The Five Best Hidden Restaurant Gems in Pasadena

Categories: Local Spotlight

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Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
A brand spankin' new snow cone joint to remind you of your childhood.
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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Photo courtesy Tostada Regia
Order the enchiladas norteños and thank me later.
5. Tostada Regia
La Tostada Regia is actually a local chain with outposts on Airline, Long Point, Park Place and I-10 East, as well as a hopping location in Pasadena. It's not so hole-in-the-wall as places like El Rey on Preston Road or Pupuseria y Restaurante Martinez (both worth a try), but what it lacks in mom-and-pop charm it makes up for in great, dependable food. Open for breakfast and lunch, La Tostada Regia is known for its tostadas and giant tortas, but I prefer the trompo tacos and the enchiladas norteñas, with their ruddy red seasoned corn tortillas and creamy queso blanco.

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Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
Oh, the joys of a syrupy snow cone.
4. Dollar Daze Snow Cones
This place isn't exactly a hidden gem. In fact, the brightly painted snow cone shack is hard to miss, and that's how I found it a mere week after it opened in front of a car wash that's been there "forever," according to a Dollar Daze employee. The small shaved ice shack is getting in more syrup flavors every day, but for now, cool off with a bright green lemon lime or cherry cup (or mix them, as I did). The flavors might not be what you expect from the gourmet sno-ball shops in Houston offering strawberry and Thai basil or grapefruit and cardamom treats, but there's something wonderfully nostalgic about cherry syrup made with red dye that'll turn your tongue a shocking shade of crimson.

Note: Dollar Daze does not appear to have an address, but it's on Red Bluff Road a few blocks north of Spencer Highway.

This story continues on the next page.


Location Info

Pizza Agave

2501 Preston Ave., Pasadena, TX

Category: Restaurant

Tostada Regia

2328 Southmore Avenue, Pasadena, TX

Category: Restaurant

Star Burgers

2213 Strawberry Road, Pasadena, TX

Category: Restaurant

Credeur's Cajun Cookin'

7127 Spencer, Pasadena, TX

Category: Restaurant


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25 comments
Hanabi-chan
Hanabi-chan topcommenter

I live close to Pizza Agave but wasn't too keen on trying it, being as it's inside a gas station. I never had luck with gas station food. Now you convinced me to give it a try.

Nicki Stacy
Nicki Stacy

Nice to seeing anything outside the loop. Lol.

Yellow01
Yellow01

Will try Star Burgers (love them).  Also, not so much hidden for Mexican Food, but the burgers are a real treat - Try Los Amigos (Burke and Fairmont) for a great Burger.


Jorge Cortez
Jorge Cortez

Nice to see something about the deep southeast for once.

Hanabi-chan
Hanabi-chan topcommenter

On Strawberry Road, between Cherrybrook and Pasadena Blvd. I think it is just in front of the PISD headquarters. I have never been there, but my daughter's friend brought her a burger and fries from Star Burger. My daughter said it was delicious.  Now I have to try it!

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

Come for the food, enjoy the omnipresent stink of refineries, and revel in our white trash culture.  Ooh sounds delightful..

h_e_x
h_e_x

@gossamersixteen Not so much white trash anymore, demographics are changing, and that's a good thing.

Yellow01
Yellow01

@gossamersixteen  As the saying goes about the smell of the refineries .....  smells like MONEY! Sure made for a good life for my family....not wealthy, but certainly enjoying a good retirement.   What are you doing with your life?

rasclot123
rasclot123

Only reason I go to Pasadena is to buy stolen bikes off craigslist.

Yellow01
Yellow01

@rasclot123  Knowingly buying stolen property is a crime in it's self.  Makes you no better than the thief!

Jesse Gomez
Jesse Gomez

Crystal Merlos I've always wanted to try star burgers

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

The Don Key is great, but I wouldn't call it hidden. I think lots of people know about it :)

jessecrx
jessecrx

Yep. I been going to Star Burger for a long time.  Some of the best old fashioned "burger baskets" I've ever had.


Their fries are awesome too.  Fresh and made to order every single time.  I gave them their first review on Yelp too :)

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