Image source: LA Mag
There’s a certain charm about South Pasadena, which the Los Angeles Times referred to as a “hip little enclave.” The area is steeped in city landmarks with its range of historic buildings, but that doesn’t mean the city has fallen behind the times. In this neighborhood, you’ll find inventine cuisine along the Gold Line tracks, Indie stores, restaurants steeped in history, and galleries galore. And when it comes to food, there’s little left to be desired. Here are some of the best places to eat in South Pasadena.
Cos&Pi focuses on seasonal breakfast and lunch menus. Their philosophy is to let the food speak for itself, and this has worked for the restaurant since it opened. This neighborhood eatery is small in size, so visitors are expected to arrive early to secure a seat. After all, this is one of the highest-rated restaurants in South Pasadena. Check out the breakfast menu here, and the lunch menu here.
What to try: Avocado toast, Breakfast burger, Potato hash au gratin, Egg tostada, Salmon toast
Image source: Yelp
Fiore Market Cafe
Owners Anne and Bill Disselhorst had a modest beginning. After visiting Italy in 2003, they were so inspired by the aura and cuisine there––particularly the slow pace and locally-grown food––that they decided to bring their own version back to South Pasadena. In a blog post that Bob wrote when the cafe first opened, he said: “It’s our vision and our dream to create a European style cafe with the charm and character of something you would find along the Seine in Paris.”
The market is not just about consuming or purchasing food, but making it, too–– their bread baking classes are a classic, and almost always fill up quickly. You can purchase everything here, from fresh salads and sandwiches to grains to local ingredients. There’s even a live jazz band that performs weekly. Check out the menu here.
What to try: Spicy udon noodles, Cold rare roast beef sandwich, Roasted chicken sandwich with basil walnut pesto, Walnut chocolate cookie
Image source: Unpaid Gourmet
Nicole’s is part-gourmet store, part-gourmet dining. It has wide selection of over 200 cheeses from around the world. They also sell high-end French ingredients, imported wines, and fresh breads and croissants. The market and cafe are family-owned by a mother-daughter duo, and just steps away from the local farmer’s market. Check out the breakfast and lunch menus here.
What to try: Cheese plate, Melted brie and tomato, Prosciutto & Pecorino sandwich, Ham, Egg and Cheese on Croissant
Image Source: Nicole’s Gourmet Food
Gus’ Barbecue began with a culinary mission of transplanting Southern cuisine and hospitality to Southern California. And it achieves this with its South Pasadena location. The restaurant’s meats are seasoned overnight and cooked old-fashioned style over pecan logs. Rubs and sauces are made daily in-house.
The original owners–-three siblings from Cleveland––left their family-owned bar and headed West on Route 66 sampling a plethora of flavors along the way. Today, Gus’s BBQ is the oldest barbecue restaurant in Los Angeles. Founded in 1946, it has stood the test of time and continues to thrive as a city must-have.
When its newest owners, brothers Chris and John Bicos, took over the restaurant in 2006, they decided to keep the family appeal, bring the design of the space up to modern standards (some have said its interior looks more like an upscale steakhouse), and go back in time to more traditional, pan-regional BBQ cuisine. Since then, the restaurant’s remained a Los Angeles landmark. Check out the menu here.
What to try: Beef brisket, BBQ sampler, St. Louis ribs, Carolina pulled pork, mashed potatoes
Image source: Gus BBQ
Briganti is the go-to spot for traditional Italian fare. This is a sleek, upscale spot with an outdoor patio perfect for sipping wine. The owner also runs La Buca, another well-regarded Italian spot in Los Angeles, though, according to LA Weekly, Briganti is the better of the two. Check out the menu here.
What to try: Fettuccine bolognese, Gnocchi, Crab ravioli, Spaghetti pescatora, Branzino
Image source: Hometown Pasadena
Aro Latin is a contemporary restaurant serving up Pan-Latin cuisine in a rustic, cozy setting (designed by Akar Studios in Santa Monica). The founders are a couple who met in Los Angeles––the husband, Karan comes from India, and the wife, Candy, hails from El Salvador. Together, they wanted to bring savory Latin taste to Southern California. To do so, they traveled extensively throughout Mexico, Central America, and South America looking for ways to reinvent classic Latin flavors without compromising authenticity. Check out their lunch and brunch menu here, and the Aro Latin dinner menu here.
What to try: Chaufa de pollo (Peruvian-style chicken fried rice), Costillitas (baby back ribs cooked in coconut milk with mango relish), Cordero aro (roasted lamb shank slow cooked with honey mustard glaze)
Image source: LA Dreams Magazine
Island culture and hospitality are in full force at this tropical-inspired Hawaiian restaurant. The interior is reminiscent of a Hawaiian plantation house, and in addition to the cocktails and cuisine, Canoe House provides the perfect backdrop for a fun evening of dining and drinking. Take a look at their list of menus here.
What to try: Hawaiian strip steak, Spicy tuna on crispy rice, Seared ahi sandwich, Hawaiian fried rice, Pineapple upside down cake
Image source: South Pasadena Blogspot
Creative French-inspired Japanese cuisine makes Shiro a uniquely fit place for experimental dining. For thirty years, it’s been one of the top restaurants in Los Angeles, and was even listed as the number one restaurant by Zagat. The menu is revolving depending on the season and availability, but you can check out their most current menu by visiting their homepage. Alternatively, you can view a gallery of food images from its most recent offerings.
What to try: Whole sizzling deep-fried catfish, Roasted New Zealand lamb chops, Sonoma breast of duck, Sea scallops and lobster, Broiled Chilean seabass with soy-ginger-mirin marinade & potato puree
Image source: Shiro
Crossings was founded in 2011 by Patrick & Stephanie Kirchen, who aimed to create a dining space where people could feel at home, be a part of a community, and create memories centered around delicious American cuisine. Located in the historic Edwards & Faw building, it features two floors of dining space and a patio that’s partially shaded by a 100-year-old oak tree. The menu features locally-grown ingredients and food includes steaks, seafood, and a hearty selection of chops. Check out the Crossings menu here.
What to try: Uni carbonara, Filet mignon, Oysters on the half shell, Salmon with Yogurt, beet, blackberry, smoked roe, and fresh herbs
Image source: LA Dreams