Burgers and Ice Cream in Old Town, Pasadena

We Californians like to say that everything is located about 15-20 minutes away (not factoring in this little thing called traffic) but it just so happens that Old Town, Pasadena truly is just 15 minutes down the road.  Old Town is usually the spot to hang out and catch up with friends.  Sometimes my mom, sister, and I go shopping, grab a bite to eat, or hang out during the New Year’s parade on Colorado Boulevard.

I practically grew up in Pasadena, yet there are a number of historical or iconic buildings and locations that I never really knew much about.  Take Old Town for example.  Apprently it is the original commercial center of Pasadena and was named the “Athens of the West”.  It plays host to Caltech, JPL, the Pasadena Museum of Modern Art, and the Norton Simon Museum.  (Note: if you ever watch the Rose Parade, make sure to look out for the giant rose that is displayed on the main wall of the Norton Simon Museum like below)

Now that I live in New York, I don’t have the opportunity to visit Old Town as much.  When I do go, I’m astounded at its transformation.  Just over the last few years, Pasadena has re-arranged some of the businesses, removed some stores and added countless others.  There used to be a time, probably about 10+ years ago, when Old Town was only popular for its movie theatre and a small, but cozy restaurant called Barney’s.  Sadly enough, both are now gone, but Pasadena has done a wonderful job revamping the block and it makes for a wonderful afternoon or evening of window shopping.

There are plenty of parking garages that offer 90 minutes free but if you aren’t in the mood to battle other drivers, try taking the light rail.  Pasadena is connected to Downtown Los Angeles via the Metro Gold Line (Los Angeles’s attempt at public transportation).

When I was home over the holidays, Meghan and I managed to squeeze in a night on the town with a couple of our college friends.  We decided to dine out at Umami Burger, a semi-gourmet burger joint with funky combinations such as braised short rib and truffled aioli or sprouts and a turkey patty.  They even had jumped onto the pumpkin train and offered a beef blend with pumpkin pie spiced mascarpone, tempura Japanese kabocha, roasted garlic aioli, and a coffee infused molasses drizzle.

I’ve picked up a habit of bombarding the waiter/waitress/cashier with questions about the specials and their favorite flavors. It may be annoying but hey, they tend to know what’s up and I never really regret my selection.

DINNER TIME @ UMAMI BURGER
49 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91105

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Got to love the thematic drinks. For those who aren’t familiar with Old Town, it’s located right above the Rose Bowl, in one of the many hearts of Pasadena.

Meghan and I divided and conquered the menu with a Greenbird (Turkey patty, crushed avocado, green cheese, butter lettuce, sprouts, green goddess) and Manly Burger (Beer-cheddar, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami house ketchup, mustard spread).

We also decided to skip out on the fries, simply because we HAD to check out this new ice cream shop that makes the ice cream right in front of you! Now, while I try to eat healthy 99% of the time, I sure have a mean sweet tooth. I think it’s this sweet tooth that gets the best of my healthy habits.

Ice Cream Lab
16 S Fair Oaks Ave
~ Locations ~ Menu ~ About ~

First opened in Beverly Hills, this ice cream phenomenon has come to be known as “Liqued Nitrogen Ice Cream”.  This is due to the fact that they pretty much use liquid nitrogen right in front of you to instantly freeze various ingredients into ice cream.

I have seen my fair share of cupcakeries and frozen yogurt joints (including the Southern California famous 21 Choices), and I have to say, the Ice Cream Lab has taken it to a whole new level.  The menu may be small, but the fresh and natural ingredients remove the need for artificial coloring or preservatives that are normally used in ice cream.   Not to mention, the fact that it is made right in front of you, guarantees a fresher and more flavorful treat.

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Meghan went for a salted caramel pretzel combination while I went with the cashier’s recommendation of banilla. Outcome? BEST.ICE CREAM.EVER. The combination of vanilla with the fresh banana and extra crunch of nilla wafers was pure bliss. I just was a bit bummed that I wasn’t able to make it back before my return to NYC.

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Additional Favorites

~ Umami Burger Pita Jungle21 Choices ** needs a post of its own ~ Le Pain Quitoden ~ The Ice Cream LabJake’s Billiards (I have yet to go but my cousins love it!) ~ Barney’s Beanery ~

2015 Resolutions & Some Favorites

Ah New Years.  Where really to begin? I may have missed the boat on the 2014 recap but it certainly was a year to remember.  From traveling around the country to making it my first year in the city, I really have a lot to be grateful for.   I’m making a little twist on this edition of today’s post – a few favorites and a few resolutions.  Might as well jump on the bandwagon.

>> The Tournament of Roses – Seeing as I grew up right around the Rose Bowl, it was a no brainer to celebrate the New Years with the parade and bowl game.  My dad has been a white suiter (volunteer) for over 20 years and my sister and I both volunteered at the parade as Student Ambassadors when we were seniors in high school.  These days I have the opportunity to create my own traditions, but sometimes it’s nice to stick with what’s.

Yesterday, after going for a run along the westside Highline, I worked on finances (good way to start off 2015, right?), made breakfast for the apartment, and then sat down to watch the entire Rose Parade.  Lindsay and I did some ab workouts, picked up snacks for the Rose Bowl game and sat down to watch some football.  I’m already loving 2015.

>> Frozen Frozen Everywhere – I know people are saying “let it go”, but anytime I’m feeling down, I listen to a little bit of Olaf and my day is made.

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>> The Well Traveled Wife – I cannot get over how adorable this video and recap that she put together for 2014.  Just browsing these posts inspire me to be happy and travel more.

>> November Project – Slowly but surely I am making friends at NP.   The more I attend, the more faces (and names…hopefully) I start to recognize.  Not to mention, the consistency of working out helps me stay sane at work.

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This was the BEST way to end 2014.  A workout with tons of people full of energy (despite the 20F temps)

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Definitely loved checking out the LA Tribe and taking my family along.  News flash – my dog is now a tribe member 🙂 My mom took him to the Hollywood Bowl to run the steps.  It might not have been the ideal morning for a 10year old lab but he probably got lots of attention afterwards.  Oh, and he made the Facebook album.  Not bad.

>> Resolutions

  • Confidence – In me, in others, in the future.
  • Move MoreGet my booty up and out of my desk chair more than 2 or 3x a day. It’s scary that I’ve gotten into the terrible habit of working through lunch but this needs to change.  I only have so many years to live in New York, so I need to really soak it up.  I would never want to leave the city and regret not taking those walks through Central Park or breaks with coworkers, all in the name of getting that last e-mail sent out.
  • Budget – 2014 was a trial year.  This year is meant for traveling, friends, family, and fun.  That also means cutting a few spending habits (daily coffees, kombuchas, baking every week for the coworkers – sorry guys, it adds up!) and actually checking my mint.com account more than once a year.

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  • Running – I’ve been feeling oodles better since wearing my sexy plantar faciitis boot, but I’m in no place to go race a marathon.  Stretching, strength training, and revamping some of my eating habits will certainly help.  Of course, attending more NP workouts and races will increase my motivation.
  • Be Kind – Need I say More?

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  • Test out the Juice Cleanse – Probably only one day.  I’m somewhat serious and somewhat kidding.  Mostly an inside joke with my family.
  • Unplug and Live in the Moment – More and more I see our society drifting into a constant obsession with technology.  Sure, it’s fun to connect, to stay up to date, and document everything but did you know the average person spends 16 hours consuming some type of media?  No wonder our society is so stressed out.
  • Make/Keep Friends who Care

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  • Leave Regret & Comparison Behind –  There are only so many days and hours that we are blessed with, so why would use them up on negative activities?  We must also remember that everyone leads different lives and while their lives may seem like sunshine and daisies, everyone has their own pressures.  This year, let’s keep things “glass half full”.
  • Pursue Activities I Enjoy – Maybe it’s a new craft, hobby, or workout class.  Maybe it’s a way to make friends or be social.  Whatever it is, I want it to bring out the best of me and help me stay happy.

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~ Let’s make this year the best year yet.  Cheers to 2015 ~