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best in pasadena

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!

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  1. 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).

    1. 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

        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

          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

          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

            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. 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: kprich58

              Also a fine choice.

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

              1. re: Jack Flash

                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

                  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

                    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

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

                3. re: kprich58

                  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

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

                  2. re: ocshooter

                    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

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

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        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

                          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

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

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              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

                                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

                                  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

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

                      Hear, hear.

                        1. re: J.L.

                          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
                          Tonny's
                          Europane
                          President Thai
                          Smitty's
                          Maison Akira
                          Parkway Grill
                          The Royce

                          1. re: khh1138

                            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

                              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

                                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

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

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