downtown los angeles

Intelligentsia: The New Local Spot in Pasadena

Intelligentsia is an immediate hit with locals in Pasadena

I met up with a friend today at Intelligentsia and decided to snap a few photos of the cafe inside (also serves food with a menu that changes daily). The spacious room with high ceilings felt like it had been around for ages. You would never know that it had just opened about 2 days ago.

The customers exuded a comfortable demeanor and seemed to feel right at home with their laptops and cup of coffee on the side. I got a vibe that a lot of locals from the area, with a lot of pent up demand for high quality coffee and just a really cool local hang out spot to chat with friends, were extremely delighted to finally experience Intelligentsia right in Pasadena.

One of my favorite features of the space is sitting right next to the large windows that open up right next to the sidewalk. My friend agreed that it’s a great vantage point to people watch and actually quite calming (it almost felt like I was sitting in a cafe on Melrose for some reason as I chatted with my friend).

While seated by these large windows, the owner Doug Zell, greeted us outside the window (mind you the window sill is very low to the ground so you feel very connected to the outside world). I told him I was extremely excited to have Intelligentsia open in Pasadena. He told us that he feels that Pasadena is definitely on the right track and sees a future where more creative restaurants will make their way in.

Overall, I love the design of the space and the eclectic mix of customers inside. I think we’ve all found our new local hang out spot.

The busy baristas at the new Intelligentsia cafe

The design of the space is large, open, and industrial


  1. Lawrence says

    Looks very nice inside – can’t wait to try it :)

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  3. Unfortuately, I think its clientèle will be primarily limited to young people & touristy Old Town visitors. And your pics & my passing thru today seem to confirm it so far. However, I am looking forward to local Alhambra La Mill Coffee to open one of their coffee boutiques here in Pasadena one day – OUTSIDE of that tourist area!

  4. Lawrence says

    From my experience the clientele is quite mixed and the ambience is great. It attracts a nice combination of locals and visitors, which is a great thing. I always find it curious when people feel the need to bash on areas that are frequented by tourists, when those same areas are not only large economic engines for a city, but are also viewed as destinations. That should be viewed as a positive as opposed to a drawback, especially when one considers what Old Pasadena looked lik in the 70’s and 80’s.

    Also, I’ve been to the L.A Mill location in Silverlake and it attracts a very similar crowd.

    • I don’t think I’m Bashing an area simply to state I wish I had seen a wider customer base, & more needed economic development to the north & east of that part of our city. Many in the city could agree with that. Hopefully, as I visit Intellig over the next year I’ll be able to say a wide variety regularly visit.

      • Lawrence says

        I agree that more economic development would be nice a bit further east. Urrth Cafe in the playhouse district will likely be a huge draw and encourage additional economic development in that district.

        Retailers and businesses choose areas that seem like a safe bet and will follow where other retailers go. Old Pasadena is largely considered a good location because it’s established, houses many successful retailers and restaurants and benefits from heavy foot traffic, which conveniently located parking structures contribute to. While they have some strong anchors, the other downtown districts are still seen as a more risky investment for some businesses, especially during a down economy. Large draws like Urrth Cafe can have a sizeable impact on this perception and draw other businesses to follow, thereby contributing to the perception that there are places of interest beyond Old Pasadena, especially for Pedestrians.

  5. With a group of 8 friends, we went to Intelligentsia at 8:30pm on a Wednesday night for the first time (all of us) and the place was packed! All kinds of people, great for a meal and tea or coffee while people watching. Well planned use of space, and by combing 1880’s original architectural structure and features with modern materials -wow, very cool. Can’t wait till they extend their operating hours by closing at midnight vs 10pm, just more time to hang out and enjoy!

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