Bring on the night with all its charms and mysteries. Nighttime is the right time in Pasadena to kick up your heels and shake your groove thang to the hottest club jams or mellow-out to a jazz or blues ensemble at any one of Pasadena’s remarkable hot-spots, juke-joints, supper clubs, dancehalls and smoky lounges. Dulcet-toned crooners are the preferred choice for those who appreciate music best in a chilled-out environment. Still others want to dance all night to throbbing, up-tempo beats in trendy clubs where the deejays and turntablists are treated like local royalty.
Symbiotic musical perfection is achieved at the redwhite+bluezz club, now open at the historic Pasadena Playhouse on El Molino. This recent relocation from their original digs in Old Pasadena to the Playhouse District only serves to highlight and complement the outstanding musical acts booked at this popular nightclub, a club that at its heart is essentially an affectionate love letter to jazz and the blues. Nightly sets of live jazz and a Sunday morning scrumptious brunch set to the scintillating sounds of classic and contemporary jazz will be music to your ears and your palate.
redwhite+bluezz, 37 S El Molino Ave, Pasadena. (626) 792-4441 | redwhitebluezz.com
Renowned for their distinguished craft beer selection and tasty pub fare, Kings Row Gastropub is a guaranteed good-time destination. Nestled in a historic building in Old Pasadena, the pub maintains its neighborly feel and sense of community by treating new and returning customers with equal affection and attention. Their extensive, locally sourced menu features the best of California’s fusion-inspired creations, along with nostalgic favorites lovingly made, such as their classically prepared burgers, macaroni and cheese, bread pudding, grilled cheese sandwiches and fish and chips specials.
Weekly fun includes a fabulous house reggae band on Thursday nights, and cover band FM Radio on the weekends, in addition to several other talented acts with a burgeoning following. Don’t be fooled by this pub’s free-spirited vibe, though. Their dedication to bringing their patrons first-rate live music is second only to their commitment to superb cuisine. While much of it is classic American and English fare, a wonderful selection of artisan cheeses and meats and freshly made burrata (a semi-soft, white, Italian cheese) bring to mind bustling corner cafés on vibrant streets in Paris and Italy. Happy Hour at Kings Row Gastropub is all-day on Tuesdays and from 4 to 7 p.m. most other days. With $2 off most wines sold by the glass, $7 Craft Cocktails, $1 off all beers on tap and $4 well-drinks, the golden hours of a Gastropub Happy Hour are not only the most refreshing, but also the most economical.
Kings Row Gastropub, 20 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 793-3010 | kingsrowpub.com
If laughter is the best medicine, then The Ice House Comedy Club is the spoonful of sugar that helps it go down in hilarious style. Promising new comedians and veterans alike appreciate the Ice House for its trial-by-fire approach to stand-up comedy and the invaluable education afforded by the opportunity to try new and revised material on fresh audiences. In business since 1960, the list of now-famous comedians and entertainers that once took the stage at the Ice House is almost as long as the list of superlatives used to describe the club itself. George Carlin, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Maher, George Lopez and Jay Leno are just a few of the entertainers who consider themselves honored to have begun their careers at this venerable institution. A fun fact and impressive claim to fame is that more comedians have recorded their CDs at the Ice House than at any other club on earth. Their four-course prix fixe menu is a bargain at $22.95 per person, but you’ll find lots to satisfy with ample choices from the entrée, appetizer and drinks menu.
The Ice House, 24 N. Mentor Ave, Pasadena. (626) 577-1894 | icehousecomedy.com
Even the club’s name, IX Tapa, makes you want to move. Positioned in a prime location just within the boundaries of Old Pasadena, IX Tapa Cantina caters to foodies who like a little spice with their meals and club-goers who enjoy the driving beat and sexy rhythms of Latin music, which is featured on Tuesdays, with deejays and turntablists on Friday nights, and their Corazon De Mariachi dinner show. Guests will receive a complimentary bottle of champagne with any birthday reservation for a party of four or more. There’s no cover-charge for shows as long as the $25 minimum per person is satisfied in other areas, such as food and drink. IX Tapas Happy Hour is a site to behold and a feast to partake of, with $2 Baja tacos, $4 nachos and $6 Mexican pizzas and much more. Domestic beer is available at the rock-bottom price of $2.75, while imported versions and craft beers go for the still-affordable price of $3.50. There’s a bargain for just about every night of the week at IX Tapa; Margarita Monday is a blast with $2.99 margaritas, deejay and dancing on Friday and Saturday nights, $2 tacos and Salsa lessons on Tuesdays, “Broke Wednesdays,” and $4 Tequila Thursdays. Last but definitely not least is their Fiesta Sangria Sundays. Every day is a reason to celebrate Latin culture, music and the art of the dance at IX Tapa Cantina.
IX Tapa, 119 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. (626) 304-1000 | cantinaixtapa.com
As someone probably younger than 30 recently wrote on Yelp, The Old Towne Pub in Old Pasadena “is my favorite dive bar of the moment, combining my two great loves: live music and cheap booze.” Said another fan of the city’s longest-lived underground musical hotspot, “You can’t beat the 2 dolla PBRs and the massive hook ups to not pay cover charge.” Tucked away in an alley behind the Container Store at Fair Oaks Avenue and Union Street, some of the region’s edgiest bands perform here nightly, a place secreted away in the back alleys and brick-lined walkways that lead to and from the place’s back door. Here, wrote Julien B., “bands and artists have a place to experiment and forge new paths for themselves, tortuous as those paths might be. It’s a bigger benefit than is readily imaginable. And as the pains of experimentation are great, there’s beer on tap to help and to dislodge the crusts of courage within us with its carbonated fizz. … Outside is a brick patio with plenty of seating. I had fun here. I felt like I could be an observer without feeling out of place”
The Old Towne Pub, 66 N. Fair Oaks Ave. (down the alley of 22 Holly St.), Pasadena. (626) 577-6583 | theoldtownepub.com
Inclusivity is the main attraction at this family-friendly venue. Levitt Pavilion hosts live music suitable for even the youngest music lover to enjoy and a different concert every weeknight throughout the summer. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to provide free concerts and a diverse array of musical acts and genres to the general public. In addition to Grammy-winning entertainers, promising new musical acts and stellar performances from talented jazz and blues performers and musicians, Levitt Pavilion also offers child-friendly activities, sing-alongs a food court and dance shows. World, Latin and Americana music also help strike a balance between classic and contemporary music genres. After more than a decade of serving the communities of Pasadena and its surrounding cities, this outdoor venue is a joy and must-see for concert lovers of every age and taste.
Levitt Pavilion – Memorial Park, 85 E. Holly St., Pasadena (between Walnut and Holly streets on North Raymond Avenue). (626) 683-3230 | levittpavilionpasadena.org
Though far from an exhaustive list of all the amazing dance clubs, bars and nightclubs available in Pasadena, the venues mentioned above should provide a springboard in your search for the perfect spot for unwinding with a drink, a song and a laugh.