The more things change, the more they stay the same… So goes an age-old maxim that proves true when assessing this year’s Best of Pasadena Nightlife winners. Pummeled by constant political drama and wondering what fresh chaos the next day’s headlines will deliver, PW readers continue to declare fealty to establishments that reward their loyalty with quality goods and experiences. A celebration of community values further threads together their seemingly disparate choices.

Topping the list is Lucky Baldwin’s, whose invitingly traditional British pub ambiance, wide ale selection and comfort-food offerings again earned it Best Beer Selection and Best Pub Grub honors. The local institution also reclaimed its Best Bar status from last year’s winner and this year’s runner-up (alongside Kings Row Gastropub), Blind Donkey. 1886 Bar at the Raymond again earned a resounding thumbs up for serving the Best Cocktails, while Mijares continued its virtually unbroken streak for Best Margaritas; Freddie’s 35er Bar traded places with the runner-up Colorado Bar as Best Dive Bar; happy hours at Rocco’s Tavern again earned props as Best Sports Bar; and Stephanie Delgado’s attentive care of Noor patrons again earned her distinction as Best Bartender. (Go-to wedding host Noor was itself a repeat Best Wedding/Banquet Hall winner.) Kabuki Japanese Restaurant’s savory menu helped it retain its hold on Best Happy Hour, while Everson Royce’s extensive variety of wines from around the world again inspired PW readers to name it the Best Wine Selection in town.

The venerable Ice House, meanwhile, remained in a class of its own as Best Comedy Club. Unsurprisingly, the Pasadena Playhouse, the State Theatre of California, retained its lock on Best Live Theatre Venue, thanks to socially conscious productions like Culture Clash’s “Bordertown Now” that made audiences laugh, cry, and above all think (and then laugh again). KPCC’s Best Radio Station win was not surprising either, but it was nonetheless gratifying to see its substantive programming acknowledged as a vital, must-listen presence in the local community. The Rose at Paseo Colorado’s cushy, supper-club vibe and slate of heritage acts again earned it top nod as Best Live Music Venue, while award-winning children’s theatre group Theatre 360 was again recognized with the Best Theatre Production title for its staging of the classic musical “42nd Street.” PW readers decreed there’s no need to prioritize either the blockbuster-leaning ArcLight or the artsier, more independent Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, instead announcing a Best Movie Theater tie between the two cinematic winners.

New this year: Best Bowling Alley winner Bowlmor Pasadena, whose up-to-date décor and old-school sport has a charming multigenerational appeal, and Club 54, whose three-floor, three-bar, three-sound-system setup earned it the Best Place to Dance title. And then there’s the Best Private Event Venue winner: Castle Green, a local architectural landmark. Both its age (it was built in 1898) and Frederick Roehrig’s opulent design have made it a nationally registered historic treasure, and oh, if those walls could only talk… they’d put today’s sordid scandals to shame.


And the winners are….

BEST BAR

Lucky Baldwins

17 S. Raymond Ave.

(626) 795-0652 | luckybaldwins.com

Lucky Baldwin’s Trappiste

1770 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-0447 

Lucky Baldwin’s Delirium Café

21 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre

(626) 355-1440

This beloved British pub remains a perennial winner, because comfort and community are perennially needed in this wackadoodle world of ours. It’s a welcoming, family-friendly haven whether you’re craving a homey meal of bangers and mash, cottage pie or fish ‘n’ chips with a pull of your favorite malty ale, or hoisting a foamy brew at the pub’s Belgian beer or IPA festivals or the imminent Oktoberfest, or if you just want to jawbone with the hospitable staff and watch early-morning soccer finals on the telly. And with satellite locations in East Pasadena and Sierra Madre, Pasadenans needn’t travel far to find this home-away-from-home.

Reader Recommended

Blind Donkey

53 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 486-2379

theblinddonkey.com/pasadena

Kings Row Gastropub

20 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-3010 | kingsrowpub.com

BEST BARTENDER

Stephanie Delgado, Noor

300 E. Colorado Blvd. A209, Pasadena

(626) 793-4518 | noorevents.com

Reader Recommended

John Dardon, 38 Degrees Ale House & Grill

110 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 408-5544

38degreesalehouse.com

BEST BEER SELECTION

Lucky Baldwins

17 S. Raymond Ave.

(626) 795-0652 | luckybaldwins.com

Once again, PW loyal readers rewarded this Crown City institution, grateful for its robust Euro, UK and US offerings. With about five dozen ales, bitters, ciders, Hefeweizens, IPAs, lagers, patersbiers, pilsners, stouts amd witbiers on tap, the menu ranges from Dublin’s classic Guiness draughts and flavorful Val-Dieu Triples (Belgian ale) to Bourbon Peach American Wild Ale (from the wilds of Ypsilanti, Michigan) and Poppyfields Pale Ale (brewed right here in Pasadena). Not bad for a local watering hole.

Lucky Baldwin’s Trappiste

1770 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-0447 

Lucky Baldwin’s Delirium Café

21 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre

(626) 355-1440

Reader Recommended

Congregation Ale House

300 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 403-2337

congregationalehouse.com

Yard House

330 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 577-9273

yardhouse.com/locations/ca/pasadena/pasadena-paseo-colorado/8307

BEST BOWLING ALLEY

Bowlmor Pasadena

3545 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 351-8858

bowlmor.com/location/bowlmor-pasadena

Nestled across from Ralph’s in Hastings Ranch, Bowlmor has remained a popular destination for families, singles and party crews thanks to ample space (31 coolly lit lanes in a 33,000-square-foot facility), a welcoming atmosphere, eye-catching décor, and all-ages appeal (interactive arcade, full-length sports bar, food and drink service). This ain’t your grampa’s bowling alley, but he’d feel at home here too.

Reader Recommended

Jewel City Bowl

135 S. Glendale Ave., Glendale

(818) 243-1188

backalleybowling.com

Montrose Bowl

2334 Honolulu Ave., Montrose

(818) 249-3895

montrosebowl.com

BEST COCKTAILS

1886 Bar at the Raymond

1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 441-3136 | theraymond.com

It’s tough to beat the speakeasy atmosphere of this repeat winner, and the elegance of the Sidecars, Smoking Jackets, Sours, and other classic cocktails handcrafted to lipsmacking approval here. Drinks are fashioned from top-shelf liquors, seasonal and regional ingredients, fresh juices, and syrups that are made in-house by the Raymond’s discerning bartenders. Adult beverages, indeed.

Reader Recommended

Magnolia House

492 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 584-1126 | themaghouse.com

Parkway Grill

510 S. Arroyo Pkwy., Pasadena

(626) 795-1001 | theparkwaygrill.com

BEST COMEDY CLUB

Ice House

24 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-1894 | icehousecomedy.com

There are a lot of stages for standup comedy; but in a casino room, let’s say, the vibe can be decidedly corporate and cutthroat. Not so at this homey Pasadena institution, which still books shows five nights a week. For almost six decades it’s been a venerable proving ground for local and national comics, including George Carlin, Fritz Coleman, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Maher, Steve Martin, Paul Rodriguez, Joe Rogan, Lily Tomlin and Robin Williams.

BEST DIVE BAR

Freddie’s 35er Bar

12 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-9315 | 35erbar.com

Location is everything, as they say, and the 35er’s had that locked in for almost 55 years. Shooting pool, punching up classic rock faves on the jukebox, watching sports on TV (not for nothing are the walls adorned with framed ballplayer shirts), chowing down tater tots and 50-cent wings, chugging $4 pints or $5 well drinks: there’s nothing fancy here. And that’s the point. Just one question: Does anyone remember Freddie?

Reader Recommended

The Colorado Bar

2640 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 449-3485

facebook.com/TheColoradoBar

The Rancho Bar

2485 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 798-7634

ranchobaraltadena.com

BEST HAPPY HOUR

Kabuki Japanese
Restaurant

88 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 568-9310

3539 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 351-8963

kabukirestaurants.com

Yes, it’s part of a corporate chain, but PW readers once again celebrated what locals have long known: the food here is seriously tasty. Seaweed salad, broiled mussels, sesame chicken, Krab sushi, spicy tuna roll, Firecrackers and fried gyoza dumplings are just some of the tried-and-true menu highlights. Combine those with budget-easing prices, convenient locations (in Old Town and East Pasadena), a respectable Japanese beer menu and cocktails like Sake Sangri and Tokyo Mojito, and you have a happy hour worth blocking out time for on a busy calendar.

Reader Recommended

Paul Martin’s American Grill

455 S. Lake Ave., Ste. 102, Pasadena

(626) 773-7600

Roy’s Restaurant

641 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-4066

roysrestaurant.com/locations/ca/pasadena

We Olive and Wine Bar

32 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 787-1000

weolive.com/pasadena/

Yard House

330 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 577-9273

yardhouse.com/locations/ca/pasadena/pasadena-paseo-colorado/8307

BEST LIVE MUSIC
BAR/CLUB

Kings Row Gastropub

20 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-3010

kingsrowpub.com

Readers gave thumbs-up to a changeup in musical offerings at this cozy Central Pasadena hang. Whether it’s Shakeup Sundays with Leila Avila or Trio Frio, Midweek Mayhem with David Macias, or Friday night party time with the ’80s- and ’90s-loving Past Action Heroes, the emphasis is on passing a good time with a friendly background soundtrack of R&B, reggae, roc en espanol and modern rock covers.

Reader Recommended

Edwin Mills by Equator

22 Mills Place, Pasadena

(626) 564-8656 | edwinmills.com

Old Towne Pub

66 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-6581

theoldtownepub.com

BEST LIVE MUSIC VENUE

The Rose at Paseo
Colorado

245 E. Green St., Pasadena

(888) 645-5006

Tribute bands galore and marquee acts such as Marc Cohn, LeAnn Rimes, Motley Crue’s Vince Neil, blues legends Buddy Guy and John Mayall, Young Dubliners, and Dave Mason and Steve Cropper’s Rock & Soul Revue continue to find their way to this upscale venue, which can hold up to 1,500 and comfortably melds concert hall and dinner theatre elements. A solid link in a chain that also includes the Canyon Club (in Agoura and Santa Clarita), Libbey Bowl (Ojai) and the Saban Theatre (Beverly Hills), it offers a more up-close and pampered concert experience for audiences that want to tune in “where music meets the soul” and reminisce.

Reader Recommended

Ambassador Auditorium

131 S. St. John Ave., Pasadena

(626) 794-1199

theambassadorauditorium.org

Boston Court Performing Arts Center

70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 683-6801 | bostoncourt.com

Coffee Gallery Backstage

2029 N. Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 798-6236 | coffeegallery.com

BEST LIVE
THEATRE VENUE

Pasadena Playhouse

39 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena

(626) 356-7529

pasadenaplayhouse.org

It may be the State Theatre of California (since 1917), but our iconic Playhouse is not stuffy. Under the auspices of Artistic Director Danny Feldman, it has continued to honor its historic — and diverse — roots while engaging timely themes of community, immigration and social justice with lively productions of Culture Clash’s “Bordertown Now” and the Jason Alexander-directed “Native Gardens.” Upcoming productions such as the musical “Ragtime” and Dominique Morisseau’s Motown-soundtracked “Detroit 67” (the latter to be presented upstairs in the Carrie Hamilton Theatre) promise to continue that tradition.

Reader Recommended

A Noise Within

3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 356-3100 | anoisewithin.org

Boston Court Performing Arts Center

70 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 683-6883 | bostoncourt.com

Parson’s Nose

95 N. Marengo Ave., Pasadena

(626) 403-7667 | parsonsnose.com

BEST LOCAL MUSICIAN

Emiko

Standing or sitting at her electronic keyboard, Emiko somehow manages to create the impression that there are more people onstage even when she’s playing solo. Smart, driven, and a creative self-promoter, she’s also a born entertainer whose between-song banter can be funny as hell and whose dynamic vocals add empathetic heart to her tough grooves and savvy arrangements.

Reader Recommended

Past Action Heroes

BEST MARGARITAS

Mijares

145 Palmetto Drive, Pasadena

(626) 792-2763

mijaresrestaurant.com

Even when you’ve been in business since 1920, as this beloved family-run restaurant has, you can’t coast on past accolades. Some credit for the enduring popularity of their margaritas should be given to the near-bucket-sized glasses into which they’re poured — who doesn’t appreciate generosity? — but most of all to the quality of the ingredients that go into such delicious specialties as the Blood Orange and Partida Organic Margaritas and hand-shaken fruit-and-liqueur favorites like their Pomegranate, Chambord Raspberry, and Midori Melon Liqueur Margaritas.

Reader Recommended

El Cholo

Paseo Colorado, 300 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 795-5800 | elcholo.com

El Portal

695 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 795-8553

elportalrestaurant.com

BEST MOVIE THEATER (TIE)

ArcLight

300 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 568-9651 | arclightcinemas.com

Pasadenans, we have a tie. Both conveniently located — the ArcLight in the Paseo Colorado and Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 next to Vroman’s in the Playhouse District — they broaden the gamut of cinematic offerings for local audiences. The ArcLight strives to create an experience of comfort and ease for patrons with blockbuster films, large screens, café/bar and assigned seating options, while the Playhouse 7 maintains a smart mix of arthouse fare, documentaries and first-run studio films, plus occasional Q&A sessions with filmmakers.

Laemmle’s Playhouse 7

673 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(310) 478-3836

laemmle.com/theaters/6

Reader Recommended

iPic

42 Miller Alley, Pasadena

(626) 639-2260 | ipictheaters.com

Regency Theaters

1003 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 229-9400 | regencymovies.com/main.php?theaterId=8

BEST PLACE TO DANCE

Club 54

54 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-0608 | club54lounge.com

A lounge in the basement augments the two-level nightclub here, adding up to three floors for those wanting to get their groove on or for private parties. That plus three full bars, three sound systems, three DJs, go-go dancers, bottle service, a party-time dress code and VIP booths pushed this sleek dance hotspot into the top slot for PW readers.

Reader Recommended

Ixtapa

119 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 304-1000 | cantinaixtapa.com/the-lounge.htm

LindyGroove

Pasadena Masonic Hall

200 S. Euclid Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-5610

pasadenamasonic.org

BEST PRIVATE
EVENT VENUE

Castle Green

99 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 793-0359 | castlegreen.com

A nationally registered historic treasure built in 1898, this Old Town landmark occupies a prized spot in Pasadena history. Its Frederick Roehrig’s distinctive Mediterranean-meets-Moorish Revival architecture and the luxuriously appointed décor have made it a prime location for weddings, photo and film shoots, corporate and private parties. Twice each year, the Castle Green opens to the public to allow visitors to savor the Victorian ambiance and intricate details such as hand-carved moldings, iron grilles and fireplace mantles; this year’s Holiday Home Tour takes place Dec. 2.

Reader Recommended

Noor

260 E. Colorado Blvd. A209, Pasadena

(626) 793-4518 | noorevents.com

University Club of Pasadena

175 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena

(626) 793-5157 | universityclubpasadena.com

BEST PUB GRUB

Lucky Baldwins

17 S. Raymond Ave.

(626) 795-0652 | luckybaldwins.com

Pubs are vital community hubs in English and Irish culture, as convivial gathering places and also because of the kind of satisfying fare you’ll find on the menu at this Pasadena institution: pigs in a blanket, loaded crisps, lentil-and-mushroom and traditional meat pies, smoked salmon lox, homemade chicken curry, fish ‘n’ chips (of course), plus signature American, English and Irish burgers, salads, and a tasty variety of ales, ciders, and tea to help you wash it all down.

Lucky Baldwin’s Trappiste

1770 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 844-0447 

Lucky Baldwin’s Delirium Café

21 Kersting Court, Sierra Madre

(626) 355-1440

Reader Recommended

Congregation Ale House

300 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 403-2337

congregationalehouse.com

Kings Row Gastropub

20 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 793-3010 | kingsrowpub.com

BEST RADIO STATION

KPCC

474 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(866) 893-5722 | scpr.org

Larry Mantle’s “AirTalk” has been must-listen radio for decades, and as Southern California Public Radio’s flagship station has expanded its offerings over the years, 89.3 FM has been a dependable space for listeners to tune in to other not-to-be missed programs like John Horn’s “The Frame,” A Martínez’s “Take Two,” Jonathan Capehart’s “America On the Line,” “Live From Here With Chris Thile,” “BBC Newshour,” NPR’s “Marketplace” with Kai Ryssdal, Joshua Johnson’s First Amendment-championing “1A.” Log onto scpr.org and you can also subscribe to a handful of KPCC podcasts, including “FilmWeek” and Sandra Tsing Loh’s “The Loh Down On Science.”

Reader Recommended

KCRW

1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica

(310) 450-5183 | kcrw.com

KUSC

1149 S. Hill St., Suite H100, downtown Los Angeles

(213) 225-7400  | kusc.org

BEST SPORTS BAR

Rocco’s Tavern

44 W. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 765-6810 | roccostavern.com

Part of a small chain (other locations are in Culver City, Studio City and Westwood), Rocco’s in Old Town Pasadena has secured a niche as a popular place to hang with family and friends thanks to its spacious layout, an abundance of large TV screens for sports fans, and finger foods like hot buffalo wings, pizza, seasoned fries with garlic aioli, and hot pretzels with cheese. Best of all are its beer pitchers and two-for-one happy hour specials.

Reader Recommended

Buffalo Wild Wings

1000 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 993-6400 | buffalowildwings.com

T. Boyle’s Tavern

37 N. Catalina Ave., Pasadena

(626) 578-0957 | tboylestavern.com

BEST THEATER
PRODUCTION

“42nd Street” at Theatre 360 in First Baptist Church of Pasadena

75 N. Marengo Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-5922 | theatre360.org

Kids from 3 to 19 learn real-world, practical skills and the value of approaching a craft like a professional via this award-winning children’s theatre company’s classes, workshops, performing arts camp and other programs. They earned additional plaudits for this year’s staging of “42nd Street,” the classic musical about the honest small-town chorus girl who inadvertently becomes a star by working hard to show she’s a pro.

Reader Recommended

“Twelfth Night,”

Parson’s Nose

95 N. Marengo Ave., Pasadena

(626) 403-7667

parsonsnose.com

BEST WEDDING/
BANQUET HALL

Noor

300 E. Colorado Blvd., No. 200, Pasadena

(626) 793-4518 | noorevents.com

The possibilities for creating an enchanting setting seem endless at this versatile event space. The Art Nouveau-inspired Sofia Ballroom; the smaller, Art Deco-inspired Ella Ballroom and private patio; the high-ceilinged, chandelier-appointed Sofia Foyer and private balcony; and the outdoor Terrace, graced with a fountain and a circular trellis overhead, all offer staff event planners ample room to conjure wedding-day magic.

Reader Recommended

Altadena Town & Country Club

2290 Country Club Drive, Altadena

(626) 794-7163 | altaclub.com

Pasadena Convention Center

300 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 793-2122 | pasadenacenter.visitpasadena.com

BEST WINE SELECTION

Everson Royce

155 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 765-9334 | eversonroyce.com

In addition to three weekly wine tastings, this amply stocked shop also usually has about four red and four white wines available for tasting by the glass. Consider the sheer volume of judiciously selected varieties from around the globe that line its brick walls and wooden shelves: rich, jammy California zinfandels and buttery chardonnays and Oregon pinot noirs; French Bordeaux, burgundies and champagnes; earthy Spanish Garnachas and Riojas; juicy New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs; and other palate-teasing offerings from Argentina, Australia, Chile and Italy. It’s an offer too tasty to refuse.

Reader Recommended

Monopole

21 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-9463 | monopolewine.com

Vertical Wine Bar

70 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 795-3999

verticalwinebistro.com