I have read this whole thread and was amazed not to find El Toreo on anyone's list. If im in old town this is the only place i will eat. Its been there forever, the food is good and they have wonderful table salsas.... Its a wonderful contrast to the Cheezwhizcake Factory just steps away. I have no idea how they survive.
As someone who lived in Pasadina once upon a time and who visits twice a year to visit my mother..... Pasadena seams to be a wasteland of chain restaurants. Ok maybe not that bad but compared to Seattle (home) and its neighborhoods there is no comparison. There are few neighborhood breakfast places, independent coffee shops,Independent restaurants serving interesting and "modern" cuisine, sushi or seafood, even good pizza. There is plenty of money around.. i don't get it. Actually all of LA seams like this to me. If you want good food you ether need to go Ethnic (not a complaint) or $$$fancy and there in just not that much in between.. except chains! Its the opposite of somewhere like Portland OR. were there are lots of moderately priced, independently owned restaurants serving interesting food....... and few chains.
Yes, im heading to Pasadena soon and im not looking forward to my choices. That's why im here...
As someone who is not that big on desserts... the Bread pudding Souffle at Commander's just knocked my out. One of the best things i have ever eaten....