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Anything worth checking out in Pasadena/Altadena?

I don't know the Pasadena or Altadena areas well at all. Anyone have suggestions on great places to eat that aren't chains? I'm open to anything...

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  1. There's a clutch of Chowish places on Lake north of the 210, e.g., The Hat, El Pollo Unico, Slaw Dogs.
    And Tonny's on Orange Grove, just off Lake.

    The Slaw Dogs
    720 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91104

    1 Reply
    1. re: mc michael

      Get the Pozole at Tonnys! Hard to beat!

      Tonny's Restaurant
      843 E Orange Grove Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

    2. Give me more of an idea what you're looking for. Price? Cusine? Fine dining vs casual?

      2 Replies
      1. re: SeaCook

        I like all kinds of food so I don't have any real preference on cuisine. Some of my favorites are anything Asian or possibly French Bistro, Mexican or standard American fare. Steakhouses are great too however I've usually found them to be a little overpriced considering what you get for the money. Although I enjoy fine dining sometimes, I mostly prefer something a little more casual.

      2. La Caravana on Lake north of the 210Fwy for some great pupusas (thank you for the rec, WildSwede!!)

        1 Reply
        1. Altadena spots:
          Bulgarini for gelato on Lake and Altadena
          Little Red Hen on Fair Oaks, just south of Mariposa for breakfast
          Park Bench in the Websters complex on Lake for sandwiches
          Pueblas Tacos on Woodbury
          Amy's Patio, Lake and Altadena for breakfast and lunch

          Amy's Patio Cafe
          900 E Altadena Dr, Altadena, CA 91001

          1. Thanks everyone for the suggestions! Much appreciated and please do keep them coming!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: MPW425

              Two places to check out for lunch/earlier dinner. Little Flower Candy Co. and Auntie Em's (actually Eagle Rock).

              Little Flower Candy Co
              1424 W Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA

            2. Here are my recs for Pasadena:

              Euro Pane - great sandwiches
              Azeen's Afghani
              Connal's - great double cheeseburger combo deal

              Azeen's Afghani Restaurant
              110 E Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103

              1505 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

              27 Replies
              1. re: urbanfoodninja

                Agree with Euro Pane. Connals, not so much. If it's burgers you seek, I'd choose Pie 'n' Burger over Connals.

                1. re: Peripatetic

                  P'n'B and Connal's are two different breeds - the small and handmade vs. the big cheap bang-for-the-buck. That's not necessarily a value judgment on my part, as I enjoy both of them. I think Connal's immediate competitor is The Hat, and while the latter offers a nicer place to sit I like Connal's burgers a little better.

                  Speaking of The Hat, in case you're not fully cognizant of LA-area fried-side customs, let me caution you about ordering fries there. On my first visit I ordered "large fries" and wondered why the guy looked at me so oddly. I found out when he handed me a giant sack full...

                  1505 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    I have not been to Connal's even though it is closest to my house. I have been to P'n'B, and as one not deeply into burger culture, its charm escapes me. Pies are good, but I don't have much of a sweet tooth to take me back.

                    Having said that, the one burger I do like is the Kobe burger at Top's on Colorado, east of Rosemead (not the other location on Allen and Foothill/Walnut).

                    1505 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

                    1. re: suvro

                      I don't find anything compelling about Connals. The Tops Kobe burger is very good. But I think my favorite local burger is Rod's grill in Arcadia, unless that's disqualified by being outside the city limits. Strictly Pasadena/Altadena based, I'd go with the cheeseburger hoagie at Lee's Hoagie House.

                      1505 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

                      Lee's Hoagie House
                      2269 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                      1. re: martyR

                        Marty, what else do you like at Rod's. I have driven by many, many times, but never stopped... looks like I need to try it now! Thanks!

                        I also LOVE Taco Treat on Live Oak east of Santa Anita in Arcadia. Their deep fried burritos and tacos are hard to resist - or maybe it is that delicious salsa sauce stuff they serve!!

                        1. re: WildSwede

                          Try the Jockey burger. They have good onion rings and do a pretty decent chicken fried steak. You'll probably be the youngest one there.

                        2. re: martyR

                          No, Arcadia is fine too! Just a short drive for us...

                          1. re: MPW425

                            Great! Also, Tarantino's on Green in Pasadena... great pizza and pasta. Just keep in mind that they are cash only!
                            El Metate on Catalina has good fish tacos and other Mexican items.
                            Great Pho can be had at The Reyn Pho on Lake just south of Orange Grove.
                            There is also a really good Sushi place in the Macy's shopping center on South Lake/California. I cannot remember the name, tho.

                            635 N Lake Ave, Pasadena, CA 91101

                            El Metate
                            12 N Mentor Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106

                        3. re: suvro

                          suvro, I like the Kobe burger at Original Tops, too (I've never been to the "unoriginal" Tops at Allen and Foothill). I didn't think to recommend it as it's a long way from many people's definition of "Pasadena".

                          One thing about P'n'B: the quality of the burger seems to often depend on who's at the grill. When the older gentleman is there, the burgers are usually excellent. I think that's why they get such uneven reviews. Also, my experience is that you want to stick with pie and burgers; the other items on the menu that I've tried have been disappointing.

                          The Original Tops
                          3838 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                          1. re: Peripatetic

                            While there are fewer chowhound-worthy places in east Pasadena, it might be worth remembering Pasadena is long on its east-west axis, like Manhattan in landscape mode!

                            A couple of our go-to places (not all chowish) are Pad Thai on Colorado across from what was originally Symes Toyota, and once in a while I like going to the big plate sushi place - Gin Sushi. Same for Mongolian Barbeque and President's Thai.

                            Mongolian Barbeque
                            970 W Foothill Blvd, Claremont, CA 91711

                            Gin Sushi
                            3589 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                            1. re: suvro

                              What do you order at Pad Thai? I ordered the Pad Thai (figure you might as well order if they have a food in their name) once and thought it was not that great. I much prefer Tiparos Thai and PresidenTwo for Thai in Pasadena. Agree with the PnB issue you brought up as well - fries are nasty!!

                              Tiparos Thai Restaurant
                              2486 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                              1. re: WildSwede

                                Interestingly we have never ordered Pad Thai there! :-)

                                This restaurant is comfort food for us - and since we go so often they know us well - specially the two servers. Usually we will get the Tom Kha Gai (chicken in coconut milk soup), panang something, rad naa (wide noodles in spicy sauce), seafood special or catfish in spicy sauce, chicken larb (sometimes), and often finish with sticky rice with mango (when latter is in season). It is the equivalent of Cheers for us (the TV serial).

                                Pad Thai Thai Cuisine
                                3500 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

                                1. re: WildSwede

                                  "Agree with the PnB issue you brought up as well - fries are nasty!!" Fries pretty much have to be either raw or cooked in diesel-engine drainings for me to classify them as "nasty", and P'n'B's don't thus qualify. They're just ordinary and boring. On the other hand, their potato salad is of stellar quality, right up there with my own, which at least one of us considers to be The Best There Is, and so I never bother with the fries...

                                  Some other menu items may be, as Peripatetic says, disappointing, but I decided some time ago that the tuna salad sandwich was good enough to present a compelling alternative to the eponymous Burger. It may be even better with the potato salad than the burger is. Brilliant balance of flavors; just enough sweet relish not to piss me off.....

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    They are nasty, Will. I like the tuna melt at PnB.

                                    1. re: WildSwede

                                      No matter where I go, I ask for my hash browns well done or crisp.

                                      1. re: Fru

                                        Me too - actually, I order everything well done. Fries, Onion rings, Pizza. Just makes it all better!

                            2. re: Will Owen

                              Will, agreed, they are different breeds. I'd compare Connal's with In-N-Out, though, if I remember correctly, Connal's uses frozen beef patties. While Connal's is not a chain, it comes perilously close to feeling like one. Actually, it almost feels like a Johnny Rockets.

                              1. re: Peripatetic

                                One goes to Connal's for the malts (the Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana is outrageously good). The burger tastes surpsingly good with one of those malts occupying your other hand.

                                1505 E Washington Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91104

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  The caramel malt is awesome too. Just a malt and fries would make a great meal. On the subject of fried foods, Lucky Boy's fried zuchinni is a great side and Brit's does a great fish and chips.

                                  1. re: badvlad

                                    Lucky Boy does an excellent breakfast burrito, too.

                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                      Lucky Boy has a lot of great things on their menu. I think their onion rings are the best I have ever had! Their pastrami burger is good, too (but probably can't beat the pastrami at The Hat.)

                                  2. re: ipsedixit

                                    ipsedixit, you persuaded me to try one of their malts this evening. I went for the butterscotch malt, and . . . it was excellent. The burger was still earthbound, but I will certainly be back for the malts.

                                    1. re: Peripatetic

                                      Anything (incl. the burgers) goes better with the malts!

                                      I could eat a leather shoe if it was blended with a chocolate peanut buttter banana malt.

                          2. You all have been great! Thank you so much for not only the restaurant suggestions but the menu items too! We're actually going to go to one of the restaurants tonight so again, thank you!

                            Do any of these places deliver? We've ordered Thai from some place that put a doorhanger on the front door but the food wasn't very good (don't remember the name of the place off the top of my head). We're in East Pasadena in the 210/Altadena area.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: MPW425

                              I also wanted to add a couple of places I thought about. Not Pasadena or even Arcadia, but if you want a mini roadtrip: Dino's Chicken & Burgers (environment like Tops, The Hat) - GREAT chicken. I had it last night and would swim in the sauce if they would let me. In Azusa (?). Exit Vernon off the 210 - left off offramp; right onto Vernon. Go to Arrow Highway, turn right and it is just past the gas station. Delicious 1/2 chicken with fries (well done), coleslaw and tortillas $5.99 - I ALWAYS get extra sauce (I am salivating since I SO crave this). You have to eat it there, since it does not really travel well (fries soak up the sauce - unless you get the fries on the side).
                              Also, GREAT Chilaquiles (and Menudo, I heard) - El Matador in Irwindale. 210, exit Irwindale - right. About 1.5-2 miles down on the left side in an industrial area. If you pass Arrow Hwy, you have gone too far.

                              El Matador Restaurant
                              5312 Irwindale Ave Ste 1D, Baldwin Park, CA 91706

                              1. re: WildSwede


                                Your rec is the same people as the El Matador Truck located at the bottom of the 101 & Western off ramp. they are there just about every day. I ususally go in the evening after 5:00pm. Their Carne Asada, while shredded, is awesome! Also their red and green salsas are really good too. I have had the pastor, carne, cabeza and all are very good.

                                1. re: orythedog

                                  HMMM! I didn't know they had a truck, too! I am glad to hear they are good! I will have to try them when I am down there! They used to have a restaurant location in what is now the Henry's shopping center on Huntington in Monrovia, but that had to close when they were redoing the whole space. Thanks, ory!!

                            2. The Wine Detective sounds interesting. Has anyone been?