My Favorite Pasadena Places – Part IFeb 1st, 2013 | By Lindsay | Category: This and That
While the Grim Cheaper and I are absolutely loving our new apartment and desert locale, I am, of course, feeling quite nostalgic about Pasadena, the fabulous city that I called home for over thirteen years. There are so many things that I am going to miss about the place – even my former building’s Ugly Naked Guy. Well, I’m not going to miss him, per se – just the fact that my building had one and that I once shared that small similarity with the Friends gang. But that is a different story for a different time (and it’s a doozy, let me tell you!). For today and Monday, though, while caught up in memories of my beloved Rose City, I thought I would go a little off-topic by blogging about my ten favorite places in Pasadena. None have a filming or celebrity angle, necessarily, but I hope my fellow stalkers will enjoy this walk down memory lane nonetheless. So without further ado . . .
1. Lula Mae Gift Shop – My very favorite store in the entire world! While planning for this post, I made a list of all of the places that I needed to take photographs of and Lula Mae was one of them. Then I realized that the two pictures below (which my dad took last year of me with Marci, Lula’s owner, and Julia, a longtime employee) perfectly encapsulate what the shop is all about. Walking into Lula Mae is like walking into a giant hug and what I love most about the place – besides the fabulous merchandise, which is truly one-of-a-kind – is the people who work there. There are honestly no words to describe how much I am going to miss Marci and Julia (as wells as Alison and Reyana). The Lula ladies have all become my good friends and saying good-bye to them was the hardest part of leaving Pasadena for me. I bawled for a full two blocks after I left the store that evening and still haven’t fully recovered. Ironically enough, Marci was the one who gave me the last push I needed to move. The GC and I had been going back and forth over the decision for weeks and one day Marci said, “Well, what are you going to regret more? Leaving Pasadena or not being with your parents?” We gave notice to our apartment building just a few days later. Marci is one of the most amazing people I have ever met – she is the absolute embodiment of Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) from You’ve Got Mail. In fact, I am convinced that Nora Ephron met Marci one day while writing the screenplay for the 1998 flick and then based the character off of her.
Lula Mae was where I would go whenever I needed inspiration, a good laugh, a cheering-up, some girl talk, or a fabulously unique gift. LA Weekly awarded the site “Best One-Stop Shopping” in 2011 and had this to say, “You know that friend of yours who always upstages the $10 bottle of wine you pull out of your purse when she shows up at parties with the most adorable, clever little trinket wrapped perfectly in a colorful vintage gift bag? Well that smug b*tch probably has been shopping at Lula Mae for years now.” That smug b*tch was me. Friends learned long ago to stop asking where I purchased a certain card or gift because the answer was invariably “Lula Mae”. When I told my parents we were moving to the desert, the first words out of my mom’s mouth were, “But what are you going to do without Lula Mae?” Not joking. The store was that much a part of my life. In fact, the GC asked if Marci factored our move into her 2013 revenue projections. LOL I honestly don’t know how I will survive without my weekly (oh, who am I kidding) daily Lula dose. It’s the most adorable store I have ever visited in my life (the place even has a shop kitty!) and I cannot more highly recommend a visit. Lula Mae is located at 100 North Fair Oaks Avenue in Old Town Pasadena. You can visit the store’s website here.
2. Vroman’s Bookstore – My very favorite bookstore. Because I love Vroman’s so much and shop there so often, I have written countless posts about the place over the years. Consequently, in the hopes of sparing y’all any redundancy, I will keep this blurb brief. Let me just say that Vroman’s is the type of place where you can walk in and say, “I heard about this book and I can’t remember the title or who wrote it, nor what it is even about. I know it has to do with a bookseller and that it takes place in a past era and the cover is a mustard yellow color and has a Sherlock Holmes-looking guy on it.” And they will know exactly the book you are talking about. I walked in the other day and said just that and, sure enough, it wasn’t two minutes before I had the novel I had so poorly remembered, The Shadow of the Wind, in my hands. The picture below was taken back in 2011 on a day when Parks and Recreation was filming at Vroman’s. You can read my post about that filming here. Vroman’s Bookstore is located at 695 East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. You can visit their website here. Be sure to check out their Special Events page as celebrity authors stop by regularly for signings.
3. The Slaw Dogs – I discovered this place (thanks to Marci from Lula Mae) about two years ago and it became such a favorite that before long I was dining there a good four or five times a week. The eatery serves the. best. hot. dogs. ever. And this is coming from a true frankfurter connoisseur. The dogs are so good, in fact, that when I took my friends Beth and Kim, who were in town visiting from Ohio, they actually later dreamed about their meal! Yes, The Slaw Dogs has the power to enter your dreams! And the establishment even serves champagne! What more could a stalker ask for?
Pictured below is my regular order – a turkey dog with melted cheddar cheese and ranch dressing. I am salivating just looking at it right now! To stay diabetic-friendly, though, I don’t eat the bun. For those of you who aren’t diabetic, The Slaw Dogs serves a variety of carb-loaded options, including a Mac and Cheese Dog (with macaroni and cheese, bacon, grilled onions, and Dijon mustard), The Picnic Dog (with homemade potato salad, BBQ sauce, onion rings, and a dill pickle spear), and the TNT Super Dog, aka “The Good Timer” (with beer chili, cheddar cheese, bacon, pastrami, French fries, grilled onions, and a fried egg, all wrapped in a giant tortilla). There are also vegetarian options and salads, for those who prefer a healthier meal. If you’re in the area, skip Pink’s (the lines are long and the dogs just average) and hit up The Slaw Dogs instead. Several celebs have even been known to stop in on occasion, including Wentworth Miller, whom I once dined next to. The eatery has a few locations, but the Pasadena outpost can be found at 720 North Lake Avenue. You can visit The Slaw Dogs website here.
4. The Pasadena Blo-Out Lounge – I discovered this place in all of its white marble and pink-accented glory in June 2011 and never looked back. And while the GC likes to say, “You pay someone to wash your hair!”, what I am actually paying for is a professional blow-dry. Because the Blo-Out Lounge prices are so incredibly reasonable, I was able to buy a monthly membership and get my hair done every four or five days. (Yes, I know – I am spoiled!) The Lounge was a lifesaver for me because I have extremely curly and extremely thick hair. Blowing it out on my own takes a good two hours and is a huge pain in the butt, so, before discovering the Lounge, I would often just leave it curly and pull it back in a clip. After becoming a member, though, everyday became a good hair day. So much so that Miss Pinky Lovejoy, of the Thinking Pink blog, once called me up to ask if I had gotten a makeover at some point before meeting her. She had been going through my old celebrity photographs and, apparently, I used to be a hot mess. LOL My answer, “No, I just discovered the Blo-Out Lounge.”
Not only did the Lounge change my hair-life, but the stylists who work there all became my close friends. Even if I went back to wearing my hair curly, I would still want to visit the salon regularly just to hang out. I honestly do not know what I am going to do now that I live in Palm Springs. I can say this, though – the Lounge will be my VERY FIRST stop on every single visit back to L.A. And while I have my favorites [Noelle (who is pictured), Cat, Yvette, Arlyn and Dinga], ALL of the girls who work at the Lounge are fabulous and, in almost two years time, I have NEVER received a single bad blow-out. The Pasadena Blo-Out Lounge is located at 62 North Raymond Avenue in Old Town Pasadena. You can visit their website here.
5. Vertical Wine Bistro – Sadly, while the GC and I had dined once before at Vertical (I blogged about it here), we only just discovered the wonder that is their happy hour about six weeks prior to our move. I can easily say that Vertical Wine Bistro has Pasadena’s BEST happy hour, hands down! The prices are reasonable, the food spectacular and the servings huge. We love the place so much that it became our regular Friday night spot. It was also where we chose to eat dinner our last night in Pasadena. Because we had only been dining at Vertical habitually for a short time, we did not know any of the bartenders very well, but, amazingly, when one of them heard that we were moving the following day, she ended up purchasing our entire meal! She said that she and the other servers would often comment on how nice we were and how they wished more of their customers were like us! How AMAZING is that?!? It was the perfect way to spend our last night in Pasadena and made me love the eatery all the more. (Because I had blogged about the place before, I thought I had plenty of pictures of it and therefore did not take any new ones for this post. When I looked through my old photos, though, I realized that they had been taken on an iPhone and were of very poor quality. D’oh! So I had to “borrow” the one below off of the Vertical website.)
While the GC LOVES Vertical’s Sliders (I have to say that I even like them and I am NOT a hamburger fan), I am absolutely addicted to the Sautéed Mushrooms side order (pictured below). It is literally one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life. The Fried Calamari is also amazing! I canNOT wait to go back there the next time we are in town. Vertical Wine Bistro is located at 70 North Raymond Avenue in Old Town Pasadena. You can visit their website here. The restaurant’s happy hour is offered Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. and all day on Sunday.
Stay tuned for My Favorite Pasadena Places – Part II, which will be posted on Monday.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!