L.A.’s (America’s??) coolest restaurant is in Pasadena and it's not cool
Plus USA-made slapper accessories at Spyfriend prices, & more
Our interviews with Tyler, The Creator, Jerry Seinfeld, Emily Bode, André 3000, Sandy Liang, Daniel Arnold, Phoebe Bridgers, Nathan Fielder, Steven Yeun, Action Bronson, and more are here.
Ayyy today we’ve got
Spyhomie pricing on a FLOTILLA of exellent U.S. made bags, belts, wallets & more,
Crunchy blessed pro-ego-death mystical nature-appreciation rap that proves — contra Jay Z 😜 — that MCs can get cooler rather than cornier with age…
BUT FIRST —
If we do one thing here at BBSP, it’s keep our fingers on the mf pulse. Even more impressively, we routinely experience wild visions of what the pulse will be in the near future. It can be jarring to be visited by dope revelations when we’re simply minding our own business, but it’s a burden we bear happily because we love to share our “next level” life-improving insights with you, the beautiful & blessed members of Spy Nation.
Case in point: The coolest restaurant in L.A. (America??) right now is the Pasadena location of the “elevated” national chain-eatery Houston’s.
Yup!! … and its unique flavor of based anti-coolness has broad cultural ramifications that extend far beyond its walls…
First off, neither Erin nor I (Jonah) had ever heard of Houston’s until very recently. You may or may not be familiar, but it’s the kind of place where there’s a dress code (no caps, no sports jerseys, no flip flops) but it’s still largely unpretentious & chill on some “special family-dinner” energy, i.e. the type of spot people’s parents might take them for a celebratory meal after graduation, or where your aunt invites 12 besties to lunch for her birthday.
Like a way nicer Applebee’s, maybe, lit by a PHALANX of $20k Louis Poulsen artichoke pendants ??
Recently we found ourselves in L.A. at a day party teeming with Mach 3+ attendees from the fields of television & music, including [names redacted — we are not the feds], thrown by longtime sick-TV-making Spyfriend Nick Weidenfeld & his mad cool wife Amantha. The party was in Altadena, so we asked around for local spots where we should grab dinner afterward. We were expecting to hear about some deep-cut strip-mall-Thai-food type joint, or maybe some farm-to-table slapper, but different versions of the same unlikely answer kept coming at us instead:
“Houston’s — the food is delicious and the vibe is incredible.”
Nick emphatically swore by it. And we learned that some influential L.A. luminaries with top-notch food-world bona fides f**k heavy with Houston’s, too. Spyfriend Chris Storer, creator of The Bear?? Word on the street is that bruv gets lunch at the Pasadena Houston’s all the time. Vinny Dotolo of Jon & Vinny’s?? We hear the Pasadena Houston’s schnitzel-thin crispy-chicken sandwich is his favorite fried-chicken sandwich on the planet!
We did a search to peep some pics … and furrowed our brows. This place did not look like a vibe palace. But people insisted that this photographic vibe deficiency was actually evidence of an elemental, optics-defying I.R.L. charm — “it feels like it’s permanently 9 p.m. in there,” Nick said.
We came to understand that a huge part of what makes Houston’s feel magical is precisely what makes it impossible to capture with a modern cameraphone, which does swag-depleting automatic light & color correction: An important development in the field of Un-Grammable Hang Zone studies as they relate to the fact that the virtual visual universe as captured and “fixed” by smartphones is highly sus !!
Erin and I headed over, put in for seats at the bar, and chilled outside by a koi pond for a pleasant ~20-30 minutes. That wait (a table would have taken an hour or two) was the first indication that the place is locally beloved. It was a sunny Sunday, early evening, and place was jammed. Tanned Pasadena gray-hairs stowed vintage Alfa Romeo coupes in the parking lot … Black families in elegant church fits strode by … thirtysomething white and Asian couples milled around on their “normie lovebirds date night” flow… Some of these people looked cool, but none of them looked “cool.”
And inside, the legends were true: Despite the magic-hour glow outdoors, the Houston’s interior felt like DEEPEST, WARMEST NIGHTTIME. Our eyes adjusted, and we were intrigued to see that the design and décor struck a powerful, unselfconscious compromise between “midcentury-modern grill” and “2010s bistro nouveau.”
Crucially, the food was very good, joining with the ambiance to cast a spell. We got dirty vodka martinis — they ripped. People love the Houston’s artichoke dip but we misunderstood and got the grilled artichokes (above) — they were excellent ! People apparently also swear by the Pasadena Houston’s sushi, and while we do keep it pescetarian 99.9% of the time, I wanted to try the Vinny-endorsed crispy chicken sandwich on a rare “when in Rome” animal-rights ethical transgression — and d*mn, it was marvelous.
As Erin and I sat there, we realized that the place was so unexpectedly, uniquely charming precisely because it wasn’t some preserved-in-amber, picture-perfect “classic Hollywood gem” like a Musso & Frank’s (or even a Horses, respect & love to cats, eternal hellfire to any and all cat-harmers) …
Nor was it some “affluent creative-class millennial”-targeting spot with all-Scando-oak everything, menus written on butcher paper taped to the walls, and a sick natty-wine program …
No! Those kinds of restaurants can be fantastic, but circa 2023 what they can’t be is surprising. Later on, after we told Spyfriend Rashida Jones we’d hit it up, she nailed the fundamental appeal of the Pasadena Houston’s via a concise wine-trend-pendulum metaphor: “It’s like how people are starting to think orange wines are played out, and now they just want a big-bodied Cab.” This place was truly on its 100-point Robert Parker s**t.
And the next time the Spyplane touches down in L.A. you might catch us in Pasadena shining in the golden LOUIS POULSEN ARTICHOKE PENDANT GLOW!
👨🍳 Peep all of our far-flung city intel in the Global Travel Spytalk Chat Room.
We’ve got a “Spyplane Slapper Swarm” of sick bags, wallets, belts & more, all of it USA-made.
These pieces come via MAKR Studio, overseen by the designer Jason Gregory — who, in a very cool development, is giving Classified Tier Spyfriends a special “Spyhomie Price” of 25% off.
You might know MAKR already, and it’s possible you’ve seen their tight collaborations with Mach 3+ lines like James Coward (a ballistic-nylon sacoche) and Mach 3+ shops like C’H’C’M’ (mil-spec webbed belts for the store’s house line)…
Makr also put out their own ARMADA of tote bags, wallets, cardholders, eyewear cases, computer sleeves, even some furniture…
Pictured above are a wrap-top tote, a laptop tote, and a weekender tote, all in canvas, with and without leather trim. There are the 3 colorways of the webbed belt MAKR whipped up with C’H’C’M’. There are wallets, cardholders and an eyeglass case. And there’s a lil wall-mount hook / tray “personal valet” combo joint for keys & coats…
The full MAKR range, which includes tons more besides what’s pictured above, is here.
Between now and this Sunday, 7/23 at midnight ET, use the following classified Spycode to enjoy the 25% discountiolo: