La Grande Orange Café: The Benevolent Mini-Chain

by Jessica on July 18, 2010

The approach via the Gold Line Del Mar Station.

Kid Hit Menu Items: Kids menu items come in a sectioned plate, which is convenient and a bonus for those OCD types who freak out if the fruit touches the sandwich or the fries. Options include eggs and bacon, grilled cheese, mac n’ cheese, PB&J, a simple white fish tacos with black beans and rice. In the past there’ve been kids eat free specials before a certain time, so check the website. Otherwise the child combos are more than fairly priced at $3. Drinks automatically come in plastic cups with straws. LGO pays attention to the details parents care about.

Adult Perks: Nice wine list heavy on the Central Coast producers. Not the most original list, but you don’t come to LGO to indulge your inner wine nerd. (Save that for a date night at Lou on Vine.) A generous side of homemade spatzle with mushrooms is a bargain for $3. Plus my former employer was the preservation consultant, and it’s a wonderful adaptive reuse of a significant landmark, and an overall warm, comfortable room. Kristofer Keith of Spacecraft’s design, which kept details like Batchelder tiles combined with contemporary upgrades, has even gotten props from the local preservation community, which in Pasadena is no small feat.

Pros: Trains, trains and more trains. Not only was it originally the Pasadena stop along the Santa Fe Railroad, it’s easily accessed via the Gold Line, since LGO is part of the transit-oriented development now called Del Mar Station. Plus kids watch the trains as they come and go. There’s the aforementioned kid’s menu. And there’s locally made, always stellar Carmela ice cream for dessert.

Cons: There’s really nothing I crave or must have at this restaurant. I usually go with the Brussels sprouts salad, although the dressing is always way too sweet. Fries were once undercooked — a cardinal sin. Not like kids care, though.

Changing Station: Yes.

High Chairs: Yes.

Parking and Access: Complimentary valet in front. Entrance via Gold Line train in the back. WOOT!

Other Tidbits: The best way to describe LGO came up in conversation with a friend who knows it well: think Houston’s meets Alice Waters. Some of the organic and local talk that goes along with the salads, burgers, taco platters, etc. might be greenwashing, but it strikes a good balance of mainstream without feeling completely impersonal. It’s one of those benevolent small chains that knows what it’s doing vis-à-vis management and service, so it tries to please everyone. Yet it won’t rock your world either. LGO is ridiculously kid-friendly to the nth degree (they even give out packs of Wikki Stix) without being TGI Friday’s. My sister in New York says if there were one of these in her neighborhood, no doubt they’d be regulars. Also, Joshua Lurie reports at Feast that LGO’s expansion plans are in place for a pizza restaurant called the Luggage Room, coming later this summer. LGO also has a slightly edgier Santa Monica location.


260 S. Raymond Avenue, Pasadena
(626) 356-4444
Cuisine: American
Price: $$
Hours: Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m.; Saturday 10:30 a.m. – 10 pm.; Sunday 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.

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