By: Rebecca Kuzins and Lisa Dupuy

Pasadena-area restaurant owners and managers don’t need to go to Las Vegas to shoot craps, hit the slots or play a hand of blackjack. Everyday these brave souls are gambling in an arena that’s much tougher than any Vegas casino.

Running a restaurant in Pasadena and surrounding cities is a high-stakes occupation, and, with hundreds of area restaurants, it is also a highly competitive activity. Local restauranteurs can’t afford to hedge their bets — they must go for broke in their efforts to create new dishes or prepare traditional entries that will attract diners, hire efficient and attentive staff, purchase the freshest ingredients, and determine prices that will generate sufficient income without bankrupting patrons.

Despite these difficulties, many restaurants are able to beat the odds and establish thriving businesses, like the eateries listed in this year’s Best of Pasadena.

The Dog Haus won the 2017 restaurant trifecta: it not only was named this year’s Best Restaurant but also received kudos for Best Burgers and Best Hot Dogs.

Faubourg, which opened on June 16 in Sierra Madre, enjoyed beginners’ luck by being named the Best New Restaurant serving the Best French Food.

Chef Claud Beltran continues to be on a roll, capturing Best Chef honors for the third year in a row. Beltran is a high roller in the local restaurant business, operating three highly successful eateries (The Eatery on Allen, Bacchus’ Kitchen, and Perry’s in the DusitD2 Hotel Constance) as well as a catering business (Claud & Co.).

It was winner take all for several restaurants that received multiple awards.  All India Café, Amara Chocolate & Coffee and Green Street Restaurant were three-time winners, with All India cited for Best Business Lunch, Best Indian Food and Best Vegetarian Food;  Amara for Best Dessert, Best Independent Coffee House and Best South American Food; and Green Street Restaurant for Best California Cuisine and Best Salad and tied with Gale’s for Best Restaurant Staff. In addition, five eateries each garnered a pair of honors: Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ Heaven (Best BBQ and Best Soul Food), Tops Walnut (Best Cheap Eats and Best Late Night Snack), Kabuki (Best Family Restaurant and Best Japanese/Sushi), Café Santorini (Best Mediterranean Food and Best Outdoor Dining) and The Juice Lab 360 (Best Health/Organic Food and Best Local Juice Bar).

These are just some of this year’s winners, not to mention the many reader-recommended restaurants in each category.

So the next time you decide to eat out, your dining experience does not have to be a crapshoot; if you visit these restaurants, it’s a sure bet you’ll enjoy a great meal.

 

AND THE WINNERS ARE…….

BEST RESTAURANT

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

It may be a sign of the economic times that Dog Haus, the fast casual eatery known for bargain prices and great burgers and dogs, has won Best Restaurant overall. Or it may be a sign that fancy restaurant trappings don’t matter. If the food is good, it’s good. For instance, when I think of Dog Haus, I primarily and rapturously recall the flavors of that amazing Sooo Cali Dog with arugula, basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado and tomato. It’s soooo good and I could afford one every day — well my wallet could, not my hips.

Reader Recommended

Houston’s

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001

hillstone.com/houstons

Union

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com

BEST NEW
RESTAURANT

Faubourg

74 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre

(626) 836-5700 | dinefaubourg.com

French-born, third generation chef Anthony Bar brings a modern sensibility to French and American cuisine at Faubourg. The true flavor of farmers’ market ingredients shine through new classics like Croque-Madame made tangy with balsamic vinegar or Noix de Saint-Jacques de Saison with scallops and pumpkin. The ambience is upscale casual with a Parisian cafe vibe. One might ask, has Chef Bar raised Faubourg or has Faubourg raised the bar?

Reader Recommended

Maestro Restaurant

110 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 787-1512

maestropasadena.com

True Food Kitchen

168 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 639-6818 | truefoodkitchen.com

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

Claud Beltran is at the top of his game; he not only is one of Pasadena’s top chefs, but he may also be the busiest. He continues to run his catering firm, Claud & Co., his first business in the city. He also owns Bacchus’ Kitchen, which serves seasonally changing farmers’-market inspired meals, and The Eatery on Allen, which features a new type of cuisine each month. Last year he opened a third restaurant, Perry’s by Claud Beltran, in the DusitD2 Hotel Constance, featuring a unique combination of Californian and Asian items. His ability to manage these enterprises and to create new and delicious dishes has earned him Best Chef honors for the third consecutive year. 

Reader Recommended

Bruce Kalman

Union

37 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-5841 | unionpasadena.com

Anthony Bar

Faubourg

74 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre

(626) 836-5700 | dinefaubourg.com

BEST RESTAURANT STAFF

There’s a four-way tie for Best Restaurant Staff this year. While they may be very different types of restaurants, they all have one thing in common — family ownership. Perhaps it takes the strength of the familial bond to overcome the emotional challenges of running a restaurant and keeping staff happy.

Gale’s

452 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 432-6705 | galesrestaurant.com

I stumbled upon Gale’s one night many years ago while strolling down Fair Oaks. The aroma of sauteeing garlic and other Italian wondrousness pulled me in. Behind the quiet facade, I was thrilled to see dozens of happy diners behind plates of steaming pasta well attended by a bustling and efficient wait staff. It’s become a favorite Italian spot since. Owner Gale Kohl and husband Rene Chila count on numerous family members to keep the place running smoothly which keeps regulars coming back.

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170

greenstreetrestaurant.com

The Hawkins family has lived in the Altadena/Pasadena region for decades. Sisters Catherine and Lisa and their husbands have been at the helm of Green Street Restaurant since it opened in 1979, but many of their numerous siblings have helped out at one time or another. The service and staff at Green Street strike that perfect balance of familiarity and professionalism, making it one of the longest-running eateries in town. Green Street Restaurant is practically synonymous with Pasadena

Mijares Mexican
Restaurant

145 Palmetto Dr., Pasadena

(626) 792-2763

mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674

Mijares is like Cheers — “a place where everybody knows your name.” Upon entering diners are greeted by name or as a welcome guest. After one of their famous margaritas, you’re practically a part of the family. Even Sir Paul McCartney stops in whenever he’s in town. Since 1920, three generations of Mijares family members have carried on the traditions set by Jesucita Mijares, in particular her warm graciousness. Even after her passing in 1988, Jesucita’s motto remains to this day, “Mi casa es su casa.”

Smitty’s Grill

110 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9999 | smittysgrill.com

The Smith brothers run a triple crown of popular, high-end restaurants in Pasadena — Smitty’s Grill, Parkway Grill and Arroyo Chop House. They’ve perfected a winning formula of great food, relaxing ambience and perhaps most importantly, friendly, personalized service. Smitty’s also features a few private dining rooms for sophisticated business and group affairs with capable staff ready to handle any event.

BEST BUSINESS LUNCH

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 | allindiacafe.ca.com

A business lunch needn’t be a stodgy, dull affair; it can be enlivened with the Indian cuisine, atmosphere and excellent service available at All India Café. All India features a menu of dishes made throughout the Indian subcontinent. In addition to the long list of vegetarian entries, some of the house specialties include the chicken curry of the day, lamb masala, chicken frankie or lamb frankie from Bombay and tandoori cooked salmon. 

Reader Recommended

Houston’s

320 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-6001

hillstone.com/houstons

Smitty’s Grill

110 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9999 | smittysgrill.com

BEST CHEAP EATS

Tops On Walnut

1792 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 584-0244 | topsburger.com

If you have a steak appetite but a hamburger budget, Tops On Walnut, at the corner of Walnut and Allen, is the place for you. The Bicos family has been cooking high-quality low-cost salads, sandwiches, Mexican food and side dishes for more than 50 years, using the same recipes and fresh — not packaged — spices. Some of the amazingly affordable items include a rib eye steak with salad and fries for $9.19; a fish and chips platter, with three pieces of cod, fries, coleslaw and tartar sauce, for $7.09; and a seven-ounce chicken breast with salad and fries for $7.79.

Reader Recommended                      

Blaze Pizza

667 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 802-5352 | blazepizza.com

643 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 238-6026

101 W. Broadway, Glendale

(818) 495-0573

In-N-Out Burger

2114 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

1210 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

(800) 786-1000 | www.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

Mediterranean mezzes like hummus, feta, olives and kubbe  are delicious on their own but add homemade sangria, white tablecloths and a beautiful light-strewn rooftop patio overlooking bustling One Pasadena Plaza and you’ve hit the “I’m-taking-you-somewhere-special” jackpot. Daytime lunch and weekend brunch are also delightful on the upper deck.

Reader Recommended

La Grande Orange Café

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com

The Raymond 1886

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136

theraymond.com

True Food Kitchen

168 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 639-6818

truefoodkitchen.com

BEST ROMANTIC
RESTAURANT

The Raymond 1886

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com

Everyone knows The Raymond is the place to go for a romantic night out. Even people from out of town know about this charming 100 plus year-old updated Craftsman house and patio with authentic vintage cocktails and soul satisfying food like 72-hour braised short ribs or Columbia River salmon with wild Oregon morels. The desserts (flourless chocolate cake with orange-basil ice cream anyone?) put the proverbial icing on the cake.

Reader Recommended

Cafe Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200 | cafesantorini.com

Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com

BEST SPECIAL
OCCASION DINING

Parkway Grill

510 S Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com

You can’t go wrong taking guests to Parkway Grill. It’s a sure thing. Impeccable service, inspired dishes and gorgeous surroundings ensure the occasion will be special, whether it’s meeting the parents, an important anniversary, graduation from med school or any event calling for an evening out of the ordinary. They specialize in seasonal fare, much of it from their on-site garden, as well as grilled meats, and unique pizzas and pastas.

Reader Recommended

Alexander’s Steakhouse

111 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena

(626) 486-1111 | alexanderssteakhouse.com

The Raymond 1886

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.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

With its combination of Japanese food and Americanized atmosphere, Kabuki is one of the best places to take the family out to dinner. The menu, with a wide selection of sashimi, sushi, specialty rolls and other Japanese dishes; the low prices; the kids menu and the hit music in the background make Kabuki an affordable and comfortable place for dad, mom and the kids to hang out.

Reader Recommended

Conrad’s restaurant

861 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(6267) 577-7603

820 N. Central Ave., Glendale

(818) 246-6547

Tops on Walnut

1792 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 584-0244 | topsburger.com

BEST LATE
NIGHT SNACK

Tops On Walnut

1792 Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 584-0244 | topsburger.com

Complete this sentence. After a night of carousing, there’s nothing better than a _______:

a) cheeseburger

b) carne asada burrito

c) milkshake and french fries

d) green salad with lemon

e) all of the above

We all know d) is the wrong answer. But you can find all the others at Tops Walnut, a comfort food legend among Pasadena night owls (and day birds for that matter.)

Reader Recommended

Conrad’s Restaurant Pasadena

861 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 577-7603

King Taco

45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com

117 E. Broadway Ave., Glendale

(818) 409-0172

Plate 38

2361 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena

(626) 793-7100 | plate38.com

BEST SUNDAY BRUNCH

The Terrace Restaurant at The Langham
Huntington

1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena

(626) 568-3900 

langhamhotels.com/pasadena

The Langham is such a pretty place to spend time and Sunday morning brunch at The Terrace is a great reason to go there. The views are lovely, there’s a jazz combo, and there are endless choices food-wise. Order your favorite dish off the a la carte breakfast menu or opt for one of the buffets. The Dim Sum Brunch ($58 with bottomless mimosas) include bao, shu mai, wontons, potstickers, etc. plus made-to-order omelets, smoked fish and cheese, coffee and more. The Breakfast Buffet ($32) includes scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, fruit and pastries. Odds are you’ll find something you love.

Reader Recommended

Marston’s Restaurant

151 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 796-2549

marstonrestaurant.com

BEST ARMENIAN FOOD

Zankou Chicken

1296 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1502 | zankouchicken.com

1415 E. Colorado St., Glendale

(818) 244-2237

Zankou Chicken tops the list of Armenian eateries for the second consecutive year. This Southern California chain traces its origins to 1962, when Vartkes and Margarite Iskenderian opened a restaurant in Beirut featuring chicken in garlic sauce. Twenty years later the couple opened their first US restaurant in Hollywood, eventually expanding their locations and their menu, which now includes kebabs, falafel, shawarma and other Mediterranean dishes.

Reader Recommended

Raffi’s Catering and Banquet

3887 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 351-0900

Sahara Middle Eastern

Restaurant

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900

saharapasadena.com

BEST ASIAN FUSION

Abricott

238 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-1613 | abricott.com

Abricott serves a variety of French and Asian cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Banh Mi sandwiches, made with pork belly, are one of the highlights of the menu, as are the spicy pork taco plate, beef pho and chicken ramen. Breakfast features more conventional French and American food, like French toast, oatmeal and omelets. Diners can enjoy their meals in the cozy indoor dining area or in the patio in front of the restaurant.

Reader Recommended

Daisy Mint

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

Sierra Fusion

120 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre

(626) 355-3030 | sierrafusion.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 is a perennial winner in the Best Bakery category, and anyone who has eaten there can readily tell you why. If its only entree was its egg salad sandwich, served open-face on a slice of rosemary bread, this would be enough to earn Euro Pane high marks. But it also bakes the greatest macarons (no small feat, if you’ve ever tried to bake them) in a variety of flavors, such as caramel-salt and lavender. No wonder Zagat, the respected restaurant-rating guide, praised the food at Euro Pane as “invariably first-rate.”

Reader Recommended

85°C Bakery Cafe

61 S. Fair Oaks Ave. No. 120,

Pasadena

(626) 792-8585 | 85cbakerycafe.com

201 N. Brand Blvd. No. 100, Glendale

(818) 550-0885

Seed Bakery

942 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 486-2115

seedbakerypasadena.com

BEST BBQ

Bonnie B’s Smokin’

BBQ Heaven

1280 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-0132 | bonniebssmokin.com

Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ Heaven, a relative newcomer in the barbecue restaurant category, has edged out veteran Gus’s BBQ in the race for Best BBQ. Owned by Zenobia Ivory and Michael Henderson Jr., Bonnie B’s smokes its meats in oak, mesquite and hickory woods to prepare its spare ribs, smoked chicken, pork ribs, pulled pork, Oklahoma-style brisket, hot links and smoked bologna. The restaurant also serves sandwiches made with these meats. 

Reader Recommended

Gus’s BBQ

808 Fair Oaks Ave., South Pasadena

(626) 799-3251 | gussbbq.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 Restaurant has won this award so many times it’s hard to keep count; the restaurant has also been cited by Zagat as the No. 1 place for breakfast in Los Angeles (2003) and by “The Food Network Magazine” for serving the Best Breakfast in California (2010). Included in Marston’s extensive breakfast menu are the ciabatta breakfast sandwich (two eggs, any style, served on ciabatta bread with bacon, tomato and spicy jack cheese); omelets made with andouille sausage, Texas chili and chicken cilantro sausage; French toast made with thick slices of sourdough bread and topped with fresh berries, candied pecans and whipped cream; and blueberry, seven-grain or Macadamia nut pancakes.

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 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

We live in a hamburger-obsessed culture in which burgers are served in dozens of fast-food places as well as some of the more expensive restaurants. So it’s no small feat to receive the Best Burger award — particularly if your restaurant is named Dog Haus and serves specialty hot dogs. But the Dog Haus has once again been cited for its specialty hamburgers, which include the Haus Burger (a veggie patty or a hormone- and antibiotic-free beef patty on King’s Hawaiian Rolls), The Mensch (white American cheese, pickles, pastrami, haus slaw and 1,000 island dressing), The Freidburger (white American cheese, fries, fried egg, haus slaw and mayo) and Holy Aioli (white American cheese, smoked bacon, caramelized onions and garlic aioli).   

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

No surprises in this category: Burrito Express in northeast Pasadena has a well-deserved reputation for making the Best Burrito in town. The burritos — as well as the tacos, tostadas, tamales and enchiladas — are served with house-made salsa and chips and are available for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Reader Recommended

King Taco

45 N. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 792-0405 | kingtaco.com

115-117 E. Broadway Ave., Glendale

(818) 409-0172

Lucky Boy

640 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 793-0120 | luckyboyburgers.com

531 E. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 793-7079

BEST CALIFORNIA
CUISINE

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170

greenstreetrestaurant.com

Green Street Restaurant features the mix of different ingredients and cooking styles, prepared with local ingredients, which characterize California cuisine. Its sausages, for example, are specially made at Gelsinger’s Meats in Montrose and the coffee comes from Pasadena-based Jones Coffee Roasters. Green Street’s lunch and dinner menus include a variety of salads, burgers and sandwiches, and all salads come with the restaurant’s signature zucchini bread.

Reader Recommended

Bistro 45

45 S. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-2478 | bistro45.com

California Pizza Kitchen

99 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena

(626) 585-9020 | cpk.com

101 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 507-1588

La Grande Orange Café

260 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-4444 | lgostationcafe.com

BEST CENTRAL
AMERICAN FOOD

La Caravana Restaurant

1306 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-7378

La Caravana is in a class of its own; no one else in the Pasadena area can compete with its El Salvadorian cuisine. In addition to a variety of appetizers, soups, and chicken and seafood entries, the eatery prepares typical Salvadorian dishes such as bistec eceballado (grilled top sirloin steak with onions, bell pepper and tomato), salpicon (chopped beef with onion, radishes and mint leaves), chuletas de puerco (pork chops sautéed with tomato, peppers and onions) and fritada (gizzards sautéed with tomato, bell peppers and onions.)

BEST CHINESE FOOD

Panda Inn

3488 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-7300 | pandainn.com

Panda Inn’s selection of Mandarin and Szechwan dishes, with some innovative touches, has been pleasing local dinners since 1973. Orange chicken, honey walnut shrimp and upside-down crispy noodles are among the restaurant’s specialties, and Sunday brunch is served weekly. 

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

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

(626) 744-7719

It’s hard to resist a cupcake, particularly when its icing has the bright colors, playful designs and unique flavors available at Dots Cupcakes. Some cupcakes, like the red velvet, strawberry shortcake and chocolate mint, are sold daily; others, such as raspberry lemon, hazelnut crunch and marble swirl, are available on specific days of the week.

Reader Recommended

Polkatots Cupcakes

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

(626) 798-3932 

polkatotscupcakes.com

Vanilla Bake Shop

88 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(323) 204-4075 | vanillabakeshop.com

BEST DELI/
SANDWICHES

Union Street

Sandwich Co.

109 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 639-3575 | unionsandwich.com

The staple of Union Street’s menu is its sandwiches, made with Italian meats and cheeses, slow-roasted brisket, turkey, chicken and other ingredients and served on artisanal bread baked with unbleached flour. There’s also a selection of “grab and go” sandwiches that are premade and ready to take out. No matter where you eat them, these sandwiches are the best in town. 

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

Amara prepares desserts with Venezuelan flavors and lots and lots of chocolate. It’s the place to order handcrafted dark chocolate truffles, milk chocolate truffles and white truffles, as well as chocolate fondue and a dessert combining chocolate and peanut butter. There’s also a selection of churros covered with chocolate, strawberries and café de leche. All these decadent delicacies can be topped up with a cup of — what else? — Venezuelan hot chocolate. 

Reader Recommended

Cheesecake Factory

2 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 584-0600

cheesecakefactory.com

400 S. Baldwin Ave. No. 903-L, Arcadia

(626) 447-2800

511 Americana Way, Glendale

(818) 550-7505

Dots Cupcakes

400 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 568-36787 | dotscupcakes.com

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

(626) 744-7719

Europane

345 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena (West)

(626) 844-8804

950 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena (East)

(626) 577-1828

Julienne Fine Foods

& Celebrations

2651 Mission St., San Marino

(626) 441-2290 | juliennetogo.com

BEST DIM SUM

Lunasia Dim Sum House

239 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-8822

|unasiadimsumhouse.com

Lunasia opened in Pasadena in 2015, and since then has captured Best Dim Sum honors three years in a row. Dim sum is a traditional style of Cantonese cuisine comprising small, bite-sized portions of food typically served with tea. Lunasia offers a wide variety of these “small plates,” made with what its website calls a “modern twist.”

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

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

Din Tai Fung arrived in Glendale and Arcadia after a long history of success in Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong. The eatery that “The New York Times” in 1993 dubbed “one of the top gourmet restaurants in the world” specializes in Taiwan cuisine, including a wide selection of dumplings made with shrimp, pork, chicken, fish, vegetables and kimchi.

Reader Recommended

Lunasia Dim Sum House

239 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-8822

lunasiadimsumhouse.com

Shadong Dumplings

80 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 578-9777

BEST FRENCH FOOD

Faubourg

74 W. Sierra Madre Blvd., Sierra Madre

(626) 836-5700 | dinefaubourg.com

Faubourg opened in June and quickly generated enough buzz to capture this year’s Best New Restaurant and Best French Food awards. Executive Chef Anthony Bar, a third-generation French chef, moved to the United States four years ago, and he combines ingredients from both countries to create his unique menu. Faubourg’s website touts that everything it serves, from ketchup to lobster ravioli, is house-made. 

Reader Recommended

Bistro 45

45 S. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-2478 | bistro45.com

Café Bizou

91 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-9923 | cafebizou.com

Maison Akira

713 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 796-9501

maisonakira.net

BEST FRIED CHICKEN

Roscoe’s House of

Chicken and Waffles

830 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 791-4890

roscoeschickenandwaffles.com

Fried chicken southern style, chicken smothered in gravy and onions, chicken chili, chicken burgers, chicken with or without waffles — anyway you order it, Roscoe’s fried chicken is the best in town. Roscoe’s is also one of the area’s best soul food restaurants, serving red beans, grits, corn bread, greens and sweet potato pie.

Reader Recommended

Braise & Crumble

40 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 460-8600

braiseandcrumble.com

Church’s Chicken

710 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 793-7845

churchs.com

KFC

820 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-1159 | kfc.com

2050 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 797-1127

2986 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-7739

1318 Huntington Drive,

South Pasadena

(323) 255-1800

849 S. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia

(626) 445-4700

1425 New Ave., Alhambra

(626) 282-3177

200 N. Verdugo Road, Glendale

(818) 243-3171

BEST FROZEN YOGURT

21 Choices

85 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-9521 | 21choices.com

Some people call 21 Choices the “Cold Stone Creamery of frozen yogurt stores.” That’s because you can watch as the staff prepares one of the pre-made concoctions or as they whip up your choice of yogurt flavors and a wide variety of toppings. With flavors like Guittard chocolate, French vanilla, strawberry tequila sunrise, blueberry cheesecake and oatmeal cookie, it’s a sure bet you’ll enjoy the town’s best yogurt.

Reader Recommended

Cherry on Top

1299 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 440-1299 | cherryontop.net

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 Road, Arcadia

(626) 821-8723

BEST GELATO

Bulgarini Gelato

749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena

(626) 791-6174 | bulgarinigelato.com

Leo and Elizabeth Bulgarini take gelato seriously. As explained in their restaurant’s website, the couple searches the world to get the best ingredients, such as coffee beans from Naples, cactus pear and pistachios from Sicily, cocoa from Santo Domingo and macadamia nuts from Hawaii. These ingredients, combined with fresh fruit from Southern California farms, are used to hand-make the Best Gelato at their Altadena restaurant.    

Reader Recommended

Hello Gelato

20 E. Colorado Blvd., Suite 101,

Pasadena

(626) 744-1788

BEST GRILLED CHEESE

Melt It!

105 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 793-7002 | agrilledcheeseco.com

The humble grilled cheese sandwich has been elevated to a more serious culinary status at several local restaurants, and is the signature dish at Melt It! this year’s winner for Best Grilled Cheese. Here you can order sandwiches made with a variety of grilled cheeses, including cheddar, Swiss, pepper Jack, Monterey Jack, muenster and Havarti, at prices ranging from $4 to $8. The menu also includes mac n’ cheese made with three cheeses and “The Cheesiest Mac n’ Cheese” sandwich composed of melted mac n’ cheese on  sourdough bread.        

Reader Recommended

The Bea’s Knees

120 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-9308

thebeaskneespasadena.com

Twohey’s Restaurant

1224 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

(626) 284-7387 | towheys.com

BEST HEALTH/
ORGANIC FOOD

The Juice Lab 360

277 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 755-5054

thejuicelab360.com

The purpose of The Juice Lab 360, according to its website, is “to provide healthy, ORGANIC and convenient handcrafted juice, superfood smoothies and plant-based fare to a health-conscious community.” The lion’s share of the menu consists of signature juices and smoothies, some of which provide specific health functions such as detoxification, energizing, hydration and immunity. For example, the Seeing Red juice drink, made with carrot, red bell pepper, lemon, orange and ginger, is a blood builder, while the Ayurvedic Elixir juice, containing carrot, grapefruit, pineapple, orange, cucumber, mint, coconut and water, is for detoxification. A selection of appetizers, salads, sandwiches and breakfast items are also available.    

Reader Recommended

True Food Kitchen

168 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 639-6818

truefoodkitchen.com/pasadena

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

The Dog Haus has taken the simple frankfurter and raised it to a culinary art, creating hot dogs with ingredients that are a lot more innovative than the mustard and onions on a ball park frank. The Sooo Cali dog, for example, is made with wild arugula, spicy basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado and tomato; Scott Baioli takes a smoked bacon-wrapped dog and covers it with cheddar cheese sauce, caramelized onions and garlic aioli; and the Classic Corn Dog is “hausmade” with a root beer batter. Since it opened for business in 2010, this Pasadena-based restaurant chain has rapidly expanded, but it hasn’t sacrificed its delicious food, friendly service and affordable prices.

Reader Recommended

Perry’s Joint

2051 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-4700

perrysjoint.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

Most people love ice cream, and most people in Pasadena have had a love affair with Carmela Ice Cream since the creamery opened in 2011. Owners Zachary Cox and Jessica Mortarotti create ice cream with one-of-a-kind flavors, such as salted caramel, dark chocolate cacao nib, lavender, Guinness, rose petal and cardamom. Their sorbets are equally artisanal, with flavors like lemon basil; carrot, orange and ginger; cucumber; and watermelon mint. Zach and Jessica also teach classes in seasonal ice cream-making classes at their Pasadena facility.      

  

Reader Recommended

After’s Ice Cream 

1265 E. Green St., Pasadena 

aftersicecream.com

36 W. Main St., Alhambra

Fosselman’s Ice Cream Co.

1824 W. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 282-6533 | fosselmans.com

BEST INDEPENDENT COFFEE HOUSE

Amara Chocolate & Coffee

55 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-1765

amarachocolate.com

Although they could easily get lost amid the dozens of Starbuck’s, Peet’s and Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf franchises, some independent coffee houses manage to survive and produce exceptional drinks. This year’s winner for Best Independent Coffee House is Amara Chocolate & Coffee, which uses coffee from Pasadena-based Jones Coffee Roasters to whip up double espresso, macchiato, and cappuccino and other drinks. Amara also creates signature lattes, including cacao, Aztec and Korean, made with dark Venezuelan chocolate and other ingredients; Amara, made with dulce de leche and cinnamon; Caracas, containing condensed milk; and Amarella, made with Nutella. Adventurous coffee drinkers can request that chili pasilla be added to the last three lattes. 

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 | allindiacafe.ca.com

All India Café takes this year’s honors for Best Indian Food.  This popular restaurant serves a variety of dishes from throughout the country, including appetizers like samosas and mixed chutneys, and numerous vegetarian dishes like baingan bharta (puree of tandoori-baked eggplant sautéed with onions, fresh tomatoes and green chili) and tofu tikka masala (tofu cooked with onions, ginger and garlic in coconut milk). Among the many other entries are a selection of curries, jalfrezi (lamb, fish, shrimp and tofu with mixed vegetables in a yellow curry sauce with a touch of coconut milk) and chicken tikka masala (tandoori-cooked chicken served in a cream sauce with onion, ginger and fenugreek leaves).

Reader Recommended

Mint Leaf Indian Cuisine

2535 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 460-8776

mintleafpasadena.com

New Delhi Palace

950 E. Colorado Blvd. No. 250, Pasadena

(626) 405-0666

newdelhipalacepasadena.com

BEST ITALIAN FOOD

Celestino Ristorante
& Bar

141 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-4006

celestinopasadena.com

An Italian restaurant Frank Sinatra would love! That’s Celestino, a frequent winner of the Best Italian Food award. In addition to its lengthy wine list and scrumptious desserts, Celestino offers a variety of soups, salads and pasta dishes. Some of the dinner entries include a frilled veal chop, pork tenderloin in a rosemary sauce, veal shank with saffron risotto and roast rabbit with black olive sauce. Celestino’s has a bar and three private rooms, including a garden patio, for parties and events. 

Reader Recommended

Domenico’s

2411 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 797-6459

originaldomenicos.com

Gale’s Restaurant

452 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 432-6705 | galesrestaurant.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

Half of the fun of eating Japanese food is seeing it chopped by a samurai madman wielding knives and spatulas with lightning speed, stacking up rings of onion, then igniting it into a towering inferno. This is the kind of hot action that makes Kabuki Restaurant so popular with families, birthday celebrants and Japanese food lovers of all ages. There are over 200 items on the menu including beautiful sushi rolls so there’s something for everyone.

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

Like a basement poker game, table mates at Chris’ Korean BBQ huddle together amid steam under hooded vents but instead of throwing in poker chips or cards, diners throw on thinly sliced, well-marbled meats, grilling them up to juicy perfection. A royal flush of banchan, sides of pickled vegetables and salads in small bowls, are fanned out proudly nearby. And at only $18.95 for the Chef’s Choice all you can eat barbecue at lunch, a good meal won’t break the bank.

Reader Recommended

Seoul Korean Barbecue

122 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank

(818) 559-5578 | seoulkoreanbbq.net

Soh Grill House

27 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 714-7760 

sohgrillhouse.com

BEST LOCAL BREWERY

Craftsman Brewing Co.

1260 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

(626) 296-2537

craftsmanbrewing.com

The micro-brewery that pretty much started it all is still going strong. Craftsman Brewing Co. and its founder, Mark Jilg, have amassed a fierce legion of loyal fans. Even though they have no official tasting room, nor can you order a keg direct, Craftsman remains the local favorite. And for good reason, the beer is meticulously made and consistently delicious. Craftsman taps can be found at dozens of LA restaurants and beyond but the best local place for a wide Craftsman selection is at Lucky Baldwins Pub.

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

If you’re serious about going all-in and living a super-healthy lifestyle, the Juice Lab 360 is serious about helping you. Conveniently located next to an airy yoga studio, the clean, green juice lab promises to provide you with the highest quality organic produce, locally sourced ingredients, and a menu of entirely plant based cuisine. Vegan salads, wraps, pastas, breakfasts and juices will keep you humming all day.

BEST LOCAL PIZZA

The Luggage Room

Pizzeria

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

The Luggage Room feels like the kind of place a wise guy might lay low before skipping town. Which makes sense because it used to the be the luggage storage area of the old Pasadena train depot. Of course Harry the Horse might treat himself to a nice Italian pizza pie first. The ones at the Luggage Room are fantastic with fragrant, wood-burning oven crusts and interesting toppings. My personal favorite is, appropriately, the Fallen Angel with house-made Italian sausage and shaved fennel.

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

Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana

625 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 765-9550

settebello.net

BEST MEDITERRANEAN FOOD

Café Santorini

64 W Union St., Pasadena

(626) 564-4200

afesantorini.com

With its party lights strung over an outdoor rooftop patio, Cafe Santorini truly conjures the easy, breezy Mediterranean seaside lifestyle. Everyone’s Greek favorites are on the menu – moussaka, grape leaves, spanakopita — but also items from cuisines around the ancient sea like grilled calamari, pizzas, Moroccan lamb shank and curry risotto with seafood. Jimmy the Greek would approve.

Reader Recommended

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 MEXICAN FOOD

Mijares Mexican

Restaurant

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763

mijaresrestaurant.com

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674

In a landscape full of Mexican eateries, Mijares continues to rise to the top, even after 97 years in business. Is it because they stay true to Abuela Mijares’ way of grinding chilies and corn with a stone molcajete? Is it the tried and true verde and rojo salsas? Maybe it’s the tamales, made in-house every day. Whatever the reason, Pasadenans are glad Mijares is still going strong.

Reader Recommended

El Patron

2555 N. Lake Ave., Altadena(626) 296-2818 | elpatrononline.com

El Portal Restaurant

695 E. Green St, Pasadena

(626) 795-8553

elportalrestaurant.com

BEST MIDDLE
EASTERN FOOD

Sahara Middle Eastern Restaurant

2226 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-6900 | saharapasadena.com

Once again, Sahara has worn the Best Middle Eastern Food crown. When you’ve got a good hand, you don’t want to spoil it. The casual restaurant may be bare bones style-wise but the sizzling kebabs, sides and salads, vegetarian plates including tabbouleh, babaghanouj, sarma, and their famous cabbage salad, are adored by many. On my next visit, I’m betting on the fabulous-looking ourfa kebab with ground lamb and beer, fresh eggplant cooked over mesquite.

Reader Recommended

Raffi’s Catering and Banquet

3887 E. Sierra Madre Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 351-0900

Wahib’s Middle East Restaurant

910 E. Main St., Alhambra

(626) 281-1006 

wahibmiddleeast.com

BEST RAMEN

Ramen Tatsunoya

16 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 432-1768

There always seems to be a line outside of Ramen Tatsunoya, a fairly recent addition to the ramen scene in Old Pasadena. The most popular broth has the right amount of fatty slick on top and a rich taste due to the pork back fat, umami paste, onion and garlic infused oil within. Or go for the lighter or the spicier version. All come with veggies, meat and special noodles. So wait in that line. It doesn’t take long. As Sinatra says, “the best is yet to come and won’t that be fine.”

Reader Recommended

Modan Artisanal Ramen

700 Fair Oaks Ave., Suite G, South Pasadena

(626) 799-2878

Noodle World

24 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 585-5885 | noodleworld.com

932 Huntington Drive, San Marino

(626) 300-1010

700 W. Valley Blvd, Alhambra

(626) 293-8800

BEST SALAD

Green Street Restaurant

146 Shoppers Lane, Pasadena

(626) 577-7170

greenstreetrestaurant.com

I’ve had Diane Salad at Green Street Restaurant, at Green Street-catered events, and at home out of a to-go container and I never, ever get tired of it, especially with that amazing zucchini bread. When you’ve got a sure thing, you can always lay your money down on it. Did you know, though, that Green Street has other delicious salads including a special Cobb, a Black Bean Fiesta Salad and the Cornucopia with fruits and nuts? They also have an award-winning cocktail program. So even if you already know the Diane Salad, try your hand at something new.

Reader Recommended

Tender Greens

621 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1511 | tendergreens.com

145 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale

(818) 459-4850

Urban Plates

269 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 800-4448

urbanplates.com

BEST SEAFOOD

Cameron’s Seafood

1978 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-3474

camerons4fish.com

Remember those fish restaurants your parents took you to as a kid? You loved the buoys and lifesavers and fish nets on the wall. Cameron’s Seafood is keeping the classic fish restaurant alive by serving a wide variety of freshly caught fish prepared in the most well-loved ways. Lunch, dinner, Sunday brunch with chowder and a full bar keep people coming back again and again. At Cameron’s, you’ll be eating, not sleeping, with the fishes.

Reader Recommended

Lost At Sea

57 E. Holly St., Pasadena

(626) 385-7644 | lostatseapas.com

Roy’s Restaurant

641 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-4066 | roysrestaurant.com

BEST SOUL FOOD

Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ Heaven

1280 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-0132

bonniebssmokin.com

Smokin’ is the right word. All the meats at Bonnie B’s Smokin’ BBQ Heaven have a heady, smoky aroma that hits your nose just before the tender meat hits your mouth. Ribs, chicken, brisket, pork and salmon come in checkered boxes along with their classic soul food sides like collard greens, black-eyed peas, corn bread, candied yams and okra and tomato over rice.

Reader Recommended

Big Mama’s Rib Shack

1453 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 797-1792

bigmamaspasadena.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

Amara Chocolate & Coffee is kind of a misnomer. While I had a mind-blowing Cacao Latte made with dark Venezuelan chocolate and (local roasters) Jones coffee, there is much more to this charming cafe. Tasty snacks like arepas (stuffed corn flatbreads), cachapas (Venezuelan style crepes), and tekes (Venezuelan cheese sticks) with homemade guava sauce are available as are full entree plates with black beans, fried plantains and stewed meats. The churros are always an ace in the hole too but be prepared to wait as it’s often a full house.

Reader Recommended

1810 Argentinean Restaurant

121 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-5658 | 1810restaurant.com

Malbec1001 E. Green St.,

Pasadena

(626) 683-0550 | malbeccuisine.com

BEST SPANISH FOOD

Racion

119 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 396-3090 | racionrestaurant.com

Tucked away on a tree-lined stretch of Green Street, tiny Racion has received its fair share of accolades over the years for its Spanish Basque-inspired small plates. According to their website, Chef de Cuisine Shane Alvord, previously with Susan Feniger’s Border Grill, “blends European traditions, Asian flavors and California ingredients to create a unique spin on Basque culinary traditions.” I fondly recall the squid ink pasta with saffron reduction. The menu changes regularly but you can always count on an amazing Spanish sherry for sipping.

Reader Recommended

Bar Celona

38 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 405-1000

barcelonapasadena.com

Malbec1001 E. Green St.,

Pasadena

(626) 683-0550 | malbeccuisine.com

BEST STEAKHOUSE

Arroyo Chop House

536 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 577-7463

arroyochophouse.com

The Chairman of the Board liked his steaks. Steak Diane was apparently his favorite. Sinatra might not have been able to get the cognac-shallot sauce at Arroyo Chop House but as far as cuts of beef, he would have had his pick of winners. Every single cut carries a USDA Prime Beef rating, the highest grade available. Steaks are hand-cut daily and aged a minimum of 28 days. Filet mignon, New York, Porterhouse — they’re all on there and come unadulterated or with one of three sauces: peppercorn sherry cream, Bearnaise, or blue cheese smoked bacon cabernet reduction. Any roll of the dice will do.

Reader Recommended

Alexander’s Steakhouse –

Pasadena

111 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena

(626) 486-1111

alexanderssteakhouse.com

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

Taco lovers have been loyal to King Taco for decades now, ever since founder Raul O. Martinez began operations out of a converted ice cream truck back in 1974. At $1.64 plus tax for two soft shell tacos, the price has gone up only pennies over the years but, according to fans and critics alike, the quality has remained consistently good. Fresh pico de gallo, good quality meats and really hot, really good salsas make up the winning formula.

Reader Recommended

La Estrella

502 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-8559

330 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

Los Tacos

1 W. California Blvd., Suite 211, Pasadena

(626) 795-9291

lostacospasadena.com

2122 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 293-8995

BEST TEA ROOM

Chado Tea Room

79 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 431-2832

chadotea.com

They are sticklers for proper tea preparation at Chado Tea Room. The water must be at the correct temperature and the tea must be steeped for the right number of minutes before it is served. The temperature/steeping time varies by tea and they have hundreds of teas from all over the world. It’s this attention to detail that makes Chado well-loved among PW readers. I particularly like the free tea-of-the-day taste test you can get whenever you’re strolling by. It helps one decide what blend to get to go with their sandwiches, salads and sweets.

Reader Recommended

Bird Pick Tea & Herb

10 S. Delacey Ave., Pasadena

(626) 773-4372

birdpick.com

The Huntington Rose

Garden Tea Room

1151 Oxford Road, San Marino

(626) 405-2236

huntington.org/dining

BEST THAI FOOD

Daisy Mint

1218 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 792-2999 | daisymint.com

Cute decor and solid Southeast Asian dishes anchored by Thai favorites have turned Daisy Mint into a Pasadena mainstay. Quirky chandeliers and vintage wall art create a fun atmosphere for slurping down rich curries, slurping up aromatic noodles, noshing on stir fry and grilled meats, and nibbling on salads fresh with mint, cilantro, bean sprouts, peanuts, lime and more. Wash it all down with a big Thai iced tea and you’ve struck gold.

Reader Recommended

Nine & Nine Thai Kitchen

738 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-1899

Saladang

363 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 793-8123 | saladang-thai.com

BEST VEGETARIAN FOOD

All India Café

39 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 440-0309 | allindiacafe.ca.com

A top choice in three categories — Best Vegetarian, Best Business Lunch and Best Indian Food — All India Cafe is undoubtedly a sure thing. With Indian textiles hanging from the rafters, the ambience is warm and inviting, the atmosphere thick with wonderful aromas. Indian cuisine has been the leader in vegetarian food for probably centuries. With mouth-watering items like baingan bharta (puree of tandoori baked eggplant sauteed with spices), navaratan korma (fresh vegetables and nuts in a creamy sauce) and makhni paneer (homemade cheese and mushrooms in a tomato-saffron sauce), I may give up meat.

Reader Recommended

My Vegan

633 S. Arroyo Pkwy., Pasadena

(626) 578-9017

myveganrestaurant.com

Veggie Grill

200 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 535-9561 | veggiegrill.com

BEST VIETNAMESE

Saigon Noodle

Restaurant

28 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-9378

You can tell from its humble exterior and plain interior that Saigon Noodle Restaurant is going to be legit. Like any Asian restaurant worth its salt, the photos in the window tell you exactly what to expect. This place serves generous veggie-heavy pho, vermicelli and crispy noodles. One diner went so far as to download the Yelp app just so they could tell the world, “This place is amazing. No seriously, this pho is so BOMB!”

Reader Recommended

Pasadena Noodle & Grill

2335 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 792-1893

pasadenanoodle.com

BEST WINGS

Wingstop

1279 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 798-2800

wingstop.com

1709 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 578-9464

What’s better than wings for the Big Game? Eleven different flavors of wings, that’s what. They’re rated hottest (Atomic) to mildest (Teriyaki) for your convenience. If you consider the three different styles of chicken preparation (classic, boneless or crispy tenders) there are actually 33 different varieties to choose from at Wingstop. Order by the piece, in combos with fries and a drink or in a family pack for, as they call it, “crew-sized cravings.” Order more than you need and rake in the compliments.

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