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Friday night - need dinner suggestion - trying to please out of towners & locals with varying palates, etc. (Pasadena area)

'hounds - I need your help!

I have two different friends visiting from out of town on the same night. We'll be a group of 6 all together... age range late 30's to early 40's. Would prefer to stay within 10-15 minutes of Pasadena

Here's my challenge:
1) Guest #1 has a pretty basic palate - prefers hamburgers, pizza, ice cream. Mexican food, doesn't drink (not completely opposed to a bar scene, but doesn't prefer it)
2) Guest #2 would prefer to hit the town. Enjoys a wide variety of food, including fine dining, good beer.

Another two of the party prefer something off the beaten path - they like discovering hidden gems and are 'hounds at their core. One doesn't drink and doesn't particularly like the bar scene, the other enjoys a casual beer.

The fifth of the party dislikes Mexican food, loves to drink, and is pretty flexible with food - as long as it's 'hound worthy.

Successful places with most of this group have been: The York and Wurstkuche.... (both gastropub type places, now that I think of it!)

Because of that - Mohawk Bend comes to mind. I haven't been yet - but have been leery of some food reviews I've read.

Ideally - I'm looking for something on the casual side, but upbeat enough on a Friday night that Out of town guest #2 feels like they are experiencing a fun night out. I'd like to keep the price point to around $20 or less for food... (this can be variable, if some perfect spot is jumping out at you!)

Any ideas? Or does Mohawk Bend sound like the right fit?

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  1. Keeping in the gastropub theme, have you considered either Kings Row or Haven, both in Pasadena? I've only been to the former. We enjoyed our food, and it didn't seem too bar-sceney. There is an outdoor patio, weather permitting (it may not).

    Unfortunately, Haven's website doesn't have prices, but the menu actually sounds more interesting than Kings Row. I can't imagine that its prices are that far out of line.

    Since both are located in Old Town, they're not off the beaten path by any means.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jack Flash

      Thanks, Jack Flash! I appreciate the food feedback on Kings Row. Haven't been to either but that seems like it would fit the ticket - and be the right proximity for all!

      Is Haven the one that took over the old Jerry's Deli spot on DeLacey? (the space that seems to be cursed, as I refer to it)....

      1. re: The Oracle

        > Is Haven the one that took over the old Jerry's Deli spot on DeLacey?


        1. re: The Oracle

          I think Haven will be more than $20 for dinner and the food was nothing special.

      2. Maybe Dog Haus Biergarten?

        - In Pasadena? Check.
        - Within the stated budget? Check.
        - Hamburgers for Guest #1? Check.
        - Good beer for Guest #2? Check.
        - Hidden gem? Maybe -- at least it's quirky and unique.
        - Chowish food? Debatable, but I do like their hamburgers in spite of the King's Hawaiian buns.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Peripatetic

          All but Guest #2 have visited the original Dog Haus and it came off with mixed reviews... not sure it will fly for this outing, but excellent suggestion. Good to know about their burger!

          1. re: The Oracle

            I think their burgers are much better than their dogs. Even if you ignore the King's Hawaiian buns, the dogs themselves (including the "snap" dog) seem to be really inferior to Vienna Beef and Hoffy dogs. I won't eat hot dogs there anymore.

        2. In Pas, I'd still stay Vertical Wine Bistro. It has a (bison) burger, a tarte flambee (pizza), and a very decent happy hour, especially on Sunday (all day). If sharing, the $20/pp price should be easily met, and the charming entrance is a few feet "off the path". It's also not as loud as The York, but the room gets a decent buzz just loud enough for that age group.

          Beyond that, Racio's (which is discussed below) seems to be the other obvious choice.

          It's been a few months since I've tasted Mohawk's food but... boy did it leave a bad impression.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TonyC

            Thanks for the Mohawk food feedback.

            I think Vertical would be too formal for Guest #1 and would blow most everyone else's price point (since we'd be going on an off-happy hour time).

          2. I live near Mohawk Bend and have been three times. I'd go back, but not for the food. I like the beer selection, but I've been disappointed with every single food-item I've ordered. Also, it can be pricey. I would find something else, if I were you.

            How about the Congregation that just opened up in Pasadena a few months ago. I can't vouch for the food there, because I haven't had any. Maybe someone else can tell you how the food is.

            4 Replies
            1. re: alliebear

              Not good. Cheap beer. Haven food better.

              1. re: alliebear

                Thanks for the feedback on Mohawk Bend. It's extremely helpful.

                I've been to Congregation Ale House - not bad food - burger was very good, sausage I tried was passable, flat bread pizza was meh. Their ordering setup is a little odd (stand in line and order at the register - but they need to work on their flow of things). For this group, I need a little more range with the food menu - although, it's a great suggestion!

                1. re: The Oracle

                  Would your picky friend (burgers, pizza, ice cream) eat Thai or Korean?

                  1. re: alliebear

                    I know Thai would work (the entire group has done Saladang before) - would prefer a new experience. I'm not sure about Korean - but, if it's meat-centric, I'm sure it would be passable.

              2. How about Plate 38 in Pasadena? Kinda off the beaten path (Colorado at Sierra Madre). Should fit the price point.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Jack Flash

                  I wasn't impressed with Plate 38 and had an off experience that made me swear off the place. I also don't think it will give Guest #2 the 'hit the town' experience they are seeking.

                2. perhaps The Fat Dog up in Montrose ?...fits the gastropub model, tho' not certain I'd consider a "hidden gem"...across the street from Three Drunken Goats.


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Local

                    I really like the idea of Montrose! Hadn't thought of that before. I've walked by The Fat Dog before but haven't gone in.... what about Three Drunken Goats? Love the space - what's the food like (comparing the two (Fat Dog and Three Drunken Goats)?

                    1. re: The Oracle

                      I've been to Drunken Goats a few times. It's a tapas place. Food is good; place is loud; and I'm pretty sure it exceeds your price point.

                      1. re: The Oracle

                        Three Drunken Goats v. Fat Dog...hmm- i'd pick 3DG for food/ambiance tho if you want just a "hang out" kinda place,then Fat D,...depending on what you eat and drink, 3DG could definitely put you over the top.

                        The Fat D is more casual, can also be loud, but then, what brewpub type place isn't ;) Their food is good, tho not exceptional,and I would not consider it a destination type place, like say, Bashan. Food does not approach the complexity of the tapas menu at 3DG, it really is just your basic brewpub schtuff.. and when they do try to do something "interesting", well, sometimes it's just a bit weird or too much of a good thing for my tastes (like the medleys of potato skins -blech...or the fried olives w/ blue cheese that were salt on salt on weird...good concept that just didn't work ). Things to like - good burger (BF choice),and grilled chicken sandwich... and also the Fish & Chips, not greasy when we had them, and enough to share between two people if one has a small appetite...get them with the sweet potato fries. My martini made w/ Absolut Peppar was perfect and they also serve my Brander's Sauvignon Blanc...another plus.


                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        difficult to meet the OPs $20 or less food price point unless you stick with sharing appetizers, tho' I do like Bashan, and it definitely falls within the "hidden gem" category.

                        1. re: Local

                          Per the OP:

                          "I'd like to keep the price point to around $20 or less for food... (this can be variable, if some perfect spot is jumping out at you!)"

                          Bashan is jumping at me. :-)

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              She already ixnayed Vertical, and Bashan runs the same price range, if not more.

                              At this point, one of OP's friend's gonna hafta effing deal with it. Sometimes, there are just too many criteria, and you just gonna have to say: eat it, stfu, or you're not invited the next time.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            I've been before and I know the guys in the group would NOT be ok with the portion size. But, thank you for the suggestion!!

                          2. You may want to consider abricott on Lake. We enjoyed a lunch there when they first opened a couple months ago. They have a burger on the menu (have not tried it yet). I also agree that Plate 38 is a good possibility.

                            238 S Lake Ave, Pasadena

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: grubjay

                              Note the Abricott doesn't have a liquor license. (The OP doesn't say this was a deal breaker, but the places that seem to have worked best in the past were gastropubs.)

                              1. re: grubjay

                                oooh, Abricott might work! Haven't been by the space - do you think it feels like a night out? (Guest #2 wants that 'night out' feel). The others wouldn't care.

                              2. check out a/k/a Bistro in Old Pasadena ....menu is available online but I have been there on several occasions with friends with varying food preferences and we have always had a good experience and great food.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: foufou

                                  great idea! I've been wanting to check this place out and it might be the perfect spot for ALL.

                                2. UPDATE:

                                  Thank you for the suggestions!!! It's currently narrowed it down to:

                                  AKA Bistro
                                  Green St Tavern
                                  Three Drunken Goats

                                  I haven't been to any on the list... any input or standouts from the list? Taking: Food/Noise Level/Atmosphere/Value/Group size (we are a group of six), etc into account. It's a toss up between AKA and Abricott, at the moment, in my mind.

                                  Thanks in advance!!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: The Oracle

                                    I was impressed with AKA, both for the quality of food and the value received. I really enjoyed my duck entree. My wife had the chicken, which I would also consider ordering (and I don't often order chicken in restaurants). I assume you've checked out the menu; most main courses exceed $20, but are below $30. This is higher than your initially-stated price point.

                                    I liked AKA more than Green St. Tavern (been to each once). I think we spent less at AKA (I remember being surprised how much we spent at Green St., but it might have just been the bottle of wine we ordered).

                                    1. re: Jack Flash

                                      Thanks, Jack Flash! Super helpful, as always!

                                    2. re: The Oracle

                                      I had a good lunch at Abricott but I think it would fail the "night out on the town" criterion miserably.

                                      1. re: bg90027

                                        Exactly what I was trying to figure out.... thanks for the input!

                                        I was thinking we could start at Abricott and then move elsewhere... for the best of both worlds, so to speak.

                                    3. Based on all the variables, I'd go with The Luggage Room.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: mc michael

                                        Thanks MC Michael - the LGO/Luggage Room option has been floating through my head as well.

                                        1. re: The Oracle

                                          I was going to suggest the Luggage Room as well! I feel like it's kind of off the beaten path since it's a little outside of Old Town proper and is in a space that looks like a large converted barn, but close enough to Old Town so Guest #2 feels like she's hit the town. Plus, it's always bustling with people when I go-the wait can be on the long side though since they don't take reservations. Oh-and Abricott has free corkage if you decide to go there and would like some booze!

                                      2. UPDATE: Thanks for all the great suggestions! We ended up at abricott and it was enjoyed by all. The food was underwhelming for most of us, but the atmosphere and price point ended up being perfect. The only thing that would have made it better was if we brought some wine/beer with us... but, that was remedied after the fact.

                                        On the whole - the food wasn't amazing, wasn't bad... just ok. Can't say I'd be back, as I have favorites 'other restaurant' for most of the dishes there. But, I did love the concept of the back, private room - and it would be a nice place if I needed a small, private, dining space (minimum of 8 required).