Named Best Bar by the Pasadena Weekly in 2009 and 2010 and a City's Best Lounge by Pasadena magazine in 2010, Magnolia Lounge keeps displaced Dixie drawls well-lubricated with its extensive list of specialty drinks. Give your gullet a gander with the I’m Effen Sexy martini, containing Effen Black Cherry vodka, X-Rated Fusion Liqueur, Peachtree Schnapps and cranberry juice, or toast to the titular tastes of the Magnolia cocktail, containing Citron vodka, infused raspberries, Newman's Own lemonade, and mint. Food-wise, Magnolia Lounge's eclectic menu matches the laid-back elegance of the candlelit atmosphere. Start a chic evening out with a french fry trio of classic-cut, yukon gold, and sweet-potato fries served with barbecue ranch, garlic aioli, and chili-honey sauce ($8) before pairing a grilled steak sandwich ($13) with a non-grilled glass of Stoneleigh pinot noir ($10). The fried green tomatoes, with basil cream-cheese filling, cucumber salsa, and roasted red pepper sauce ($8), will bring back forgotten flavors as it layers on some new ones, and the Magnolia cheeseburger decks out its sirloin slab in a seersucker suit of aged cheddar, caramelized onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and garlic aioli ($12).
Citta Pizzeria & Ristaurante's menu features an array of New York–style specialty pizzas. That means the eatery's pies are wide, thin, crispy, and as foldable as an expensive suit designed to fold easily. Specifically, the chefs bake versions such as the margherita, buffalo chicken, and honey chicken.
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.
Johnny Rockets' menu and kids’ menu win a lot of awards, particularly for fresh, never-frozen hamburgers. Chase them with fries and onion rings and wash it all down with a fountain drink such as a deluxe hand-dipped oreo cookies and cream shake, root beer float, or flavored soda pop (cherry or vanilla). If you're more partial to poultry, Johnny Rockets also offers grilled chicken breast sandwiches and crispy chicken club salads. Johnny Rockets' cream and red Eisenhower-era décor, tabletop jukeboxes, and smiling, dancing servers make it feel like an Archie comic (but not the issue where Archie gets drafted).
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.
For over 30 years, Kilroy's Sandwich Factory has delivered hot entrees, sandwiches, salads, and boxed lunches—all made from scratch—to events, parties, and a sprawling list of clients. House-baked breads house toppings such as turkey, ham, or roast beef to create personal sandwiches or massive 6-foot subs. Other options include hot entrees such as carne asada, lasagna, and tilapia, and cheese, meat, or vegetable platters.