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A round wooden board of meat and cheese with a collection of jams and spreads as well.
Settle into the finest cheese boards at Agnes for happy hour.
Wonho Frank Lee

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How to Eat Through Pasadena in 24 Hours

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between — make every meal count in the City of Roses

With its tree-lined streets, family-friendly parks, and Craftsman-style homes, Pasadena may very well be Los Angeles’s quintessential suburban paradise. However, scratch beneath the well-manicured lawns to find a neighborhood that is as dynamic and as diverse as any in greater Los Angeles. The dining establishments in Pasadena reflect the tastes of its residents and the tourists that visit year-round. From timeless institutions to modern hit-makers, the itinerary below is meant to help both first-timers and locals alike by highlighting some of the most essential places to eat in town.


7 a.m. Rise and shine at Millie’s Cafe

This nearly 100-year-old Silver Lake operation opened a Pasadena outlet in 2018 and serves one of the city’s best daytime menus. In addition to preparing solid dishes, Millie’s is a great option when trying to avoid Old Town. The food, dining room, and sidewalk seating are in high demand in this cozy and mostly residential section of Pasadena, especially during peak hours and on weekends. There is something for all on Millie’s hefty menu, from vegan milkshakes to chilaquiles, pork belly eggs Benedict, challah blueberry french toast, biscuits and gravy, and more. 1399 E Washington Boulevard, Pasadena —Mona Holmes

8 a.m. Morning caffeine fix at Car Artisan Chocolate

Warm up to a cup of Haris Car’s spiced drinking chocolate or a shot of choco-spresso for an a.m. pick-me-up like no other. The chocolate-based drinks at this manufactory-slash-cafe are made from sustainably sourced cacao beans processed on-site to highlight each origin’s unique flavor profile. For those who prefer a more traditional coffee drink, the cortados and flat whites are great too. And definitely grab come expertly made bean-to-bar chocolate to-go. 1009 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

10 a.m. Morning snack at Roma Market

Snag “the Sandwich” for a mid-morning snack. Renowned city-wide for its simple and satisfying prowess, the Sandwich is the creation of the owner of Roma Market Rosario Mazzeo. Its foundation, a sturdy Italian roll drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, is layered with provolone, mortadella, spiced coppa, and salami. 918 North Lake Avenue, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

12:30 p.m. Quick and casual lunch at Me + Crepe

With a name like Me + Crepe, it’s easy to assume the French variety is on deck at this tiny shop on a quiet block of Old Town. It’s here where the mini-chain from Vancouver carved out a loyal following with outstanding Chinese-style crepes or jianbing. Me + Crepe staff prepare this popular street food, a layered savory pancake stuffed with items like Peking duck and pickled mustard greens, then topped with a deep-fried wanton skin or a donut-like fried cruller. It’s a beautifully messy dish and best consumed while piping hot. 1399 East Washington Boulevard, Pasadena. —Mona Holmes

3 p.m. Afternoon sugar rush at Carmela Ice Cream

Jessica Mortarotti opened this brick and mortar on the edge of Pasadena after years of selling her delightful ice creams from a pushcart at local farmers markets. After lunch, swing in for a seasonal scoop made with organic milk. The list of flavors changes from day-to-day, but tubs of the shop’s perennial favorites like salted caramel, mint cacao, lavender honey, and brown sugar vanilla bean are always ready for the regulars. 2495 East Washington Boulevard, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

5 p.m. Pre-dinner drinks and bites at Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery

It’s hard to think of a better way to spend an early evening in Pasadena than sharing a cheese board among friends with a strong drink in hand. Under chef Vanessa Tilaka’s watch, Agnes’s cheese program boasts an incredible, ever-changing selection with a strong focus on lesser-known small producers. 40 West Green Street, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

7 p.m. A quintessential Cal-Ital dinner at Union

Nab a table at Union for some of LA’s finest California-Italian cooking from chef Christopher Keyser. Start with some light appetizers, like the burrata with house-made bread or the polenta with mushrooms, and then settle in to as many pastas as the table can handle. The torchetti, a ridged and tubular canvas, comes topped with a Calabrese pork ragu, a dollop of ricotta, crispy rosemary leaves, and best of all, an intense dried chili oil that the chef calls “pizza grease.” 37 Union Street, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

Spaghetti chitarra at Union.
Spaghetti from Union.
Wonho Frank Lee/Eater LA

9:30 p.m. After dinner drinks at Blind Donkey

Pasadena’s Blind Donkey has a solid reputation for going beyond a standard neighborhood bar. Not only do they have an impressive whiskey and bourbon selection, but the owners seek out special Belgian gueuze beers and regularly host themed nights that include trivia or even karaoke. It’s simply a cozy nook on a busy stretch of Old Town, the perfect nightcap for those who simply want a good drink and friendly faces without ample noise. 53 Union Street, Pasadena. —Mona Holmes

11:30 p.m. Late-night bites at Lucky Boy

Head to this Pasadena institution for the final meal of the day. Place your order with one of the gruff fellas at the front window and wait for your number to be called a short while later. The dish to get is Lucky Boy’s famed breakfast burrito, jam-packed with hash browns, eggs, cheese, and choice of bacon, sausage, chorizo, or ham. Spanning eight-inches in length and weighing in at close to two pounds, this flour tortilla-wrapped gut-buster has been fueling residents since 1973. 640 South Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena. —Cathy Chaplin

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