HOME > Chowhound > Los Angeles Area >


Best Cheap/Ethnic Meal in Pasadena

I work in Pasa and HATE the food here. Have to go to eagle rock or highland park or SG for anything spicy, ethnic and cheap. Any ideas?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Tonny's? Maybe even El Toreo Cafe

    1. Lived in Pasa for a year and couldn't wait to leave... SG, Alhambra , Monterey Park rock... Pasadena is very very sad... makes me wonder what they are teaching at the culinary school

      1. King Taco? That's all I got.

        Hopefully Mama's Hot Tamale Cafe opens up soon.

        King Taco
        45 N Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91103

        1. cheap & ethnic in Pasadena: Mexican options abound. At night, there are a couple of worthwhile taco trucks on Fair Oaks between Del Mar & California. In addition, there's a store at the corner of I think it's Summit & Raymond, or thereabouts, that has good tacos, too. Viva Tacos La Estrella, at the corner of Foothill & Altadena, pretty much brings the truck experience inside (there are other La Estrella locations around, and they have or at least had some sort of relationship to one another). North-central and northwestern Pasadena is home to literally dozens of small Mexican cafes; some of them must be doing something right. Tonny's (mentioned above) is but one example.

          Over in Northeast Pasadena, there are many Middle-Eastern places. While not necessarily spicy, they are ethnic and can be cheap.

          1. That's pretty depressing. I appreciate the mexican suggestions. But Pasa seems to be a desert of options.

            Best place I've found in Old Town is Green Street Tavern...

            4 Replies
            1. re: echoparkdirt

              Aww, buck up soldier. La Caravana on Lake near Washington is among the better Salvadoran restaurants in the L.A. area. Lebanese Kitchen and Shish Kebab Express have very good kebabs and such. Roscoe's has its detractors, but has undeniably decent chicken and waffles. There are many decent hamburgers, Pie n' Burger, Wolfe Burger and Tops among them. Azeen's could be a little cheaper, but the Afghan food is very tasty; ditto Tibet-Nepal House for Nepalese cooking. Opinions on pizzas vary, but Domenico's on Washington is good in an old-fashioned style, especially the tomatoless Calabrese. The L&L on Arroyo Parkway has very acceptable Hawaiian grindz. If you order correctly, i.e. only Sichuan dishes, Fu-Shing can be quite good. Top's Indonesian is really bare bones, but decent for a quick nasi goreng fix. Haidar Baba has great halal Iranian food. There are, as stated, a ton of Mexican places, Tonny's certainly not the least of them. Marston's is a little genteel, but has excellent American breakfasts. Hurry Curry is fine for a quick Japanese curry-rice fix. Porta Via on California at Fair Oaks has probably the best panini in L.A.

              Green Street Tavern, on the other hand, is pretty generic...

              1. re: condiment

                Great post, condiment. Thx for the info

                1. re: condiment

                  Thnx. Re: Green Street, Love their hamburgers. And their atmosphere. And their fries. But I'm really pimping them cuz i work in old town and all the food here is pretty bad.

                  Hurry Curry is pretty bad, IMHO. And Porto Via has skimpy portions, generic pasta salads, and few opitons....

                  1. re: echoparkdirt

                    There is no such thing as good pasta salad. And I've never gotten either the takeout or the hot dishes at Porto Via. But the panini are formidable.

              2. The food is not fantastic at Central Park, but I've had only one bad thing there (a steak, of all things!) and I think that was a fluke. VG burger, cheap for its kind, and the flatiron steak and the sand dabs are reliable and reasonable. For dinner I like it much better than Green Street Restaurant. And I'll certainly second the nomination for La Caravana, though like Tonny's they're boozeless. Excellent Salvadoran, and the BEST chiles rellenos I've had anywhere, including my own.

                1. For cheap, I liked the fried chicken at Louisiana Famous Fried Chicken & Donuts, up on Lake north of the 210. Nothing refined, and not something you could eat everyday, but it was spicy and tasty.
                  I work in Pas and often take the quick drive through San Marino for some Vietnamese or Chinese takeout in San Gabriel on Las Tunas. Not sure if that's feasible from your location.
                  Is a quick drive into Eagle Rock do-able for you?

                  1. Indochine on the corner of Mentor and Colorado (2nd floor) for Vietnamese...and on the first floor Euro Pan has great lunch, desserts and bakery stuff.
                    For a good beer at a dodgey British pub, Lucky Baldwins. And Jake's.