Get us in your inbox

Search
Echo Mountain
Photograph: Benny HaddadEcho Mountain

The best things to eat, drink and do in Altadena

Explore the best of the neighborhood in the foothills above Pasadena.

Written by
Danielle Salmon
Advertising

Altadena may not be at the top of the list of places to visit in Los Angeles, but it’s getting there. The unincorporated community is a relaxing and charming foothill neighborhood that has its share of restaurants, casual hangouts and outdoorsy activities.

You’ll find Altadena just above its neighbor Pasadena (hence the name), north and east of the 210 freeway at the slopes of the San Gabriel Mountains. It stretches roughly from Eaton Canyon to the Arroyo Seco, with most notable destinations somewhere in the middle along Lake Avenue.

If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Downtown Los Angeles or would like to explore a city with less foot traffic than Hollywood, then Altadena is the place for you. Should you want to go on an independent adventure or visit the area with a couple friends, there’s something delicious and fun to do within Altadena.

The best of Altadena

  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Altadena
  • price 2 of 4

Fox’s is the restaurant that every Altadena resident knows about. The familiar, all-red eatery is hard to miss when driving down Lake Avenue. Opened in 1955 by Paul and Edie Fox, Fox’s has undergone many upgrades while still maintaining its vintage diner feel. Guests flock here whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner menus: Buttermilk pancakes, cheeseburgers, pork butt ham and eggs, and chopped salads bring in repeat customers and win over first-time diners.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Altadena
  • price 2 of 4

Grabbing great Mexican food in Altadena is easy when you have El Patron. The restaurant has operated in Altadena for over a decade and serves homestyle and traditional plates seven days a week. Sitting within the Altadena Triangle Park, El Patron makes hearty favorites that’ll have you feeling both full and satisfied. From their fajitas to their enchiladas to their wet burritos, El Patron has a handful of delicious options to justify the full house.

Advertising
  • Things to do
  • Altadena
  • price 1 of 4

Looking to spend time doing something different—very different? Then make your way to the Bunny Museum. With over 40,000 bunny objects including stuffed animals, dishware, stationery, and figurines covering more than 100 categories, the museum welcomes visitors to see adorable and unique curios of all things related to rabbits. Founded and run by husband-and-wife team Steve Lubanski and Candace Frazee, the museum first opened out of their Pasadena home in 1998 but has since moved to a significantly expanded location at the intersection of Lake Avenue and Altadena Drive.

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Hollywood
  • price 1 of 4

As the city turns dark, the lights at Rancho Bar turn brightest. It’s one of few bars in Altadena, and it’s been around for decades, too. Catering to a lively crowd, Rancho Bar is for the person looking for an evening where the alcohol is cold, the crowd is energetic and the doors stay open late. It’s the kind of neighborhood bar where you can start your evening solo and end up on the sidewalk with new friends grabbing late-night eats from one of the street vendors.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Street food

A Friday night in Altadena may not carry the same nightlife excitement you’d find in Downtown L.A. or West Hollywood, but it’s developed its own scene thanks to Food Truck Fridays. Run by the Food Truck Squad, the weekly event brings together a rotation of popular food trucks to the Grocery Outlet parking lot (2270 Lake Ave). With an effort to showcase restaurants both inside and outside of the community, Food Truck Fridays is a perfect opportunity to close out the week with some popular names in a relatively quiet area (think: Baby’s Burgers, the Tropic Truck, Dulce Europa Shaved Ice).

  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Altadena
  • price 1 of 4

The Coffee Gallery is the type of local coffee shop that’s perfect to visit any day of the week. After undergoing a few design renovations, the location has become a charming destination for people-watching, studying or catching up with a friend or two. Look over the menu and you’ll find an ideal array of options for breakfast and lunch, including waffles and sandwiches, that will perfectly pair with their lattes and juices.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Altadena
  • price 2 of 4

Sean St. John and Jamie Woolner started Pizza of Venice in 2012 within a Santa Monica wine bar. It wasn't until the summer of 2013 that the duo made their way to Altadena and opened this pizza shop on Fair Oaks avenue. Since then, Pizza of Venice has been making and dishing out thin crust personal pizzas (including some particularly unique pies, like chicken curry or one topped with local farmers’ market veggies). With a menu offering wings, Brussels sprouts, salad and more than 15 pizza combinations, Pizza of Venice has found their footing and their community within the neighborhood.

  • Things to do
  • Altadena
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Kelly Seal (@kellysrona)

If you're looking to drop the holiday weight, start a New Year’s goal or simply do something good for yourself, get into hiking. Start your next trek in Altadena at the intersection of Lake Avenue and East Loma Alta Drive at the Cobb Estate/Sam Merrill Trailhead. The 2.5-mile trail (which eventually leads up Echo Mountain) was created in the 1930s and has become an ideal route for a new hiker looking to get some experience or the avid hiker who is interested in a relaxing trail. Your first hike will capture you with what you see, but the following ones will have you returning for how it makes you feel.

Advertising
  • Attractions
  • Cemeteries
  • Altadena

You may not think of a mausoleum as a place to voluntarily spend some time, but when one is considered to be an architectural masterpiece, you might look at it differently. Built by Cecil E. Bryan, Mountain View opened in 1882 and is a breathtaking location for visitors and its long-term residents. With stained-glass windows, statues, an art gallery, a quaint church and a garden all within the gated space, there’s something beautiful and relaxing for its guests. While the pandemic has interrupted their occasional calendar of events, you can still stroll through the space to enjoy the quiet and serenity of it all.

  • Restaurants
  • Pizza
  • Altadena
  • price 2 of 4

What started as a sincere dedication to pizza in a backyard has grown into one of Altadena's latest brick-and-mortar restaurant arrivals. The early days of Side Pie began in 2020 with customers scheduling their pizza pick-up times and the pizza team maneuvering curbside-style handoffs—a drop-off in the back seat of a vehicle or over a fence for walk-ups. Today, Side Pie hands over all orders in their restaurant located at the corner of Altadena Drive and Lake Avenue. Whether it’s pizza or merch, customers can get a variety of pizza styles, tote bags, t-shirts, and more within the store's limited hours.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Coffee shops
  • Altadena
  • price 1 of 4

This second location of Highland Park’s Café de Leche opened its doors in 2016, and it’s been a delightful addition to the neighborhood ever since. Within the blue-and-white exterior is a quaint shop that welcomes both dogs (on the patio, at least) and their two-legged owners. When you’re ready to order, you’ll find a menu that consists of familiar lattes, unique flavors and traditional teas. Enjoy your order in their front seating area or escape away from the street noise in their relaxing back patio.

  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Altadena
  • price 2 of 4

Situated on Allen Avenue and New York Drive, this welcoming coffee shop and bakery has been serving a solid food and drink menu since 1984. Items range from sandwiches and wraps to French toast while drinks include lattes, teas and fresh squeezed juice. The real specialties are the breakfast items; the shop designs extravagant toasts and beautiful pastries, from their labna za’atar toasts to the golden apple tart—finding a favorite is one of the most exciting parts.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Altadena
  • price 1 of 4

You’ll easily spot this new food truck in the parking lot of the Fraternal Order of Eagles, adjacent to Christmas Tree Lane. Since August, the family-run operation has been serving tacos, quesadillas, mulitas, consommé and crepes four days a week. While the menu is open to exploration, their specialty is their lamb barbacoa: A tightly-sealed generational recipe, it’s the menu item that they’re most proud of and eager for visitors to experience.

  • Attractions
  • Altadena

While L.A. might lure in visitors with breezy palm trees, the region is no slouch when it comes to conifers. Case in point: This grand, mile-long driveway of cedars in Altadena becomes blanketed in lights each holiday as it transforms into Christmas Tree Lane. Take a majestic cruise down the hill after it lights up for the season. And we do suggest going down: Traffic can get pretty gridlocked during peak holiday season, but it moves a bit better if you start at Altadena Drive and head south on Santa Rosa Avenue toward Woodbury Drive (or just visit later in the evening, before the lights flick off at 10pm).

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising