BEST CAKE FOR ANY OCCASION
Nothing Bundt Cakes
548 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
Even if you’re only celebrating the upcoming weekend, Nothing Bundt Cakes is the place to pick up a decadent dessert. For a midweek pick me up, there’s nothing like a delicious (and properly portioned) Bundtlet, but for a gathering, the larger-size 8-inch and 10-inch cakes make the perfect hostess gift. Occasion-specific decorations make these treats ideal for baby showers, graduations, birthdays, engagements—there’s even a “happy everything” cake. At Nothing Bundt Cakes, there truly is a cake for every occasion.
BEST PLACE TO BINGE WHEN CALORIES DON’T COUNT
Dog Haus Biergarten
93 E. Green St., Pasadena
Hot dogs get a bad reputation for being unhealthy, but Dog Haus’ gourmet all-beef skinless hot dogs, handcrafted sausages and premium burgers are made with humanely raised hormone- and antibiotic-free beef, served on grilled Hawaiian rolls. Sip a premium shake made with softserve ice cream or take advantage of DH’s beer program, which spotlights local brews. While the dogs are the stars of the show, don’t pass up satisfying sides like crispy tater tots and beer-battered onion rings. Or go full ham on the chili-cheese fries—a hearty caloric bomb of fries or tots topped with chili, cheddar cheese sauce, shredded cheddar cheese and green onions.
BEST PLACE TO POP A CORK POP
Champagne Bar & Restaurant
33 E. Union St., Pasadena
Whether celebrating a relationship milestone or simply the start of the weekend, POP Champagne Bar & Restaurant is the perfect place to pop a cork, considering it has one of the best selections of Champagne in Southern California. For a sweet finish, try one of POP’s sinfully sweet house-made desserts, such as the crème brûlée or Meyer lemon tart.
BEST USE OF UBE
36 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
Influenced by the family’s Filipino roots, the family-owned Café 86, puts a colorful spin on its offerings with an ube-themed menu. A common flavor in Filipino sweets, ube (purple yam) has a strong natural pigmentation that gives Café 86’s ube creations (from lattes to cupcakes to brownies and teas) their signature violet hue and smooth texture—and just the right amount of sweetness. The most popular item on the menu is the ube leche flan cupcake, a winning combination of an ube cupcake with creamy flan pudding layered on top. One bite of this unique treat, and you’ll be hooked!
BEST PLACE TO GO WHEN YOU CAN’T DECIDE WHERE TO EAT
Grand Central Market
317 S. Broadway, Los Angeles
Hop on the Gold Line for a quick trip to L.A.’s foodie mecca. The market has come a long way from its start in 1917, and it’s enjoying a foodie revival with the addition of vendors such as Eggslut, Wexler’s Deli and Olio GCM Wood Fired Pizzeria. Recently Madcapra joined the mix, offering falafel sandwiches and unique drinks like the refreshing “shandria” made with ginger lemonade, beer and fruit. And you won’t be sorry for making a stop at Sari Sari Store, where James Beard-nominated chef Margarita Manzke (also owner of Los Angeles eatery Republique) puts her own spin on Filipino rice bowls. For those craving something sweet, there’s Santa Barbara’s ice creamery McConnell’s. If you’re stuffed, belly up to the bar at G&B Coffee for a quick caffeine fix (try the “business and pleasure”) before you roll yourself home.
BEST CARB AND CREAM COMBO
Afters Ice Cream
1265 E. Green St., Pasadena
In addition to its delicious ice creams, Afters is also known for its “milky bun” version of an ice cream sandwich. Milky buns (pillowy soft pastries akin to a doughnut) are baked to perfection and served warm while the ice cream inside miraculously stays cold. It’s a fun and delicious way to enjoy ice cream. A far cry from plain chocolate and vanilla, Afters’ unique flavors include strawberry cookie crunch, churro, jasmine milk tea, cookie butter, Vietnamese coffee and Madagascar vanilla. If you can’t make up your mind, we suggest the popular Cookie Monster—bright blue ice cream with generous chunks of chocolate chip and Oreo cookies— served in a waffle cone or in one of Afters’ famous buns.
510 S Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena
There is a reason Parkway Grill has been a Pasadena institution since 1984. It never disappoints. For 34 years, the restaurant has been serving up exceptional regional American cuisine, prepared using seasonal ingredients and impeccable classic French technique. Melding a number of influences, the menu includes diverse choices such as whole ginger catfish, beef cheek tacos and braised short ribs. The dining room strikes the perfect balance between elegant and rustic, and on most evenings live jazz drifts out softly from the bar. A vintage 1920s bar top from Chicago provides the stage for Parkway Grill’s team of expert bartenders, four of whom have more than 100 years’ combined experience behind the bar. Whether you’re planning an elegant evening out for a special occasion, or just stopping in for a cocktail and music, Parkway Grill will provide a true five-star experience … every time.
BEST FOODIE DIY
380 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena
This quaint soda shop and café is situated in the picturesque Burlington Arcade off Lake Avenue, a charming and secluded plaza tucked away from the city’s bustle. Float specializes in gourmet sodas (none of those brand names you’d find at a big-box store) and classic sandwiches made fresh to order. For dessert, we highly recommend one of the namesake floats. Try a traditional root beer float made with the artisanal root beer of your choosing and the San Gabriel Valley’s own Fosselman’s ice cream or try the “Build-a-Float” option by mixing and matching ice cream with your favorite craft soda from Float’s opulent selection.
EASIEST WAY TO DRINK YOUR GREENS
59 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
After a weekend of heavy eating, ingesting a few green vegetables in juice form may be exactly what your body needs. Pressed Juicery encourages you to drink your greens by offering detoxing options ranging from green-based cleansing potions to citrus- and roots-based drinks. If you’re looking to indulge (in a healthy way), sample one of the signature almond milk blends in vanilla, chocolate, coconutcinnamon or strawberry.
BEST-TASTING GOOD FOR-YOU FOOD
True Food Kitchen
168 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena
While True Food Kitchen isn’t technically a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, the health-conscious, veggie-friendly menu offerings make it a vegetarian’s go-to for fresh and delicious fare. In other words, if meat’s not your thing, you’ll find plenty of options that aren’t limited to “just salad”—although the salads are admittedly fantastic. The carnivorous among us won’t even miss the meat in dishes such as the Inside Out Quinoa Burger and comfort-food favorite spaghetti squash casserole. Of course, if you gotta have meat, TFK hears you; there’s a grass-fed burger, grilled fish or steak tacos and chicken sausage pizza on the menu.
BEST BURRITO IN A PARKING LOT
Arturo’s Taco Truck
400 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena
Saying “best burrito” in a place like Los Angeles is a pretty heavy claim, but Arturo’s Taco Truck serves up one hell of a contender. Priced at an even five bucks, the burritos are neither too big nor too small, and the tacos and homemade salsa are pretty good, too. Look for the truck in the parking lot of Stanyer & Edmondson auto repair after the sun goes down. It stays open until people stop coming, which—on nights when hungry bargoers hit the streets after last call—can be pretty late.
BEST COFFEE AND CHOCOLATE CAPPUCCINO COMBO
15 S. El Molino Ave., Pasadena
Coffee and chocolate is a winning combination, to be sure, but when that chocolate is Mexico’s own Ibarra variety, with its blend of cinnamon and sugar—dios mío! That’s what sets Zona Rosa’s specialty cappuccino apart. That beautiful mix of coffee and chocolate with the frothiness of a cappuccino. Located on El Molino, just up from the Playhouse, Zona Rosa slings its drinks in a cozy little spot with a Dia de los Muertos theme.
BEST PLACE TO NOT LIKE MONDAYS
Edwin Mills by Equator
22 Mills Place, Pasadena
At this gastropub in the heart of Old Pasadena, you can find a happy hour deal every night of the week. Check out Wine Wednesday with half-price wine and sake, Thirsty Thursday’s $3 martinis, and bottomless mimosas on the weekend … but if the full week ahead has you down, don’t miss Monday Madness, when ALL appetizers and ALL cocktails are half price. Get the pork belly and spicy slaw. Your week will look better already.
BEST SIP OF MEXICO
1/2 E. First St., Los Angeles
What draws many coffee enthusiasts to this little shop, and what sets it apart from its competitors, is the rich taste of the Mexican coffee beans sourced directly from various locations such as Chiapas, Oaxaca, Michoacán and Guerrero. The delicate aroma welcomes guests inside, where works from local artists are hung along the wall called the “Barrio Gallery.” Check out the wooden countertop