Southern California foodies have until July 26 to experience some of the LA area’s most in-demand spots. Thanks to specially priced dineLA Restaurant Week menus, and the online reservation platform Open Table, some top-tier, four-star restaurants open their doors and books giving Angelenos a more accessible route to the culinary world.
While Pasadena already has a host of affordable dining spots (looking at you Maquina Taco, 1274 N. Lake Ave., No. 1, Pasadena; (626) 365-1893; maquinataco.com; no alcohol/major cards accepted)), a number of local restaurants with more dollar icons next to their Yelp listings become an option during this celebration of culinary culture. Here are some of the Pasadena favorites you should check out before the deals disappear and you are stuck counting down the days until the winter dineLA event.
It is hard for me to not bring up Alexander’s. They have a spot on my best happy hour list for much the same reason as they are getting a shout out here. Pasadena is fortunate enough to have one of the three Alexander’s locations. For context on just what a culinary heavyweight the Japanese influenced steakhouse is, its Silicon Valley counterpart has a Michelin star. The Pasadena location opened in 2015 after the committee that awards Michelin stars stopped awarding them to Los Angeles-based restaurants.
With that context in mind, Alexander’s Restaurant Week menu does come at the highest cost of any on my list at $119, but for a six-course meal that features a beef tataki appetizer, along with a sweet braised pork belly doused in a pork aioli, garlic soy, and pickled daikon. Following the appetizers come the organic greens served with crab, lobster jelly, avocado and honey yuzu vinaigrette dressing. The next two courses are the shrimp chawanmushi and six-ounce New York strip of American Wagyu beef served in a bordelaise reduction with an herb salad accompaniment. The six courses are rounded out by a pistachio cake dessert served with matcha ice cream and a vegetable pistachio crumble. I know Alexander’s Restaurant Week offering hits the wallet harder than some of the other choices, but it is an opening to the upper echelon of the culinary world. Treat yourself to a lengthy, multicourse journey through some truly masterful flavors.
Alexander’s Steakhouse, 111 N. Los Robles Ave., Pasadena; (626) 486-1111; alexanderssteakhouse.com; alcohol served/major cards accepted.
Bone Kettle’s Indonesian-inspired, bone-fueled menu was worthy of a visit from the late Jonathan Gold in 2017 when it first opened. Gold had some words of advice for the Old Pasadena spot then in its infancy, understandably working the finer details of the menu. Gold praised the citrus brined chicken wings, calling them “heartier, stickier than the traditional double-cooked Indonesian bird.” Perhaps in a show of respect to Gold who was the arbiter of Los Angeles dining, the wings found their way to Bone Kettle’s lunch menu. For $20 Bone Kettle is offering a two-course lunch. The first course is a choice of the Gold-approved chicken wings or the spicy papaya salad made with bay scallops, finely shredded green papaya, mangoes, tomatoes, chili, cilantro, green beans and rounded out for texture with peanuts. For an entree they are offering diners a chance to experience their titular bone infusions with either the top sirloin or the ginger seared chicken, both accompanied by bone broth and noodles. They also have a vegan entree option — the crispy tempeh served with its own vegan broth and noodles.
Bone Kettle, 67 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena; (626) 795-5702; bonekettle.com; alcohol served/major cards accepted.
Beer & Claw
Beer & Claw has earned my respect. Tucked away in Mills Alley, just off Green Street, the crustacean & cocktail-centric restaurant offers the shelled seafood options that we love to crack open, harkening back to our hunter gatherer roots. But unlike some similarly centric restaurants, they do it sans the plastic bibs and tablecloths like some of their counterparts. For Restaurant Week they are putting it all out there. Their pre-fixe three-course dinner and cocktail menu will run $59, and is packed full of seafood as well as non-oceanic options. For appetizers there’s a five oyster platter, loaded pork belly fries, a watermelon ahi salad, crab wontons, and a few more to choose from. For entrees you can select one of six options that include a ribeye and a cajun seafood platter. The standout of the entrees is the LobstaMozz, a decadent cheesy lobster shell covered in mozzarella and spices. Videos and pictures of the Lobstamozz have gone viral across food blogs this week, and for good reason; it must be seen to be believed. Their dinner menu wraps up with one of four dessert options: the honey bourbon strawberry shortcake is a summer dream with fresh whipped cream and honey bourbon drizzle. It is the refreshing ending that you deserve after burning calories cracking into those lobster shells.
Beer & Claw, 61 S. Fair Oaks Ave., No. 130, Pasadena; (626) 460-8511; beerandclaw.com; alcohol served/major cards accepted.
The Pasadena pillar offers a two course lunch menu and a three-course dinner menu. Featuring ingredients from its own organic garden, Parkway Grill creates really special dishes with a fresh, seasonal twist. They’ve been doing things right for over 35 years and if you haven’t had a chance to visit yet, take this one. The lunch menu entrees feature choices of some classics: pan fried chicken, a shrimp and vegetable pasta dish, and an open faced ribeye sandwich with onion rings. Dinner selections include a whitefish beurre blanc, filet mignonette, and a half-chicken with lemon sauce.
Each dish is enhanced by the freshest local fare, straight from the on-premises garden and plated in the exhibition kitchen, which has one of the first mesquite and oak wood burning ovens in LA. Every detail of Parkway Grill is special and I have no doubt your visit will be as well.
Pro tip: Don’t miss the bar. It’s original, transported from Chicago when Parkway opened. Among various features and accolades for the vast collection of wines and spirits, the bartenders have over 92 collective years of Parkway Grill service.
Parkway Grill, 510 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena; (626) 795-1001; theparkwaygrill.com; alcohol served/major cards accepted.