Before she became the culinary powerhouse behind the award-winning menu at Chica inside The Venetian Resort, Chef Lorena Garcia was once a contestant on the cooking competition show, “Top Chef Masters.” Garcia was tasked with creating a pastry-type dish on a $50 budget for a 350-person poolside brunch hosted by Holly Madison. And oh yeah, she only had 45 minutes to do it. Facing a daunting challenge, Garcia turned to her Venezuelan roots to snatch the winning recipe. Her creation, of course, were buñuelos topped with fresh berry compote, white chocolate and condensed vanilla sauce. So, when it came time to create the dessert menu for Chica, chef’s victory made adding the buñuelos an obvious choice. Literally award-winning, these buñuelos (called “Lemon Donuts” on the menu) are as simple as they are delicious. Offering a crispy, firm shell with a warm, fluffy lemon ricotta interior, these donuts are then plated with a wild berry compote and white chocolate dulce de leche sauce. Remarkable in its simplicity, if not solely its taste, the importance of this dish stretches far beyond Chef Lorena individually and reaches into the Latin American community from which she comes. Mention buñuelos in Belize, El Salvador or even Panama and you will quickly learn how much of a staple this treat is amongst holiday and celebratory gatherings in their local neighborhoods. And when you stop to think about it, this is a theme among all of Lorena Garcia’s creations at Chica: honoring the ingredients of her country, while creating dishes that are approachable and enjoyable by all. So it makes sense when tasked with a seemingly impossible challenge on “Top Chef Masters,” Chef Lorena’s instinct was to lean into the traditions of her Latin American upbringing.
Lemon Donuts. Image Courtesy of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas
The desserts at Chica, in Chef Lorena’s eyes, are quite literally an elevated introduction to the flavors and experiences of her Venezuelan heritage and travels throughout Latin America. Each
bite revealing a story from her past. Using her desserts as a vehicle to introduce you to the people and places she loves is an opportunity Chef Lorena will not pass up. Take the Tres Leches Dulce de Leche, which is, by tradition, a very humble dessert. As with many other Latin American families, Chef Lorena vividly recalls awaiting the Tres Leches cake at family functions with earnest. More specifically, as an impatient 5 year-old tagging along with her mother at the market, chef reminisces about the tiny cans of sweetened condensed milk that were given to her as a treat for behaving. This is just one example of the undeniable reverence to the Tres Leches cake. Chef Lorena, as always, is going back to what she knows. Starting with a soft, spongy cake soaked in white chocolate dulce du leche, condensed milk and regular milk, the dish reaches its fullest potential once topped with a torched meringue and dotted by a bright, pineapple fruit pico. Again, the traditional has become sensational, all without losing its approachability.
Whether you have an encyclopedia’s worth of experience with the fares of Latin America or if you’re just using your Las Vegas vacation as an opportunity to dip your toes into this culinary culture for the first time, it’s important to reiterate the significance of community and continuity. Chef Lorena has brought that with her to Chica -cultivating an environment where, like family, trust and teamwork take precedence. Because of this, her team is emboldened to experiment and take risks. Inspired by a discussion with her team, Chef Lorena believed in their passion and excitement. The result? A whimsical yet decadent dish that is trademark Chica: Churro Fried Ice Cream Pops. Three mouthwatering scoops of caramel ice cream delicately coated in cinnamon churro crumbs. Elsewhere, this would be enough. At Chica however, each scoop of caramel ice cream gets pierced with a miniature churro stick and served with equal scoops whipped cream and a sweet vanilla bean anglaise sauce.
Chica Las Vegas. Image Courtesy of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas
Another dish in which Chef Lorena defers credit to her staff is the Arroz Con Leche. This creamy rice pudding features a caramelized crust that holds the dessert together like a gentle hug. One look at the elaborate fuchsia colored garnish and you begin to realize this isn’t your standard Arroz Con Leche. But alas, there’s more. One taste of the dried apricot, candied pineapple and pomegranate rum sauce will transport you to the fresh fruit markets Chef Lorena frequented as a kid.
None of these ties to heritage and nostalgia would be complete without the most illustrious of Chica desserts: Marquesa de Chocolate. Chef Lorena’s favorite dessert on the menu, it’s everything she loves about her heritage and offers a gateway, of sorts, to Latin America through its robust flavors. Made with rich, 100% Venezuelan chocolate mousse, espresso-soaked graham crackers piled layers-upon-layers-upon-layers high and served with silky crema ice cream. This is the closest thing chef has to a time machine, as preparing the dish affords her an opportunity to reflect upon the modest Marquesa de Chocolate she enjoyed throughout her youth. Cramped inside a kitchen, surrounded by friends and family eagerly awaiting the chocolate-filled confection, although that Marquesa wasn’t quite as grand as its current form. Back then, graham crackers were soaked in milk, not espresso. And one layer was the finale, not the beginning.
Lorena Garcia. Image Courtesy of The Venetian Resort Las Vegas
As you can tell, the dessert menu at Chica Las Vegas is more labor of love, a passing nod to heritage and culture, than it is a hastily, thrown-together afterthought. Press releases will revel in the use of imported ingredients, the innovative culinary techniques used and the grand spectacle of celebrity, sure. But for Chef Lorena, what this dessert menu is -no, what this restaurant is about, is inviting guests to experience a piece of who she is and where she comes from. So, lean into the unknown and the unfamiliar. After all, this is Las Vegas. And at Chica Las Vegas, a little dessert is an adventure all its own.
Like Picasso and his paintings, Chef Cheveau can make a masterpiece out of any pastry that touches his hands. He’s so good at what he does, he took third place at the World Chocolate Masters. For those of you who don’t follow baking competitions with a passion, it’s the “Big Game” of the chocolate world. If that’s not impressive enough, him and his team create more than 10,000 pastries a day for guests to enjoy in multiple restaurants on the Strip. To say that Chef Cheveau is the crème de la crème would be an understatement. These pastries are life changing and you would be crazy to not try one. But enough talk, watch the video below and see for yourself. Warning: watching this video might cause you to drool uncontrollably, make you hangry or spontaneously book a last-minute trip to Las Vegas. If you experience these side-effects, purchase your Las Vegas hotel room right away and try these pastries.
If you’ve heard that Las Vegas restaurants are some of the best places to eat, well, you’ve heard right. There’s an Eiffel Tower restaurant, a place to dine on “top of the world,” cheap restaurants and everything in between. And if you’re looking for one of those “unforgettable dining experiences,” look no further than Le Cirque inside Bellagio Las Vegas.
Every restaurant claims to be an “experience” these days, but how many of them actually back it up? With a perennial AAA Five Diamond Award rating, food that looks too pretty to eat and a playful, circus like interior, try telling your five senses that Le Cirque isn’t an experience. And we haven’t even mentioned tableside views of the Fountains of Bellagio. So check out the video to see some of Le Cirque’s renowned favorites come to life. Once you’re finished watching, wipe that drool off your face and get down to Le Cirque at Bellagio Las Vegas today.
We’ve got something in common with Dagwood Bumstead. Remember him? The guy in the “Blondie” comic strip that’s totally obsessed with sandwiches? Well, we’re pretty obsessed with sandwiches too. Lucky for us there are a lot of great places to get a sandwich in Vegas. We’ve got everything from traditional sandwiches with your standard meat and cheese to more unique offerings like egg sandwiches and sandwiches topped with stuffing and cranberries. Dagwood would be proud.
Here’s where we like to get our sandwich fix in Vegas:
The Beach Bird. Photo courtesy of Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken.
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken at Downtown Summerlin
If you’re a chicken fan, don’t miss out on Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. They come up with a different specialty sandwich every month and it’s usually something pretty spectacular. This month’s sandwich is the Beach Bird, which takes Blue Ribbon’s classic crispy fried chicken sandwich and layers it with shredded lettuce, tomato, pickled cucumbers, brown mustard, a grilled 100 percent beef hot dog, french fries and malt vinegar. Bonus: It’s only $8.95.
Eggslut at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Who says sandwiches have to be for lunch? Grab a breakfast sandwich at Eggslut (opening June 10) and start your day off right. Menu highlights include the signature bacon, egg & cheese sandwich, a decadent creation made with hardwood smoked bacon, an over medium egg, cheddar cheese and chipotle ketchup and the Gaucho sandwich with seared wagyu tri-tip steak, chimichurri, red onions and seasoned arugula topped with an over medium egg on a warm brioche bun.
The Goodwich, at Soho Lofts, 900 S. Las Vegas Blvd. #120 You can’t go wrong at this local favorite sandwich shop. You’ll find classics with a little bit of a twist like the Reuben-ish with corned beef, Swiss cheese, fennel kraut and thousand island dressing; the BLTG with house bacon, tomato, greens, aioli and cheddar bacon grits; and the egg salad with crispy chorizo, pickled onion, chip bits and curry. Sandwiches can be toasted with olive oil or you can keep them untoasted too.
The roasted shaved beef sandwich, photo courtesy of Beerhaus.
Beerhaus at The Park
There are just some things that pair well with a beer and a good sandwich is one of them. Beerhaus has both. Try one of the dozens of beers and then grab one of Beerhaus’ tasty sandwiches. We like the slow roasted shaved beef sandwich with atomic horseradish slaw and white cheddar on a soft bun. There’s also a spit roast pork sandwich and a free range chicken sandwich with crispy onions, arugula, herb mayo and dill pickle.
Guy Fieri’s Kitchen & Bar at The LINQ We all know Guy Fieri likes to do things a bit over the top. If you’ve got a big appetite, check out the Motley Cue sandwich, which was featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” It’s a pulled pork shoulder smothered in Guy’s bourbon brown sugar barbecue sauce and stacked with citrus slaw, pickle chips, cheddar cheese, onion straws and donkey sauce (a kicked up mayo) on a toasted pretzel hoagie.
A turkey club sandwich, photo courtesy of Bruxie.
Bruxie at The Park
Why use bread when you can use waffles? Bruxie makes light, crispy waffles that are not sweet (although you can get those too) and uses them for sandwiches. Try the Carolina BBQ pulled pork with slow-roasted pork, Carolina barbecue sauce, Bruxie cheese sauce, cider slaw and chives. Other choices include buttermilk fried chicken, Buffalo bleu chicken and California pesto chicken.
The famous Bobbie sandwich, photo courtesy of Capriotti’s.
Capriotti’s at Town Square There are several Capriotti’s franchises around the country but if you don’t have one in your town, you might want to consider visiting if you’re in Vegas. Their most famous sandwich – and our favorite – is the Bobbie. It’s basically Thanksgiving on a bun. The sandwich features turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and mayo.
The Original 1762, photo courtesy of Earl of Sandwich.
Earl of Sandwich at Planet Hollywood This popular sandwich spot serves deli-style, made-to-order hot sandwiches on artisan bread. Sandwiches cost around $6.99 so they’re a great value if you’re watching your budget. and come in varieties like chipotle chicken avocado, Hawaiian BBQ, Caprese and Italian. We like The Original 1762 with roast beef, cheddar and horseradish sauce.
The fish and crisp sandwich, photo courtesy of Gordon Ramsay BurGR.
Gordon Ramsay BurGR at Planet Hollywood As the name suggests, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay serves burgers at this restaurant but you’ll also find a sandwich that pays homage to his British heritage. If you like classic fish & chips you’ll want to try the fish & crisp sandwich. It’s a huge piece of ale battered cod, topped with salt and vinegar crisps and fresh dill tartar sauce.
The catfish sloppy Joe, photo courtesy of Las Vegas Weekly.
RM Seafoodat Mandalay Bay
Top Chef Masters’ Rick Moonen created an amazing sandwich that has been featured on Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” The catfish sloppy Joe features chunks of catfish tossed with green pepper and onion in tangy barbecue sauce. It’s topped with pickles and house made potato chips – and it’s delicious.