Local Spotlight

The Five Best Hidden Restaurant Gems in Pasadena

Here is what I knew about Pasadena before exploring it recently and chatting with the locals about food:

1. It exists.

2. It is located southeast of Houston.

3. It has a reputation as a culinary wasteland filled with chain restaurants and mediocre hole-in-the wall Mexican joints.

After a few sojourns down to the "Strawberry Capital" (something else I learned about Pasadena--it hosts a large strawberry festival every year), I discovered that the city isn't so culinarily deprived. Yes, there are a number of chain restaurants, and yes, I believe there might be a pupuseria or taqueria for every five or so citizens.

But the local establishments in Pasadena aren't bad at all. In fact, they're somewhat nostalgic. I found a burger place that makes classic roadside burgers and a snowcone joint with the same wonderfully wistful fake fruit flavors I remember from my childhood. There's Cajun soul food, doughy pizzas and, yes, a fabulous Mexican restaurant or two.

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Kaitlin Steinberg