or so per person is a good average, assuming wine or mixed drinks), although the Parkway is slightly cheaper if you only opt for one. Also a very pretty place, if she needs one of those nights. Another poster recommended Himeko Chicken, also on Arroyo at Del Mar, which is fast food chicken, which is also better than you might expect. First time I have seen it mentioned on this board. Good, fast, affordable, and very convenient to the Gold line subway if you want to leave the area on the train instead of your car.
              Have fun.

              1. Personally, I would not support any recommendation posted here so far save that for Celestino. In general you will likely receive better recommendations (ie, more directly in line with what you seek) if you review the archive and request more detail on places that interest you.

                12 Replies
                1. re: Dbird
                  Pasadena Native Hound

                  Personally, I would not support any recommendation posted here that did not take your original request into account (i.e., cheap to moderately priced) Celestino is fine if you like Westside-style overpriced dining, but have found it completely forgettable for the price.

                  That being said, for a fantastic, cheap Middle Eastern lunch, try the shwarmas (their chicken sharma is delicious) near Cal Tech at:

                  Mediterranean Cafe
                  273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena, CA 91101
                  (626) 793-8844

                  1. re: Dbird

                    Why? Horrible service, average food.

                    1. re: Spike

                      I haven't found it so. They do a lovely carpaccio.

                      1. re: Dbird

                        No offense, but there is more to Italian food than Carpaccio, and with so many options at more affordable prices, why go to a restaurant that cannot even decide on its name, having had 3 different ones in the past few years, yet all with the same owner?

                        1. re: rmc

                          Of what relevance is its name?

                          1. re: Ted

                            hmmmmm...Spago...Valentino....Ivy...I think names can say a lot over time...

                            1. re: Ted

                              Celestino is Mr. Drago's first name.

                              1. re: Griller141

                                I know that. "rmc" is implying that the changed names are a reason to avoid the restaurant, without explaining why it matters. It seems a spurious rationale to me.

                                1. re: Ted

                                  I know Celestino is his first name, duh! But if he cannot even figure out the concept, meaning changing the name and concept from pastaio to celestino, how can the public get too enthused over his indecision. Many westside and Valley restaurants have had trouble making a go of it in Pasadena and here is yet another example. Witness Pinot Pasadena, Sushi Roku, Jerry's Deli and even to a lesser extent Cafe Bizou.

                            2. re: rmc

                              I have gone to Celestino for the past three years at least and there has been no name change I am aware of. I mention the carpaccio because I am so fond of it, but over time I have enjoyed wonderful pasta with truffles, roasted sea bass, and fabulous wines (among other things) at Celestino. I have found Calogero to be a wonderful host. To be fair, it has been a year since I have been back and it is possible that things have deteriorated, but the Celestino brothers' standards there and at Drago have impressed on each visit.

                              1. re: Dbird

                                I agree. I've always had very good food and gracious service at Celestino. I was there last about 5 months ago.

                          2. re: Spike

                            I have to disagree as well. The wait staff has always been very gracious. We've gone to Celestino as well as the sister restaurants Il Pasteo and Il Piccolino in BH several times and have always been pleased.

                        2. Splurge at the Raymond on Fairoaks. Great food at in a wonderful old craftsman house. Dark and romantic....perfect place for a romantic evening w/ your girlfriend.

                          1. In Pasadena: Gerlac's grill for lunch, which is sort of an adjunct to a liquor store at Fairoaks and Glenarm has received good play on this board. Sort of eclectic fast food. Soda Jerks on Fairoaks just north of Del Mar for lunch, not for the food, but for the Fossleman's Ice Cream, which is the next best choice when you can't find any dr. bob's Ice Cream. Arroyo Chop House for high end steaks. I have also heard good things about Clearwater Seafood on Colorado in Old Town.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Chino Wayne

                              I think Clearwater closed just recently...

                              1. re: Chino Wayne

                                FYI...I read that Julienne in San Marino supposedly has Dr. Bob's!!! They also serve good sandwiches, salads, pastries, etc.

                                Also, good fish tacos at Senor Fish on Mission, near Grand in South Pasadena. Cuban at Cafe Atlantic in Old Pasadena.

                                Julienne Fine Foods
                                626 441 2299
                                2649 Mission St., San Marino

                                Senor Fish
                                618 Mission St., South Pasadena
                                626 403 0145

                                Cafe Atlantic
                                53 E. Union St., Pasadena
                                626 796 7350

                                Link: http://www.juliennetogo.com/fact-shee...

                                1. re: Local

                                  I agree with the recommendation for Julienne. I've never had anything from there that wasn't very good. It also is very nice & charming to eat in or takeout. If I could own a food business, that would be it!

                                2. re: Chino Wayne

                                  Warning: There is no seating at Gerlach's. It is basically take-out.

                                  1. re: Spike

                                    Another warning: It's grossly overrated.

                                3. r
                                  Rich Gould-Saltman

                                  If you've got a vehicle, and you're up late, I'd suggest a trek to Hollywood and Thai Town. HIt the newly cleaned and signed Samnamlung (spelling, hounds?), Torung, Palms Thai, Ruen Pair, Jitlada, even (for slightly more atmosphere) the Larchmont Chan Dara (though they close earlier).

                                  Also, Ocean Star for dim Sum, particularly if you can get a weekday morning free.


                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Rich Gould-Saltman

                                    >Samnamlung (spelling, hounds?)<

                                    Rich, I believe that should be "Slamalamadingdong"

                                    1. re: WLA
                                      Rich Gould-Saltman

                                      Or, as Cam the Pup says: "Samnalung-nalung-nalung-nalung-nalung..." (continue until stopped by annoyed adult)


                                    2. re: Rich Gould-Saltman

                                      Just an FYI for the original poster, Ocean Star is in Monterey Park which is south of Pasadena, in a different direction than Hollywood.

                                    3. Since you're from SF, I'm not going to steer you in the direction of good Chinese restaurants or nice dinner places (although there are many of both near Pasadena!). But, here's a couple suggestions for other random places to eat in LA:

                                      For fast food, try Zankou Chicken. There's one at 1296 E Colorado Blvd, near PCC. Zankou has been written about many many times on this board if you want to do searches about it. Some prefer the Chicken Tarna, but I like to get the dark meat and slather it with their garlic paste. Just a warning though: the Pasadena location especially has absolutely no charm.

                                      or, how about Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles? There's a Pasadena location too (830 N. Lake Ave) so you don't have to drive too far to get to it. It's not that the food there is GREAT, but it's pretty good and it's definitely fun and funny to eat the combo of chicken and waffles.

                                      lastly, I'd suggest getting Korean if you can make it over to K-town, only becuase I'm not aware of too many good Korean restaurants in SF. My fav so far for bbq is Chosun Galbi (the new one, because their outdoor patio is nice and it means that I don't smell like smoke after dinner).

                                      Have a great time here! Happy chowing.

                                      1. I would check out Kuala Lumpur, an inexpensive Malaysian restaurant in Pasadena. Get a big bowl of their Wonton Curry Laksa and you'll be very satisfied. Many other items are delicious as well- gado gado salad, jicama & tofu salad, curry puffs, chicken in cilantro sauce, and a couple fish dishes cooked in clay pots, to name a few. Good fried bananas and sticky rice with mango for dessert. Nice waitstaff, too.

                                        Kuala Lumpur
                                        69 W. Green Street (across from Buca di Beppo)

                                        1. If you want something special for cheap try a fantastic burger with a real fountain soda at Pie N' Burger on Lake Ave.

                                          Also, there is a great fish taco stand on Fair Oaks just North of the 210 fwy it will be on your right in house like building....can't remember the name.