Melt It! in Pasadena refers to itself as “A Grilled Cheese Co.” I’m not sure what else would have been expected from a place called Melt It! (except maybe like fondue or a ton of patty melt options, which are basically just grilled cheeses with burgers in them anyway), but I was eager to see what kind of twists this place would make on the old standby.
When I found out that a Taiwanese fried chicken place had opened next door to my office, I knew I had to stop by, especially because I would soon be paying a visit to Taiwan. It’s called Hot Star, and for some reason it specializes in flattening the fried chicken to make it look massive. I don’t know if this is meant to make it taste or look better, but I was ready to find out.
Hotels aren’t exactly known for their food. Yet, there has been a trend to try to get better restaurants into hotels and I give those hotels major props for trying. In Pasadena the dusitD2 Constance Hotel has a spot called Constance Perry’s. It’s kind of Asian, kind of American, but definitely not fusion because those dishes kind of stand out on their own.
The Eatery in Pasadena is undoubtedly one of the city’s hidden gems. It’s off the beaten path and in a building that seems much more likely to house a Mexican grocery store than a fancy restaurant (in fact it does share the building with such a store). But once inside the candles, dim lighting and intimate ambiance scream non-pretentious fanciness. Of course, none of this would matter to me if the food didn’t satisfy my unvegan desires.
Throughout the LA area are places called Tom’s, Tommy’s and any other variety of that name. They all specialize in chili-covered food and while Tommy’s is supposedly the original, Tom’s has done pretty well for itself. Tom’s just opened up a Pasadena outpost that is pretty much a diner, but also claims to have Greek roots. Thus, I was hoping this could be like the Coney Islands of Detroit in my youth.
Somehow it took me nearly a year of working in Pasadena to discover Braise and Crumble just down the street from my office. It’s truly shocking because after discovering the place one day, I was back just a couple days later to get in on it again. Because of that, you actually get to see how two meals unfolded at this place.
While Pasadena might be full of restaurants that found success elsewhere and decided to open up a Pasadena outpost, there are definitely some unique standouts that seem to have sprouted some following. One of these is Euro Pane, which now has two locations, with one being right by my office. It’s pretty much a sandwich shop and bakery and I tried to find myself the meatiest bite possible.
Along with The Apple Pan over in West LA, Pie ‘n Burger is renowned for not only having delicious burgers, but for having seemingly not changed at all in its 50+ years of life. Sure, there are a lot of classic burger spots around, but they have all had tweaks here and there as owners have been exchanged, neighborhood demographics have changed or competition has increased. At Pie ‘n Burger, the only noticeable difference is the price.
Around the LA area and the surrounding region is a small group of hot dog spots called Dog Haus. Despite the fact that this seems to portray some sort of Germanic hot dog spot, it’s really just a place for some creative hot dogs and burgers. And while the burgers were actually looking mighty fine, I just had to stick with the hot dog part of the menu.
What do you do in Pasadena when it’s 100 degrees outside? Surely not ramen in an un-air conditioned restaurant. Right? Wrong. You see, sometimes you just need ramen and sometimes that means going to Tamashii for it. Tamashii is a small izakaya-esque spot that has a surprising variety for such a small place, even within the ramen section.