One of the best Spanish Places in Los Angeles…right here in Pasadena.
I’m in a tough place.
It’s tough because I love La Luna Negra so.
La Luna Negra has been the king of Green Street for like…years. Ever since I first came to Old Town Pasadena. It was my first choice for a Date Night. First place I’d take a girl when I was just getting to know here.
Well, it looks like Ración pushed the big boy off the street.
Now, did it actually happen that way? I have no idea. All I know is, one second, I’ve got La Luna Negra, then next…Jonathan Gold is calling this one of the 100 best restaurants in Los Angeles, and La Luna Negra is down in Arcadia.
So what of Ración?
There was a funky, direct, relaxing vibe to La Luna Negra that put me at ease. It made me want to bring dates there.
Ración is nicer, way nicer…but it doesn’t have the stuffiness you’d expect on walking in. I mean, it’s a Tapas place. It serves nothing but Tapas. The menu is seasonal, and changes from time to time. Tapas are the very definition of casual eating. There is a nice small bar where you can have your meal, as well as a drink or two. There is even a common table near the entrance where you can do the same. I can see it being a loud house, since its so small, but it is nice.
Would I bring a date here? Hell yes, and now…probably ahead of even La Luna Negra, for whom I still hold great affection. Ración is light and airy during the day, and I can see it being brooding and romantic and night.
Granted, it looks like a Beauty Shop on the outside. But that’s really the place next door. It almost does not look like a restaurant when you go in. Part of that is the fault of it’s incredibly small, teeny-tiny sign leading you inside. But once you’re there, you’re swept up in its grace and charm. A really nice find. A really great restaurant.
Jonathan Gold was right. Then again, he usually is.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well it’s a Tapas place, so you’ll be getting a lot of small plates, or just a few small plates, depending how hungry you are.
The Chicken Croquettes with Membrillo Honey is something I’m thinking about even today. We’re talking a lightly breaded and fried up bit of chicken, in a lovely cream sauce. The Membrillo Honey is…I don’t know why, but it reminded me of apples for some reason. It’s light and sweet, and mixes well with the cream sauce.
The next thing I got was the Lamb Meatballs. Now, this was interesting, I have to believe this comes from Spain’s mixing with North Africa who knows how long ago. It comes with a touch of Basque Cider, Picon (which I’m not sure what this is) and Licorice Greens, which gave the dish a nice texture. The Lambs were served on a small skewer and you are left to swish said lamb into the flavorful mixture at the bottom of your bowl. Quite nice. Actually really nice, because as I write this, I’m flashing back mighty heavily.
The other thing I would have gotten if I were hungrier was the Spanish Charcuterie plate. It comes with: Jamon Serrano, Chorizo, and a house speciality item. For $14 more, I could have added Jamon Iberico, but since I need to have something saved for the next visit…
Oh, and I topped the whole thing off with a Spanish Beer: Estrella Damm, Draft. Definitely will be doing that again.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Just bear in mind that Ración can be a little hard to see from the street. It looks very quiet and unassuming from the outside. So quite and unassuming that you might miss it.
It also…for some reason…reminds me of a Beauty Shop from the outside. Other than that…
PARKING: Easiest thing to do is park at the Structure on DeLacey, just be prepared for a bit of a walk. You see, what happens is…when you come out of the Structure (particularly if you use the Martin Alley exit), you’ll be directly behind Ración, but directly behind its service entrance.
And you can’t go in that way.
Worse still, everything is blocked off so…you’ll have to walk to DeLacey, hang a right, walk down to Green Street, hang another right to get to the Restaurant.
Either way, consult our Pasadena Parking Guide for further information.
119 W. Green St.
Pasadena, CA 91105
Tel: (626) 396-3090
Monday: 6:00 – 10:00 pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm / 6:00 – 10:00 pm
Friday-Saturday: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm / 6:00 – 11:00 pm
Sunday: 11:30 am – 3:00 pm / 5:30 – 10:00 pm