Pasadena Chef Onil Chibás thought a year ago he'd open his expanded Elements Kitchen restaurant (not to be confused with his very popular café on the corner of Fair Oaks Avenue and Dayton Street in Pasadena) by Valentine's Day. Several setbacks, mostly electrical code issues, put his plans on hold for months. He did manage to feed a group inside the Pasadena Playhouse-adjacent site on El Molino Avenue on New Year's Eve. But that was after his estimated opening costs ballooned from $250,000 to roughly $800,000. “The delays were a blessing,” he told us. “They gave me time to raise money!”

The wait's over. Chibás opened Elements Kitchen on Tuesday, January 19.

Chibás, born of Cuban parents, and his Bolivian Chef d'Cuisine, Alberto Morales, graduated Pasadena's Le Cordon Bleu almost four years ago. Fearlessly, they opened their Elements Café catering company right out the gate. Chibás had intended to get people in the door and back out again, food in hand. But when people said they wanted to eat there, Chibás rolled out Parisian-style tables along a stretch of sidewalk, but couldn't expand the way he wanted. Until now. Doors are open and valets are on hand to park your car – handy on evenings when the Playhouse fills up.

Credit: Felicia Friesema

Credit: Felicia Friesema

Chibás and Morales created a topical menu: tomato dishes are grouped together, for example, offering an innovative beefsteak tomato tartare along with sautéed haricot verts and tomatoes; the chicken section suggests crispy fried chicken livers, game hen cassoulet, Bolivian roasted chicken criollo, and more. But for real comfort food, we like the braised Wagyu beef cheeks over homemade porcini fettuccine.

Tomato Tartare; Credit: Felicia Friesema

Tomato Tartare; Credit: Felicia Friesema

The smaller Elements Café remains open on Fair Oaks, but catering operations have moved to the El Molino restaurant.

Elements Kitchen, 37 S. El Molino St.,Pasadena, CA 91101, 626.440.0044,

Dinner 5pm-10pm Tuesday-Thursday & Sunday; until 11 pm Friday and Saturday

Valet $6

Steve Julian is the local host of NPR's Morning Edition at 89.3 KPCC.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.

LA Weekly