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A pink tablecloth and an array of dishes from a new restaurant, including charcuterie.
A spread at Agnes in Pasadena
Wonho Frank Lee

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Inside Agnes, Pasadena’s New Home For Comforting Family Food

With a marketplace, wine shop, bar, and patio, LA’s biggest new opening does it all

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It would be easy enough to say that at Agnes, Pasadena’s highly anticipated new all-day restaurant, cheesery, and marketplace, the details matter. It’s a common refrain for most places, a sort of shorthand meant to overstate the obvious: owners and chefs care about how their restaurants look, about the food they serve, about the people who work at and are served inside. But few places actually look as put together or as purposeful as Agnes on Green Street, at least from day one. Again, it’s all in the details.

For starters, there’s the retro font choices and color schemes, a nod to throwback family dinners and Midwestern hangouts, complete with mid-century plaid upholstery and American comfort food. Of course, this is 2021, so the meats and cheeses on the charcuterie board are thoughtfully sourced — in this case by Vanessa Tilaka, co-owner and cheesemonger, who runs Agnes with partner and husband Thomas Kalb — and much of the jams and preserves are made in-house. Even the wine is picked for its pairing ability in the marketplace up front, and Kalb and co. keep the cooler stocked with takeaway foods for those on the go.

Padded seats tuck into front window spaces where breezes roll through; mobile butcher block tables hold crackers and tinned fishes and everything else one might need to pick up on the quick. The terrazzo tile at the bar, where beverage director Liz Kelso oversees the wine and cocktails, matches the color scheme of seats, and the blonde wood tables match the rest of the room, naturally.

A round wooden board of meat and cheese with a collection of jams and spreads as well.
Cheese and charcuterie from the shop

From the open kitchen that runs almost the entire length of the historic Old Pasadena building (built circa 1922) to its brick walls and tall bow truss ceiling, this is a space where everything feels purposeful — nothing seems out of place. There’s the fiery hearth at the far end, a modular steel affair with varying heights for roasting and searing. There’s the hot line and the prep and finishing spaces, open for all to see, where employees like sous chefs Adonis Arias and Cristian Soriano and pastry chef Vivian Penaloza can chat with customers while crafting their meal.

The rest of the restaurant (or maybe its centerpiece, depending on one’s perspective) is a lush 1,200-square-foot patio space at the back of the building, open to the air but shaded from the sun. This is the place for lounging over an early dinner, sipping wine, and passing around a plate of loaded potato dumplings with crispy pancetta on top for all to try. An opening menu, from daytime to dinner, is below.

An Italian style cold cut sandwich shown cut in half with a plaid backgrounhd.
Tommy Salame sandwich with capicola, salami, mortadella, and provolone

General manager Kyrsten Salazar’s job is to float between the three worlds: the market up front, the indoor dining area, and the back patio and attached private dining room/communal seating area/prep kitchen space. On the best nights, she’ll oversee 100 seats all told, sweating the details to make sure each is properly distanced during existing COVID-19 protocol times and their diners properly happy all the time.

For everyone else, all that’s left to do is focus on the big picture. The ORA-designed Agnes (Auburn, Esters) opens June 1 at 40 W. Green Street, keeping Tuesday through Saturday hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for takeout at the cheesery and marketplace (there’s also an open al fresco street patio in the front), and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. for dinner inside and on the back patio, with Sunday brunch still to come.

Agnes Menu by Farley Elliott on Scribd

A long eclair-like piece of bread with a wide spread of chicken liver on top, spotted by cherries.
Chicken liver mousse on cornbread eclair
Small glazed brown bites of ham with blistered flatbread around the sides.
Glazed ham balls with pineapple and flatbread
A fork pulls green pasta and white fish from a bowl.
Bucatini tetrazzini with smoked black cod
A bowl of pasta with Italian seasonings, onions, and mozzarella.
Pasta Chopped with giardiniera, olives, mozzarella
A cook works wood inside of an open hearth for maximum fire.
At the open hearth
An overhead shot of a vintage plate with white dumplings and deep brown crusty pancetta.
Loaded baked potato dumplings with crispy pancetta
A vintage plate of beets and cashews shown from overhead.
Harvard beets with horseradish and cashews
A narrow, thick cut of deeply burnished steak with butter and greens.
Ribeye with herby garlic butter
A classic dessert taco shell with s’mores filling like burnt marshmallow, on a wooden table.
S’mores cocoa taco
A glass bowl with soft serve ice cream and loaded with chocolate and lots of crispy bites.
Soft serve ice cream sundae
A tall, clear glass with a sprig of rosemary and dehydrated grapefruit.
Arroyo Seco with tequila, grapefruit, soda water
A riff on a martini in a coup glass with dill pickle brine, vodka, and olive garnishes.
Big Dill with vodka, gin, and dill pickle brine
A bright green cocktail in a low tumbler with sprigs of mint reaching to the sky.
Green & Green with gin, cucumber, mint, agave
An open restaurant kitchen, at right, with banquette seating and lots of round tables in the middle.
A very open kitchen
A wide corner booth with plaid seating inside of a new restaurant with brick walls.
Classics in plaid
Round four-top tables and brick walls inside a new restaurant with tall ceilings.
Wooden butcher block tables show snacks, while a cooler and back wall showcase lots of wine.
The market area up front
A glass case for cheeses of all sorts, complete with hand-written signs.
The robust cheese section at front
A corner shot of a wide open restaurant kitchen, with wooden details at top, an open ceiling, and lots of floor space.
A long back patio with sunlight streaming in, booths to one side, and tables in the middle.
The back patio
Three small round cafe tables pushed up against a wall, ready for diners to sit in its wooden seats.
A long wooden table for prepping food inside a restaurant, surrounded by equipment and with a tall skylight at top.
The prep area, also used for communal seating and private dining

Agnes

2132 Bissonnet Street, , TX 77005 (713) 714-0078 Visit Website
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