Best Special Occasion Dining
With the world turned so deeply inward, finding time for a date night, nice family dinner or special outing with friends has become essential to maintaining a healthy attitude about the state of the world. Few restaurants in Pasadena can ward off that creeping despair better than Parkway Grill. Once deemed by our publication “The Best Restaurant in Pasadena,” Parkway’s innovative American dishes never fail to deliver unique takes on seasonal classics—from high-quality steaks, to pastas, to tiger shrimp corn dogs.
510 S. Arroyo Parkway, theparkwaygrill.com
Arroyo Chop House, 536 S. Arroyo Parkway,
Houston’s Restaurant, 320 S. Arroyo Parkway,
Best Family Restaurant
Twenty years is a long time in the restaurant world, but it’s no wonder Stonefire Grill’s reliable selection of American staples has kept the Pasadena community coming back for two decades. As a considerably higher-quality choice than a defeatist night at a chain, families can enjoy pizzas, pastas, grill fare and, of course, a kid’s menu that could satisfy the pickiest eater. They even offer special family meals to center everyone around a deliciously honking piece of meat.
473 N. Rosemead Boulevard, stonefiregrill.com
La Grande Orange, 260 S. Raymond Avenue,
Mijares, 145 Palmetto Drive, mijaresrestaurant.com
Best Sunday Brunch
Le Grande Orange Café
Housed in Pasadena’s historic 1934 Del Mar Station, Le Grande Orange Café creates a regional take on American classics where Hollywood’s Golden Age stars first stepped off the train. With the café’s Rise and Shine All Day menu, brunch fans can enjoy everything from The Commuter breakfast sandwich to a croque madame all day long.
260 S. Raymond Avenue, lgostationcafe.com
The Raymond, 1250 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, theraymond.com
Great Maple, 300 E. Colorado Boulevard,thegreatmaple.com
Best Asian Fusion
This Asian fusion spot is a highlight of Pasadena. Popular favorites include the pad thai and pad see ew, among others—but the menu is aplenty with Thai and other Asian flavors, from its appetizers featuring items like dumplings, fried tofu and egg rolls to its soup, salad, noodle and pasta, curry, stir fry and seafood.
1218 E. Colorado Boulevard, daisymint.com
Bone Kettle, 67 N. Raymond Avenue, bonekettle.com
Sierra Fusion, 120 W. Sierra Madre Boulevard, Sierra Madre, sierrafusion.com
Best Armenian Food
Serving all kinds of Mediterranean food stemming from its Lebanese origins, Zankou Chicken defines what it means to be a beloved and successful local chain. Appealing to the flourishing Armenian community across Los Angeles, Zankou Chicken offers unique regional cuisine. Make sure to try Zankou’s signature rotisserie chicken alongside their typical Mediterranean array of kebabs and salads.
1296 E. Colorado Boulevard, zankouchicken.com
Raffi’s, 3887 E. Sierra Madre Boulevard, raffiscatering.com
Mediterranean Cafe, 273 Shoppers Lane,
Each loaf of bread at Seed Bakery is crafted from organic grains, freshly milled whole in a 12-hour fermentation period. With this old-world tradition of milling, fermentation and baking, Seed bakery enhances the flavor, shelf life and nutrients of its bread, which ranges from 100% rye to kalamata olive boule to ciabattini.
942 E. Washington Boulevard, seedbakerypasadena.com
85 Degrees C, 61 S. Fair Oaks Avenue, 85cbakerycafe.com
Europane Bakery & Café, 345 E. Colorado Boulevard, Suite 101, and 950 E. Colorado Boulevard, Suite 107,
Gus’s has served Southern barbecue since 1946 in South Pasadena. Its barbecue and service, a tribute to Southern hospitality and true Southern barbecue, consists of rubs and sauces that are made from scratch daily. The meat is seasoned overnight and cooked slow and low until mouth-watering perfection. Try its take on Southern barbecue favorites, like their tender rack of Memphis baby back ribs, their Carolina-style pulled pork or Texas beef brisket. Each of these made-fresh, indulgent entrees come with sides so follow it up with baked beans, Southern greens or mashed potatoes.
808 Fair Oaks Avenue, gussbbq.com
Bonnie B’s, 1280 N. Lake Avenue, bonniebssmokin.com
Rodney’s Ribs, 900 N. Lake Avenue,
Enjoy breakfast on a sunny day at Millie’s Café, where its commitment to good cooking and using the best ingredients is reflected in its service and food. Try its breakfast favorites, which is served all day, like eggs Benedict, chilaquiles, or one of its breakfast sandwiches that comes on a croissant or brioche bun. Vegans are welcome, too, as the vegan breakfast meal is plentiful as well. Try its Angel’s Mess, which is a tofu scramble with vegan sausage and Daiya cheese mixed with other delicious ingredients, or its No Huevos Ranchero, which includes tofu egg, corn tortillas, black beans and Daiya cheese. The kitchen uses natural ingredients for its food, and believes in doing things the “old-fashioned way, by hand, from scratch, because there is a difference.”
1399 E. Washington Boulevard, milliescafela.com
Lincoln Pasadena, 1992 Lincoln Avenue,
Marston’s, 151 E. Walnut Street, marstonsresturant.com
Best Local Burger
Everyone knows In-N-Out, so it’s no surprise it tops the list of burgers you can get locally. From the classic hamburger or cheeseburger to the Double-Double, the menu is as simple, classic and affordable as it is good. Or, if you peruse the “Not So Secret Menu,” you can get even more bang for your buck and feed a larger appetite with the Triple-Triple or Quad-Quad—among other “hidden” choices, like double meat, Animal Style or Protein Style, the latter wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun.
2114 E. Foothill Boulevard, in-n-out.com
Pie ’N Burger, 913 E. California Boulevard, pienburger.com
Dog Haus, 105 N. Hill Avenue, Suite 104, pasadena.doghaus.com
Best California Cuisine
Le Grande Orange
Le Grande Orange is in Pasadena’s historic 1934 Del Mar Station, which played host to Clark Gable, Mae West and Will Rogers of Hollywood’s Golden Age. It is now a testament to American cooking, with delicious dishes like deviled eggs, dixie picnic chicken snack, cheeseburgers and open-face chicken salad sandwiches. The drink options are abundant.
260 S. Raymond Avenue, lgostationcafe.com
True Food Kitchen, 168 W. Colorado Boulevard,
Nick’s Restaurant, 336 S. Lake Avenue,
Best Chinese Food
The original. Now boasting five locations throughout Southern California, Panda Inn came from humble beginnings—opening in Pasadena in 1973. Now, nearly five decades later, its proprietors continue to share the art of Chinese food. Affiliated with many other restaurants and fast food joints far and wide (e.g., Panda Express) under the Panda Restaurant Group umbrella, Panda Inn serves up Mandarin and Szechwan cuisine in a sit-down environment. Its menus are expansive, so know you’ll have no shortage of choices.
3488 E. Foothill Boulevard, pandainn.com,
Lunasia Dim Sum House, 239 E. Colorado Boulevard,
Grandview Palace, 60 N. Raymond Avenue,
The cupcakes offered at Dots are baked fresh daily made with 100% pure ingredients and organic fruit preserves. They hand frost each pretty and playful design to be visually alluring and hand-select melt-in-your-mouth flavors.
400 S. Arroyo Parkway (open), 21 N. Fair Oaks Boulevard (temporarily closed), dotscupcakes.com
Vanilla Bake Shop, 88 E. Colorado Boulevard,
Polkatots Cupcakes, 720 N. Lake Avenue, Suite 3,
Pasadena Sandwich Company
New York style, right here in Pasadena. A family-owned and -operated deli, restaurant and catering company, Pasadena Sandwich Company bases its menu around meats cooked daily in-house and fresh, homemade salads—so you know quality shouldn’t be an issue. Build your own sandwich or salad or choose from a number of predetermined classics—or, if you’re in the mood for a surprise, choose “Trust the Cook” and get what the chef feels in the mood to make.
259 Sierra Madre Villa Avenue, Suite 102,
Perry’s Joint, 2051 N. Lincoln Avenue, perrysjoint.com
Roma Market, 918 N. Lake Avenue, 626-797-7748
Amara Chocolate & Coffee
From breakfast and brunch to lunch and dinner, featuring plenty of diverse choices, there’s no challenging Amara’s offerings. But when it comes to the subject of dessert, that’s especially true. From Spanish churros fashioned a variety of ways to items like French apple tart, ice cream cups, chocolate brownies or carrot cake, there’s no shortage of ways to satisfy your sweet tooth after something like a sandwich or grilled arepa at Amara. Perhaps even add coffee if you need an extra caffeine boost.
55 S. Raymond Avenue, amaracafe.com
Dots Cupcakes, 400 S. Arroyo Parkway,
dotscupcakes.com, check website for additional locations
Nothing Bundt Cakes, 548 S. Lake Avenue,
nothingbundtcakes.com, check website for additional locations
Best French Food
Embracing the traditional and the contemporary, this New American and French-style cuisine restaurant is dedicated to providing its customers with a personalized experience. From its burrata to its seared dive boat sea scallops to its apple tart tatin, Bistro 45 strives to prepare “food made with love,” featuring the best quality proteins and produce.
45 S. Mentor Avenue, bistro45.com
Bistro de la Gare, 921 Meridian Avenue,
Entre Nous, 119 W. Green Street,
Best Health/Organic/Vegetarian/Vegan Food
True Food Kitchen
A place where delicious dining and conscious nutrition go hand in hand. Each meal is prepared and served to nutritional standards and features unique and nutritionally dense ingredients. This restaurant encourages guests to stick with their beliefs and be true to themselves.
168 W. Colorado Boulevard,
Sage Vegan Bistro, 41 Hugus Alley,
Urth Caffé, 594 E. Colorado Boulevard, urthcaffe.com
Best Hot Dogs
Served on a grilled King’s Hawaiian roll, Dog Haus’ signature all-beef Haus dogs and handcrafted Haus sausages have received critical acclaim. Hot dog lovers are sure to quench their craving here, with dogs, sausages and hamburgers featuring everything from chili and crispy onions to pineapple and pickled jalapeños.
105 N. Hill Avenue, Suite 104, doghaus.com
Perry’s Joint, 2051 N. Lincoln Avenue, perrysjoint.com
Dirt Dog, 20 E. Union Street, dirtdogla.com
Jones Coffee Roasters
Looking for your morning caffeine boost but looking to support local, rather than the big chains? Look no further than Jones Coffee Roasters. From traditional choices like brewed coffee and iced favorites to espresso-based creations, as well as tea, baked goods and more, Jones’ café side serves up the goods you’ve likely come to expect. But a quick peak at its website goes further, as Jones sells its own blends, seasonals and decafs, not to mention the teas. Join the Jones Coffee Club for monthly deliveries at a 10% reduced rate to keep the smells and flavors going from the comfort of your own home.
693 S. Raymond Avenue, jonescoffeeroasters.com, check website for additional locations
Lavender & Honey Espresso Bar, 1383 E. Washington Boulevard, lavenderandhoneyespresso.com
Amara Chocolate & Coffee, 55 S. Raymond Avenue,
Bay Poké strives to provide its customers with authentic poké, while setting higher standards for the quality of ingredients and streamlining its serving process. Customers can build their own poké bowl, choosing from a wide variety of proteins, bases, sauces and toppings. Pair it with one of the eight tea options from Bay Poké’s tea bar.
2345 E. Colorado Boulevard, baypoke.com
Poké Salad Bar, 12 W. Colorado Boulevard,
Sage Bistro, 41 Hugus Alley, sageveganbistro.com
Best Italian Food
This third-generation family restaurant crafts its dinners with its Mama Rosa’s original recipes, according to its website. Perhaps that’s what pushed it over the top, securing a top spot in Pasadena’s Italian food community. Nevertheless, whether you’re a pizza pundit or antipasto aficionado, a spaghetti specialist or salad savant, there’s bound to be something of quality here for local Italian food fanatics.
2411 E. Washington Boulevard, originaldomenicos.com
Celestino, 141 S. Lake Avenue, celestinopasadena.com
Il Fornaio, 24 W. Union Street, ilfornaio.com,
check website for additional locations
Best Japanese Food
A concept by the famed Sushi Nozawa, Sugarfish serves only high-quality, traditional sushi—and it’s all based on chef Kazunori Nozawa’s experience-filled life. What is traditional sushi? Well, you’re not going to find California rolls, spicy tuna rolls or teriyaki on the menu. That said, what you will find is a commitment to quality and old-school values, with Nozawa aiming for a “pure and simple” experience.
146 S. Lake Avenue, sugarfishsushi.com, check website for additional locations
Osawa, 77 N. Raymond Avenue, theosawa.com
Ichima, 325 N. Rosemead Boulevard, ichimasushi.com
Best Korean Food
Chris’ Korean BBQ
It’s hard to escape the constant buzz around LA’s famous Korean barbecue—the delicious array of uniquely flavorful grilled meats brought to the city by the country’s thriving community. While K-Town serves as the hub of the largest concentration of Korean Americans in the United States, the community’s cultural and culinary influence extends to all corners of the Los Angeles area, including Chris’ Korean BBQ right here in Pasadena. So instead of driving halfway across the city, try Chris’ for your next craving of barbecue bowls, boxes or other traditional Korean dishes.
2063 E. Colorado Boulevard, 626-796-9604
Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, 5700 Rosemead Boulevard, Suite 100, baekjeongkbbq.com
Seoul BBQ, 2139 Foothill Boulevard, 818-248-9958
Best Local Brewery
Congregation Ale House
The one, the only, the “house of beers.” This church-themed ale house has four locations, or “chapters,” serving up Congregation Ales as well as plenty of brews bottled or on tap. Its back bar menu adds craft cocktails, spirits and wines into the mix, while its food menu ranges from simple pub fare, like pretzels, chicken strips and hot wings, to gourmet sausages, grilled burgers, artisan pizzas, salads, and then dessert for if you have room for more when you’re finished.
300 S. Raymond Avenue, congregationalehouse.com, check website for additional locations
Stone Brewing, 220 S. Raymond Avenue, Suite 103,
stonebrewing.com, check website for additional locations
Craftsman Brewing Company, 1260 Lincoln Avenue, Unit 100, craftsmanbrewing.com
Best Local Pizza
The Luggage Room
From actual Golden Age Hollywood-era luggage room to Pasadena’s best local pizza purveyor, this eatery is the place to be—both respecting its roots and adapting to its pizza focus. From starters and salads to beer, wine and cocktails, and then over to the main course—pizza pies—The Luggage Room has the goods and the authenticity—with local ingredients and hand-stretched fermented sourdough crust, “burned over olive wood for extra flavor and spirit.” For those who can’t do gluten, have no worry—gluten-free crust is on the menu.
260 S. Raymond Avenue, theluggageroom.com
Domenico’s, 2411 E. Washington Boulevard,
Mamma’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta, 1007 Fair Oaks Avenue, South Pasadena, mammasbrickoven.com
Best Mexican Food
The culinary landscape of Los Angeles would be nothing without the contributions of the distinct international cultural groups around Southern California. And given the deep influence of the Chicano community, it’s no wonder Angelinos always turn back to the delicious complexity of Mexican food. For Pasadena, Mijares provides a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy the simplicity of a perfect enchilada or the restaurant’s original spa margarita.
145 Palmetto Drive, mijaresrestaurant.com
El Portal, 695 E. Green Street, elportalrestaurant.com
El Patron, 2555 Lake Avenue, elpatrononline.com
Featuring a San Francisco-style fish house with an exhibition-style kitchen, but also with a bar and a fish market, this Pasadena spot aims to provide only the freshest seafood. Restaurant menu choices are aplenty, ranging from sushi to appetizers like steamed clams and fish tacos; oyster bar favorites; a variety of soups and salads; and plenty of sandwiches, fried choices and entrées. But if you’re not a seafood kind of person and your party is, well, Cameron’s has you covered, too—offering everything from steak and ribs to chicken and burgers.
1978 E. Colorado Boulevard, camerons4fish.com
Fish King, 722 N. Glendale Avenue, Glendale,
Fishwives, 88 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, fishwives.com
Arroyo Chop House
When it comes to Arroyo Chop House, quality is paramount. As such, the steakhouse’s menu is based around USDA prime beef, highest-grade wagyu steaks and market-fresh seafood. According to its website, it sources its beef from a single supplier, with steaks cut by hand every day and aged for at least 28 days—so you know you’re getting that quality. And as for its menu, well, it goes beyond steaks to seafood, chicken and chops, so there’s more than enough to account for a variety of palates.
536 S. Arroyo Parkway, arroyochophouse.com
Alexander’s Steakhouse, 111 N. Los Robles Avenue,
check website for additional locations
Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 369 E. Colorado Boulevard, ruthschris.com, check website for additional locations
Best Vietnamese Food
Golden Deli has an interesting story, starting as a Chinese fast-food buffet but going on to introduce authentic homestyle Vietnamese food to avoid going out of business. It seems that decision was the right one. Its two locations and massive menu provide plenty of choices for fans of Vietnamese cuisine, including the always popular pho and banh mi. But Golden Deli may be unique, detailing that what separates itself from the competition is cooking pho slowly on low heat in large industrial pots “until it develops its deep, robust flavor with a smooth and clean finish.”
815 W. Las Tunas Drive, San Gabriel, thegoldendeli.com, check website for additional locations
Saigon Noodle, 28 N. Raymond Avenue, 626-796-9378
Pasadena Noodle & Grill, 2335 E. Colorado Boulevard, Unit 110, 626-792-1893
Hot Wings Cafe
Claiming to be the restaurant that introduced hot wings to the Los Angeles area, Hot Wings Cafe in Pasadena is unbeatable. At this aptly and simply titled eatery, get crispy, Buffalo-style chicken wings (or boneless ones) dipped in your choice of barbecue, spicy barbecue, lemon pepper, mild or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, hot or extra hot sauce. But while those wings may be its specialty, know that there’s a full menu of sandwiches and burgers, soups and salads and sides.
89 E. Colorado Boulevard, hotwingscafe.net, check website for additional locations
Alondras, 515 W. Main Street, Alhambra,
lovealondras.com, check website for additional locations
Pizza of Venice, 2545 Fair Oaks Avenue, Altadena,
Those looking for a quality taco served in a timely manner should look no further than the affordable King Taco. This establishment has served a wide variety of authentic Mexican food for over 40 years and takes its consistent quality and fresh ingredients seriously. Their tacos, served with two fresh corn tortillas, a choice of meat and a choice of freshly chopped cilantro, onion and salsa, are savory and undeniably delicious. Its choice of meats includes carne asada, carnitas, al pastor, chicken, cabeza and lengua—all for $1.76. Add cheese and a Horchata to add some extra flavor to your meal.
45 N. Arroyo Parkway, kingtaco.com
Mijares Mexican Restaurant, 145 Palmetto Drive,
La Estrella Tacos, 320 E. Orange Grove Boulevard,
Lucky Boy’s “Famous Breakfast Burrito” takes the phrase “Breakfast of Champions” to a whole new level and in the best way possible. This massive burrito, served all day, could feed two people and is loaded with breakfast ingredients to start—or end—your day right. Its burrito is stuffed generously with hash browns, cheese, eggs and a choice of bacon, sausage, chorizo or ham. Stop by and find out why this burrito is so celebrated and talked about throughout LA as being one of the best breakfast burritos around.
640 S. Arroyo Parkway, luckyboyburgers.com
Burrito Express, 1597 E. Washington Boulevard,
Mijares Mexican Restaurant, 145 Palmetto Drive,