In all honesty, my husband and I are not very good at the “dating after kids” thing. We went out on our first date when our daughter was 3 weeks old, then did not go out again for another 6 or so months. Life, kids, work always seem to get in the way. This past year, we vowed to each other to make more time for the other person. We splurged on season tickets to the Ahmanson Theatre. We actually saw at least two non-animated movies in an actual movie theater. Of course, we have also eaten at a lot of great restaurants. So here I have compiled a list of excellent Pasadena date night ideas. I think you will find there is something for everyone.
Pasadena Date Night: For the Health Conscious
It’s still the New Year, resolutions abound. If you find it difficult to find time for fitness and your honey, why not combine them? The Rose Bowl in Pasadena has a 3+ mile loop around the iconic stadium. Make sure you keep your eyes open, as the people watching here helps fuel date conversation. We have overheard couples screaming at each about how so and so wore the wrong dress to a fancy party (keeps your own relationship in perspective), moms debating what is the best organic gluten-free vegan baby carrier, and have even seen multiple versions of recumbent bicycles (including one that looked like the early bicycles with one big wheel and one small).
If you prefer a meal, don’t miss True Food Kitchen. You can either sit on the patio (of course there are heat lamps when it is less than 80 degrees), inside the airy bar area, or in the spacious dining room. The menu changes seasonally, and has an excellent selection of vegan and gluten-free options. Any of the soups and the grilled chicken salad are my favorites. The names are simple but the flavors complex. Because it’s date night, splurge on a cocktail. They have a delicious skinny citrus margarita, or several non-alcoholic options.
Pasadena Date Night: If You’re Calling Uber
Everson Royce. Full disclosure: this is my favorite date night or girls’ night out spot in Pasadena. It’s a wine store that offers tastings on Tuesday and Friday nights (5-9 pm), and Saturday afternoons (2-6 pm). The tasting menu changes every day, but they always have several excellent glasses on tap for you to choose. It’s very laid back, no tables. Just sally on up to the counter, help yourself to some bread and fresh creamery butter (sometimes they have salami and cheese if you’re lucky), and enjoy. The staff at Everson Royce are a big part of the draw. They’ll tell you everything they know, and they know a lot. Flights are only $15 per person, and glasses of wine run $6-10/glass.
After you enjoy your tastings, head south on Raymond Ave and turn right on Union. There you will find the perfect spot to soak up the wine (and have another beverage if you are so inclined): Harlowe’s French Dip. They offer four kinds of dips. My husband’s favorite is the braised lamb with lamb au jus and homemade labneh. I prefer the Burger. It’s like the traditional SoCal burger with special sauce, only 1000% better. Make sure you snag an order of the salt-brined Kennebec fries. I’m still dreaming of them.
As you are walking closer towards Colorado Boulevard to get maybe a bespoke ice cream sandwich at Cool Haus or a slice of Earl Grey pie from the Pie Hole, don’t ignore the quiet man lounging by an intriguingly nodescript door who calls, “Hey, do you want to go to the Speakeasy?” You’re calling an Uber anyway, might as well enjoy the ride. You will pass through a curtain into a room with ruby-colored lights illuminating a dazzling array of liquor bottles. Order at the bar (anything, all of the cocktails are handmade and unique), then grab a table and talk to your honey all night long.
Pasadena Date Night Ideas: if you want to splurge
One thing I still have not adapted to here in Pasadena is that people just do not get as dressed up as they do on the East Coast. It’s a shame, really. I say, to heck with the SoCal suit of nice jeans with $300 sandals. Break out the little black dress and head to one of these beautiful places.
What says a fancy night out better than grass-fed steak and lobster wood-fired over a White Oak grill? Head straight The Royce at the Langham. You park at the hotel (valet only but validated if you’re dining at the restaurant), then head back through the hotel to the comfortably posh Royce. The chairs are white and plush, perfect for sinking into while you enjoy a swoon-worthy glass of red. You can also dine in the temperature-controlled red wine room, where they keep all the bottles served in the restaurant. Don’t worry, it’s a lovely setting and if you get cold, they will loan you a pashmina.
Are there several other steakhouses in Pasadena? Yes. We love Houston’s, Arroyo Chop House, and more. For the real luxury feeling, though, definitely head to the Royce.
Pasadena Date Night Ideas: If you like sushi
I do not eat a lot of sushi. I’ve tried it at several places, but really the only place that will satisfy a non-sushi lover like me is Sugarfish. Get there early as they do not take reservations, but you can always grab a drink at Smitty’s Grill while you’re waiting for them to text you that your table is ready. It’s an easy place to wait, too, as there is a lovely fountain and usually plenty of parking. I digress, though. The sushi. Their very opinionated menu reminds you of the chef’s motto: “don’t think, just eat.” Order the Trust Me or the Nozawa menu to share, and let the whole experience be a conversation starter. If they have hirame, order an extra piece. Oh, and maybe an extra albacore too.
Pasadena Date Night: If you want to be outside
Huntington Library and Gardens not only has a fabulous art collection (including a first Folio of Shakespeare and a Gutenberg Bible), but also some stunning botanical gardens. Make sure you check out the Calendar, as they often have special lectures, evening concerts, tai chi, and more.
If you prefer the cinematic arts, grab a picnic basket and blanket and watch a movie under the stars with Street Food Cinema. It’s more like a giant party than a movie. Before the show, they have contests and games, and an aromatic variety of food trucks. You can always bring in your own food (and wine/beer), though. Most of the outdoor movies are in the spring-fall, but they run special nights at an indoor theater during the winter. February 10, 2018 they have a special showing of The Shining.
Pasadena Date Night Ideas: Outside Pasadena
Maybe you feel you have seen all there is to see of the Pasadena restaurant scene. Which is a little hard to believe, as Pasadena has a very high number of restaurants per capita. Still, though, if you may want to venture a little further afield, check out:
- Din Tai Fung in nearby Glendale or Arcadia. It is a Taiwanese chain that specializes in xiaolongbao, or juicy pork soup dumpligs. It doesn’t break the bank, and you can eat a ton. It’s fun to get a little messy, right? If you don’t want soup dumplings, try the noodles in sesame sauce or the Shanghai rice cakes with chicken. Then go catch a movie, as they both abut cinemas.
- Eagle Rock restaurants. These restaurants are not just family-friendly, they are definitely date-night friendly.
- Go for a hike. For the experienced hikers, you cannot beat the views on Echo Mountain and Inspiration Point. If you’re still a little hungover after Everson Royce and the Speakeasy, head to Eaton Canyon. You will be rewarded with a cool stream and some small waterfalls. Take off your shoes and enjoy a chat on the rocks.
- Head down toward the coast to one of the most beautiful hotels: Terranea Resort. They have several restaurants and bars. You can enjoy a drink and the beautiful Pacific coast sunset with your loved one. Nothing better to spur conversation than an exotic locale.
I think one thing I have learned in trying to date my husband again, is that every time we go out, it gets easier.
Where do you go in your town? Do you have any great date night ideas?