Tricks & Treats

Tricks & Treats

Remember childhood, when you put on your costume and hit up the neighbors for Halloween treats? Word was out among the kids on which houses gave out the best goodies: Snickers, Hershey bars, packages of orange and black jelly beans and such. And some would surprise you with incredible homemade stuff — fresh-baked cookies, caramel apples and even warm cider. 

The restaurants that win the Pasadena Weekly’s Best of Pasadena voting each year are kind of like the houses we knew to visit on Halloween — most treat their visitors with high quality traditional food guaranteed to please; others surprise with innovative delicacies. Both kinds have garnered enough loyal fans to stand apart from their peers and, with any luck, “live long and prosper” as my favorite Vulcan used to say. 

As for tricks, the only ones on display are those of the chefs, proprietors and waitstaff who create the voters’ outstanding dining experiences. There’s nary a call among those who send in their ballots for TPing or soaping the windows of any of the 61 winners (or 122 runners-up), and my guess is servers who work in our winners are rarely tricked out of tips. 

It’s impossible to focus on all the winners in this introduction, but a few can be singled out for mention. This year’s Best Restaurant is Union, where chef Bruce Kalman has created “a deeply personal, seasonally Californian interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine” according to the website. Kalman’s culinary wizardry is profound. His results? Magical!

And speaking of wizards, our Best Chef (for the second year in a row) is Claud Beltran. He’s not only a creator of innovative and excellent cuisine but also a master performer, juggling three entirely different and highly successful restaurants (The Eatery on Allen, Bacchus’ Kitchen and Perry’s in the DusitD2 Hotel Constance) as well as a thriving catering business (Claud & Co.) at once.

The Best New Restaurant is Sierra Madre’s Sierra Fusion, less than five months old. Owners are Joseph Ungrue, born in Hawaii of a Filipino mother and Indian-Greek father, and his Latina wife Christina Duarte. Both have extensive experience in prestigious restaurants specializing in Japanese, Korean and Spanish cuisines plus combinations thereof. Their baby’s richly diverse menu draws from all these roots and others. PS – sushi too!

The venerable Raymond again won top honors as the Best Romantic Restaurant — no surprise there. And it also shared top billing with Parkway Grill as the Best Special Occasion venue. Other multiple winners: All India Café (Best Indian Food and Best Restaurant Staff), Dog Haus (Best Hot Dog, Best Burger and Best Cheap Eats) and Amara Chocolate & Coffee (Best Dessert, Best Independent Coffee House and Best South American Food).

The restaurants mentioned above and the many others listed below have mastered all the “tricks of the trade” necessary to provide the “treats” you hope for in the Best of Pasadena area dining. No need to dress in costume or even tie or heels. Just check below for (as J.K. Rowling might phrase it) fantastic food and where to find it. 

 

BEST RESTAURANT

Union

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com

Union, located in the heart of Old Pasadena, is the brainchild of Chef Bruce Kalman and Marie Petulla, who built the 50-seat restaurant and bar, specializing in a seasonally Californian interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine. Together they’ve created an intimate neighborhood restaurant. Says General Manager Francis Castagnetti Jr., “Everyone who works here comes from a fine dining background, but we’re all super laid back. [We] all work in tandem to create the best dining experience possible. This is a dream team. We all have a massive amount of respect for what Marie and Bruce have built and for each other.”


Reader Recommended

Houston’s

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

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


Parkway Grill

510 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com



BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Sierra Fusion

120 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., 

Sierra Madre

(626) 355-3030 | sierrafusion.com

Our Best New Restaurant is the by-product of not so much a fusion of foods, which they specialize in, but of people: owners Christina Duarte, a 2011 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, and her husband, Joseph Ungrue. The couple, with extensive experience in the restaurant trade, first met while working at top-ranked hotels in Las Vegas. It wasn’t long before they decided to head home to Southern California and start their own business. “Working in Vegas and experiencing the fast-paced kitchen and learning the many different cuisines prepared Christina and her fiancé to run their own restaurant,” their website explains.


Reader Recommended

Paul Martin’s American Grill

The Shops on Lake Avenue

455 S. Lake Ave., No. 102, Pasadena

(626) 773-7600 

paulmartinsamericangrill.com


Perry’s by Claud Beltran

DusitD2 Hotel Constance  

928 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 898-7900 

dusit.com/dusitd2/pasadena/dining/



BEST CHEF

Claud Beltran

Perry’s by Claud Beltran

928 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 898-7900 

dusit.com/dusitd2/Pasadena/dining

Bacchus’ Kitchen

1384 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 594-6377 | bacchuskitchen.com

The Eatery on Allen

488 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena

(626) 688-7256 | eateryonallen.com

From catering and changing the theme at his restaurant every month to opening new places like Perry’s by Claud Beltran at the dusitD2 Constance Hotel, award-winning Chef Claud Beltran juggles it all with a seemingly supernatural ease. Had it been a different era, he probably would have been accused of sorcery, but today, his talent, creativity and drive are the reasons why people simply love the epicurean delights he creates in his laboratories, er, kitchens, voting him this year’s Best Chef. 


Reader Recommended

Bruce Kalman

Union 

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com


Tara Punzone

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com



BEST RESTAURANT STAFF 

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 | allindiacafeca.com

A good restaurant is known for more than its food. But you don’t need to be psychic to know what makes a good restaurant great, and that’s its staff. Few restaurants in Pasadena know this fact of business life better than the folks at All India Café. It seems each year All India delivers an almost supernatural level of great service to its customers, so much so they’ve won this award — along with Best Indian Restaurant — many times over the years. Here, diners are treated like welcome guests, with the wait staff patiently describing the delicious food to those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine. You might say the service here is so good it’s scary.


Reader Recommended

Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar

1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 529-5571 

lavanderandhoneyespresso.com


Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com



BEST BUSINESS LUNCH

Smitty’s Grill

110 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9999 | smittysgrill.com

For anyone looking to strike a deal with the devil, an angel, or just another businessperson, Smitty’s Grill is cooking up American classics and comfort food sure to tame the most unlikely creatures with their virtually supernatural touch on old favorites. Whether it is a traditional chicken pot pie or a seafood special, or maybe that special ambience that casts the whole place in a warm, welcoming glow, Smitty’s atmosphere and comfort-food cuisine make customers feel right at home. 


Reader Recommended

Del Frisco’s Grille

55 S. Lake Ave., Suite 150, Pasadena

(626) 765-9913 | delfriscosgrille.com


Houston’s

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001 

hillstone.com/houstons



BEST CHEAP EATS

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

Eating out on a budget can be a nightmare. However, at Dog Haus, one can get filled up comfortably without murdering his or her wallet. Founded by partners Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and Andre Vener, Dog Haus opened in 2010 in Pasadena, serving specially crafted, all-beef dogs. The idea proved so popular that today there are outlets in California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah. And what a value it is, with the local startup also a one-stop shop, winning for Best Burger and Best Hot Dog.  


Reader Recommended                      

In-N-Out Burger

2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

1210 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

(800) 786-1000 

in-n-out.com


Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 | luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079



BEST OUTDOOR DINING

Café Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 | cafesantorini.com

Since 1993, Café Santorini has been an ideal setting for corporate functions and personal celebrations. Operating out of a historic brick building in Old Pasadena, Café Santorini specializes in grilled meats, seafood dishes, an array of pastas and family-style appetizer platters; complete with a full bar and an extensive wine list — the perfect menu to quell the ever-needy hunger monster. While the indoor dining room is cozy, the outdoor patio offers year-round dining under the stars and moon in a romantic rooftop setting. 


Reader Recommended

El Portal Restaurant

695 E. Green St, Pasadena

(626) 795-8553 | elportalrestaurant.com


Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170 

greenstreetrestaurant.com


La Grande Orange Café

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com



BEST ROMANTIC
RESTAURANT

The Raymond

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com

In another time The Raymond might be considered the perfect place to take shelter from a frightening storm or a menacing full moon. It’s certainly a comforting and romantic place, where couples can dine and drink in the ambience of one of Pasadena’s finest eateries, featuring American cuisine with international influences created by Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan, as well as craft cocktails concocted at the bar in the back.  


Reader Recommended

Altaeats 

1860 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-1162 | altaeats.com


Bistro 45

45 S. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-2478 | bistro45.com

Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com



BEST SPECIAL
OCCASION DINING (TIE)

The Raymond

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com

The Raymond is not only the Best Romantic Restaurant but also the best place to celebrate a special occasion, and for good reason. The place is steeped in local history, first built as a caretaker’s cottage for the 300-room Raymond Hotel, which fell victim to the Great Depression in 1931 and was demolished. But the cottage remained, later turned into a restaurant and bar, 1886 (the year the hotel was first built by Walter Raymond). Today, The Raymond features an innovative menu in a casual-fine dining setting. 


Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com

In a town where celebrating major events is practically a civic duty, being named the Best Place to Celebrate Special Occasions is really quite an honor. And while many restaurants are great locations for parties, Parkway Grill puts an extra exclamation point on the festivities. Specializing in a seasonal, market-driven approach to cooking that incorporates diverse influences and classic French technique, Parkway Grill was voted “One of America’s Top Tables” by Gourmet magazine and “One of Southern California’s most popular restaurants” by the Zagat Survey. Comprised of more than 3,000 bottles, Parkway’s award-winning wine cellar has been recognized by Wine Spectator since 1999 with their “Award of Excellence” award.


Reader Recommended 

Alexander’s Steakhouse 

111 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena

(626) 486-1111 | alexanderssteakhouse.com


Arroyo Chop House

536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463 | arroyochophouse.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

When you walk into a Kabuki, they promise you won’t be overwhelmed with Asian decor and music. What you will encounter, according to the restaurant’s website, “is a casual atmosphere with today’s hottest music playing, people smiling and our friendly staff welcoming you through the doors.” The restaurant’s mission “is to be the leader in the Japanese restaurant industry. We are committed to satisfying our customers completely with the best quality food, excellent service and great value while providing the most pleasant, clean ambiance.” It’s just the kind of upbeat, forward-thinking place where the whole family can enjoy dinner together.


Reader Recommended

Islands

Paseo Colorado

300 E. Colorado Blvd., No. 240 

(626) 304-9050 

islandsrestaurants.com

3533 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena 

(626) 351-6543


Stonefire Grill

473 N. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 921-1255 

stonefiregrill.com



BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK

Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 

luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079

Is there such a thing as too much bacon? Not at Lucky Boy’s. “The charred burgers come with mild onions, grilled upon request, lettuce, and the biggest tomato you have ever seen. The buns are toasted on the grill, a nice old-school touch. The chili is meaty and not too spicy, a perfect addition to the burger,” writes the online food critic LAist. However, “If you desire monster breakfast burritos, burgers, bacon, bacon, and, um, bacon, then Lucky Boy is the place for you.”


Reader Recommended

Du-pars Restaurant & Bakery

214 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 405-8820 | Open 24 hours



King Taco

King Taco

45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com



BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

La Grande Orange

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com

Whether it’s a birthday, Mother’s Day, a graduation or some other special occasion, there’s no better way to celebrate than over weekend brunch. And there is no better place to enjoy that special meal — even if there isn’t a special occasion on the calendar — than La Grande Orange. “For brunch I really enjoy their huevos rancheros. They are so delicious and fresh. They make everything fresh,” raves a fan on Yelp. “Luckily, it’s right in front of the Gold Line (Del Mar Station),” says another enthusiast. “So if you want to Metro it, you can have as much [to drink] as you’d like!” 


Reader Recommended

Lincoln Café & Store

1992 Lincoln Ave, Pasadena

(626) 765-6746 | lincolnpasadena.com


Mijares Mexican Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763 

mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674 



BEST ARMENIAN FOOD

Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237

With a legendary tale spanning over 50 years, no crystal ball was needed to predict Zankou Chicken’s win for Best Armenian Food. Although originally known for their chicken, now, with an expanded menu, anyone can sink their teeth into their current bill of fare. However, be forewarned: It is their garlic sauce that is sure to leave every vampire in the dark and every good soul coming back seeking culinary sanctuary. 


Reader Recommended 

DeLuxe Café

1717 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 765-9486 

deluxepasadena.com


Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844 

kokosmediterraneancafé.com


Sahara Middle Eastern 

Restaurant

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 | saharapasadena.com



BEST ASIAN FOOD

Sierra Fusion

120 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., 

Sierra Madre

(626) 355-3030 | sierrafusion.com

Sierra Fusion was born out of a true lover’s tale, one that created fare worthy of a double feature. The soon-to-be-married owners’ training is full of Las Vegas neon nostalgia, working at old haunts like the Bellagio Hotel and the unreal La Cave Wine and Tapas Bar. From customizable Bento to the wide selection of sushi, Sierra Fusion’s food will pleasantly surprise most taste buds. 


Reader Recommended

Abricott

238 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-1613 | abricott.com


Daisy Mint

1218 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena (626) 792-2999 | daisymint.com


Roy’s Restaurant 

641 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-4066 | roysrestaurant.com



BEST BAKERY

EURO PANE BAKERY

345 E. Colorado Blvd., 

Pasadena (West)

(626) 844-8804

950 E. Colorado Blvd., 

Pasadena (East)

(626) 577-1828

Euro Pane Bakery was so good they opened a second one. Already known for their devilishly good baked goods, Euro Pane owner Sumi Chang opened her second location in Pasadena in April 2010. As Erica Zora Wrightson of the LA Weekly described it, the second Euro Pane (West) started out slowly, serving pastries, coffee and a simple lunch menu. But “[We] imagine it won’t be long until Euro Pane West has its own set of regulars, perhaps drifting east from Old Town or sneaking south from Pasadena City Hall. For those migrating north from the campus of Caltech, who understand exactly why Chang’s lavender macarons make one’s jaw ache with pleasure, or how the egg salad sends the stomach to a place usually reserved for the heart.” Prophetic words indeed.

Reader Recommended

85°C Bakery Cafe

61 S. Fair Oaks Ave. No. 120,

Pasadena

(626) 792-8585 | 85cafe.us


Seed Bakery

942 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 486-2115 

seedbakerypasadena.com



BEST BBQ

Gus’s BBQ

808 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-3251 | gussbbq.com

Thanks to the dedication of Gus’s BBQ, the culinary spirit of the Old South has remained alive in South Pasadena since 1946, when they first opened. Their menu is sure to warm the soul with its wickedly delicious comfort foods, like fried chicken, waffles, gumbo and cast-iron cornbread. If their hospitality doesn’t leave you screaming for more, their real pit barbecue will. 


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 

marstonrestaurant.com

Marston’s has always been on Pasadena Weekly’s radar, having won first place in this category for many years, including 2015.  This year, owner Jim McCardy wins full bragging rights again. And for good reason; Zagat rated Marston’s the No. 1 place for breakfast in Los Angeles back in 2003, and the Food Network Magazine in 2010 declared Marston’s served the Best Breakfast in California. So if your stomach is growling after an otherworldly night on the town, get to Marston’s for breakfast. Their French toast alone is worth the time you’ll stand in line to get inside. 


Reader Recommended

Lincoln Café & Store

1992 Lincoln Ave, Pasadena

(626) 765-6746 

lincolnpasadena.com


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 

If a feast is what you need, head over to Souplantation. From the most customizable salads to savory soups and the juiciest of meats, this chain buffet is guaranteed to satiate that near-feral hunger. Go at the right time and there might be someone handing out treats: Souplantation’s very own cookies. 


Reader Recommended

Lemonade

146 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 304-7700 | lemonade.com


Zen Buffet

945 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia

(626) 359-8881 | thezenbuffet.com



BEST BURGER

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

The only thing haunting this house are the howling cries of people’s taste buds yelping for more. Founders Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and Andre Vener opened this Pasadena restaurant serving skinless, specially crafted, 100 percent beef 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. Though originally opening as a concept hot dog place, their burgers are also no match for mere mortals. Never fear, vegetarians, for this place has meat alternatives upon request.


Reader Recommended

In-N-Out Burger

2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

1210 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

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


Pie N Burger 

913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-1123 

pienburger.com

BEST BURRITO

Burrito Express

1597 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 798-0844 

burritoexpresspasadena.com

This winner is no poltergeist catching people off guard. Anyone who is anyone in Pasadena knows that to get a good burrito, one must make the trek to Burrito Express, located in the city’s northeast. So dust off that broomstick and fly across town if necessary, because everything here is prepared in-house — from the salsas to the meats. 


Reader Recommended

La Estrella

502 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-8559 

330 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-2752


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

This perennial winner is located at the Metro Gold Line Del Mar Station. So while waiting for that last train to nowhere, fill up at La Grande Orange to remember what California cuisine is all about, whether it is fresh salmon or mesquite-grilled ribeye. Maybe even enjoy a well-crafted cocktail or two before vanishing into the mist. 


Reader Recommended

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170

greenstreetrestaurant.com


Lemonade

146 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 304-7700 

lemonade.com



BEST CENTRAL
AMERICAN FOOD

La Caravana Restaurant

1306 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-7378

Are you on the hunt for a casual haunt that features food that is different from the normal fare? La Caravana is just the place you are looking for, with its yucca and meat pies. Eat in with a group for a relaxed meal or, if time is short, order to go and make like an apparition and get out of there. Either way, La Caravana is spine-chillingly good Salvadoran food.



BEST CHINESE FOOD 

Panda Inn

3488 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-7300 

pandainn.com

Panda Inn has been bringing Mandarin and Szechwan dishes with flair to Pasadena since 1973. If a broomstick or the power of apparition aren’t enough to make it to China, then Panda Inn is your best bet to experience some of the country’s rich regional flavors.


Reader Recommended

Grandview Palace

60 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-2888 

grandview-palace.com


Yang Chow

3777 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 432-6868 

yangchow.com



BEST CUPCAKES

Dots cupcakes

400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 568-36787 

dotscupcakes.com

21 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-7719

Take a break from the nightmarish 9-5 and stop by Dot’s Cupcakes to be instantly transported into another time and place. Despite the whimsical and darling designs, it’s the inside that counts at Dot’s. Legend has it that their cakes are made with pure ingredients and organic fruit preserves sure to knock out any evil spirits. 


Reader Recommended

Lark Cake Shop

1355 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-1031 

larkcakeshop.com


Polkatots Cupcakes

720 N. Lake Ave., No. 3, Pasadena

(626) 798-3932 

polkatotscupcakes.com



BEST DELI/SANDWICHES 

Union Street Sandwich Co.

109 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 639-3575 | unionsandwich.com

Union Street Sandwich Co. has cast a spell that has its customers clawing at the doors in their haste for one of their bewitching sandwiches. Or maybe it has something to do with the imported Italian meats and artisan bread. Whichever it is, these sandwiches are from another dimension. 


Reader Recommended

Pasadena Sandwich Company

259 Sierra Madre Villa Ave. No. 102, Pasadena

(626) 578-1616 

pasadenasandwichcompany.com


Roma Market

918 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 797-7748 | romamarkets.com



BEST DESSERT

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 | amarachocolate.com

Fondue, truffles, hot chocolate, lattes — there appears to be no end in sight in the number of ways Amara’s delicious desserts can be enjoyed. Their Venezuelan chocolates are so good that they must be made of some supernatural substance strong enough to ward off cravings. 


Reader Recommended

Dots Cupcakes

400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 568-36787 | dotscupcakes.com

21 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-7719


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

Originally from Alhambra, California, Lunasia Dim Sum House has carved itself a place in Pasadena with its bite-size Cantonese food known as dim sum. Grab a few ghoulish friends and sample Lunasia’s offerings. With all its tempting menu items, it will be easy to go wild. 


Reader Recommended 

Din Tai Fung

The Americana at Brand

177 Caruso Ave., Glendale

(818) 551-5561 | dintaifungusa.com

1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555


King Hua Restaurant

2000 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-8833 

kinghuarestaurant.com



BEST DUMPLINGS

Din Tai Fung

The Americana at Brand

177 Caruso Ave., Glendale

(818) 551-5561 | dintaifungusa.com

1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

Tales have been told about Din Tai Fung’s mouthwatering dumplings, from VICE aliens to Wall Street Journal vampires. But it isn’t done without reason; Din Tai Fung has won a Michelin Star for excellence in its Hong Kong branches. 


Reader Recommended

Lunasia Dim Sum House

239 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-8822 

lunasiadimsumhouse.com



BEST FRENCH FOOD

Café Bizou

91 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9923 | cafebizou.com

At Cafe Bizou, it’s all about the customer’s experience. As described by the LA Times, Café Bizou is “… a favorite with wine buffs for its $2 corkage fee. Cozy and candle-lighted, it features an extensive menu of Francophile favorites including sweetbreads and steak frites.” As they say on the restaurant’s website, Café Bizou prides itself on providing “top-quality service and delicious food in a family friendly restaurant.” It also bills itself as “the perfect setting for business meetings and events, family reunions, birthday celebrations or rehearsal dinners.”

Reader Recommended

Maison Akira

713 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 796-9501 

maisonakira.net


Nicole’s Gourmet Market & Café

921 Meridian Ave., Unit B, 

South Pasadena

(626) 403-5751 

nicolesgourmetfoods.com

BEST FRIED CHICKEN

Roscoe’s House of
Chicken and Waffles

830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-4890 

roscoeschickenandwaffles.com

If anyone knows anything about fried chicken and waffles it’s Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. But that’s not all this local stalwart has to offer. Roscoe’s is also known for its greens, mac and cheese, hot water cornbread and red beans and rice. “This was a wonderful experience due to the scrumptious food and our amazing server Delphine!” wrote a first-time customer. “With so many options, my parents, sister and I couldn’t figure out what to order. Luckily for us, Delphine knew exactly how much chicken, waffles and sides to order.”


Reader Recommended

Honeybird

714 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada 

Flintridge

(818) 415-0489 

honeybirdla.com/menu


Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen

899 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-4734 

popeyes.com



BEST FROZEN YOGURT

Yogurtland

30 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

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

415 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4868

5045 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock

(323) 550-1490

1 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

(626) 289-3420

633 W. Duarte Rd., Arcadia

(626) 821-8723

At Yogurtland, real ingredients make the difference. They use only creamy, fresh and pure California milk without antibiotics or added hormones. And they add only the world’s finest ingredients to produce pure and delicious frozen yogurt.


Reader Recommended 

21 Choices

85 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-9521 

21choices.com 


Cherry on Top

1299 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 440-1299 | cherryontop.net



BEST GELATO

Bulgarini Gelato

749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena

(626) 791-6174 | bulgarinigelato.com

Leo Bulgarini has been one of Altadena’s best kept secrets since 2007, the year he opened a small shop tucked away in the hills of Altadena. From there, Bulgarini creates some of the best gelato in Southern California, if not the country. But if not the country, then “Bulgarini serves the best gelato in LA — and some of the best we’ve had outside of Sorrento,” writes Kenny Porpora at Yahoo! News. “And while this hidden gem has found its way into the pages of the LA Times, it remains relatively unknown to most Angelenos.”  


Reader Recommended 

Gelato by Stick Station

62 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 345-5531


Hello Gelato

20 E. Colorado Blvd., Ste 101. 

Pasadena

(626) 744-1788 



BEST GRILLED CHEESE

Melt It!

105 N Hill Ave. Suite 103, Pasadena

(626) 793-7002 | agrilledcheeseco.com

Melt It! located in the heart of Pasadena, near Pasadena City College, is serving up American favorites with a tasty tweak. The restaurant currently has something for every taste, now including a new Thai chicken sandwich and baked chicken topped with marinated feta, cabbage salad, cilantro, spicy peanut sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots in a baguette. Dress as causal as you like and order your food to take home, if you so desire. Here, home of the original comfort food, customer satisfaction is a top priority.


Reader Recommended 

Mix n Munch

1005 Mission St., South Pasadena

(626) 441-8808 | mixnmunch.com


The Bea’s Knees

120 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-9308 

thebeaskneespasadena.com



BEST HEALTH/
ORGANIC FOOD

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com

Not only are sandwiches, burgers, tacos and burritos made with tempeh, tempeh bacon, tofu, or mushroom patties, but diners can order a dish prepared with their choice of vegetables, beans, grains and plant proteins at Real Food Daily. The popular restaurant, in business since 1993, serves heart-healthy, plant-based dishes that are balanced according to Eastern health philosophies.



Reader Recommended

Grassroots Natural Market & Kitchen

1119 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-0156 

grassrootsnmk.com


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



BEST HOT DOG

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

Though they make award-winning burgers, the signature dish at this Pasadena-born chain is the humble hot dog. Among some of the creations spawned by their 100-beef skinless dogs is the Sooo Cali hotdog, served with wild arugula, spicy basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado and tomato. And there’s the Downtown Dog, another specialty item that includes smoked-bacon-wrapped hot dog with roasted jalapenos, chipotle mayo and cotija cheese. While both sound great, the truth is anything on the menu will satisfy even the most discriminating fast-food tastes. 


Reader Recommended

Costco

2207 W. Commonwealth Ave., Alhambra

(626) 289-7164 

costco.com


Slaw Dogs

720 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 808-9777 

slawdogspasadena.com


BEST ICE CREAM

Carmela Ice Cream

2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 797-1405 

carmelaicecream.com

Founders Zachary Cox and Jessica Mortarotti have created quite a following for their one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, with such favorites as salted caramel, lavender honey, strawberry buttermilk, brown sugar cacao nib, mint cacao nib and brown sugar vanilla bean. The seasonal sorbets include flavors like heirloom tomato, cucumber, cantaloupe and raspberry rose. “It doesn’t have a multitude of flavors, but every flavor they do have has impressed,” Jeff T. of Alhambra wrote on Yelp. “This absolute GEM in Pasadena wreaks of ‘old timey-ness’; an adorable ice cream cart with umbrella graces the outside and the beautiful cursive logo on the giant front window,” said Rosanna M. of Long Beach.  


Reader Recommended

Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co.

1824 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-6533 | fosselmans.com


Mother Moo Creamery 

& Marketplace

17 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre (626) 355-9650 | mothermoo.com

1006 Mission St., South Pasadena

(626) 441-0744



BEST INDEPENDENT COFFEE HOUSE

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 

amarachocolate.com

Is there anything not to like about Amara Chocolate & Coffee in Old Pasadena? “Top-notch coffee and chocolate place. The ice cream churros are the best! Freshly made and baked on-site as is everything else. The Cacao latte is a chocolate and coffee lover’s dream,” gushed one online reviewer. “If you want to taste pure molten chocolate rather than ‘hot cocoa’ this place will send you directly to heaven,” said another. But perhaps the most effective review contained just one word: “Wow.”


Reader Recommended

Jones Coffee Roasters

693 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 564-9291 

thebestcoffee.com 


Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar

1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 529-5571 

lavenderandhoneyespresso.com



BEST INDIAN FOOD

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 

allindiacafeca.com

With a staff that takes the fear and fright out of eating new things, All India customers have been able to enjoy cuisine from places throughout the Indian subcontinent. Among the popular restaurant’s 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).


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 Ristorante & Bar has once again been honored for having the Best Italian Food in the Greater Pasadena area. If you read their website, it might have well been expected. “Aging gracefully” is how restaurant managers describe the business. With punctuation issues corrected, it goes on to say “This classy Pasadena stalwart from the Drago brothers continues to elevate freshly made pasta to an art form by taking original Italian ingredients and turning them into something beautiful; rounding out the fine dining experience is a cordial, authentic staff, a fairly elegant room and, yes, pricey tabs (totally worth it for a special occasion).” Apparently our readers agree.


Reader Recommended

Gale’s Restaurant

452 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 432-6705 | galesrestaurant.com


Tarantino’s Pizzeria

784 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 796-7836  

tarantinospasadena.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

In its quest to become  America’ s new comfort food, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant is having no trouble winning, hearts, minds and appetites to their cause. Featuring almost every kind of fish, as well as egg, shrimp and crab, the menu also includes sashimi and numerous sushi rolls, namely the popular California roll, as well as 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


Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa

146 S. Lake Ave., No. 108, Pasadena

(626) 298-8386 | sugarfishsushi.com



BEST KOREAN FOOD

Chris’ Korean BBQ

2063 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 796-9604 

koreanbbqpasadena.com

Chris’ Korean BBQ describes itself as a go-to family restaurant for all-you-can-eat Korean buffet in Pasadena, featuring such specialty items as tofu soup, Korean pancakes and a wide variety of beers and wine. This locally owned restaurant offers friendly service and premium quality meat, ensuring a fine dining experience. For the convenience of customers, Chris’ provides free parking.


Reader Recommended

Gen Korean BBQ House

68 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 407-2858 

genkoreanbbq.com


San Restaurant

124 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 584-1120

BEST LOCAL BREWERY

Craftsman Brewing Co.

1260 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

(626) 296-2537 

craftsmanbrewing.com

Brewer Mark Jilg has been creating craft beer in Southern California for nearly 20 years. Jilg eschews the spotlight, but what this brewery has to offer is plenty of old school craft. Concluded one web critique: “Making small-batch brews that are served for the most part in the LA area, founding owner and brewer Jilg remains committed to taking risks, offering a wide variety of beers and tastes, and relying on the true beer connoisseur to discover and enjoy the cutting edge brewery’s offerings.”


Reader Recommended

Eagle Rock Brewery

3056 Roswell St., Los Angeles

(323) 257-7866 

eaglerockbrewery.com 


Golden Road Brewing

5410 W. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles

(213) 373-4677 | goldenroad.la



BEST LOCAL JUICE BAR

Juice Lab 360

277 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 755-5054 

thejuicelab360.com

This is not just another juice bar. Sure, they have all the favorites, including concoctions mixed on the spot. But more than merely making delicious and healthful drinks, Juice Lab 360 is a place to learn about health and wellness. They also have super food smoothies and plant-based sandwiches and salads. If you believe that health and wellness begin on the inside, this is the place for you. 



BEST LOCAL PIZZA

The Luggage Room 

Pizzeria

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4440 | theluggageroom.com

La Grande Orange Cafe now offers another culinary option with the opening of The Luggage Room Pizzeria, aptly named for its location in the back room that used to house travelers’ baggage at the old Santa Fe Station, now home to the Metro Gold Line’s Del Mar Station. The menu features pizzas fired in the wood-burning oven, many of them vegetarian, including the Mushroom Party and the farmer’s market pie. Customers can also customize pies with pepperoni, artichokes and buffalo mozzarella. “Everything here was wonderful,” wrote one online fan. “Go on Monday for the happy hour deal. A second pizza is only $7.”


Reader Recommended

Blaze Pizza

667 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 440-7358 | blazepizza.com

990 Town Center Drive, La Cañada Flintridge

(818) 790-8900

Glendale Galleria

100 W. Broadway, Glendale

(818) 662-8777


Pizza of Venice

2545 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena

(626) 765-9636 | pizzaofvenice.com



BEST MEDITERRANEAN FOOD

Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844  

kokosmediterraneancafe.com 

At Mediterranean Café, the menu speaks for itself: Entrees include hearty chicken, beef, lamb, kefta kabobs, most served with rice, hummus, Greek salad and pita bread; chicken shawarma and shawarma salad, and kebab salad; and vegetarian falafels, baba ghanooj, mujaddarah, stuffed grape leaves and various pita wraps. And nothing on the menu exceeds $10. Located on Pasadena’s Shopper’s Lane, MC has become a favorite of the Caltech crowd. “This is not for a fancy dining experience,” wrote wannagetaway at tripadvisor.com. “I would describe it as ‘fast-food efficiency with dine-in quality.’”



Reader Recommended

Café Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 | cafesantorini.com


Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237



BEST MEXICAN FOOD

El Portal Restaurant

695 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 795-8553 | elportalrestaurant.com

It seems people just can’t stop talking about the food and drinks at El Portal, a staple in the city’s Playhouse District and a perennial winner in the PW Best of Pasadena competition. “Try the Yucatan Trio or the amazing shrimp and spinach enchiladas or the mole enchiladas,” wrote one Yelper. “It has as all the typical Mexican dishes you’d expect, but with some awesome Yucatan dishes you wouldn’t. Try the cochinita pibil!” One fan enjoys the food too, but has another reason for liking El Portal: “THEIR MARGARITAS!!!!” These are some of the best margaritas in the area. “Such great flavor and at a great price (an entire pitcher for $25) … and they aren’t weak either.” 


Reader Recommended

El Patron 

2555 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 296-2818 | elpatrononline.com


Mijares Mexican Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763 

mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674 



BEST MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD 

Sahara Middle Eastern Restaurant 

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 | saharapasadena.com

Sahara serves a variety of Middle Eastern dishes for lunch and dinner, with a menu that features beef, lamb and chicken kebabs; arayis (ground lamb and beef grilled in pita bread with chopped onions and parsley); hummus, falafel, baba ghanouj and other appetizers; salads; sandwiches; and vegetarian plates. Lite Lunch Plates, at prices ranging from $5.95 to $7.95, are also available. “My mouth is watering just thinking about the delicious beef kebabs. Good prices and great Armenian food! A winner,” wrote one online fan. “I love this little restaurant!” said another. “If you’re looking for ambience, this isn’t the place. If you’re looking for really great Mediterranean food at extremely reasonable prices, you have to give them a try.”


Reader Recommended

Heidar Baba

1511 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-7970 | heidarbaba.com


Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844 

kokosmediterraneancafe.com


Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237



BEST RAMEN

Modan Artisanal Ramen

700 Fair Oaks Ave., Ste G, 

South Pasadena

(626) 799-2878

Jonesing for something quick, hot, tasty and inexpensive? Then look no further than Modan Artisanal Ramen in South Pasadena. “Try the Brussels sprouts appetizer,” says one Internet fan. “If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you will after this.”  Everything on the menu is good, vowed another web fan, “but try the curry fries.” 


Reader Recommended

Ramen Tatsunoya 

16 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena,

(626) 432-1768 

tatsunoyausa.net



BEST SALAD

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170 

greenstreetrestaurant.com

Since 1979, Green Street Restaurant has become a Pasadena institution, serving California cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As much for its to-die-for zucchini bread, Green Street is famous for its Dianne Salad. The restaurant’s signature dish, a Dianne consists of chicken, Asian noodles, toasted almonds, sesame seeds and shredded lettuce served with the restaurant’s homemade dressing. Other salads include the Kale Dianne, a recent variation on the classic, the Quinoa and Black Bean Fiesta Salad, the Arroyo Salad and the Cornucopia Salad. 


Reader Recommended

Souplantation

201 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4798 

souplantation.com/locations


Stonefire Grill

473 N. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 921-1255 

stonefiregrill.com


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) 793-3474 | camerons4fish.com

Cameron’s serves fresh fish from morning until night — from shrimp platters and halibut filets to Maine lobster. 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. Their friendly bar allows patrons to enjoy a good meal and a cocktail while watching sporting events on TV.

   

Reader Recommended

Roy’s Restaurant 

641 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-4066 | roysrestaurant.com


San Marino Seafood

2150 Huntington Drive, San Marino

(626) 943-8862 | sanmarinoseafood.com



BEST SOUL FOOD

Big Mama’s Rib Shack

1453 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 797-1792  

bigmamaspasadena.com

Soul food, Big Mama is thy name. Actually, Big Mama’s real name is Emma Sue Miller McWhorter, and her family-owned and operated restaurant and catering service on North Lake Avenue has long been famous for its great food — gumbo and jambalaya; po’boy sandwiches; blackened, fried or Creole-style chicken; BBQ beef and pork entrees; Louisiana hotlinks served over red beans, rice and grilled onions; and blackened, grilled or fried catfish. But Big Mama’s is also a popular local night spot, occasionally featuring major blues acts. “Because of our unique cuisine and Southern hospitality, we attract diners of all walks of life from across the globe, including many celebrities,” their website states. 


Reader Recommended

Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ Heaven

1280 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-0132 | bonniebssmokin.com


Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-4890 

roscoeschickenandwaffles.com



BEST SOUTH
AMERICAN FOOD

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 | amarachocolate.com

As reported by PW Food Critic Erica Wayne earlier this year, Amara owner Amora Barroeta is a former Venezuelan beauty queen with a degree in chemistry who once worked as a TV host. Barroeta, Wayne wrote, “also harbored a long-time passion for cooking and baking which came to fruition with the opening in 2012 of her eponymous Pasadena café-bakery-confectionery-restaurant.” Unfortunately, however, “Venezuela is in dire financial straits right now, with chocolate and sugar exports at low ebb, she wrote. “Thank goodness Amara Barroeta was able to export herself and her exceptional culinary talents to Pasadena. We’re lucky to have her.”


Reader Recommended

1810 Argentinean Restaurant

121 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-5658 | 1810restaurant.com


Choza Mama 96

96 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 432-4692 | choza96.com


Malbec

1001 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0550 | malbeccuisine.com



BEST SPANISH FOOD

Racion

119 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 396-3090 | racionrestaurant.com

Racion, a popular Old Pasadena tapas restaurant, lets its list of accomplishments do its public relations work, and for good reason. According to its website, the diminutive restaurant has received giant-sized accolades, named a Los Angeles Times top 101 restaurant in 2013 and 2014, a Los Angeles Magazine top 75 restaurant in 2013 and 2014, and has received a “Global Selection” accolade by San Pellegrino in its list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” of 2014. Along with Basque-style cuisine, Racion also offers a wide selection of wine, beer, sherry and cider. 



BEST STEAKHOUSE

Arroyo Chop House

536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463 | arroyochophouse.com

If filet mignon, porterhouse, T-bone, New York strip and Kansas City ribeye are your idea of what a steakhouse should offer, then welcome to Arroyo Chophouse, which, according to its website, offers “a modern take on the classic American steakhouse.” Serving only USDA prime beef, chop house diners can also choose from other cuts of steak, as well as several cuts of Japanese-bred Wagyo cattle. Unfortunately, none of this comes without some physical and financial bloodletting. Dinners range from $41 to $110. The menu also 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

45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com

117 E. Broadway, 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

El Patron 

2555 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 296-2818 | elpatrononline.com


La Estrella

502 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-8559 

330 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-2752



BEST TEA ROOM

Chado Tea Room

79 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 431-2832 | chadotea.com

Tea time at Chado Tea Room can be a complicated affair, with more than 300 types of specialty teas available from throughout the world, including varieties of black, white, green, flavored, red bush, oolong, organic and chai. Reservations for the afternoon tea, which features a selection of scones and sandwiches, can be made by calling the restaurant, which also features salads, sandwiches, soups and desserts like scones or cake.


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.com



BEST THAI FOOD 

Daisy Mint

1218 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 792-2999 | daisymint.com

Daisy Mint’s menu may not be immediately familiar to the causal diner. But then they eat, and immediately once-confused customers are won over, not only by the food but also the great service. As for that menu, favorites include a wide array of curries (green jungle, red devil, yellow chicken and pineapple), Daisy Salmon (salmon steak broiled in creamy cilantro sauce), pad see ew noodles, signature Daisy Noodles (rice noodles with red curry, egg, crispy onions, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts), and salmon and lime leaf cooked in red curry sauce.


Reader Recommended

President Thai

498 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

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


Saladang

363 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 793-8123



BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com

Ann Gentry’s efforts over the past 25 years to raise the standard of plant-based cooking have paid off in the creation of Real Food Daily, the region’s premiere organic plant-based restaurant serving quality, authentic, creative and nutritionally balanced food. RFD is the only restaurant in the Los Angeles area that serves a 100 percent plant-based menu, using foods grown exclusively with organic farming methods. With three locations in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Pasadena since 2012, RFD has developed a loyal following among vegetarians, celebrities, trendsetting young eaters with sophisticated palates, and mature diners seeking healthy gourmet cuisine.


Reader Recommended

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 | allindiacafeca.com

Veggie Grill

200 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 535-9561 | veggiegrill.com



BEST VIETNAMESE FOOD

Saigon Noodle 

Restaurant

28 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-9378 

Even if customers have their peeves, they all agree that Saigon Noodle Restaurant in Old Pasadena serves the Best Vietnamese Food.  “Food is fantastic. The servers don’t bug you, and you can watch the news while you eat,” writes one online fan. Some people have a problem with that style, but one person wrote about being “pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon this easy-to-miss gem. The Pho is flavorful, with a rich broth of chicken or beef. Good for the soul, and easy on the wallet.”


Reader Recommended

Pasadena Noodle & Grill

2335 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 792-1893 | pasadenanoodle.com



BEST WINGS

Hot Wings Café

89 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 449-9055 | hotwingscafe.net

314 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 247-4455

It’s no wonder Hot Wings Cafe is a favorite of PW readers, with four flat screen TVs to watch while enjoying wine and 20 different kinds of beer. Since 1986 Hot Wings Café has been serving the Greater Los Angeles area with delicious hot wings, all in a warm and inviting environment. Along with wings, the company also serves a full menu of sandwiches and sides. They also provide large party trays of hot wings for weddings, parties and corporate events.


Reader Recommended

Alondra Hot Wings

2675 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(323) 274-1024 

alondrawings.com

515 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 576-7119


Buffalo Wild Wings

1000 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 993-6400 

buffalowildwings.com


Wingstop 

1279 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-2800 | wingstop.com

1709 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 578-9464 

Tricks & Treats

Remember childhood, when you put on your costume and hit up the neighbors for Halloween treats? Word was out among the kids on which houses gave out the best goodies: Snickers, Hershey bars, packages of orange and black jelly beans and such. And some would surprise you with incredible homemade stuff — fresh-baked cookies, caramel apples and even warm cider. 

The restaurants that win the Pasadena Weekly’s Best of Pasadena voting each year are kind of like the houses we knew to visit on Halloween — most treat their visitors with high quality traditional food guaranteed to please; others surprise with innovative delicacies. Both kinds have garnered enough loyal fans to stand apart from their peers and, with any luck, “live long and prosper” as my favorite Vulcan used to say. 

As for tricks, the only ones on display are those of the chefs, proprietors and waitstaff who create the voters’ outstanding dining experiences. There’s nary a call among those who send in their ballots for TPing or soaping the windows of any of the 61 winners (or 122 runners-up), and my guess is servers who work in our winners are rarely tricked out of tips. 

It’s impossible to focus on all the winners in this introduction, but a few can be singled out for mention. This year’s Best Restaurant is Union, where chef Bruce Kalman has created “a deeply personal, seasonally Californian interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine” according to the website. Kalman’s culinary wizardry is profound. His results? Magical!

And speaking of wizards, our Best Chef (for the second year in a row) is Claud Beltran. He’s not only a creator of innovative and excellent cuisine but also a master performer, juggling three entirely different and highly successful restaurants (The Eatery on Allen, Bacchus’ Kitchen and Perry’s in the DusitD2 Hotel Constance) as well as a thriving catering business (Claud & Co.) at once.

The Best New Restaurant is Sierra Madre’s Sierra Fusion, less than five months old. Owners are Joseph Ungrue, born in Hawaii of a Filipino mother and Indian-Greek father, and his Latina wife Christina Duarte. Both have extensive experience in prestigious restaurants specializing in Japanese, Korean and Spanish cuisines plus combinations thereof. Their baby’s richly diverse menu draws from all these roots and others. PS – sushi too!

The venerable Raymond again won top honors as the Best Romantic Restaurant — no surprise there. And it also shared top billing with Parkway Grill as the Best Special Occasion venue. Other multiple winners: All India Café (Best Indian Food and Best Restaurant Staff), Dog Haus (Best Hot Dog, Best Burger and Best Cheap Eats) and Amara Chocolate & Coffee (Best Dessert, Best Independent Coffee House and Best South American Food).

The restaurants mentioned above and the many others listed below have mastered all the “tricks of the trade” necessary to provide the “treats” you hope for in the Best of Pasadena area dining. No need to dress in costume or even tie or heels. Just check below for (as J.K. Rowling might phrase it) fantastic food and where to find it. 

 

BEST RESTAURANT

Union

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com

Union, located in the heart of Old Pasadena, is the brainchild of Chef Bruce Kalman and Marie Petulla, who built the 50-seat restaurant and bar, specializing in a seasonally Californian interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine. Together they’ve created an intimate neighborhood restaurant. Says General Manager Francis Castagnetti Jr., “Everyone who works here comes from a fine dining background, but we’re all super laid back. [We] all work in tandem to create the best dining experience possible. This is a dream team. We all have a massive amount of respect for what Marie and Bruce have built and for each other.”


Reader Recommended

Houston’s

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

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


Parkway Grill

510 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com



BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Sierra Fusion

120 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., 

Sierra Madre

(626) 355-3030 | sierrafusion.com

Our Best New Restaurant is the by-product of not so much a fusion of foods, which they specialize in, but of people: owners Christina Duarte, a 2011 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, and her husband, Joseph Ungrue. The couple, with extensive experience in the restaurant trade, first met while working at top-ranked hotels in Las Vegas. It wasn’t long before they decided to head home to Southern California and start their own business. “Working in Vegas and experiencing the fast-paced kitchen and learning the many different cuisines prepared Christina and her fiancé to run their own restaurant,” their website explains.


Reader Recommended

Paul Martin’s American Grill

The Shops on Lake Avenue

455 S. Lake Ave., No. 102, Pasadena

(626) 773-7600 

paulmartinsamericangrill.com


Perry’s by Claud Beltran

DusitD2 Hotel Constance  

928 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 898-7900 

dusit.com/dusitd2/pasadena/dining/



BEST CHEF

Claud Beltran

Perry’s by Claud Beltran

928 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 898-7900 

dusit.com/dusitd2/Pasadena/dining

Bacchus’ Kitchen

1384 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 594-6377 | bacchuskitchen.com

The Eatery on Allen

488 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena

(626) 688-7256 | eateryonallen.com

From catering and changing the theme at his restaurant every month to opening new places like Perry’s by Claud Beltran at the dusitD2 Constance Hotel, award-winning Chef Claud Beltran juggles it all with a seemingly supernatural ease. Had it been a different era, he probably would have been accused of sorcery, but today, his talent, creativity and drive are the reasons why people simply love the epicurean delights he creates in his laboratories, er, kitchens, voting him this year’s Best Chef. 


Reader Recommended

Bruce Kalman

Union 

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com


Tara Punzone

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com



BEST RESTAURANT STAFF 

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 | allindiacafeca.com

A good restaurant is known for more than its food. But you don’t need to be psychic to know what makes a good restaurant great, and that’s its staff. Few restaurants in Pasadena know this fact of business life better than the folks at All India Café. It seems each year All India delivers an almost supernatural level of great service to its customers, so much so they’ve won this award — along with Best Indian Restaurant — many times over the years. Here, diners are treated like welcome guests, with the wait staff patiently describing the delicious food to those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine. You might say the service here is so good it’s scary.


Reader Recommended

Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar

1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 529-5571 

lavanderandhoneyespresso.com


Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com



BEST BUSINESS LUNCH

Smitty’s Grill

110 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9999 | smittysgrill.com

For anyone looking to strike a deal with the devil, an angel, or just another businessperson, Smitty’s Grill is cooking up American classics and comfort food sure to tame the most unlikely creatures with their virtually supernatural touch on old favorites. Whether it is a traditional chicken pot pie or a seafood special, or maybe that special ambience that casts the whole place in a warm, welcoming glow, Smitty’s atmosphere and comfort-food cuisine make customers feel right at home. 


Reader Recommended

Del Frisco’s Grille

55 S. Lake Ave., Suite 150, Pasadena

(626) 765-9913 | delfriscosgrille.com


Houston’s

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001 

hillstone.com/houstons



BEST CHEAP EATS

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

Eating out on a budget can be a nightmare. However, at Dog Haus, one can get filled up comfortably without murdering his or her wallet. Founded by partners Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and Andre Vener, Dog Haus opened in 2010 in Pasadena, serving specially crafted, all-beef dogs. The idea proved so popular that today there are outlets in California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah. And what a value it is, with the local startup also a one-stop shop, winning for Best Burger and Best Hot Dog.  


Reader Recommended                      

In-N-Out Burger

2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

1210 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

(800) 786-1000 

in-n-out.com


Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 | luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079



BEST OUTDOOR DINING

Café Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 | cafesantorini.com

Since 1993, Café Santorini has been an ideal setting for corporate functions and personal celebrations. Operating out of a historic brick building in Old Pasadena, Café Santorini specializes in grilled meats, seafood dishes, an array of pastas and family-style appetizer platters; complete with a full bar and an extensive wine list — the perfect menu to quell the ever-needy hunger monster. While the indoor dining room is cozy, the outdoor patio offers year-round dining under the stars and moon in a romantic rooftop setting. 


Reader Recommended

El Portal Restaurant

695 E. Green St, Pasadena

(626) 795-8553 | elportalrestaurant.com


Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170 

greenstreetrestaurant.com


La Grande Orange Café

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com



BEST ROMANTIC
RESTAURANT

The Raymond

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com

In another time The Raymond might be considered the perfect place to take shelter from a frightening storm or a menacing full moon. It’s certainly a comforting and romantic place, where couples can dine and drink in the ambience of one of Pasadena’s finest eateries, featuring American cuisine with international influences created by Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan, as well as craft cocktails concocted at the bar in the back.  


Reader Recommended

Altaeats 

1860 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-1162 | altaeats.com


Bistro 45

45 S. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-2478 | bistro45.com

Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com



BEST SPECIAL
OCCASION DINING (TIE)

The Raymond

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com

The Raymond is not only the Best Romantic Restaurant but also the best place to celebrate a special occasion, and for good reason. The place is steeped in local history, first built as a caretaker’s cottage for the 300-room Raymond Hotel, which fell victim to the Great Depression in 1931 and was demolished. But the cottage remained, later turned into a restaurant and bar, 1886 (the year the hotel was first built by Walter Raymond). Today, The Raymond features an innovative menu in a casual-fine dining setting. 


Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com

In a town where celebrating major events is practically a civic duty, being named the Best Place to Celebrate Special Occasions is really quite an honor. And while many restaurants are great locations for parties, Parkway Grill puts an extra exclamation point on the festivities. Specializing in a seasonal, market-driven approach to cooking that incorporates diverse influences and classic French technique, Parkway Grill was voted “One of America’s Top Tables” by Gourmet magazine and “One of Southern California’s most popular restaurants” by the Zagat Survey. Comprised of more than 3,000 bottles, Parkway’s award-winning wine cellar has been recognized by Wine Spectator since 1999 with their “Award of Excellence” award.


Reader Recommended 

Alexander’s Steakhouse 

111 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena

(626) 486-1111 | alexanderssteakhouse.com


Arroyo Chop House

536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463 | arroyochophouse.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

When you walk into a Kabuki, they promise you won’t be overwhelmed with Asian decor and music. What you will encounter, according to the restaurant’s website, “is a casual atmosphere with today’s hottest music playing, people smiling and our friendly staff welcoming you through the doors.” The restaurant’s mission “is to be the leader in the Japanese restaurant industry. We are committed to satisfying our customers completely with the best quality food, excellent service and great value while providing the most pleasant, clean ambiance.” It’s just the kind of upbeat, forward-thinking place where the whole family can enjoy dinner together.


Reader Recommended

Islands

Paseo Colorado

300 E. Colorado Blvd., No. 240 

(626) 304-9050 

islandsrestaurants.com

3533 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena 

(626) 351-6543


Stonefire Grill

473 N. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 921-1255 

stonefiregrill.com



BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK

Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 

luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079

Is there such a thing as too much bacon? Not at Lucky Boy’s. “The charred burgers come with mild onions, grilled upon request, lettuce, and the biggest tomato you have ever seen. The buns are toasted on the grill, a nice old-school touch. The chili is meaty and not too spicy, a perfect addition to the burger,” writes the online food critic LAist. However, “If you desire monster breakfast burritos, burgers, bacon, bacon, and, um, bacon, then Lucky Boy is the place for you.”


Reader Recommended

Du-pars Restaurant & Bakery

214 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 405-8820 | Open 24 hours



King Taco

King Taco

45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com



BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

La Grande Orange

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com

Whether it’s a birthday, Mother’s Day, a graduation or some other special occasion, there’s no better way to celebrate than over weekend brunch. And there is no better place to enjoy that special meal — even if there isn’t a special occasion on the calendar — than La Grande Orange. “For brunch I really enjoy their huevos rancheros. They are so delicious and fresh. They make everything fresh,” raves a fan on Yelp. “Luckily, it’s right in front of the Gold Line (Del Mar Station),” says another enthusiast. “So if you want to Metro it, you can have as much [to drink] as you’d like!” 


Reader Recommended

Lincoln Café & Store

1992 Lincoln Ave, Pasadena

(626) 765-6746 | lincolnpasadena.com


Mijares Mexican Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763 

mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674 



BEST ARMENIAN FOOD

Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237

With a legendary tale spanning over 50 years, no crystal ball was needed to predict Zankou Chicken’s win for Best Armenian Food. Although originally known for their chicken, now, with an expanded menu, anyone can sink their teeth into their current bill of fare. However, be forewarned: It is their garlic sauce that is sure to leave every vampire in the dark and every good soul coming back seeking culinary sanctuary. 


Reader Recommended 

DeLuxe Café

1717 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 765-9486 

deluxepasadena.com


Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844 

kokosmediterraneancafé.com


Sahara Middle Eastern 

Restaurant

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 | saharapasadena.com



BEST ASIAN FOOD

Sierra Fusion

120 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., 

Sierra Madre

(626) 355-3030 | sierrafusion.com

Sierra Fusion was born out of a true lover’s tale, one that created fare worthy of a double feature. The soon-to-be-married owners’ training is full of Las Vegas neon nostalgia, working at old haunts like the Bellagio Hotel and the unreal La Cave Wine and Tapas Bar. From customizable Bento to the wide selection of sushi, Sierra Fusion’s food will pleasantly surprise most taste buds. 


Reader Recommended

Abricott

238 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-1613 | abricott.com


Daisy Mint

1218 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena (626) 792-2999 | daisymint.com


Roy’s Restaurant 

641 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-4066 | roysrestaurant.com



BEST BAKERY

EURO PANE BAKERY

345 E. Colorado Blvd., 

Pasadena (West)

(626) 844-8804

950 E. Colorado Blvd., 

Pasadena (East)

(626) 577-1828

Euro Pane Bakery was so good they opened a second one. Already known for their devilishly good baked goods, Euro Pane owner Sumi Chang opened her second location in Pasadena in April 2010. As Erica Zora Wrightson of the LA Weekly described it, the second Euro Pane (West) started out slowly, serving pastries, coffee and a simple lunch menu. But “[We] imagine it won’t be long until Euro Pane West has its own set of regulars, perhaps drifting east from Old Town or sneaking south from Pasadena City Hall. For those migrating north from the campus of Caltech, who understand exactly why Chang’s lavender macarons make one’s jaw ache with pleasure, or how the egg salad sends the stomach to a place usually reserved for the heart.” Prophetic words indeed.

Reader Recommended

85°C Bakery Cafe

61 S. Fair Oaks Ave. No. 120,

Pasadena

(626) 792-8585 | 85cafe.us


Seed Bakery

942 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 486-2115 

seedbakerypasadena.com



BEST BBQ

Gus’s BBQ

808 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-3251 | gussbbq.com

Thanks to the dedication of Gus’s BBQ, the culinary spirit of the Old South has remained alive in South Pasadena since 1946, when they first opened. Their menu is sure to warm the soul with its wickedly delicious comfort foods, like fried chicken, waffles, gumbo and cast-iron cornbread. If their hospitality doesn’t leave you screaming for more, their real pit barbecue will. 


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 

marstonrestaurant.com

Marston’s has always been on Pasadena Weekly’s radar, having won first place in this category for many years, including 2015.  This year, owner Jim McCardy wins full bragging rights again. And for good reason; Zagat rated Marston’s the No. 1 place for breakfast in Los Angeles back in 2003, and the Food Network Magazine in 2010 declared Marston’s served the Best Breakfast in California. So if your stomach is growling after an otherworldly night on the town, get to Marston’s for breakfast. Their French toast alone is worth the time you’ll stand in line to get inside. 


Reader Recommended

Lincoln Café & Store

1992 Lincoln Ave, Pasadena

(626) 765-6746 

lincolnpasadena.com


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 

If a feast is what you need, head over to Souplantation. From the most customizable salads to savory soups and the juiciest of meats, this chain buffet is guaranteed to satiate that near-feral hunger. Go at the right time and there might be someone handing out treats: Souplantation’s very own cookies. 


Reader Recommended

Lemonade

146 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 304-7700 | lemonade.com


Zen Buffet

945 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia

(626) 359-8881 | thezenbuffet.com



BEST BURGER

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

The only thing haunting this house are the howling cries of people’s taste buds yelping for more. Founders Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and Andre Vener opened this Pasadena restaurant serving skinless, specially crafted, 100 percent beef 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. Though originally opening as a concept hot dog place, their burgers are also no match for mere mortals. Never fear, vegetarians, for this place has meat alternatives upon request.


Reader Recommended

In-N-Out Burger

2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

1210 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

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


Pie N Burger 

913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-1123 

pienburger.com

BEST BURRITO

Burrito Express

1597 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 798-0844 

burritoexpresspasadena.com

This winner is no poltergeist catching people off guard. Anyone who is anyone in Pasadena knows that to get a good burrito, one must make the trek to Burrito Express, located in the city’s northeast. So dust off that broomstick and fly across town if necessary, because everything here is prepared in-house — from the salsas to the meats. 


Reader Recommended

La Estrella

502 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-8559 

330 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-2752


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

This perennial winner is located at the Metro Gold Line Del Mar Station. So while waiting for that last train to nowhere, fill up at La Grande Orange to remember what California cuisine is all about, whether it is fresh salmon or mesquite-grilled ribeye. Maybe even enjoy a well-crafted cocktail or two before vanishing into the mist. 


Reader Recommended

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170

greenstreetrestaurant.com


Lemonade

146 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 304-7700 

lemonade.com



BEST CENTRAL
AMERICAN FOOD

La Caravana Restaurant

1306 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-7378

Are you on the hunt for a casual haunt that features food that is different from the normal fare? La Caravana is just the place you are looking for, with its yucca and meat pies. Eat in with a group for a relaxed meal or, if time is short, order to go and make like an apparition and get out of there. Either way, La Caravana is spine-chillingly good Salvadoran food.



BEST CHINESE FOOD 

Panda Inn

3488 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-7300 

pandainn.com

Panda Inn has been bringing Mandarin and Szechwan dishes with flair to Pasadena since 1973. If a broomstick or the power of apparition aren’t enough to make it to China, then Panda Inn is your best bet to experience some of the country’s rich regional flavors.


Reader Recommended

Grandview Palace

60 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-2888 

grandview-palace.com


Yang Chow

3777 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 432-6868 

yangchow.com



BEST CUPCAKES

Dots cupcakes

400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 568-36787 

dotscupcakes.com

21 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-7719

Take a break from the nightmarish 9-5 and stop by Dot’s Cupcakes to be instantly transported into another time and place. Despite the whimsical and darling designs, it’s the inside that counts at Dot’s. Legend has it that their cakes are made with pure ingredients and organic fruit preserves sure to knock out any evil spirits. 


Reader Recommended

Lark Cake Shop

1355 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-1031 

larkcakeshop.com


Polkatots Cupcakes

720 N. Lake Ave., No. 3, Pasadena

(626) 798-3932 

polkatotscupcakes.com



BEST DELI/SANDWICHES 

Union Street Sandwich Co.

109 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 639-3575 | unionsandwich.com

Union Street Sandwich Co. has cast a spell that has its customers clawing at the doors in their haste for one of their bewitching sandwiches. Or maybe it has something to do with the imported Italian meats and artisan bread. Whichever it is, these sandwiches are from another dimension. 


Reader Recommended

Pasadena Sandwich Company

259 Sierra Madre Villa Ave. No. 102, Pasadena

(626) 578-1616 

pasadenasandwichcompany.com


Roma Market

918 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 797-7748 | romamarkets.com



BEST DESSERT

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 | amarachocolate.com

Fondue, truffles, hot chocolate, lattes — there appears to be no end in sight in the number of ways Amara’s delicious desserts can be enjoyed. Their Venezuelan chocolates are so good that they must be made of some supernatural substance strong enough to ward off cravings. 


Reader Recommended

Dots Cupcakes

400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 568-36787 | dotscupcakes.com

21 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-7719


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

Originally from Alhambra, California, Lunasia Dim Sum House has carved itself a place in Pasadena with its bite-size Cantonese food known as dim sum. Grab a few ghoulish friends and sample Lunasia’s offerings. With all its tempting menu items, it will be easy to go wild. 


Reader Recommended 

Din Tai Fung

The Americana at Brand

177 Caruso Ave., Glendale

(818) 551-5561 | dintaifungusa.com

1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555


King Hua Restaurant

2000 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-8833 

kinghuarestaurant.com



BEST DUMPLINGS

Din Tai Fung

The Americana at Brand

177 Caruso Ave., Glendale

(818) 551-5561 | dintaifungusa.com

1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

Tales have been told about Din Tai Fung’s mouthwatering dumplings, from VICE aliens to Wall Street Journal vampires. But it isn’t done without reason; Din Tai Fung has won a Michelin Star for excellence in its Hong Kong branches. 


Reader Recommended

Lunasia Dim Sum House

239 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-8822 

lunasiadimsumhouse.com



BEST FRENCH FOOD

Café Bizou

91 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9923 | cafebizou.com

At Cafe Bizou, it’s all about the customer’s experience. As described by the LA Times, Café Bizou is “… a favorite with wine buffs for its $2 corkage fee. Cozy and candle-lighted, it features an extensive menu of Francophile favorites including sweetbreads and steak frites.” As they say on the restaurant’s website, Café Bizou prides itself on providing “top-quality service and delicious food in a family friendly restaurant.” It also bills itself as “the perfect setting for business meetings and events, family reunions, birthday celebrations or rehearsal dinners.”

Reader Recommended

Maison Akira

713 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 796-9501 

maisonakira.net


Nicole’s Gourmet Market & Café

921 Meridian Ave., Unit B, 

South Pasadena

(626) 403-5751 

nicolesgourmetfoods.com

BEST FRIED CHICKEN

Roscoe’s House of
Chicken and Waffles

830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-4890 

roscoeschickenandwaffles.com

If anyone knows anything about fried chicken and waffles it’s Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. But that’s not all this local stalwart has to offer. Roscoe’s is also known for its greens, mac and cheese, hot water cornbread and red beans and rice. “This was a wonderful experience due to the scrumptious food and our amazing server Delphine!” wrote a first-time customer. “With so many options, my parents, sister and I couldn’t figure out what to order. Luckily for us, Delphine knew exactly how much chicken, waffles and sides to order.”


Reader Recommended

Honeybird

714 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada 

Flintridge

(818) 415-0489 

honeybirdla.com/menu


Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen

899 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-4734 

popeyes.com



BEST FROZEN YOGURT

Yogurtland

30 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

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

415 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4868

5045 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock

(323) 550-1490

1 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

(626) 289-3420

633 W. Duarte Rd., Arcadia

(626) 821-8723

At Yogurtland, real ingredients make the difference. They use only creamy, fresh and pure California milk without antibiotics or added hormones. And they add only the world’s finest ingredients to produce pure and delicious frozen yogurt.


Reader Recommended 

21 Choices

85 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-9521 

21choices.com 


Cherry on Top

1299 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 440-1299 | cherryontop.net



BEST GELATO

Bulgarini Gelato

749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena

(626) 791-6174 | bulgarinigelato.com

Leo Bulgarini has been one of Altadena’s best kept secrets since 2007, the year he opened a small shop tucked away in the hills of Altadena. From there, Bulgarini creates some of the best gelato in Southern California, if not the country. But if not the country, then “Bulgarini serves the best gelato in LA — and some of the best we’ve had outside of Sorrento,” writes Kenny Porpora at Yahoo! News. “And while this hidden gem has found its way into the pages of the LA Times, it remains relatively unknown to most Angelenos.”  


Reader Recommended 

Gelato by Stick Station

62 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 345-5531


Hello Gelato

20 E. Colorado Blvd., Ste 101. 

Pasadena

(626) 744-1788 



BEST GRILLED CHEESE

Melt It!

105 N Hill Ave. Suite 103, Pasadena

(626) 793-7002 | agrilledcheeseco.com

Melt It! located in the heart of Pasadena, near Pasadena City College, is serving up American favorites with a tasty tweak. The restaurant currently has something for every taste, now including a new Thai chicken sandwich and baked chicken topped with marinated feta, cabbage salad, cilantro, spicy peanut sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots in a baguette. Dress as causal as you like and order your food to take home, if you so desire. Here, home of the original comfort food, customer satisfaction is a top priority.


Reader Recommended 

Mix n Munch

1005 Mission St., South Pasadena

(626) 441-8808 | mixnmunch.com


The Bea’s Knees

120 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-9308 

thebeaskneespasadena.com



BEST HEALTH/
ORGANIC FOOD

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com

Not only are sandwiches, burgers, tacos and burritos made with tempeh, tempeh bacon, tofu, or mushroom patties, but diners can order a dish prepared with their choice of vegetables, beans, grains and plant proteins at Real Food Daily. The popular restaurant, in business since 1993, serves heart-healthy, plant-based dishes that are balanced according to Eastern health philosophies.



Reader Recommended

Grassroots Natural Market & Kitchen

1119 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-0156 

grassrootsnmk.com


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



BEST HOT DOG

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

Though they make award-winning burgers, the signature dish at this Pasadena-born chain is the humble hot dog. Among some of the creations spawned by their 100-beef skinless dogs is the Sooo Cali hotdog, served with wild arugula, spicy basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado and tomato. And there’s the Downtown Dog, another specialty item that includes smoked-bacon-wrapped hot dog with roasted jalapenos, chipotle mayo and cotija cheese. While both sound great, the truth is anything on the menu will satisfy even the most discriminating fast-food tastes. 


Reader Recommended

Costco

2207 W. Commonwealth Ave., Alhambra

(626) 289-7164 

costco.com


Slaw Dogs

720 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 808-9777 

slawdogspasadena.com


BEST ICE CREAM

Carmela Ice Cream

2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 797-1405 

carmelaicecream.com

Founders Zachary Cox and Jessica Mortarotti have created quite a following for their one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, with such favorites as salted caramel, lavender honey, strawberry buttermilk, brown sugar cacao nib, mint cacao nib and brown sugar vanilla bean. The seasonal sorbets include flavors like heirloom tomato, cucumber, cantaloupe and raspberry rose. “It doesn’t have a multitude of flavors, but every flavor they do have has impressed,” Jeff T. of Alhambra wrote on Yelp. “This absolute GEM in Pasadena wreaks of ‘old timey-ness’; an adorable ice cream cart with umbrella graces the outside and the beautiful cursive logo on the giant front window,” said Rosanna M. of Long Beach.  


Reader Recommended

Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co.

1824 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-6533 | fosselmans.com


Mother Moo Creamery 

& Marketplace

17 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre (626) 355-9650 | mothermoo.com

1006 Mission St., South Pasadena

(626) 441-0744



BEST INDEPENDENT COFFEE HOUSE

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 

amarachocolate.com

Is there anything not to like about Amara Chocolate & Coffee in Old Pasadena? “Top-notch coffee and chocolate place. The ice cream churros are the best! Freshly made and baked on-site as is everything else. The Cacao latte is a chocolate and coffee lover’s dream,” gushed one online reviewer. “If you want to taste pure molten chocolate rather than ‘hot cocoa’ this place will send you directly to heaven,” said another. But perhaps the most effective review contained just one word: “Wow.”


Reader Recommended

Jones Coffee Roasters

693 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 564-9291 

thebestcoffee.com 


Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar

1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 529-5571 

lavenderandhoneyespresso.com



BEST INDIAN FOOD

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 

allindiacafeca.com

With a staff that takes the fear and fright out of eating new things, All India customers have been able to enjoy cuisine from places throughout the Indian subcontinent. Among the popular restaurant’s 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).


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 Ristorante & Bar has once again been honored for having the Best Italian Food in the Greater Pasadena area. If you read their website, it might have well been expected. “Aging gracefully” is how restaurant managers describe the business. With punctuation issues corrected, it goes on to say “This classy Pasadena stalwart from the Drago brothers continues to elevate freshly made pasta to an art form by taking original Italian ingredients and turning them into something beautiful; rounding out the fine dining experience is a cordial, authentic staff, a fairly elegant room and, yes, pricey tabs (totally worth it for a special occasion).” Apparently our readers agree.


Reader Recommended

Gale’s Restaurant

452 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 432-6705 | galesrestaurant.com


Tarantino’s Pizzeria

784 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 796-7836  

tarantinospasadena.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

In its quest to become  America’ s new comfort food, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant is having no trouble winning, hearts, minds and appetites to their cause. Featuring almost every kind of fish, as well as egg, shrimp and crab, the menu also includes sashimi and numerous sushi rolls, namely the popular California roll, as well as 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


Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa

146 S. Lake Ave., No. 108, Pasadena

(626) 298-8386 | sugarfishsushi.com



BEST KOREAN FOOD

Chris’ Korean BBQ

2063 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 796-9604 

koreanbbqpasadena.com

Chris’ Korean BBQ describes itself as a go-to family restaurant for all-you-can-eat Korean buffet in Pasadena, featuring such specialty items as tofu soup, Korean pancakes and a wide variety of beers and wine. This locally owned restaurant offers friendly service and premium quality meat, ensuring a fine dining experience. For the convenience of customers, Chris’ provides free parking.


Reader Recommended

Gen Korean BBQ House

68 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 407-2858 

genkoreanbbq.com


San Restaurant

124 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 584-1120

BEST LOCAL BREWERY

Craftsman Brewing Co.

1260 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

(626) 296-2537 

craftsmanbrewing.com

Brewer Mark Jilg has been creating craft beer in Southern California for nearly 20 years. Jilg eschews the spotlight, but what this brewery has to offer is plenty of old school craft. Concluded one web critique: “Making small-batch brews that are served for the most part in the LA area, founding owner and brewer Jilg remains committed to taking risks, offering a wide variety of beers and tastes, and relying on the true beer connoisseur to discover and enjoy the cutting edge brewery’s offerings.”


Reader Recommended

Eagle Rock Brewery

3056 Roswell St., Los Angeles

(323) 257-7866 

eaglerockbrewery.com 


Golden Road Brewing

5410 W. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles

(213) 373-4677 | goldenroad.la



BEST LOCAL JUICE BAR

Juice Lab 360

277 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 755-5054 

thejuicelab360.com

This is not just another juice bar. Sure, they have all the favorites, including concoctions mixed on the spot. But more than merely making delicious and healthful drinks, Juice Lab 360 is a place to learn about health and wellness. They also have super food smoothies and plant-based sandwiches and salads. If you believe that health and wellness begin on the inside, this is the place for you. 



BEST LOCAL PIZZA

The Luggage Room 

Pizzeria

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4440 | theluggageroom.com

La Grande Orange Cafe now offers another culinary option with the opening of The Luggage Room Pizzeria, aptly named for its location in the back room that used to house travelers’ baggage at the old Santa Fe Station, now home to the Metro Gold Line’s Del Mar Station. The menu features pizzas fired in the wood-burning oven, many of them vegetarian, including the Mushroom Party and the farmer’s market pie. Customers can also customize pies with pepperoni, artichokes and buffalo mozzarella. “Everything here was wonderful,” wrote one online fan. “Go on Monday for the happy hour deal. A second pizza is only $7.”


Reader Recommended

Blaze Pizza

667 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 440-7358 | blazepizza.com

990 Town Center Drive, La Cañada Flintridge

(818) 790-8900

Glendale Galleria

100 W. Broadway, Glendale

(818) 662-8777


Pizza of Venice

2545 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena

(626) 765-9636 | pizzaofvenice.com



BEST MEDITERRANEAN FOOD

Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844  

kokosmediterraneancafe.com 

At Mediterranean Café, the menu speaks for itself: Entrees include hearty chicken, beef, lamb, kefta kabobs, most served with rice, hummus, Greek salad and pita bread; chicken shawarma and shawarma salad, and kebab salad; and vegetarian falafels, baba ghanooj, mujaddarah, stuffed grape leaves and various pita wraps. And nothing on the menu exceeds $10. Located on Pasadena’s Shopper’s Lane, MC has become a favorite of the Caltech crowd. “This is not for a fancy dining experience,” wrote wannagetaway at tripadvisor.com. “I would describe it as ‘fast-food efficiency with dine-in quality.’”



Reader Recommended

Café Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 | cafesantorini.com


Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237



BEST MEXICAN FOOD

El Portal Restaurant

695 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 795-8553 | elportalrestaurant.com

It seems people just can’t stop talking about the food and drinks at El Portal, a staple in the city’s Playhouse District and a perennial winner in the PW Best of Pasadena competition. “Try the Yucatan Trio or the amazing shrimp and spinach enchiladas or the mole enchiladas,” wrote one Yelper. “It has as all the typical Mexican dishes you’d expect, but with some awesome Yucatan dishes you wouldn’t. Try the cochinita pibil!” One fan enjoys the food too, but has another reason for liking El Portal: “THEIR MARGARITAS!!!!” These are some of the best margaritas in the area. “Such great flavor and at a great price (an entire pitcher for $25) … and they aren’t weak either.” 


Reader Recommended

El Patron 

2555 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 296-2818 | elpatrononline.com


Mijares Mexican Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763 

mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674 



BEST MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD 

Sahara Middle Eastern Restaurant 

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 | saharapasadena.com

Sahara serves a variety of Middle Eastern dishes for lunch and dinner, with a menu that features beef, lamb and chicken kebabs; arayis (ground lamb and beef grilled in pita bread with chopped onions and parsley); hummus, falafel, baba ghanouj and other appetizers; salads; sandwiches; and vegetarian plates. Lite Lunch Plates, at prices ranging from $5.95 to $7.95, are also available. “My mouth is watering just thinking about the delicious beef kebabs. Good prices and great Armenian food! A winner,” wrote one online fan. “I love this little restaurant!” said another. “If you’re looking for ambience, this isn’t the place. If you’re looking for really great Mediterranean food at extremely reasonable prices, you have to give them a try.”


Reader Recommended

Heidar Baba

1511 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-7970 | heidarbaba.com


Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844 

kokosmediterraneancafe.com


Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237



BEST RAMEN

Modan Artisanal Ramen

700 Fair Oaks Ave., Ste G, 

South Pasadena

(626) 799-2878

Jonesing for something quick, hot, tasty and inexpensive? Then look no further than Modan Artisanal Ramen in South Pasadena. “Try the Brussels sprouts appetizer,” says one Internet fan. “If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you will after this.”  Everything on the menu is good, vowed another web fan, “but try the curry fries.” 


Reader Recommended

Ramen Tatsunoya 

16 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena,

(626) 432-1768 

tatsunoyausa.net



BEST SALAD

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170 

greenstreetrestaurant.com

Since 1979, Green Street Restaurant has become a Pasadena institution, serving California cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As much for its to-die-for zucchini bread, Green Street is famous for its Dianne Salad. The restaurant’s signature dish, a Dianne consists of chicken, Asian noodles, toasted almonds, sesame seeds and shredded lettuce served with the restaurant’s homemade dressing. Other salads include the Kale Dianne, a recent variation on the classic, the Quinoa and Black Bean Fiesta Salad, the Arroyo Salad and the Cornucopia Salad. 


Reader Recommended

Souplantation

201 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4798 

souplantation.com/locations


Stonefire Grill

473 N. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 921-1255 

stonefiregrill.com


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) 793-3474 | camerons4fish.com

Cameron’s serves fresh fish from morning until night — from shrimp platters and halibut filets to Maine lobster. 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. Their friendly bar allows patrons to enjoy a good meal and a cocktail while watching sporting events on TV.

   

Reader Recommended

Roy’s Restaurant 

641 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-4066 | roysrestaurant.com


San Marino Seafood

2150 Huntington Drive, San Marino

(626) 943-8862 | sanmarinoseafood.com



BEST SOUL FOOD

Big Mama’s Rib Shack

1453 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 797-1792  

bigmamaspasadena.com

Soul food, Big Mama is thy name. Actually, Big Mama’s real name is Emma Sue Miller McWhorter, and her family-owned and operated restaurant and catering service on North Lake Avenue has long been famous for its great food — gumbo and jambalaya; po’boy sandwiches; blackened, fried or Creole-style chicken; BBQ beef and pork entrees; Louisiana hotlinks served over red beans, rice and grilled onions; and blackened, grilled or fried catfish. But Big Mama’s is also a popular local night spot, occasionally featuring major blues acts. “Because of our unique cuisine and Southern hospitality, we attract diners of all walks of life from across the globe, including many celebrities,” their website states. 


Reader Recommended

Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ Heaven

1280 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-0132 | bonniebssmokin.com


Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-4890 

roscoeschickenandwaffles.com



BEST SOUTH
AMERICAN FOOD

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 | amarachocolate.com

As reported by PW Food Critic Erica Wayne earlier this year, Amara owner Amora Barroeta is a former Venezuelan beauty queen with a degree in chemistry who once worked as a TV host. Barroeta, Wayne wrote, “also harbored a long-time passion for cooking and baking which came to fruition with the opening in 2012 of her eponymous Pasadena café-bakery-confectionery-restaurant.” Unfortunately, however, “Venezuela is in dire financial straits right now, with chocolate and sugar exports at low ebb, she wrote. “Thank goodness Amara Barroeta was able to export herself and her exceptional culinary talents to Pasadena. We’re lucky to have her.”


Reader Recommended

1810 Argentinean Restaurant

121 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-5658 | 1810restaurant.com


Choza Mama 96

96 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 432-4692 | choza96.com


Malbec

1001 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0550 | malbeccuisine.com



BEST SPANISH FOOD

Racion

119 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 396-3090 | racionrestaurant.com

Racion, a popular Old Pasadena tapas restaurant, lets its list of accomplishments do its public relations work, and for good reason. According to its website, the diminutive restaurant has received giant-sized accolades, named a Los Angeles Times top 101 restaurant in 2013 and 2014, a Los Angeles Magazine top 75 restaurant in 2013 and 2014, and has received a “Global Selection” accolade by San Pellegrino in its list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” of 2014. Along with Basque-style cuisine, Racion also offers a wide selection of wine, beer, sherry and cider. 



BEST STEAKHOUSE

Arroyo Chop House

536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463 | arroyochophouse.com

If filet mignon, porterhouse, T-bone, New York strip and Kansas City ribeye are your idea of what a steakhouse should offer, then welcome to Arroyo Chophouse, which, according to its website, offers “a modern take on the classic American steakhouse.” Serving only USDA prime beef, chop house diners can also choose from other cuts of steak, as well as several cuts of Japanese-bred Wagyo cattle. Unfortunately, none of this comes without some physical and financial bloodletting. Dinners range from $41 to $110. The menu also 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

45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com

117 E. Broadway, 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

El Patron 

2555 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 296-2818 | elpatrononline.com


La Estrella

502 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-8559 

330 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-2752



BEST TEA ROOM

Chado Tea Room

79 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 431-2832 | chadotea.com

Tea time at Chado Tea Room can be a complicated affair, with more than 300 types of specialty teas available from throughout the world, including varieties of black, white, green, flavored, red bush, oolong, organic and chai. Reservations for the afternoon tea, which features a selection of scones and sandwiches, can be made by calling the restaurant, which also features salads, sandwiches, soups and desserts like scones or cake.


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.com



BEST THAI FOOD 

Daisy Mint

1218 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 792-2999 | daisymint.com

Daisy Mint’s menu may not be immediately familiar to the causal diner. But then they eat, and immediately once-confused customers are won over, not only by the food but also the great service. As for that menu, favorites include a wide array of curries (green jungle, red devil, yellow chicken and pineapple), Daisy Salmon (salmon steak broiled in creamy cilantro sauce), pad see ew noodles, signature Daisy Noodles (rice noodles with red curry, egg, crispy onions, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts), and salmon and lime leaf cooked in red curry sauce.


Reader Recommended

President Thai

498 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

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


Saladang

363 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 793-8123



BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com

Ann Gentry’s efforts over the past 25 years to raise the standard of plant-based cooking have paid off in the creation of Real Food Daily, the region’s premiere organic plant-based restaurant serving quality, authentic, creative and nutritionally balanced food. RFD is the only restaurant in the Los Angeles area that serves a 100 percent plant-based menu, using foods grown exclusively with organic farming methods. With three locations in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Pasadena since 2012, RFD has developed a loyal following among vegetarians, celebrities, trendsetting young eaters with sophisticated palates, and mature diners seeking healthy gourmet cuisine.


Reader Recommended

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 | allindiacafeca.com

Veggie Grill

200 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 535-9561 | veggiegrill.com



BEST VIETNAMESE FOOD

Saigon Noodle 

Restaurant

28 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-9378 

Even if customers have their peeves, they all agree that Saigon Noodle Restaurant in Old Pasadena serves the Best Vietnamese Food.  “Food is fantastic. The servers don’t bug you, and you can watch the news while you eat,” writes one online fan. Some people have a problem with that style, but one person wrote about being “pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon this easy-to-miss gem. The Pho is flavorful, with a rich broth of chicken or beef. Good for the soul, and easy on the wallet.”


Reader Recommended

Pasadena Noodle & Grill

2335 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 792-1893 | pasadenanoodle.com



BEST WINGS

Hot Wings Café

89 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 449-9055 | hotwingscafe.net

314 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 247-4455

It’s no wonder Hot Wings Cafe is a favorite of PW readers, with four flat screen TVs to watch while enjoying wine and 20 different kinds of beer. Since 1986 Hot Wings Café has been serving the Greater Los Angeles area with delicious hot wings, all in a warm and inviting environment. Along with wings, the company also serves a full menu of sandwiches and sides. They also provide large party trays of hot wings for weddings, parties and corporate events.


Reader Recommended

Alondra Hot Wings

2675 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(323) 274-1024 

alondrawings.com

515 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 576-7119


Buffalo Wild Wings

1000 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 993-6400 

buffalowildwings.com


Wingstop 

1279 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-2800 | wingstop.com

1709 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 578-9464 

Tricks & Treats

Remember childhood, when you put on your costume and hit up the neighbors for Halloween treats? Word was out among the kids on which houses gave out the best goodies: Snickers, Hershey bars, packages of orange and black jelly beans and such. And some would surprise you with incredible homemade stuff — fresh-baked cookies, caramel apples and even warm cider. 

The restaurants that win the Pasadena Weekly’s Best of Pasadena voting each year are kind of like the houses we knew to visit on Halloween — most treat their visitors with high quality traditional food guaranteed to please; others surprise with innovative delicacies. Both kinds have garnered enough loyal fans to stand apart from their peers and, with any luck, “live long and prosper” as my favorite Vulcan used to say. 

As for tricks, the only ones on display are those of the chefs, proprietors and waitstaff who create the voters’ outstanding dining experiences. There’s nary a call among those who send in their ballots for TPing or soaping the windows of any of the 61 winners (or 122 runners-up), and my guess is servers who work in our winners are rarely tricked out of tips. 

It’s impossible to focus on all the winners in this introduction, but a few can be singled out for mention. This year’s Best Restaurant is Union, where chef Bruce Kalman has created “a deeply personal, seasonally Californian interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine” according to the website. Kalman’s culinary wizardry is profound. His results? Magical!

And speaking of wizards, our Best Chef (for the second year in a row) is Claud Beltran. He’s not only a creator of innovative and excellent cuisine but also a master performer, juggling three entirely different and highly successful restaurants (The Eatery on Allen, Bacchus’ Kitchen and Perry’s in the DusitD2 Hotel Constance) as well as a thriving catering business (Claud & Co.) at once.

The Best New Restaurant is Sierra Madre’s Sierra Fusion, less than five months old. Owners are Joseph Ungrue, born in Hawaii of a Filipino mother and Indian-Greek father, and his Latina wife Christina Duarte. Both have extensive experience in prestigious restaurants specializing in Japanese, Korean and Spanish cuisines plus combinations thereof. Their baby’s richly diverse menu draws from all these roots and others. PS – sushi too!

The venerable Raymond again won top honors as the Best Romantic Restaurant — no surprise there. And it also shared top billing with Parkway Grill as the Best Special Occasion venue. Other multiple winners: All India Café (Best Indian Food and Best Restaurant Staff), Dog Haus (Best Hot Dog, Best Burger and Best Cheap Eats) and Amara Chocolate & Coffee (Best Dessert, Best Independent Coffee House and Best South American Food).

The restaurants mentioned above and the many others listed below have mastered all the “tricks of the trade” necessary to provide the “treats” you hope for in the Best of Pasadena area dining. No need to dress in costume or even tie or heels. Just check below for (as J.K. Rowling might phrase it) fantastic food and where to find it. 

 

BEST RESTAURANT

Union

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com

Union, located in the heart of Old Pasadena, is the brainchild of Chef Bruce Kalman and Marie Petulla, who built the 50-seat restaurant and bar, specializing in a seasonally Californian interpretation of Northern Italian cuisine. Together they’ve created an intimate neighborhood restaurant. Says General Manager Francis Castagnetti Jr., “Everyone who works here comes from a fine dining background, but we’re all super laid back. [We] all work in tandem to create the best dining experience possible. This is a dream team. We all have a massive amount of respect for what Marie and Bruce have built and for each other.”


Reader Recommended

Houston’s

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

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


Parkway Grill

510 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com



BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Sierra Fusion

120 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., 

Sierra Madre

(626) 355-3030 | sierrafusion.com

Our Best New Restaurant is the by-product of not so much a fusion of foods, which they specialize in, but of people: owners Christina Duarte, a 2011 graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, and her husband, Joseph Ungrue. The couple, with extensive experience in the restaurant trade, first met while working at top-ranked hotels in Las Vegas. It wasn’t long before they decided to head home to Southern California and start their own business. “Working in Vegas and experiencing the fast-paced kitchen and learning the many different cuisines prepared Christina and her fiancé to run their own restaurant,” their website explains.


Reader Recommended

Paul Martin’s American Grill

The Shops on Lake Avenue

455 S. Lake Ave., No. 102, Pasadena

(626) 773-7600 

paulmartinsamericangrill.com


Perry’s by Claud Beltran

DusitD2 Hotel Constance  

928 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 898-7900 

dusit.com/dusitd2/pasadena/dining/



BEST CHEF

Claud Beltran

Perry’s by Claud Beltran

928 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 898-7900 

dusit.com/dusitd2/Pasadena/dining

Bacchus’ Kitchen

1384 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 594-6377 | bacchuskitchen.com

The Eatery on Allen

488 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena

(626) 688-7256 | eateryonallen.com

From catering and changing the theme at his restaurant every month to opening new places like Perry’s by Claud Beltran at the dusitD2 Constance Hotel, award-winning Chef Claud Beltran juggles it all with a seemingly supernatural ease. Had it been a different era, he probably would have been accused of sorcery, but today, his talent, creativity and drive are the reasons why people simply love the epicurean delights he creates in his laboratories, er, kitchens, voting him this year’s Best Chef. 


Reader Recommended

Bruce Kalman

Union 

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com


Tara Punzone

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com



BEST RESTAURANT STAFF 

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 | allindiacafeca.com

A good restaurant is known for more than its food. But you don’t need to be psychic to know what makes a good restaurant great, and that’s its staff. Few restaurants in Pasadena know this fact of business life better than the folks at All India Café. It seems each year All India delivers an almost supernatural level of great service to its customers, so much so they’ve won this award — along with Best Indian Restaurant — many times over the years. Here, diners are treated like welcome guests, with the wait staff patiently describing the delicious food to those unfamiliar with Indian cuisine. You might say the service here is so good it’s scary.


Reader Recommended

Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar

1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 529-5571 

lavanderandhoneyespresso.com


Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com



BEST BUSINESS LUNCH

Smitty’s Grill

110 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9999 | smittysgrill.com

For anyone looking to strike a deal with the devil, an angel, or just another businessperson, Smitty’s Grill is cooking up American classics and comfort food sure to tame the most unlikely creatures with their virtually supernatural touch on old favorites. Whether it is a traditional chicken pot pie or a seafood special, or maybe that special ambience that casts the whole place in a warm, welcoming glow, Smitty’s atmosphere and comfort-food cuisine make customers feel right at home. 


Reader Recommended

Del Frisco’s Grille

55 S. Lake Ave., Suite 150, Pasadena

(626) 765-9913 | delfriscosgrille.com


Houston’s

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001 

hillstone.com/houstons



BEST CHEAP EATS

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

Eating out on a budget can be a nightmare. However, at Dog Haus, one can get filled up comfortably without murdering his or her wallet. Founded by partners Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and Andre Vener, Dog Haus opened in 2010 in Pasadena, serving specially crafted, all-beef dogs. The idea proved so popular that today there are outlets in California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Texas and Utah. And what a value it is, with the local startup also a one-stop shop, winning for Best Burger and Best Hot Dog.  


Reader Recommended                      

In-N-Out Burger

2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

1210 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

(800) 786-1000 

in-n-out.com


Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 | luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079



BEST OUTDOOR DINING

Café Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 | cafesantorini.com

Since 1993, Café Santorini has been an ideal setting for corporate functions and personal celebrations. Operating out of a historic brick building in Old Pasadena, Café Santorini specializes in grilled meats, seafood dishes, an array of pastas and family-style appetizer platters; complete with a full bar and an extensive wine list — the perfect menu to quell the ever-needy hunger monster. While the indoor dining room is cozy, the outdoor patio offers year-round dining under the stars and moon in a romantic rooftop setting. 


Reader Recommended

El Portal Restaurant

695 E. Green St, Pasadena

(626) 795-8553 | elportalrestaurant.com


Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170 

greenstreetrestaurant.com


La Grande Orange Café

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com



BEST ROMANTIC
RESTAURANT

The Raymond

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com

In another time The Raymond might be considered the perfect place to take shelter from a frightening storm or a menacing full moon. It’s certainly a comforting and romantic place, where couples can dine and drink in the ambience of one of Pasadena’s finest eateries, featuring American cuisine with international influences created by Executive Chef Tim Guiltinan, as well as craft cocktails concocted at the bar in the back.  


Reader Recommended

Altaeats 

1860 N. Allen Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-1162 | altaeats.com


Bistro 45

45 S. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-2478 | bistro45.com

Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com



BEST SPECIAL
OCCASION DINING (TIE)

The Raymond

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com

The Raymond is not only the Best Romantic Restaurant but also the best place to celebrate a special occasion, and for good reason. The place is steeped in local history, first built as a caretaker’s cottage for the 300-room Raymond Hotel, which fell victim to the Great Depression in 1931 and was demolished. But the cottage remained, later turned into a restaurant and bar, 1886 (the year the hotel was first built by Walter Raymond). Today, The Raymond features an innovative menu in a casual-fine dining setting. 


Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com

In a town where celebrating major events is practically a civic duty, being named the Best Place to Celebrate Special Occasions is really quite an honor. And while many restaurants are great locations for parties, Parkway Grill puts an extra exclamation point on the festivities. Specializing in a seasonal, market-driven approach to cooking that incorporates diverse influences and classic French technique, Parkway Grill was voted “One of America’s Top Tables” by Gourmet magazine and “One of Southern California’s most popular restaurants” by the Zagat Survey. Comprised of more than 3,000 bottles, Parkway’s award-winning wine cellar has been recognized by Wine Spectator since 1999 with their “Award of Excellence” award.


Reader Recommended 

Alexander’s Steakhouse 

111 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena

(626) 486-1111 | alexanderssteakhouse.com


Arroyo Chop House

536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463 | arroyochophouse.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

When you walk into a Kabuki, they promise you won’t be overwhelmed with Asian decor and music. What you will encounter, according to the restaurant’s website, “is a casual atmosphere with today’s hottest music playing, people smiling and our friendly staff welcoming you through the doors.” The restaurant’s mission “is to be the leader in the Japanese restaurant industry. We are committed to satisfying our customers completely with the best quality food, excellent service and great value while providing the most pleasant, clean ambiance.” It’s just the kind of upbeat, forward-thinking place where the whole family can enjoy dinner together.


Reader Recommended

Islands

Paseo Colorado

300 E. Colorado Blvd., No. 240 

(626) 304-9050 

islandsrestaurants.com

3533 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena 

(626) 351-6543


Stonefire Grill

473 N. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 921-1255 

stonefiregrill.com



BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK

Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 

luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079

Is there such a thing as too much bacon? Not at Lucky Boy’s. “The charred burgers come with mild onions, grilled upon request, lettuce, and the biggest tomato you have ever seen. The buns are toasted on the grill, a nice old-school touch. The chili is meaty and not too spicy, a perfect addition to the burger,” writes the online food critic LAist. However, “If you desire monster breakfast burritos, burgers, bacon, bacon, and, um, bacon, then Lucky Boy is the place for you.”


Reader Recommended

Du-pars Restaurant & Bakery

214 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 405-8820 | Open 24 hours



King Taco

King Taco

45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com



BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

La Grande Orange

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com

Whether it’s a birthday, Mother’s Day, a graduation or some other special occasion, there’s no better way to celebrate than over weekend brunch. And there is no better place to enjoy that special meal — even if there isn’t a special occasion on the calendar — than La Grande Orange. “For brunch I really enjoy their huevos rancheros. They are so delicious and fresh. They make everything fresh,” raves a fan on Yelp. “Luckily, it’s right in front of the Gold Line (Del Mar Station),” says another enthusiast. “So if you want to Metro it, you can have as much [to drink] as you’d like!” 


Reader Recommended

Lincoln Café & Store

1992 Lincoln Ave, Pasadena

(626) 765-6746 | lincolnpasadena.com


Mijares Mexican Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763 

mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674 



BEST ARMENIAN FOOD

Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237

With a legendary tale spanning over 50 years, no crystal ball was needed to predict Zankou Chicken’s win for Best Armenian Food. Although originally known for their chicken, now, with an expanded menu, anyone can sink their teeth into their current bill of fare. However, be forewarned: It is their garlic sauce that is sure to leave every vampire in the dark and every good soul coming back seeking culinary sanctuary. 


Reader Recommended 

DeLuxe Café

1717 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 765-9486 

deluxepasadena.com


Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844 

kokosmediterraneancafé.com


Sahara Middle Eastern 

Restaurant

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 | saharapasadena.com



BEST ASIAN FOOD

Sierra Fusion

120 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., 

Sierra Madre

(626) 355-3030 | sierrafusion.com

Sierra Fusion was born out of a true lover’s tale, one that created fare worthy of a double feature. The soon-to-be-married owners’ training is full of Las Vegas neon nostalgia, working at old haunts like the Bellagio Hotel and the unreal La Cave Wine and Tapas Bar. From customizable Bento to the wide selection of sushi, Sierra Fusion’s food will pleasantly surprise most taste buds. 


Reader Recommended

Abricott

238 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-1613 | abricott.com


Daisy Mint

1218 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena (626) 792-2999 | daisymint.com


Roy’s Restaurant 

641 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-4066 | roysrestaurant.com



BEST BAKERY

EURO PANE BAKERY

345 E. Colorado Blvd., 

Pasadena (West)

(626) 844-8804

950 E. Colorado Blvd., 

Pasadena (East)

(626) 577-1828

Euro Pane Bakery was so good they opened a second one. Already known for their devilishly good baked goods, Euro Pane owner Sumi Chang opened her second location in Pasadena in April 2010. As Erica Zora Wrightson of the LA Weekly described it, the second Euro Pane (West) started out slowly, serving pastries, coffee and a simple lunch menu. But “[We] imagine it won’t be long until Euro Pane West has its own set of regulars, perhaps drifting east from Old Town or sneaking south from Pasadena City Hall. For those migrating north from the campus of Caltech, who understand exactly why Chang’s lavender macarons make one’s jaw ache with pleasure, or how the egg salad sends the stomach to a place usually reserved for the heart.” Prophetic words indeed.

Reader Recommended

85°C Bakery Cafe

61 S. Fair Oaks Ave. No. 120,

Pasadena

(626) 792-8585 | 85cafe.us


Seed Bakery

942 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 486-2115 

seedbakerypasadena.com



BEST BBQ

Gus’s BBQ

808 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-3251 | gussbbq.com

Thanks to the dedication of Gus’s BBQ, the culinary spirit of the Old South has remained alive in South Pasadena since 1946, when they first opened. Their menu is sure to warm the soul with its wickedly delicious comfort foods, like fried chicken, waffles, gumbo and cast-iron cornbread. If their hospitality doesn’t leave you screaming for more, their real pit barbecue will. 


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 

marstonrestaurant.com

Marston’s has always been on Pasadena Weekly’s radar, having won first place in this category for many years, including 2015.  This year, owner Jim McCardy wins full bragging rights again. And for good reason; Zagat rated Marston’s the No. 1 place for breakfast in Los Angeles back in 2003, and the Food Network Magazine in 2010 declared Marston’s served the Best Breakfast in California. So if your stomach is growling after an otherworldly night on the town, get to Marston’s for breakfast. Their French toast alone is worth the time you’ll stand in line to get inside. 


Reader Recommended

Lincoln Café & Store

1992 Lincoln Ave, Pasadena

(626) 765-6746 

lincolnpasadena.com


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 

If a feast is what you need, head over to Souplantation. From the most customizable salads to savory soups and the juiciest of meats, this chain buffet is guaranteed to satiate that near-feral hunger. Go at the right time and there might be someone handing out treats: Souplantation’s very own cookies. 


Reader Recommended

Lemonade

146 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 304-7700 | lemonade.com


Zen Buffet

945 W. Huntington Drive, Monrovia

(626) 359-8881 | thezenbuffet.com



BEST BURGER

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

The only thing haunting this house are the howling cries of people’s taste buds yelping for more. Founders Hagop Giragossian, Quasim Riaz and Andre Vener opened this Pasadena restaurant serving skinless, specially crafted, 100 percent beef 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. Though originally opening as a concept hot dog place, their burgers are also no match for mere mortals. Never fear, vegetarians, for this place has meat alternatives upon request.


Reader Recommended

In-N-Out Burger

2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

1210 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

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


Pie N Burger 

913 E. California Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-1123 

pienburger.com

BEST BURRITO

Burrito Express

1597 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 798-0844 

burritoexpresspasadena.com

This winner is no poltergeist catching people off guard. Anyone who is anyone in Pasadena knows that to get a good burrito, one must make the trek to Burrito Express, located in the city’s northeast. So dust off that broomstick and fly across town if necessary, because everything here is prepared in-house — from the salsas to the meats. 


Reader Recommended

La Estrella

502 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-8559 

330 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-2752


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

This perennial winner is located at the Metro Gold Line Del Mar Station. So while waiting for that last train to nowhere, fill up at La Grande Orange to remember what California cuisine is all about, whether it is fresh salmon or mesquite-grilled ribeye. Maybe even enjoy a well-crafted cocktail or two before vanishing into the mist. 


Reader Recommended

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170

greenstreetrestaurant.com


Lemonade

146 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 304-7700 

lemonade.com



BEST CENTRAL
AMERICAN FOOD

La Caravana Restaurant

1306 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-7378

Are you on the hunt for a casual haunt that features food that is different from the normal fare? La Caravana is just the place you are looking for, with its yucca and meat pies. Eat in with a group for a relaxed meal or, if time is short, order to go and make like an apparition and get out of there. Either way, La Caravana is spine-chillingly good Salvadoran food.



BEST CHINESE FOOD 

Panda Inn

3488 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-7300 

pandainn.com

Panda Inn has been bringing Mandarin and Szechwan dishes with flair to Pasadena since 1973. If a broomstick or the power of apparition aren’t enough to make it to China, then Panda Inn is your best bet to experience some of the country’s rich regional flavors.


Reader Recommended

Grandview Palace

60 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-2888 

grandview-palace.com


Yang Chow

3777 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 432-6868 

yangchow.com



BEST CUPCAKES

Dots cupcakes

400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 568-36787 

dotscupcakes.com

21 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-7719

Take a break from the nightmarish 9-5 and stop by Dot’s Cupcakes to be instantly transported into another time and place. Despite the whimsical and darling designs, it’s the inside that counts at Dot’s. Legend has it that their cakes are made with pure ingredients and organic fruit preserves sure to knock out any evil spirits. 


Reader Recommended

Lark Cake Shop

1355 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-1031 

larkcakeshop.com


Polkatots Cupcakes

720 N. Lake Ave., No. 3, Pasadena

(626) 798-3932 

polkatotscupcakes.com



BEST DELI/SANDWICHES 

Union Street Sandwich Co.

109 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 639-3575 | unionsandwich.com

Union Street Sandwich Co. has cast a spell that has its customers clawing at the doors in their haste for one of their bewitching sandwiches. Or maybe it has something to do with the imported Italian meats and artisan bread. Whichever it is, these sandwiches are from another dimension. 


Reader Recommended

Pasadena Sandwich Company

259 Sierra Madre Villa Ave. No. 102, Pasadena

(626) 578-1616 

pasadenasandwichcompany.com


Roma Market

918 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 797-7748 | romamarkets.com



BEST DESSERT

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 | amarachocolate.com

Fondue, truffles, hot chocolate, lattes — there appears to be no end in sight in the number of ways Amara’s delicious desserts can be enjoyed. Their Venezuelan chocolates are so good that they must be made of some supernatural substance strong enough to ward off cravings. 


Reader Recommended

Dots Cupcakes

400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 568-36787 | dotscupcakes.com

21 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-7719


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

Originally from Alhambra, California, Lunasia Dim Sum House has carved itself a place in Pasadena with its bite-size Cantonese food known as dim sum. Grab a few ghoulish friends and sample Lunasia’s offerings. With all its tempting menu items, it will be easy to go wild. 


Reader Recommended 

Din Tai Fung

The Americana at Brand

177 Caruso Ave., Glendale

(818) 551-5561 | dintaifungusa.com

1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555


King Hua Restaurant

2000 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-8833 

kinghuarestaurant.com



BEST DUMPLINGS

Din Tai Fung

The Americana at Brand

177 Caruso Ave., Glendale

(818) 551-5561 | dintaifungusa.com

1108 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

400 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 446-8555

Tales have been told about Din Tai Fung’s mouthwatering dumplings, from VICE aliens to Wall Street Journal vampires. But it isn’t done without reason; Din Tai Fung has won a Michelin Star for excellence in its Hong Kong branches. 


Reader Recommended

Lunasia Dim Sum House

239 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-8822 

lunasiadimsumhouse.com



BEST FRENCH FOOD

Café Bizou

91 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9923 | cafebizou.com

At Cafe Bizou, it’s all about the customer’s experience. As described by the LA Times, Café Bizou is “… a favorite with wine buffs for its $2 corkage fee. Cozy and candle-lighted, it features an extensive menu of Francophile favorites including sweetbreads and steak frites.” As they say on the restaurant’s website, Café Bizou prides itself on providing “top-quality service and delicious food in a family friendly restaurant.” It also bills itself as “the perfect setting for business meetings and events, family reunions, birthday celebrations or rehearsal dinners.”

Reader Recommended

Maison Akira

713 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 796-9501 

maisonakira.net


Nicole’s Gourmet Market & Café

921 Meridian Ave., Unit B, 

South Pasadena

(626) 403-5751 

nicolesgourmetfoods.com

BEST FRIED CHICKEN

Roscoe’s House of
Chicken and Waffles

830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-4890 

roscoeschickenandwaffles.com

If anyone knows anything about fried chicken and waffles it’s Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles. But that’s not all this local stalwart has to offer. Roscoe’s is also known for its greens, mac and cheese, hot water cornbread and red beans and rice. “This was a wonderful experience due to the scrumptious food and our amazing server Delphine!” wrote a first-time customer. “With so many options, my parents, sister and I couldn’t figure out what to order. Luckily for us, Delphine knew exactly how much chicken, waffles and sides to order.”


Reader Recommended

Honeybird

714 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada 

Flintridge

(818) 415-0489 

honeybirdla.com/menu


Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen

899 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-4734 

popeyes.com



BEST FROZEN YOGURT

Yogurtland

30 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

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

415 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4868

5045 Eagle Rock Blvd., Eagle Rock

(323) 550-1490

1 E. Valley Blvd., Alhambra

(626) 289-3420

633 W. Duarte Rd., Arcadia

(626) 821-8723

At Yogurtland, real ingredients make the difference. They use only creamy, fresh and pure California milk without antibiotics or added hormones. And they add only the world’s finest ingredients to produce pure and delicious frozen yogurt.


Reader Recommended 

21 Choices

85 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-9521 

21choices.com 


Cherry on Top

1299 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 440-1299 | cherryontop.net



BEST GELATO

Bulgarini Gelato

749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena

(626) 791-6174 | bulgarinigelato.com

Leo Bulgarini has been one of Altadena’s best kept secrets since 2007, the year he opened a small shop tucked away in the hills of Altadena. From there, Bulgarini creates some of the best gelato in Southern California, if not the country. But if not the country, then “Bulgarini serves the best gelato in LA — and some of the best we’ve had outside of Sorrento,” writes Kenny Porpora at Yahoo! News. “And while this hidden gem has found its way into the pages of the LA Times, it remains relatively unknown to most Angelenos.”  


Reader Recommended 

Gelato by Stick Station

62 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 345-5531


Hello Gelato

20 E. Colorado Blvd., Ste 101. 

Pasadena

(626) 744-1788 



BEST GRILLED CHEESE

Melt It!

105 N Hill Ave. Suite 103, Pasadena

(626) 793-7002 | agrilledcheeseco.com

Melt It! located in the heart of Pasadena, near Pasadena City College, is serving up American favorites with a tasty tweak. The restaurant currently has something for every taste, now including a new Thai chicken sandwich and baked chicken topped with marinated feta, cabbage salad, cilantro, spicy peanut sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots in a baguette. Dress as causal as you like and order your food to take home, if you so desire. Here, home of the original comfort food, customer satisfaction is a top priority.


Reader Recommended 

Mix n Munch

1005 Mission St., South Pasadena

(626) 441-8808 | mixnmunch.com


The Bea’s Knees

120 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-9308 

thebeaskneespasadena.com



BEST HEALTH/
ORGANIC FOOD

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com

Not only are sandwiches, burgers, tacos and burritos made with tempeh, tempeh bacon, tofu, or mushroom patties, but diners can order a dish prepared with their choice of vegetables, beans, grains and plant proteins at Real Food Daily. The popular restaurant, in business since 1993, serves heart-healthy, plant-based dishes that are balanced according to Eastern health philosophies.



Reader Recommended

Grassroots Natural Market & Kitchen

1119 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-0156 

grassrootsnmk.com


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



BEST HOT DOG

Dog Haus

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4287 | doghaus.com

93 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0808

410 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-4287

Though they make award-winning burgers, the signature dish at this Pasadena-born chain is the humble hot dog. Among some of the creations spawned by their 100-beef skinless dogs is the Sooo Cali hotdog, served with wild arugula, spicy basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado and tomato. And there’s the Downtown Dog, another specialty item that includes smoked-bacon-wrapped hot dog with roasted jalapenos, chipotle mayo and cotija cheese. While both sound great, the truth is anything on the menu will satisfy even the most discriminating fast-food tastes. 


Reader Recommended

Costco

2207 W. Commonwealth Ave., Alhambra

(626) 289-7164 

costco.com


Slaw Dogs

720 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 808-9777 

slawdogspasadena.com


BEST ICE CREAM

Carmela Ice Cream

2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 797-1405 

carmelaicecream.com

Founders Zachary Cox and Jessica Mortarotti have created quite a following for their one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, with such favorites as salted caramel, lavender honey, strawberry buttermilk, brown sugar cacao nib, mint cacao nib and brown sugar vanilla bean. The seasonal sorbets include flavors like heirloom tomato, cucumber, cantaloupe and raspberry rose. “It doesn’t have a multitude of flavors, but every flavor they do have has impressed,” Jeff T. of Alhambra wrote on Yelp. “This absolute GEM in Pasadena wreaks of ‘old timey-ness’; an adorable ice cream cart with umbrella graces the outside and the beautiful cursive logo on the giant front window,” said Rosanna M. of Long Beach.  


Reader Recommended

Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co.

1824 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-6533 | fosselmans.com


Mother Moo Creamery 

& Marketplace

17 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre (626) 355-9650 | mothermoo.com

1006 Mission St., South Pasadena

(626) 441-0744



BEST INDEPENDENT COFFEE HOUSE

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 

amarachocolate.com

Is there anything not to like about Amara Chocolate & Coffee in Old Pasadena? “Top-notch coffee and chocolate place. The ice cream churros are the best! Freshly made and baked on-site as is everything else. The Cacao latte is a chocolate and coffee lover’s dream,” gushed one online reviewer. “If you want to taste pure molten chocolate rather than ‘hot cocoa’ this place will send you directly to heaven,” said another. But perhaps the most effective review contained just one word: “Wow.”


Reader Recommended

Jones Coffee Roasters

693 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 564-9291 

thebestcoffee.com 


Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar

1383 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 529-5571 

lavenderandhoneyespresso.com



BEST INDIAN FOOD

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 

allindiacafeca.com

With a staff that takes the fear and fright out of eating new things, All India customers have been able to enjoy cuisine from places throughout the Indian subcontinent. Among the popular restaurant’s 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).


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 Ristorante & Bar has once again been honored for having the Best Italian Food in the Greater Pasadena area. If you read their website, it might have well been expected. “Aging gracefully” is how restaurant managers describe the business. With punctuation issues corrected, it goes on to say “This classy Pasadena stalwart from the Drago brothers continues to elevate freshly made pasta to an art form by taking original Italian ingredients and turning them into something beautiful; rounding out the fine dining experience is a cordial, authentic staff, a fairly elegant room and, yes, pricey tabs (totally worth it for a special occasion).” Apparently our readers agree.


Reader Recommended

Gale’s Restaurant

452 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 432-6705 | galesrestaurant.com


Tarantino’s Pizzeria

784 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 796-7836  

tarantinospasadena.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

In its quest to become  America’ s new comfort food, Kabuki Japanese Restaurant is having no trouble winning, hearts, minds and appetites to their cause. Featuring almost every kind of fish, as well as egg, shrimp and crab, the menu also includes sashimi and numerous sushi rolls, namely the popular California roll, as well as 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


Sugarfish by Sushi Nozawa

146 S. Lake Ave., No. 108, Pasadena

(626) 298-8386 | sugarfishsushi.com



BEST KOREAN FOOD

Chris’ Korean BBQ

2063 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 796-9604 

koreanbbqpasadena.com

Chris’ Korean BBQ describes itself as a go-to family restaurant for all-you-can-eat Korean buffet in Pasadena, featuring such specialty items as tofu soup, Korean pancakes and a wide variety of beers and wine. This locally owned restaurant offers friendly service and premium quality meat, ensuring a fine dining experience. For the convenience of customers, Chris’ provides free parking.


Reader Recommended

Gen Korean BBQ House

68 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 407-2858 

genkoreanbbq.com


San Restaurant

124 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 584-1120

BEST LOCAL BREWERY

Craftsman Brewing Co.

1260 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

(626) 296-2537 

craftsmanbrewing.com

Brewer Mark Jilg has been creating craft beer in Southern California for nearly 20 years. Jilg eschews the spotlight, but what this brewery has to offer is plenty of old school craft. Concluded one web critique: “Making small-batch brews that are served for the most part in the LA area, founding owner and brewer Jilg remains committed to taking risks, offering a wide variety of beers and tastes, and relying on the true beer connoisseur to discover and enjoy the cutting edge brewery’s offerings.”


Reader Recommended

Eagle Rock Brewery

3056 Roswell St., Los Angeles

(323) 257-7866 

eaglerockbrewery.com 


Golden Road Brewing

5410 W. San Fernando Road, Los Angeles

(213) 373-4677 | goldenroad.la



BEST LOCAL JUICE BAR

Juice Lab 360

277 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 755-5054 

thejuicelab360.com

This is not just another juice bar. Sure, they have all the favorites, including concoctions mixed on the spot. But more than merely making delicious and healthful drinks, Juice Lab 360 is a place to learn about health and wellness. They also have super food smoothies and plant-based sandwiches and salads. If you believe that health and wellness begin on the inside, this is the place for you. 



BEST LOCAL PIZZA

The Luggage Room 

Pizzeria

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4440 | theluggageroom.com

La Grande Orange Cafe now offers another culinary option with the opening of The Luggage Room Pizzeria, aptly named for its location in the back room that used to house travelers’ baggage at the old Santa Fe Station, now home to the Metro Gold Line’s Del Mar Station. The menu features pizzas fired in the wood-burning oven, many of them vegetarian, including the Mushroom Party and the farmer’s market pie. Customers can also customize pies with pepperoni, artichokes and buffalo mozzarella. “Everything here was wonderful,” wrote one online fan. “Go on Monday for the happy hour deal. A second pizza is only $7.”


Reader Recommended

Blaze Pizza

667 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 440-7358 | blazepizza.com

990 Town Center Drive, La Cañada Flintridge

(818) 790-8900

Glendale Galleria

100 W. Broadway, Glendale

(818) 662-8777


Pizza of Venice

2545 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Altadena

(626) 765-9636 | pizzaofvenice.com



BEST MEDITERRANEAN FOOD

Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844  

kokosmediterraneancafe.com 

At Mediterranean Café, the menu speaks for itself: Entrees include hearty chicken, beef, lamb, kefta kabobs, most served with rice, hummus, Greek salad and pita bread; chicken shawarma and shawarma salad, and kebab salad; and vegetarian falafels, baba ghanooj, mujaddarah, stuffed grape leaves and various pita wraps. And nothing on the menu exceeds $10. Located on Pasadena’s Shopper’s Lane, MC has become a favorite of the Caltech crowd. “This is not for a fancy dining experience,” wrote wannagetaway at tripadvisor.com. “I would describe it as ‘fast-food efficiency with dine-in quality.’”



Reader Recommended

Café Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 | cafesantorini.com


Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237



BEST MEXICAN FOOD

El Portal Restaurant

695 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 795-8553 | elportalrestaurant.com

It seems people just can’t stop talking about the food and drinks at El Portal, a staple in the city’s Playhouse District and a perennial winner in the PW Best of Pasadena competition. “Try the Yucatan Trio or the amazing shrimp and spinach enchiladas or the mole enchiladas,” wrote one Yelper. “It has as all the typical Mexican dishes you’d expect, but with some awesome Yucatan dishes you wouldn’t. Try the cochinita pibil!” One fan enjoys the food too, but has another reason for liking El Portal: “THEIR MARGARITAS!!!!” These are some of the best margaritas in the area. “Such great flavor and at a great price (an entire pitcher for $25) … and they aren’t weak either.” 


Reader Recommended

El Patron 

2555 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 296-2818 | elpatrononline.com


Mijares Mexican Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763 

mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674 



BEST MIDDLE EASTERN FOOD 

Sahara Middle Eastern Restaurant 

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 | saharapasadena.com

Sahara serves a variety of Middle Eastern dishes for lunch and dinner, with a menu that features beef, lamb and chicken kebabs; arayis (ground lamb and beef grilled in pita bread with chopped onions and parsley); hummus, falafel, baba ghanouj and other appetizers; salads; sandwiches; and vegetarian plates. Lite Lunch Plates, at prices ranging from $5.95 to $7.95, are also available. “My mouth is watering just thinking about the delicious beef kebabs. Good prices and great Armenian food! A winner,” wrote one online fan. “I love this little restaurant!” said another. “If you’re looking for ambience, this isn’t the place. If you’re looking for really great Mediterranean food at extremely reasonable prices, you have to give them a try.”


Reader Recommended

Heidar Baba

1511 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-7970 | heidarbaba.com


Mediterranean Café

273 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 793-8844 

kokosmediterraneancafe.com


Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237



BEST RAMEN

Modan Artisanal Ramen

700 Fair Oaks Ave., Ste G, 

South Pasadena

(626) 799-2878

Jonesing for something quick, hot, tasty and inexpensive? Then look no further than Modan Artisanal Ramen in South Pasadena. “Try the Brussels sprouts appetizer,” says one Internet fan. “If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you will after this.”  Everything on the menu is good, vowed another web fan, “but try the curry fries.” 


Reader Recommended

Ramen Tatsunoya 

16 N Fair Oaks Ave, Pasadena,

(626) 432-1768 

tatsunoyausa.net



BEST SALAD

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170 

greenstreetrestaurant.com

Since 1979, Green Street Restaurant has become a Pasadena institution, serving California cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As much for its to-die-for zucchini bread, Green Street is famous for its Dianne Salad. The restaurant’s signature dish, a Dianne consists of chicken, Asian noodles, toasted almonds, sesame seeds and shredded lettuce served with the restaurant’s homemade dressing. Other salads include the Kale Dianne, a recent variation on the classic, the Quinoa and Black Bean Fiesta Salad, the Arroyo Salad and the Cornucopia Salad. 


Reader Recommended

Souplantation

201 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-4798 

souplantation.com/locations


Stonefire Grill

473 N. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 921-1255 

stonefiregrill.com


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) 793-3474 | camerons4fish.com

Cameron’s serves fresh fish from morning until night — from shrimp platters and halibut filets to Maine lobster. 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. Their friendly bar allows patrons to enjoy a good meal and a cocktail while watching sporting events on TV.

   

Reader Recommended

Roy’s Restaurant 

641 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-4066 | roysrestaurant.com


San Marino Seafood

2150 Huntington Drive, San Marino

(626) 943-8862 | sanmarinoseafood.com



BEST SOUL FOOD

Big Mama’s Rib Shack

1453 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 797-1792  

bigmamaspasadena.com

Soul food, Big Mama is thy name. Actually, Big Mama’s real name is Emma Sue Miller McWhorter, and her family-owned and operated restaurant and catering service on North Lake Avenue has long been famous for its great food — gumbo and jambalaya; po’boy sandwiches; blackened, fried or Creole-style chicken; BBQ beef and pork entrees; Louisiana hotlinks served over red beans, rice and grilled onions; and blackened, grilled or fried catfish. But Big Mama’s is also a popular local night spot, occasionally featuring major blues acts. “Because of our unique cuisine and Southern hospitality, we attract diners of all walks of life from across the globe, including many celebrities,” their website states. 


Reader Recommended

Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ Heaven

1280 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-0132 | bonniebssmokin.com


Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles

830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-4890 

roscoeschickenandwaffles.com



BEST SOUTH
AMERICAN FOOD

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765 | amarachocolate.com

As reported by PW Food Critic Erica Wayne earlier this year, Amara owner Amora Barroeta is a former Venezuelan beauty queen with a degree in chemistry who once worked as a TV host. Barroeta, Wayne wrote, “also harbored a long-time passion for cooking and baking which came to fruition with the opening in 2012 of her eponymous Pasadena café-bakery-confectionery-restaurant.” Unfortunately, however, “Venezuela is in dire financial straits right now, with chocolate and sugar exports at low ebb, she wrote. “Thank goodness Amara Barroeta was able to export herself and her exceptional culinary talents to Pasadena. We’re lucky to have her.”


Reader Recommended

1810 Argentinean Restaurant

121 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-5658 | 1810restaurant.com


Choza Mama 96

96 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 432-4692 | choza96.com


Malbec

1001 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 683-0550 | malbeccuisine.com



BEST SPANISH FOOD

Racion

119 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 396-3090 | racionrestaurant.com

Racion, a popular Old Pasadena tapas restaurant, lets its list of accomplishments do its public relations work, and for good reason. According to its website, the diminutive restaurant has received giant-sized accolades, named a Los Angeles Times top 101 restaurant in 2013 and 2014, a Los Angeles Magazine top 75 restaurant in 2013 and 2014, and has received a “Global Selection” accolade by San Pellegrino in its list of “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” of 2014. Along with Basque-style cuisine, Racion also offers a wide selection of wine, beer, sherry and cider. 



BEST STEAKHOUSE

Arroyo Chop House

536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463 | arroyochophouse.com

If filet mignon, porterhouse, T-bone, New York strip and Kansas City ribeye are your idea of what a steakhouse should offer, then welcome to Arroyo Chophouse, which, according to its website, offers “a modern take on the classic American steakhouse.” Serving only USDA prime beef, chop house diners can also choose from other cuts of steak, as well as several cuts of Japanese-bred Wagyo cattle. Unfortunately, none of this comes without some physical and financial bloodletting. Dinners range from $41 to $110. The menu also 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

45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com

117 E. Broadway, 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

El Patron 

2555 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 296-2818 | elpatrononline.com


La Estrella

502 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-8559 

330 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-2752



BEST TEA ROOM

Chado Tea Room

79 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 431-2832 | chadotea.com

Tea time at Chado Tea Room can be a complicated affair, with more than 300 types of specialty teas available from throughout the world, including varieties of black, white, green, flavored, red bush, oolong, organic and chai. Reservations for the afternoon tea, which features a selection of scones and sandwiches, can be made by calling the restaurant, which also features salads, sandwiches, soups and desserts like scones or cake.


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.com



BEST THAI FOOD 

Daisy Mint

1218 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 792-2999 | daisymint.com

Daisy Mint’s menu may not be immediately familiar to the causal diner. But then they eat, and immediately once-confused customers are won over, not only by the food but also the great service. As for that menu, favorites include a wide array of curries (green jungle, red devil, yellow chicken and pineapple), Daisy Salmon (salmon steak broiled in creamy cilantro sauce), pad see ew noodles, signature Daisy Noodles (rice noodles with red curry, egg, crispy onions, bean sprouts and crushed peanuts), and salmon and lime leaf cooked in red curry sauce.


Reader Recommended

President Thai

498 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena

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


Saladang

363 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 793-8123



BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD

Real Food Daily

899 E. Del Mar Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-8900 | realfood.com

Ann Gentry’s efforts over the past 25 years to raise the standard of plant-based cooking have paid off in the creation of Real Food Daily, the region’s premiere organic plant-based restaurant serving quality, authentic, creative and nutritionally balanced food. RFD is the only restaurant in the Los Angeles area that serves a 100 percent plant-based menu, using foods grown exclusively with organic farming methods. With three locations in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, and Pasadena since 2012, RFD has developed a loyal following among vegetarians, celebrities, trendsetting young eaters with sophisticated palates, and mature diners seeking healthy gourmet cuisine.


Reader Recommended

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 | allindiacafeca.com

Veggie Grill

200 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 535-9561 | veggiegrill.com



BEST VIETNAMESE FOOD

Saigon Noodle 

Restaurant

28 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-9378 

Even if customers have their peeves, they all agree that Saigon Noodle Restaurant in Old Pasadena serves the Best Vietnamese Food.  “Food is fantastic. The servers don’t bug you, and you can watch the news while you eat,” writes one online fan. Some people have a problem with that style, but one person wrote about being “pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon this easy-to-miss gem. The Pho is flavorful, with a rich broth of chicken or beef. Good for the soul, and easy on the wallet.”


Reader Recommended

Pasadena Noodle & Grill

2335 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 792-1893 | pasadenanoodle.com



BEST WINGS

Hot Wings Café

89 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 449-9055 | hotwingscafe.net

314 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 247-4455

It’s no wonder Hot Wings Cafe is a favorite of PW readers, with four flat screen TVs to watch while enjoying wine and 20 different kinds of beer. Since 1986 Hot Wings Café has been serving the Greater Los Angeles area with delicious hot wings, all in a warm and inviting environment. Along with wings, the company also serves a full menu of sandwiches and sides. They also provide large party trays of hot wings for weddings, parties and corporate events.


Reader Recommended

Alondra Hot Wings

2675 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(323) 274-1024 

alondrawings.com

515 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 576-7119


Buffalo Wild Wings

1000 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 993-6400 

buffalowildwings.com


Wingstop 

1279 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-2800 | wingstop.com

1709 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 578-9464 

THIS WEEK’S COVER

Upcoming Events

Feb
22
Thu
6:00 pm Teen Writing Group at Central Li... @ Pasadena Public Library Central Branch
Teen Writing Group at Central Li... @ Pasadena Public Library Central Branch
Feb 22 @ 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Aspiring teen poets and novelists are invited to join in an informal session to meet other teens, perform writing exercises, discuss writing and share their work and ideas, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
7:00 pm Book Signing at Vroman’s @ Vroman's Bookstore
Book Signing at Vroman’s @ Vroman's Bookstore
Feb 22 @ 7:00 pm
Rhoda Belleza discusses and signs “Blood of a Thousand Stars” at 7 p.m.
Feb
23
Fri
1:00 pm Free Film at Pasadena Senior Center @ Pasadena Senior Center
Free Film at Pasadena Senior Center @ Pasadena Senior Center
Feb 23 @ 1:00 pm
Friday movie matinees screen at 1 p.m. Friday’s film is “Love Never Dies” (2012).
5:30 pm Film at Norton Simon @ Norton Simon Museum
Film at Norton Simon @ Norton Simon Museum
Feb 23 @ 5:30 pm
The film “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952) stars Gene Kelly as a silent film star who falls for a spunky chorus girl (Debbie Reynolds), to the dismay of his diva-like leading lady, starting at 5:30[...]
8:00 pm USC Collaborative Alumni Concert... @ Boston Court Performing Arts Center
USC Collaborative Alumni Concert... @ Boston Court Performing Arts Center
Feb 23 @ 8:00 pm
The USC Collaborative Alumni concert features USC graduates in disciplines of vocal performance and music composition performing works that premiered at Boston Court over the past eight years, along with more recent compositions, starting at[...]

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