A Critixx Choice of Eclectic Tapas

The play is over. The crowd files out into the balmy summer night, hesitating in the courtyard in front of the historic Pasadena Playhouse. It’s only a little past 10:30, too early for the evening to end. What next?

The solution is very close at hand. Step next door to Critixx for a glass of fino sherry and a wedge of potato-and-egg tortilla dribbled with aioli or flaky-crusted empanadas filled with spicy Cuban-style ropa vieja. Set in a long narrow space with rough stucco walls stained a deep gold, this spirited new restaurant and bar features cold and hot tapas. Normally, that would mean the little dishes of Spain, especially those of Andalusia in the south. At Critixx, Sharon and Patrick Westmoreland, who also own Pasadena’s Roxxi, have taken their inspiration not only from Spain, but also from Italy, Greece, China, Japan and the Caribbean.

It is, admittedly, a very loose interpretation. “Tapas also represents a lifestyle--a relaxed, unhurried and informal atmosphere, which we felt was a natural complement to the easygoing environment of Southern California,” the Westmorelands have proclaimed. The tapas lifestyle?

Nothing leisurely about the service here, though we did end up lingering over the grilled Portobello mushroom cap, a bowl of garlicky steamed mussels, “jerk” chicken, and seared sea scallops in a delicious hazelnut romesco sauce with a rough texture.


Critixx is perfect for a pre- or post-theater snack, but you can also show up--ticket or no--just to eat. (N.B. Famished fans can also get a handful of heartier entrees.)

* Critixx Restaurant & Bar, at the Pasadena Playhouse, 39 S. El Molino Ave . , Pasadena; (818) 577-9944. Open 11:30 a.m.-11 p . m . Tuesday-Friday, to midnight on Saturday, and until 10 p.m. on Sunday. All major credit cards. Charge for parking in lot. Tapas $3.25-$6.95; entrees $12.95-$16.95.