The Gastronomic Delights of Pasadena

Out with the commercialized restaurants and in with the unique small owned restaurants that transport you with every bite. Millennials are looking for more than chain restaurants; they’re looking for a unique experience. “Our research shows that approximately half of millennials, ages 16 to 34, are willing to pay more to support a small business,” LaKendra D. Davis, assistant vice president of Small Business Solutions at AT&T, stated in a recent press release. Nowhere is this more evident than in Los Angeles’s coffee culture, where new independently run coffee shops have opened up frequently over recent years.

Further proof? In 2010, American Express launched Small Business Saturday that competes with major retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Young shoppers in the U.S. took notice. This holiday encourages shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses that are on a smaller scale.

Pasadena is unique in that it boasts many small business offerings. In fact, with so many options finding places to eat is becoming more and more difficult. Though there are more options now does not mean everywhere is going to be an outstanding eating experience.

The following three locations have met El Vaquero’s standards, providing both great atmosphere, fabulous food, and are fairly affordable.


For the coffee and tea lovers, Copa Vida is the place to try. This vibrant and yet simple café hidden in the streets of of Old Town Pasadena is a delight. The coffees and teas are carefully selected and well crafted.

Copa Vida is certified in coffee farming, milling, roasting and preparation by Coopedota. Coopedota is a “cooperative of about 800 farms was the world’s first to go carbon neutral.

The farms operate on low energy and water consumption and generate energy from organic waste, offsetting all of their greenhouse gas emissions,” according to Travel + Leisure.

They also are a member of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). They take pride in their work and their team of employees, some whom are award winning and tea expert certified by the World Tea Expo.

The drinks are exceptional but so is the food. The chorizo egg hash is the everyday breakfast you wish you can eat.

A simple breakfast, transports your flavor pallet across the globe with Latin American meats and spices. The chorizo, russet potatoes, sunny side egg with jalapeno cilantro sauce is flavorful and will leave you wanting more.


True Food Kitchen is the perfect, but not-so-guilty pleasure lunch spot located at the tail-end of Colorado Boulevard near Urban Outfitters. This restaurant is a healthy and seasonal option that has flavor exploding in your mouth with every bite. Our open kitchen brings guests closer to our culinary craft while showcasing that there’s nothing secret about the way we prepare our dishes,” they boast on their website.

The perfect lunch bowl for vegetarians and meat lovers is the red chili noodle. You can add meat if you wish, or keep it plant-based. This dish has a homemade feel with spices from across the globe. This menu item also allows you to add protein.

With a bit of spice, you are guaranteed to demolish the noodles will soon be demolished while sipping on the fresh and daily made honey lemonade. “The diverse menu will satisfy most anyone’s taste with good quality ingredients, and uncommon, creative recipe. Wood and stone interior makes the atmosphere especially cozy and a lot of vegetation all around makes stay all the more pleasant,” according to one yelp reviewer.

Check it out. It’s worth it.


Café Santorini located in a nook within Colorado Boulevard, a little alleyway with lots of life. This is a hole in the wall where the food will surpass your expectations. This small little family owned restaurant has a beautiful patio where at nights the lights stringed above will begin to look like stars. The Mediterranean restaurant has a wide variety of options, starting with the appetizers. The tuna tartar is impeccable and will have you wanting more. Their homemade bread and hummus will be devoured within minutes.

Why stop there? One of the main courses is the the farfalle con pollo pesto pasta is one of the most delicious pastas ever. It creates the best combination with grilled chicken and pesto pasta. Their signature Santorini pizza contains all the ingredients that is familiar to a Mediterranean household and is also delicious.  Another option for meat eaters is the steak, which is out of this world.

Lastly, the desserts, you guessed it, are simply amazing, with a chocolate cake option that will have you fighting for the last bite to the apple tart that makes you think of summer with grandma.