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Dinner in East Pasadena - help!

judybird Oct 28, 2012 10:09 AM

We've just become season subscribers to A Noise Within, the new and wonderful theater at Foothill and Madre, and would love a place for a pre-show dinner within a few minutes drive. Unfortunately, all that seems to be in that area are places like El Torito, Panda Express, the Islands, and so on, absolutely none of which we care to visit again. Anyone know any hidden gems in that area?

  1. i
    ilysla Oct 28, 2012 10:48 AM

    Are restaurants that are just a little east of Lake Ave. still too far west? If not, there's

    inexpensive Asian fusion


    I've not been myself but vaguely recall reading that some posters enjoyed this place

    These are all so far north that you could easily hop on the 210 to be at the theater in a few minutes, if there's no traffic....

    1. ipsedixit Oct 28, 2012 12:12 PM

      That immediate vicinity (Foothill and Sierra Madre) is pretty desolate.

      If you want to stay within an easy 10 minute drive of that area, your best bet might be Sahara Middle Eastern, http://www.saharapasadena.com/, or Zugo's Cafe, http://zugoscafe.com/.

      Neither will rock your world, but when life deals you lemons, you try your best to make lemon curd.

      1 Reply
      1. re: ipsedixit
        Savour Oct 29, 2012 04:25 PM

        Sahara isn't great on ambience, but their shawarma is great. And they have this cabbage and mint salad that's really tasty.

      2. j
        jerry200 Oct 28, 2012 01:58 PM

        How about Fu Shing? It used to be well-regarded Chinese food. I don't know if the cognescenti still like it, but the service is good and it's a relatively nice setting (i.e. not a storefront in a mini-mall).


        1 Reply
        1. re: jerry200
          mc michael Oct 28, 2012 06:35 PM

          I like the Singapore Noodles at Fu Shing.

        2. j
          Jack Flash Oct 28, 2012 02:32 PM

          Robin's BBQ is very close, and worthwhile. Hook Burgers (Foothill, basically across the street from the theater - not in the Best Buy complex, but in an office park just to the east of it) is a simple, straightforward semi-fast food burger joint by the folks who operate Hamburger Habit. Order at the counter & they bring your food. Limited menu (burgers of various proteins), but well-executed. They do have wine and beer.

          Simple GringoMex (i.e., taco & enchilada combo plates, etc.) with full bar at Ranchero, which is on Foothill a bit east of Altadena Drive.

          Plate 38 (Colorado & Sierra Madre) has a nice menu of American comfort food. Lupita's (another homestyle Mexican joint) is in the same corner minimall at Colorado & Sierra Madre.

          Alas, no real good inexpensive bistro or trattoria places in that part of town.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Jack Flash
            judybird Oct 28, 2012 03:13 PM

            "Alas, no real good inexpensive bistro or trattoria places in that part of town."

            Too true. Thanks for all the suggestions. I won't respond to each one, suffice it to say we've been to a lot of those places and aren't interested in going back. Daisy Mint sounds like a plan, we've liked Abricott and just learned they're owned by the same people. Might try the Hook, we'll check their menu.

            Anyone interested in opening a Crocodile Cafe-type joint in East Pas. will be welcomed with open arms.

            1. re: judybird
              The Oracle Oct 29, 2012 09:36 AM

              I would steer clear from Hook. It's a nice location/setup, close proximity to the theater, and service is great - but I found the meat to be void of flavor. I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out how they accomplished such a feat. It made me long for an Islands burger.

          2. cant talk...eating Oct 28, 2012 04:20 PM

            Have you been to Bhanu on Huntington and Rosemead? It's south of where you want to be, but you can come up Madre and be up to Foothill in 10 minutes. Probably the best Indian food in the area by a long shot, but very hole-in-the wall.

            I'm sure you know about President Thai on Rosemead north of Huntington. Pretty mediocre but fine for "suburban Thai".

            I hear ya - it's a tough neighborhood to find a decent place to eat - it's pretty much either hole-in-the-wall, corporate blah, or much worse, which is really odd given its proximity to a lot of people who know (and would pay for) finer dining!

            16 Replies
            1. re: cant talk...eating
              judybird Oct 28, 2012 06:33 PM

              Nothing wrong with hole-in-the wall if the food is good. Their menu is interesting, thanks for the rec.

              1. re: judybird
                trolley Oct 28, 2012 07:58 PM

                It's a wasteland over there. nothing but chains. I once was at the toyota dealership for what i was expecting to be a quick fix but took a bit longer. i ended up at a hole in the wall called Fresh Thai in the strip mall right next to the dealership. I had the papaya salad and it was spicier than hades but decent. I can't speak to the other food there but a group of women were enjoying big bowls of noodle soup which looked quite good.

                i've only had pretty bad food in Sierra Madre but a new place opened up called Wistaria. it's owned by the people who run Mike and Anne's (which i am not a big fan of) but it's a bistro-y place. I've never been there but maybe you can give it a try and report back!

                1. re: trolley
                  judybird Oct 29, 2012 08:55 AM

                  Is that in the old Lozano's spot on north Baldwin?

                  1. re: judybird
                    trolley Oct 29, 2012 10:47 AM

                    i think it used to be Loxzano's. it's on the right or east side of Baldwin across from the pizza place. and I second Mother Moo's. Not a dinner but the best ice cream on this side of town. she uses organic strauss milk and local ingredients. her sorbet is delicious as well. my favorite is the campari grapefruit.

                    1. re: trolley
                      The Oracle Oct 29, 2012 11:52 AM

                      Yep, that's the spot. Now Wistaria Restaurant - used to be Lozano's.

                      1. re: The Oracle
                        trolley Oct 29, 2012 04:19 PM

                        LOZANO'S not LOX! tee hee. i'm glad something decent went in after Lozano's. I ate two very bland meals at Lozano's and vowed never again. i do walk by Wistaria and it's looks sleek for sierra madre.

                2. re: judybird
                  raytamsgv Oct 30, 2012 03:15 PM

                  Bhanu is affordable and the food is tasty. Ambiance is non-existent even by my atrociously low standards. It's a combination restaurant and Indian grocery store.

                  1. re: raytamsgv
                    WildSwede Nov 12, 2012 04:00 PM

                    I love the food at Bhanu. You are correct: non-existent ambiance. I usually get their Dosas and Salt Lassi. Seems everyone gets their Thalis. Always pretty busy and inexpensive. Had my first taste of fresh Ghost Pepper there.

                3. re: cant talk...eating
                  revets2 Nov 5, 2012 10:26 AM

                  There is a new Indian restaurant being opened by an East Indian doctor on the corner of Washington and Altadena Drive. They have already started construction. If it's good, it will be a welcome addition to the area. Not sure what's happening with AltaEats on Allen.

                  Our fave eats in Pasadena which are a quick hop to ANW are SUSHI KIMAGURE (pricey) and THE LUGGAGE ROOM PIZZERIA (reasonable and we love the bacon wrapped dates and kale salad) both in the Del Mar Gold Line Station. You can eat there and take the train to Sierra Madre Villa Station where ANW is.

                  Very excited about ANW too!

                  1. re: revets2
                    The Oracle Nov 5, 2012 01:53 PM

                    re: the Indian spot - Which corner? The north east one? Where the flower shop was for years?

                    1. re: The Oracle
                      revets2 Nov 9, 2012 12:47 PM

                      Yup! Also, it looks like construction is also moving forward at AltaEats on Allen. Former chef from Derek's.

                      1. re: revets2
                        The Oracle Nov 9, 2012 05:17 PM

                        Allen and what?! I must be driving around with my eyes closed, these days!

                        1. re: The Oracle
                          revets2 Nov 10, 2012 07:14 AM

                          Allen just south of New York Drive, next to Vic's Dry Cleaners on the east side of the street. Used to be Mary Pat Brandmeyer's catering kitchen.

                          1. re: revets2
                            The Oracle Nov 12, 2012 03:18 PM

                            Thank you! I drive by there several times a week and never noticed! I will have my eyes PEELED next time. Any idea when they plan to open?

                            1. re: The Oracle
                              revets2 Nov 13, 2012 08:41 AM

                              My understanding is their CUP is done and they already have their liquor license.

                  2. re: cant talk...eating
                    Joe Nov 4, 2013 11:31 AM

                    I second Bhanu but purely for the food. You'll basically be sitting inside of a small mom and pop grocery store. That being said, I'll take their food over Mezabaan, Akbhar's, All India or any other Pasadena Indian eatery.
                    East Pasadena (Hastings Ranch) doesn't have many stand out eateries. I'd steer clear of Robin's BBQ. Couldn't get me to eat their food for free. Just awful, in my opinion. I would however recommend Stonefire Grill right up the street from Robin's. It's not a 10 but I've never had bad food there and some of their stuff is simply delicious.

                    Panda is also very good. Not to confuse with Panda Express. This is a full sit down with good service restaurant on Foothill. Excellent food. Some will say it's a little Americanized but it's still very good.

                    Ichima Sushi next to 300 Bowl is also good. Very reasonably priced fresh sushi. Not top tier sushi for sushi snobs but good, none the less. If you want better sushi, head a little south to Yoshida's. A little pricey but excellent sushi.

                  3. The Oracle Oct 29, 2012 09:32 AM

                    I would head to Sierra Madre for dinner. The theater is about a 5-7 minute drive (head south Baldwin, hop on the 210E to Madre and then north). Zugo's for Italian or Wistaria (haven't done dinner there yet, but have enjoyed several good lunches there)... plus there's Mother Moo's for a sweet treat. :)

                    1. perk Nov 5, 2012 04:59 PM

                      I don't know Pasadena very well....so pardon me if I'm misdirecting you. But the Culinary Institute has a restaurant (can't think of the name, but it would be easy to find) and it's actually pretty good and very reasonable.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: perk
                        WildSwede Nov 12, 2012 04:02 PM

                        If you are willing to come this far west, then definitely add Settebello to your list which is 1 block east of the Culinary Institute restaurant (I don't know what it is called, either!).

                        1. re: perk
                          The Oracle Nov 13, 2012 10:10 AM

                          It's called Technique - reservations had been only through Open Table and a bit tricky to get. It's an outstanding deal $15/pp for dinner! But it is definitely hit or miss. I had one phenomenal meal and then two horrid meals (from a food standpoint). I haven't been back since that last horrid meal - just not worth it (even at that price point!).

                          1. re: The Oracle
                            WildSwede Nov 13, 2012 01:13 PM

                            Is it still that price for dinner? I remember going when they first opened in that location on Colorado and had the Prix Fixe for lunch @ $11. It was great. Have not been since. However, my co-workers said that recently their prices have gone way up for lunch so they don't go anymore. $15 for dinner seems a steal.

                            1. re: WildSwede
                              The Oracle Nov 15, 2012 03:21 PM

                              It was the last time I went, but I did a little hunting, and it looks like dinner is now $25/pp.

                        2. c
                          cfylong Nov 9, 2012 02:26 PM

                          It's a little further out, but a couple miles east down on Foothill in Arcadia, Zelo's Pizza makes a pizza that is quite different from others. It's not fine dining, but quite good.

                          1. Will Owen Nov 11, 2012 05:21 PM

                            The non-Express Panda may be a chain, but we had several meals there with some of Mrs. O's relatives who love it, and we found it very good if much more expensive than we're used to Chinese being. We had several good meals at La Nueva Posada during the first few years we were here, then transferred our allegiance elsewhere, though for convenience rather than the food. My late pa-in-law was a huge fan of Yang Chow, on Colorado between Rosemead and Michellinda, and could hardly be persuaded to eat Chinese food elsewhere except for dim sum. He would have mainlined the Slippery Shrimp if he could have.

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