Pasadena’s Maquina – So Much More Than Tacos
By Terry Miller
For the Lukasiewicz family, the restaurant business is truly a Pasadena love affair and blend of remarkable foods like Octopus Fajitas, Oxtail and Lengua mix; or how about Ribeye and Lobster and simple but fresh ingredients to make the perfect taco, burrito or anything your hungry heart desires.
Greg Lukasiewicz, owner and head chef is passionate about his food at the popular restaurant which has been open in Pasadena for about ten months now.
Lukasiewicz is no stranger in vastly changing restaurant business. He, along with his father Richard, have owned and operated some of the very best gourmet restaurants in San Gabriel Valley; including the very swank and sheik, Restaurant Devon – which was considered one of the best for 18 years in Old Town Monrovia. Lukasiewicz also had a very popular and esthetically magnificent eatery named Restaurant Halie, on Green Street in Pasadena, which was designed by Lukasiewicz.
Greg Lukasiewicz’s two daughters – Devon and Halie – now in their 20’s – became synonymous for fine dining in Los Angeles County. Drawing rave reviews from critics far and wide, these two restaurants, in particular garnered a devoted following for not only the food and character but also the selection of remarkable wines.
Greg, along with a little help from his Dad has opened about 15 restaurants in the 35 years. His father, Richard – who is also an avid ‘foodie’ is also quite passionate about wines.
Maquina is a bit of a stretch from the ambiance of fine romantic dining like Devon and Restaurant Halie – but when it comes to the food, the philosophy is the same: Exquisite fresh ingredients with a dizzying array of choices on the menu plus the willingness to cater to any particular need or desire. At Maquina, the food is indeed Regal in concept, appearance, taste and portions but the customer is always the Head of State.
Just last week, Maquina introduced a baby grand piano to the décor…any anyone is welcome tickle the ivories at any time…an valued added treat for hungry patrons when someone may sit down and play Chopin. Currently they only serve soft drinks including some Mexican favorites but the exceptional Maquina is hoping to soon carry beer and wine.
To this reporter, one of the most pleasing trends in this business is to see more vegetarian and Vegan offerings. And here, Maquina excels beyond your wildest imagination; primarily as the chefs are willing to create a custom meal that really is fit for a Head of State…just say the word to any of the friendly staff who may be serving you.
Located just below Washington, on the east side of Lake, the growing trend of gentrified, underused areas complete with craftsman homes adjacent spawned Máquina Taco’s decision to open here. North Pasadena’s renewed business energy has seen other new businesses open and complement one another.
A recent LA Times restaurant critic quipped that Maquina Taco is like “…a friendly neighborhood clubhouse. The water station is a traffic cone-orange, heavy-duty beverage cooler of the construction-site variety; napkins are industrial-strength paper towels, suitable for hazmat spills.” While I found the critic’s observation mildly amusing, I don’t necessarily agree. The restaurant has a unique blend of industrial character while maintaining that delightful whiff of food being prepared while encapsulating the art deco space.
Maquina invites you to whet your appetite for whatever happens to be the special of the day; like a recent lobster and shrimp bisque which was an enormous hit on a cold December day. . The splendid and replete salsa bar is the perfect complement to just about any one of the burritos, tacos, burrito bowl or quesadilla.
Their breakfast burrito selection boasts not only a Vegetarian and Vegan option but exotic delights such as ‘Chairman’ which includes: egg, duck, rice, cabbage, hoisin, sour cream onion and cilantro. Or if you’re really feeling like seafood: The Lobster and Bacon burrito will knock your socks off. For more info visit Maquina Taco.