Pasadena and its surrounding cities are truly the Land of Enchantment for people who enjoy dining out. Local residents and visitors need not wish upon a star to obtain a great meal; with more than 600 eateries in Pasadena alone — not to mention the hundreds of restaurants in Glendale, Altadena, South Pasadena, San Marino, Eagle Rock, Alhambra and Arcadia — people can easily make their dining dreams a culinary reality. 

 

Like fairy godmothers waving their wands, chefs and other employees at the best restaurants can make the hard work of preparing and serving a meal seem invisible to their customers. Great chefs are kitchen wizards whose combination of creativity, innovation and skill can conjure up an entrancing dining experience.

 

Dave Caldwell, the owner of Major Dave’s Chicken, this year’s winner for Best Restaurant, has perfected the sorcery that enables him to take an ordinary piece of chicken and turn it into mouth-watering fried chicken with just the right amount of crispness, saltiness and juiciness. This year’s winner for Best Chef, Claud Beltran at Bacchus’ Kitchen (2015’s Best New Restaurant), learned his culinary magic from renowned chef Thomas Keller, eventually becoming one of the top chefs in the Los Angeles area.     

 

Ethnic restaurants, including the top ones in this year’s poll, can whisk diners away on a magic carpet to visit faraway places — Armenia (Sahara Middle Eastern Restaurant), China (Panda Inn and Yang Chow), France (Maison Akira), India (All India Café), Italy (Celestino Ristorante & Bar), Japan (Kabuki Japanese Restaurant), Korea (Gaon Authentic Korean BBQ), the Mediterranean (Mediterranean Café), Mexico (Mijares Mexican Restaurant), Iran (Heidar Baba),  Argentina (Malbec), Spain (Racion), Thailand (Daisy Mint) and Vietnam (Saigon Noodle Restaurant).

 

Some of the other winners practice the witchery of converting everyday foods into something bewitching — burgers and hot dogs (Dog Haus), cupcakes (Dot’s Cupcakes), sandwiches (Pasadena Sandwich Company), dim sum (Lunasia Dim Sum House), ice cream (Carmela Ice Cream), coffee (Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar), beer (Craftsman Brewing Co.), pizza (The Luggage Room), salad (Green Street Restaurant), burritos (Burrito Express), tacos (King Taco), vegetarian food (Veggie Grill), juice (Pressed Juicery), seafood (Cameron’s Seafood Restaurant), health and organic food (Real Food Daily) and chicken wings (Buffalo Wild Wings). 

 

The staff at other local eateries can infuse the usual breakfast (Marston’s), business lunch (Smitty’s Grill), special occasion (Parkway Grill), Sunday brunch (Mijares Mexican Restaurant) or family meal (Kabuki Japanese Restaurant) with a charm that mesmerizes diners. Tops Walnut knows the secret of whipping up a top-quality meal at an affordable price. And what can be more magical than a dinner date at The Raymond, this year’s winner for Best Romantic Restaurant?  

 

No one who has eaten at a local restaurant has spotted a centaur, mermaid, hobbit, fairy, elf or other fantastic creature dining there. But perhaps in the late-night or early-morning hours, when most places are closed and no one is around, these fairytale figures sneak into the eateries to partake of the local fare and experience the enchantment of Pasadena area dining.

 
 

BEST RESTAURANT

Major Dave’s Chicken

163 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 460-8730 | majordaveschicken.com

David Caldwell’s fried chicken is so delicious you can easily envision him as a sorcerer creating a magic potion of ingredients to ensure that his signature dish is extra special. In reality, however, Caldwell’s fried chicken is based on a family recipe devised by his father. On his restaurant’s website, Caldwell likens his dad to a jazz musician, constantly experimenting with “a little salt here, a different mix of spices there” to create fried chicken with “equal parts improvisation and skill.” Caldwell, a major in the Marine Corps, later worked with his dad to perfect the family recipe, and the result of that collaboration has made Major Dave’s Fried Chicken PW’s Best Restaurant for 2015. Caldwell opened his 24-seat restaurant in 2014, using free-range chicken without hormones, additives, antibiotics or preservatives to make fried chicken, fried chicken sandwiches and fried chicken salad. Major Dave’s also offers a number of side dishes such as “Honest Mac & Cheese,” cole slaw, baked beans and kale Caesar salad. Diners who don’t want to eat at the restaurant can order take-out, and Major Dave’s caters food for lunches and dinners.   


Reader Recommended

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 693-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287


Union 

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com


BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Bacchus’ Kitchen

1384 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 594-6377 | bacchuskitchen.com

Chef Claud Beltran’s successful entry into the Pasadena restaurant business could be called a culinary fairytale, but in reality it was hard work and experience that made his culinary dreams come true. Beltran figured that operating local eateries was the logical extension of his Pasadena-based Claud & Co. Catering, so he opened two restaurants: Bacchus’ Kitchen, at 1384 E. Washington Blvd., this year’s winner for Best New Restaurant, and The Eatery, at 488 N. Allen Ave. Beltran has created special recipes for Bacchus that feature elements of international cuisine, such as Australian rack of lamb, Thai grilled swordfish and burrata rosemary pasta. The menu is subject to daily change based upon the availability of fresh produce, and some of the ingredients are purchased from local companies like Congregation Ale House, Seed Bakery and Bulgarini Gelato. 


Reader Recommended

Del Frisco’s Grille

55 S. Lake Ave., Suite 150, Pasadena

(626) 765-9913 | delfriscosgrille.com


Lincoln 

1992 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

(626) 765-6746 | lincolnpasadena.com


Lunasia Dim Sum House

239 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-8822 | lunasiadimsumhouse.com


BEST CHEF

Claud Beltran

Bacchus’ Kitchen

1384 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 594-6377 | bacchuskitchen.com

On the website for his restaurants, Claud Beltran describes himself as having “passion, commitment to excellence, integrity, humor and a sense of adventure.” These qualities have made him a recognized culinary wizard who creates one-of-a-kind recipes for diners at his two Pasadena restaurants: Bacchus’ Kitchen and The Eatery. Beltran, whose ethnic background is a mix of Mexican and Lebanese, learned about ethnic foods at an early age, and the recipes for the two restaurants feature elements of international cuisine. He learned about cooking from his mentor, American chef and cookbook writer Thomas Keller, and from more than 25 years of experience, which he brings to his restaurants and his Pasadena-based Claud & Co. Catering.   


Reader Recommended

Bruce Kalman

Union 

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com


Robert Humphreys

Plate 38

2361 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-7100 | plate38.com


BEST RESTAURANT STAFF

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 400-0309 | allindiacafe.com

A restaurant needs more than great food to enchant its customers; it must also employ a staff that makes even the grumpiest diner magically morph into a happy patron. The staff of All India Café delivers that level of service, treating diners as welcome guests. The waiters are never too busy to patiently describe the food to customers who are unfamiliar with Indian cuisine. Waiters pay attention to diners, making sure they don’t have to wait too long to order and receive their food. This considerate handling of diners, plus the excellent quality of food from throughout the Indian subcontinent, creates a genuinely entrancing dining experience.   


Reader Recommended

Houston’s 

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001 | hillstone.com/houstons


Pasadena Sandwich Company

259 Sierra Madre Villa Ave. #102, Pasadena

(626) 578-1616 | pasadenasandwichcompany.com



BEST BUSINESS LUNCH

Smitty’s Grill

110 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9999 | smittysgrill.com

A business lunch can be anything but enchanting. But Smitty’s Grill strives to make the experience more enjoyable with its choice of both food and décor. Smitty’s serves what it describes as “American comfort food,” featuring items like iron skillet corn bread, homemade chicken pot pie, Smitty’s Famous Meatloaf Stroganoff, macaroni & cheese with ham, and garlic and herb-roasted chicken. There’s also a selection of appetizers, salads, soups, sandwiches and desserts, as well as wine, beer and cocktails. 


Reader Recommended 

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170| greenstreetrestaurant.com


Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com


BEST CHEAP EATS

Tops Walnut

1792 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 584-0244 | topsburger.com

If you’re hungry for a rib-eye steak but think you can’t afford one, Tops Walnut at Walnut Street and Allen Avenue is the place for you. For more than 50 years the Bicos family has magically produced top-quality fast food at inexpensive prices. Where else can you get a rib-eye steak plate with salad and fries for only $9.89, or a quarter-pound burger for $2.99, or breakfast plates ranging in price from $4.68 to $7.09? Owners Terry and Jim Bicos continue to use the original recipes to make their bean burritos and their thousand island and blue cheese salad dressings while adding some new items, like a chorizo and eggs burrito and a teriyaki cheeseburger, to round out their menu. 


Reader Recommended

In-N-Out Burger

2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

1210 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

(800) 786-1000 | www.in-n-out.com


Major Dave’s Chicken

163 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 460-8730 | majordaveschicken.com


BEST OUTDOOR DINING

La Grande Orange Café

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com

The folks at La Grande Orange Café took a 1930’s era railroad depot and — abracadabra — transformed it into a contemporary restaurant adjacent to the Metro Gold Line’s Del Mar station. Creative but simple American food and drinks are served in the indoor banquet room and Otis Bar. Many diners, however, prefer to eat in the outdoor patio, where they can hear the sounds of the trains passing by and travel back 80 years to a time when passengers from throughout the nation disembarked at the Pasadena railroad station.  


Reader Recommended

Café Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 | cafesantorini.com


Mike & Anne’s Restaurant | Bar

1040 Mission St., Suite 102, South Pasadena

(626) 799-7199 | mikeandannes.com


BEST ROMANTIC 

RESTAURANT

The Raymond

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com

Enjoying a romantic dinner with one’s true love can be like a fairytale— provided the date takes place in the right location. The Raymond is Pasadena’s go-to place for some enchanted evenings. Dating couples can look longingly at each other while enjoying the American cuisine with international influences created by Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan and prepared with the restaurant’s locally grown, single-press organic olive oil. Or they can go to the bar hidden in the back of the restaurant to sip craft cocktails or wine while getting to know each other better. Either way, their date can be a dream come true.  


Reader Recommended

Maison Akira

713 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 796-9501 

maisonakira.com


Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com


BEST SPECIAL 

OCCASION DINING

Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com

Parkway Grill was using seasonal and locally grown ingredients long before the currently fashionable farm-to-table dining movement. Opened in 1984, Parkway Grill has been an innovator in its creation of regional American cuisine. It was one of the first eateries in the Los Angeles area to install a fruitwood-burning oven, and for many years it has grown its own organic vegetables and herbs in a garden behind the restaurant. Parkway Grill is also a great place to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion. The Grill Room is available for private events, and guests can enjoy a drink in the 1920s Chicago bar that was relocated to the restaurant.  


Reader Recommended

The Raymond

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com


The Royce at The Langham Huntington

1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena 

(626) 585-6410 | roycela.com


BEST FAMILY RESTAURANT

Kabuki Japanese Restaurant

88 W. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena

(626) 568-9310 | kabukirestaurants.com

3539 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena 

(626) 351-8963

Kabuki has perfected the sorcery that converts Japanese cuisine into American comfort food and transforms its restaurants into casual places for family dining. The items on its extensive menu of sushi, sashimi and other Japanese dishes are generally affordable for  families; the kids’ menu features colorful drawings of whales and other sea creatures, games and a choice of six meals priced between $6.50 and $7.50. All this plus contemporary American music and minimal Asian décor create a fun place for mom, dad and the kids to hang out. 


Reader Recommended

Conrad’s Restaurant

861 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 577-7602

820 N. Central Ave., Glendale

(818) 246-6547


IHOP

880 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 449-5226 | ihop.com

701 S. Fremont St., Alhambra

(626) 284-0458

1113 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446- 2034

605 N. Glendale Ave., Glendale

(818) 242-0922


BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK

Tops Walnut 

1792 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 584-0244 | topsburger.com

Vampires, ghouls and werewolves are not the only creatures of the night who hunt for something to eat. Humans who suffer from insomnia, work the night shift, or enjoy hanging out at odd hours also need a place to grab a late-night snack. Tops Walnut at Walnut Street and Allen Avenue is a great place for nocturnal dining. The restaurant is open until 11 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Although breakfast items are not available in the evening, late-night diners can choose from a range of burgers, burritos, salads and sandwiches.    


Reader Recommended

Conrad’s Restaurant

861 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 577-7602

820 N. Central Ave., Glendale

(818) 246-6547


Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 | luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079


BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

Mijares Mexican Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763 | mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674

Mijares will celebrate its 95th anniversary this year. Its Sunday Champagne Brunch is another cause for celebration. Sunday brunch offers an extensive buffet served in the restaurant’s patio. These items include homemade corn tortillas, tacos, enchiladas, chicken picado, carne asada, ribs, menudo, omelets, salads served with Mijares’ cilantro dressing, and desserts. Several beverages are also available, including two drinks of either champagne or mimosa for adults. Brunch is served from 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. at a cost of $25.95 for adults and $10.95 for children under 12. 


Reader Recommended

La Grande Orange Café

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com


Panda Inn

3488 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-7300 | pandainn.com 

BEST ARMENIAN FOOD

Sahara Middle Eastern Restaurant

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 

saharapasadena.com

Sahara offers a comprehensive menu of Middle Eastern cuisine for both lunch and dinner, including a variety of kebabs, shawarma and arayis (ground lamb and beef grilled in pita bread mixed with chopped onions and parsley) cooked over mesquite charcoal. Appetizers like falafel, hummus and babaghanouj; salads; and sandwiches are also available, as are two vegetarian entrees and Armenian coffee. Sahara’s Lite Lunch Plates offer a choice of kebabs or shawarma served with rice pilaf, chopped onions, tomato and pita bread at prices ranging from $5.95 to $7.95.


Reader Recommended

Mediterranean Café

275 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844

kokosmediterraneancafé.com


Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502  

zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237


BEST BAKERY

Euro Pane Bakery

345 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8804

950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 577-1828

Zagat, the company whose ratings can make or break a restaurant, praised the food at Euro Pane Bakery as “invariably first-rate,” singling out the “delectable pastries” (particularly the caramel-salt macarons), “glorious bread,” and the signature egg-salad sandwich for special recognition. The egg salad sandwich is served open-face on a slice of rosemary bread and the macarons are larger-than-normal size. Bread pudding and a selection of sandwiches and salads are among other items on the menu. 


Reader Recommended

85°C Bakery Cafe

61 S. Fair Oaks Ave. #120, Pasadena

(626) 792-8585 | 85cafe.us


Lincoln

1992 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

(626) 765-6746 | lincolnpasadena.com


BEST BBQ

Gus’s Bbq

808 S. Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-3251 | gussbbq.com

Gus’s BBQ has been in business since 1946 and in that time has gained a reputation as one of the area’s finest barbecue joints. Its meats include regional dishes like the beer-braised Texas brisket, St. Louis spare ribs, Memphis-style baby back ribs and the Carolina-style pulled pork, as well as barbecue chicken, sausage and tri-tip. Weekend breakfasts are served Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and include Gus’s “Almost Famous” Cinnamon Skillet Buns. The restaurant was remodeled in 2007, but the place maintained its distinctive neon sign with its green and red lettering and a yellow chicken. 


Reader Recommended

Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ Heaven

1280 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-0132 | bonniebssmokin.com


Robin’s Woodfire BBQ

395 N. Rosemead Ave., Pasadena

(626) 351-8885 

robinsbbq.com


BEST BREAKFAST

Marston’s Restaurant

151 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 796-2549 | mastonrestaurant.com

PW readers are not the only people who rave about Marston’s breakfasts; in 2003, Zagat rated the restaurant the No. 1 place for breakfast in Los Angeles, and in 2010 “The Food Network Magazine” praised Marston’s for serving the Best Breakfast in California. If you can endure the lines that gather each weekend outside the converted Craftsman cottage you’ll be able to savor breakfast items like French toast made with thick slices of sourdough bread and topped with fresh berries, candied pecans and whipped cream; blueberry, seven-grain or Macadamia nut pancakes; pulled pork Benedict; or what the menu describes as “Grandma’s Oatmeal Like You’ve Never Had Before,” served with raisins, cream, brown sugar and honey.


Reader Recommended

Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 | luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079


Russell’s

30 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 578-1404


BEST BUFFET

Souplantation

201 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4758 | souplantation.com

301 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia

(626) 446-4248

Diners at Souplantation choose dishes from a buffet featuring a wide range of soups and salads.  In addition to salads such as Tuna tarragon, Thai chicken noodles with peanut sauce, and Joan’s Broccoli Madness with Bacon and Cashew, the buffet contains single vegetables, like sliced carrots, cucumbers and celery. Clam chowder, split pea soup and deep kettle house chili are among the items on the soup buffet, and there is also selection of pastas, breads and other baked goods and desserts. Souplantation is popular with families because its prices are affordable and kids can see and select the foods they want to eat. 


Reader Recommended

Bollywood Masala

618 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 449-5954 | bollywoodmasalaca.com


Panda Inn

3488 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-7300  

pandainn.com

BEST BURGER

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 693-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

A restaurant named the Dog Haus, specializing in original variations on the familiar hot dog, is the last place some people would expect to find a great hamburger. But the burgers prepared at this chain have aced out formidable competition to receive this year’s honors for Best Burger. The Dog Haus uses natural, ground, Black Angus beef in its hamburgers but can substitute a veggie patty upon request. Cheeseburgers made with white American cheese; the Ringer, a combination of beef, smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, onion rings and barbecue sauce; and the Motley Bleu 20, served with “soy-raicha” onions, bleu siracha, white American cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato, are some of the restaurant’s specially designed burgers.    


Reader Recommended

In-N-Out Burger

2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

1210 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

(800) 786-1000 | www.in-n-out.com


The Counter

140 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 440-1008 | thecounterburger.com


BEST BURRITO

Burrito Express

1597 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 798-0844 

burritoexpresspasadena.com

In almost 40 years in business Burrito Express has earned a reputation as the area’s best place to eat its signature food. Its burritos are unusually big — in both size and flavor — and are served with house-made salsa and chips. In addition to the restaurant’s original twists on the familiar bean, bean and cheese, and chorizo and egg burritos there are house specialties, like the JVC Burrito, served with or without meat, a mixture of beans, rice, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce and tomatoes wrapped in a double-flour tortilla. 


Reader Recommended

King Taco

45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com


Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 | luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079


BEST CALIFORNIA CUISINE

La Grande Orange Café

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com

La Grande Orange describes its American cuisine as “commonly loved classics” that are simply cooked with a “modern point of view.” Some examples of these foods are its signature Caesar salad; shredded kale and quinoa salad; Sandy’s Green Chili Burger, made with freshly roasted green chilies and melted Tillamook cheese; and chicken, prime rib, or beef cooked on a wood-burning rotisserie. La Grande Orange is housed in a converted 1934 railroad station that is now the location of the Metro Gold Line’s Del Mar Station, so it is easily accessible by rail; valet parking and parking in the adjacent public lot (two hours free with validation) is also available.   


Reader Recommended

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170| greenstreetrestaurant.com


Tender Greens

621 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena 

(626) 405-1511 | tendergreens.com

145 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 459-4850


BEST CHINESE FOOD (TIE)

Panda Inn

3488 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-7300 | pandainn.com

Panda Inn has two Pasadena-area locations: a restaurant in Pasadena’s Hastings Ranch neighborhood and another eatery in Glendale that is currently closed for remodeling. These restaurants, as described on the Panda Inn website, aim to create “timeless Mandarin and Szechwan dishes mixed with an innovative style.” Among the items in a long list of entrees are Three Ingredient Taste (shrimp, beef, chicken breast, broccoli, mushroom and bamboo shoots in a mushroom soy sauce), Panda Beef (beef with ginger and garlic in a spicy peppercorn sauce) and Honey Walnut Shrimp. 


Yang Chow

3777 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 432-6868 | yangchow.com

Yang Chow specializes in Mandarin and Szechwan cuisine. Its signature dish is the Slippery Shrimp, so named because the shrimp, which are cooked twice in a wok, slide off the plate after they are initially cooked in cornstarch. Other house specialties include House Special Chicken (chicken cooked with shredded black mushrooms, snow peas and carrots), Yang Chow Lamb and Szechuan Chicken (chicken cooked in a spicy orange peel sauce). 


Reader Recommended

Grandview Palace

60 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-2888 | grandview-palace.com


Lunasia Dim Sum House

239 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-8822 | lunasiadimsumhouse.com


BEST CUPCAKES

Dot’s Cupcakes

400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 568-36787 | dotscupcakes.com

One Colorado, 21 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-7719

Dot’s Cupcakes describes its products as “the perfect mouthful for all kinds of occasions.” These sweet treats are baked fresh each day and come in two sizes — regular ($3 each) and mini ($1.75 each) — with a variety of icings. Some icings — like vanilla, red velvet, strawberry shortcake and chocolate — are available daily; others, like raspberry lemon, passion fruit and tiramisu, are only sold on specific days.    


Reader Recommended

Confexion Cupcakes + Cake

1 W. Dayton St., Pasadena

(626) 486-9977 | confexioncupcakes.com


Polkatots Cupcakes

720 N. Lake Ave., #3, Pasadena

(626) 798-3932 | polkatotscupcakes.com


BEST DELI/SANDWICHES 

Pasadena Sandwich Company

259 Sierra Madre Villa Ave. #102, Pasadena

(626) 578-1616 | pasadenasandwichcompany.com

Pasadena Sandwich Company is the best place to quickly grab a sandwich for lunch or to enjoy a more leisurely sandwich-based meal. Customers can choose from a list of either regular or specialty sandwiches. “Regulars” include pastrami, corned beef, smoked ham, turkey or chicken breast, and tuna sandwiches, among others. Some of the “specialties” are the Sheepherder (a triple-decker sandwich on rye bread with corned beef, pastrami, turkey breast, beef salami, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing), Veggie Supreme (lettuce, tomato, onion, bell pepper, sprouts, avocado, mustard, mayonnaise and a choice of cheese on wheat bread) and the PSC Big B (roast beef, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing on an onion roll). 


Reader Recommended

Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar

1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 529-5571 

lavenderandhoneyespresso.com


Porta Via Italian Foods

1 W. California Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-9000 | portaviafoods.com

2507 Mission St., San Marino

(626) 441-7600


BEST DESSERT

Dot’s Cupcakes

400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 568-36787 | dotscupcakes.com

One Colorado, 21 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-7719

Cupcakes were once the poor relation of desserts, lacking the panache of cakes, pies, ice cream and chocolate.  But in recent years these sweet treats have acquired a popularity and pizzazz thanks to a new generation of cupcakes that replace the traditional chocolate, strawberry and vanilla with a broader choice of icings. Dot’s Cupcakes exemplifies this trend, with creative icing flavors such as dulce de leche, carrot, raspberry lemon, hazelnut crunch, black forest, passion fruit and blueberry cheesecake. Dot’s also creates edible centerpieces and elaborately decorated cupcakes for weddings, parties and other special events.      


Reader Recommended

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 | amarachocolate.com


Confexion Cupcakes + Cake

1 W. Dayton St., Pasadena

(626) 486-9977 | confexioncupcakes.com


The Pie Hole

59 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 765-6315 | thepieholela.com


BEST DIM SUM

Lunasia Dim Sum House

239 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-8822 | lunasiadimsumhouse.com

Dim sum is a traditional style of Cantonese cuisine comprising small, bite-sized portions of food typically served with tea. Lunasia Dim Sum House, a Chinese restaurant that opened in Pasadena this January, features what its website describes as “Hong Kong style dim sum with a modern twist,” as well as traditional Chinese cuisine. Some of the dim sum morsels are steamed, such as the chicken buns, chicken feet, spare ribs with black bean sauce, minced chicken buns, vegetable dumplings and golden egg yolk buns. Other dim sum are baked or deep fried, like the shrimp egg rolls, veggie bean curd rolls and the deep-fried almond crusted fish.  Lunasia also provides several types of tea to accompany its dim sum.   

Reader Recommended

Din Tai Fung

The Americana at Brand

177 Caruso Ave., Glendale

(818) 551-5561 | dintaifungusa.com

1088 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 574-7068


King Hua Restaurant

2000 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-8833 | kinghuarestaurant.com


BEST FRENCH FOOD

Maison Akira

713 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 796-9501 | maisonakira.com

Maison Akira is anything but the typical French restaurant. Chef Akira Hirose creates original dishes with elements of both French and Japanese cooking, which means diners can select either the French-style onion soup gratinee or a Japanese-influenced dashi broth with Hokkaido scallops and Manila clams. The restaurant’s signature dishes include the miso marinated grilled Chilean sea bass and the roasted rack of lamb in a rosemary sauce. Maison Akira also prepares four- and six-course meals: the Four Course Escoffier Menu costs $52 per person for food and $78 for food plus three glasses of wine; the Six Course Epicurean Menu is priced at $78 for food and $118 for food and three glasses of wine.


Reader Recommended

Bistro de la Gare

921 Meridian Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-8828 | bistgrodelagare.com


Café Bizou

91 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9923 | cafebizou.com


BEST FRIED CHICKEN

Major Dave’s Chicken

163 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 460-8730 | majordaveschicken.com

Major Dave’s has elevated the preparation of fried chicken to a new art form, using a recipe perfected over many years by owner Dave Caldwell and his father. The restaurant serves its signature dish in a variety of ways—fried chicken salad, fried chicken sandwiches and chicken strip combos. Add a beverage and the side dishes that are freshly made each day — like the creamy cole slaw, Bourbon baked beans, whipped garlic cauliflower, and toasted Brussel sprouts and bacon — and you’ll  have an enchanted dining experience. 


Reader Recommended

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-4890  

roscoeschickenandwaffles.com


BEST HEALTH/ORGANIC FOOD

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com

Real Food Daily restaurant serves what it describes as “organic plant-based” cuisine that is “balanced according to Eastern health philosophies and heart-healthy Western nutrition recommendations.” That means organic vegetables, fruit and whole grains, and food without meat, dairy, eggs, butter, cholesterol, saturated fats, pesticides, preservatives and artificial ingredients. Sandwiches, burgers, tacos and burritos are made with tempeh, tempeh bacon, tofu, or mushroom patties, and diners can order a dish prepared with their choice of vegetables, beans, grains and plant proteins. 


Reader Recommended

Grassroots Natural Market & Kitchen

1119 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-0156 | grassrootsnmk.com


Tender Greens

621 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena 

(626) 405-1511 | tendergreens.com

145 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 459-4850


Whole Foods Market

465 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 204-2266 | wholefoodsmarket.com

3751 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 351-5994

331 N. Glendale Ave., Glendale

(818) 548-3695

207 Goode Ave., Glendale

(818) 548-5248


BEST HOT DOG

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 693-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

The Dog Haus is a culinary Cinderella story. Founders Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and Andre Vener opened a Pasadena restaurant serving specially crafted, 100 percent all-beef, skinless hot dogs in 2010. Their eatery was a big success and resulted in the creation of a national franchise, with additional restaurants in California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah. While the Dog Haus also captured this year’s honors for Best Burger, its signature hot dogs are the mainstay of its business. Some of these specialties include the Sooo Cali hotdog served with wild arugula, spicy basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado and tomato; Downtown Dog, a smoked-bacon-wrapped hot dog with caramelized onions, roasted bell peppers, mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup; the smoked-bacon-wrapped Old Town Dog, served with caramelized onions, roasted jalapenos, chipotle mayo and cotija cheese; and Tae Kwon Dog, prepared with bulgogi glaze, kimchi, fried egg and Korean chili powder.


Reader Recommended

Motordogs

1265 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 486-2256  

modoggs.com


Slaw Dogs

720 N. Lake Ave. #8, Pasadena

(626) 808-9777 

theslawdogs.com

Meat District Co.

69 N Raymond Ave, Pasadena,

(626) 765-9902 | meantdistrictcompany.com


BEST ICE CREAM/

YOGURT/GELATO

Carmela Ice Cream

2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 797-1405 | carmelaicecream.com

Carmela’s artisanal ice creams and sorbets are hand-made from a variety of farmers’ market produce. The store’s founders, Zachary Cox and Jessica Mortarotti, have created a number of one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, such as salted caramel, lavender honey, strawberry buttermilk, brown sugar cacao nib, mint cacao nib and brown sugar vanilla bean. The seasonal sorbets are equally creative and include flavors like heirloom tomato, cucumber, cantaloupe and raspberry rose. In addition to operating stores in Pasadena and Los Angeles, Cox and Mortarotti  provide catering services and teach ice cream-making classes at their Pasadena location.    


Reader Recommended

Bulgarini Gelato

749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena

(626) 627-7640 | bulgarinigelato.com


Yogurtland

30 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-0808 | yogurt-land.com

415 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4868

5054 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock

(323) 550-1490

1 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

(626) 289-3420

633 W. Duarte Rd., Arcadia

(626) 821-8723


BEST INDEPENDENT 

COFFEE HOUSE

Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar

1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 529-5571 

lavenderandhoneyespresso.com

Charlie and Melanie Porter, the owners of Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar, opened their boutique coffee bar and deli so they could share their love of coffee culture with the local community. Their coffee house serves several types of coffee: drip, café au lait, French press, pour over and cold brew; some of the espresso bar offerings include salted caramel latte, honey bee latte, French lavender breve, and cappuccino; and there’s a selection of teas and hot and cold chocolate drinks. Lavender & Honey’s beverages can be accompanied by the sandwiches, salads and toasts available at the restaurant, including the L&H (toast with goat cheese, dried lavender and honey drizzle) and the Pasadena (toast with avocado, lemon juice and red jalapeno).


Reader Recommended

Copa Vida

70 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 213-3952 | copa-vida.com


Jones Coffee Roasters

693 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 564-9291 | thebestcoffee.com


BEST INDIAN FOOD

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 400-0309 | allindiacafe.com

True to its name, All India Café serves cuisine from places throughout the Indian subcontinent, offering a curry, dal (lentil), vegetable special and rice of the day. Among the house specialties are Bombay Chicken (chicken poached with onion, ginger, green chilies and spices that is then sautéed with dry mango powder), Chicken Tikka Masala (Tandoori-cooked chicken served in a cream sauce with onion, ginger and fenugreek leaves) and Masala Dosa (a South Indian crepe made with rice and lentil flour, filled with spiced potatoes and served with a lentil soup and coconut chutney). The enchantment that comes from eating these and other dishes is enhanced by the restaurant’s waiters and other employees, who were voted this year’s Best Restaurant Staff.     


Reader Recommended

Akbar Cuisine of India

44 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-9916 | akbarcuisineofindia.com


Mint Leaf Indian Cuisine

2535 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 460-8776 | mintleafpasadena.com


BEST ITALIAN FOOD

Celestino Ristorante & Bar

141 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-4006 | celestinopasadena.com

Celestino’s website explains that the restaurant prepares “authentic Italian cuisine” served in “an elegantly casual environment.” This is a winning combination for the restaurant, which once again has been honored for its Best Italian Food. In addition to the lunch and dinner entrees, the menu contains a lengthy wine list and a number of scrumptious-sounding desserts. Celestino’s has a bar and three rooms, including a garden patio, for parties and events.  


Reader Recommended

Gale’s Restaurant

452 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 432-6705 | galesrestaurant.com


Mi Piace

25 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-3131 | mipiace.com


BEST JAPANESE FOOD/SUSHI

Kabuki Japanese Restaurant

88 W. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena

(626) 568-9310 | kabukirestaurants.com

3539 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena 

(626) 351-8963

According to its website, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant aims to provide “sushi for all mankind,” and make “non-believers into believers that Japanese cuisine is the new comfort food.” To that end, its menu includes an extensive selection of sushi and sashimi, prepared with almost every kind of fish as well as egg, shrimp and crab. There are also numerous sushi rolls, ranging from the well-known California roll to the lesser-known Philadelphia roll, as well as Kabuki’s specialty rolls, like the Hawaiian, rose, Baja, and gold rush rolls. 


Reader Recommended

Oba Sushi Izakaya

181 E. Glenarm St., Pasadena

(626) 799-8543 | obasushi.com


Sushi Roku

One Colorado

33 Miller Alley, Pasadena

(626) 683-3000 | innovativedining.com


BEST JUICE BAR

Pressed Juicery

59 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 696-3593 | pressedjuicery.com

The Americana at Brand

132 Caruso Ave., Glendale

(818) 247-2034  

For the founders of Pressed Juicery, cold-pressed juices and juice cleansers are not just drinks; they are magic charms leading to good health and happiness. On their company’s website, the founders proclaim that “Juicing changed our lives.”  Their gospel has spread to Pasadena-area juicers, who voted Pressed Juicery this year’s Best Juice Bar. The company offers a wide variety of juices, including several drinks made with fruits and celery, cucumber, kale, romaine and other vegetables; juices made with citrus fruits and nuts; coffee; and water. More conventional drinkers can order the classic orange juice.   


Reader Recommended

Jamba Juice

64 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 666-1500 | jambajuice.com

204 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-5200

3595 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 3510-4333

1101 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-1775 

1131 S. Fremont Ave., Suite B, Alhambra

(626) 588-2490

The Americana at Brand

761 Americana Way, Glendale

(818) 956-8971

5033 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock

(323) 349-0670


Juice Served Here

57 E. Holly St., Pasadena

(626) 578-0101 | juiceservedhere.com


Nekter Juice Bar

345 S. Lake Ave. #110, Pasadena

(818) 928-3300 | nekterjuicebar.com


BEST KOREAN FOOD

Gaon Authentic Korean Bbq Restaurant 

2063 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 796-9604 | gaonrestaurant.com

Gaon’s prepares its signature barbecued meats in its kitchen or at diners’ tables, which are equipped with barbecue grills. Barbecue entrees include dung sim (prime rib-eye steak), sang galbi (unseasoned prime short ribs), kot sal (thinly sliced unseasoned boneless short ribs), prime galbi (prime short ribs marinated in the special house sauce) and bulgogi (thinly sliced prime beef, marinated in the house special sauce). The menu also includes appetizers, noodle dishes and traditional Korean entrees. 


Reader Recommended

Gen Korean BBQ

68 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 407-2858 | genkoreanbbq.com


Gyu Kaku Japanese BBQ

70 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 405-4842 | gyu-kaku.com


Young Dong Tofu

1311 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 445-0078

927 E. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel

(626) 286-6031 


BEST LOCAL BREWERY

Craftsman Brewing Co.

1260 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

(626) 29602537 | craftsmanbrewing.com

Long before dozens of local breweries were operating in former Torrance warehouses and almost every restaurant in the Los Angeles area was touting its selection of artisanal ales, Mark Jilg was producing award-winning craft beers at his Pasadena brewery. Among the many products created by the Craftsman Brewing Co. are its flagship 1903 Lager, Heavenly Hefe (a Bavarian style wheat beer), Orange Grove Ale (a fruit beer), Triple White Sage (a spice and herb beer), Rye Pale Ale and Smoked Black Lager.  


Golden Road Brewing

5410 W. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles

(213) 542-6039 | goldenroad.la


BEST LOCAL PIZZA

The Luggage Room

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4440 | theluggageroom.com

This aptly named pizzeria is located in the 1934 luggage room of the former Del Mar Station, now the site of La Grande Orange Café. The Luggage Room’s pizzas are baked in an olive-wood-burning oven and can be ordered with either the traditional fermented crust or with gluten-free crust. Diners can choose from one of the restaurant’s own creations or make their own pizzas with a selection of ingredients that includes homemade mozzarella, house-made Italian sausages, chilies, fennel, spinach, fennel, egg and burrata (a fresh cheese made with mozzarella and cream). The restaurant regularly hosts special events, including Neighborhood Nights on Mondays and Tuesdays, when diners who order one pizza and whose IDs list a local zip code can purchase a second pizza for only $6.   


Reader Recommended

Blaze Pizza

667 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 440-7358 | blazepizza.com

990 Town Center Drive, LaCanada 

Flintridge

(818) 790-8900

Glendale Galleria

100 West Broadway, Glendale

(818) 662-8777


Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana

625 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 765-9550 | settebello.net


BEST MEDITERRANEAN FOOD

Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844 | kokosmediterraneancafe.com 

One of several restaurants on Shoppers Lane near South Lake Avenue, Mediterranean Café offers a variety of grilled meat dishes, including chicken, beef and lamb kebabs and chicken shawarma, as well as pita-wrapped sandwiches. This is a great place for vegetarians, who can have their choice of several salads, the vegetarian combo plate, and Mediterranean dishes like falafel, hummus, babaghanouj and stuffed grape leaves. 


Reader Recommended

Café Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 

cafesantorini.com


Heidar Baba

1511 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-7970 | heidarbaba.com


BEST MEXICAN FOOD

Mijares Mexican Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763 | mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674 

Just about everyone who lives in Pasadena has heard of Mijares, the city’s oldest Mexican restaurant, owned and operated by the Mijares family since 1920. Mijares serves a traditional Mexican breakfast throughout the day and the Palmetto Drive location is a popular place for banquets and business lunches. Some of the Mexican dishes are Mijares’ variations on popular items like guacamole and menudo. In addition, Mijares boasts it is the home of the Sauza “Spa” Margarita, a concoction made with Sauza Margarita and Gold Tequila, mixed with Splenda sugar substitute, with only 125 calories and no carbs. The Spa is one of more than a dozen margaritas available on the bar menu.  


Reader Recommended

El Patron

2555 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 296-2818 | elpatrononline.com

El Portal

695 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 795-8553 | elportalrestaurant.com


BEST MIDDLE EASTERN 

FOOD (TIE)

Heidar Baba

1511 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-7970 | heidarbaba.com

This restaurant takes its name from “Heidar Baba,” a poem in which Shahriyar, one of Iran’s greatest poets, describes life in the country life near the foot of Heidar Baba Mountain. On their website, the owners of Heidar Baba say they want to serve Persian food that will transport diners to the foot of the mountain and experience some of the feelings in the poem. Among the Iranian dishes are koobideh (skewers of seasoned ground beef, chicken or lamb with grated onion, cooked on an open fire) barg (marinated tender cuts of filet mignon), kebabs, special Iranian stews and special rice dishes. 


Sahara Middle Eastern Restaurant

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 | saharapasadena.com

Sahara, also voted the area’s Best Armenian Restaurant, has operated in Pasadena since 1992 and serves a variety of Middle Eastern cuisine for lunch and dinner. The menu features beef, lamb and chicken kebabs; arayis (ground lamb and beef grilled in pita bread with chopped onions and parsley); hummus, falafel, babaghanouj and other appetizers; salads; sandwiches; and vegetarian plates. Lite Lunch Plates, at prices ranging from $5.95 to $7.95, are also available.   


Reader Recommended

U Pick Café

720 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 808-9802 | pasadenaupickcafe.com


Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237


BEST SALAD

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170| greenstreetrestaurant.com

For many Pasadena area diners, the words “Green Street Restaurant” are synonymous with the words “Dianne Salad,” the eatery’s signature dish. The Dianne is a combination of chicken, Asian noodles, toasted almonds, sesame seeds and shredded lettuce served with the restaurant’s homemade dressing. The Kale Dianne, a recent variation on the classic, replaces the lettuce with kale. Among Green Street’s other salads are the Quinoa and Black Bean Fiesta Salad (tri-colored quinoa, black and garbanzo beans, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and avocado dressed with citrus vinaigrette), the Arroyo Salad (black beans, avocado, red onion, red bell peppers, corn, cotija cheese, tortilla strips and romaine in a lime vinaigrette) and the Cornucopia Salad (greens tossed with chicken breast, avocado, raisins, dried cranberries, apples. mandarin oranges, green onions, toasted almonds and blue cheese crumbles served with citrus blue cheese vinaigrette). 


Reader Recommended

Souplantation

201 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4758 | souplantation.com

301 E. Huntington Drive, Arcadia

(626) 446-4248


Tender Greens

621 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena 

(626) 405-1511 | tendergreens.com

145 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 459-4850


BEST SEAFOOD

Cameron’s Seafood 

1978 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 79303474 | camerons4fish.com

For the past 31 years local residents have come to Cameron’s to enjoy its extensive menu of fine-quality seafood. The seafood is prepared in a variety of ways — in hot and cold appetizers, salads and sandwiches, or is fried, mesquite-grilled, or pan-crusted and baked. Scampi-style shrimp and scallops are also available, as are lobster and crab entrees. In addition to lunch and dinner, Cameron’s serves Sunday brunch, featuring Manhattan or New England clam chowder and a selection of seafood entrees, served from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for $32 per person.    


Reader Recommended

Nikka Fish & Grill

43 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 440-0100 | nikkafishgrill.com

Spinfish Poke House

36 W. Colorado Blvd., Suite 7, Pasadena

(626) 585-0988 | spinfishla.com


BEST SOUL FOOD

Big Mama’s Rib Shack & 

Southern Cooking

1453 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 797-1792 | bigmamaspasadena.com

Big Mama’s is as good as it gets for soul food — the best Southern-style food west of Louisiana. Here you can find gumbo and jambalaya; po’boy sandwiches; blackened, fried or Creole-style chicken; barbecue beef and pork entrees; Louisiana hotlinks served over red beans, rice and grilled onions; and seafood entrees, including blackened, grilled or fried catfish. Collard greens, corn bread, dirty rice, fried okra, hush puppies and black-eyed peas are among the side dishes, and there’s sweet potato pie, apple cobbler and other goodies for dessert.   


Reader Recommended

Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-4890  

roscoeschickenandwaffles.com


BEST SOUTH AMERICAN FOOD

Malbec

1001 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0550 

malbeccuisine.com

Malbec, named after the signature grape of Argentina’s most popular wine, was opened in 2008 by three young Argentinian entrepreneurs — Pablo and Luciano Alcorta and Javier Pardini. According to the restaurant’s website, Malbec “isn’t just about Argentine cuisine. The owners also want to stay on the cutting edge of Argentine cuisine, offering traditional dishes, while also fusing the various cultures of Argentina to create new ones.” In addition to Argentine wines, Malbec features a selection of grilled steaks cooked on a wood-fired grill and homemade pastas, among other items. The restaurant also hosts Happy Hours weekdays from 4 to 6:30 p.m. and serves Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  


Reader Recommended

1810 Argentinean Restaurant

121 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-5658 | 1810restaurant.com


Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 | amarachocolate.com


BEST SPANISH FOOD

Racion

119 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 396-3090 | racionrestaurant.com

Racion describes itself as a “modern small plates restaurant” that was “conceived in the spirit of the avant garde and great tapas traditions of the Basque region of Spain.” It serves only tapas that are specially created by the staff.  Among these dishes are the lamb meatballs cooked in Basque cider, picon and licorice greens; chilled corn and shrimp chowder with blueberries; milk-poaches asparagus in black garlic and wild-mushroom butter; and beer-braised octopus, local squid and chorizo with Asturian white beans. The menu also includes a wide choice of wine, beer, sherry and cider. 


Reader Recommended

Bar Celona

46 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1000 | barcelonapasadena.com


BEST STEAKHOUSE

Arroyo Chop House

536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463 | arroyochophouse.com

Arroyo Chop House provides what it calls “a modern take on the classic American steakhouse” and claims to be the only restaurant in the San Gabriel/San Fernando valleys that serves only USDA. prime beef — the highest grade available. Diners can choose the filet mignon, T-bone, porterhouse, New York, Kansas City rib-eye and other cuts of steak, as well as several cuts of Japanese-breed Wagyo cattle, at prices ranging from $41 to $110. In addition to steaks, the menu features seafood, chicken, veal chops, lamb chops and salads. 


Reader Recommended

Houston’s

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001 | hillstone.com/houstons


Ruth’s Chris Steak House

369 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 583-8122 | ruthschris.com

BEST TACO

King Taco

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com

115-117 E. Broadway Ave., Glendale

(818) 409-0172

King Taco, a Los Angeles-based restaurant chain, recently opened its 22nd eatery in Glendale. The Pasadena restaurant has long been a favorite place for tacos, with each order containing two warm corn tortillas filled with a choice of meat, freshly chopped onion and cilantro, and King Taco’s own salsa for $1.45 plus tax. Tamales, burritos, rotisserie chicken, nachos and quesadillas are also available, as are sopes — a crispy, thick cornmeal shell that holds a choice of meat, refried beans, shredded cabbage, cotija cheese and salsa.   


Reader Recommended

La Estrella

502 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-8559 

330 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-2752


Los Tacos

1 W. California Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-9291 

lostacos.com


BEST TEA ROOM

Chado Tea Room

79 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 431-2832 

chadotea.com

A tea party can be a mad affair, like the one described in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” But tea time at the Chado Tea Room is a much saner occasion than Lewis Carroll’s classic fantasy. Chado serves more than 300 types of specialty teas from throughout the world, including varieties of black, white, green, flavored, red bush, oolong, organic and chai tea. Salads, sandwiches and soups are also available, along with desserts like scones or slices of cake that are especially good with a hot cup of tea. Reservations for the afternoon tea, which features a selection of scones and sandwiches, can be made by calling the restaurant


Reader Recommended

Bird Pick Tea & Herb

10 S. Delacey Ave., Pasadena

(626) 773-4372 

birdpick.com


Tea Rose Garden

70 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 578-1144  

rosegarden.wordpress.com


BEST THAI FOOD (TIE)

Daisy Mint

1218 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 792-2999 | daisymint.com

People who eat at Daisy Mint rave about the great service and delicious food. Some of the more popular menu items are the curries (Pananjg, green jungle, red devil, yellow chicken, and pineapple);  pad see ew noodles; Daisy Noodles (rice noodles with red curry, egg, crispy onions, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts); salmon and a lime leaf cooked in red curry sauce; and the Daisy Salmon (salmon steak broiled in creamy cilantro sauce).   


Saladang Song

363 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 793-8123

Saladang offers authentic Thai food, such as spicy green and yellow curry, pad thai prepared omelet style and nam-parik Saladang Song (a liquid paste made with kiwi, mushrooms, garlic, onion and chili used for dipping vegetables and grilled salmon and eaten together with rice). Other items on the menu include Thai-style teas and coffees, breakfast items, spicy seafood entrees and one-dish rice meals. 


Reader Recommended

President Thai

498 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

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


BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD

Veggie Grill

200 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 535-9561 | veggiegrill.com

Veggie Grill describes its chain of restaurants as “meat free zones,” where vegetables are “rock stars” and food is prepared with blends of whole grains and vegetarian alternatives to chicken, meat and fish. Some items are made with tofu or tempeh, like the B.T.L.A. sandwich, which contains tempeh bacon, or the Glazed Tofu Banh Mi sandwich. Not surprisingly, this is a great place for salads, such as the Quinoa Power Salad, the Savory Kale Caesar, and “All Hail Kale,”  a  mixture of marinated kale, quinoa, red cabbage slaw, tomato corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts and ginger papaya vinaigrette.   


Reader Recommended

My Vegan

633 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 578-9017 | myveganrestaurant.com


Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com


BEST VIETNAMESE FOOD

Saigon Noodle Restaurant

28 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-9378 

Saigon Noodle Restaurant has once again been voted the most “pho-nomenal” Vietnamese eatery. It is best known for its warm, tasty bowls of pho — a noodle soup consisting of broth, rice noodles, herbs and chicken or beef. The menu also offers a variety steamed rice, vermicelli and egg noodle dishes, as well as spring rolls, crispy Vietnamese egg rolls and other appetizers.   


Blue Hen

1743 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock

(323) 982-9900 

eatbluehen.com


BEST WINGS

Buffalo Wild Wings

1000 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 993-6400 | buffalowildwings.com

The Buffalo Wild Wings chain attributes its success to three words listed on its website: Wings, Beer and Sports. The chain’s franchises, including the one in Pasadena, are designed for sports fans that come to watch TV sports programs, drink beer and eat chicken wings. Customers have their choice of either traditional or boneless, white-meat wings topped with a wide selection of sauces and seasonings. There’s a topping for every taste, ranging from the mild to the trademarked “Blazin’.” Diners who prefer not to eat chicken wings can order other items, such as burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, salads and desserts.  


Reader Recommended

Alondra Hot Wings

2675 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(323) 274-1025  

alondrawings.com

515 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 576-7119


Hot Wings Café

89 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 449-9055 | hotwingscafe.net

314 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 247-4455