Cafe Verde - 961 East Green Street, Pasadena (626-356-9811)
While out in Pasadena, my husband and I drove down this lovely, shady, tree-lined street, appropriately called Green Street. It was lunch time and we were starving. And there it was, Cafe Verde, a little cafe right from the set of small town USA - outdoor tables under an awning.
On that first trip, I had their huevos rancheros - perfectly yokey eggs (not under or over done, but just right), on a crisp and not-at-all greasy corn tortilla, covered in a stewed sauce of tomatoes and red pepper. And it was all topped off with melted jack and cheddar cheese and avocado slices.
My husband gave me only one bite (all he was willing to give up) of his eggs Benedict. He's not a good sharer! But the pathetic smidgen he gave me tasted fresh and just made; nothing like the many gelatinous and obviously packaged Hollandaise sauces I've tasted in other restaurants.
My meal was so good that if I weren't in public I would've run my finger over my plate to get every drop of the Ranchero sauce.
But the cheesecake!!! It's one cool, lightly sweet layer of sour cream atop another layer of airy-light, perfectly sweet cream cheese. And these lovely layers sit on top of the most delicious crumbly, moist and slightly cinnamony graham cracker crust. So good that I will gladly sit through traffic to get more.
And since our meal was so good the first time, we went back. This time we shared a delicious rib-eye steak sandwich with gorgonzola sauce, sauteed mushrooms, red onion, tomato and lettuce. The meat was extremely tender, though the sauce (which complemented the steak's flavor) made the bread a tad mushy. Still, it was extremely tasty. And the sandwich came with the best tasting potato chips I've ever had. Made there, the slivers of golden potatoes arrived warm. They were so thin and crisp they almost melted in my mouth and tasted - unlike many potato chips - of fresh potato rather than oil.
Oh, and did I mention Cafe Verde is incredibly, unbelievably small? It is. Actually, it's so small even if you're seated as far back near the kitchen as possible, you can hear what the people with the window sidewalk-view have to say. It's so small, I had to breathe in and scoot my chair every time the waiter had to get by me. I'm serious! Okay, so you get that this is a tiny place, right? But Cafe Verde is huuuuuggggge in flavor!