The Best Places to Eat in and Around Pasadena

With so many recent restaurant openings across the city, here is a guide to concepts, dishes, and drinks worth the drive to Santa Monica.

Greater Pasadena

San Gabriel has welcomed Blossom Market Hall just down the street from the historic Archangel Mission. Under one diverse roof, you will find Burnt Belly from Le Cordon Bleu Pasadena–trained and former Gus’s BBQ executive chef Kyu Yi, whose brisket and pork belly ends sell out quickly—since there’s always a line, try to make your move when they open at noon. While you wait, grab a craft beer or glass of local wine at Angel and Mason or a pandan iced coffee at AK Fresh Roast. Another favorite of the collective if chef Yonette Alleyne (last seen at 626 Night Market) and her Caribbean Gourmet oxtail stew. Before you leave, indulge in a scoop of the Peanut Butter Chocolate Candy Swirl at Rori’s Artisanal Creamery. Coming this March, Picadilly Grace will serve hearty sandwiches, salads, and soups from San Marino Cafe and Marketplace founder, Linda Grace. The new venue prides itself on a mix of minority-owned and women-owned businesses with mostly local, chef-driven operators, whom you just might meet when you place an order.

Over in Arcadia, celebrated Chef Tony Dim Sum (formerly of Old Pasadena) is creating buzz for dim sum, along with Black Truffle Chicken and Savory Deep-Fried Chinese Donuts in the old Din Tai Fung space. For pizza lovers, Side Pie in Altadena is a buzzing home operation thanks to its inventive combinations, like Honey’s Hammered, with Roma Deli ham, honey, mozzarella, and organic heavy cream.

Echo Park/Silver Lake

Glendale pizzeria and bakery Quarter Sheets Pizza, which started as a pandemic home business, is on the move. This time, it’s to a permanent brick-and-mortar space in Echo Park where you can order pies by the slice as well as desserts. Local breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot Lady Byrd Café, which serves everything from pulled pork to pasta, has transformed its outdoor space with cozy dining pods perfect for a romantic date night with wine under twinkling lights —or make it a family meal with the kid’s menu. For a fun, budget-friendly bite, The Win-Dow from American Beauty in Venice, known for delicious and well-priced smash-style burgers, has a new outpost in Silver Lake.



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While we wait for José Andrés to return to the DTLA dining scene with a trio of concepts, Stephanie Izard from Girl & the Goat is already expanding her footprint in the area. The James Beard Award winner has launched her second spot, Cabra (goat in Spanish), on the rooftop of The Hoxton hotel (not to be confused with the Cara rooftop next door at the Proper hotel). Expect bright, Peruvian-inspired food and pisco cocktails.

In the Arts District, Korean-American deli and marketplace Yangban Society has opened next to the Ryokan hotel. Chefs Katianna and John Hong (Meadowood, Melisse) are making aged kimchi blended with fresh salsa (onion, tomato, garlic) and a little bit of oyster sauce atop focaccia, served like a slice of pie. Other standouts include griddled potato flatbread topped with smoked trout and three-hour Flintstone-sized ribs, and honey glazed carrots with candied walnuts and sesame seeds.



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Hollywood is the place to be for rooftop hopping and food by some of the city’s most talented chefs, from Wes Avila to Lincoln Carson. Try Mother Wolf by Evan Funke in the Citizen News building for a ground floor, indoor option created by Martin Brudnizki Design Studio (Pendry Weho). It’s not an easy table to snag, but opt for the pizza bar or the lounge, where you can still indulge in some of the most seasonal pasta and thin-crust wood-fired pizza this side of Rome.

Down on Sunset, Horses (the old Pikey) has retained the warm and inviting pub atmosphere with outstanding comfort fare. One of the best things to order at the bar is the potato chips dusted with parmesan and herbs, along with a martini or two. On the west end of Sunset, Tao Group Hospitality brings LAVO Ristorante, designed by Studio Collective. Under the retractable roof, enjoy the one-pound Wagyu meatball and wood-fired pizzas from chef Ralph Scamardella of The Plaza Hotel and Carmine’s Restaurant in New York.

Not far from the Pacific Design Center, high-end German designer Marcell Von Berlin has opened a Coffee Lounge, with a full marketplace selling the house brew and “runway espresso,” and a chic back patio to hang with a pastry from Larder (owned by Suzanne Goin and Caroline Stein). The manager hails from Republique so it also has the talent to make exceptional egg-prosciutto sandwiches, avocado toast, and yogurt parfaits on site; you can shop after you eat.

Conservatory on Santa Monica Blvd. has plenty of outdoor patio space, and new Executive Chef Victor Munoz makes Duck Carnitas and Okinawan Potato Gnocchi, raising the bar for the already strong mixology program. Kimpton La Peer has finally opened the indoor dining room of Issima, just off the pool dining area, where you can try the Caviar Chips & Dip with Sturia Ossetra caviar, crème fraiche, and house-fried potato chips, along with a glass of bubbly while sussing out the Euro scene.

The hits keep coming in West Adams: Chef Avner Levi’s (Mignon, Bestia) pasta pop-up has made it permanent with Cento. The cute patio space looks into the open kitchen and counter seating. Try the signature beet spaghetti or the spicy pomodoro topped with a pool of basil oil in a ricotta vessel. A few doors down from the Tartine expansion, Mian Taste from the SGV offers the signature Sichuan-style noodles, crispy half chicken, dumplings, natural wines, and an Eric Junker wall mural to gaze at while you graze.

Beverly Hills/Westwood/Century City 

Chef Vartan Abgaryan has opened Tommy’s, an Italian spot named after owner Tommy Salvatore (from Craig’s), in the old Bouchon space across the park from The Maybourne, which finally has a lobby bar (made of solid Turkish onyx, no less), worthy of its English roots and top sister spots Claridge’s and The Connaught in London. The drinks include a botanical signature gin martini with clarified cucumber—and do order the dry-aged smash burger with million-dollar dressing and the pommes frites with Himalayan sea salt.

The Melrose Umbrella Company opened a rooftop bar-lounge and poolside club at the Sixty Beverly Hills hotel near the pool, but now the trifecta is complete with Ella downstairs in the old Caufield’s space, featuring an array of Mediterranean, Asian, and Italian fare plus cocktails.

Sexy Spanish import Tatel is already expanding to a back patio off the Canon Drive space, hosting Sunday brunch and weekday lunch. Don’t be fooled by this lively indoor-outdoor scene—this is not just a party place but a gastronomic haven for paella.

If you still can’t make it to France anytime soon, Bicyclette Bistro on Pico is truly a love letter to the country, from crusty baguettes and butter to French onion soup. The new upstairs, two-story restaurant with tasting menu will be unveiled this spring and will also hold a private dining room for up to 10 guests.

Ramen Master Chef Satoshi Ikuta has chosen the top floor of Westfield Century City mall (though not the food court) for his SoCal debut of legendary Japanese ramen brand Ramen Nagi. Be sure to add truffles to your ramen and order the fried chicken and crispy pan-fried dumplings. 

Etta from Chicago has been the talk of Culver City since it opened as part of The Shay hotel building. The pasta and pizza are delicious, but the magical, light-and-crispy herb focaccia really makes it worth the trip, along with a fried olive martini.

Westwood/Santa Monica/Venice 


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The right move in Westwood for a Friday lunch on the patio is Lulu in the Hammer Museum. The à la carte items, such as baked Sonoma goat cheese with garden lettuces and golden beets, give a nod to chef-activist Alice Waters. Other standouts include the eggplant banh mi on focaccia, Tunisian meatballs with saffron couscous, and house-made potato chips with rosemary that make great bar snacks with Tablas Creek rosé on tap from Paso Robles.

Tucked out of site in the lobby of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, not far from the poolside patio at FIG, lies the intimate, eight-seat sushi counter (which would be great for a buyout) Soko, a spot for select cuts of toro, rolls, and platters of nigiri at the hands of chef Masa Shimakawa. It offers three carefully curated sakes by the cup or carafe and cocktails including A Touch of Mink with Roku gin, sake, yuzu, and cucumber that pairs perfectly with the fresh slices of fish.

The westside seafood wave rolls onto Main Street at Crudo e Nudo. The obvious choice is the caviar nachos or fresh fish selections—get a tasting of three crudos paired with natural wines—but don’t sleep on the vegan Caesar salad with furikake and avocado, or the chocolate almond butter cups. A few blocks away, Cobi’s in the old Dhaba Indian space is creating a buzz for its South Asian fare by Cobi Marsh (Cobi’s Curries) and Lance Mueller (EP & LP). The kanpachi is top notch, but for comfort fare, order the green curry whole branzino, butter chicken, or nasi goreng, and don’t forget to look up on the way out to the patio as the ceiling is covered in roses.

The Viceroy on Ocean Ave. has a new poolside concept, Sugar Palm, with an outdoor bar and cabanas where you can nibble on a sizable raw bar menu and many plant-based options, from kale Caesar to wild mushroom Thai curry risotto and a mezze platter, along with tropical cocktails. If you’re more of a carnivore, Fia Steak on Wilshire by chef Brendan Collins should hit the spot. Sizable meat lockers hold choice cuts of beef, and tableside presentations of salads and tartare are available for the cozy banquettes.

If you still can’t get into Élephante in Santa Monica on Friday night, try booking Belles in Venice from the same owners. It’s also near the beach with a tiki vacation vibe on a large bar lounge patio area. Lobster rolls, good sushi options, and tropical drinks await. For a healthy wine bar alternative, Only the Wild Ones on Abbot Kinney could be your answer. Next to The Butcher’s Daughter and by the same owners, it serves plant-based bites, including house truffle potato chips, low ABV cocktails, and natural wines by the glass—and you can purchase bottles to go for a beach sunset picnic.