Spiked Iced Coffee

Iced coffee is hot. The $5 billion coffee industry is one of the ways we love to cool down during the sizzling summer months. Coffee has long been a go-to beverage for the addition of alcohol; just think Irish coffee with and Mexican coffee with tequila.

But RumChata’s boozy creamer, “MiniChata’s” blend of cream, rum, cinnamon and vanilla has made this even easier. Given the coffee roasters like Jones Coffee Roaster and Jameson Brown, both based in Pasadena, and Regent in Glendale, you can get superior coffee over chain- stores spiked with a touch of creamy rum.

Leon Nie, who started Regent in 2015 then opened his café in Glendale in 2017, recommends using iced coffee from a dark roast bean as a base. “With cream liqueurs’ strong, creamy rich flavor and sweetness, a dark roast develops to be fully caramelized and lightly carbonized,” Nie says. “The coffee could be cold brew coffee prepared slowly, or freshly brewed hot coffee that is then iced. The reason behind the cold brew dark roast is its charming depth of chocolate notes and bittersweetness, without any acidity. It has a solid strength of body and lends itself to work in tandem with many cream liqueurs.”

You can purchase the 25-milliliter MiniChata’s in packs of 15, or pick up their 26-ounce plastic thermal tumbler that will hold your coffee and contains eight “MiniChatas.”


6 ounces iced coffee

1 25-ml RumChata MiniChata


Brew coffee, add MiniChata.

Shots Box

The craft cocktail renaissance is, undeniably, sweeping the nation. Cocktails with historic pedigrees are fashionable again. But not everyone has the time nor the inclination to visit bar after bar to find the best cocktail. And most of us are not proficient bartenders at home. With Shots Box, that has changed.

Shots Box is a SoCal–based subscription service that delivers 10 different spirits (by the shot, typically 1.5 ounces) to your door so you can experiment at home. The real expense of cocktails is always the liquor. Here, the liquor and recipe cards are brought to you, and all you need do is get the remaining ingredients to make 10 wildly different cocktails. “I launched Shots Box because of my passion for home-brewing and craft spirits. I’m driven by success and the luxury of simplicity,” says founder J.C. Stock, who bills Shots Box as “the only craft sampling club in the world.”

The cost is $39.99 a month, which comes out to $4 per cocktail. All spirits range from mid-shelf to top-shelf; the box I received contained a wide variety, including Death’s Door Gin from Wisconsin, Montana Honey Moonshine and Adelaide’s Dreamsicle Coconut Liqueur from Nebraska. The recipes are not complex, most using just four ingredients. The shipment also includes information about where the spirit was distilled, tasting notes and info about the distillery via a QR code on each card. You can also purchase full-size bottles directly from ShotsBox.com when you find the cocktail you love. Through this simple service, the luxury of home-cocktail connoisseurship becomes a snap.

There is Nothing Finer than an Altadena Diner

Since Altadena still has the allure of an old-timey town, it’s no surprise that the diner mentality is expanding here. The Little Red Hen has been around over 50 years. Fox’s was recently purchased and upgraded (by the folks who own Cindy’s Diner in Eagle Rock), maintaining its 66-year legacy, and the stalwart 92-year-old Millie’s Diner in Silver Lake has added a second location nearby in Pasadena. Apparently, the Alta-diners (and their diner neighbor) are making quite a statement.

The American diner is an institution. The term “diner” referred to a dining car when railroads had their own onboard restaurants. Downtown Los Angeles’ Pacific Dining Car, which opened in 1921, is a perfect example of one that isn’t going anywhere. But the origins of the diner can be traced to Walter Scott, a Rhode Island pressman who repurposed a horse-pulled wagon and parked it outside the Providence Journal, where he sold sandwiches, coffee, pies and eggs to the newspaper’s night owls. For Scott, it was what today we call a side hustle — a second job to help pay the bills. By 1872 running his wagon was a full-time job, thus birthing the American diner (and eventually the American Diner Museum in Scott’s hometown of Providence). Fifteen years later, in 1887, Altadena launched as a subdivision, though diners and people would take time to populate the foothill town.

Technically, diners were small prefabricated roadside buildings, where cheap prepared food was served in a fast, convenient way. Diners flourished until the mid-1950s when competition in the form of chain restaurants like Denny’s, IHOP and Sambo’s spread across the country. According to AmericanDinerMuseum.org, a revival of diners began in the late 1970s. The few remaining diner builders began to fabricate restaurants that were new but old-style — retro-looking diners specifically evoking a 1950s feel. Johnny Rockets is a good example. “The renewed interest in diners can be attributed to Americans looking backwards for inspiration and the values of yesterday in a time of moral and economic uncertainty,” the website says. And nothing says consistency and comfort like the tried-and-true diner, a neighborhood place where you always know who’s there and what’s being served. Like the Cheers theme song, we all want to go to a place where everyone knows our name.

Fox’s Restaurant has been a landmark in Altadena since 1955 when it was opened by Paul and Edie Fox. The physical building was moved from a different location in 1948 to its present place at 2352 N. Lake Ave. Previously it had been a private home, a pet store, a real estate office and even a restaurant before Paul and Edie took it over. In 1967 the Foxes’ son, Ken, bought the restaurant and continued the family business for another 50 years. When Ken decided to sell in 2017, he found another family of restaurateurs, husband-and-wife chefs Paul Rosenbluh and Monique King, who helm Cindy’s Diner in Eagle Rock. The couple decided to keep the name Fox’s and maintain its legacy of nearly seven decades. “We’re way up in Altadena, so it’s really a destination,” Rosenbluh tells Arroyo Monthly. The area is woefully underrepresented in terms of new restaurants and Fox’s new chefs have the benefit of an already loyal following who would “roll down the hill,” as Rosenbluh puts it, to visit Cindy’s. Now their commute is a little shorter. And he’s brought the same from-scratch menu items to Fox’s. “It’s really an adorable little place, a slice of Americana, and I wanted to maintain the 1950s feel,” he says.

TRY: the Southern Denver omelet with house-cured pork-butt ham, peppers, jalapeňos, cheddar cheese and house-grilled potatoes.

Just a mile from the Fox is the Hen: The Little Red Hen to be precise, located at 2697 Fair Oaks Ave. It’s been under the same name for 60 years, but 50 years ago the Shay family bought it from the original owner and now it’s one of the oldest black-owned businesses in Altadena. Most customers are familiar with Lonzia Shay, who ran it for many years, although his sister Barbara has since taken it over. “I was 17 when my mother bought Little Red Hen,” Barbara Shay tells Arroyo Monthly. “It’s a rarity for an African-American family to be doing this for 50 years.” Throughout the decades this spot has remained true to the diner concept: good food served quickly in an unpretentious environment. The Hen is small, comprised mainly of counter stools, and it isn’t retro or even vintage — it’s a unique dyed-in-the-wool place. “Cooking is a way to put my displaced hostility in a pot and mix it up,” Shay tells me with a laugh. “My spin is soulfully delicious recipes,” which include the use of organic food without being preachy about it. In addition to traditional menu items, Shay provides vegetarian and vegan options. She’s also active with her own cooking show, Cuttin’ Up in the Kitchen, through Pasadena Media public access and YouTube.

TRY: Shrimp and cheesy grits étouffée with organic greens.

When Millie’s Cafe first opened its doors in 1926 in Silver Lake, it was one of the area’s few dining establishments. And at the new Millie’s Café, which opened last November at 1399 E. Washington Blvd., business is hopping. Weekend waits are at least 20 minutes and it’s packed inside with a line out the door. Owner Robert Babish bought the Silver Lake location in 2000 and his move to Pasadena was precipitated by loyal customers in the area. “We always give you good service and good food, and that’s why we’re still in business,” he says. They have long used Alta Dena Dairy products, which might seem like a marketing ploy, but it’s not.

TRY: Neptune’s Nest — three scrambled eggs mixed with smoked salmon, cream cheese, salsa, guacamole, scallions, sour cream and sherry.

What Little Red Hen, Fox’s, and Millie’s all have in common is an emphasis on homemade food, generous portions, friendly service and a look and feel that’s both comfortable and unpretentious. Dining out never goes out of style and neither will Altadena diners.

Wine with Wings and other Trends for Oenophiles

Wine’s lineage stretches back over 6,000 years, a particularly long legacy that struck me a few years ago during a visit to the Greek island of Crete.
I recall standing inside the Temple of Knossos, staring down at a 4,000-year old wine-crushing stone. Not much has changed in how grapes are fermented and turned into wine. How we consume said wine is another matter. What wine trends prophesy our collective future libation consumption?

Premium Wine in Cans

Canned wine might seem tedious. After all, wine has been sold in cans since before anyone reading this was born. And who wants the soda-pop sound of a can of wine being opened during your romantic dinner? Though trending, it’s nothing new. The first canned wines began appearing in the mid-1930s, then intermittently disappeared and reappeared again over the decades. The problem was one of acidity eating away at the metal, and the can imparting a metallic taste to the wine, which was cheap bulk quality to begin with. Canning fine wine didn’t take off until recently, when the inner linings of cans stopped transferring off-flavors, canned wine had lost its stigma and premium wine producers started paying attention.

Phil Markert supervises liquor sales for Vons, Albertsons and Pavilions, whose South Pasadena store offers 1,100 different wines. The recently remodeled Vons on Colorado in Pasadena and the Arcadia store both offer more than 2,000 wines, plus a wine cellar, daily wine tastings and a full-service staff. Wine in cans, he says, will not go away any time soon. “This is a trend that is happening in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The biggest driver is a younger consumer who wants packaging that’s more environmentally friendly but also wants convenience,” he says.

And wineries are quickly jumping onboard. “It had become apparent to me that people wanted to be able to include consciously made wines in more areas of their life where bottles are a limiting factor,” Faith Armstrong Foster, owner and winemaker at Sonoma-based Onward and Farmstrong Wines tells Arroyo Monthly. The wines she sells in cans are the same exact vintages she’s been putting in bottles for years; she expanded into canning when she recognized the need for a more portable package, for beach days, hiking, camping, poolside, picnics, movie theaters, etc. “However, this is also offered as my small format, so really anyone who wants a half-bottle option has one. They are light, portable, chill down fast and make wine drinking more accessible,” she says. The most popular wine in cans according to Markert? First, sparkling rosé, whites like pinot gris and sauvignon blanc, then pinot noir.

Leave the cork. Take the can.

Paso Robles as the New Napa

California has the highest number of federally recognized wine-producing regions in the U.S., with 139 American Viticultural Areas. While 46 of California’s 58 counties produce wine, Napa is still considered the state’s wine mecca, although newcomers are muscling in. Chief among them is Paso Robles, situated midway between L.A. and San Francisco. The small city, whose wines are huge in Arroyoland, isn’t new to the wine game; small vineyards date back as far as the 1880s and large-scale vineyards were planted in the 1920s. Currently 63 varietals are in the ground, planted by about 250 wineries; the main focus is on cabernet sauvignon and Rhône wines, like grenache and mourvèdre. “This is a localization trend primarily driven by millennials who want to support local wineries, want to know the history and legacy of the winery, want to know who is making it and what their values are,” says Merkert. Christopher Taranto, a Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance spokesman, says Paso wines offer good value-to-quality ratio, offering highly rated vintages for less than you would pay for those from other better-known regions.

“Paso wine country is still seen as a discovery, which is the paradigm we as wine lovers live in,” Taranto says. “We love discovering something new, then sharing it with family and friends.”

Beyond that, Paso Robles has something millennials want that other wine regions don’t necessarily have — winemakers their own age. You don’t find as many young start-ups in Napa or Sonoma, or even in the less-renowned AVAs Monterey and Santa Barbara. “Paso is exploding with young, talented winemakers who don’t have a lot of money but they do have a passion for wine,” says Peachy Canyon Winery owner Doug Beckett. “The dynamics have changed so much in the last 40 years. It’s in the hands of the younger generation now.”

Drone Delivery

Want your albariño by air? Try a drone delivery.

The very first drones were a byproduct of wartime, and the original UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) were large pilotless planes operated by remote control. These days drones are ubiquitous. Will a drone be able to deliver wine to your door? Yes. Will that be widespread in 2019? Probably
not. Amazon Prime Air has already been testing wine delivery by drone. The Pucari Winery tested drone delivery in 2016 in its home country, the Republic of Moldova. Other companies that have looked into drones include Über, Chipotle, Oscar Meyer, Domino’s Pizza and Southern Comfort.

None of these experiments has materialized as completely viable…yet. “Drone delivery, while seemingly amazing, has a lot of hurdles to overcome before becoming mainstream,” says wine-industry analyst Paul Mabray, CEO of Emetry, whose innovations include using digital data to map consumer behaviors for wine companies. “Regulatory challenges aside, there are still social and economic consequences (predicted and unforeseen) that will inhibit mass usage of what is currently a novelty,” says Mabray. “It sounds great in theory,” he tells Arroyo but adds that pressing issues remain, such as ensuring adult signatures, temperature control, breakage and weight challenges (drones are not built to carry more than 40 pounds). “None are insurmountable, but all add friction to this being a primary delivery category.”

But stay tuned. The day will come when a drone will deliver dolcetto to your door.

John Wayne found his nickname and love of acting growing up in Glendale.

Like many boys, young John Wayne had a dog, a big Airedale terrier named Duke. He took Duke everywhere, including the Glendale fire station on the way to school. The firefighters started calling Wayne, whose real name was Marion Morrison, “Little Duke,” since the dog was bigger than the boy. The name stuck, and so did Glendale’s imprint on his youth.

“People see John Wayne as this larger-than-life character, but he was really just this little kid, Duke Morrison from Glendale,” says local historian Michael Morgan. Morgan sits on the Glendale Historic Preservation Commission and has lectured on John Wayne’s legacy in Glendale.

John Wayne was born May 26, 1907, in Winterset, Iowa, but his family soon moved to Palmdale, California, where his druggist father decided to try his hand at ranching, an ill-fated endeavor that failed within two years. During that period, the family would visit Glendale on Sundays, mainly at the urging of Wayne’s mother who preferred the city to Palmdale because of its large population of former Iowans. So in 1915, when Little Duke was 9 years old, his family resettled in Glendale. His father again found work as a pharmacist, while Wayne attended Woodrow Wilson Middle School (formerly called the Third Street Intermediate School when it opened its doors in 1911).

But the Waynes remained transient, moving 10 times around Glendale between 1915 and 1925 because money was tight, according to Morgan. Yet it was also an “optimistic time,” he notes. The city was growing exponentially, creating more opportunities, and Wayne’s father even had his own pharmacy, Baird and Morrison; the younger Wayne would often make deliveries for his dad on his bike. In 1915 there were some 12,000 people in Glendale. By the end of 1920 there were 30,000. Despite the constant uprooting, the popular Wayne always did well in school and avoided trouble.

At Glendale Union High School, Wayne performed well in both academics and sports, particularly football — the latter not surprising, given his 6-foot, 4-inch frame. Wayne was on his high school debate team, served as president of the Latin Society and contributed to the school newspaper’s sports column. The energetic Wayne also served as senior class president and chairperson of the senior dance and he performed in several plays. The youth was so active that he is pictured half a dozen times in his 1925 student yearbook. Yet only one pursuit determined his life’s work. As Wayne’s son Ethan Wayne told the Los Angeles Times in 2014, Glendale High was “where his path in drama really started.” Wayne was also part of the school’s football team when it won the 1924 league championship. On graduating, Wayne applied to the U.S. Naval Academy but wasn’t accepted. So he attended USC, majoring in pre-law and playing on its football team. But a broken collarbone from a bodysurfing mishap changed his course. He lost his athletic scholarship and left USC.

But that’s when Hollywood found him, first as a prop man in films, and then as a stand-in at Fox Film Corporation, before legendary director John Ford cast him in a small but pivotal part in the forgettable 1928 film Mother Machree.

Curiously, hardly anyone knows that John Wayne spent his youth in Glendale. There are no streets named after him, no plaques or memorials, only one building (more on that later). In 2008, when a 21-foot-tall bronze statue of Wayne on a horse needed to be moved from Beverly Hills, Morgan petitioned the Glendale City Council to relocate it in Glendale — but nada. “There was no political will,” Morgan says. Instead, Newport Beach, where Wayne lived as an adult, acquired the nearly six-ton monument. In June 1979 the Orange County Board of Supervisors renamed the Orange County Airport John Wayne Airport, but it wasn’t until 2014 that Glendale’s most famous resident gained even the slightest recognition locally. Glendale High’s 1,559-seat auditorium was crowned the John Wayne Performing Arts Center. “I think it’s really nice,” Ethan Wayne told the L.A. Times. “Dad liked learning, he liked sports, he liked activities.” So, why a veritable void of acknowledgment? “A lot of people have no institutional memory of Glendale,” Morgan tells Arroyo Monthly. He points out the disconnect between an American hero like John Wayne and Glendale’s large Armenian community, which succeeded him. Part of Wayne’s absence was also political. The Vietnam War was a defining issue for a generation and Wayne, a staunch conservative and friend of Ronald Reagan’s, riled many to his left. “Regardless, he’s Mom, Dad and apple pie,” Morgan says of Wayne’s wholesome, independent spirit.

“I’ve always followed my father’s advice,” Wayne once said. “He told me, first, to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble.” But trouble did find John Wayne. During the last 15 years of his life, he fought various battles with cancer — he was a smoker — and in 1965 underwent surgery for lung cancer. But it was a form of stomach cancer that stopped the Duke in his tracks. He died from complications in June 1979. Just a month before his death, he made his last public appearance at the 51st Academy Awards ceremony where he handed out the Oscar for Best Picture. The Music Center audience erupted into a standing ovation. “That’s just about the only medicine a fellow would ever need,” Wayne told the crowd.

But love and admiration go only so far; time dissolves memories, the strong become weak. These days, kids at Glendale High School may have to Google John Wayne because they don’t know who he was or why a building has his name on it. Yet the city’s memory of Duke lives on. Says Morgan: “John Wayne embodies all the good things about Glendale.”

Schreiner’s Fine Sausages in Glendale has been crafting fresh meats for 60 years

My recollections of walking into Schreiner’s Fine Sausages in Glendale as a young boy are still crystal clear. A silver-haired woman with a German accent standing behind an impressive display case of meats and cheeses would come over to hand me a slice of bologna wrapped in white paper. That happened every time I went with my mom to Schreiner’s, and that is exactly why I accompanied her on Saturday morning shopping trips. Free meat.

The gray-haired woman was Maria Schreiner, originally from Stuttgart, Germany. She married Walter Schreiner and, while living in New York City, they started making sausages. “Walter was from New York, though he pretended he was from Germany,” Walter’s grandson Wally Schreiner, the shop’s current owner,  tells me as I visit my childhood haunt on a warm spring day. Walter and Maria came out from the East Coast in 1952 and originally settled at 4th Street and Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. Why then did they move to what was then a desolate area in the northern reaches of Glendale? “Probably cheap property,” Wally surmises. That, and there was a small German-American community already established there. The reasons may be irrelevant. What are important are the sausages: bratwurst, frankfurters, Polish, bangers, Italian, Swedish potato and breakfast sausages, among a slew of other types of meats stuffed into a casing. “Maria and Walter were totally hands-on,” Wally says. “Sausage-making is in our blood.”

Wally has been at the helm of Schreiner’s for 38 years, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. Six days a week he arrives at the store at 4 a.m. But he’s not one to be the face of Schreiner’s; he’s almost always in the back office, running a small meat empire. “I always told my own kids, ‘Love what you do,’” and he seems to really believe that. In 2018 Schreiner’s is nearly identical to what it was when I was 18. “We make over 150 different products; our niche is that it is all made here,” Wally says. “If I were to bring in something else, like Boar’s Head, which you can get at Costco, then it wouldn’t work. These are our meats. I adhere to the same recipes and way of sausage” making that my grandparents started.”

And for multigenerational customers like myself, that is the reason we’ll drive out of our way to go to Schreiner’s. “The key is consistency; we’re not trying to cheapen the product,” he adds. And though the products like beef jerky taste exactly as they have for decades, change is nonetheless the other nitpicky constant in Wally’s life: Schreiner’s finds it must compete with new ideas, a new customer base and new attitudes toward meat. “I need to keep changing — we can’t just be a German deli anymore, so I look for new varieties of fresh meats.”

That includes their chorizo sausage and carne asada, stealing ideas from Food Network shows and employing social media. Bacon-wrapped meatloaf is not as German as leberkäse, but Wally offers options for customers who avoid red meat. “Yeah, we offer nitrate-free meats, chicken sausages like lemon-cilantro, even some gluten-free items, so you can still come here if you’re on a diet,” he says.

Ever-evolving American diets have made no dent in demand; Schreiner’s makes between 6,000 and 10,000 pounds of sausages each week. Their large walk-in stainless-steel smoker would make any home cook jealous. Their Black Forest ham is another classic, but you’ll also find ribeye, steaks and other cuts of meat, German mustards, German beers and wines, sauerkraut and classic European potato dishes like rösti and spätzle. Wally has expanded the business into wholesale products and catering, not to mention sausages for the local Oktoberfest.

Schreiner’s employs 16 people, most of them with Wally for more than 20 years, one more than 30. The store originally was just the current deli portion with one room in the back to make sausages. Little by little Maria and Walter were able to purchase adjoining stores and expand, now to 6,200 square feet, something Wally believes they had envisioned decades ago — a sort of familial succession, a guarantee for the next generation.

Today Schreiner’s uses the bread from Berolina Bakery next door for freshly made sandwiches from its dine-in deli. A dozen tables allow you to lounge, but many people order sandwiches to go. I ask Wally if he is surprised the business is still thriving. “Kind of,” he admits. “It’s kind of crazy. There must be something here — quality and consistency, that’s what I’ve kept.” Still, as is the case with other small businesses in Arroyoland, the present and future are sometimes tenuous. “It’s a challenge each and every day to run a small business,” he acknowledges. Increasing costs are the most obvious issue, but as Wally says, “It’s hard for me to pass that on to my customers. I try and keep my price point in line and, with everything made here, it lowers my costs.” Yet he surmises that, among folks living within a five-mile radius of the store, only 20 percent know of Schreiner’s. “There are people still out there to grab.”

As Wally and I end our talk I ask if I can photograph him in the deli, but he modestly declines. As he leads me on a property tour, he says I can photograph everyone else. “The people up front and in the back, they are the players, they are what make this business what it is today — they are Schreiner’s. I just have the name.” But it is that very name that is still a draw, even after 60 years.

Schreiner’s Fine Sausages is located at 3417 Ocean View Blvd., Glendale. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Call (818) 244-4735 or visit schreinersfinesausages.com.

Arroyo Cocktail of the Month

Camping at the Ridge

Built over 100 years ago, Magnolia House on South Lake Avenue was originally a private residence, then became a post-Prohibition liquor store, an antique coin shop and a number of other businesses. Today this restaurant and bar keeps things lively with an quickly rotating cocktail menu. “We have to keep up with Los Angeles,” says lead bartender Jorge Figueroa, referencing the trendy cocktail scene in downtown L.A. To keep Arroyolanders happy closer to home, Figueroa and his team are constantly crafting stimulating new cocktails. With indoor and outdoor seating areas, the bar itself sits behind the restaurant, a long red-brick wall guiding you straight to it.



1½ ounces Thai chili and gingerinfused Scotch (see below)

½ ounce lemon juice

¾ ounce pure maple syrup

½ ounce cinnamon Green Chartreuse cream (see below)

Dash of chocolate chili bitters

Dash of aquafaba (liquid in can of beans)


Mix ingredients in shaker, add ice, shake again, strain and pour into glass. Top with sparkling apple cider floater, grated nutmeg and cinnamon graham crackers

Thai Chili and Ginger-Infused Scotch


1 Thai chili

20 grams of finely diced fresh ginger

750 ml of Scotch


Infuse chili and ginger in Scotch for 30 minutes. Strain and serve

Cinnamon Green Chartreuse Cream


10 ounces heavy cream

1 ounce cinnamon syrup (see below)

½ ounce Green Chartreuse


Mix ingredients by stirring and serve.

Cinnamon Syrup


1 cup sugar

1 cup hot water

40 cinnamon sticks


Add sugar and cinnamon sticks to water and steep for 30 minutes. Strain and serve.

Figueroa created this cocktail as an homage to the fall season here. He calls it a riff on the Ramos Fizz. “Fall in Pasadena is still warm, but these traditional fall flavors are mitigated by summer notes of apple.” This is a refreshing and light cocktail, heavier on the palate, but nonetheless a balance between spice and heat, viscosity and comfortable, familiar flavors. Try it with their fried chicken sandwich or the mushroom and roasted garlic flatbread. 

Arroyo Cocktail of the Month – The Orange Grove

The Raymond 1886 has long been one of Pasadena’s most beloved restaurants (but not for 130 years — 1886 actually marked the opening of the former Raymond Hotel). The restaurant’s Bar 1886 is dark and moody, illuminated mainly by the bar’s soft amber backlight. Inside, there are two small communal tables, four two-tops, original hardwood floors and brown pressed-tin ceilings, and there’s also outdoor seating: two outdoor patios with fireplaces and Edison lights twinkling against the night sky. Bar 1886 was established only in 2010 — 38 years after the restaurant — to focus on high-end spirits and craft cocktails. It offers monthly spirits-paired dinners as well. New cocktails appear twice annually: for spring-summer and fall-winter. Not listed on the menu but a longtime staple is The Orange Grove — a simple but effective drink with a nod to Arroyoland’s agricultural heritage. “This is a sit-out-on-the-patio-and-eat-brunch kind of cocktail,” says bartender Casey Levantal. It’s cool and clean, with the acidity of the citrus mitigated by the gin. The addition of tonic water provides a subtle effervescence. Indeed, this drinks so easily you might forget it’s a cocktail. Levantal suggests pairing it with something hearty like The Raymond’s Veracruz steak salad or pork belly tacos.

The Orange Grove


2 ounces London dry gin

½ ounce lime juice

½ ounce simple syrup

2 to 4 orange wedges

Splash of tonic water


Using a muddler, smash orange slices with lime juice and simple syrup. Shake and pour mixture into glass with crushed ice. Add gin, top with tonic floater (without mixing) and serve.

Here are five of Arroyoland’s best and oldest restaurants, which you may have overlooked — but shouldn’t.

For as long as humans have roamed the earth, they have experienced hunger. So where in Arroyoland have humans been dining the longest? We canvased the region to find some of the best of the oldest.

We all love to eat, especially at familiar places. But a restaurant with deep roots here may still not be familiar to you. So take another look at these five stalwarts, which have withstood the test of time with favorite familiar foods in a high-turnover business. After all, it’s no accident they’re still standing strong despite many passing seasons.

D.O.B. 1920

In 1920, Pasadena’s population was just over 45,000 people, and there were few places to eat. That year, a small tortilla shop with Mexican food — including handmade tortillas — opened its doors. Mijares was born across from present-day Huntington Hospital at Pico Street and Fair Oaks Boulevard, operated from the home of Jesucita Mijares. It was so popular by 1940 that she was able to borrow $8,000 from a local doctor and a car dealer to purchase a one-acre parcel on Palmetto Drive, its present location. And now, 97 years after it opened, Mijares is a sprawling complex with multiple outdoor patios and interior dining rooms as well as a second location on Washington Boulevard. Reminiscent of a hacienda with tiled floors, thatched overhangs and adobe-looking walls, the Pasadena locale could well be mistaken for a pueblo. Historic photos and images dot the interior walls inside, and you can’t miss the images of Jesucita, who passed in 1988.

R-Lene Mijares De Lang is the third-generation proprietor of this family-owned eatery started by Jesucita, whom she calls the “tortilla matriarch.” “We still cook the way my grandmother loved to cook,” she says. Mijares draws crowds for the family’s famous margaritas and light tamales (no lard), fajitas, ceviche and volcanic-stoneground red sauce using chiles from New Mexico. Families keep coming back for seconds, generation after generation, especially for Mijares’ wildly popular Champagne Sunday brunch.

145 Palmetto Dr., Pasadena

(626) 792-2763 / mijaresrestaurant.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Sunday

1806 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 794-6674

Hours: 10 a.m. to 8:45 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 9:45 p.m., Friday and Saturday

Russell’s Café
D.O.B. 1930

Los Angeles Airport (LAX’s precursor, known as Mines Field) began operating in 1930, the same year Russell’s opened in Old Pasadena. Russell’s turned into a chain with eight locations in the Southland, but ultimately almost all failed, with the notable exception of the original Pasadena venue — currently ranked Pasadena’s third-best restaurant on tripadvisor.com. While it serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, owner Frank Gale says Russell’s is renowned for its breakfasts, which are served until 4 p.m. Gale, who started at Russell’s in 1992 as a server and ended up buying it in 2014, is proud of the diner’s upscale ambience. “There are a lot of little touches and attention to detail,” he says. Chandeliers hang above each table and reproductions of famous works of art adorn the walls. The black-clad waitstaff — some there for 20 years — scurries about efficiently, yet almost unnoticed. Gale notes that a lot of his current regulars “weren’t even born yet” when their parents started the tradition of coming here. Grab a seat at the sparkly red fabric barstools facing the open kitchen or sequester yourself in a wood-toned booth. “We serve basic comfort food,” Gale says, “and it’s all about quality.” Russell’s Belgian waffles, American omelets, croque-monsieurs and croque-mesdames and blood-orange mimosas are the standouts that keep the crowds coming back for more.

One Colorado, 30 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena

(626) 578-1404

Hours: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday through Saturday

Damon’s Glendale Steakhouse
D.O.B. 1937

The Great Ziegfield, a biopic about the theater producer renowned for his lavish theatrical revues, won the Best Picture Oscar in 1937 (the Academy Awards were just nine years old at the time). That year Damon’s opened as a straight-and-narrow steakhouse, but at the end of World War II, it morphed into its own kind of lavish production — a Tiki-themed restaurant catering to GIs returning home from the Pacific. These days the under-the-radar steakhouse is best known for filet mignon, tenderloin and Mai Tai Mondays. No need to get dressed up; just show up and get lost in the tropical vibe. There’s a mix of booths, some beneath makeshift lean-tos, and freestanding tables with plenty of rattan chairs, a canoe hanging from the ceiling, plastic palm fronds dangling off support pillars and wall murals depicting ocean scenes and long-forgotten island people. Yes, you do feel like you’re in some jungle paradise (the fish tank helps).

How have they survived so long? “It’s a three-legged stool,” says current owner Kevin Berresford. “Value, quality and consistency, that’s how we’ve maintained our appeal.” Of course, the Tiki décor is also part of that appeal, but beyond that, “our servers are old school,” with decades at Damon’s under their belts. That’s reassuring to regulars, as is Damon’s continuing reputation as a top-notch steakhouse.

317 N. Brand Ave., Glendale

(818) 507-1510 / damonsglendale.com

Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 a.m., Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday

Twohey’s Restaurant
D.O.B. 1943

In March, 1943, the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical Oklahoma opened in New York to great fanfare and went on to run for 14 months. On the other side of the country, Twohey’s Restaurant opened its doors in Alhambra the same month. Naturally it debuted to less fanfare, but the place is still running strong.

How did Twohey’s stand out, surfing a sea of changes, for three quarters of a century? “You’ve got to be a great operator,” says co-owner Jim Christos. “That means great service, great food.” Tweaking menus to keep up with evolving tastes helps too, leading Twohey’s to expand into seafood dishes like sand dabs and lobster rolls, since it’s “near and dear” to Christos’ New England heritage. “The neighborhood has changed, Alhambra has changed, but a great institution like us, well, we change too.” But some things never change — Twohey’s menu still touts its Original Stinko Burger, so named because the eatery pioneered topping it with aromatic raw onions and pickles, something commonplace today.

With its iconic ridged roof, the place looks more like a bowling alley than a restaurant. But the interior is all retro diner with simple clean lines. “Our cornerstones are the curry clam chowder, onion rings, burgers and hot fudge sundaes,” says Christos. Twohey’s also keeps it interesting with seasonal items. But regulars typically return for the familiar faces of the loyal waitstaff, some still there after 30 years. With no major advertising, the business is driven by word of mouth — that and its strategy of keeping tempo with the times.

1224 N. Atlantic Blvd., Alhambra

(626) 284-7387 / twoheys.com

Hours: 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sunday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday

D.O.B. 1948

The 1948 Rose Bowl saw a humiliating loss by USC to Michigan, 0-49. Loss could also have undone Cindy’s diner had it not been for chef-owners Paul Rosenbluh and wife Monique King, who raised money to preserve Cindy’s cool Googie sign in 2014. “Cindy’s heyday was long past and it needed a lot of love,” Rosenbluh says. In 2015, shortly after the couple took over, a car crashed into the restaurant at 1:30 a.m., when no one was there. Rebuilding offered the opportunity to redefine the eatery, but the chefs had no desire to rebrand Cindy’s as something hip and trendy; they wanted to upgrade the food while honoring the spirit of the place.

Still a diner in the best sense of the word, the new iteration is a scratch kitchen with everything made inhouse. Rosenbluh and King come with loads of restaurant experience, having run the kitchen of Firefly Bistro in South Pasadena. A completely new interior with a definite retro look and feel, not to mention a music video shot here by Justin Timberlake, helped relaunch Cindy’s. Bright orange booths and counter stools pop against the green wall facing the kitchen. The best eats? Shrimp and grits, brisket hash with black-eye peas from the smoker out back and housemade veggie burgers. The place is comfortable and casual, not pretending to be anything other than it is. “You won’t find another one,” Rosenbluh says.

1500 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock

(323) 257-7375 / cindyseaglerock.com

Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday; 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday;

7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday.

Is the Arroyo Seco’s Devil’s Gate the seventh portal to hell?

Devil’s Gate is an Arroyo Seco rock formation with a profile some might describe as satanic, and it holds dark secrets: the brutal murders there of the barely pubescent Donald Baker and Brenda Howell in 1952 and the unsolved disappearances of two other boys a few years later led some to believe the Arroyo was cursed. Factor in the unconventional sexual rituals of Jack Parsons, a cofounder of Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and Parsons’ affiliation with controversial Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and Devil’s Gate is crawling with conjecture.

It was the Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola who named the area the Arroyo Seco, meaning “dry streambed,” in 1770. But it was Judge B. S. Eaton (Eaton Canyon was named for him) who named the rock Devil’s Gate in 1858, because it reminded him of the Devil’s Gate on Sweetwater Creek in Wyoming, Hiram Reid wrote in his History of Pasadena (1895). (That Devil’s Gate was a rock formation Eaton passed during his migration to California from the East Coast, but neither Devil’s Gate really resembles  the “prince of darkness.”)

The Arroyo, however, was not always dry; it often flooded, particularly in 1914 and 1916, which prompted the Los Angeles County Flood Control District to construct Devil’s Gate Dam. Completed in 1920, it was designed to “reduce downstream flooding” during a major deluge, according to the L.A. Department of Water and Power. The devil’s stone profile is adjacent to a locked tunnel, part of the dam. But to some it is an entryway to another world.

In 1936 the Arroyo Seco was just a 25-mile-long swath of land with a seasonal river running through it. But in October of that year, three scientists gathered in the Arroyo to perform their own secret experiments. “The ‘rocket boys’ were an unusual bunch,” according to Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s website (jpl.nasa.gov). “Frank Malina was studying aerodynamics, Jack Parsons was a self-taught chemist and Ed Forman was an excellent mechanic. They scraped together cheap engine parts, and on Oct. 31, 1936, drove to the Arroyo Seco. Four times that day they tried to test-fire their small rocket motor. These were the first rocket experiments in the history of JPL.” Caltech had purchased land in the Arroyo to build JPL, but it was Jack Parsons who turned Devil’s Gate into an urban legend.

By all accounts Parsons was a brilliant, self-taught rocket scientist, though he’s been written out of most of JPL’s history due to his obsession with the occult, his affiliation with Scientology’s Hubbard and rituals involving sex, blood and classical music. Parsons was also a devotee of controversial British occultist Aleister Crowley, joining Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) society in 1941. Parsons lived at 1003 South Orange Grove Ave., which became notorious for its “sex magick” ceremonies. In his 1946 essay, The Book of Babalon, Parsons writes: “I had been engaged in the study and practice of Magick for seven years, and in the supervision and operation of an occult lodge for four years.” Part of Crowley’s Thelemic beliefs involved goddess worship, specifically of Babalon, a.k.a. the Mother of Abominations. Parsons, like Crowley, believed it was possible to summon Babalon into human form via the use of sexual rituals, leading to the overthrow of Judeo-Christian civilization and the rise of Thelema, exhorting followers to “do what thou wilt.”

In August 1945, Parsons met former Navy man and writer of lurid fiction, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard. Parsons wanted to include L. Ron Hubbard in the rituals and wrote to Crowley: “I deduced that [Hubbard] is in direct touch with some higher intelligence. He is the most Thelemic person I have ever met and is in complete accord with our own principles.” Using background music from Rachmaninoff and Prokofiev, Parsons sought to invoke Babalon through incantations and blood sacrifice. At the end of one ritual, Parsons wrote, “And thus was I Antichrist loosed in the world; and to this I am pledged, that the work of the Beast 666 shall be fulfilled, and the way for the coming of Babalon be made open and I shall not cease or rest until these things are accomplished.” We contacted the Church of Scientology to clarify Hubbard’s involvement. They did not respond, though the official line since the 1960s was that Hubbard, on leave from the Navy, was sent to infiltrate Parsons’ rituals, record the activities and report back to the government. Whatever Parsons and Hubbard were up to, a belief germinated that they had opened a portal to hell, and the negative energies loosed from Devil’s Gate would not be denied.

On August 5, 1956, 13-year-old Donald Baker and 11-year-old Brenda Howell went for a bike ride at Devil’s Gate Dam. When they didn’t come home, their parents contacted police and hundreds of volunteers searched for them in vain. All that was found were their bicycles and Brenda’s jacket. Just seven months later, on March 23, 1957, 8-year-old Tommy Bowman disappeared. Tommy was hiking with his family around Devil’s Gate and ran several yards ahead of them, rounded a corner and vanished. It was about 5 p.m. The ensuing searches were in vain. News outlets reported that Tommy disappeared after rounding a bend in the trail. But according to the Pasadena Star-News, two sisters reported they saw Tommy around 5:30 that evening. He was crying and standing at the entrance to the ranger station. But Tommy was never seen again.

Then three years later, in July 1960, 6-year-old Bruce Kremen was on a hike with his YMCA group not far from where Tommy disappeared. Bruce was lagging behind so the group leader told him to return to camp — a mere 300 yards away. Bruce never made it. Nine years later, Mack Ray Edwards confessed to kidnapping and killing Donald and Brenda along with three other children and burying their bodies in highway construction land about to be paved over. Convicted and sentenced to death, he hanged himself in his cell in 1971.

There have been subsequent reports of suicides (typically, hearsay) at Devil’s Gate, and many people who have hiked there have reported that, amid the trash and mud, burned Bibles have been observed as well as the occasional ritual. A cyclist’s body was found there in 1998 under mysterious circumstances, and para-
normal practitioners have lugged equipment to the rock, delighted when they were able to record “evidence” of otherworldly energies.

On Friday June 20, 1952, four years before the murders of Donald and Brenda, Parsons was experimenting in his laboratory. At 5:08 p.m., an explosion rocked Pasadena, killing Parsons, who was 37 at the time. Conspiracy theories formed immediately; Parsons was assassinated; some claimed suicide; Howard Hughes supposedly had Parsons killed for stealing secrets. One thing for sure: it was Parsons who seeded Devil’s Gate’s mythology. Are the stories surrounding this rock foolish, or prophetic? In his 1950 essay collection, Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword, Parsons wrote: “No man is worthy to fight in the cause of freedom unless he has conquered his internal drives. He must learn to control and discipline the disastrous passions that would lead him to folly and ruin.” Jack Parsons did not discipline his “disastrous passions”; he died broke, a mere footnote to aerospace history. But he did lay the foundation for myth and speculation of black arts in the Arroyo.