Wandering Old Town

Aug 14, 2010

Turns out the building owned by the Crown City pawn shop is a Greene & Greene, and now it's being artfully restored by architect Steve Dahl.

Some thoughts while wandering Old Pasadena on a lovely summer Saturday afternoon:

When a street parking spot opens before me on the weekend, I figure it’s a sign from God that I need to take it, even if I don’t need to buy, eat or drink anything.

As much as I decry the mallification of Old Town, I am sometimes grateful for the Gap and the Apple Store.

Is Gold Bug the coolest store in the entire world or what?

I wish I liked the food at Mi Piace more, but just seeing the sidewalk diners makes me happy.

I like to think I don’t care if I have money or not, but then I wander into Maude Woods and wish I had a lot of money.

My vote for Old Town: more street musicians, less meter enforcers.

As long as places like Lucky Baldwin’s, the Crown City pawn shop, and Distant Lands keep thriving, no one can accuse Old Town of being nothing but a soulless mall.

Must try Bella’s Gourmet Pizza. Pasadena still doesn’t have a really good pizza place—I’m not optimistic, but maybe this is a contender?

The Real Madrid—L.A. Galaxy game brought a lot of beautiful European and Latin American families to Old Town. I hope they come back.

I would put 21 Choices above all other frozen-yogurt shops in Southern California even if my daughter wasn’t working there.

When Louise’s Trattoria took over the Rite Spot many years ago and painted over Kenton Nelson’s amazing WPA-style mural, I went in and told the manager I’d never eat there in protest. And I never have.

Scientologists in Old Pasadena? Really??

Intelligentsia Coffee may be a little twee, and it’s a (small) chain, but it’s way better than Starbucks and has lots of room to hang out in.

If you haven’t yet heard of Heart & Sole on Green Street, now you have. Their massage therapists may not be the most highly trained in town, but they have strong hands, and you get a full hour massage for a mere $25. You read that right. The lunch hour is full every day.

Current favorite places to eat in Old Town: Dish Bistro, Green Street Tavern, Café Linda’s, Vertical.

I also think redwhite+bluezz is great, but I hate the name.

Old Town restaurants I wish were better: Bar Celona, Villa Sorriso, The Kitchen, Cheval Blanc.

I’ve been meaning to try: 1810 Argentinean, POP and Quadrupel.

And one of these days I’m going to spend some time exploring the Rudolph Steiner Bookstore.

Chain restaurant I can’t help but love: Le Pain Quotidien. The best breakfast in town.

Fortune Chinese isn’t that great to eat in, but it’s wonderful for delivery, and it’s pretty healthy.

Not a week goes by that my husband doesn’t bemoan the loss of Jerry’s Deli. Will the forthcoming New York Deli fill the city’s desperate deli need? We’ll see.

I’m happy for the people who like Gold Class Cinema and think the $22 tickets are worth it, but I pine for the old Laemmle.

I marvel at the few “old” Old Town businesses that have survived, like Anderson Business Techology. Please don’t ever give up your space to a Cinnabon.

7 Responses for “Wandering Old Town”

  1. I was in the Paseo district this morning meeting another Pasa friend. Then, I decided go drive west into OT, for some unknown reason. Like it, but haven’t been to Le Pain Quotidien since December. Bird Pick, holding Pasadena area blogger gatherings, or tourist watching are the only other reasons that have brot me into this part. So much turnover of stores in this district I wanna just rename it to NT.

  2. Kat says:

    I love this little piece: it reminds me of the places that I love in OT, and recommends a few new places to try. I generally ignore the big chains (Apple store being the exception) and I love, love, love Gold Bug– although I don’t have enough shelf space to display their oddities. Intelligensia… I love the coffee beans and coffee… but don’t love the slightly snobby attitude. But– thought they did a great job with the space they’re in. Andy.. why is 21 choices so fantastic? (other than that your daughter works there.) I’ve never tried them… but always marvel at the line out the door.

  3. You’ve made my list longer. I enjoyed this immensely.

  4. Colleen Dunn Bates says:

    21 Choices is great for several reasons. One, the frozen yogurt is just plain delicious. Two, it’s a locally owned business with good business practices, including using sustainably produced, plastic-free, recyclable cups and spoons, treating employees well, and using organic fruit as much as possible. Three, it’s a cheerful, positive place that emphasizes customer service.

    If you’re not into frozen yogurt, it won’t do much for you, but if you like it, it’s the best around. More sweet than the tart Pinkberry-style yogurt.

  5. Sarah says:

    Quadrupel is really great. It’s our new favorite place.

  6. Ann Erdman says:

    I’m with your husband, still bemoaning the loss of Danny’s Deli.

  7. jill says:

    There is a quiet pleasure to be had from walking into the new Scientology Coven, oh excuse me, I mean site, on Colorado and calmly and sweetly asking a question.
    Something on the order of:
    “Where are your cashmere sweaters?” or
    Is your yogurt organic?” or
    “Is it true that none of the puppies you sell are from puppy mills, and do you carry that vegie protein kibble?”

    If you’re the kind of girl or guy who appreciates a quiet thrill, try it. It sure fits my idea of fun. Then motor on out of there quick and purposefully, like a stately bunny.
    Granted, this heady activity has its roots in the prank phone calls you made when you were 8, but that old classic call to the tobacconist, “Hello – do you have Prince Albert in the can”
    “Yes, I believe we do.”
    ” Well then, you’d better let him out before he smothers in there.”
    That just never gets old does it?
    So, give punking Scientology a try. And then stroll down to 21 Flavors for fun of an entirely more yummy variety.



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