Pasadena has a lot of things going for it. Stunning historical architecture, diverse museums and the much-beloved monthly Rose Bowl flea market. But what the city sitting just northeast of L.A. doesn’t have is a destination food scene — until now. Heavyweight chefs like Susan Feniger and Orange County’s Daniel Godinez are moving in and shaking things up, plus there’s a whole lot more to look forward to in 2017.
Here’s where to dine now (or very soon) in Pasadena.
Lost at Sea
Spawned by Tim Carey and Santos Uy — the team behind Papilles Bistro, a delicious dinner spot in a Hollywood strip mall — Lost at Sea’s menu features modern seafood dishes with south-of-the-border flair. For example, mole is the star of the grilled octopus appetizer; Fresno chile makes a splash in the lobster velouté; and oysters come with a side of habanero relish.
The design is equally as pleasing to the eye as the presentation of the dishes (they have most beautiful crudité appetizer).
Wine is on point as well. Allow owner-sommelier Uy to guide you through the menu of boutique and natural vino producers from the around the world.
Opening in January, Bone Kettle is billed as an ode to Asian bone broth, an undertaking that requires 36 hours of cooking time! But, there’s more than just the trendy health cure-all soup on the menu here. Chef Erwin Tjahyadi, co-owner and executive chef of Komodo, will offer small plates and desserts inspired by Indonesian cuisine.
Freshwater Dumpling and Noodle House and 1919
Inside the Huntington Library, there are two new exciting dining options. Within the Chinese Garden, the Freshwater Dumpling and Noodle House, by chef Kajsa Alger (co-owner of the healthy fast food Blue Window at LAX and in Hollywood), serves up classic Asian comfort food. The dumplings and noodles never fail to hit the spot.
On the other end of the culinary spectrum, the lauded Border Grill duo (chefs Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken) dish out delectable modern Mexican favorites at 1919, the Huntington Library’s main café. You can sample fresh items like Baja shrimp ceviche here.
Chef Daniel Godinez, Orange County’s king of contemporary Mexican cuisine, recently opened Maestro in Old Town Pasadena. Like his other eatery Anepalco in Anaheim, this L.A. debut highlights the chef’s ability to produce old-school Mexican dishes with a serious international twist. Imagine elote (corn on the cob) appetizers, duck carnitas, smoked lamb barbacoa and potent cocktails featuring agave spirits like tequila and mezcal.
The chef also unveiled El Mercado in Santa Ana, so lucky diners can find his wares even more places throughout Southern California.