Pasadena was named as a “culinary destination” by The L.A. Times this weekend, perhaps something not completely foreseeable in years past through the thicket of middling chains and fratty bro bars long dotting Colorado Boulevard. Pasadena currently has over 550 restaurants, more per capita than N.Y.C. says the story, and even quite a few you’d actually be inclined to visit. Vertical Wine Bar’s Laurent Quenioux is among those getting the credit for embracing Julia Child’s hometown, along with tapas-destination Racion, new Trattoria Neapolis, Sushi Kimagure, and Noir Food & Wine. As the streets are all but besieged by Cordon Bleu students, chef David Feau of The Royce predicts, “I really believe there will be more and better restaurants here than there will be in downtown Los Angeles.” But of course, this upswing in optimism and improved eating isn’t just proof of Pasadena’s boom, but of an entire county on fire.
The Pasadena pronouncement is a clear indicator, not only of Northeast L.A.’s own culinary advancement, bolstered by a deep appreciation for the authentic, regional Chinese cooking to be found in the San Gabriel Valley, but that of L.A.’s at large; a growing spread of engaging talents that aren’t simply sticking to traditional hot zones, but putting a stake in the county’s multiple regional neighborhoods that often hold their more traffic-phobic residents hostage.
This same energy and sense of zip code liberation results in chef-driven concepts lighting up neighborhoods as diverse, widespread, and at one time perceived as self-insulated as Culver City, Highland Park, Baldwin Hills, Echo Park, Palms, and Montrose, and most noticeably seen in the big breaths reinvigorating the once-lifeless, zombie-dominated dead-zones of Downtown in recent years.
With so many disparate neighborhoods forming our whole, the rise of sturdy neighborhood dining is perhaps an inevitability finally being reached, filling in glaring holes along the way, and a crucial necessity heading towards fulfillment. In a city of near-constant openings of merit and plans brewing from so many major names, the article appears to provide further proof of the entire city’s thrilling and untethered culinary ascent.