Dining Delights for the Holidays

By Brianna Chu

In the spirit of reminiscing as 2019, and the 2010 decade, comes to a close, I’m going to share with you some of my favourite restaurants. But for fun, we’re gonna do this award-season style! First up, the best of this year (mostly, as you’ll see) in “Chew with Chu,” then, as we look back on the decade, some “Best of the Decade” winners – restaurants and places I’ve been going to for years!

Best All-American

Gus’s BBQ.Our slice of the South right here in Pasadena, Gus’s BBQ slow cooks their meat in genuine smokers. Every table is supplied with signature sauces inspired by three Southern cities known for their BBQ – Original Memphis, Kansas City, and Carolina Gold.

Best Italian

Celestino Ristorante. This one is also special because it was the first food article I wrote, and I did so with my amazing mom. While it technically was not for “Chew with Chu” yet (and also was written at the end of 2018 – shhh!), this was the article that started it all, so I think it counts.

Best Japanese

Osawa Pasadena.Quality and variety, all for a reasonable price, is hard to beat! I love being able to choose from the gamut of incredible Japanese cuisine, from fresh, delicious sushi and sashimi options, to meats, noodles, bento boxes, and even shabu-shabu.

Best Mexican 

Margaritas Mexican Restaurant. We took our entire wedding party and overseas friends here to try authentic Mexican food for the first time. An all-around fantastic Mexican restaurant, Margaritas also wins Best Bang for Your Buck if you go for lunch! Their lunch buffet is one of the greatest deals around – all you can eat for under $20! One of our friends became a taco convert after partaking of their taco station.

Best Sweet

Wanderlust Creamery. This category was a close call, but I’ve returned and brought so many friends to Wanderlust, and every month brings new flavors and excitement. I think ice cream can only be considered a great year-round dessert here in mostly mild-weathered California, though!

The Best of the Decade

These are the restaurants that I have come back to consistently over the years, especially when I was only coming home for the holidays or summer during my university years.

Bakery: Porto’s Bakery. Their guava and cheese pastries are probably my favourite pastry OF ALL TIME. But also, pretty much everything is amazing – they don’t just bake amazing confections, they also serve great savoury food, too (Tom loves their ropa vieja sandwich, my mom loves lechon, I eat literally everything). Glendale location: 315 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203

In-n-Out: It’s its own category. The first summer my now-husband came to visit me here, I immediately introduced him to the glory that is a Double-Double for $4, and he has craved it ever since.

Pizza: Mamma’s Pizza. The best New York style pizza in the area that I’ve found – there used to be a location in East Pasadena, but now they only have the one location in South Pasadena, but they’ve recently moved into a new and larger space. 1007 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA 91030

Sushi: Sushi Roku Pasadena. We’ve been going to Sushi Roku for birthdays and special occasions for years – I’m pretty sure we even went for Christmas Eve a lot before I started wanting to cook Christmas dinner ourselves. Sit at the sushi bar, and put your trust into the chefs for a truly luxurious experience! 33 Miller Alley, Pasadena, CA 91103

I hope you and your families are all enjoying a wonderful, festive holiday season…with delicious food, of course!

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Brianna Chu is an opinion writer for Beacon Media who was born and raised in Pasadena. She loves to cook and to eat, is a lifelong viewer of Food Network, and enthusiastically introduced the tradition of Thanksgiving dinners to her British and European friends while earning her degree at the University of St Andrews. While they absolutely hated going around the table and saying what they were grateful for every year, they also loved the excuse to get together and feast with friends enough to endure it anyway. She also occasionally writes play reviews. She caught the theater bug in high school, acting in five plays and two musicals in high school, and continued to act, produce, and direct in university as well.


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