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Steak house in Pasadena CA?

withabandon Apr 7, 2010 11:51 AM

I'd like to take my s.o. for steak since its his favorite food for his upcoming birthday-- so I'm looking for a place that has nice ambience ( and other food as well) that specializes in steak. There is JJ's and Ruth Chris that I can think of, but having not ever been to either, I'm not sure about picking one of them, or even if there is another place steak lovers would recommend. Definitely do not want to go to Clearman's on any place like that.


  1. o
    odub Jul 12, 2010 11:40 PM

    Quick thread bump:

    I want to take my sister and dad out to dinner. Though my dad is a steak guy, not everyone in our party (five adults total, plus my daughter) will necessarily want one themselves so a dedicated steakhouse doesn't seem like a great idea (just for the record, my default choice would have been Wolfgang's even though it's not remotely near Pasadena).

    So...if I'm aiming for a restaurant that serves up strong steaks but has other good entrees on the menu, should I be thinking Smitty's? Houston's? Taylor's? Never been to any of the above.

    (If I wasn't worried about the commute over, I'd sooner try Jar myself but this would be a Friday night dinner and I'm really not trying to hike over from the SGV to mid-city at that time of day.)

    5 Replies
    1. re: odub
      ChinoWayne Jul 13, 2010 07:40 AM

      I'd go with Houston's, quality food, good ambience.

      1. re: odub
        Jack Flash Jul 13, 2010 10:08 AM

        I like Smitty's, but it can get a bit loud. Houston's usually seems quieter. There's probably a bit more varied menu at Smitty's. I like them both. They're quite similar in many ways. Taylor's is much more meat-centric. I don't know what Houston's reservation policy is; that might be the clincher for me.

        1. re: odub
          ipsedixit Jul 13, 2010 10:19 AM

          I'm going to throw another option into the mix for you to consider ... Malbec.

          1. re: odub
            rickym13 Jul 13, 2010 11:22 AM

            what about parkway grill?

            1. re: rickym13
              Jack Flash Jul 13, 2010 11:45 AM

              Not much of a steak place, really.

          2. m
            mbh65 Apr 18, 2010 02:04 PM

            While it is not a steakhouse, David Haskell does know his way around a steak and good bottle of wine (and other great pairings). Right now, Vertical Wine Bistro is my go to pick in Pasadena.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mbh65
              Jack Flash Apr 18, 2010 02:18 PM

              Haskell is no longer involved with Vertical.

            2. p
              Pathological Eaters Apr 12, 2010 09:56 AM

              You might also want to consider something a little different on the Argentinian side with Malbec off Green Street...their Ribeye is excellent prepared in the traditional Argentine way and their empanadas are also tasty for a starter. If you are a Malbec fan you will get your choice of over a dozen as well.



              1. f
                foufou Apr 12, 2010 06:29 AM

                JJ's was the location of the worst, overpriced meal that I have had in southern CA; I felt as if I had been robbed! The ribeye I had at Ruth Chris in Pasadena was full of gristle, fat.....I only have drinks and appetizers there now. Last time I was at Smitty's my dish had to be returned to the kitchen three times and still wasn't right (requested medium rare and received everything but).....I would jump on the freeway and drive to Mastro's if I wanted great steak and was celebrating a birthday.....

                1. martyR Apr 8, 2010 07:43 AM

                  My vote is for Ruth's Chris. I want to like Arroyo Chop House, but it's just so uneven. I'd make the drive downtown to Nick & Stef's.

                  Arroyo Chop House
                  536 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: martyR
                    cdub Apr 8, 2010 09:44 AM

                    that's pretty much the problem with ACH. when they're on, their steaks are as good as you can get. however, they're not up to snuff as often as they're off. i still think they're the best choice in pasadena for steaks.

                    1. re: cdub
                      withabandon Apr 10, 2010 01:18 PM

                      Thanks everyone. Given all the reports of inconsistency, I'm taking the advice to head to Nick & Stef's. It's not that far, the menu looks great-- and we have friends who'll bring something from their wine cellar, since there is no corkage. Hopefully, it'll be wonderful.

                    2. re: martyR
                      afloreZ66 Jul 13, 2010 11:41 AM

                      The problem with ACH is the consistency of the meat, Ruth Chris has first dibbs on all prime meat generated by big beef supplier which to begin with is not too many. That is the unfortuanate part of running an independent steak house. I prefer to purchase my meat from my work where I know it is USDA Choice or higher and aged 21 to 28 days so that it is always consistent. Sorry to rub that in. By the way, those midnight eateries in Vegas offer nothing but old cow meat. YUCK! Never again

                      1. re: afloreZ66
                        ChinoWayne Jul 13, 2010 12:43 PM

                        So you are saying there is only one single purveyor of prime beef available to a Southern California restaurant? And Ruth's Chris has the entire inventory locked up? Kind of hard to swallow.

                        And what does meat served in Las Vegas have to do with a steak consumed in Pasadena?

                    3. o
                      Ogawak Apr 8, 2010 06:56 AM

                      I've been following the posts regarding the Arroyo Chop House. It was my go-to place for steak in Pasadena.. The ribeye's I've had there have been as good as anything I've had at Mastros or Ruth Chris. I have also had very wretched ribeyes as well, very grisley and chewy. ACH can be great, it can be terrible.

                      Arroyo Chop House
                      536 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                      Mastros Restaurant
                      2087 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

                      1. ipsedixit Apr 7, 2010 02:53 PM

                        In Pasadena, my vote goes to Ruth's Chris ... but it's more by default than by deliberate choice.

                        Here's why.

                        Arroyo Chop House can be very uneven, and the beef usually comes out so tasteless that if you were blindfolded you'd swear you were eating water boiled chicken breasts.

                        JJ Steakhouse. The steaks here would be good if they were about 20% lower in price. The beef just isn't up to snuff -- it's almost like the restaurant is charging you a premium b/c they are upstairs and you get a "view" of Old Town. [sigh]

                        Smitty's. I don't really consider them a steakhouse -- even "chophouse" would be a stretch. The focus just isn't on the steaks -- and the prep and presentation show that. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want steaks as your primary focus, this would be off-target. If you do go, definitely check out the chicken pot pie and the cornbread -- good stuff.

                        Taylor's and Monty's (RIP) ... are non-contenders.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          mc michael Apr 7, 2010 03:08 PM

                          Definitely better steaks to be had downtown.

                          1. re: ipsedixit
                            Jack Flash Apr 7, 2010 04:18 PM

                            What's your beef (pun intended) with Taylor's? It's not top-of-the-line, but it's about half the price of places like The Palm or Arnie Morton's.

                            1. re: Jack Flash
                              cls Apr 7, 2010 04:52 PM

                              Taylors is good for what it is, but what it's not is a restaurant that serves prime steaks. That puts it in a class below ACH and Ruths Chris. Better price = lower quality. Do with that what you will.

                              1. re: cls
                                withabandon Apr 7, 2010 06:29 PM

                                Thanks everyone. This is for a birthday party-- so I want some ambiance too-- sounds like that is not Taylors. And I agree, Smitty's while i really like it, is not a steak house.
                                I like ipsedixit's explanation of why RC over ACH and JJ.
                                Anyone else care to chime with similar specifics?

                                1. re: withabandon
                                  cls Apr 7, 2010 07:51 PM

                                  In defense of Taylors, the ambience is great, in an old world, salty waitress, good time, steakhouse sort of way. It is also well worth the money. It's just not the same level of quality as some of the other choices.

                              2. re: Jack Flash
                                ipsedixit Apr 7, 2010 06:49 PM

                                "What's your beef (pun intended) with Taylor's? It's not top-of-the-line, but it's about half the price of places like The Palm or Arnie Morton's."

                                And, about half the quality.

                                Nothing against Taylor's. It is what it is.

                              3. re: ipsedixit
                                BubblyOne Apr 7, 2010 09:13 PM

                                Wow, seems a bit severe for Arroyo- "water boiled chicken breasts"?

                                1. re: BubblyOne
                                  ipsedixit Apr 7, 2010 09:16 PM

                                  Was actually being generous.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    BubblyOne Apr 7, 2010 09:26 PM

                                    Hmmmm, well I guess we have had extremely different experiences. I have been many times and enjoyed the food and service. Plus, love the sides for non-meat eaters. But that's what make the world go round.

                                  2. re: BubblyOne
                                    Jase Apr 8, 2010 02:13 PM

                                    FWIW, I've had a couple of non chowhound friends say they were unhappy with ther steak quality and ambiance at ACH. These are friends who have been happy with the quality of meat at Las Vegas midnight steak and egg specials. I was taken aback by those reports. Especially since these friends are usually happy at non CH places.

                                    Las Vegas Bar
                                    2343 S Bristol St, Santa Ana, CA 92704

                                2. wilafur Apr 7, 2010 02:31 PM

                                  arroyo chop house all the way.

                                  1. s
                                    SeaCook Apr 7, 2010 01:31 PM

                                    If you want old scool ambience there's always Monty's

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: SeaCook
                                      mc michael Apr 7, 2010 01:37 PM

                                      At this point, it's very old school. The school's been closed for a couple of years now.

                                      1. re: mc michael
                                        SeaCook Apr 7, 2010 02:39 PM

                                        Geez I move away from Pasadena for a couple of years and my favorite steakhouse closes. RIP Monty's Steakhouse :-(

                                        Monty's Steakhouse
                                        5371 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364

                                        1. re: SeaCook
                                          mc michael Apr 7, 2010 03:06 PM

                                          The building has just been sitting there vacant for a couple of years.

                                          1. re: mc michael
                                            SeaCook Apr 8, 2010 08:39 AM

                                            Well then <sigh> Arroyo Chop House would be the place to go.

                                            Arroyo Chop House
                                            536 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                    2. o
                                      otisdog Apr 7, 2010 01:16 PM

                                      i don't think Taylors meat measures up to the others previously mentioned. My vote would be Arroyo Chop house, then Smitty's.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: otisdog
                                        Jack Flash Apr 7, 2010 02:05 PM

                                        I haven't been to ACH, but as between Smitty's and Taylor's, I'd have to disagree. I think Taylor's steaks are better than those at Smitty's. It's close, though. And about the same price point, too. Now, if the OP wants to order a non-steak main course, the balance definitely tips in favor of Smitty's. Ultimately, I would be happy to be taken out to either place!

                                      2. justanotherpenguin Apr 7, 2010 12:56 PM

                                        if you don't mind a 10 minute drive, taylor's in la canada is quite nice and is much better priced than jj's, ruth chris, arroyo or smitty's.

                                        Taylor's Steakhouse
                                        901 Foothill Blvd, La Canada, CA 91011

                                        1. m
                                          mc michael Apr 7, 2010 12:41 PM

                                          Smitty's is not bad. Ruth's Chris has some decent specials and good meat.

                                          1. ChinoWayne Apr 7, 2010 12:20 PM

                                            I'm partial to Arroyo Chop House, here is an old report to give you an idea of the place: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/51986

                                            Arroyo Chop House
                                            536 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: ChinoWayne
                                              sgt.spanky Apr 7, 2010 05:08 PM

                                              Here's another vote for Arroyo Chop House... I was there a few months back and had the lamb chops which were AMAZING. Juicy, tender, and generously cut.

                                              Arroyo Chop House
                                              536 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                              1. re: sgt.spanky
                                                DrBruin Apr 7, 2010 05:40 PM

                                                I would also give another vote for Arroyo Chop House.

                                                Arroyo Chop House
                                                536 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

                                                1. re: DrBruin
                                                  rednyellow Apr 7, 2010 07:01 PM

                                                  Add my vote for Arroyo Chop House. The mac and cheese with ham is amazing. Last time we had it, along with a huge meal, we just sat there staring at each other mumbling "ham".

                                                  Arroyo Chop House
                                                  536 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena, CA 91105

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