Pasadena restaurants to get away from Los Angeles

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California Baked Cake at The Arbor, served flambé – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

Located just 10 miles from downtown Los Angeles, the city of Pasadena offers a getaway for Angelenos looking to unwind in a more laid-back and laid back place. Steeped in history, Old Pasadena has blocks of heritage buildings that house fabulous restaurants, serving everything from classic breakfasts and dishes from many different cultures to fine dining with an experimental twist.

For those who love to eat, Pasadena has plenty to do. Here are 9 places you’ll need to try while visiting the city.

The arbor

The Arbor's chili comes with a beef tallow candle, which you stir as it meltsThe chili at The Arbor comes with a beef tallow candle, which you stir as it melts – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

The Arbor farm-to-table restaurant serves mind-blowing dishes. Order the chili starter as it comes with a beef tallow candle in the middle, which you stir as the fat melts to make it even more delicious.

My smoked duck breast came served under a smoke-filled glass bell, and was unveiled as something in a magic show. The baked California cake dessert (candied almond ice cream wrapped in meringue with dark rum poured over it) was served flambé. Theater aside, every dish I ate at the Arbor was perfect.

Lincoln Cafe and Store

Bakery products take center stage at Lincoln Cafe and StoreBakery products take center stage at Lincoln Cafe and Store – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

Lincoln Cafe and Store is a bright, open space owned by pastry chef Christine Moore, who was trained in Paris and Los Angeles, and also owns Pasadena’s much-loved Little Flower Cafe. Lincoln is the perfect place for breakfast, and the menu features fun items such as black sesame pancakes.

Queuing to order next to the windows full of baked goods made us try everything, so we ordered flaky chocolate croissants, a ricotta and spinach pancake topped with cherry tomatoes, buttermilk buns though. vouchers that we turned around and ordered more to- go, and a huge slice of churro layer cake.

Marston Restaurant

Pulled pork Benny at Marston's, breakfast well doneBenny’s Pulled Pork at Marston’s Breakfast Well Done – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

Few beats a perfectly served classic breakfast, and Marston’s Restaurant, which was voted California’s Best Breakfast, has it all. I loved their Benedict pulled pork with spicy hollandaise sauce, and their huevos rancheros were also excellent. Grab a table on the pretty porch if you can.

The crack hut

The Coop Deville Crack Shack sandwich, served with some decadent shakes and cookies – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

The Crack Shack is a free range fried chicken restaurant with jaw-dropping side dishes, such as mini cookies served with miso-maple butter (mmm). You can order buckets of chicken or sandwiches – I went for the Coop Deville sandwich, served on a bun with pickled peppers, lime mayonnaise and cabbage.

The spicy fries that came with it were excellent and their unforgettable Cookie Monster milkshake, made with mint and full of Oreo crumbs and chocolate syrup. With a full sports bar at the back, it’s a fun place to plan a night out with friends.

Amara Chocolate and Coffee

Tasty chicken empanadas at Amara Chocolate and CoffeeTasty Chicken Empanadas at Amara Chocolate and Coffee – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

Stopping at Amara Chocolate and Coffee for a few snacks turned into tasting their delicious chocolates and churros, then tasting the chicken empanadas and tequeños (breaded and deep-fried cheese sticks). Everything we tasted was delicious and we just wished we had room to try more.

Santorini Cafe

Seven-hour braised lamb shank with fruit and couscous at Café SantoriniSeven Hour Braised Lamb Shank with Fruit and Couscous at Cafe Santorini – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

Pasadena’s classic cafe, Cafe Santorini, has been around for 25 years. Spread over three floors, you are treated like a VIP from the moment you walk in despite its scale, and attentive service maintains the feeling.

Serving a menu of classic Mediterranean fare, Cafe Santorini is a fabulous place to dine, and I always covet their braised lamb shank with fruit for seven hours a month after eating it.

Sage bistro

Never mind there isn't real cheese on this vegan Buffalo cauliflower pizza at Sage Plant Based BistroNever mind there’s no cheese on this vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza at Sage Plant Based Bistro – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

When you need to feel healthy, Sage Plant Based Bistro is there for you. Sit on their huge patio in a historic brick plaza off Pasadena’s main thoroughfare, or in the huge dining room, and order juices and delicious vegan food. I went with the Buffalo Cauliflower Pizza followed by their Raw White Chocolate Cake, and both were superb.

The Big Orange

Juicy and delicious La Grand Orange rib tacosJuicy and delicious La Grand Orange rib tacos – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

The Grand Orange is located in the historic Del Mar train station and is the perfect place to enjoy a steak, burger or their juicy rib tacos (delicious!). They also have a mix of seafood and other types of food, and their desserts are wonderful – the red velvet layered cake with white chocolate ice cream was really, really good.

Lavender and honey café-bar and delicatessen

Avocado and lavender lemonade toast at Lavender and Honey was simple perfectionAvocado and Lavender Lemonade Toast at Lavender and Honey was simple perfection – Photo courtesy of Lola Augustine Brown

The breakfast we had at the Lavender and Honey Boutique Coffee Bar and Deli was ridiculously simple. When it was time to pay, I asked myself, “Did we really just pay $ 4.50 for a piece of toast with avocado and a few slices of red jalapeños on it?” But, in fact, it tasted so good that we went back and bought another one right after, and doused it with lavender lemonade.

As well as having a toast bar (all served on artisan bread alongside artisan spreads), they make sandwiches and serve great coffee. The queue to get into this place was well worth it.


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