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Recs in Pasadena for a birthday dinner?

foodseeker Oct 17, 2011 03:28 PM

Heading to Pasadena and am wondering if anyone has some good recs for a special place to celebrate my birthday? I am not necessarily looking for the fanciest, most expensive restaurant, but a place that we will remember! I'd say we're looking to spend around $100 or less if possible. Love all kinds of ethnic foods and prefer more vegetarian options. Am considering Babita, but feel like I've seen mixed reviews on this board. Any thoughts or recs? Thanks in advance!!

  1. j
    Jack Flash Oct 21, 2011 04:30 PM

    I had previously left Vertical Wine Bistro off my list of suggestions because I believe it exceeds your price point; however, they have a Sunday night special which would definitely work for you. The current deal is a fried chicken dinner.

    1st Course Poached hen egg, bacon grits

    2nd Course: Buttermilk herb de Provence Fried Chicken "served family style"; served with collard greens with ham hocks, loaded mashed potatoes & Jalapeno Corn Bread

    3rd Course: Apple tart with vanilla gelato or Blood Orange & Pear Sorbet

    $29.00 per person; add $9 with wine carafe

    E-mail I received today says: "all-you-can-eat fried chicken"

    Ambiance is very nice at Vertical, particularly if you get one of the big booths. They also have an extensive wine list, so you could even splurge a bit on the wine (or add a cocktail) if you did the fried chicken deal.

    -----
    Vertical Wine Bistro
    70 N. Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91103

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jack Flash
      ipsedixit Oct 21, 2011 08:29 PM

      Vertical is very good.

      And don't forget burger nights on Thursdays.

    2. p
      pley Oct 21, 2011 01:50 AM

      There's nothing to eat in pasadena besides Tender Greens and Settebello, both of which I love. Don't know about The Royce since I haven't been there, bc looking at pics of their food just bores me.

      How about Maximiliano in highland park, great new italian food, hip setting (not as in hipster).

      Or Fatty's in eagle rock. They just re-opened. Vegan and delicious.

      Or Cacao Mexicatessen in eagle rock. Great Mexican food.
      Why pay $100 for great food when you don't have to.

      These are all very casual everyday places.

      -----
      Tender Greens
      9523 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

      Cacao Mexicatessen
      1576 Colorado Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

      16 Replies
      1. re: pley
        p
        pley Oct 21, 2011 01:56 AM

        Weird I just posted and couldn't edit. Anyway, of my picks, I'd go to Maximiliano if it were my bday. Just my additional 2cents.

        1. re: pley
          j
          Jack Flash Oct 21, 2011 09:58 AM

          "Nothing" to eat? Seriously?

          That's just...wow.

          1. re: Jack Flash
            p
            pley Oct 21, 2011 10:03 AM

            When I think about places where I WANT to go eat, they are not in Pasadena (except the two I mentioned). Which is most unfortunate. Sad that the lovely city of Pasadena does not have better dining options.

            1. re: pley
              j
              Jack Flash Oct 21, 2011 10:10 AM

              Have you ever eaten at any of the places mentioned in this thread? Parkway Grill? Roy's? Pie 'n' Burger? Smitty's, Arroyo Chophouse, Houston's? Saladang/Song? Noir? There are literally only two places in town where you're willing to eat? Now THAT is sad. There aren't a lot of GREAT, fine dining establishments, but there are plenty of places to have a nice meal.

              -----
              Parkway Grill
              510 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105

              1. re: Jack Flash
                p
                pley Oct 21, 2011 10:44 AM

                I have eaten at all of those places except Noir and Arroyo. Parkway Grill used to be great, but hasn't been in a long time. Roy's is good/fine. Pie n Burger, yeah maybe I'd go back for the pancakes. Smitty's is horrible, I hate it. Arroyo Chophouse, I don't do beef, so not someplace I'd want to go to. Houston's is fine. Saladang/Song, really, why? Cafe Verde, yeah it's fine, I get tired of being so cramped though. Central Park Cafe, no no, boring food. La Grande Orange, overpriced for what it is, I hate feeling ripped off. Daisy Mint, it's just ok, I don't want to go back anymore.
                Like I said, when I think of places where I WANT to eat, it's not these places. They're boring.

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                Central Park Cafe
                219 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                Cafe Verde
                961 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91106

                Daisy Mint
                1218 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA

                Parkway Grill
                510 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA 91105

                La Grande Orange Cafe
                260 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                1. re: pley
                  j
                  Jack Flash Oct 21, 2011 12:42 PM

                  Where do you WANT to eat, then?

                  1. re: Jack Flash
                    p
                    pley Oct 21, 2011 03:39 PM

                    Suffice it to say that places like Central Park Cafe bore me to tears. And Pasadena is full of boring food places. Forgot Elements, I like them, but a little overpriced.

                    -----
                    Central Park Cafe
                    219 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                    1. re: pley
                      j
                      Jack Flash Oct 21, 2011 04:22 PM

                      Since you are "bored" by just about everything, it seems, is there ANYTHING you actually like, anywhere? I hate to think what the rest of your life is like. Do you have ANY positive suggestions - forget specifically Pasadena, is there anyplace you're willing to eat that will cost only $50/person, anywhere in L.A. County/

                      1. re: Jack Flash
                        p
                        pley Oct 21, 2011 05:17 PM

                        Why, NO, I don't eat ANYTHING. My life must be HORRIBLE.

                      2. re: pley
                        trolley Oct 22, 2011 08:34 PM

                        Elements is ok. the food is way too uneven. started with some totally forgettable fried app and it was beyond bland. the moved on to the burger and it was like eating a salt lick. tasted the kimchi taco and it was tasty. but honestly, everyone is doing that korean taco thing and once you get bulgogi and kimchi together it's hard to mess things up. maybe i got the wrong things. but felt underwhelmed. i still think Pasadena can be slightly 'yawn' and not a destination for food but there are decent places to eat. i do enjoy Roy's, Vertical, and Bistro 45. the Royce menu interests me very much. We always go to the Luggage Room and La Grande L'orange but neither are places that cant be replaced by a better place in another location...

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                        Bistro 45
                        45 S Mentor Ave, Pasadena, CA 91106

                    2. re: pley
                      cant talk...eating Oct 21, 2011 05:52 PM

                      I had to chime in (as a Pas-area native). Yes, Pasadena will always be lame in very predictable ways. It doesn't have near the turnover that say, West 3rd St. has, and there's no where near the eating-out culture here - lots of families eating in I guess.
                      Pley -you sound seriously burned out on the Pas food scene. I agree w/ a lot of your assessments, but seriously, take a few months off, then only go to some new spots you've never been. Smitty's, Parkway Grill, Central Park, Santorini - no way to spend a birthday.

                      So given that this post was for a mid-range b-day at an ethnic, veg-friendly place, maybe Babita, I'll give it a shot.

                      You won't forget Saladang Song. Say what you will about it, they can put together a lot of tasty inventive dishes in a visually interesting space, inside or on the patio. Yeah, there will be some college kids in flipflops, and there's too much sugar in a lot of the sauces, but I still kinda love the place.

                      (btw, I like how Soup Plantation is now bookmarked at right. Happy birthday, honey. Do you want baco-bits with that?)

                      El Portal has decent Mexican food and you can get multiple margaritas, your date can get a nice grilled New York steak for like twelve bucks, and you can be serenaded by mariachis (who were seriously good our last visit).

                      I think you can get out of Vertical WB for under $100 if you order carefully, don't go overboard on wine, etc. I wish I could say the same for The Raymond, since it would be my top b-day pic, but it's not ethnic either, so another night maybe.

                      It's funny - a lot of good ethnic places in Pasadena are really cheap (Med. Cafe comes to mind, Tortas Mexico), really chain-y (Il Fornaio, Carmine's), or a handful that are really pricey. I just thought of Briganti, but that's in South Pas. People like Celestino on Lake. Gale's gets decent reviews but my god is it mediocre.

                      Don't go to Babita. I just don't get it. Or go, maybe you'll love it.

                      See how helpful we are? : )

                      -----
                      Briganti
                      1423 Mission St, South Pasadena, CA 91030

                      El Portal
                      695 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91101

                      Celestino Restaurant
                      141 S Lake Ave Ste 102, Pasadena, CA 91101

                      Saladang Song
                      383 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

              2. re: pley
                scottca075 Oct 21, 2011 03:53 PM

                Tender Greens? Seriously? A chain of slightly upscale Soup Plantations.

                The Royce, Saladang for Thai, Cafe Santorini for a great ambiance, Arroyo Chop House, Malbec, Celestino Restaurant is nice and the Raymond.

                For fun places to eat, not necessarily celebration places I'd throw in Russell's for burgers, redwhite + bluezz for wine and jazz, Lucky Baldwin's for beer and pub food, Jake's of Pasadena, Marston's for a good breakfast if you get in early. Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles and Beckham Grill.

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                Cafe Santorini
                70 W Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103

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

                Saladang
                363 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                Lucky Baldwins
                17 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                Beckham Grill Restaurant
                77 W Walnut St, Pasadena, CA 91103

                Celestino Restaurant
                141 S Lake Ave Ste 102, Pasadena, CA 91101

                1. re: scottca075
                  p
                  pley Oct 21, 2011 04:09 PM

                  How disturbing that anyone should compare the farm fresh and organic ingredients and good execution at Tender Greens to Soup Plantation.

                  The food at Cafe Santorini is embarrassing.
                  Oh yes, Red White & Bluezz is good.
                  If anyone took me to Lucky Baldwin's or Russell's for my bday, I'd kill 'em.

                  -----
                  Cafe Santorini
                  70 W Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103

                  Tender Greens
                  9523 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                  Red White & Bluezz
                  70 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                  Lucky Baldwins
                  17 S Raymond Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                  Soup Plantation
                  375 W Ventura Blvd, Camarillo, CA 93010

                  1. re: pley
                    scottca075 Oct 21, 2011 04:23 PM

                    Didn't say Lucky Baldwin's for the bday, in fact I was pretty specific it wasn't, but Tender Greens is just embarrassing as rec for a special occasion. Tender Greens is an upscale CHAIN with locations from the Bay Area to San Diego, not exactly "farm to table" in the far flung out posts. I'd take Cafe Santorini for a special occasion any day of the week over Tender Greens.

                    And to say Tender Greens and Settebello are the only two places to eat in Pasadena is downright absurd. I've known Brad since his freshman year at USC and not even he, in fact especially not him, would make such a claim.

                    1. re: scottca075
                      p
                      pley Oct 21, 2011 05:17 PM

                      Wasn't recommending it for a bday, was saying that those are the places that are good in Pas, the rest being dull. So what if Tender Greens is now a chain. It's very good.

                      Cafe Santorini is just bad food served by people pretending that it's good. And people getting suckered by the nice building. And I honestly don't care what Brad the co-owner of Settebello thinks of other food in Pasadena.

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                      Cafe Santorini
                      70 W Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103

                      Tender Greens
                      9523 Culver Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

                  2. re: scottca075
                    perk Oct 21, 2011 06:24 PM

                    I was going to recommend the Royce. I've heard very good things. I just went to the Langham for afternoon tea, and it was lovely.

                2. j
                  Jack Flash Oct 18, 2011 01:42 PM

                  We have enjoyed Babita, and your post reminds me that we haven't been there in a couple of years. The food is certainly memorable, though I don't know if the nondescript atmosphere (not unpleasant at all; sort of homey) is birthday-worthy, if that makes sense - that is to say, there's nothing inherent about the place itself that makes you think, "this is where I want to celebrate a birthday."

                  I always recommend Cafe Verde as a solid choice for Pasadena dining. It's a very pleasant space, good food, and it should fit within your budget. Malbec just down the street is another solid choice.

                  Daisy Mint (Thai food) is another place to consider.

                  La Grande Orange, set in the old train depot building, is also worth considering, as is Central Park.

                  I believe all of these places fit your budget, depending on what (and how much) you drink.

                  -----
                  Central Park Cafe
                  219 S Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena, CA 91105

                  Cafe Verde
                  961 E Green St, Pasadena, CA 91106

                  Daisy Mint
                  1218 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA

                  La Grande Orange
                  260 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena, CA 91105

                  1. j
                    Jack Flash Oct 17, 2011 05:04 PM

                    How many people do you wish to feed for that $100?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Jack Flash
                      foodseeker Oct 18, 2011 11:25 AM

                      2 people

                    2. c
                      chezwhitey Oct 17, 2011 04:05 PM

                      just fyi, babita is about a 20-30 minute drive from pasadena depending on which part you are in.

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