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best in pasadena

kprich58 Aug 17, 2012 08:57 AM

What do you consider your "best of Pasadena, CA" restaurants? will be there with husband and daughter for 2 nights this week. college drop off. last dinner for a while with our daughter. want it to be delicious!

  1. l
    Layne Murphy Aug 17, 2012 04:58 PM

    Actually, Oxy is not in Pasadena, it's in Eagle Rock. Pasadena generally considered, with a couple of exceptions, sort of a lackluster food destination. Eagle Rock/Highland Park, IMO, has some more interesting offerings. I'm not crazy about Auntie Em's but it has a huge following. Maximilliano is a swell neighborhood Italian joint and right across the street is the very amiable, down to earth gourmet burger place called Fusion. On Colorado, Vietnamese Lemongrass and sister restaurant Halung Bay are very good. Down the street, Cacao has some of the best Mexican around. They should have wine and beer license soon too. Casa Bianca is old school pizza with a huge line unless you go very early. I like it but others are less enthusiastic. The York is cool and reliable. I could go on and on. It's a great neighborhood with a lot of terrific choices. Enjoy1

    19 Replies
    1. re: Layne Murphy
      ipsedixit Aug 17, 2012 07:42 PM

      No one said Oxy was in Pasadena.

      OP said she would be in Pasadena to drop off her child for college. And if I'm dropping some one off in college at Occidental, I'd probably stay in the Pasadena area as well.

      1. re: ipsedixit
        kprich58 Aug 18, 2012 06:42 AM

        right on!

      2. re: Layne Murphy
        trolley Aug 17, 2012 11:22 PM

        Casa Bianca? Really? I'd skip that line if i were visiting. However, for casual Mexican, Cacao is a great suggestion.

        1. re: trolley
          Will Owen Aug 18, 2012 03:45 PM

          Most of us prefer the pizza as we first met it - the memory of love at first bite. The old guy who ran Casa Bianca until he died loved the same kind of pizza that knocked my sixteen-year-old socks off fifty-five years ago, and that's how he made it. Do I love the other styles? Yes. But if old-school still blows your skirt up, Casa Bianca is where to find it. Too bad so many people agree, since they're all in the big line in front of me … the only reason I seldom go there.

          1. re: Will Owen
            trolley Aug 18, 2012 08:01 PM

            I actually enjoy Casa Bianca. I used to live down the street from it and went often. It's one of the only places you can get pizza with canned mushrooms (ok, hold the criticism here please) in the LA area. Although it's not NY pizza it reminds me of it and the only thing i don't like is the wait. it can take an hour or even longer to get a table. that was back in 2007 and don't know if things have improved.

            however, i just didn't think it was a destination for someone coming from Boston. This type of food is everywhere in the east coast especially in the Boston area. However, I do think a place like Cacao does Mexican in a way that's very difficult to find back east.

            but who knows. some people love to visit a new city and eat the food that's native to the area. but i do know people who travel and want to be reminded of home more than take chances.

            1. re: Will Owen
              mc michael Aug 21, 2012 03:21 PM

              I like the pizzas at Tarantino's and The Luggage Room, both in Pasadena, both different.
              I like Daisy Mint, but I also like the Thai at Chilly Mango, formerly known as Presidentwo.

              1. re: mc michael
                WildSwede Aug 21, 2012 03:26 PM

                That's funny, I do not like the pizza at Tarantino's, but LOVE the pasta! Luggage Room is good, there, I always get the chop salad. It is delicious! Chilly Mango is one of my favorite Thai restaurants. Everything I have had there is good. Brenda, the sweet waitress who has worked there forever, bought out the owners and now owns it. Same recipes, different name.

                1. re: WildSwede
                  mc michael Aug 21, 2012 04:06 PM

                  Thanks for the info.

                  1. re: WildSwede
                    Jack Flash Aug 21, 2012 04:15 PM

                    I did not realize that PresidenTwo had changed names/owners.

                    I am perpetually in search of good Thai food in Pasadena. PresidenTwo has probably been the best overall choice, but not so good as to keep me from trying others. Then again, PT is the only one I've tried more than once; none of the others has lured me back for seconds. Sounds like next time I get that itch, I should try cooling it with some Chilly Mango.

                    1. re: Jack Flash
                      mc michael Aug 21, 2012 04:26 PM

                      The owner has redecorated the interior walls, and there is an interesting Thai TV station playing that features some menu items. The menu has the same items, but more photos, I think.

                      1. re: Jack Flash
                        WildSwede Aug 21, 2012 05:09 PM

                        Jack: I also like TIparos Thai further down on Colorado - east of Sierra Madre. I do not feel it is as "clean" as P2, but the food has been consistently good. And spicy!
                        Also nine+nine across from Target is okay for Thai. I have been going to and very happy with Hollywood Thai in Arcadia (I know, the name kept me from going for a long time, but I am SO happy I got over that!) on Live Oak, east of Santa Anita (just before Taco Treat). Spicy, delicious. Also, they have a green chile dip thing on their tables that I adore! Reminds me a little of the serrano chile dip that you get at Spicy BBQ in LA.

                        1. re: WildSwede
                          suvro Aug 21, 2012 05:20 PM

                          Hollywood Noodle?

                          1. re: WildSwede
                            The Oracle Aug 22, 2012 12:46 PM

                            WildSwede- Thanks for mentioning Hollywood Thai! I've been trying to find good Thai in the Arcadia area and coming up short...

                            1. re: The Oracle
                              WildSwede Aug 22, 2012 01:02 PM

                              Yes! Hollywood Noodle. I hope you like it, Oracle.

                        2. re: WildSwede
                          suvro Aug 21, 2012 04:32 PM

                          That is good to know about the new ownership of the Chilly Mango.

                          When it was President2, I did not like their preparations the few times we got takeout from there for our Caltech lunch meetings.

                        3. re: mc michael
                          suvro Sep 22, 2012 01:54 PM

                          We tried Chilly Mango last night. We had the Chicken Coconut Soup, Pad Kee Mow - flat noodles with pork, Prik King - green beans with chicken, Chu-Chi - shrimp and squid in red curry, and mango with sticky rice. That is of course too much food for 2 people, but it serves as an additional lunch (today). It allows a wider sampling of their cooking.

                          While we liked it, we found most of the dishes too sweet for our personal tastes. The coconut soup was a bit too thick with coconut milk, too sweet, and did not have much heat from chillies. Once we added some prik nam plaa it tasted much better.
                          The pad kee mow was also somewhat sweet with not enough wok hey.
                          The Prik King was good, but the seafood dish was again a bit too sweet.
                          The sticky rice in the dessert was a bit dry.

                          Our overall sense is that the cooking does not balance the flavors - specially the sour and the spicy hot components. Still a good option for being within walking distance of work for me.

                    2. re: Layne Murphy
                      kprich58 Aug 18, 2012 06:41 AM

                      thank you. well aware of the town the school is in! thank you for all the wonderful suggestions for eagle rock. we also loved cafe beauujolais in eagle rock.

                      1. re: Layne Murphy
                        J.L. Aug 20, 2012 04:26 PM

                        Eagle Rock...

                        The Oinkster's pastrami is quite yummy (not Langer's yummy but still quite good), and their ube milkshake is really delicious.

                        1. re: J.L.
                          Kitchen Queen Aug 21, 2012 05:35 PM

                          If you've not yet had your two nights out...

                          I ALWAYS have a fabulous experience at Red White and Bluezz
                          Great food, great Jazz nightly. Great buzzing local crowd too.
                          S. Raymond and E.Green

                      2. k
                        kprich58 Aug 17, 2012 03:18 PM

                        someone mentioned the parkway grill. thought that looked good. any thoughts?

                        1. l
                          lapizzamaven Aug 17, 2012 02:22 PM

                          Id add Settebello to the list..had a great pie(margherita w/sausage) there 2 weeks ago...couldnt have been happier...didnt try any other dishes though.

                          1. ocshooter Aug 17, 2012 11:39 AM

                            College drop off? Caltech?

                            It has been too long since I have been a regular diner in the area for good dinner recs, but one of my favorite spots for breakfast/lunch is Julienne's on Mission in South Pasadena.

                            If it is Caltech, congratulations and thanks fro sending your daughter - Caltech needs more women.

                            24 Replies
                            1. re: ocshooter
                              kprich58 Aug 17, 2012 12:06 PM

                              sorry...Occidental College

                              1. re: kprich58
                                Jack Flash Aug 17, 2012 01:03 PM

                                Also a fine choice.

                                Thought of another dining option: if you like true Neapolitan style pizzas, head to Settebello.

                                1. re: Jack Flash
                                  WildSwede Aug 17, 2012 03:03 PM

                                  Definitely agree with the Setebello rec. Every pizza I have had there is delicious. I would also add Daisy Mint, although I have not been there for a while.

                                  1. re: WildSwede
                                    Will Owen Aug 17, 2012 03:12 PM

                                    WS, Abricott is the new sibling of Daisy Mint - same inventive chef doing a more mainstream/American menu with plenty of Southeast Asian influences. It's informal, in that you order at the register and take a number to your table, but the food is interesting, very good and not expensive. And Plate 38 can take that ##!*@!! banner down now, because Abricott's burger has theirs beat all hollow.

                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                      WildSwede Aug 20, 2012 04:12 PM

                                      LOL! When I walked into Abricott, the chef (?) recognized me from all the breakfasts that I have had at Andy's where he worked previously. He took really good care of me! I don't think that I knew it was related to Daisy Mint. Thanks!!

                                  2. re: Jack Flash
                                    Kittyf Aug 23, 2012 05:10 PM

                                    Love Settebello - try the appetizers, too - arugula & prosciutto, too fabulous!

                                  3. re: kprich58
                                    guero57 Aug 24, 2012 02:21 PM

                                    Don't apologize. Oxy is an excellent school with a great location. In Pasadena, I find myself constantly returning to the Luggage Room Pizzeria. Other than that, I would agree with others that Eagle Rock and Highland Park have a lot going for them. Beyond what has been mentioned already, I can think of the Good Girl Dinette on Figueroa and 56 (billed as Vietnamese comfort food), My Taco on York for informal but excellent Mexican (borrego is one of my favorites there). Or, explore a little with your daughter and go to one of the taco trucks nearby. Leo's on Eagle Rock Blvd is a long-time Oxy favorite (I ate there many late nights when I was a student in the 90's), but my current favorite is a simple taco table on the corner of Avenue 50 on Monte Vista in Highland Park for killer Al Pastor and guacamole spicier than most salsas!

                                    1. re: guero57
                                      ocshooter Aug 24, 2012 02:40 PM

                                      She is not apologizing for Oxy, just that she is not able to fulfill my plea for assistance.

                                      1. re: guero57
                                        WildSwede Aug 24, 2012 04:03 PM

                                        How about Polka?

                                    2. re: ocshooter
                                      ilysla Aug 19, 2012 09:43 AM

                                      As someone who grew up in the area, Julienne's in San Marino and definitely NOT in South Pas (even though it's so close, it might as well be). ;)

                                      Agree that it's a great spot for brunch. Very small-town feel and the food (when I last went to the to-go area several yrs ago) is tasty. I think Marston's is polarizing, but I still like it for brunch, as well. The egg salad sandwich (hope you like protein, b/c there's a ton of eggs on it) from Europane is great.

                                      Agree w/ a lot of the recs posted here. I think Parkway Grill is a nice special-occasion restaurant (New American) that's upscale w/o being wallet-busting. Daisy Mint (very casual; Asian fusion) might also illustrate what LA does very well (ethnic) and be a change from what the OP can find in Boston?

                                      1. re: ilysla
                                        ipsedixit Aug 19, 2012 06:06 PM

                                        I'm sorry but Julienne hasn't been very good for over a year now.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                          orythedog Aug 20, 2012 10:51 AM

                                          I totally agree that Julienne has steadily gone down hill. Last time I was in there, I kid you not, the waitress actually asked me if they could make my eggs over easy because they were having difficulty in the kitchen poaching eggs.

                                          1. re: orythedog
                                            Jack Flash Aug 20, 2012 10:58 AM

                                            That's rather sad.

                                            I haven't been there in quite a while. I gather from your comment (and ipse's) that this has been a trend rather than a one-off kind of thing? Everyone can have a bad day now and then.

                                            1. re: Jack Flash
                                              ipsedixit Aug 20, 2012 11:03 AM

                                              It's a trend. Actually, more like the norm.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                The Oracle Aug 20, 2012 12:13 PM

                                                I respectfully disagree. I've been enjoying Saturday b'fast there 2-3 x's/mo. for the last several months, and the food quality has been spot on (with perfectly poached eggs). Whatever kitchen issues they had have long since been resolved, IMO.

                                                1. re: The Oracle
                                                  ilysla Aug 20, 2012 08:46 PM

                                                  Hmmm.... Seems like there's some controversy about the current quality of Julienne's. I'm in SGV almost never now, but if I'm there for brunch, I'll do a little review.... ;)

                                                  1. re: ilysla
                                                    Will Owen Aug 22, 2012 04:55 PM

                                                    Good friend visiting from Oakland had brunch there on Saturday and declared her dish - savory French toast and something (I forget what) topped with two poached eggs - to be delightful in every way. And she knows her grub, as does the guy who took her there. Had the eggs been poorly poached she'd have let everyone know, believe me.

                                      2. re: ocshooter
                                        J.L. Aug 20, 2012 04:25 PM

                                        "...Caltech needs more women..."

                                        Hear, hear.

                                        1. re: J.L.
                                          ocshooter Aug 21, 2012 02:00 PM

                                          For a multitude of reasons...

                                          1. re: J.L.
                                            khh1138 Aug 21, 2012 09:55 PM

                                            Ehh, as a graduate of the Institute myself, I would hesitate to send anyone there, female or no. It's a great place for research, but not always the best *school.* Furthermore, being the pioneer woman is not always a picnic, if for no other reason that people cannot stop remarking on it.

                                            Some Pasadena favourites (listed from casual to more dressy/special occasion):
                                            Pie N' Burger
                                            President Thai
                                            Maison Akira
                                            Parkway Grill
                                            The Royce

                                            1. re: khh1138
                                              ocshooter Aug 23, 2012 02:33 PM

                                              Oh come on, the split is around 60/40 these days, so I would hardly call the women who attend pioneers. I used to be an alumi recruiter for HS fairs and the only science types to whom I would hesitate to recommend Caltech are those that are not capable of doing the work or those that have their heart set on med school.

                                              As for restaurants, I would add Barney's and All India Cafe. Of course, I was living there when the 35'er was still a dive and the Cheesecake Factory housed Dodsworth, a jazz bar.

                                              1. re: ocshooter
                                                Kittyf Aug 23, 2012 05:13 PM

                                                I remember Dodsworth - and when I was at Caltech, Jenijoy LaBelle was the only female prof there...yes, it's been a while!

                                                1. re: Kittyf
                                                  ocshooter Aug 24, 2012 02:40 PM

                                                  When were you there and what House where you in? '84-91/Fleming for me. I never took Ms. LaBelle's class, but she was a popular prof.

                                                  1. re: ocshooter
                                                    Kittyf Aug 24, 2012 02:53 PM

                                                    I wasn't there as a student - 1970's, Office of Public Events. Chandler was where we ate lunch - it was awful back then!

                                        2. ipsedixit Aug 17, 2012 11:04 AM

                                          Thinking in terms of "best" is the wrong way to go about it.

                                          If I were to be in Pasadena for 2 nights and having never been there (assuming you haven't), then this is the list of dining options that I would choose from (in order of preference):

                                          1. Racion
                                          2. Sushi Kimagure and Sushi Ichi (tie)
                                          3. The Royce
                                          4. Vol.94 and Abricott (tie)
                                          5. Tonny's

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                            kprich58 Aug 17, 2012 12:11 PM

                                            thank you. we eat everything and have no price point in particular. thanks for shing your list. if you ever need my "best of" list for boston, i can help you!

                                            1. re: kprich58
                                              ipsedixit Aug 17, 2012 12:13 PM

                                              You're welcome.

                                              If there's something you are looking for in particular, let us know, and we can be of more help.

                                              Enjoy your stay.

                                            2. re: ipsedixit
                                              Jack Flash Aug 17, 2012 01:05 PM

                                              Re: Vol. 94 & Abricott - really? Both places have been on my radar for a while. Sounds like I really should get over to both of them.

                                              1. re: Jack Flash
                                                soniabegonia Aug 18, 2012 12:29 AM

                                                I found abricott below average. some of the puniest, driest, chewist shrimp I've ever had in the shrimp salad which was also exceedingly boring (basically a mountain of lettuce with said shrimp on top and a Thai style dressing). we also had some kind of curry dish and a few app's which ranged from ok to pretty good, but nothing to get excited about. I prefer their sister restaurant, Daisy mint.

                                            3. j
                                              Jack Flash Aug 17, 2012 10:15 AM

                                              What kinds of food do you like? Is there something you DON'T like? And finally, what is your desired price point?

                                              Parkway Grill is a good standby. If you like something more cutting edge, The Royce at the Langham Hotel is probably the city's top special occasion restaurant.

                                              Noir Food & Wine is my pick for small plates and a great wine list.

                                              Vertical Wine Bistro consistently turns out good food along with various theme nights (Sunday is grilled cheese night, Thursday is burger night, and for the month of August they're doing a special "Julia Child"-themed menu).

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