A taste of Pasadena
Move over Los Angeles, Pasadena has been making its own mark as a rising culinary destination to discover with a thriving food scene and as the former home of legendary chef Julia Child. In fact, as Julia Long, the founder of Pasadena Walking Tours, points out, the charming city has more restaurants per capita than NYC. To thrive and survive in such a competitive environment, she said restaurants have to stand out.
While clients may come to the California destination that’s located just 16 km northeast of downtown Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley for the annual Tournament of Roses Parade, the architecture or noteworthy attractions like Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, they’ll also satisfy their taste buds. Here are a few foodie stops ranging from low key diners to gourmet restaurants, and everything in between.
Farm-to-table restaurant The Arbour by Chef Ian Gresik and his wife Nancy Gresik focuses on local ingredients. The lunch and dinner menu changes seasonally to utilize the freshest produce and harvest, and the pasta is made fresh in-house daily. The Arbour, which has an extensive California-centric wine list along with hand crafted cocktails, frequently ranks among the best restaurants in Pasadena.
Bone Kettle is known for its bowl dishes which revolve around a 36-hour broth (there’s a vegetarian option too) made by slow cooking beef bones in filtered water with herbs and dried spices for a day and a half reflective of South Asian traditions. The stylish Indonesian restaurant by Chef Erwin Tjahyadi, who was recently named on Zagat’s “30 Under 30” list of rising culinary stars in Los Angeles, trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, and apprenticed under both Wolfgang Puck and Trey Foshee.
For brunch, coffee or a sweet churro fix, look no further than Amara Chocolate & Coffee by Amara Barroeta who was raised in Caracas and serves up Venezuelan inspired dishes. For a twist on the every day cappuccino, try the chocolaty dulce de leche with cinnamon and chile pasilla. This cozy hot spot serves South American fare like arepas and cachapas.
Those craving a burger can head to Pie N Burger, an old fashioned diner dating back to 1963. The casual joint serves its own version of a Big Mac, which was ranked by the Food Network as the home of America’s top five cheeseburgers. Pie N Burger is also well known for its selection of freshly baked pies.
Alexander’s Steakhouse offers a fine dining take on the classic American steakhouse with hints of Japanese influence laced into the menu. The restaurant is offers 28-day dry-aged steaks, Certified Angus Beef, corn-fed from the Mid-West, as well as imported wagyu beef. Sides are served family-style. The steakhouse also serves up an delectable cocktail menu with catchy names like The Drunken Juan Valdes made with coffee infused tequila or the Notorious P.I.G.
For a spot of tea, take in The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgewood, which features Wedgewood specialty teas in tailor-made Langham Rose Wedgewood teaware, offered daily at The Langham Huntington. The spread comes with a selection of savoury tea sandwiches, scones with Devonshire cream and jam, fruit tarts, fruit tarts, macarons, mini-cakes, cookies and more. The tradition of afternoon tea keeps the signature of The Langham brand alive as the first luxury hotel in Europe to serve afternoon tea. Champagne can be added for an additional charge.
Named the Best Breakfast in California by the Food Network and Zagat, Marston’s Restaurant has been serving classic American cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner since 1987, but breakfast is the show stopper here. Popular dishes include the Fantastic French Toast and the California Orange Salad, made with Marston’s own San Pasqual salad dressing. Opened by its namesake Sally and Otis Marston, the popular spot is now owned by Chef-Owner Jim McCardy.
Specializing in fresh food, pastries, coffee and tea, Lincoln Café is a new hangout spot where meals are made to order in a cool boutique environment with a noteworthy patio. There’s also a daily assortment of freshly baked cookies, cakes and pastries that are easy to grab-and-go.
Joined by a love of all things chicken and breakfast for dinner, The Crack Shack by founder Michael Rosen and top chef Richard Blais offers classic comfort fare with a unique twist. The all-day dining venue serves reimagined fried chicken and egg based options. While there are locations across Southern California, the Pasadena restaurant is home to the exclusive Chicken Thigh Pastrami sandwich featuring Dr. Brown’s creamed onions, kraut, Emmental cheese and a pickle-naise on marble rye bread.