Pasadena's Art Deco gem

By Pete Dalis

Let Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday welcome you through Art Deco doors into this dimly lit Pasadena favorite, where executive chef Steven Lona californicates bistro classics, for example, by slicing romaine lettuce into thin julienne strips to give tagliatelle a fresh, market stamp. Other unexpected touches: Cinnamon takes the acidic edge from sherry braised Colorado short ribs, while harissa adds North African spice in a marinade for double-cut lamb chops. Friendly servers take the guesswork out of wines, bringing samples to the table. As for the final decision of the evening, just remember to order the “soup”—really a soufflé with vanilla bean ice cream and warm chocolate sauce—like every regular knows to do.

sweet seats

The outdoor patio evokes al fresco dining in the Napa Valley, with charming Christmas lights and a flowing fountain.

chew on this

Owner Robert Simon—who found a mentor in California cuisine grand dame Alice Waters while he was attending UC Berkeley—opened his other restaurant, AKA Bistro, in St. Helena in 2008. It has since moved to Hugus Alley in downtown Pasadena, though the St. Helena location will forever be known as the bachelorette dinner spot for former “first daughter” Chelsea Clinton.


Tues.–Thurs. 5 PM–9 PM; Fri.–Sat. 5 PM–10 PM;
Sun. 5 PM–8:30 PM
closed Monday

price range

$19.45 (pan-roasted chicken) to $35.45 (grilled beef tenderloin)