California Institute of Technology, Occidental College

From the Admissions Staff of California Institute of Technology

Owen Wolf, assistant director of admissions:

El Portal Restaurant
695 Green Street
Pasadena, CA

In the Playhouse district, this family-owned restaurant features authentic Mayan dishes from the Yucatan region.

Tarantino’s Pizzeria
784 Green Street
Pasadena, CA

Pizza lovers should look no further! Tarantino’s features tasty pies in a Brooklyn-like atmosphere.

Hamburger Hamlet
214 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA

From its 1920s ambiance to friendly staff, this restaurant seeks to elevate the hamburger to the upper echelons of fine dining!

Pie ‘n Burger
913 East California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA

The amazing, award-winning pies and burgers at this beloved local coffee shop have garnered rave reviews for over 40 years.

Sachi Sushi
696 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA

Friendly service and fresh food, with elaborate creations like spider roll and old favorites like unagi. This restaurant features a cozy atmosphere and reasonable prices.

Peet’s Coffee and Tea
605 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA

A fantastic option for coffee and tea.

Jann Lacoss, Assistant Director of Admissions

Daisy Mint
1218 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA

Cute, cozy neighborhood Thai restaurant with delicious food.

146 South Lake Avenue
(Between Colorado and Cordova)
Pasadena, CA

Upscale cafeteria-style dining with great salads, hot bar and sandwiches. And, of course, gourmet lemonade!

Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles
830 North Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA

Excellent Southern comfort food; order the chicken and waffles for an interesting and satisfying meal!

Corner Bakery Café
345 South Lake Avenue
Pasadena, CA

A dependable spot for hot and cold sandwiches, soups, and salads.

1210 North Atlantic Blvd.
Alhambra, CA

For all of you who don’t know about this California institution, you’re in for a treat with their burgers, fries, and shakes made to order with the freshest ingredients.

Zankou Chicken
1296 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA

The juicy and fragrant rotisserie-style chicken is a must at this Lebanese restaurant.

Karly Brockett, Associate Director of Admissions:

1001 East Green Street
Pasadena, CA

Great Argentinean cuisine at a nice restaurant.  Recommended for dinner–try any of their steaks!

Green Street Restaurant
146 Shoppers Lane
Pasadena, CA

Stop by this Shopper’s Lane landmark for delicious, innovative California cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere that features indoor and outdoor seating.

Sushi Roku
33 Miller Alley
Pasadena, CA

Very trendy with great ambiance, tucked away off Colorado Boulevard.

Christine Waldor, Admissions Coordinator:

Real Food Daily
899 East Del Mar Blvd.
Pasadena, CA

Organic vegan restaurant that offers a little bit of everything.

841 Cordova Street
Pasadena, CA

Health-conscious Mexican fast food.

Matt Ybarra, Admissions Counselor:

Bella’s Gourmet Pizza
16 North Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, CA

The best ingredients, thick crust, and the “Fatty” is tough to beat. If you like pizza with substance, this is the best in Pasadena.

Marston’s Restaurant
141 East Walnut Street
Pasadena, CA

Cornflake-crusted French toast, topped with fresh strawberries. Their omelets pack quality into every bite. They even have porch seating, but can be a packed house on the weekends.

Gus’s Barbeque
808 Fair Oaks Avenue
South Pasadena, CA

SoCal is not known for barbecue, and the essence of the word is most accurately used to describe a cookout or a carne asada. Not to worry though; Gus’s offers a BBQ regional spectrum, offering both Memphis and St. Louis style ribs, the only Carolina style Pulled Pork I’ve found in the area, and also a zesty rendition of KC style sauce.

Lucky Boy
640 South Arroyo Parkway
Pasadena, CA

The breakfast burritos are HUGE, and a gluttonous delicacy we enjoy every Prefrosh Weekend. I can’t vouch for the rest of their menu, and only visit here if you’re not afraid of some grease, but it’ll take some determination to bury this bundle of joy in one sitting.

Tastee’s Donut and Burger
619 Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, CA

Don’t let the name fool you, you don’t have to eat them together. This is probably the lightest and fluffiest donut in Southern California (and perhaps second best in the world after the giant delights that Spic & Span in Las Vegas, New Mexico can offer). Not a fan of their burgers actually, but their chorizo and egg breakfast plates are a great way to start your morning.

Tiffanie Love, Receptionist:

2411 East Washington Boulevard
Pasadena, CA

Best pizza in southern California!

Lee’s Hoagie House
2269 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA

A sandwich place with the best chicken salad you will ever eat.

2237 East Colorado Boulevard
Pasadena, CA

Fast food Mexican with the best tacos in Pasadena.

The Admissions staff of CalTech:

The Counter
140 Shoppers Lane
Pasadena, CA

This hamburger joint allows you to custom build your own 21st century burger with anything from mixed greens and turkey meet to hard-boiled eggs and roasted garlic aioli!

From Christine VanDeVelde, coauthor of College Admission:

Auntie Em’s Kitchen
4616 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA

The scene of a Bobby Flay cupcake throwdown, the seasonal food is as good as the sweet treats. Order the open faced grilled tomato and avocado egg sandwich for breakfast. Then take a slice of fruit crisp and some bite-size cupcakes to go.

Stanford University, Menlo College

From Jessica G., Stanford, Class of 2005 (aka The Sodium Girl, check out her blog):

The Peninsula Creamery
900 High Street
Palo Alto, CA

The classic stop: family owned and operated since 1923, this is a Stanford University staple. Shake away any college visit nerves with a frothy malt and definitely go big with one of their burgers. It’s fresh, fast, and family-friendly comfort food.

482 University Avenue
Palo Alto, CA

Get a taste of California’s market fresh cuisine and build your own salad (or sandwich) at this out-of-the-world lunch spot. And make sure to splurge on a side of Solar Sweet Potato Fries and Orbital Onion Rings to balance out all those leafy greens.

1700 Embarcadero Road
Palo Alto, CA

For an introduction to the Bay area’s famous dim sum culture, grab a seat in front a Lazy Susan at Ming’s. With over 200 dishes, the menu caters to any eater. But definitely order Lychee Sweet and Sour Pork; Spicy Black Bean Dungeness Crab; one of their original recipes (like Ming’s Beef or the Chinese Chicken Salad); the Rice Noodle Rolls (stuffed with Pork, Prawns, or Veggies); and the Deep Fried Chicken and Chive Dumplings.

Coupa Café
538 Ramona Street
Palo Alto, CA
(There’s also a location on the Stanford Campus.)

Another family-owned gem, this coffee shop serves up killer Venezuelan cuisine. They are most famous for the Arabica coffee, Spicy Maya Hot Chocolate, and white cornmeal arepas. But the hand painted walls (sponged by the owners’ sons and daughters) and Silicon Valley people-watching are top-notch too.

644 Emerson
Palo Alto, CA
(There’s a location on the Stanford Campus as well.)

This is some perky frozen yogurt. Made in-house, the organic tang of this treat can’t be beat. They offer fat-free, soy, and lactose-free options. And you can top your sweet swirl with fresh fruit, steel cut oatmeal, or hand baked goods.

Fuki Sushi
4119 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA

In this state, a California roll can mean two things: 1) a slow glide through a stop sign or 2) a delicious bite of crab wrapped in rice and seaweed. Treat yourself to the second of these Golden State namesakes and bite into Fuki Sushi’s numerous sushi, sashimi, and Japanese small plates that make this restaurant a favorite of locals and transplants alike.

Hobee’s Restaurant
67 Town & Country Village
Palo Alto, CA

Great brunch menu and blueberry coffee cake. Enough said.

Mayfield Bakery and Café
855 El Camino Real (Town & Country Village)
Palo Alto, CA

Although the new kid on the block and a bit pricier than the other options here, this beautiful and rustic eatery is quickly becoming a dining must. The lines can get long on the weekend, but use those extra minutes to grab a coffee at Peet’s across the street or some stationery at the Paper Source (perfect for writing home to Mom and Pop). Fresh from the oven pastries, slow braised pork, and anything from the wood fire oven is worth the wait.

The Claremont Colleges: Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Scripps, Claremont McKenna and Pomona

From Lauren B., Claremont McKenna, Class of 2012:

Aruffo’s Italian Cuisine
126 Yale Avenue
Claremont, CA

There is nothing on the menu that you won’t like, but the spaghetti and meatballs, gnocchi, and chicken marsala are recommended.

Casa Moreno
101 North Indian Hill Blvd.
Claremont, CA

Upscale Mexican food for lunch or dinner. The bottomless chips and salsa and extra large burritos are the big draw for students.

Some Crust Bakery
119 Yale Avenue
Claremont, CA

A local favorite with coffee, latte, and mochas a la Starbucks, but with a main street feel. Also famous for “make-your-own” egg sliders.