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Jonathan Aviles has been leading the kitchen at Salazar (still one of the hottest restaurants in L.A.) for almost a year now, so he's understandably a busy guy. But the chef, who previously worked at Little Sister in Manhattan Beach and the SLS Hotel in the Beverly Grove area, does like to kick it around his hometown of Pasadena, eating comfort food at long-standing favorites.

“Being born and raised in Pasadena, you tend to get a sense of camaraderie grubbing on local and hidden gems around town. You run into family and friends, recognize the regulars and not so regulars, and even though you’ve probably never spoken or exchanged any words you both know you’re there for the exact same reason … good fuckin’ food,” Aviles says. Below are his top choices.

Gin Sushi

“A little small and outdated interior, but once you sit down and start to take it all in, you’re in for a treat.”
3589 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 440-9611.

Burrito Express; Credit: Yelp/Grant H.

Burrito Express; Credit: Yelp/Grant H.

Burrito Express

“You can’t go wrong with anything on this menu. From the JVC burrito to their delicious tortas, everything is a winner. Plus the staff really makes you feel like family.” 1597 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 798-0844, burritoexpresspasadena.com.

Credit: Courtesy Margaritas

Credit: Courtesy Margaritas

Margaritas

“Authentic Mexican food done simple but delicious. I take my wife and kids there almost every other week.”
155 S. Rosemead Blvd., Pasadena; (626) 449-4193, margaritaspasadena.com.

Lucky Boy; Credit: Yelp/Angela A M.

Lucky Boy; Credit: Yelp/Angela A M.

Lucky Boy

“I can’t finish this list without mentioning this place. Everyone and anyone from Pasadena knows this is the spot to go.” 640 S. Arroyo Pkwy., Pasadena; (626) 793-0120, luckyboyburgers.com.