The Spago of Pasadena, Parkway Grill made a big splash when it first opened in 1985, bringing California pizzas and organic vegetables to then-stodgy Crown City. Today the concept is less fresh, and the kitchen execution isn’t as crisp as it once was, but we still love the casually elegant space—soaring wood rafters, exposed brick, massive flower arrangements, open kitchen—and the classic dishes are still tasty, especially the ones that aren’t too fussy. Try the lobster-filled cocoa crepes, ahi nicoise salad, grilled lamb chops with port-rosemary reduction, and seasonal fruit crisps. Sharp service, good wine list and a great bar, especially on weekends, when the live jazz cooks.
510 S. Arroyo Pkwy., Pasadena, 626.795.1001, theparkwaygrill.com, Modern American. L Mon.-Fri., D nightly. Full bar. AE, MC, V. $$$