California Dining

The first commercial cheeseburgers were sold by Lionel Sternberger at the Rite Spot in Pasadena in 1924

Pasadena Cheeseburger Week

January 22-27, 2023

(held annually in January)

More than 30 of Pasadena's favorite restaurants, lounges, and burger joints offer their signature burgers, some special creations, and great deals during Pasadena Cheeseburger Week as the Los Angeles County city honors Lionel Sternberger, the first to put cheese on a hamburger and serve it at the Rite Spot in Pasadena in 1924.

Organized by the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, 2022 has a variety of offerings that you'll have to check out:

  • Barney's Beanery
  • Bone Kettle Crave Cafe
  • Der Wolf - Wolf Burger or 100% Beef American Cheeseburger
  • Dog Haus Biergarten
  • Edwin Mills by Equator
  • Jake's Trustworthy Burgers & Beer
  • Kings Row Gastropub
  • The Kitchen
  • La Grande Orange Cafe
  • Lucky Baldwins Pub
  • Mi Piace
  • Sage Vegan Bistro
  • Slater's 50/50
  • Stone Brewing Tap Room - one night only pop-up Jan.25 @Haps_Burgers
  • True Food Kitchen*

The First Cheeseburger made by a teenage Lionel Sternberger burned one side of a hamburger patty at The Rite Spot, his father's roadside stand along Colorado Boulevard (then Colorado Street) in west Pasadena. Rather than throw away the spoiled burger, he masked his mistake with a piece of cheese and served it to a very appreciative customer.   

Pasadena, CA--Serving cuisine from all parts of the world, Pasadena offers more than 500 restaurants ranging from charming outdoor cafes to elegant dining rooms and everything in between. Steak aficionados can dine at Pasadena's signature steakhouses, including the renowned Arroyo Chophouse and JJ's Steakhouse. For those who crave something more exotic, fusion restaurants like Maison Akira offers fine French cuisine with a Japanese flair. And just minutes off of the historic Route 66, bistros and cafes like Avanti Café's gourmet wood-fired pizza and Bistro 45's fresh French California cuisine line the streets.

A unique experience is offered at the 561 restaurant on East Green Street. Not only being one of Pasadena's most upscale restaurants, it is the playing ground for one of the two internationally renowned Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Schools in California, the California School of Culinary Arts. Culinary students prepare both an exquisite tasting menu and a full dinner menu. Reservations are recommended, as the Le Cordon Bleu has been one of the leading authorities on culinary techniques, training and development for over a century.

When the sun goes down, the city certainly does not sleep along with it. Pasadena offers a plethora of bars and nightlife dotted throughout the city. Combining a lively, eclectic and sophisticated atmosphere featuring live music, flamenco dancing and late-night DJ's, Bar Celona is a taste of Spain in historic Old Pasadena. And just down the block sits Bar Celona's sister restaurant Villa Sorriso Ristorante & Bar. Main dining rooms and open courtyards are available in this charming Italian restaurant which serves over 20 specialty martinis in its stunningly modern and stylish martini bar and lounge area.

Pasadena's three pedestrian-friendly districts offer a vast number of dining options:

- In the 22 blocks of Old Pasadena, now a completely renovated entertainment district, the city's 19th century architecture showcases more than 200 buildings dating back to the late 1800s. Old Pasadena's Holly's Street Bar & Grill boasts a full calendar of entertainment with culinary masterpieces to salivate any palate! For wine lovers, film producer Gale Anne Hurd and celebrated Chef Sara Levine offer an inspired menu complementing an extensive wine cellar at Vertical Wine Bistro.

- European ambiance is most evident along the 10 blocks of South Lake Avenue, which is lined with upscale shops, restaurants and offices. Sometimes called "Shopper's Lane," South Lake Avenue exudes 1940s retro charm as a sophisticated cosmopolitan destination. After a long day of lugging around bags of new purchases, tired shoppers can dine at the elegant yet casual Celestino Ristorante Italiano. Homemade pastas and specialty dishes are a taste of Italy available during any shopper's lunch or dinner.

- The Playhouse District offers music, art and theatre at Pasadena Playhouse and several annual art festivals. This cultural haven is home to summertime concerts, an annual art market and plenty of historical buildings from the 1900s-1930s. Madeleines Restaurant & Wine Bistro, located in the Playhouse district on Green Street, presents fine food prepared in traditional French fashion and offers an extensive wine selection for the enjoyment of any wine connoisseur.

In Pasadena, an exciting variety of restaurants and eateries are waiting to be discovered, experienced and enjoyed. It is a city with a mix of the best of the old and new, and it has lovingly combined its deep cultural heritage with its vibrant modern culture, making Pasadena one of Southern California's most unique destinations.

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