In Pasadena we like Cafe Santoini, Saladang for Thai, Russell's for burgers, redwhite + bluezz for wine and jazz, Lucky Baldwin's for beer and pub food, Raymond Restaurant is decent, Marston's has good breakfast if you get in early. Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, The Hat for pastrami, Celestino for decent Italian.
The best restaurant in Pasadena is probably the Royce at the Langham Huntington-Hartford Hotel.
Pasadena is not noted as a gourmet haven, just a lot of nice, pleasant places.
For San Gabriel, check out the topics like "best noodles SGV" and "SGV for Chinese, etc."
363 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
17 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
141 S Lake Ave Ste 102, Pasadena, CA 91101
See the "Pasadena is Weak" thread for some ideas of places in Pasadena proper to check out (and to avoid).
Norma's Tacos (formerly Taco Station) and Luggage Room (the pizzeria at La Grande Orange) are probably two of my personal favorites for casual dining in Pasadena right now. Cham Bistro (slightly fusion-y Korean) is not bad for Pasadena - not as authentic or interesting as what you can find in K-town, but they have some good beer, food is Ok, and they have some snacks during happy hour time. If you'd like a drink and some decent bar food, you might try 1886 bar at "The Raymond".
If you're willing to venture further south and like Chinese food, well, you're probably in the best place to be in the continental US. But there are like 1000 threads about this subject, and the board really doesn't need another.. this thread is probably as good a summary as any, and more concise than most. In this area, you'll find a lot more bang for your buck than at most places in Pasadena. There are some decent Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese options in the SGV areas as well, though for the most part, you will find better in the areas of Southern California where these groups are more heavily represented.
La Grande Orange Cafe
260 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105
re: mc michael
San Gabriel - Babita (626) 288-7265 1823 S San Gabriel Blvd, San Gabriel - No website but, google it and you'll get info. It's delish! Not standard mexican- if that's what you want don't come here. In Arcadia - Exit off 210 @ Baldwin Ave - travel south a few miles. On the left in a strip mall you'll find: Phoenix Food Boutique. Incredible chinese desserts. Go next door first for lunch: www.dintaifungusa.com or go down to W. Hungtington from Baldwin and turn R. On the left side: Capitol Seafood www.capital-seafood.com. Another option: Full House Seafood on Golden West.
In Pasadena proper: Europane Bakery. Sandwhiches and pastries. The egg salad is "da Bomb"!
I'm sure you'll find a plethera of info here about the area.
Phoenix Food Boutique
1108 S Baldwin Ave, Arcadia, CA 91007
re: Kitchen Queen
Babita is wildly overrated and overpriced, and if you don't kiss the owner's butt you won't get good service. The restaurant also re-defines "down-market" - for all its pretension it's a dinky uncomfortable dining room on a horrible stretch of San Gabriel Blvd.
Kitchen Queen is spot on on everything else, though.