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Pasadena: A hound returns to her roots

Caitlin Wheeler | Jan 11, 200212:01 PM

I recently returned to NYC from a 3 week visit to my Home-town. Many things have changed, and some have stayed the same. Here are my fabulous chow finds and chowloves revisited:

Nicole's: New Gourmet Shop in South Pasadena (El Centro and Meridian). This place is AMAZING! French cheeses, fresh truffles, foie gras, pate, dried porcini mushrooms ( a big bag for $8.50!), blocks of valrhona chocolate. I'm going to start a separate post just for this store, because it's so great. They have a website too, www.gourmetimportsonline.com. FOr an amazing selection of truly gourmet ingredients, go here. Lose no time.

Los Tacos: In Pasadena on the Corner of California and Fair Oaks, these are still the best soft tacos I've found. I LOVE the chili verde, but the chicken are also very good. Their meats are moist and flavorful -- they come with onions and cilantro, and the salsa bar has a "jet fuel" hot sauce that just tops off the whole package. Can't do better for $3 for lunch.

All India Cafe: In Pasadena, on Fair Oaks just south of Colorado. Still some of the best Indian food I've had. Their tandoori murgh isn't too dry, the naan is fluffy and fresh, and the chutney selection is really interesting and varied.

Shiro: In South Pasadena on Mission. I had never been there before, but I talked my parents into going. We had a really wonderful meal. A special starter of Steamed zucchini blossoms filled with scallop mousse, and smoked salmon on potato pancakes. (Wonderful balance of salty and starchy.) FOr main courses, I had grilled scallops in a ginger sauce, my dad had the seared whole catfish, and my mother had the Chinese shrimp ravioli appetizer. All three were wonderful -- very different but delicate and subtle in the flavorings, with very fresh seafood. This was accompanied by a good bottle of Sancerre at a very reasonable price ($33). The decor was only soso but definitely inoffensive, and I would return for the food.

Border Grill: Just opened in the Paseo Colorado. This was good gourmet Mexican, very similar to other border grills. Their mojitos were great, and they have a noteworthy happy hour: 5-7 weeknights, with $3 wine, sangria and margaritas and $3 appetizers (The green corn tamales are especially good). I had the vegetarian plate, which I ordinarily would NEVER order, but had all my favorite veggies, all prepared with interesting spices.

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