The rise of “New” American cuisine plants its seed at La Grande Orange Café in Pasadena, Calif., where other than the restaurant’s famous location (inside Pasadena Metro’s historic Del Mar station), the café has been championing organic cooking with a modern American twist since its inception.
While the café is famous amongst the locals for its weekend brunches and premium taco platters, La Grande Orange also offers a hard-to-beat happy hour. Located on 260 South Raymond Avenue, a couple blocks down from the touristy Colorado Boulevard, the restaurant/café has become a quasi “secret paradise” for locals. If you have kids and want to dine in peace without shelling out five dollars for half-eaten macaroni and cheese, La Grande Orange lets kids eat for free until 6p.m. But fear not, La Grande Orange is not your typical café. A full bar is available everyday and patrons usually take advantage of the superb happy hour menu, which includes everything half-off, even on their hard-to-replicate white sangria and appetizers.
The open space, with a salmon-terracotta shade on the outside, is inviting for groups wanting to hang out or grab a drink by the bar. But the dim lighting inside the restaurant is also perfect for long dinners spent by the candlelight (literally). If you are a dessert connoisseur, La Grande Orange makes some of the most coveted red velvet cake in the San Gabriel Valley. Fluffy and slathered with layers of cream cheese icing, tourists who are let in on the locals’ secret make the extra trek to Pasadena just before the café closes.
Even though the cuisine is centered on all-American classics, executive chef and owner Bob Lynn pays homage to other cuisines, combining both French and Mexican, for an interesting palette. What La Grande Orange is probably most well known for is their signature soft taco platters, where each corn tortilla is made-to-order.
Go to La Grande Orange for a romantic night out or relax with friends and sit by the bar, just remember to go Latin and order the white sangria with grilled Ahi Tuna soft tacos.