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A League of Our Own |  The way it’s always been | Culinary conundrum

Light up the night  All that glitters … | Worlds of Service   


With all the new restaurants opening up in Pasadena — plus all the interior re-designs and menu makeovers at the familiar haunts — the race for winners in the Dining category was the most hotly contested among this year’s respondents.  

In this particular category, readers’ opinions as to the best burger, soul food, tacos and so forth varied widely. 

When the Weekly brought this conundrum to Lady Ameliorette Potts’ attention and asked which League of S.T.E.A.M. member might be best suited for the task of honing in on the readers’ picks, she enlisted the help of co-founder JayAre, known by friends and cohorts as simply “JR.”

One of the League’s most powerful trackers, JR specializes in phenomena that occur within audible wavelengths. His natural talents are amplified by cutting-edge equipment that came into his possession after a rocky departure from his former employer, Edison Industries, whose work is at the very forefront of a new Electric Age.  

JR uses this technology to monitor electronic voice phenomena and other supernatural sounds, so that he may determine their whereabouts. To find those dining gems in Pasadena worthy of “Best of” status, he tunes his dial carefully, allowing his equipment to detect the frequencies of the oohs and aahs elicited by satisfied diners enjoying meals throughout the city.  

As JR listens, the coordinates begin to appear, pinpoints of light representing local dining establishments that have pleased patrons enough to inspire their confidence and, ultimately, their votes. He furiously scribbles notes on nominees for Best Late Night Snack, Best Indian Food and Best Cupcakes. His work takes him into the night. 

In the morning, a list in hand, JR rushes to give his report to Lady Potts. What follows is a faithful account of his findings. 

 

-Sara Cardine 

Winner photos by Hiroshi Clark (unless otherwise credited)  


Best Restaurant
DIN_01.jpgAvanti Café
111 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 577-4688 | www.avanticafe.com
Last year, Avanti Café was voted the Best Gourmet Pizza in Pasadena, making this 16 years of winning the affection of Pasadena Weekly readers with their traditional and wood-fired pizzas. Established in 1987, Avanti Café makes the ordinary extraordinary and the specialized (like the duck sausage or the glazed apple) spectacular, all in a casual atmosphere and for a relatively low price. Beyond pizza, there are their calzones, crispy salads and hearty homemade soups and garlic rolls.

 

Reader Recommended:
La Grande Orange Station Café
260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 356-4444 | www.lgostationcafe.com 

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


Best New Restaurant
DIN_02.jpgPlate 38
2361 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena,
(626) 793-7100 | www.plate38.com
Rising from the ashes of a fire that nearly knocked them out of business, Plate 38 serves buckwheat crepes, shredded potato cakes, waffles, buttermilk biscuits or beer-braised smoked ham hock potato cakes for breakfast. For lunch, classic sandwiches, salads, fries and burgers are on the menu, including the 1/3 lb. smoked mozzarella burger. For dinner, try the buttermilk-fried Cornish game hen, barbecue short ribs or smoked salmon. 

 

Reader Recommended:
Tender Greens
621 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 405-1511 | www.tendergreensfood.com

Roxolana Restaurant & Wine Bar
34 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 792-0440 | www.roxolanarestaurant.com 

AKA an american Bistro
41 Hugus Alley, Pasadena
(626) 564-8111 | www.akabistro.com 


Best Business Lunch
DIN_03.jpgSmitty's Grill
110 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 792-9999 | www.smittysgrill.com
Have clients you want to impress without putting a chill on your personal finances? Smitty's Grill will make everyone comfortable with high-class American comfort food, like homemade chicken pot pie, Smitty's famous meatloaf, pot roast stroganoff, even mac and cheese with ham. For steak and rib fans and green grazers alike (try the Dungeness Crab Louie or the Asian Pear salad), Smitty's Grill has it all. 

 

Reader Recommended:
Houston's Steakhouse
320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 577-6001 | www.hillstone.com 

Julienne
2649 Mission St., Pasadena
(626) 441-2290 | www.juliennetogo.com 

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


Best Cheap Eats
DIN_04.jpgMix n Munch
Cereal & Grilled Cheese
1005 Mission St., South Pasadena
(626) 441-8808 | www.mixnmunch.com
This restaurant offers Apple Jacks, Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Special K among 25 different cereals, with mix-ins like fresh fruit, nuts, chocolate chips and M&Ms. You can also make your own oatmeal, yogurt parfaits and grilled cheese sandwiches.  

 

 

Reader Recommended:
In-N-Out Burger
2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena
(800) 786-1000 | www.in-n-out.com 

The Dog Haus
105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena
(626) 577-4287 | www.doghausdogs.com 

Top's Drive-In
1792 E. Walnut St., Pasadena
(626) 584-0244 | www.topsburger.com

Lucky Boy Drive-In Restaurant
640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 793-0120 | www.luckyboyburgers.com 


Best Outdoor Dining
DIN_05.jpgLa Grande Orange Café
260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 356-4444 | www.lgostationcafe.com
Located in the historic Gold Line Del Mar Station, on the outskirts of Old Pasadena, La Grange Orange Café offers American comfort food prepared with love and expert care. Try their short rib tacos, mac and cheese or deviled eggs while waiting for the train.  

 

 

Reader Recommended:
Café Santorini
64 W. Union St., Pasadena
(626) 564-4200 | www.cafesantorini.com 

Best Restaurant Staff
DIN_06.jpgCelestino's
141 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 795-4006 | www.celestinopasadena.com
Celestino's serves handcrafted Italian dishes made of fresh seafood, homemade pasta, organic meats and desserts with an extra helping of professional courtesy. Dress up in style, find a friend or a special date and prepare to be spoiled. Order the shrimp-filled black and white ravioli, and don't forget to save room for the ricotta cheesecake.  

 

 

Reader Recommended:
Green Street restaurant
146 S. Shoppers Lane, Pasadena
(626) 577-7170 | www.greenstreetrestaurant.com

La Grande Orange Station Café
260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 356-4444 | www.lgostationcafe.com 

Gale's Restaurant
452 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 432-6705 | www.galesrestaurant.com 


Best Special Occasion Dining
DIN_07.jpgParkway Grill
510 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 795-1001 | www.theparkwaygrill.com
Sometimes called the Spago of Pasadena, Parkway Grill serves classy renditions of regional American cuisine with farm-fresh produce from its own organic garden. With a courteous, discreet professional staff, Parkway Grill is just perfect for that birthday, anniversary or special occasion. 

 

 

Reader Recommended:
Raymond Restaurant
1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 441-3136 | www.theraymond.com 

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
369 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 583-8122 | www.ruthschris.com 

Arroyo Chop House
536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 577-7463 | www.arroyochophouse.com 


Best Family Restaurant
DIN_08.jpgTwohey's Restaurant
1224 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra
(626) 284-7387 | www.twoheys.com
Does your 2-year-old want breakfast all day? Need an old-fashioned sundae? Twohey's Restaurant, opened by founder Jack Twohey, has been serving hamburgers, onion rings and fountain specialties since 1943. The "Oh-Stinko-O" logo - a man in tears with an old-fashioned close pin on his nose - was inspired by a woman who declared "Oh, Stink-O" as the gentleman next to her was served a burger with a generous mound of onion rings. Twohey's still has that retro diner look and feel - just the place to make great family memories.
 

 

Reader Recommended:
Kabuki Restaurants
88 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 568-9310 
3539 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 351-8963 | www.kabukirestaurants.com 

Green Street restaurant
146 S. Shoppers Lane, Pasadena
(626) 577-7170 | www.greenstreetrestaurant.com


Best Late Night Snack
DIN_09.jpgConrad's
861 E. Walnut St., Pasadena
(626) 577-7603
Conrad's is an old-fashioned, sit-down restaurant serving up good American food in a family-friendly atmosphere. Pasadena partiers frequently drop in late at night for an early breakfast after working up appetites on the dance floor. Open at 6 a.m. every day, Conrad's closes at 1 a.m. on weekdays and at 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

 

King Taco
45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 792-0405 | www.kingtaco.com
Have a late-night craving for tacos? Need an early-morning burrito or tamale? This is the place for Pasadena's best tacos. Here, two corn tortillas hold your chosen meat. Located at the edge of Old Pasadena, this fast-food restaurant is open until midnight Sundays through Thursdays and until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Lucky Boy  
640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 793-0120 | www.luckyboyburgers.com
Lucky Boy is a recommended cheap eats restaurant for good reason. The process is cheap, but the helpings are enormous. Enjoy its famous breakfast burrito or pastrami sandwiches until 2 a.m. The breakfast burrito is enough for two, unless you're ready for a food coma. This is one cure for insomnia. 


Best Sunday Brunch
DIN_10.jpgThe Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa
1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena
(626) 568-3900
www.pasadena.langhamhotels.com
At the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa, a team of chefs compete to produce creative culinary fare. For Sunday brunch, try the breakfast buffet or indulge in re-imagined comfort food. Think corn bread grits with applewood bacon and a soft poached egg, or angel-food pancakes with strawberry rhubarb compote. How about biscuits and gravy or beef short rib hash? There's also a smoked salmon pizza, as well as a chicken and waffle sandwich.

 

Reader Recommended:
Marston's Restaurant
151 E. Walnut St., Pasadena
(626) 796-2459 | www.marstonsrestaurant.com 


Best Armenian Food
DIN_11.jpgZankou Chicken
1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 405-1502
Zankou offers fresh ingredients with no preservatives or artificial flavors. People come for the garlic-blessed rotisserie roasted chicken served with garlic butter and purple pickles, as well as tarna, shawerma, falafel and kebabs. The first Zankou Chicken opened in Beirut in 1962, with the first local Zankou opening in Hollywood in 1984. In 1992, a Glendale location opened, and then an outlet opened in Pasadena within easy walking distance of Caltech and Pasadena City College.  

 

Reader Recommended:
Lebanese Kitchen
1384 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 296-9010

Sahara Restaurant
2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 795-6900 | www.saharapasadena.com 


Best Bakery
DIN_12.jpgEuro Pane Bakery
950 E. Colorado Blvd., Ste 107, Pasadena
(626) 577-1828
300 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 844-8804
When Sumi Chang opened her little shop on Colorado Boulevard near Lake Avenue, it quickly became the place to go for croissants and macaroons. But while the egg salad sandwich won praise, the parking at the original location was hectic. Last year, a new location opened across from Paseo Colorado, near City Hall, that has a beautiful communal wooden table for social time with friends. Smaller private tables are available for more intimate meals.

Reader Recommended:
Frederico's Bakery
1810 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA
(626) 795-4484 | www.federicos-bakery.com 

Sarkis Pastry
1776 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 398-3999 | www.sarkispastry.com 


Best BBQ
DIN_13.jpgGus's BBQ
808 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena
(626) 799-3251 | www.gussbbq.com 
Since 1946, Gus's BBQ has been feeding Californians barbecue favorites like beer-braised Texas brisket, St. Louis-style rubbed spare ribs, Memphis-style baby backs and Carolina pulled pork. This South Pasadena landmark draws people from all over, so it should come as no surprise that the Los Angeles Times gave Gus's a Readers' Choice award this year. Newly remodeled, Gus's also provides for the non-meat eaters with entrée salads, sandwiches and vegetarian patties.
 

 

Reader Recommended:
Robin's Woodfire BBQ & Grill
395 N. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 351-8885 | www.robinsbbq.com 

Bonnie B's Smokin' BBQ Heaven
1280 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 794-0132 | www.bonniebssmokin.com 


Best Breakfast
DIN_14.jpgTwohey's Restaurant 
1224 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra
(626) 284-7387 | www.twoheys.com
Twohey's has been serving breakfast in Alhambra for 68 years. Try assorted muffins or classic omelets. If you love lox, Twohey's has you covered as well. Meat eaters can have center-cut ham steak and eggs, turkey sausage or sirloin steak. Order Belgium malted waffles or a stack of buttermilk pancakes. For regulars, there are combos like the Pasadena (two extra-large eggs, two strips of bacon or link sausage, choice of potatoes, toast and a small juice) and the Alhambra (the Pasadena with hot cakes or French toast) and the Fair Oaks (cereal, toast and small beverage).

 

Reader Recommended:
Marston's Restaurant
151 E. Walnut St., Pasadena
(626) 796-2459 | www.marstonsrestaurant.com 

Julienne
2649 Mission St., Pasadena
(626) 441-2290 | www.juliennetogo.com 

Russell's
30 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 578-1404


Best Buffet
DIN_15.jpgSouplantation 
201 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 577-4798 | www.souplantation.com
Souplantation is a place families, friends and co-workers can enjoy because there is literally something for everyone at reasonable prices. Salads, soups, hot pasta, muffins, cornbread, focaccia, desserts - you name it, it's there. Go healthy or go to town. It's up to you. Just because all these options may make your head hurt, your heart doesn't have to suffer. Each month features special themes with the menu featuring low-fat, vegetarian and gluten-free options.

 

Reader Recommended:
Zen Buffet
5449 Rosemead Blvd., San Gabriel
(626) 285-9595 | www.zenbuffetsg.com

Burger Continental
535 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 792-6634 
www.burgercontinentalpasadena.com 
  

Best Burger
DIN_14.jpgTwohey's Restaurant
1224 N. Atlantic Blvd. Alhambra
(626) 284-7387 | www.twoheys.com
Twohey's was voted Best Family Restaurant and Best Breakfast as well as Best Burger this year, and for good reason. For starters, have the original Stinko-burger (with pickles and sliced onions). Then there's the chili-dip with homemade chili and cheddar cheese and the Dutch-style with coleslaw and onions or the triple double (two Angus beef patties with melted cheese). Keeping up with the times, Twohey's also offers new gourmet fare like the California BLT Stinko, the nacho cheese Stinko, a turkey burger and a garden burger. All burgers come with French fries or freshly fried potato chips. Sweet potato or garlic fries can be substituted for an extra 50 cents.  

Reader Recommended:
In-N-Out Burger
2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena
(800) 786-1000 | www.in-n-out.com 

The Counter
140 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena
(626) 440-1008 | www.thecounterburger.com

Pie 'n Burger
913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 795-1123 | www.pienburger.com 


Best Burrito
DIN_16.jpgBurrito Express 
1597 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 798-0844
www.burritoexpresspasadena.com
In business since 1978, Burrito Express has quite a few fans and sometimes a political opinion (remember the Ross Perot burrito, which is "full of it?"). Here you have a choice of carne asada, carnitas, chicken or beef for your burrito. Try your burrito as is, or go for a Vic special (a burrito smothered in sauce and cheese with a side of salad and chips).  An Ito burger, so-named for the famous judge who presided over the OJ Simpson murder trial and lives in Pasadena, comes with extra rice and a little bit of beans, plus sour cream, guacamole and cheese. 

Reader Recommended:
Lucky Boy Drive-In Restaurant
640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 793-0120 | www.luckyboyburgers.com 

Mijares Mexican Restaurant
145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena
(626) 792-2763 | www.mijaresrestaurant.com 

Chipotle Mexican Grill
246 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 229-9173 | www.chipotle.com 


Best California Cuisine
DIN_17.jpgGreen Street Restaurant
146 S. Shoppers Lane, Pasadena
(626) 577-7170
www.greenstreetrestaurant.com
Green Street is a Pasadena tradition dating back to 1979 that specializes in California cuisine in a comfortable, friendly setting. For breakfast, try a veggie scramble. On the weekend, try a salmon Benedict or a Southwestern Benedict (poached eggs on English muffins with a chicken jalapeño sausage). For lunch, try their famous Dianne salad and zucchini bread. Dinner delights include Parmesan-crusted chicken with sage butter sauce or a Texas rib-eye with chili barbecue sauce. Save room for dessert, which features Dr. Bob's ice cream, traditional chocolate cake, ice cream sandwiches or carrot cake.  

Reader Recommended:
Parkway Grill
510 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 795-1001 | www.theparkwaygrill.com 

Café 140 South
140 S. Lake Ave., # 101, Pasadena
(626) 449-9900 | www.cafe140south.com 

California Pizza Kitchen
99 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena
(626) 585-9020 | www.cpk.com


Best Caribbean Food
DIN_18.jpgKingston Café
333 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 405-8080 | www.kingstoncafe.com
Ever want to journey to a Caribbean paradise? If you can't afford the airfare, take a trip instead to the Kingston Café on South Fair Oaks Avenue. While you might not be near a beach, there is plenty of seafood and other delicious dishes to make this a culinary paradise. The jerk chicken, coconut shrimp, grilled king fish and Jamaican braised pork all come highly recommended.  Lovers of oxtail soup have to stop by and give this version a try. Vegetarians are also welcome. Kingston Café opened in 1992, but it has quickly become a Pasadena favorite.  Occasionally, the café hosts live reggae music.  


Best Chinese Food
DIN_19.jpgFu-Shing Chinese Restaurant 
2960 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 792-8898
www.fushingrestaurant.com
Fu Shing, meaning "Fortunate Star," is such a Pasadena tradition that some families even order their Thanksgiving turkey from here. The rest of the year, try their Kung Pao chicken and sautéed string beans, or treat yourself to Chinese honey ham and scallops in garlic sauce. The Chang family had a restaurant in Szechwan, China, in 1920. Tso-Chun Chang opened a second restaurant in Taipei prior to coming to the United States and opened a third restaurant in Pasadena in 1980, marking three generations of culinary experience.

Reader Recommended:
Panda Inn
3488 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 793-7300 | www.pandainn.com 

Yang Chow Restaurant
3777 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 432-4538 | www.yangchow.com


Best Deli/Sandwiches
DIN_20.jpgLovebird's Cafe 
921 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 583-8888 | www.lovebirdscafe.com
If you like all-natural, fresh food and the chance to customize your sandwiches by choosing the bread and cheese, you'll love Lovebird's Café.  The menu offers two types of chicken salad, three types of tuna salad (one sure to intrigue wasabi lovers) and some cool veggie combos. The no-lose menu is divided into light and delicious, hot and delicious, vegetarian, double your pleasure and specialties (like their Thanksgiving Turkey or Tom's Cobb pocket).  

 

Pasadena Sandwich Co.
259 Sierra Madre Villa Ave., Pasadena
(626) 578-1616
www.pasadenasandwichcompany.com
With a title like Pasadena Sandwich Co., you know this place has to be good, and it is, featuring sandwiches named after favorite states, like the New Yorker (smoked ham, turkey, Swiss cheese with Russian dressing on a French roll), the New Jersey (roast beef, turkey breast, Swiss cheese with Russian dressing on rye) and the Californian (roast beef, jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickle with mayonnaise on wheat). Not to leave anyone out, there's also the Veggie, loaded with lettuce, tomato, onion, bell pepper, sprouts, avocado, mustard and mayonnaise on wheat.

Reader Recommended:
New York Deli
25 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 578-0010


Best Cupcakes
DIN_21.jpgDots Cupcakes 
400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 568-3687 | www.dotscupcakes.com
Are you still in love with cupcakes? Who isn't? At Dots Cupcakes, feel good about splurging for a birthday or a dozen for a bake sale. Select from 101 flavors, such as red velvet, chocolate lover, chocolate mind, carrot cake or dulce de leche. Four other flavors are offered only on certain days. On Mondays and Tuesdays, it might be Black Forest or hazelnut crunch. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, it could be pumpkin or blueberry cheesecake. On weekends, it might be the raspberry lemon and vanilla passion fruit.
 

 

Reader Recommended:
Violet's Cakes
21 E. Holly St., Pasadena
(626) 395-9821 | www.violetscakes.com 

Polkatots Cupcakes
720 N. Lake Ave., #3, Pasadena
(626) 798-3932 | www.polkatotscupcakes.com 


Best Dessert
DIN_22.jpgEuro Pane Bakery
345 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 844-8804.
When Sumi Chang opened her little shop near Lake Avenue, it quickly became the place to go for croissants (including the whole-wheat chocolate variety), cream tarts, fruit brioche, puff pastries and macaroons. And those macaroons come in pastel colors designating several yummy flavors like blackberry, hazelnut, raspberry, salted caramel, mocha, passion fruit and pistachio.


 

Best French Food
DIN_23.jpgCheval Blanc 
41 S. De Lacey Ave., Pasadena
(626) 577-4141 | www.chevalblancbistro.com
Cheval Blanc or "White Horse" Bistro is the newest Smith Brothers restaurant. Don't expect to find any horses there, but don't be surprised to find a knight taking you there for a special night of Francophile romance. Try classics like the coq au vin (Burgundy-style braised chicken), the steak au poivre (black peppercorn crusted) or the bouillabaisse. Cheval Blanc Bistro serves dinner only and is closed Sundays and Mondays. 

 

Bistro de la Gare
921 Meridian Ave., A, South Pasadena
(626) 799-8828 | www.bistrodelagare.com
Stop by at the Bistro de la Gare for breakfast and have a three-egg omelet, eggs Benedict or some pain perdu "Frenchy" toast (egg and vanilla battered toast dusted with powdered sugar).
Or maybe a croissant or a cinnamon roll will do? For lunch, there are wonderful soups, salads and quiches. Dinner offers sirloin prepared Parisian style or a New York steak in cognac sauce, or enjoy salmon in dill sauce among many delicious entrees.

Reader Recommended:
Nicole's Gourmet Food
921 Meridian Ave., B, South Pasadena
(626) 403-5751 | www.nicolesgourmetfoods.com 


Best Health Food
Grassroots Natural Market and Kitchen 
1119 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena
(626) 799-0156
www.grassrootsnaturalmarket.net
Grassroots Natural Market and Kitchen began in 1968. Under Marla and Meir Puni since 1986, it has gone from a small natural foods store to a full-service restaurant. Burritos (with whole wheat tortillas) and soft tacos, wraps and bowls, smoothies, pancakes and quesadillas are some favorites. On Saturdays, create your own omelets. Be warned, the muffins are huge. Vegans and vegetarians go wild here. Carnivores also have some healthy options. The kitchen is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and closed Sundays. 

DIN_24.jpgOrean The Health Express 
817 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 794-0861 | www.oreanshealthexpress.com
Orean C. Thomas founded Orean the Health Express in 1979 and, as the first vegetarian fast food joint in Los Angeles, the business has attracted a loyal following and continues to win over new clients. For breakfast, have pancakes, quesadillas or a breakfast burrito (tofu, shiitake mushrooms, green onions, cheese, tomatoes, bell peppers and salsa). You can get your burger craving fix with a chili cheese burger, a BBQ tofu burger, a chicken burger or a veggie burger.
 

 

Best Ice Cream/Yogurt/Gelato
DIN_25.jpgCarmela's Ice Cream 
2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 797-1405 | www.carmelaicecream.com
Carmela's Ice Cream, located on Washington Boulevard in Altadena, is the best place to enjoy creamy frozen delights, with dozens of flavors to choose from, all made from farmers' market produce and organic dairy products. Try signature flavors like salted caramel, brown sugar vanilla bean or lavender honey. How about a cucumber sorbet? For chocolate lovers, there's the dark chocolate cacao nib.

 

Reader Recommended:
21 Choices
85 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 304-9521 | www.21choices.com

Bulgarini Gelato
749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena
(626) 791-6174 | www.bulgarinigelato.com 

Cherry on Top
1299 E. Green St., Pasadena
(626) 440-1299 | www.cherryontop.net


Best Independent Coffee House
DIN_26.jpgJones Coffee Roasters
693 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 564-9291 | www.thebestcoffee.com
To get intoxicated in a public place without renunciation by peers, or removal by law, just get a whiff of the aroma of Guatemala coffee beans that have come home here to roast. In a warehouse/coffee museum-like atmosphere, sit down and enjoy a fragrant hot cup, something ice cold or something very fancy. Bags and packets of rich and refined flavors are available to take home. If you are in charge of getting coffee for the office, the setting perks up the chore.

 

Reader Recommended:
Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea
55 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 578-1270 | www.intelligentsiacoffee.com 

The Coffee Gallery
2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena
(626) 398-7917

Best Indian Food
DIN_27.jpgAkbar Cuisine of India
44 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 577-9916 | www.akbarcuisineofindia.com
This is your passage to a classic Indian table of the 17th century, when mogul Akbar the Great lived the good life by eating well. But it's no movie set: There's no "Bollywood" draped saris to distract. Yet, playing on words, promoters will tell you "the clay's the thing," meaning that the famous tandoori oven has an "empowering inferno" that seals in every bit of any meat's flavor. And side dishes provide contrasting waves of bitter and sweet, mild and salty in one dinner performance.

 

Reader Recommended:
All India Café
39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 440-0309 | www.allindiacafe.com

New Delhi Palace
950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 405-0666 | www.newdelhipasadena.com


Best Italian Food
DIN_28.jpgCelestino's Ristorante
141 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 795-4006 | www.celestinopasadena.com
As classic Italy has given the world Michelangelo, opera, fine wines and Venetian blinds, it has also inspired Celestino's pacesetting chef/partner Caligero Drago. Parlaying authentic Italian recipes with his own fancies, Drago's making Italian cookery - not French - the standard by which all other cuisines should be measured. His Florentine take on a T-Bone proves it.

 

 

Reader Recommended:
Avanti Café
111 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 577-4688 | www.avanticafe.com 

Domenico's Italian Kitchen
2411 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 797-6459 | www.originaldomenicos.com 

Gale's Restaurant
452 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 432-6705 | www.galesrestaurant.com 


Best Japanese/Sushi
DIN_29.jpgKabuki Japanese Restaurant
3589 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 351-8963
88 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 568-9310
www.kabukirestaurants.com
There are no swaggering chefs flipping knives or setting fires on community grills, nor young women kneeling at your feet with a bowl of noodles and a smile. But there's great pleasure taken here from the courtesy of its servers. Manners are like spices, you can't make a meal out of them, but they add a third dimension to its enjoyment. The first comes from California touches on classic Japanese recipes. The second is tasted in the unusual but felicitous pairings of food and sake.

Reader Recommended:
Sushi Roku
33 Miller Alley, Pasadena
(626) 683-3000 | www.innovativedining.com

Oba Sushi Izakaya
181 E. Glenarm St., Pasadena
(626) 799-8543 | www.obasushi.com 


Best Juice Bar
DIN_30.jpgJamba Juice
64 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 666-1500
204 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 744-5200
www.jambajuice.com
It's your main squeeze for all seasons. In the heat of the summer, the chilled sweetness of its fare is a long-felt want. As it cools off, its tasty nutrition becomes a heartfelt need. Juices for refreshing smoothies are made from whole fruits, nonfat frozen yogurt and sherbet. Energy extras include shots of daily vitamins and antioxidant power. For both Halloween and Thanksgiving, load up with pumpkin smoothies.


Best Local Brewery
DIN_31.jpgCraftsman Brewing Co.
1260 Lincoln Ave., Unit 100, Pasadena
(626) 296-2537 | www.craftsmanbrewing.com
Like bees after sipping flowers, Pasadena beer lovers hum the praise of Craftsman brews like Heavenly Hefe, Poppyfields Pale Ale and many others that are either smoked, spiced, herbed, fruited or experimental. This is not a brewpub, but it purveys award-winning kegs to pubs, bars and restaurants all over Pasadena and beyond. Vats, vessels, pumps and siphons are working up a sweat these days in turning out special brews so bons vivants can celebrate Oktoberfest with true tastes.

 

Reader Recommended:
Eagle Rock Brewery
3056 Roswell St., Los Angeles
(323) 257-7866 | www.eaglerockbrewery.com 


Best Mediterranean Food
DIN_32.jpgBurger Continental
535 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 792-6634 | www.burgercontinental.com
While it is serious about Greek salads, Moroccan fatoush Armenia pizza, Lebanese kebabs, Italian seafood combos - and a buffet that never quits, with an Aladdin's cave of strangely delicious hamburgers - it's also a mythically fun place. For a dessert, bells tinkle on a belly dancer's toes as she snaps her hips forward - a diaphanous veil flutters near an ogling eye while chimes go off and ice cream melts.

 

Reader Recommended:
Mediterranean Café
273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena
(626) 793-8844 | www.kokosmediterraneancafe.com 

Café Santorini
64 W. Union St., Pasadena
(626) 564-4200 | www.cafesantorini.com 


Best Mexican Food
DIN_33.jpgEl Portal
695 E. Green St., Pasadena
(626) 795-8553 | www.elportalrestaurant.com
While sipping premium tequilas and chipping away at zesty salsa - often to the accompaniment of romantic Latin music - patrons are treated to a mood that you'll want to be in. And later, for serious dining, in-depth Yucatecan cuisine makes a lasting impression. To dig in, cochinita pibil is a must-try. In it, chunks of pork - marinated in a mix of bitter and sweet citrus fruits and juices, garlic and deep red, musky flavored achiote paste - are cooked down to tatters of juicy flavor.

 

Reader Recommended:
Mijares Mexican Restaurant
145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena
(626) 792-2763 | www.mijaresrestaurant.com 

Chiquita Bonita
3565 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 796-5592


Best Middle Eastern Food
DIN_34.jpgSahara
2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 795-6900 | www.saharapasadena.com
Customers will tell you that nothing tastier has ever been threaded on a skewer than the combo beef, chicken and lula kebabs (ground lamb, mixed with chopped onion). Before picking the juicy, mesquite-coal marinated meats off the golden rods, enjoy the chilled tabbouleh's fine fragments of cracked wheat mixed with chopped parsley, green onion, lemon juice and oil. It is as popular, as is the appetizer - as is the restaurant's tradition of hospitality and generosity to its visitors.

 

Reader Recommended:
Burger Continental
535 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 792-6634

www.burgercontinentalpasadena.com

Lebanese Kitchen
1384 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 296-9010


Best Local Pizza
DIN_35.jpgAvanti Café
111 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 577-4688 | www.avanticafe.com
If there's a question as to who first rolled out gourmet pizza in Pasadena, there's little doubt that Avanti Café keeps raising it to perfection as for 16 of the last 17 years, it has been voted "The Best" by Weekly readers. Before heat waves from wood-burning ovens blanket a host of "far-out" pizzas, ingredients are imaginatively considered and painstakingly put together by Chef/owner Bobby Ghofranian. Many have evolved to a point where pizza comes to mind at the same moment as fine dining.

 

Reader Recommended:
Domenico's Italian Kitchen
2411 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 797-6459 | www.originaldomenicos.com 

Luggage Room Pizzeria
260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 356-4440 | www.theluggageroom.com 

Mamma's Brick Oven Pizza
710 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena
(626) 799-1344 | www.mammasbrickoven.com 


Best Seafood
DIN_36.jpgCameron's Seafood
1978 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 793-3474 | www.Camerons4fish.com
After winning "Best Seafood" for the 20th consecutive year, owner Pete Gallanis may as well nail the flag to the mast and tell rivals that he'll never surrender. In welcoming Cameron's entry early this year into sushi-making, extra votes piled up for dishes like fresh raw ahi tuna - or sesame-crusted - from Hawaii and/or Fiji. In the restaurant's oceanic setting, where you can virtually taste spume and spindrift, it's fitting that all sushi morsels are created from a fresh stock of seafood.

 

Reader Recommended:
McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant
111 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena
(626) 405-0064 | www.mccormickandschmicks.com 


San Marino Seafood Restaurant & Market
2150 Huntington Drive, San Marino
(626) 943-8862 | www.sanmarinoseafood.com


Best Soul Food
DIN_37.jpgBig Mama's Rib Shack
1453 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 797-1792 | www.Bigmamasribshack.com
Exploring their heritage from founder Emma Sue (Big Mama) McWhorter's family album of heirloom recipes, the owners provide inspiring moments for southern food fanciers with dishes of Cajun, Creole, Georgian and Tennessean origins - some with very rowdy sauces. The ambiance? Spooning gumbo, thickened like an alluvial river deposit by leaves of ground sassafras, you can almost hear the "swoosh" and "plap" of an old paddle wheeler comin' down the Mississippi.

 

Reader Recommended:
Roscoe's House of Chicken N' Waffles
830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 791-4890 | www.roscoeschickenandwaffles.com


Best South American Food
DIN_38.jpgMalbec New
Argentinian Cuisine
1001 E. Green St., Pasadena
(626) 683-0550 | www.malbeccuisine.com
While Argentine-style beef dishes, like 21-day, dry-aged, wood-fire-grilled New Yorker steak, are as authentic and impressive as the rasp of rope on a gaucho cowboy's hand, there's more to please the crowds: an array of salads, imaginative pastas, and - fulfilling upscale expectations - top seafood from the bottom of the world, Patagonia. Lifted from black and white linen-covered tables, glasses tingle with wines made from the same strain of grapes that produce French Bordeaux.

Reader Recommended:
Choza Mama Peruvian Cuisine & Bakery
96 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 432-4692 | www.chozamama.com 


Best Spanish Food
DIN_39.jpgBar Celona
46 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 405-1000 | www.barcelonapasadena.com
Esteemed for a tantalizing mosaic of small and medium sized plates, including fried anchovies in honey water and dates wrapped in savory Serrano ham stuffed with blue cheese, the evenings here are completed with more than a stack of dishes. Unlike the city of Barcelona, where nightly bar hopping for tapas and slugs of sangria is a way of life, the crowd here stays put and doesn't miss a thing. On Tuesdays, flamenco and rumba dancing hold sway.

 

Reader Recommended:
La Luna Negra
44 W. Green St., Pasadena
(626) 844-4331 | www.lalunanegrarestaurant.com 


Best Steakhouse
DIN_40.jpgRuth's Chris Steakhouse
385 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 583-8122 | www.ruthschris

  

 

 

 

Reader Recommended:
Arroyo Chop House
536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 577-7463 | www.arroyochophouse.com  

Houston’s Steakhouse
320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 577-6001 | www.hillstone.com  


Best Taco
DIN_41.jpgKing Taco
45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 792-0405 | www.kingtaco.com
In the realm of fast foods, the most extravagant way to live is like a king — a King Taco. More than most any other Mexican restaurant, they offer nine varied cuts of meat to fill tortillas. Apart from carnitas and carne asada, meats include suadero (fried chicken breast bone), cabeza (shredded steer head) and tongue. Near the Civic Center, count on long lines at noon of city employees, cops, attorneys and maybe a few guys sweating out court appearances.

 

Reader Recommended:
La Estrella
502 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 792-8559 | www.la-estrellarestaurant.com  

El Portal Restaurant
695 E. Green St., Pasadena, CA
(626) 795-8553 | www.elportalrestaurant.com

 
Best Tea House
DIN_42.jpgScarlet Tea Room
18 W. Green St., Pasadena
(626) 577-0051 | www.scarlettearoom.com
While you may not have been manor born, on any visit to Scarlet, you are cradled in the lap of luxury. You’ll be dazzled by the large crystal chandelier of Swarovski design. And, with gold and scarlet draperies, walls of gleaming lamp sconces, and tables set with fine porcelain, it’s a picture of a room in Camelot, framed and glazed. Its tea services infuse many cultures so that more people will love the way Scarlet comes on to them.

Reader Recommended:
Chado Tea Room
79 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena
(626) 431-2832 | www.chadotea.com

Bird Pick Tea & Herb
10 S. De Lacey ave., Pasadena
(626) 773-4372 | www.birdpick.com


Best Thai Food
DIN_43.jpgSaladang
363 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 793-8123
For authentic Thai food with special touches that make for a model for modern tastes, this is the Thai that binds. While there are quiet refinements you’d expect from a sophisticated Thai restaurant, some of the dishes bring on amusement park shouts of “whee.” Evocations spring from  Thailand’s most famous soups — hot, sweet and sour, tom yum — and an imaginative chef’s tossing of a spinach and duck salad with wine dressing.

 

Reader Recommended:
Daisy Mint
1218 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 792-2999 | www.daisymint.com

President Thai
498 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 578-9814 | www.president-thai.com  


Best Vegetarian Food
DIN_44.jpgMy Vegan
633 S. ARROYO Parkway, Pasadena
(626) 578-9017 | www.my-vegan.com
While its Thai-flavored preparations are strictly vegan, less restricted vegetarians sprout affection for the restaurant as they would a magic beanstalk. Going to market every morning, owner/partner Teddy Lertvichuhath picks out only produce that has ripened to become perfectly ready to eat. His dried spice rack is rather spare as Thai restaurants go, but his stocky refrigerator brims over with fresh lemon grass, fresh basil and a whole range of fresh this and that.

 

Reader Recommended:
Orean The Health Express
817 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena
(626) 794-0861 | www.oreanshealthexpress.com

Green Earth Vegan Cuisine
37 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
(626) 584-0268


Best Vietnamese Food
DIN_34.jpgIndochine
950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
(626) 584-7118
In many Asian restaurants, the term “authentic dish” has begun to chip and crack. But here, straightforward Vietnamese foods convincingly translate to Western tastes. For openers, you’ll get the idea from deep-fried, golden brown, audibly crisp meat and veggie egg rolls — with a secret stash of native seasonings. Then it is etched in mind with shrimp and potatoes, simmering in the shallows of a special curry sauce.