Founded in 1874, the Pasadena community has deep cultural roots that go well beyond architectural landmarks and the renowned Rose Parade®. Some pioneering Pasadena residents were among California’s first culinary influencers. Mrs. See of See’s Candies crafted her chocolate confections—still beloved around the world—from her home kitchen in Pasadena starting in 1921. In 1924, a teenager named Lionel Sternberger changed the hamburger game forever when he casually invented the cheeseburger while serving customers at his father’s roadside stand, Rite Spot. Did we mention the legendary chef Julia Child was born and raised here? Enough said! You can taste your way down memory lane at these 10 classic Pasadena eateries where history lives on and culinary magic is always happening.
Lucky Boy came onto the scene in 1961 and has been serving American classics along with Mexican comfort food for three generations. Their breakfast burrito—added to the menu in the 1970s—is so good, it’s earned cult level status.
Established in 1963, Pie ‘N Burger carries on the legacy Rite Spot started, cooking up one of the best cheeseburgers in all of America. Their pies are to-die-for too. The All-American diner hasn’t changed much over the decades, between the Formica countertops, swivel stools and even some of the waitresses and cooks.
While it’s only been around for 20+ years, Russell’s is a tried-and-true Pasadena staple. The diner’s eclectic menu of classic breakfast fare, burgers, pasta and sandwiches can please any palate. The line of loyal fans waiting for tables morning, noon and night can vouch for that!
Pasadena locals have been frequenting Marston’s Restaurant since the breakfast and lunch outpost first opened its doors in 1987. Set in a 1927 Craftsman home, the daytime restaurant specializes in elevated breakfast and brunch fare, along with burgers, salads and sandwiches.
When Parkway Grill opened in 1984, it was considered a pioneer of the regional seasonal cuisine movement. And it still exemplifies Californian Cuisine. Often referred to as “The Spago of Pasadena,” the upscale restaurant has remained one of the hottest tables in town for more than three decades. Housed in a striking Arts & Crafts building, it couldn’t be more perfectly Pasadena.
The Raymond 1886 is a modern “New American” restaurant set in the original caretaker’s cottage built for the Raymond Hotel in the early 1900’s. With weekend brunch and weekly lunch and dinner service, it’s a delicious and charming spot for any occasion. And the bar, 1886, is a destination in its own right for the craftiest of craft cocktails.
Magnolia House also resides in historic quarters. The craftsman home dates back more than a century, and it’s housed a variety of businesses over the years—including a post-Prohibition liquor store. Today, it’s a buzzy bar and restaurant known for happening happy hours, late night eats and delectable weekend brunch.
The Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse is glamorous dinner-only restaurant inside The Langham Huntington, Pasadena that has an old Hollywood feel and offers the perfect excuse to check out the iconic hotel that has been welcoming guests since 1914.
La Grande Orange Café (260 S. Raymond Ave.) is set in the historic 1934 Del Mar Station, a former Santa Fe Railway depot where the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age traveled in and out of. The restaurant itself may be newer on the scene (it opened in 2008), but they pay proper tribute to the building’s past with a Southwestern-inspired menu. And we are “all aboard” when it comes to the kitchen’s handiwork and the killer cocktails.
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