Little Black Book

A Hit List for Local Treasures and Vintage Finds in Pasadena

by Annette Vartanian
The Tea at the Langham. All photos by Annette Vartanian.

The Pasadena blogger behind A Vintage Splendor fills us in on her favorite places to source vintage, drink speakeasy cocktails, and hunt for local treasures, and more.

PASADENA, California – Five years ago, when my husband and I moved to Pasadena from Silver Lake to live in our dream house, my first order of business was to look for fun things to share on my blog, A Vintage Splendor. Here is my tried-and-true collection of favorite spots for shopping, drinking, and soaking up the unique So-Cal vibe of Pasadena.

Pasadena City College Flea Market
1570 E Colorado Blvd.; +1-626-585-7906
Known as the secret flea market, this is the real deal when it comes to finding antiques, clothing, knickknacks, and home decor items. With over 400 vendors, you can pretty much find what you need and more. 

1200 East California Blvd; +1-626-395-6811
Whether you’re a fan of Big Bang Theory or want to visit a world-class university, the renowned science and engineering campus is sprawling with architectural gems, beautiful paths for walking, and a pond filled with hundreds of turtles and frogs. 

Carmela Ice Cream Co.
2495 E. Washington Blvd.; +1-626-797-1405
A farmers’ market favorite with seasonal flavored ice creams that are something to write home about. If you’re lucky to visit in the summertime, try strawberry (I stock up at the end of every season).

37 E. Union St.; +1-626-795-5841
Located in Old Pasadena in a dimly lit and perfectly quaint storefront, the snug gastro pub has a seasonal menu where California meets northern Italy. It’s exactly where you want to spend an evening drinking wine and feasting on homemade pastas and desserts.

South Pasadena Farmers Market (left) Carmela Ice Cream (right)
Left: Fresh berries at South Pasadena Farmers' Market. Right: A scoop from Carmela Ice Cream Co.
Antique center in Pasadena.
Goodies at Antique Center and Annex.

Bungalow Heaven
Bordered by Orange Grove and Washington and Lake and Hill Sts.
Spanning sixteen blocks, the historic neighborhood is a lovely place to spend an afternoon. I recommend doing it on a bike while savoring the tree-lined streets and 20th-century bungalow homes, many of which were built during the Arts and Crafts movement.

Little Flower Candy Company
1422 W. Colorado Blvd.; +1-626-304-4800
Come for the sea salt caramels, stay for the baked goods and hearty quiche at this neighborhood cafe with a cult following.

The Speakeasy
25 N. Raymond Ave.; +1-626-676-1205
A secret bar with a hidden entrance that requires a password to enter. Prohibition-era cocktails make it the bee’s knees.

Lavender & Honey
1383 East Washington Blvd.; +1-626-529-5571
Charlie and Melanie Porter opened the boutique coffee bar and deli because they wanted to create a space with a strong community culture. Order your cup of coffee with a simple, delicious toast or two.

Lavender & Honey, Pasadena
Toast, sweets, and coffee at Lavender & Honey.
Lavender & Honey, Pasadena
Annette sipping a cup of coffee at Lavender & Honey.

Hot Box Vintage
1127 Mission St.; +1-626-344-0244
Delila opened her vintage store when she was still in high school and has been running the tiny shop for over ten years. Her vintage pieces are unique and affordable.

Norton Simon Museum
411 West Colorado Blvd.; +1-626-449-6840
A must-visit museum in my book for the astonishing collection of European and South and Southeast Asian art. The garden cafe has outdoor concerts and family-friendly art activities.

Pasadena Antique Center and Annex
480 S. Fair Oaks Ave.; +1-626-449-7706
This is where interior designers, set designers (hello, Mad Men), and antique dealers shop for mid-century modern and deco vintage furniture and decor. It’s difficult not to spend an entire afternoon here.

South Pasadena Farmers' Market
Meridian Ave. and El Centro St.; +1-626-403-2820
On Thursday nights, everyone in the city gathers at this market to shop, eat, and enjoy live entertainment.

Huntington Gardens, Pasadena
Left: Flowers in bloom at Huntington Garden. Right: The lily pond at Huntington Garden. 
Pasadena City College Flea Market
Vintage finds at Pasadena City College Flea Market.

1992 Lincoln Ave.; +1-626-765-6746
Located in a long-abandoned steel fabricator, the duo behind Little Flower Candy Company delivers fresh baked pastries and a variety of brunch options to this cafe and shop. I love the huevos rancheros and specialty bowls.

Alta Eats
1860 Allen Ave.; +1-626-794-1162
Located on the northern boarder of Pasadena, the contemporary bistro feels like a hidden treasure, showcasing the latest culinary trends in a cute setting.

The Langham
1401 S Oak Knoll Ave.; +1-626-568-3900
The crème de la crème of Pasadena hotels with beautiful architecture and serene grounds. Locals love The Royce for steak, The Tap Room for cocktails, and the afternoon tea brewing specialty teas in tailor-made “Langham Rose” Wedgwood tea sets.

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