Union Restaurant

Culinary Scene

Culinary Excellence – A Michelin Guide to Pasadena

April 29, 2023 | Posted in Food

Pasadena is the perfect place to sample global cuisine at a Michelin honored restaurant.

Every foodie has at least one Michelin Star-rated restaurant on their bucket list. While most of the acclaimed restaurants may be out of reach for many of us, Michelin has expanded their list to include more attainable options, with the Bib Gourmand and the Plate Michelin ratings.

The Bib Gourmand is an esteemed rating given to friendly restaurants that serve good food at moderate prices. In the 2016 edition of the Paris guide, a brand new L’assiette or The Plate symbol was launched to recognize restaurants that simply serve good food. These are places where almost anyone can enjoy a fine meal without breaking the bank, and Pasadena is home to nine such gems.

Bib Gourmand

Good quality, good value cooking.


This simple but alluring seafood bar is in the Old Pasadena shopping area of downtown Pasadena. The city may be inland, but Fishwives brings the coastal catches to your plate with both raw, fresh seafood and cooked menu options. Enjoy the New England-inspired rolls and raw bar offerings including oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, lobster, and sea urchin. For those looking for something more global, their menu also includes sushi and sashimi selections. Wash it all down with a glass of red, white, or rose wine from California and beyond.


Union is a lively yet intimate California-inspired Northern Italian restaurant and wine bar. Enjoy their sustainably raised and prepared meats and fish, or try their seasonal varieties of handmade pastas. A menu favorite is the squid ink lumache. Shaped like a shell, covered in a lemon and truffle butter sauce, and topped with fresh Maine lobster, this dish is sure to please even the most seasoned palate. The menu is nicely complimented by a curated wine list featuring selections from both Italy and California.

Plate Michelin

Fresh ingredients, carefully prepared: a good meal.



Agnes is a cheesery and restaurant that Michelin refers to as the coolest cat in Pasadena. Featuring a cheese shop, bar, full-service restaurant and outdoor patio, this newcomer is a welcome addition to Green Street. Some of the notable dishes mentioned by Michelin include a cornbread eclair with chicken liver mousse, cavatelli with braised lamb and lamb fat gremolata, and a half chicken with smoked jus. The latter is brined, steamed, and charred over open flames until the skin is crisp as a chip. If you were able to save room for dessert, try the tres leches with corn pudding.


Maestro is an upscale Mexican restaurant located in the heart of Old Town Pasadena. The chef delivers ingredient-driven dishes plated with an artist’s eye. The Michelin Guide lists the braised lamb shank with just the perfect amount of heat as a menu highlight. Another dish that receives praise is the empanada filled with tender shrimp and octopus served over house-made chorizo and locro-style beans with a serrano-lime sauce. For a sweet ending, indulge in their moist corn cake topped with sweet and salty caramel popcorn, huitlacoche ice cream and crème anglaise.


Osawa brings Japanese favorites otsumami, shabu shabu and sushi to Old Town Pasadena. The star of the menu per the Michelin Guide is the shabu shabu, which is served in iron cauldrons bubbling with broths, noodles, rice, and tofu, paired with expertly sliced thin meats, and fresh, bountiful vegetables, as is traditional in Japan. Enjoy a hot meal, or opt for fresh sushi, such as bluefin nigiri glazed with ponzu, that the chefs prepare right before your eyes.

Parkway Grill

One of Pasadena's longtime favorites is Parkway Grill. Opened in 1984, Parkway Grill has been at the forefront of combining American cuisine with classic French techniques and other global influences. They use a traditional wood-fired oven to prepare many of their entrees. A menu standout is their whole fried ginger catfish with yuzu-ponzu dipping sauce. Pair your dinner with a glass of wine from Parkway's award-winning wine cellar, comprised of upwards of three thousand bottles. And be sure to save some room for the crème brûlée Napoleon dessert; it will not disappoint.


Perle’s menu features sustainable-focused, classic French dishes as well as modern, seasonal creations influenced by California’s fresh cuisine. This cozy French bistro offers Parisian classics such as duck à l’orange, Burgundy snails, and Gran Marnier soufflé. The intimate décor and authentic food offerings from their Michelin-trained chef will transport you to France without having to leave Pasadena.

The Raymond 1886

The Raymond 1886 offers something for everyone. Their dining menu showcases curated classic American cuisine featuring global influences. Utilizing a mix of contemporary and classic cooking techniques, familiar ingredients are presented with exotic flair. Start with a handcrafted cocktail or glass of champagne from the 1886 bar before enjoying your meal.

Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse

The Royce is located inside the luxurious Langham Huntington, Pasadena hotel, and features the finest selection of USDA Prime Cuts, Australian Wagyu and authentic Japanese Kobe Beef, expertly prepared over a wood-fired grill with White Oak and seasonal wood to sear in the maximum flavor and juiciness of each cut. For the seafood lover, the Dungeness crab cake is loaded with meat and sure to please. With bright lighting, warm service and an upbeat soundtrack, The Royce is not your typical stuffy steakhouse.