Go for the parade, stay for the food
Pasadena will be bustling with Rose Parade-goers on Jan. 2, and eateries will be ready to fill their appetites.
Customers dine at Plate 38 in Pasadena on Wednesday, December 28, 2011. Plate 38 is open for breakfast and lunch on Jan. 2. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)
A number of restaurants close down the day of the parade but many are worth checking out in the days before and after the big event. Euro Pane Bakery has some of the best coffee, rustic pastries and egg salad sandwiches in the San Gabriel Valley. At Pie ‘N’ Burger, the classic 1963 diner on East California Boulevard, the burgers are fat and juicy and the flaky-crusted pies are heavy with fresh fruit or piled sky-high with meringue. (Pie ‘N’ Burger is closed Jan. 2, but open New Year’s Day.)
If you’re looking for something more upscale, freshen up and go to La Grande Orange on East Raymond Avenue. This lovely bistro is fairly new but it’s housed in a vintage Pasadena train station. Try their Brussels sprouts salad ($15). LGO has been rented out to the Rose Parade committee for lunch on January 2nd, but it’s open for dinner that night. The pizzas at the adjoining Luggage Room (also closed for lunch) have creative toppings and wood-fired aroma, rivaled only by the gourmet pizzas at Avanti Cafe on Lake Avenue. A local favorite for almost 25 years, Avanti opens at 11 a.m. on January 2nd.
There are a few other brave businesses open on the day of the parade. La Fiesta Grande (or The Big Party as we fondly call it) on Colorado Boulevard will open right after the parade is over. The Mexican food is passable but the margaritas and mariachi music are fantastic. This 30-year-old institution is a great place to take a group of friends to while away the afternoon. Or stroll away from the mayhem of the parade route to Burger Continental on South Lake Avenue. They’ve been serving great Middle Eastern and American fare in a casual setting for 36 years. They’re even open for breakfast starting at 6:30 a.m.
Maybe you’ve “been there, done that,” and you’re looking for something new. Hidden away in the El Rey patio of the old Livery Building on Green Street is the terrific Dog Haus Biergarten. The Sooo Cali ($5.95) features a huge, skinless, all-beef hot dog with spicy basil aioli dressing, avocado slices, arugula and crispy onions. A pretty good combo already, but what clinches the deal is the thick, grilled Hawaiian bread bun. Naturally, craft beers are on tap in the sunny biergarten.
Hand-crafted beers are de rigueur at the moment, and one more brand spanking new option is the Haven Gastropub just off the parade route in Old Town. Huge beer vats promise fresh hops-y goodness and the menu touts upscale comfort food with a touch of British sensibility, such as shepherd’s pie and goose pastrami sandwiches. The warm, inviting interior makes this a good choice for a family dinner or a nice place to watch the game.
Speaking of the game, if you’re going to the Rose Bowl, impress the members of your tailgate party with boxed goodies from The Market on Holly Street. They open at 7 a.m. on January 2nd. The day’s menu was not confirmed as of press time but their fresh sandwiches and take-away salads will surely soothe the savage football beast.
So the parade’s over, you’ve navigated the crowds, you’ve checked out the floats along Sierra Madre Boulevard and now you’re more than peckish ... you’re starving. You can go to any one of the many chain restaurants in Hastings Ranch. My choice would be the barbecued ribs at Stonefire Grill. But for a more hand-crafted Pasadena experience, go back down to Colorado to the excellent Plate 38, where Cordon Bleu-trained chef Robert Humphrey’s will whip you up a truffle burger on a brioche bun. A little pricey at $12.50, but this and every plate is prepared with fresh ingredients and attention to detail. The evening before the parade, Plate 38 is open until 2 a.m., then opens again for outdoor service beginning at 5 a.m. on parade day, with full service indoors beginning again for lunch.
Finally, you can’t leave Pasadena without a taste of the lavender honey or cardamom ice cream from Carmela Artisan Creamery on Washington Boulevard. They’re closed the day of the parade but open till at least 9 p.m. on the surrounding days.
The Tournament of Roses Parade is steeped in tradition, as are many of the great older restaurants in Pasadena, but the floats are paragons of creative, handcrafted expertise, like some of the town’s newest eateries. The choice is yours.
LISA DUPUY has written about food, entertainment and travel for 25 years.
Euro Pane Bakery, 950 E. Colorado Blvd., (626) 577-1828.
Pie ‘N’ Burger, 913 E. California Blvd., (626) 795-1123.
La Grande Orange/Luggage Room, 260 S. Raymond Ave., (626) 356-4444.
Avanti Cafe, 111 N. Lake Ave., (626) 577-4688.
La Fiesta Grande, 624 E. Colorado Blvd., (626) 795-5577.
Burger Continental, 535 S. Lake Ave., (626) 792-6634.
Dog Haus Biergarten, 93 E. Green St., (626) 683-0808.
Haven Gastropub, 42 S. De Lacey Ave., (626) 768-9555.
The Market on Holly, 57 E. Holly St., (626) 844-8811.
Stonefire Grill, 473 N. Rosemead Blvd., (626) 921-1255.
Plate 38, 2361 E. Colorado Blvd., (626) 793-7100.
Carmela Ice Cream, 2495 E. Washington Blvd., (626) 797-1405.
Be sure to call in advance in case of last minute closures.