clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Tacos and rice bowl at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.
Tacos and rice bowl at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.
Cathy Chaplin

The 19 Essential Pasadena Restaurants

Legendary breakfast burritos, Beijing street food, and Armenian flatbreads

View as Map
Tacos and rice bowl at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.
| Cathy Chaplin

Historically, Pasadena is better known for its idyllic suburban neighborhoods and annual Rose Parade than its culinary offerings. But with a slew of new openings over the past few years and always-busy standbys scattered around town, the City of Roses has become one of LA’s most diverse and notable dining scenes. Here now are the 19 essential Pasadena restaurants.

Read More
Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Colette

Copy Link

Reserve a table at Colette in Hastings Ranch for a taste of expert Cantonese cooking from chef Peter Lai. The crispy chicken stuffed with shrimp paste is a must-order for every table, along with the stir-fried lobster with sticky rice if appetites and wallets allow. Be sure to pre-order these labor-intensive dishes beforehand to avoid disappointment. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Crispy Stuffed Chicken at Colette in Pasadena.
Collette’s crispy stuffed chicken.
Cathy Chaplin

Saucy Chick Goat Mafia

Copy Link

Grab a seat on Saucy Chick Goat Mafia’s patio for one of the most flavorful, affordable, and generously portioned meals around. The restaurant’s dynamic Mexican Indian menu is full of tasty options including tacos filled with pibil, asada, and haldi cauliflower. The birria de chivo bowl arrives with tender goat meat, cumin rice, and Mayocoba beans. A side order of the fenugreek esquites pairs well with most everything. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Birria de chivo bowl at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.
Birria de chivo bowl at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.
Cathy Chaplin

Super Burger

Copy Link

Located on the corner of Altadena Drive and Villa Street, Super Burger has been around for years but it wasn’t until Jean and Ben Khe took over the classic fast-food stand in 2009 that word began to spread about its burgers. The sky-high cheeseburgers are styled in classic California fashion with all-beef patties, American cheese, sauteed onions, tomato, lettuce, and Thousand Island dressing, smooshed between two toasted buns. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Cheeseburger at Super Burger in Pasasdena.
Cheeseburger at Super Burger in Pasasdena.
Cathy Chaplin

Top Restaurant

Copy Link

Located near Pasadena City College, Top Restaurant brings delicious Hawaiian and Indonesian cooking to a quieter stretch of Colorado Boulevard. The crisp and golden Indonesian fried chicken is the thing to get, while the Spam musubi never fails to hit the spot. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Old Sasoon Bakery

Copy Link

Opened by Haroutioun Geragosian in 1986, Old Sasoon Bakery is named after the village in Armenia that his grandparents left after World War II. The beorags (savory hand pies) and the lahmajoun (flatbreads) make for perfect on-the-go eating, but sit down for a well-made khachapuri if time allows. This filling Georgian breakfast staple comes topped with a blend of cheeses, a single runny egg, and a few pats of melted butter — all in a boat-shaped flatbread. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Khachapuri at Old Sasoon Bakery in Pasadena.
Khachapuri at Old Sasoon Bakery in Pasadena.
Cathy Chaplin

Namaste Spiceland

Copy Link

Part grocery store and part restaurant, Namaste Spiceland is the place to go for South Asian ingredients and casual but satisfying North and South Indian fare. The shop’s owner recommends the googli paratha, but everything on the menu is delightful. Find a second location in Thousand Oaks. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Daily lunch combo from Namaste Spiceland in Pasadena.
Daily lunch combo from Namaste Spiceland in Pasadena.
Farley Elliott

President Thai Cuisine

Copy Link

The parking lot fills up fast at President Thai in East Pasadena. Folks come in at all hours to sit in the grand dining room with ornate decor and white tablecloths, and order pad see ew, satay skewers, and tom kha gai soup. Service is always excellent and the best seats are on the lush patio. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Pie 'n Burger

Copy Link

Snag a wooden swivel seat along Pie ‘n Burger’s counter for a classic taste of Pasadena. Everyone knows to order the two namesake items: the beefy burgers come with lettuce, pickles, tomato, and scratch-made Thousand Island, while the pies are freshly baked in flavors like apple, chocolate meringue, and butterscotch. This diner has been a local legend since 1963. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Roma Market

Copy Link

Locals know to head to Roma for The Sandwich. Owner Rosario Mazzeo’s creation consists of a sturdy Italian roll drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and layered with provolone, mortadella, spiced coppa, and salami. It’s renowned for its simple and satisfying prowess. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

The sandwich from Roma Market in Pasadena.
The sandwich from Roma Market in Pasadena.
Cathy Chaplin

Rodney's Ribs

Copy Link

Catch Rodney Jenkins and his smoker-on-wheels Wednesdays through Sundays at the CVS parking lot on North Lake. He’s open for lunch and dinner and serves outstanding pork ribs and beef brisket sandwiches that are smoked on-site. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

The brisket at Rodney’s Ribs is served between plush Hawaiian buns with a drizzle of tangy-sweet sauce.
Beef brisket sandwich at Rodney’s Ribs.
Wonho Frank Lee

Bar Chelou

Copy Link

Both locals and visitors alike are taking note of chef Doug Rankin’s Bar Chelou, which Eater named Restaurant of the Year 2023. The playful spot serves a fresh, innovative menu that fills up the room regularly. Rankin performs magic with vegetables and seafood, including the house favorite carrots râpées with coconut dressing, a hint of lime, peanuts, and delicately fried potato strings. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Clam toast and butterflied trout at Bar Chelou in Pasadena with a cocktail to the right.
Clam toast and butterflied trout at Bar Chelou in Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee

Pasadena Fish Market

Copy Link

Though it may be tempting to stick to fried red snapper at this decades-old fish-fry spot, do not sleep on the Jamaican goat curry, stewed oxtails, beef-stuffed patties, and plantains. Or better yet, just plan for a grubfest by ordering a bit of everything, including the deep-fried catfish and oysters. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Jamaican oxtails at Pasadena Fish Market in Pasadena.
Pasadena Fish Market.
Cathy Chaplin

Howlin' Ray's Hot Chicken

Copy Link

Howlin’ Ray’s has a firm, citywide grip on Nashville-style hot chicken. The Pasadena outlet is a popular hangout with ample seating, beer, wine, and of course, hot chicken wings, strips, and sandwiches. Expect lines during peak meal hours. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Howlin rays sandwich on paper
Sandwich from Howlin’ Ray’s.
Jakob Layman

Lucky Boy

Copy Link

Head to this Pasadena institution for the most important meal of the day. Lucky Boy’s famed breakfast burrito — jam-packed with hash browns, eggs, cheese, and a choice of bacon, sausage, chorizo, or ham — spans eight inches long and weighs what feels like a pound. It’s been fueling Pasadena residents since 1973. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Me + Crepe

Copy Link

Vancouver-based mini-chain Me + Crepe is all about the jianbing, one of China’s most popular street foods comprised of paper-thin pancakes stuffed with things like fried eggs and Peking duck. Swing by for a quick meal that works for on-the-go noshing. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Opened in 2013, Osawa is Pasadena’s go-to for dependable yet refined Japanese cooking that includes sushi, shabu-shabu, and more. Menu items are in constant rotation, but rest assured that the ingredients are as good as it gets and the cooking is always skillful. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Union Restaurant

Copy Link

Union restaurant opened back in 2014 and continues to prepare some of the best plates of pasta in town. Twisty torchetti comes topped with a spicy Calabrese pork ragu, while the squid ink lumache plays well with Maine lobster and truffle butter. These standards and more have been satisfying Pasadena pasta-goers for a decade. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Union Restaurant dining room in Pasadena.
Union Pasadena.
Union

Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery

Copy Link

Wife and husband team Vanessa Tilaka and Thomas Kalb bring together fine cheeses and regional American cooking — taking inspiration from the Midwest, California, and beyond — at Agnes. Grab a seat in the lush 1,200-square-foot patio and dig into cheese and meat boards, scratch-made pastas, and hearth-roasted proteins. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Cornbread eclair at Agnes in Pasadena.
Cornbread eclair at Agnes in Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee

Perry's Joint

Copy Link

Since 2004, Perry’s Joint is where one goes for gargantuan, delicious, well-layered sandwiches. Plus, live jazz music on Tuesdays. Owner Perry Bennett hosts an annual fundraiser where proceeds benefit nearby John Muir High School’s college-bound graduates. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Colette

Reserve a table at Colette in Hastings Ranch for a taste of expert Cantonese cooking from chef Peter Lai. The crispy chicken stuffed with shrimp paste is a must-order for every table, along with the stir-fried lobster with sticky rice if appetites and wallets allow. Be sure to pre-order these labor-intensive dishes beforehand to avoid disappointment. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Crispy Stuffed Chicken at Colette in Pasadena.
Collette’s crispy stuffed chicken.
Cathy Chaplin

Saucy Chick Goat Mafia

Grab a seat on Saucy Chick Goat Mafia’s patio for one of the most flavorful, affordable, and generously portioned meals around. The restaurant’s dynamic Mexican Indian menu is full of tasty options including tacos filled with pibil, asada, and haldi cauliflower. The birria de chivo bowl arrives with tender goat meat, cumin rice, and Mayocoba beans. A side order of the fenugreek esquites pairs well with most everything. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Birria de chivo bowl at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.
Birria de chivo bowl at Saucy Chick Goat Mafia.
Cathy Chaplin

Super Burger

Located on the corner of Altadena Drive and Villa Street, Super Burger has been around for years but it wasn’t until Jean and Ben Khe took over the classic fast-food stand in 2009 that word began to spread about its burgers. The sky-high cheeseburgers are styled in classic California fashion with all-beef patties, American cheese, sauteed onions, tomato, lettuce, and Thousand Island dressing, smooshed between two toasted buns. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Cheeseburger at Super Burger in Pasasdena.
Cheeseburger at Super Burger in Pasasdena.
Cathy Chaplin

Top Restaurant

Located near Pasadena City College, Top Restaurant brings delicious Hawaiian and Indonesian cooking to a quieter stretch of Colorado Boulevard. The crisp and golden Indonesian fried chicken is the thing to get, while the Spam musubi never fails to hit the spot. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Old Sasoon Bakery

Opened by Haroutioun Geragosian in 1986, Old Sasoon Bakery is named after the village in Armenia that his grandparents left after World War II. The beorags (savory hand pies) and the lahmajoun (flatbreads) make for perfect on-the-go eating, but sit down for a well-made khachapuri if time allows. This filling Georgian breakfast staple comes topped with a blend of cheeses, a single runny egg, and a few pats of melted butter — all in a boat-shaped flatbread. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Khachapuri at Old Sasoon Bakery in Pasadena.
Khachapuri at Old Sasoon Bakery in Pasadena.
Cathy Chaplin

Namaste Spiceland

Part grocery store and part restaurant, Namaste Spiceland is the place to go for South Asian ingredients and casual but satisfying North and South Indian fare. The shop’s owner recommends the googli paratha, but everything on the menu is delightful. Find a second location in Thousand Oaks. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Daily lunch combo from Namaste Spiceland in Pasadena.
Daily lunch combo from Namaste Spiceland in Pasadena.
Farley Elliott

President Thai Cuisine

The parking lot fills up fast at President Thai in East Pasadena. Folks come in at all hours to sit in the grand dining room with ornate decor and white tablecloths, and order pad see ew, satay skewers, and tom kha gai soup. Service is always excellent and the best seats are on the lush patio. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Pie 'n Burger

Snag a wooden swivel seat along Pie ‘n Burger’s counter for a classic taste of Pasadena. Everyone knows to order the two namesake items: the beefy burgers come with lettuce, pickles, tomato, and scratch-made Thousand Island, while the pies are freshly baked in flavors like apple, chocolate meringue, and butterscotch. This diner has been a local legend since 1963. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Roma Market

Locals know to head to Roma for The Sandwich. Owner Rosario Mazzeo’s creation consists of a sturdy Italian roll drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and layered with provolone, mortadella, spiced coppa, and salami. It’s renowned for its simple and satisfying prowess. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

The sandwich from Roma Market in Pasadena.
The sandwich from Roma Market in Pasadena.
Cathy Chaplin

Rodney's Ribs

Catch Rodney Jenkins and his smoker-on-wheels Wednesdays through Sundays at the CVS parking lot on North Lake. He’s open for lunch and dinner and serves outstanding pork ribs and beef brisket sandwiches that are smoked on-site. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

The brisket at Rodney’s Ribs is served between plush Hawaiian buns with a drizzle of tangy-sweet sauce.
Beef brisket sandwich at Rodney’s Ribs.
Wonho Frank Lee

Bar Chelou

Both locals and visitors alike are taking note of chef Doug Rankin’s Bar Chelou, which Eater named Restaurant of the Year 2023. The playful spot serves a fresh, innovative menu that fills up the room regularly. Rankin performs magic with vegetables and seafood, including the house favorite carrots râpées with coconut dressing, a hint of lime, peanuts, and delicately fried potato strings. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Clam toast and butterflied trout at Bar Chelou in Pasadena with a cocktail to the right.
Clam toast and butterflied trout at Bar Chelou in Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee

Pasadena Fish Market

Though it may be tempting to stick to fried red snapper at this decades-old fish-fry spot, do not sleep on the Jamaican goat curry, stewed oxtails, beef-stuffed patties, and plantains. Or better yet, just plan for a grubfest by ordering a bit of everything, including the deep-fried catfish and oysters. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Jamaican oxtails at Pasadena Fish Market in Pasadena.
Pasadena Fish Market.
Cathy Chaplin

Howlin' Ray's Hot Chicken

Howlin’ Ray’s has a firm, citywide grip on Nashville-style hot chicken. The Pasadena outlet is a popular hangout with ample seating, beer, wine, and of course, hot chicken wings, strips, and sandwiches. Expect lines during peak meal hours. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Howlin rays sandwich on paper
Sandwich from Howlin’ Ray’s.
Jakob Layman

Lucky Boy

Head to this Pasadena institution for the most important meal of the day. Lucky Boy’s famed breakfast burrito — jam-packed with hash browns, eggs, cheese, and a choice of bacon, sausage, chorizo, or ham — spans eight inches long and weighs what feels like a pound. It’s been fueling Pasadena residents since 1973. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Me + Crepe

Vancouver-based mini-chain Me + Crepe is all about the jianbing, one of China’s most popular street foods comprised of paper-thin pancakes stuffed with things like fried eggs and Peking duck. Swing by for a quick meal that works for on-the-go noshing. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Related Maps

Osawa

Opened in 2013, Osawa is Pasadena’s go-to for dependable yet refined Japanese cooking that includes sushi, shabu-shabu, and more. Menu items are in constant rotation, but rest assured that the ingredients are as good as it gets and the cooking is always skillful. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Union Restaurant

Union restaurant opened back in 2014 and continues to prepare some of the best plates of pasta in town. Twisty torchetti comes topped with a spicy Calabrese pork ragu, while the squid ink lumache plays well with Maine lobster and truffle butter. These standards and more have been satisfying Pasadena pasta-goers for a decade. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Union Restaurant dining room in Pasadena.
Union Pasadena.
Union

Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery

Wife and husband team Vanessa Tilaka and Thomas Kalb bring together fine cheeses and regional American cooking — taking inspiration from the Midwest, California, and beyond — at Agnes. Grab a seat in the lush 1,200-square-foot patio and dig into cheese and meat boards, scratch-made pastas, and hearth-roasted proteins. — Cathy Chaplin, senior editor

Cornbread eclair at Agnes in Pasadena.
Cornbread eclair at Agnes in Pasadena.
Wonho Frank Lee

Perry's Joint

Since 2004, Perry’s Joint is where one goes for gargantuan, delicious, well-layered sandwiches. Plus, live jazz music on Tuesdays. Owner Perry Bennett hosts an annual fundraiser where proceeds benefit nearby John Muir High School’s college-bound graduates. — Mona Holmes, reporter

Related Maps