Best breakfast or brunch in Pasadena, CA?


#1

I’m a big fan of not cooking on the weekends, so I’ve compiled a list of places for breakfast and brunch in the Pasadena and San Gabriel area. Please chime in and add what’s missing.

Marstons
The gold standard of breakfast. This classic craftsman houses the best in regional breakfast. From the cornflake-encrusted french toast to the pulled-pork benedict, it’s all above par. They have a large range of omelets, and a pretty good gringo huevos rancheros. They also do catering and offer picnic baskets. Breakfast is available all day on the weekend (but they close at 2:30PM). They are closed on Mondays. Pricing is low to average considering the quality. Parking can be a nightmare as can be wait time. http://www.marstonsrestaurant.com

The Raymond
Oldest of old school Pasadena Restaurants, The Raymond has been in business since 1886. Pricier than Marstons and with a much larger menu selection, this is an always busy Take-Mom-to-Brunch kind of place. The food is good, the portions large, the experience fairly forgettable, but not unpleasant. This is an old standby and the food has been pretty much the same since Crown City became Rose City (sorry, local humor). It’s good. The salads are huge and the muffins were great as I remember. The Raymond is a full restaurant that serves Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, and Dinner, which is less common than you might think in Pasadena. The Dinner is the real star here, but the breakfast is definitely good, too.

Julienne
A french breakfast and brunch paradise in San Marino. Nearby lot and ample street parking make this my regular go-to spot when I don’t mind spending a little bit more ($15 pre-tax/tip average per person without drinks). They are inexplicably closed on Sundays. The interior is gorgeous and the service is generally top-tier. They have a take-out shop that sells prepared pastas, cheeses, meats, and desserts, that you can take home and cook yourself, too. They have one of the greatest menu items in Los Angeles (which will likely hit Jonathan Gold’s 99 things to eat before you die list as soon as he becomes aware of it): Baked Crème Brulee French Toast with Fresh Strawberry Sauce and Crème Anglaise. It is a revelation. This is higher brow fare and it’s worth it. They also have an excellent wine selection. Located on a wide, but not-too-busy side street, their patio dining is somewhat enclosed, mostly shaded and unbothered by car pollution or environmental noise. http://juliennetogo.com/

Terrace at the Langham
The Huntington Langham Hotel is stunning. It’s a very old-school hotel with lots of old-world charm. This means that you have to valet unless you feel like walking about 1/4 mile from the street (assuming there is any street parking). The restaurant validates most of the parking, so there’s that. Terrace is the breakfast / brunch restaurant by the swimming pool on the lowest floor in back of the function halls past the main entrance. Most weekends there are weddings, and most week days there are conferences, so it’s never hard to get a seat. Terrace is pricey. The food is upscale Beverly Hills hotel level. In other words, not very imaginative, but prepared perfectly. Probably home to the best steak and eggs on this side of town, so expect to pay a lot. Think Ivy prices. Service is usually very good, but I’ve noticed that some guests have a tendency to let their kids run wild, and this can go unchecked by hotel staff. I don’t know if the sticker price of a stay emboldens guests to uncourteous entitlement, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it. This is only if you choose to dine outside by the pool. If you eat indoors in the glorious air conditioning, you are way less likely to encounter the wild offspring of visiting plebs. The Sunday Brunch buffet is the only buffet in town worth having, and that alone is worthy of recommendation, but the grounds of the hotel are truly breathtaking, and if plein air painting is your thing, this is definitely your jam. Pasadena is the epicenter of the California Impressionism art movement and the walls of this luxury hotel are adorned with fine examples of the craft.

Cafe Verde
This is an almost out-of-the-way spot on Green Street, East of Lake. Green is one-way, so you need to approach from the west. Cafe Verde is a charming little spot that recently expanded into the building next door to the original location, but they haven’t adjusted any of the seating, so it’s all still crammed tight–like a Tokyo bistro. They also haven’t expanded the kitchen yet, so more seating means longer wait time until they do. The food is continental with a South American flair, though the photos on the wall are of Italy and France. This is above par food at low to average prices, and they have a full bar, so bloody marys are available as well as other signature cocktails. The rib eye and eggs have been inconsistent (sometimes perfect, sometimes chewy), but the other menu items have been excellent overall. Unexpectedly great wine list, too, if you choose to return for dinner (which is comparable to Malbec on the next corner).

Yahaira’s Cafe
This small and colorful, Mexican cafe from the owners of El Portal and Vanessa’s Cafe, specializes in dishes from the Yucatan. Located on Colorado near the edge of Old Town (around the corner from the Pasadena Playhouse, across from the Laemmle Theater), parking can get a bit difficult on Colorado, though I’ve always managed to find a close spot on the street, so you may be better off parking on Green Street behind the arcade in their private lot. I believe it is free parking. At Yahaira, you want to skip the omelets and go directly to their specialties. If you aren’t well versed in Yucatan cuisine, it will not be the Mexican food to which you are accustomed–and that’s a good thing (even if you love Mexican food like I do), but you really can’t go wrong. The flavorful steak and eggs is a miracle for $11.50, but any of the specialties will pleasantly surprise. The ingredients are fairly unfussy, and the flavors memorable. Win-win.

Maison Akira
What is a Japanese French breakfast buffet? In the hands of chef Akira it is a high ticket combo of champagne, prime rib, and toro. It is unique. It is expensive. It is not what I picture when I think of breakfast. Assorted sushi, Tuna & Tofu, Soba, cold-poached salmon, roasted leg of lamb, crab chawanmushi, beef short rib, and eggs to order. It’s like the buffet at the Langham shot through the twilight zone. It’s something you have to try once in your life (if you like sushi).

Mi Piace
This Italian restaurant on Colorado is opened early and serves a damn good breakfast and lunch with an Italian palette. The bread is going to be fresh and delicious and anything with a tomato is going to excel (the salmon fritatta is their signature breakfast dish), and the coffee is fabulous. “Breakfast with the Mayor” is their take on the Denver omelet, but more Italian and a really nice surprise.

Pasadena also has a Real Food Daily (the most ironic restaurant name–it’s vegan), and an Urth Cafe. These are chains and the food is consistent for better or worse. There are also a high concentration of great coffee roasters in Pasadena (Jones being my favorite, but also Home, Copa Vida, Intelligentsia, and the amazing chocolatier Amara). There is a good, inexpensive Crepe Studio on Union run by two sisters from Montreal (gluten free available). And on the weekend you can get some German Bar food for your hangover at Der Wolfskopf. Typical diner fare is available at Andy’s and Colonial Kitchen (both as seen on Mad Men).


#2

Nice rundown. Are you talking about Andy’s on Colorado? Seems prices have crept up there.
And you left out Tonny’s although for a little more I like getting my huevos with a cocktail at Cafe Verde.


#3

Andy’s on Colorado–yes the prices have risen, but it’s one of the only no-frills coffee shops in town. Portions are good for the money, and the hash is the kind I grew up eating in Boston. These days, hash is often just a left over pot-roast or short-rib dish. Andys’ is that almost Alpo-type concoction of meat and potatoes that is clearly from a can but is a friendly comfort food from the babyboomer generation. It’s $11 but it comes with eggs and hashbrowns and toast on a gigantic plate.


#4

There’s also Amy’s Patio in Altadena. They’ve got hearty meals and big, fresh portions. Waffles rule there, and the zucchini bread is fabulous. http://www.amyspatio.com/


#5

There’s also Pie N Burger. They aren’t cheap, but their house made bread is very tasty and their hash browns are better than the ones others pull out of the freezer.


#6

Russell’s has the best bacon!!! They know how to do eggs right. Love their hashbrowns (well done)…
But, their OJ comes from Costco.


#7

Lincoln. Love their breakfast salad.

–Dommy!


#8

I was going to pop in with Lincoln as well. Breakfast salad, breakfast bowl, Warm bulgur wheat with cream and fruit. And fantastic pastries. I like Little Flower, too, but it’s more casual.


#9

And uncomfy. Lincoln gets crowded, but you never feel like you are shoved into a corner. :stuck_out_tongue:

–Dommy!


#10

Cafe Fiore (for Saturday brunch)

Tonny’s (when a Friday night out turns into an early Saturday morning breakfast)

Amara (because Mexican hot chocolate is always better than coffee, as are churros vis-a-vis donuts)

The Royce (when someone else is paying)


#11

True, but it’s our local, and we tend to go early, before the crowds, or as an after school treat stop. It feels like a little neighborhood cafe where I’m happy to take my kids, while Lincoln feels a bit more sceney. Of course, “sceney” for Pasadena is still about 1/8 the scene of any establishment west of the 405…


#12

I like that harissa shrimp thing with the fucking egg.

their cappachinos.

and their tomato-parmesan crisps/flatbread

strawberry shortcake.

and olvie oil cakes.


#13

I don’t think the Royce is opened for breakfast, is it? If they do a brunch it is probably mind blowing, but bank account draining. Their dinner steaks are top 5 in Southern California.


#14

Brunch on Sundays.


#15

There are lots of good things at Lincoln. But since I also tend to get a pastry or candy there… I try to keep things on the healthy side for my entree… LOL!!!

–Dommy!


#16

oh, yes, Europane’s open faced soft boiled egg salad sandwich with a pumpkin square in season.

I did go to fucking Lincoln and once had maybe four desserts, easy to go the dessert route there.

seriously no fucking joke.


#17

First time at Mike and Anne’s in South Pas. yesterday. Garden omelet w spinach, roasted tomato, mushrooms and goat cheese…excellent and enormous…brought home half an omelet. Served with “morning” potatoes new potatoes with red bell peppers and onions and really really good wheat toast chockfull of nuts and raisins. S.O. had the challah bread French toast dipped in orange vanilla butter #cleanplateclub . Weekday at 10:30 a.m.- maybe a dozen people there. I know weekends are a zoo with long waits…which is what kept us away til yesterday.

We also had Green Street in our rotation, though their menu has changed recently, they removed my favorite greens&egg scramble, and they’re getting really stingy with the potatoes…they just did a remodel, so now it’s even noisier than before. Kitchen seems to be making only minimal effort on taste or presentation. It’s okay, just not what it was ages ago…c’est la vie.

Nicci C’s on Rosemead serves reasonably priced good omelets w potatoes, toast, etc…you can create your own combinations too…large portions., we haven’t tried pancakes, etc. Their bonus is inexpensive Bloody Mary’s that are doctored with horseradish, tabasco etc. to your specifications…pretty good. It’s dark inside, old-school décor throughout, and if you don’t like football or sports, you might prefer elsewhere as the noise from the sports fans and regulars at the bar travels…

I hear Angeles National Golf Course has a good brunch…I 've had drinks there, nice view from their second floor patio towards Big Tujunga. Also good experiences at both Little Flower Candy and Market on Holly Street…not expansive breakfast menus at either, but they do a solid job on what they serve.

ps. strong disagree on Marstons…three times the eggs were undercooked (omelets with runny egg-white and uncooked yolk grossness) which didn’t get fixed without rolled eyes from the kitchen and waitstaff, and even though the eggs were returned done, the result was a sloppy mess. I tried to like them but truly, the memory of those disgusting eggs still lingers…their popularity just bewilders me…to each their own.


#18

Mike & Anne’s lemon pancakes are incredible, too.