Pasadena Art & Science Beat

It's the AGE OF THE GEEK in Pasadena.

Eats!

For the last two years, I’ve been writing up the restaurants for the Pasadena Weekly’s Best of.

Here’s what I wrote for 2012.

Best Restaurant

Parkway Grill

510 South Arroyo Parkway,  Pasadena
(626) 795-1001  | www.theparkwaygrill.com

In Pasadena since 1984, the Parkway Grill has influenced the direction of Pasadena fine dining for decades, mixing classic French technique with the seasonal wonders of the Pasadena and Southern California area. The Smith Brothers were about going local before it became part of the more recent Green movement. How local are things? The Parkway Grill has its own organic vegetable and herb garden. They’ve taken American classics and made them upscale, sometimes by way of an Asian fusion such as their tiger shrimp corndogs or ginger-fried catfish. Fresh bread such as their Cambazola Pear Flat bread comes out of their brick-oven.  Parkway has something for everyone: fish, stead, duck, pasta and pizza. Save room for dessert—chocolate lava cake, cannoli, artisan chocolates, or the nostalgic s’mores (with raspberry sauce and crème anglaise).

Reader Recommended :

Smitty’s Grill

110 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 792-9999 | http://www.smittysgrill.com

redwhite+bluezz

70 South Raymond Avenue,  Pasadena

(626) 792-4441 | http://www.redwhitebluezz.com

Houston’s

320 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001 | http://www.hillstone.com/#/restaurants/houstons/

Scarlet Tea Room

18 West Green Street, Pasadena

(626) 577-0051 | http://www.scarlettearoom.com

Best New Restaurant

Abricott

238 S. Lake Ave. Pasadena

(626) 796-1613 | http://www.abricott.com

Lake Street has certainly become more lively since Abricott opened with its eclectic menu that is casual California cuisine with a French-Vietnamese taste. You can have pho noodle soup (stewed beef brisket) or yellow curry with chicken, but you can also have a spicy Korean-style pork belly with kimchi sandwich. There’s also French classics such as the croque-monsieur or croque-madame or a salad Nicoise. For beef lovers, there’s a sesame marinated flank steak salad with avocado and for vegetarians, there’s tofu delight, a smooth tofu with micro greens. Love trout? Try the grilled trout and green papaya salad or the trout amadine.

Reader Recommended:

Big Daddy’s Fire Grill

2122 East Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 796-1266 | http://www.bigdaddysfiregrill.com

Trattoria Neapolis

336 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 792-3000 | http://www.trattorianeapolis.com

Real Food Daily

899 East Del Mar Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 844-8900  | http://www.realfood.com

Best Business Lunch

Smitty’s Grill

110 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 792-9999 | www.smittysgrill.com

Got a business date and want to impress without being unctuous? Try Smitty’s Grill for that warm, friendly vibe and, as always with the Smith Brothers, good food. This is like eating upscale family food. Get comfy because Smitty’s foundation is comfort food like homemade chicken pot pie or pot roast with root veggies or Smitty’s famous meatloaf. But there’s also some gourmet offerings like the Carolina style pulled pork sandwich, Panini press sandwiches and sautéed shiitake and domestic mushrooms. Save room for dessert which includes crème brulee, apple walnut bread pudding, hot fudge sundaes and Fosselman’s ice cream. Try Smitty’s for business or the business of family.

Reader Recommended:

Houston’s

320 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001 | http://www.hillstone.com/#/restaurants/houstons/

Green Street

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170 | greenstreetrestaurant.com

Best Cheap Eats

Dog Haus

105 North Hill Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | www.doghausdogs.com

To eat well, you don’t have to spend major dollars, not when you can calm your howling stomach or your howling little ones with the delicious dogs at Dog Haus. There’s a definite German influence, but by way of Hawaii. You get your dogs, not on an ordinary bun, but on King’s Hawaiian bread. Like your greens? Try the Sooo Cali which is mixed greens with diced tomatoes, tempura-fried onions basil aioli and avocado.  Are you a fritos fan? Then there’s the Little Leaguer with chili con carne, diced onions and shredded cheddar. Love breakfast? Try the Grand Slam: smoked bacon, egg and tater tots. Sausage lovers will want to try a ¼ pound sausage (pick from andouille, bratwurst, Italian chicken, tri-pepper kielbasa or spicy Italian) two toppings on a French roll

Reader Recommended:

Bobby’s Burgers formerly Rick’s

680 East Walnut Street, Pasadena

(626) 844-3510 | http://bobbys-place.com/

Lucky Boy

640 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120  | http://www.luckyboyburgers.com

Best Outdoor Dining

La Grande Orange

260 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | http://www.lagrandeorangecafe.com

What better way to celebrate the sunny way of life in SoCal than eating outdoors, in the spring, summer, fall or winter. Take that Midwest. Do it with style at La Grande Orange, a restaurant housed in Pasadena’s Del Mar station. Up early, enjoy the soft morning light by eating brunch here. Try their lemon ricotta hotcakes (with blueberry compote) or the prime rib and short rib hash or the smoked salmon Benedict. . For lunch there are burgers and tacos. Dinner offerings include Moroccan roasted half chicken, tacos or prime rib. La Grande Orange has special promotions such as reduced pricing on a second entrée on Monday and Tuesday nights, Saturday brunch endless mimosas, half-off wine Wednesdays and happy hours, Mondays through Fridays.

Reader Recommended:

Cafe Santorini

64 West Union Street, Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 | http://www.cafesantorini.com

Mike & Anne’s

1040 Mission Street, South Pasadena

(626) 799-7199  | http://www.mikeandannes.com

Best Restaurant Staff

Scarlet Tea Room

18 West Green Street, Pasadena

(626) 577-0051 | www.scarlettearoom.com

The Scarlet Tea Room is a cozy place with a boutique feel. They don’t care how you dress, but they care how you feel before, during and after because tea is all about relaxation, conversation—even if it’s only an inner-dialogue type contemplation, and lovely little eats. The ceremony of tea must be observed. Sip. Enjoy the tea—fragrance and taste. Enjoy being pampered—in that friendly, but not overly intrusive way. Enjoy slowing down from the fast-paced life of the modern world. Scarlet offers black tea, flavored black tea, oolong, green tea, white tea and naturally caffeine-free infusions. Scarlet offers lunch and dinner. If you’re feeling the Anglophile in you rising or want to be treated like British royalty, stop by for a cuppa.

Reader Recommended:

Bonnie B’s Smokin BBQ

1280 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 794-0132 | http://www.bonniebssmokin.com

Smitty’s Grill

110 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 792-9999 | http://www.smittysgrill.com

Best Special Occasion Dining

Parkway Grill

510 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | www.theparkwaygrill.com

Want to impress? Try the Parkway Grill. It’s trendy, but you won’t leave feeling starved with an much thinner bank account. This Smith Brothers restaurant marries French techniques with the diverse cultural influences of Southern California. Splurge a little on a Maple Leaf Farms duck breast (with a dark cherry reduction) or a bee pollen dusted Alaskan halibut. Have a burger and fries friend, kid or lover? They’ll forget about McD after eating Parkway Grill’s Kobe burger (with Maytag bleu cheese, tomato aioli and sweet potato fries). For salad lovers, there’s Parkway’s Caesar with brioche croutons, white anchovies and shaved reggiano. For a truly decadent meal, go for a dessert only and try the chocolate bread pudding with espresso ice cream or the crème brûlée Napoleon.

Reader Recommended:

Arroyo Chop House

536 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463 | http://www.arroyochophouse.com

Langham

1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 568-3900 | http://pasadena.langhamhotels.com/restaurants/sunday_brunch_theterrace.htm

Melting Pot

88 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 792-1941 | http://www.meltingpot.com

Best Family Restaurant

Twohey’s

1224 North Atlantic Boulevard, Alhambra

(626) 284-7387 |  www.twoheys.com

Want a place that’s family-friendly with good hearty food that won’t set you back two months? Twohey’s is the place. For adults, there is pasta, hamburgers, and roasted turkey or meatloaf. For kids there are fun foods like pigs-n-blanket or a banana wrap (sliced bananas rolled in pancakes) and a baby back kid rack. For the kid in all of us there’s the soda pop locker with flavors like “Bubble Up,” sarsparilla, orange n’ cream, key lime and peach soda as well as there famous soda fountain treats like “Bucket of Mud” (crushed Oreos, chocolate ice cream and fudge with whipped cream and Gummy worms).

Reader Recommended:

Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza

311 South Rosemead Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 405-9877 |  www.mammasbrickoven.com

Kabuki

Old Pasadena

8 W. Colorado Blvd. #103, Pasadena

(626) 568-9310

Hastings Center

3539 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 351-8963  |  www.kabukirestaurants.com

Best Late Night Snack

King Taco

45 North Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 |  www.kingtaco.com

After you pull an all-nighter for school or work, or after you get out from seeing a stage production or late-night movie, you might have the munchies. Where do you go? Pasadenans head to King Taco for authentic Mexican food and we’re talking about more than just tacos. There are sopes, nachos, quesadillas, rotisserie chicken and freshly made tamales (chicken, pork, sweet or cheese with jalapeño). If you’re really hungry, what about a burrito—meat (carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, cabeza, lengua, chicken, buche, molleja or suadera) with pinto beans and rice, fresh cilantro and onion wrapped in a flour tortilla. Wash this down with agua frescas or atole.

Reader Recommended:

Lucky Boy

640 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 |   www.luckyboyburgers.com

La Estrella

502 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 792-8559 |   la-estrellarestaurant.com

Best Sunday Brunch

The Terrace Langham

Langham

1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 568-3900 | http://pasadena.langhamhotels.com/restaurants/sunday_brunch_theterrace.htm

The Terrace at the Langham Huntington Hotel is light and airy. Dress California casual as if you were meeting your relatives (the nice ones). Offered from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., you wouldn’t look ot of place in your Sunday best after worship. Fresh flowers and a pianist will sooth your senses as you choose from the omelet station, cereal and pastries, breakfast meats and smoked fish and cheese. Or you can order off the menu: pumpkin pancakes, a devils food waffle with mocha whipped cream, beef short rib hash, breakfast tacos (scrambled eggs and cheese in corn tortillas), flat bread pizza, chicken and waffle sandwich or even a salad (California Cobb or a Caesar salad). Expect to stay a while to savor the experience.

Reader Recommended:

Mijares Mexican Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 794-6674 | http://www.mijaresrestaurant.com

La Grande Orange

260 South Raymond Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | http://www.lagrandeorangecafe.com

Green Street

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170 | greenstreetrestaurant.com

Best Bakery

Euro Pane

345 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 844-8804 |

Euro Pane is not for those on a low carb diet. Take a look at the lovely macarons in so many lovely pastel colors. Try the salt caramel, raspberry, hazelnut or pistachio. Come back later. Then there are the lemon bars and other pastries. Owner Sumi Chang knows just how to match bread to sandwich fillings. The ever-so-humble open-faced egg salad sandwich is absolutely divine.  They also have an oven-roasted turkey or a roast beef sandwiches, of course, but it’s their egg salad that gets raves and brings people back for more. For vegetarians, there’s a roasted red bell pepper, roasted spinach, zucchini basil pesto sandwich with mixed greens. You get your choice of breads, including multigrain, sourdough, olive, brioche, rosemary currant bread or the cranberry walnut. This is carb city in crown city.

Reader Recommended:

Aux Delices

16 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 796-1630 | http://www.auxdelicespasadena.com

Porto’s Bakery

315 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale

(818) 956-5996 | http://www.portosbakery.com/content/portos-glendale

Best BBQ

Robin’s Woodfire BBQ

395 North Rosemead Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 351-8885 | http://www.robinsbbq.com

Just the name Robin’s Woodfire BBQ makes the mouths of Pasadenans water. All the meats are smoked over apple and oak wood for hours. There’s no gas, propane or steaming allowed. Are you a meat-eater on a budget?  Robin’s is baby back ribs, chicken, Louisiana hot links, spare ribs or beef ribs, shrimp, steak or pulled pork. Try their all-you-can-eat-rib-tips days (Wednesdays and Sundays after 4 p.m. If you’re going low-carb, Robin’s has a special Atkins lunch. Want something light? Order the thermal nuclear (or mad dog) BBQ wings and get ready to sweat.

Reader Recommended:

Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ Heaven

1280 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 794-0132   | www.bonniebssmokin.com

GUS’S

808 Fair Oaks Avenue, South Pasadena

(626) 799-3251   | http://www.gussbbq.com

Best Breakfast

Twohey’s

1224 North Atlantic Boulevard, Alhambra

(626) 284-7387 |  www.twoheys.com

Is breakfast your favorite meal? Or are you working a shift where your breakfast it everyone else’s dinner? No matter. Twohey’s serves breakfast all day. Their griddle works included a Belgium malted waffle, buttermilk pancakes (short or full stack) and French toast. And you can get it your way, for a little extra you can add fruit, nuts or chocolate chips. If omelets are eggs-actly what you’re craving, they have the classics (Denver) with some regional combos such as the San Gabriel (sausage, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and American cheese).  Besides their three-egg omelets (you can substitute Eggbeaters), the breakfast menu includes huevos rancheros, a lox and bagel platter, roast beef hash and a breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs, meat in a flour tortilla.

Reader Recommended:

Marston’s

151 East Walnut Street, Pasadena

(626) 796-2459  |  www.marstonsrestaurant.com

Russell’s

30 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 578-1404  |

Best Buffet

Souplantation

201 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 577-4798  |  www.souplantation.com

Does every opportunity to go out seem like a re-enactment of the Civil War or the Hatfields and the McCoys?  Are the carnivores arguing with the vegans? At Souplantation there’s something to please everyone, making it a great place for families of differing meal time desires or a big group of friends. Salads, house-made soups, hot pastas, fresh bakery goods and desserts. For a fixed price you can get as much as you want. Vegetarian, vegan, low-fat and gluten-free options are always available.

Reader Recommended:

Margarita Jones

541 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 744-1828  |  www.margaritajones.com

Tibet Nepal House

36 E. Holly Street, Pasadena

(626) 585-0955  |  http://www.tibetnepalhouseca.com/

Best Burger

Twohey’s

1224 North Atlantic Boulevard, Alhambra

(626) 284-7387 |  www.twoheys.com

Twohey’s is the place Pasadenans go for breakfast and family dining and burgers.  Burgers are the very reason for the “Stinko” logo, inspired by a woman who didn’t like the smell of pickles and onions which is exactly what the famous Stinko-burger is with a ¼-lb. of Angust beef (on a grilled bun with lettuce and tomatoes). Things have changed a little since then. Your burger comes with French fries or freshly fried hot potato chips or you may substitute fresh potato fries for an additional charge. Twohey also offers a gourmet burger of the day, a Gardenburger or a turkey burger. Need a bit more meat? Try the ½-pounder which can also come with smoked bacon and bleu cheese (the Blues burger) or with other toppings such as the Rodeo, California or Santa Fe burger. Ask your server what the gourmet burger of the day is.  Twohey’s has been serving up burgers for Pasadenans since 1943 so they must be doing something right.

Reader Recommended:

Big Daddy’s Fire Grill

2122 East Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 796-1266  |  www.facebook.com/bigdaddysfiregrill

Dog Haus

105 North Hill Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 577-4287  |  www.doghausdogs.com

Best Burrito

Burrito Express

1597 East Washington Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 798-0844   |  burritoexpresspasadena.com

It’s all in the name: Burrito Express. This place opened its doors in 1978 and has focused on excellence in burritos. Pasadenans approve. You can have beans and cheese or beans only. There are breakfast combinations (chorizo, eggs, beans and cheese; chorizo and eggs with cheese) or all meat and cheese (machaca, carnitas, carne asada and chicken) for those who don’t like beans. There’s the JVC (double flour tortilla, meat, rice, beans, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole and cheese); the Ito Burrito (extra rice, a smaller portion of beans, sour cream, guacamole and cheese) or the Ross Perot (remember him?) burrito of beef, pork and chicken with rice, beans, cheese, sour cream and guacamole. Burrito Express also offers tostadas, tacos and tortas, but like the name says, most people go for the burritos.

Reader Recommended:

Lucky Boy

640 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120  |  www.luckyboyburgers.com

Chipotle

3409 East Foothill Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 351-6017

246 South Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 229-9173  |  www.chipotle.com

Best California Cuisine

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170 | greenstreetrestaurant.com

There are a few things we like in California and the Green Street Restaurant has them all. Californians like fresh, we like fusion, we like innovation and we like casual. Green Street Restaurant offers all of these for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Green Street started out as a small breakfast and lunch café in 1979 and over 30 years later the restaurant has expanded, its menu has evolved, and best of all, the Green Street is still owned by the same family. For breakfast you can have Eggs Benedict with Black Forest ham or on weekends, with poached salmon  or chicken jalapeño sausage. For lunch, you can order a Cobb salad, Green Street style or a Southwest Caesar with chicken or a Portabello mushroom club sandwich. Dinner entrees include a Thai charbroiled chicken breast and a New York Steak with Martini butter. Don’t forget to try their famous zucchini bread. You might want to go just for dessert: an old-fashioned chocolate cake, carrot cake or a peach and rosemary galette. How about a Green Street Brownie sundae or just a generous serving of Dr. Bob’s ice cream?

Reader Recommended:

California Pizza Kitchen

99 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 585-9020 | http://www.cpk.com

Parkway Grill

510 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001  | http://www.theparkwaygrill.com

Best Caribbean Food

Kingston Café

333 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 844-6477  | http://www.kingstoncafe.com

You want to go to Jamaica, but can’t afford the airfare? Take a staycation and eat at the Kingston Café. Opening in 1992, the Kingston Café has quickly become a Pasadena favorite. Last year, they changed the menu. They have fritters (zucchini, plantain and lobster), each coming with its own sauce. You like the kind of jerk you can eat (and not that kind that sits next to you in an airplane)? You can get it here—chicken jerk wings, or chicken jerk salad or sandwiches. There’s also braised pork, goat curry (and tofu curry) and coconut rum shrimp or salmon. Got a taste for rum? There’s a rum cake topped with drunken fruit and coconut caramel drizzle. Cool down with sorrel and mint or a ginger peach lemonade.

Best Middle Eastern Food

Sahara

2226 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 | www.saharapasadena.com

The closest some of us will every get to the Sahara Desert, is this wonderful Middle Eastern Restaurant.  At Sahara, the restaurant, you don’t have to worry about sand in your food or the heat of the desert sun, but you do have to worry about what to order.  They have beef, lamb and chicken kebabs served with rice pilaf, chopped onions and tomatoes.  For vegetarians, they offer falafels or the vegetarian combo (hummus, tabbouleh, baba ghanoush, sarma and pita bread).  Let the heavenly aroma of their kitchen guide you to this oasis in East Pasadena.

Reader Recommended:

Lebanese Kitchen

1384 East Washington Boulevard  Pasadena

(626) 296-9010 |

Wahib’s Middle East Restaurant

910 East Main Street, Alhambra

(626) 576-1048   | wahibmiddleeast.com

Best Local Pizza

Mamma’s Brick Oven

311 South Rosemead Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 405-9877  | www.mammasbrickoven.com

South Pasadena

710 Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 799-1344| www.mammasbrickoven.com

What makes a great pizza is a matter of taste. Pasadenans prefer thin crust and brick ovens and fresh ingredients. Mamma’s Brick Oven gives us all that and quality in two convenient locations. You can create your own pizza by choosing from 26 different toppings. Or if you can’t make a choice, you can order one of their winning gourmet pizza selections such as the spinach Alfredo, the Manhattan meatlovers (pepperoni, meatball, Italian sausage and bacon), or the chicken pesto (marinated chicken breast and mozzarella with pesto sauce). They also have three specialty pizzas including “The Everything Pizza” (pepperoni, salami, Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, olives and fresh mozzarella).

Reader Recommended:

Avanti

111 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 577-4688  | http://www.avanticafe.com

Domenico’s

2411 East Washington Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 797-6459  | http://www.originaldomenicos.com

Best Seafood

Cameron’s Seafood Market & Restaurant

1978 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 793-3474 | http://www.camerons4fish.com

Cameron’s opened in 1984, cooking fresh catch over mesquite wood grills that burn all day long to lure Pasadenans to their doors. Go there for a shrimp sampler, Macadamia nut crusted halibut filets, Maine lobster tail, the Chesapeake Bay Oysters Rockefeller or Dungeness crab cakes. There are so many fish dishes, you might find it hard to choose. Fish grilled, fish fried, fish in soup or stew, fish in pasta, fish pan crusted or fish baked. Meat lovers can order a New York steak or a Kobe beef burger.

Reader Recommended:

McCormick & Schmick’s

111 North Los Robles Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 405-0064  | http://www.mccormickandschmicks.com

Roy’s

641 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 356-4066  | http://www.roysrestaurant.com

Best Soul Food

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

830 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 791-4890   | roscoeschickenandwaffles.com

Do you like Southern fried chicken? Do you like waffles? Then what could be better than chicken and waffles. But that’s not all. Roscoe’s also serves up some soulful chicken with gravy and onions, grits and fluffy hot biscuits. You can enjoy other hearty sides like red beans and rice, mac and cheese, yams or corn bread. And they fry up just about any part of the chicken. You can have chicken livers, giblets, legs or wings or breasts, thigh, leg or a half chicken.  You can also have some mouth-watering good sausage or chicken chili. This is a place where you eat hearty with stick to your ribs kind of meals, but without beef or pork. Be sure to save room for the sweet potato pie.

Reader Recommended:

Big Mama’s Rib Shack

1453 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 797-1792  | www.bigmamas-ribshack.com

Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ

1280 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 794-0132  | http://www.bonniebssmokin.com

Best South American Food

Malbec

1001 East Green Street, Pasadena

(626) 683-0550  | http://www.malbeccuisine.com

Do you dream of the sultry nights of Argentine tango with sexy señoritas and gauchos? You might not be able to make it out to Buenos Aires and the milongas, but there’s plenty of opportunities to tango in Pasadena and Malbec is the perfect place to begin or end your tango fantasy. For starters have a spinach and cheese empanada (one of four choices) or a soup of the day. Argentineans eat a lot of stead and Malbec offers breaded tenderloin steak sandwiches for lunch or a flat iron steak or wood-fired skewer of grilled specialty meats (gran brochette Argentina). You can also order a salad or homemade pasta featuring chicken or seafood. Think of it as Italian food with a Spanish accent.

Reader Recommended:

Choza Mama

96 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 432-4692  | http://www.chozamama.com

1810 Argentinean Restaurant

121 West Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 795-5658  | http://www.1810restaurant.com

Best Spanish Food

La Luna Negra

44 West Green Street, Pasadena

(626) 844-4331|lalunanegrarestaurant.com

La Luna Negra literally means “The Black Moon,” but for Pasadenans it means the best of dance and Spanish tapas.  Thursdays through Sundays at 7:30 p.m. there is a flamenco show. Fridays and Saturdays after 9 p.m. there’s a live band.  Go to La Luna Negra to graze on the appetizers, both cold and hot and converse with friends. Stay long enough to watch the dancing or listen to the music.  Fish lovers can have grilled prawns in the house spice (Gambas al Ajillo) or jumbo scallops wrapped in bacon and leeks (Galician scallops) or a salmon spinach puff pastry (salmon con espinaca).  Meat loves can order grilled lamb chops with eggplant, lentil couscous, goat cheeses and rosemary jus (cordero asado) or imported sausages.   Try their roast duck salad or the stuffed chayote squash, ceviche or various cheeses. La Luna Negra has a special happy hour menu on Tuesdays through Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m.

Reader Recommended:

Bar Celona

46 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 405-1000 |www.barcelonapasadena.com

Racion

119 West Green Street, Pasadena

(626) 396-3090 | http://www.racionrestaurant.com

Best Steakhouse

Arroyo Chop House

536 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463  | http://www.arroyochophouse.com

The Arroyo Chop House is another one of the Smith Brothers success stories. According to their website, it is the only restaurant in Southern California that serves exclusively USDA prime beef. That means they only serve the highest grade of beef available, making this a beef-eating carnivores paradise. Don’t worry; they also have market-fresh seafood and salads for your friends and family who don’t crave beef. You can start off with beef tenderloin tartare before moving on to a filet mignon or a T-bone, New York or Cowboy rib eye. There are no beef flavored desserts. The dress code is upscale California casual, but it  probably won’t allow a dress or suit of uncooked beef. Leave that and your vegetarian and vegan friends at home.

Reader Recommended:

Ruth’s Chris

369 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 583-8122 |  http://www.ruthschris.com/

Houston’s

320 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001 | http://www.hillstone.com/#/restaurants/houstons/

Best Tea Room

Scarlet Tea Room

18 West Green Street, Pasadena

(626) 577-0051 | http://www.scarlettearoom.com

Leave Starbucks behind and come to the place where tea isn’t an afterthought. The Scarlet Tea Room offers the usual black teas: Assam, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Earl Grey and a few unusual ones such as Keemun (a traditional English breakfast tea), Lapsang Souchong, Yunnan, Lil’uokalani and Persian Nectar. Then there’s a wonderful assortment of green teas (Fiji, Jasmine, Gen Mai Cha, Passion) and two white teas (Pai Mu Tan and White Raspberry). If caffeine isn’t your thing, you can have a pot of infusions such as Berry Blueberry (rose hips, orange peel, blueberry, hibiscus and berry leaves) or Eve’s Temptation (blood orange, mango and apple) or Once Upon a Tea (chocolate bits, vanilla, mint and a secret ingredient). Of course, you can’t enjoy tea alone.  Scarlet offers homemade scones with lemon curd, preserves and their own Scarlet cream as well as tea sandwiches and assorted desserts.  Scarlet Tea Room was also voted Best Restaurant Staff.

Reader Recommended:

Chado’s Tea Room

79 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 431-2832 |www.chadotea.com

Huntington Library Rose Garden Tea Room

1151 Oxford Road, San Marino

(626) 683-8131 | http://www.huntington.org

Best Taco

King Taco

45 North Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405  | http://www.kingtaco.com

In Pasadena, King Taco has again been crowned king of the local taco makers. They began as a food truck in 1974, but are now a chain with locations all over Los Angeles County. Pasadenans love King Taco as a late night snack, but any time you feel the need for an authentic taco that rises above the Taco Bell menu, this is the place to go. You’ll get two warm corn tortillas and your choice of meat (carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, cabeza, lengua, chicken, buche, molleja or suadero), fresh chopped cilantro, onions and their famous salsa. Wash that down with aguas frescas (jamaica, tamarindo, piña or horchata).

Reader Recommended:

Norma’s Tacos

1265 E Green Street, Pasadena

(626) 795-1224

La Estrella

502 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 792-8559 |  la-estrellarestaurant.com

Best Thai Food

Saladang

363 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 793-8123

Pasadenans don’t have to brave the streets of Little Bangkok to get their Thai food fix. Conveniently located in walking distance from Old Pas with its own parking lot, Saladang is like a cool tropical haven where you can eat tom kha gai (coconut soup) and have some Thai curries like the yellow curry fried rice  or salads like the papaya pok pok (green papaya, dried shrimp and tomato). The pun klib (steamed chicken and peanut filled dumplings), the salad rolls and sate (pork, beef or chicken with peanut sauce) are highly recommended as are the Saladang spicy noodles (rice noodles with chicken, egg and veggies) and pad Thai. Saladang’s specialties are their barbecue chicken, pork and beef, their crab pot and whole deep fried catfish. Save room for the mango and sticky rice.

Reader Recommended:

Daisy Mint

1218 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 792-2999  |  daisymint.com

President Thai

498 South Rosemead Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 578-9814 |   www.president-thai.com

Best Vegetarian Food

Real Food Daily

899 East Del Mar Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 844-8900  | http://www.realfood.com

Even if you love meat and aren’t given it up anytime soon, stop by Real Food Daily, for no other reason than you need to eat your vegetables and Real Food Daily makes them so tasty. The spicy BLT wrap might convince you to give up real bacon. It’s that good.  The fettuccini Alfredo is creamy, full and delicious. Of course the salads are good. Try their fresh juices such as the Red Head (beet, carrot, celery and apple) or the Sweet Green (cucumber, celery, kale, parsley, spinach and apple). You can add a ginger root or lemon boost to spice things up. And if you believe that unhealthy foods taste good, try the Real Food Daily dessert menu—carrot cake, RAW strawberry cheesecake, chocolate fig tart or chocolate cake. Good for you can also taste sinfully good.

Reader Recommended:

Green Earth

37 South Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 584-0268  | http://www.greenearthveggie.com/about-pasadena.html

My Vegan

633 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 578-9017  | http://www.myveganpasadena.com

Best Vietnamese Food

Golden Deli

815 West Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel

(626) 308-0803  | www.goldendelirestaurant.com

9664 Las Tunas Drive, Temple City

(626) 285-2899

Golden Deli isn’t in Pasadena, but it’s close enough and the few extra miles is worth the delectable delights. Feeling a cold coming on or just want some noodle soup? Go down for their rice noodle beef broth pho (chicken with chicken broth is also available). You can also have clear noodle pork broth soup or egg noodle pork broth soup.  You can also order a dry noodle bowl. If you’re confused about the different types of noodles, the Golden Deli menu explains them all, giving you more choices than you might need. The menu also warns you if a dish contains peanuts.  The menu also includes French roasted coffee—hot or cold and assorted Vietnamese drinks like the mung bean with jello and coconut milk or salted plum.

Reader Recommended:

Indochine

950 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena

(626) 584-7118

Pho 79

29 South Garfield Avenue, Alhambra

(626) 289-0239

Saigon Noodle Restaurant

28 North Raymond Avenue, Pasadena

(626) 796-9378

Lemongrass

1952 Colorado Boulevard, Los Angeles

(323) 258-8050  | lemongrassvietnameserestaurant.com

 

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