Goth and funky cool, a pretty cool bar in Old Town Pasadena.
You know what’s harder to write about than Restaurants?
While there are only so many ways to describe a bite of Taiwanese Sausage, or the slurp of really good Ramen, what can you say about what you have at a Bar?
Wow, they really serve a below average Pabst Blue Ribbon? I don’t think so.
What matters about a Bar is the time you have while you’re there. That’s it.
You walk into Equator, and the first thing that hits you is the oddball energy coming in around you from off the walls, from the people there. The vibe is just different from a lok of bars you go into. Despite the fact that there’s a massive, massive angry looking Buddha looking down on you (how’d that ever happe?n), you still feel kinda…welll…good behind in here. Happy…in here.
Equator apparently used to be a Hookah Bar, with easy access to wireless. When that wasn’t working to the extent the owners wanted, they decided to go in a more adult direction. What you see when you walk is is the result.
It looks really, really funky inside, and in this case…this is a damn good thing. Suffice it to say, you haven’t see a bar quite like this, at least not with this kind of strange, weird and wonderful artwork, all done by the same local artist.
Now, go get yourself a beer…and maybe a dumpling. They do those here as well.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: The adult beverage of your choice.
Seriously, I just had a beer here on a hot summer’s night and I was very happy. The staff behind the Bar are friendly as hell and want you to come in and have a good time.
If I have one criticism, it’s the menu. It’s not bad, but…to call it Old Town’s Premier Asian Fusion Restaurant is kinda like being called the premier McDonalds in Old Town Pasadena. You’re just not sure what that’s supposed to mean, especially if the word “fusion” sends as many trouble signals to you as it does to me.
When I went back to try the food. I sat at the bar and the Bartender is raving about a particularly Filet Mignon dish, which I went ahead and ordered. Somehow I thought it was going to be little slices of Filet Mignon, drizzled in some kind of invented sauce, along with some steamed Bok Choi or Chinese Broccoli.
It wasn’t. It looked distinctly like some kind of Chinese Stir Fry. In fact, it looked a hell of a lot like Mongolian freakin’ Beef (aka, the symbol of all that is mediocre and awful in Chinese-American cooking).
In fact, now that I research this piece, the name of…whatever it was that was on the menu has changed fully…to Mongolian Beef. Oy.
Their Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice wasn’t bad, not quite good as Gyu-Kaku’s, but it felt and looked more hand crafted than the stuff at Gyu-Kaku, like the chef used a pastry torch to toast the thing. They also added a nice hunk of red jalapeño to top it off.
Look, as much as whine about Mongolian Beef, I know Spicy Tuna on Crispy Rice is a purely Californian invention. But damn, I love it so.
I probably should have gotten the Pork Belly Fried Rice or the Szechwan Spiced Pulled Pork Sandwich. I’ll have to come back and re-evaluate.
So, the Bar part of Equator is killer. The Asian Fusion part is…well? (Shrug).
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Odd thing. Thursday Nights they seem to regard as “College Nights” so they close a bit early to get the crazies out of there. But other than that, party on Wayne!
PARKING: Plentiful. Consult our Pasadena Parking Map. Physically closest is the structure on Delancey, but the Schoolhouse Garage is not that far away. You’ll have to navigate some alleyways to get to the bar, but hell…that’s half the charm right there.
22 Mills Place
Pasadena, CA 91105
Tel: (626) 564-8656
Monday-Thursday: 8:00am – 12:00am
Friday-Saturday: 8:00am – 1:30am
Sunday: 8:00am – 11:30pm