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Mar 4, 2009 11:02 AM

Pasadena Fare near Convention Center...

I'd like to compile a list of the "best" restaurants in Pasadena that won't break the bank for an upcoming conference at the Convention Center. Many attendees will not have cars, so being within walking distance is considered a plus. Having searched the board I find that many of the favorites in an area considered culinarily bleak by a number of chowhounds are not necessarily close to this central area. I haven't dined out on Green Street in a while, but have noticed that there are several "new" places that might be agreeable.

Can you chowhounds give me some help by offering:
(1) Your 5 or so "top" (edible?) eateries near the Convention Center; and
(2) Your 5 "top" eateries in the general area?

Many thanks in advance for your input and expertise! These conference-goers are teachers and education professors, so mid-range to the rare splurge is their price bracket!

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  1. A lot of places that came to mind were a little less than a mile away so I'm not sure if that is considered "walking distance." These recommendations include Euro Pane Bakery for sandwiches and delicious pastries. Nearby Cafe Verde, a little restaurant with some good fare. Green Street Restaurant has some lunch deals-I've ordered the Steak and Dianne Salad every time I've come here! Hanabi Sushi right by the Macy's at the Shops on Lake also has good lunch specials.

    King Taco is within walking distance and is nice on the wallet!

    1. While not very authentic (according to some here at least) Thai Dishes, across from the Paseo is a good choice.


      239 E. Colorado Blvd.
      Pasadena CA. 91101

      1. For a simple, quick and easy meal try Gelson's right across the street from the Convention Center.

        How about just a Top 5 Eateries within 15 minute walk of the Convention Center? In no particular order:

        Elements Kitchen
        La Grande Orange

        1. LUCKY BOY on Arroyo Parkway. Burgers and onion rings never disappoint.

          1 Reply
          1. re: whospizza

            u can always just go across the street to The Paseo..different places there

          2. I was also going to suggest the Paseo which has lots of different restaurants. I also clocked the mileage between Old Pasadena and the Convention Center ( not quite a mile, .07 or .08, as well as the mileage between the Convention Center and Lake Avenue (at Colorado) which was about the same. I walk it quite often.

            There are so many places in Old Pasadena, plus it is one of the top tourist attractions in the US, that I think your people would enjoy the walk over there (especially after being cooped up in the Convention Center!), and strolling back after a nice dinner, walking around, and exploring the shops etc.

            To me, who has lived here for umpteen years, this area is far from being "culinarily bleak"... years ago before they rehabbed Old Pasadena, it was, but everything since then has blossomed, all along Colorado, on Lake, and elsewhere in the central area.

            I will offer my top choices in each of your areas, after I think about it some matter what others may think, I think Pasadena has become a great place to eat out, dine out, etc., as well as a great place to live!!!

            8 Replies
            1. re: booklover

              Thanks so much, everyone - these are very good suggestions, and I will definitely try some of these soon myself! I agree that Pasadena is a lovely place to do just about anything!

              Another specific question: Where's the best sushi in town? How does Hanabi Sushi compare to the Kabuki chain, and has anyone eaten at Dena's?

              Many thanks again in advance!

              1. re: Vikzen

                Sushi roku in miller alley is very good, but $$$. also for your peeps, they can always walk down to the the culinary school CSCA, and grab something intresting, tasty, and inexpensive.

                Sushi Roku
                33 Miller Alley at One Colorado, Pasadena, CA 91103

                California School of Culinary Arts
                521 E Green Street, Pasadena, CA

                1. re: Vikzen

                  Try Tani for sushi.

                  Avoid Roku like the plague.

                  Dena House, last I checked, shuttered.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Tani it is - why, I'm curious, avoid Roku? Overpriced? The School of Culinary Arts is a great idea! Do they also give lessons or demos (like the one in New Orleans)?

                    1. re: Vikzen

                      the dena house closed as quickly as it opened. i find roku to be just fine. certainly not sushi zo or even sushi gen but it's fine for what it is-overpriced. i would avoid kabuki. just bad japanese food. the culinary arts cafe called school cafe does not have demos but provides food for the public and students. it's made by students so be prepared for inconsistency and bad service. you order at the counter but sometimes it can take forever for the food to come out and sometimes it'll come out very wrong. they have really terrific croissants and cookies. i might dare say their croissants are the best in pasadena.

                      1. re: trolley

                        Yes, saw that Dena House had shuttered. Wish I could suggest downtown sushi to these folks but apparently not many will have cars. That croissant tip is a gem! Thanks.

                      2. re: Vikzen

                        Roku is not only overpriced, but the food and service are subpar (to put it nicely).

                        There are no demonstrations at Restaurant 561. Unlike "trolley" I am not talking about the cafe, but the actual restaurant, which is called Restaurant 561. The food can be a bit uneven (b/c it is students after all), but the service is generally excellent -- almost to the point of being overbearing.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Hey thanks again everyone for all of the suggestions. I put together a nice little guide with recommendations and was pleased with the variety of choices.

                          Among the places I tried for the first time, Bar Celona was excellent! Caiparinhas were tall, frosty, and light. The arugula salad was refreshing, crisp - no old yellow arugula in there as I have seen, to my horror, elsewhere. The croquetas were great, and my husband loved the spicy lamb sausage. The white beans, referred to on the menu as "crushed" were in fact not even well-cooked enough, and the so-called shrimp ceviche seemed more like steamed shrimp - no citrus in the shrimp - sitting on a tasteless bed of lentils; bland, avoid that dish. Yummy calamari with a very watery lemony aioli. The tortilla espanola was mostly egg and I was shocked by how little potato it had ... in spite of my few criticisms, we loved the atmosphere and several dishes, and will return.

                          Tani Sushi another story altogether - AWFUL! Fake crab and some stuff I felt I couldn't even eat, save to squelch my hunger. The eel atop a designer roll was too fatty and undercooked. I will never return to Tani. The majority of the clientele were very, very young - frankly, in spite of its being a chain, I would much rather dine at Kabuki where the fish seems fresher, the dishes are more tastefully presented, and they use real crab!