Melding their Japanese art of sushi with traditional Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine, Sumiko Sushi delights palates with familiar flavors and unusual pairings. Pho tops the southeast asian offerings, pairing hearty beef broth with such fillings as sliced beef, meatballs, and shrimp. Innovative sushi rolls accompany sashimi with grilled meats and vegetables, eschewing rice for more unusual wrappings such as cucumber, vermicelli, and ghost rice.
Like many creative endeavors, the Togo's story started with a college student's empty stomach and equally empty pockets. In 1971, that college student decided to take action, opening a small sandwich shack near San Jose State University. Here's where the Togo's story switches gears from a tale of hunger to one of milestone after milestone. So popular was the sandwich shack that, much like the disco flash mobs sweeping the nation at the time, it earned a loyal following. In 1974, fueled by that support, a second location opened. Just over a decade later, in 1985, Togo's reached 100 locations.
Today, with locations peppered across the West Coast, Togo's continues to feed its ever-growing faction of fans with freshly prepped, wholesome meals. On Togo's menu, the corresponding nutritional information accompanies hot and cold sandwiches, salads, and wraps. And to keep things interesting, the chain runs quirky promotions throughout the year, such as the Pastrami Pounder Challenge, which started in 2012 and dares individuals to take down a 2-foot sandwich within 30 minutes.
How many awards can a pizza win? Apparently all of them, if it was crafted at Avanti Cafe. Since it first started spinning dough in 1987, the restaurant's gourmet wood-fired pizzas have earned accolades from outlets including Pasadena Magazine and a thumbs-up from famed food critic Elmer Dills. The secret to each slice's success lies in how the pies are made—gently crisped in an imported Italian wood-burning oven that imparts a smoky flavor to the crust. California-centric toppings, such as glazed apples, tiger shrimp, duck sausage, and shiitake mushrooms, provide the finishing touch.
Avanti's tasteful touch extends to other Italian staples as well. Chefs toss chicken and seasonal vegetables into pastas that, like the pizzas, can be made gluten-free upon request; they also fold up savory calzones. The warming cuisine is complemented by a selection of international wines and beers, as well as espresso drinks to fuel second or third helpings.
There's no shortage of tasty coffee drinks at Zona Rosa Café: cappuccinos, espressos, macchiatos. But it’s the shop's Mexican hot chocolate that wowed the critics behind Not for Tourists and Hometown Pasadena: The Insiders Guide. The former also digs the shop's cheerful atmosphere, which includes brightly colored walls and Latin music.
At The Novel Cafe Pasadena, chefs specialize in quintessential American comfort food with a gourmet twist. The menu includes tuna nicoise salads, eggplant parmesan sandwiches, and other lighter dishes. You’ll also find heartier fare, including barbecue back ribs and clams with linguine, as well as dishes rife with locally grown produce. The on-site coffee shop stocks more than 15 varieties of organic teas, in addition to organic coffee beans and espresso. The baristas also serve freshly squeezed juices and extra-squeeze hugs. The café also hosts regular performances from local singer-songwriters and jazz musicians, which you can enjoy while sipping on a glass of wine.
Eden Garden Bar & Grill sprinkles blooming hunger pangs with a host of traditional Mediterranean dishes served in a warm, intimate setting. Guests lamentably unable to stick round pegs into square holes can comfortably stick a soft pita into the hummus ($7) or sink recently sharpened incisors into four pieces of falafel, which come flanked by sesame seed sauce ($8). The chicken shawarma, served with hummus and salad ($13), stokes the fires of the poultry partial, and the crispy prawns represent the underwater contingent by enlisting seaweed salad as its running mate ($18).