Sabor2: Sabor y Cultura Cafe in Pasadena

Well it has finally come to pass…the old Metropolitan Coffee & Tea space, vacant since last May, is empty no more: Sabor 2 is the new tenant in the Pasadena Playhouse District location.

Here’s a big, loud bark out to y’all in Pasadena about this new casual cafe/coffeehouse!

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It just opened this month. I like what I see & taste so far, early in its infancy. Yet, Sabor has an older sibling – Sabor y Cultura in Hollywood, on Hollywood Blvd of course. And, Sabor y Cultura had an earlier life when it first opened under its original ownership/name of Espresso Mi Cultura back in the 1990’s. I recall paying a couple of visits back in the last century whenever I passed thru Hollywood becuz of clients or coming home from the westside. If my recollection is correct even Huell Howser taped an episode of his KCET program from there.

10% Grand Opening Discount!!  Limited Time Only 

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Min & Sharon are the young couple who own & manage both locations. In contrast to what appeared to be lacking in the prior cafes in this space, they bring restaurant experience and a healthy dose of realism about this business. Realistic enthusiasm, customer-oriented, and good people is how I would describe this couple.

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Other advantages this new ownership brings to Sabor are a deeper menu beyond just coffee, tea, and a few pastries, and a couple of nice touches not always seen at a cafe of this sort. So, you WiFi-er’s don’t have to just survive basically on just coffee/tea & a pastry while you’re surfing or working the web!

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Q & A with the owners of Sabor2 / Sabor y Cultura

  • Q1: Why did you decide to come to Pasadena, on Colorado Blvd, to open your second cafe? I (Sharon) spent a lot of time in Pasadena when I was younger, & a friend of Min’s let him know this location was vacant. We also like Old Pasadena, it’s just down the block. And we just felt like if we were ever going to be able to move into Pasadena – we better do it now.
  • Q2: Restaurants have been hit especially hard in this economic repression. Has the economic repression changed the way you’ve done business at your Hollywood location? Yes, but apparently not as much as many others. We make adjustments to meet our customers needs. The main adjustment have been to tweak our menu. We’re not going to sell what our customers really don’t want to buy.

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  • Q3: What are the biggest challenges for someone to open a new cafe? It’s always a challenge but this bad economy has made it worse. Supplies keep getting costlier. Our Hollywood cafe was packed the other day. Nevertheless, in this economy we find people tend to spend a little less on the average. So, fortunately for us it hasn’t been the 20-40% decrease in business which has hit many others. We love our customers and they’ve returned it by their loyalty.

  • Q4: About how long does it take to open a cafe like this, once you’ve signed a lease & got the location? We just got our lease this past January. But as you know, Sharon and I have been negotiating & planning since last summer. There are a lot of things to think about before you can have a grand opening.
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OPEN

  • Q5: There is a lot of competition around. Coffee, tea, sandwiches, pastries can be found selling everywhere. So, why should a potential new customer choose to come to your place instead of another restaurant/cafe nearby? We have a history of positive reviews. You can check our website or go on the internet to read them. In fact, our Hollywood Sabor received recognition as one of the best cafes/coffeehouses for writers to work. We believe our coffee & Mexican Mocha are really good, better than average to say the least! Things are kept fresh, like we don’t sell old pastries from yesterday. We offer more variety in our menu. For example, we have shaved ice dessert…and not just one kind. How many casual restaurants offer a full breakfast menu, served all day – we do. Another reason to check us out is because we are starting to introduce some organic ingredients. Our sauces, pesto, & dressings are homemade by us. So, it’s a balance of quality with quantity, and we just try to do things better as time goes along. One more thing: if our customers are interested in Wi-Fi internet, such as students, we have it for them.

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  • Q6: What do you recommend to a first-timer customer to order? A Mexican Mocha with a breakfast sandwich/wrap. For lunch they should try the Korean BBQ sandwich. But, we can’t really ignore all the other menu items which we honestly think are very good as well!

Ok, I hear you readers whispering in my big ears, “yeah great, but what do YOU think of their food & drink?” Well, it’s much too early for that. They are just into this a couple of weeks. You can go on the WWW to find positive reviews for their Hollywood Blvd cafe. In fact, Prospect Park Books stimulating food review book, EAT L.A., includes the cafe in their list of recommendations. Check out page 153 of the book for their positive take. Still, my 1st impression is they are definitely off to a better start than the first two cafes at this space. I’ve sampled, along with my foodie companion ET, a little of everything on their menu, and overall I’ve been impressed enuf to say I want them to succeed & grow here.

The foot & tire traffic on Colorado Blvd is starting to notice Pasadena’s Sabor y Cultura. Nevertheless, the restaurant biz is extremely competitive, rarely easy, and this economy is making it as tough as ever. So, they need your support to survive and thrive here in the city. Reward the hard work & risk this young couple is taking of opening up a nice addition to the Pasadena cafe life by at least checking it out yourself.

Ok, gotta run, gotta sniff out my next meal….

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716 E. Colorado Blvd.

Pasadena, CA 91101

(626)793-0251

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28 responses to “Sabor2: Sabor y Cultura Cafe in Pasadena

  1. Omar, music like food, is very personal. So, on your next visit if you find it too loud mention it to them. Just say, to owners Min or Sharon if there, “I’d like to come regularly but not if the music is loud.” Like I say, most cafes play music & usually get it wrong somewhere.

  2. I finally made it to breakfast at Sabor2. I love the interior space. Beautiful, large and a lot of attention paid to details, even down to the restroom. Also interesting paintings by Rani and, as an added bonus, music not too loud and, when I was there, by Harry Nilsson. The fruit and coffee drink were very good, the people who run it are really nice, and the rest of the breakfast was okay. Overall, a great place to hang out, enjoy and refresh yourself. Thanks for pointing it out. From the exterior, I probably would never have ventured in.

    • I’m glad you gave it your own positive review, JS. They’ve been around less than 2 mths. I’m gonna have to take note of the “details” next time I’m over there. Most places get the music wrong but I’m glad it was right for you. Sometimes it can get a bit loud for my tastes, otherwise they play all styles of muzic here.

      • Interesting you mention the music. When I was there last month, I noticed that the music was quite loud. I commented to my wife how the volume of the music wasn’t conductive to staying there for long. Perhaps I’m over sensitive to the volume of music though.

  3. Great blog! My wife and I moved to Pasadena 3 years ago and we don’t ever want to leave! I look forward to catching up on all the reading here.

    • Went to Sabor 2 this past weekend and had the iced blended mocha with mexican chocolate. It was delicious!! Waffle with fruit was good, but not $8 good.

      • Omar, I understand what u mean about waffles. I can’t recall ever paying for a waffle that was worth its price – anywhere! Of course, you’re helping them pay for their high rent area.
        When owners/mgrs ask me their opinion of their product, I give them the honest truth in the hope it will they will improve next time. Otherwise, I’m glad you enjoyed what you ordered.

  4. I’m going to try it! We need more good places. My personal extremely local favorite is Little Flower Candy Shop on Colorado near Ave. 64. I also love Heirloom Bakery in South Pasadena.

      • Little Flower is under a mile from where I live, so in easy walking distance that I regularly happen on when I’m thirsty or want to bring something back for breakfast. Decent croissants, good sandwiches and salads, good fleur de sel caramels, friendly counterpeople, good coffee and tea. But lots of street noise, so better to go.

        Heirloom has terrific oatmeal and you can get a half order, so it’s not a mountain of mush. Also superb blt and also egg salad sandwich. Also good bread. Also good ganache on their version of hostess cupcake. And I really like sitting outside because I can bring my dog.

  5. Antjas, then you can call me under the hill! Margueritas is still around, with their all you can eat lunches. Mijares is popular. No good Mex in Massachusetts? Seems like a good opportunity for someone to make some money out there if they can make some good Mex food!

  6. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I used to live in Pasadena back in the late 70’s and 80s. From what I see on all these Pasadena blogs, it would be virtually unrecognizable. My husband loved the Salt Shaker back in those days. Is it still there? And I don’t think I’ve ever had a better chocolate mousse pie than the one served at the Sawmill, which I’m sure is long gone.

    • How’s the springtime weather out there west of Boston, Antjas?!
      Yeah, Pasadena has changed some. Especially Old Pasa which doesn’t look so old anymore – revitalized!
      Fortunately, I’m not old enuf to remember much of anything in the 70s of last century. I’ve seen the Salt Shaker but never from the inside! Last I ck’d there is still the one on S. Arroyo Pkwy. Plus, if you remember The Bakery on Fair Oaks in So Pasa, I believe one of its prior lives was as a Salt Shaker. Now, the place is called Wild Thyme.

      And, Sawmill? another place that only sounds familiar bcuz I never went inside. That was on S. Lake, near Colorado…right? That wooda also been a joint from ye olde last century. Sawmill is no longer in existence. You know – restaurants come & go. That’s how it goes.
      How did I do, former Pasadenan?!

      • The weather here west of Boston is always a mystery. Touches of 70 degree weather in places and of snow in others. But, the robins are in the backyard scouting out a place for their nest and the goldfinches at the feeder are definitely turning yellow!

        So, not only am I a former Pasadenan, but apparently over the hill as well! Thanks for the updates. I have to add that Margueritas on Rosemead and in Monrovia were our favorite Mexican restaurant (NE does not do Mexican well and we miss it dearly) and Mijares before it burned down and rose from the ashes as an upscale hangout.

        I will pass this blog on to my sister-in-law who lives in Pasadena but laments loosing seats in restaurants because she gets stuck waiting forever at the train tracks. The price of progress!

    • Hey, Ashley! I think your blog with sista Autumn prominently displayed in it is Oh Sooo K00000L, too!! I hope loco blogger’s discover your neat So Pasa site. Thanks 4 de info on the free wIfi joint you gals were at. So y’all @ de Cafe!

  7. Yeah, try it Restless Dez.
    nT: I was tempted to join you there, but I’ll wait to eat w/you down south.
    Vromans Patrick: They’ll do well if customers like you return. Today’s menu offerings are better than back then.
    Marg, cute is not the word that comes to my mind. Some other positive word, yes, which I can’t think of at the moment.
    Thanks, my loyal readers!

  8. I used to go to Sabor Y Cultura when it was called Espresso Mi Cultura. I lived around the corner, and I enjoyed the cultural vibe of the place. Hope they do well in this new location.

  9. I love this review – nicely done with Q & A; ditto from me on the super photos. the last one with the granola/yogurt/fruit looks so appetizing, I’m stopping there for brunch before heading to AltaDena next Sat.
    PS – thanks for the nice comment on my post for today! nT