Behind the Scenes with Pasadena’s “Best Realtor” Lucy Mao

Associate Partner Lucy Mao was a born realtor. Since childhood, she’s cultivated a deep understanding of the importance of “place,” working and traveling internationally with her father, an international importer. Her world travels and career, including that of a successful business owner herself, and her personal adventures of motherhood, community activism and exploring Los Angeles’ northeast neighborhoods, make her an incredible real estate agent—in fact, one of two recently acclaimed by Pasadena Weekly as Best Realtor 2016.


We sat down with the community expert and mother of three to learn her most beloved eastside spots and catch even an ounce of her spirit—an endless flow and incredible positivity that undeniably forms the foundation of her success.

You’ve been traveling the world since you were a kid. Tell us your favorite destination and what it’s taught you about your community at home.  

Through all my travels, California remains my top destination.  Maybe because it represents home, family, community, where street signs are plentiful and actually make sense (for anyone who’s driven in other states, you know what I mean)!  But if I had to pick one destination that was among my favorite, it would be New York – specifically Manhattan. Having been born and raised in San Francisco, I’m a city girl at heart, and well, New York is the ultimate city.  It’s fast-paced, non-stop, and there is this wonderful sense of anonymity as you make your way through the streets.  New York is the only destination in my lifetime of travels where I’m never asked, “Where are you from?”  And that’s because Manhattan is already so beautifully diverse and hence, color blind.  But after about 2-3 weeks, I’m more than ready to return to California!

You’ve lived in Eagle Rock, Glendale, San Marino, Arcadia, Monrovia and Pasadena. Can you tell us your go-to favorite spots in each?

I’m often asked for my favorite spots and because food plays such a big role in my family’s life, I tend to think in terms of best restaurants. My clients will always know where to find the best eats!

Eagle Rock

This city has changed so much since I lived there.  Colorado Blvd. used to be lined with auto body shops.  My family and I would go shopping at Pillars (no longer in business), and eat at my uncle’s restaurant – the iconic Cindy’s Diner (sold a few times over).  Today, one of my favorite places in Eagle Rock is a restaurant called “Little Beast”…good food, great atmosphere, awesome wines, wonderful service.


I lived in the hills and always loved the drive up.  My favorite Glendale spot is a small Italian market called Mario’s Italian Market—their tortellini…mmmm….well worth the wait.  Order ahead and bring it home and pretend like you made it yourself!

San Marino

My favorite restaurant is Julienne’s…that’s easy.  I used to always order this brie sandwich that was to die for.  And their gourmet market with all its prepared meals has saved me in so many ways.  A very close second is Sweet & Savory, which is a great place to grab a healthy lunch and a decadent dessert, and sit outside in a charming space.


This is the best city to cure your Chinese food fix without having to go all the way to San Gabriel.  And of course, there is nothing better than Din Tai Fung’s world famous dumplings.  My favorite dish there is actually the “appetizer salad” and I never share…just sayin.


Choosing a favorite place in Pasadena is difficult because there is SO MUCH goodness in this city.  My advice is to try them all!  Any issues like Pasadena Weekly‘s “Best Of” is a good start.  My recent favorite has been Sunlife Organics which I enjoy way too much. You only need to know four words there—Mystic, Wolverine, Brazilian, and Dragon.


I lived in Old Town Monrovia.  It’s a hidden gem to some degree and I love it.  It’s like living on Main Street in Disneyland.  Almost every restaurant and cafe is delicious, they have live music mid-week and a happening farmer’s market every Friday night and Monrovians are just some of the best.

Which local place (aside from your home) has housed your most happy memories with your kids?  

I think since our Eagle Rock days were when the kids were young, I’d say my most happy memories are of us taking walks along Hill Drive and visiting the Pony Rides, train rides and the carousel at Griffith Park.  We went ALL. THE. TIME. Really!

You’ve built quite a reputation in Pasadena. How do you engage with the community?

I’m grateful for the business that I’ve built in the community, and so giving back has always been a huge part of my life.  It’s not about just selling pretty houses on pretty streets—every city has adults that need support, children who need clothing, or animals that need care.  Serving those in need is the best way to really understand your community.  This is also what I love about PT in that they make giving back a huge priority at the company level.  Every single transaction creates dollars that go directly to a select group of local philanthropies, in addition to a calendar full of volunteer events that our associates participate in.  PT is a company full of “Best Realtors”!!

What gets you to work every morning?

There are so many highs in my day—when I’m in strategy mode, or when I’m negotiating for my clients and it all comes together, handing them the key, telling them escrow closed…YES!  I love it!  The question should be “How can I NOT go to work?”

Posted in Communities, La Canada, Lifestyle, Pasadena, PT News, PT Q&A, Real Estate, San Marino, South Pasadena .

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