Walk a block south from the outdoor mall of Old Town Pasadena — American consumerism, albeit with good architecture — down to the leafy environs of Green Street and through the doors of the Basque restaurant Ración, and you'll find yourself unexpectedly transported, if not to the actual high altitudes of Spain, then certainly to the higher realms of its cooking. When chef Teresa Montaño and Loretta Peng, both veterans of Border Grill, opened the restaurant last year, it might have seemed as if they were simply riding the new wave of interest in small-plates Spanish cuisine. But the food here is quietly stunning: beautifully executed examples of both pintxos and larger plates, dedicated testaments to Spanish regional cooking. This is not a hipster tapas bar but a quiet enclave where you can escape the otherwise questionable restaurant scene of Pasadena, sip a glass while you fork up charred octopus and squid ink fideau, salt-cod fritters and braised beef tongue, and dream your San Sebastian dreams — within miles of Julia Child's childhood home and probably not so far from your own. 119 W. Green St., Pasadena. (626) 396-3090, racionrestaurant.com. —Amy Scattergood

LA Weekly