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My Favorite Pasadena Places – Part II

Feb 4th, 2013 | By | Category: This and That

Pasadena City hall (1 of 1)

As promised, today’s blog is a continuation of my top ten favorite places in Pasadena. If you missed the first installment, you can check it out here. And now, on with the post! (Big THANK YOU to Mike, from MovieShotsLA, for taking the above photograph of Pasadena City Hall. I swear, that guy takes THE BEST pictures. I was just telling him the other night that if I ever get rich, I am hiring him to take photos for my site fulltime. I’ll do the writing and he can handle the pics. We’d so be unstoppable! Winking smile)

6. Old Town Pasadena Historic District – If there’s one thing this stalker loves almost as much as stalking, it’s shopping. I absolutely hate being inside, though, so when I first moved to Pasadena and discovered Old Town’s historic shopping district, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

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Old Town Pasadena, which is comprised of blocks upon blocks of fabulous boutiques, restaurants and specialty stores (like The Soap Kitchen, which makes the best lip balm I have ever owned), features stunning architecture, spacious courtyards and lots and lots of brick. It is hands down my favorite place to shop in all of Southern California. And because I used to live about a mile from it, walking there daily provided me with my only form of exercise. See, shopping can be good for you! The area also has a bit of a celebrity twist. In the 1940s, Old Town Pasadena fell into serious disarray and became a haven for criminal and drug activity. Thankfully though, in the early ‘90s, the site’s potential was realized by several real estate developers and businessmen who set about revitalizing the district and wound up turning it into what is now one of L.A.’s most popular shopping and dining venues. One of the men who was involved in that revitalization was none other than producer Garry Marshall, although he ended up backing out after the project almost bankrupted him. He talks quite a bit about the venture in his fabulous book My Happy Days in Hollywood.

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The area also sees quite a bit of filming. In fact, just the other day I learned that the Urban Outfitters in Old Town was featured in the 2004 movie National Treasure, in the scene in which Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage), Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) and Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) go shopping for new clothes.

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The center of Old Town Pasadena is located at 1 Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena. You can visit the district’s official website here.

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7. The Starbucks at Lake & Green – Not the closest Starbucks to my former apartment, but my most-favorite one and easily the best in all of Pasadena. I would walk about a mile out of my way each day to visit this particular branch, that’s how much I love the place. At most Starbucks locations, the wait is atrocious and items are invariably out of stock – there is one in particular in the Pasadena area that shall remain unnamed (753 S. Arroyo Parkway) that is constantly out of whole milk and it drives me up the wall. This particular store, though, has GOT IT DOWN! I can honestly say that in the six years I frequented the place, I never had to wait longer than five minutes from the time I walked through the front door to the time I walked out, drink in hand. I love, love, love this Starbucks. The GC would often try to get me to stop at other Sbux outposts that happened to be on the way to wherever we were going on that particular day, and every single time he got his way and we ended up at another store, we would get stuck in some god-forsaken line and lose about ten minutes time. Men! I became such a regular at Lake & Green that when one of my favorite baristas, Eve, won Partner of the Quarter for her district, I was invited to the event, as were a few other customers. That’s just the way the Lake & Green store is. It is like the Cheers bar of Starbucks stores – where everybody knows your name. My favorite Starbucks is located at 82 South Lake Avenue in Pasadena.

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8. Betty Nails & Spa – Anyone who lives in L.A. knows that most nail salons there are conveyor-belt type places that can be found on pretty much each and every street corner. Some are even downright skeevy. Not Betty Nails & Spa, though. As soon as I walked in for my first visit, I immediately felt comfortable and welcomed. The place was clean and laid-back, the stylists friendly and the prices extremely reasonable. What I liked best, though, was the fact that the manicurist took her time. In all of my visits there, I never felt like they were trying to rush through the process to move on to the next customer. They also never tried to upsell me. Quite the contrary, actually – the first time I asked for a callus removal (Cat, from the Pasadena Blo-Out Lounge, had told me how fabulous callus removals are and she was right!), I was told that I really did not need one. The best part about Betty’s manicures and pedicures, though, are the massages. Sigh! After I discovered Betty’s and became a regular, I recommended the place to my mom and she subsequently became a regular, too. When she moved to desert, she would often lament to me that she could not find a nail salon that she liked nearly as much that didn’t cost an arm and a leg – which doesn’t bode well for me now that I live there, as well. Needless to say, my nails – and hair – will be suffering due to my move. Sad smile Betty Nails & Spa is located at 766 East Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena.

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9. El Portal – Our favorite Pasadena-area Mexican eatery. El Portal is a family-owned and operated place that specializes in Yucatan cuisine and has been awarded Pasadena Weekly’s “Best Mexican Restaurant” more times than I can count. The Grim Cheaper has long been addicted to their shredded beef tacos and while I typically do not have a hard time sticking to my carb-free diabetic-friendly diet when dining out, whenever I am at El Portal I canNOT resist their cheese quesadillas! They are like my kryptonite. I do not know how one can make a quesadilla stand out from others (I mean, aren’t they just tortillas and cheese?), but no other quesadilla that I have ever sampled even compares to the ones at El Portal. They are that good! El Portal’s champagne, unfortunately, wasn’t, though. The restaurant used to serve a very sweet brand of sparking wine that I was not at all a fan of, so one day I decided to ask El Portal’s owner, Abel Ramirez, if he would ever consider stocking a different variety. I mentioned that the rather inexpensive Freixenet brand was one of my favorites (my best friend actually calls me “The Freixenet Girl”) and the very next week when we sat down at the bar, our favorite bartender popped a Freixenet split down in front of me! How incredible is that? I just about fell over I was so excited. The bartender also later told us that the restaurant has been selling quite a bit more champagne now since they made the switch, which I was over the moon about. For the best quesadillas in the world, head to El Portal, which is located at 695 East Green Street, inside of Arcade Lane, in Pasadena. You can visit the restaurant’s website here.

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10. Our Former Loft – The GC and I have both long been obsessed with New York loft-style architecture, so when we toured the one pictured below while looking for our first apartment together in 2008, we signed the lease immediately. We absolutely LOVED living in what we took to calling “our perfect little loft”, despite the fact that it was only 750 square feet. And while we did end up desperately needing more space as the years went on, it was truly heartbreaking to leave the place and not a day goes by that I don’t miss it.

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Especially the floor-to-ceiling brick wall.

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One thing I will NOT miss about our loft, though, is the tiny closet, which I actually had to split with the GC! For a hyper-organized clotheshorse like myself, sharing such a small closet was miserable.

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As you can see, because the closet was so small and because I have so many clothes, the result was a rather disorganized storage system, which was enough to drive the Monica Geller in me crazy on a daily basis. I get an eye twitch just looking at the pictures below. Winking smile

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So when we decided to move to the desert, I stole a line from Carrie Bradshaw and told the GC, “Just get me a really big closet!” Which he did, and which my dad, who is quite the craftsman (he constructed the bookshelves, ladder and butcher block pictured in the above photographs of our loft), custom-built for me. The original closet, as it came with our new apartment, is pictured below.

Custom-built closet (1 of 1)

I asked my dad to base the design on Emily Schuman’s closet (from fave website Cupcakes and Cashmere), which you can take a look at here. The result is pictured below and, while it is still not completely finished, I could NOT be happier with it. I feel like I’ve died and gone to closet heaven! I keep calling it my Barbie Dream Closet and literally can’t get enough of it. I think it is safe to say that I will be spending the vast majority of my time in there, just gazing around in awe. Smile

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Custom-built closet (1 of 4)

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Although two of my very favorite area locales, I purposely left The Huntington Library and the Walsh house from Beverly Hills, 90210 out of this post because both are featured quite prominently on My L.A. Must-Stalk List, which you can read here.

You can find me on Facebook here and on Twitter at @IAMNOTASTALKER. And be sure to check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic.

Until next time, Happy Stalking! Smile



Leave a comment »

  1. Claudia says:

    Did you ever share the address of your former loft. I love it, and am currently apartment shopping AND I work in Downtown..perfect???

  2. Rebecca says:

    Just reading all these posts about Pasadena, I am having MAJOR high school flashbacks. Old Town was THE hangout place for me and since I really don’t go anymore, it’s crazy to see how much it’s changed.


  3. Mike says:

    There are no good spots left in Pasadena now that you are gone Linds! ;(

    We need to go stalking together soon! I have a list! I wanna do Weeds! Pwwweeeeesssseeeeeeeeeee….

  4. Kim M says:

    Your loft was so cool…but I’m glad we won’t have to park there again. 🙂
    I’m sure your new place will feel just as comfy, cozy.

  5. Dave C says:

    Hey Linds,

    Last year Olivia and I did some “The Sting” stalking in Old Town Pasadena. Lot of locations right near the shops you mentioned. Here’s some pics from a website I used: Be sure to check out the second page of pics as they include 1973/2010 comparisons. Pretty cool.


    • Lavonna says:

      LOVE the Sting! I didn’t realize it was filmed in Pasadena. We went to Santa Monica to the carrousel that was used in the film. I think I need to watch that one again!

      • Dave C says:

        Yea, it’s pretty cool. I was looking through Lindsay’s pics and several of her favorite spots are from some of the most iconic moments of the movie. They used the same alleyway for several scenes, including the climactic assassin shooting near the end. When Olivia and I stalked the alley we found the very bricks on the ground where the assassin fell after being shot. I just love that kind of stuff!!!!!

  6. Ashley says:

    DROOLING over your bookshelf & ladder, please tell me you were able to take those with you! And I spy Marilyn bottles on top 😉

    Hope you’re adjusting to Palm Springs ok – at least you moved to a wonderful place! I miss visiting there!

    • Lindsay says:

      Yes, we did take the bookshelves and ladder. We just had my dad cut off the top 3 inches and refinish it so that it would fit in our new place. :). And yes, those are Marilyn Merlots. 🙂

  7. Lavonna says:

    This made me sad…your loft was so cozy! BUT that new closet is Barbies! Gotta love that!

  8. Her mom says:

    Leaving Pasadena was one of the hardest things I ever had to do; this post and Friday’s makes me sad. It was such a great place to live – my favorite ever. Thanks for moving for us – you are truly a blessing.

  9. Camilla says:

    Your loft was absolutely beautiful! And I’m also a big fan of Freixenet, we had it at our wedding for our toast as well.

    Wasn’t a part of Pasadena also in National Treasure, when Nicholas Cage is caught by the FBI? It’s in front of a brick building and last time I was in Pasadena it seemed like there was one that looked just like it. I just don’t remember where.

    • Lindsay says:

      Jon Voight’s house from National Treasure is in South Pasadena – I blogged about it here. I’m not sure about where Nicolas Cage was caught, though. I’ll have to go back and look. What part of the movie was that? The ending church scene where he gives himself up to Harvey Keitel was the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. 🙂

      • Camilla says:

        He splits with Diane Kruger and Justin Bartha after finding Ben Franklin’s glasses, and is eventually caught by the FBI in front of a brick building. (There’s also a big “flub” in this scene, you can see Kruger and Bartha turn around and leave twice. You’ll have to pardon me, National Treasure is one of my “watch every time it’s on” movies.) It may just look like Pasadena because of the old town and brick look to it.

    • Owen says:

      In “National Treasure,” Camilla, Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) is caught by the FBI at 414 S. 2nd St. in Philadelphia, just south of Pine Street. You can check out the “street view” on Google Maps. I’m a fan of “National Treasure” as well. Perhaps we can team up and convince Lindsay to visit one of its Los Angeles filming locations — a location not many are familiar with. Turns out, the exterior of Ben’s “D.C.-area” apartment is actually at 544 Mateo St. in L.A. Did you get that, Lindsay? Hint, hint. 😉

  10. John (Bay Area) says:

    No Lucky Baldwins or POP Champagne & Dessert Bar?

    • Lindsay says:

      We love Lucky Badlwin’s, but it’s not a top ten-er. And unfortunately POP has changed quite a bit – it’s now more of a bottle service-type place and way out of our price range. 🙁

  11. MM says:

    Your loft was awesome. The desert is great but full time? You’re going to run out of locations : /

    I guess you’re going to make LA runs regularly or maybe it will be all desert all the time. Either way should be good. I love Palm Springs.

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