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Pasadena Recs

What are your favorite places to eat in Pasadena or within a 10 minute drive (note: NOT downtown LA)?

Looking for quick informal lunch spots and high quality dinner places that are pleasant to sit in /have nice ambiance.

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  1. Daisy Mint
    Green St Restaurant
    Pie n Burger

    Arroyo Chop House
    Yujean Kang's

    1. Parkway Grill ($$$$, but delivers the goods, great ambience)

      In Arcadia, Din Tai Fung (the new side, very nice room and the rare treat of a Shanghai-style dumpling house)

      Firefly in South Pas (bistro fusion, tented outdoor room, very pleasant)

      Gus's BBQ in South Pas (newly spruced up & the Q is pretty good)

      1. Second all the recommendations, at least the ones (most of them) we've been to. I would add:

        In South Pas, Bistro de la Gare and Mike & Ann's.

        In Pasadena, La Grande Orange and Central Park.

        In Arcadia, around the corner from Din Tai Fung is Chang's Garden on Duarte Rd. Big Shanghai-style menu and very friendly service.

        In San Marino, between El Molino and Los Robles on Mission St., Julienne is about as pleasant a place as you get, if it's not too hot and you sit outside. Good food, if a tad pricey, but worth the bother. Big catering shop for delightful takeout, too.

        9 Replies
          1. re: burumun

            I work in Pasadena Old Town and find Pasadena is a terrible desert for great food. It's obviously too white and rich to have the ethnic wonders, and too out of the way to have truly great high-end eats.

            I usually go to Eagle Rock for Oinkster, Highland Park for My Taco, Green St Tavern in Old Town, or any of the great chinese places in the SGV

            1. re: echoparkdirt

              How can the center of the known universe possibly be "out of the way"?

              Okay, we're a tad short on great Asian, if it's Chinese you're talking about, but that's what the rest of the SGV is for. Perhaps you don't like anything at any of the suggested places, and the ones in my price range are not GREAT in the way some of the bigtime big-chef joints west of us might be, but the only depressingly bad meal I've had at any of them was a grilled NY steak at Central Park, and that had to be a f***up rather than something normal. Now, Old Town emphatically IS a desert, unless you're willing to wander off a few blocks, but that's our secret: it keeps the trendy twits and the turistas safely out of our hair, the former at the likes of Villa So-risible and the latter at the Cheesecake Factory, and lets us have a nice semi-quiet dinner at Daisy Mint or Firefly.

              1. re: echoparkdirt

                Pasadena is a majority/minority city and has been for many years - this is where Jackie Robinson came from. There are certainly rich, white enclaves, and Old Town seems to mandate an industrial-strength blanderizer, but that's only a few square blocks. (That being said, Aziza and Tibet-Nepal House aren't bad)

                Try the carnitas at Mi Casa, the chile verde at Tonny's, the first-rate pupusas at La Caravana or pretty much any of the lunch specials at El Taquito Mexicano.

                1. re: condiment

                  Haha...i think we all love Pasadena, but food is not the reason why. I've never tried Tibet-Nepal -- it was beyond my capabilities to imagine that such a place would actually be good in Pasadena -- but I may try it one of these days.

                  What really angers me about Pasa is all the fake "Italian/Mediterranian" places that are too expensive and mediocre, like santorini and mi piace

                  1. re: echoparkdirt

                    Tibet-Nepal is very good indeed, and apparently quite authentic. Amazing, being so close to Old Town. But then we loved the Malaysian place, too, and then they got forced out.

                    1. re: Will Owen

                      Kuala Lumpur was hands down my favorite place in Old Town. Ronnie Ng was an amazing chef. I wonder where he wound up?

                      I'm not really prepared to vouch for the authenticity of Tibet-Nepal - it certainly seems to lack the austerity of the Tibetan place I used to love in Jackson Heights - but even thinking of it as an an Indian restaurant, it is the best in the area.

                      Now that Tre Venezie's quality has fallen off a cliff, the panini at Porta Via are about as good as it gets in Pasadena Italian.

                      1. re: condiment

                        Wish I knew where - they were talking about opening something before too long, but where and when we never found out. Losing that place was really shattering to us, as there is nothing of that quality/price ratio in that area. We could attend a gallery opening or whatever with no worries about having to drive somewhere else for a good meal at a decent price. And they were so welcoming and friendly, too.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          His sister owns Yazmin in Alhambra, and Ronnie developed the recipes, but it isn't quite the same. Still: wonderful rojak, curry laksa, nasi lemak, etc.

          2. Add Cafe Verde and Malbec to the recommendations thus far.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jack Flash

              malbec has some delicious menu items, lest you care to take three hours to complete your meal due to service issues , I would recommend going elsewhere for lunch.

              perhaps cafe verde a few steps down for that informal lunch?

            2. Quick informal lunch=Wolfe Burger on Lake. Inside or enclosed patio or outside, menu with more than burgers, beer, informal. Park in the back. You'll be pleased.

              1. I've heard lots of positive things about Elements Kitchen on Fairoaks in Pasadena. I have yet to try the place myself but my girlfriend had her wedding catered by them and the food was delicious. (also, no dinner, just brunch on wknds and lunch during the wk)


                2 Replies
                1. re: Augusta

                  Elements is great for lunch-- the panini sandwiches (I crave the brie and pear)-- but expect it to take forever. Even though it seems they have increased their staff. I think the problem may be that they have a tiny kitchen.

                  My favorite lunch spot is Marston's, a homey restaurant located in a bright little house.

                  Weeknight dinner: definitely Daisy Mint. My husband has a thing for the curry at Hurry Curry. Weekend or more special occasion: I love the food and vibe at Red White and Bluezz. And Maison Akira-- ask for Deborah as your server.

                  And 21 Flavors for frozen yogurt.

                2. Wolf Burger, Pie and Burger, La Fiesta Grande, Mijares, In 'n' Out on Foothill. Outside of Pasadena. Try My Taco in HIghland Park. Surprisingly great.

                  1. Of newer places to try, I'd put Brix 42 on the list. They have been pretty solid every time we've been there even during the clusterwank of the Lakers being in the NBA finals and when we've shown up with a big group including a child.

                    1. Lunch - Lovebirds

                      Dinner - Akbar, Gus's BBQ, Shiro, Gyu Kaku... .not much else worthwhile. search Alhambra recs which you can do in 10 minutes and it will be worth the drive

                      1. Brits for the best fish and chips around.

                        Brits Restaurant
                        1770 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106

                        1. Strangely enuff, Mr. Gold has just published his Pasa recs. He likes Domenico's and Celestino.

                          Never been to either. He also loves Casa Bianca, which is quite close, and that is fantastic pizza...


                          1 Reply
                          1. re: echoparkdirt

                            Mr. Gold wrote that "Tre Venizie's founding chef moved on a few months ago" --we all know how the place has slipped in the past year or so--but I thought Chef Minuz was truly talented. Does anyone know where he went?

                            I'm another very excited foodie anticipating the opening of Bistro LQ! Too bad he couldn't stay local...

                          2. Gayle's for mid-priced quality Italian and a nice selection of wines by the glass. There's a Zankou in Pasadena for a good lunch spot. Ai has great Japanese in South Pas. Also Green St, as others have mentioned.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Cebca

                              Gayles is good but i would not describe it as mid priced

                              1. re: orythedog

                                Well, it's more than a taco truck, but a lot less than, say, Parkway Grill. So, what would be mid-priced?

                                1. re: orythedog

                                  By the way, it's "Gale's" (not Gayles).

                                  Just in case anyone drives out there looking for it.

                                  One thing I really don't like about Gale's is the space (even though the food can have it's high points from time to time). It's so cramped I feel like I'm sharing my meal with the rest of the sardines in the can ...

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I agree ipse, but I believe you're referring to the front of the front of the house. The back room has a more civilized appropriate spacing between tables and is a more colorful non-claustrophobic room. I recommend requesting to sit in the back. I think Gale's has decent but not great food. We go back and I recommend trying if you live/are hungry for Italian in Pasadena. Good Zuppe di Pesce, Meh pizzas. Briganti in S Pas is a good choice for pasta.

                              2. Thanks all. Lots of recs.

                                1. shiro on a thursday when yamashiro is in....that's it!