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The 50-Year-Old Pasadena Restaurant That Inspired Panda Express Gets a Sleek New Design Refresh

Plus, a new daytime spot in Lincoln Heights, a boozy fundraiser for HBCUs, and more

Panda Inn in Pasadena.
Panda Inn in Pasadena.
Panda Restaurant Group
Cathy Chaplin is a senior editor at Eater LA, a James Beard Award–nominated journalist, and the author of Food Lovers’ Guide to Los Angeles.

Pasadena’s 50-year-old Panda Inn quietly closed its doors in January and plans to reopen later this year with a refreshed interior and updated menu. The longtime restaurant was opened by Panda Express founder Andrew Cherng, along with his father chef Ming-Tsai Cherng, in 1973 and was last renovated two decades ago, says Gigi Cheung, vice president of Panda Inn.

While the exact date for the reopening hasn’t been announced, Cheung says that diners can expect a more contemporary and elegant dining room complete with Chinese accents. “One of my favorite updates is the garden with an indoor/outdoor-style patio seating area,” she says. On the food front, Panda Inn will keep approximately 60 percent of its original menu and add dim sum, “elevated” desserts, and “twists on classics” like a short rib char siu and Hong Kong-style french toast. While Panda Inn in Pasadena is under construction, the restaurant’s other locations in Glendale, La Palma, and Ontario are still open for business.

A rendering of the forthcoming Panda Inn in Pasadena.
A rendering of the updated Panda Inn in Pasadena.
Panda Restaurant Group

Drink Old Fashioned cocktails for a good cause

From now through March, Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey is partnering with bars and restaurants across the country to raise up to $1 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The brand has pledged $1 for every Old Fashioned cocktail sold. LA-area participants include Farmshop, Tiato, Everson Royce Bar, Cafe Birdie, and more.

Celebrate Black History Month at Gucci Osteria

In honor of Black History Month, chef Kwame Onwuachi of Tatiana in New York City will be joining chef Mattia Agazzi for a one-night-only collaborative dinner on Wednesday, February 22 at Gucci Osteria in Beverly Hills. The six-course menu will bring together Kwame’s New York-inspired Afro-Caribbean cuisine with Agazzi’s California-inspired Italian. Tickets are priced at $425 per person and reservations are available through Resy.

The best tacos in Pasadena, according to L.A. Taco

Food writer Kat Thompson hits the streets of Pasadena in search of the neighborhood’s best tacos and restaurants. The list of picks includes the barbacoa tacos at Mendez Restaurant, the cabeza and lengua tacos at the Los California Tacos truck, and more.

Local shokupan operation expands sales from sea to shining sea

Ginza Nishikawa, the West LA ghost kitchen famous for its loaves of plush Japanese-style white bread, is now offering its highly-coveted wares through Goldbelly. While each loaf goes for $18 locally, online the bakery offers a two-pack for $49.95, a three-pack for $74.95, and a four-pack for $94.95, plus the cost of shipping.

Lincoln Heights gets a new daytime spot

The folks behind Chifa and Monarch just opened a casual daytime spot in Lincoln Heights called Arroz & Fun. Operating from Tuesday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., the restaurant brews Cipota Coffee and offers Asian- and Latin-inspired breakfast and lunch options including meatball congee and pineapple bun breakfast sandwiches.