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80th Birthday in Pasadena/downtown?

soyarra Mar 7, 2009 11:40 AM

Help. My mother is turning 80 in a couple of weeks, and my sisters and i want to take her to dinner somewhere in the greater Pasadena area OR possibly downtown. My mother is NOT an adventurous diner, and she prefers rather low-key but nice places instead of stuffy, overly-formal and/or cutting edge restaurants. We want to keep the whole thing on the moderate side, price-wise. There will be about 10 of us. Any ideas? Thanks for any suggestions!

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  1. s
    Silverlaker RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 12:39 PM

    What about the Tam O Shanter in Los Feliz? I think of that place when I think of my in-laws. Also, tea at Huntington Gardens is nice.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Silverlaker
      soyarra RE: Silverlaker Mar 7, 2009 01:34 PM

      Perfect suggestion, but a little out of the way for everyone. Thanks.

      1. re: soyarra
        cls RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 02:04 PM


        Monty's Steak House
        592 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA

        1. re: cls
          Local RE: cls Mar 7, 2009 02:50 PM

          no go...closed in early summer 2007.

    2. ipsedixit RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 12:56 PM

      Parkway Grill

      9 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit
        soyarra RE: ipsedixit Mar 7, 2009 01:35 PM

        "Too fancy" for my mom. She wants something a little less formal. I wish there was a place like the Tam O'Shanter in Pasadena.

        Thanks, though.

        1. re: soyarra
          Briggs RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 01:52 PM

          What about some of the places in the Paseo - the Brazilian place? Or Smitty's on Lake? Not too formal. And even though there are detractors here about the food, Burger Continental is certainly fun, and there ARE things there to eat. And certainly informal.

          1. re: Briggs
            Silverlaker RE: Briggs Mar 7, 2009 02:04 PM

            Los Feliz is 10 mins from Pasadena -- I'm telling you, the Tam O Shanter makes everyone happy and fits your demo.

            1. re: Silverlaker
              soyarra RE: Silverlaker Mar 7, 2009 02:55 PM

              Yeah, I may have to run this by everyone, even though it will be schlep for some. Thanks.

            2. re: Briggs
              soyarra RE: Briggs Mar 7, 2009 02:56 PM

              Smitty's is an excellent suggestion - thanks.

              1. re: soyarra
                Jack Flash RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 10:10 PM

                If Smitty's works, you might also consider Taylor's steak house (the one over in La Canada is only 12 minutes from Pasadena).

            3. re: soyarra
              ipsedixit RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 02:02 PM

              How 'bout the Derby in Arcadia?


              1. re: ipsedixit
                soyarra RE: ipsedixit Mar 7, 2009 02:57 PM

                Ha! I was just on their website - it would be perfect, if only they'd posted the prices on their online menu.

                Still, thanks.

                1. re: soyarra
                  ipsedixit RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 10:24 PM

                  Prices at The Derby are comparable to Tom O'Shanter and Lawry's.

          2. Vaya Con Carne RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 02:51 PM

            The Raymond? It gets mixed reviews here, but it's the kind of place my 80ish mother would love. I've only been for lunch, but I liked it.

            Il Fornaio in Pasadena might also work. They do well at accommodating groups, prices are on the moderate side, and I've always been pleasantly surprised by the food.

            Il Fornaio
            24 W Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103

            Raymond Restaurant
            1250 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105

            1. p
              paprkutr RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 02:59 PM

              How about Cafe Bizou in Pasadena? Nice place, good food not overpriced, and $2 corkage. One dollar soup or salad. Reasonable prices.

              2 Replies
              1. re: paprkutr
                Silverlaker RE: paprkutr Mar 7, 2009 03:12 PM

                Cafe Bizou is a great choice -- ! Listen, my in-laws are this age and I know this demo. Il Fornaio is not what these folks are used to -- they grew up on red-sauce Italian and I just don't think they really get this sort of place (sorry if I'm being a bit stereotypical here).

                If you can't go to Tam O Shanter, take a look at Cafe Bizou -- reasonably priced and they'll think it's fancy.

                1. re: Silverlaker
                  soyarra RE: Silverlaker Mar 7, 2009 03:23 PM

                  Cafe Bizou is perfect for her - we took her there last year on her birthday. Oh well.

                  Thanks, you guys.

              2. j
                junipersong RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 03:33 PM

                There's always Bucca. Not the best food, but I like family dinners there and it's definitely moderately priced.

                1. wienermobile RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 03:36 PM

                  I know it sounds corny but took my mom to The Melting Pot for her 90th birthday and she loved it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: wienermobile
                    Silverlaker RE: wienermobile Mar 7, 2009 03:48 PM

                    Go to Tam O Shanter! It's got charm and really fits the demo. Have everyone meet at your place and drive 'em. I live in SL and spend a lot of time in Pasadena -- the commute is 10-15 mins.

                  2. Will Owen RE: soyarra Mar 7, 2009 06:44 PM

                    As it turns out, we celebrated Maman's 84th at Maison Akira, picked for the sole reason that it occupied the space where a camera store in which she'd worked had been in the '60s. Aside from its connection with her personal history, it proved to be a more than adequately French dining experience for this very picky French or French-leaning family. The one non-Francophone in the crowd - me - found both the food and the atmosphere to be utterly satisfactory, and everyone else seemed to agree. Even Papa, who was picking up the tab, liked it well enough to have come back a few more times since then.

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