Union Restaurant

Culinary Scene

Culinary Excellence – A Michelin Guide to Pasadena

July 26, 2019 | Posted in Food

Every foodie has at least one "Michelin Star" rated restaurant on their bucket list. But what some may not know is that the Michelin rating system extends far beyond star ratings.

There are also notable restaurants that are awarded Michelin Plates. Restaurants given this accolade are recognized as a good standard for food and can be considered "secret gems." Their food includes fresh ingredients, is capably prepared, and most importantly, provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy a 5-star meal without the 5-star price. And Pasadena happens to have 11 of them. From steakhouses to Asian cuisine, there are plenty of Michelin Plate awarded restaurants to satisfy your taste buds.

Alexander's Steakhouse

Alexander's Steakhouse is a luxury steakhouse with an Asian influence. A meal at this dinner-only restaurant is worth the evening wait. Enjoy hamachi shots, steak with a Sichuan rub and wasabi béarnaise or try a dry-aged tataki featuring seared NY strip massaged with wasabi and tossed with scallions. If it all sounds delicious, no worries. Alexander's also offers a seven-course tasting menu for the red-meat connoisseur. Pair any meal with a glass of wine or specialty cocktail before wrapping up the evening with a dessert that is both appealing to the eye and the taste buds.

Arroyo Chop House

Arroyo Chop House is a more classic steakhouse designed with the quaint charm of wooden walls and specious booths. The air is floating with piano tunes while sizzling steak and barbecue shrimp with Cajun spiced butter can be heard cooking in the kitchen. At this steakhouse, classic tradition trumps trend.


This trendy seafood restaurant is located in the Old Pasadena shopping area of downtown Pasadena. The city may be inland, but Fishwives brings the coastal cuisine and raw, fresh, catches to you. Enjoy the New England inspired raw bar which includes oysters, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, lobster, and even sea urchin. For those looking for something more global, their menu also includes sushi and sashimi options. And of course, ordering the proper wine pairings are also a must.


Maestro is an upscale Mexican restaurant with modern, creative form. The Michelin Guide particularly calls out the braised lamb shank and with just the perfect amount of heat to accompany this savory meal, it's not hard to see why.


Osawa is an outstanding shabu shabu restaurant that serves the Japanese tradition in iron cauldrons bubbling with broths, noodles, rice, and tofu, paired with expertly sliced thin meats, and fresh, bountiful vegetables. Enjoy a hot meal, or sit at the sushi bar and watch your meal be prepared by chefs right before your eyes.

Parkway Grill

One of Pasadena's favorite 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 even use a traditional wood-fired oven to prepare many of their entrees. Not to mention, the award-winning wine cellar, comprised of 3000 bottles is enough to make your jaw drop. Try their whole fried ginger catfish. The yuzu-ponzu dipping sauce pairs brilliantly with its deep-fried crust.

The Raymond 1886

The Raymond 1886 is an American classic known for its salads and sandwiches, with a particular strength in its vegetarian options. A plant-lovers favorite, the carrot salad with avocado can also serve as a nice side for their specialty lamb burgers with feta, mint pesto, and garlic aioli. Or, be even more adventurous by trying it with curried chicken sauce, peanuts, raisins, and coconut.

Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse

Affectionately referred to as, The Royce, this steakhouse is located inside the luxurious Langham Huntington, Pasadena hotel and resort. The bright spotlights of the dining lounge is no match for the attention placed on its global selection. Enjoy beer fresh from Pennsylvania, Australia, or Japan. Then take a second trip around the world by ordering its "global cut tasting" sampler to experience how steaks are prepared with different ingredients around the globe.


Saladang consists of two "twin" Thai restaurants – Saladang and Saladang Garden, both operated by same owner. The two locations are conveniently located next door to each other and offer a plethora of traditional Thai staples like tom yum soup, glass noodle salad, and more. Don't worry, the spices are toned down for American palates, but the food remains as authentic and affordable as ever.


Union, in Old Pasadena, is an Italian restaurant with a fancy flare. Enjoy the rich, buttery flavors of their fresh-made breads paired with creamy, thick sauces and mountains of pasta. For seafood lovers, try the squid ink lumache. It's carefully shaped like escargot, caked in butter, sprinkled with flecks of black truffle, and seated in a pile of Maine lobster.