We have known it for a while now…the world is just starting to find out. Las Vegas has become a much more compassionate city in the past few years and it is certainly reflected in the food choices that are out there. It is a wonderful sign of the times when one of our popular local chefs on his own decides he wants to put on a special vegan pre-Thanksgiving meal at his restaurant. And that is exactly what happened last night with Chef Beni Velazquez at Bar+Bistro in the Arts District. It was a truly memorable meal shared with wonderful friends.
Chef Beni put together a lovely four-course meal starting off with a fabulous soup of pumpkin, apple, and squash with coconut cream served in a hollowed out and baked acorn squash. It was another one of those things that when you tasted them it becomes like “Fall” in your mouth. It was followed by a Tapas Trio. There was a Grilled Pumpkin Mofongo with Spanish sherry sauce; an Orange-Cranberry Corn Cake with a red wine reduction; and a Sweet Roasted Plantano Quinoa Square with pumpkin sauce. They were all beautiful to look at and the flavors and textures were so enjoyable. A delectable and creative combination.
The main course was a fantastic dish. It was a Plantanos-Wrapped Vega Loaf with a dark rum glaze. I could work one of those into my day…each and every day. It shared the plate with a delicious Chickpea-Saffron rice and a Blackbean Stew, topped with avocado and watercress. By itself, this plate would have been just wonderful. But then there was dessert. Oh my. A trio of delights starting with an oozing Pecan Chocolate Cake, a Citrus Cheesecake, and one of the best two bites of Pumpkin Pie you might ever have. It was a meal to remember and we want to thank Chef Beni and Bar+Bistro for their continued contributions to vegan-friendly dining here in Las Vegas. I hope this can become a yearly Pre-Thanksgiving night tradition…I will be there! Come in and enjoy vegan-friendly options every day at Bar+Bistro and say hi to Chef Beni…
Bar+Bistro (In The Arts Factory)
107 E. Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV. 89104
Hours: Mon-Thurs 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m.
Sun 11:00 a.m.- 8:00 p.m.
It has been pretty amazing to personally witness the evolution of the vegan-friendly cuisine here in the Las Vegas area the past few years. To see the proliferation of plant-based items now found on regular menus, vegan sections, or full vegan menus is not only a wonder, but a joy to see. It has been a pleasure to build personal relationships with so many chefs, restaurant general mangers, and owners and even have the opportunity to help encourage and influence individual restaurants in their own development and unveiling of vegan-friendly options.
One of those restaurants would be Poppy Den, a beautiful restaurant in the wonderful Tivoli Village near Summerlin. This Asian-influenced restaurant is under the guiding hand of celebrity Chef Angelo Sosa. For the better part of the year things have been moving towards expanding beyond a few vegan-friendly options that are on the menu. Mindy Tatti with our Las Vegan Eatz Dinner Club and Events has had a real hand and involvement in all of this working with Chef Angelo himself to bring some more delicious and vegan-friendly options to the suburbs of Las Vegas. Mindy organized a small dinner party where Chef Angelo would feature some idea of the items that could be featured on the new menu. We had high expectations and were ready for anything.
One thing about high expectations, when they are exceeded, you can’t help but be very impressed. We were all impressed to say the least with the courses that Chef Angelo brought out to the table for us to enjoy. The first course was a Beet Salad with a Ginger “Bubble Bath.” It had, along with every dish of the night, a little spicy kick to it…which I loved. I will say it was the best beet salad I have ever had. The spicy Lo Mein noodles came next and they were outstanding. The Sweet and Sour Tofu was magnificent. By the time we got to the Pepper Mushrooms and rice we were starting to get really full…but it was so good and we could not stop eating. The meal ended with a simple but spectacular Braised Pumpkin slice with a sweet, spicy, curry broth over it. It was Fall in our mouths…oh my.
We are not sure at this point which or if any of these dishes will be on the regular menu. But if this is any indication of the quality and inventiveness of the food…we are in for a real treat here at Poppy Den. It is good to know that if you wanted to have a little vegan dinner party, here is another place you could do it at with a little planning. This was really something very special and we thank Chef Angelo Sosa and his staff for making this dinner a reality. We are looking forward to an epic repeat in January as Poppy Den is going to host our Las Vegan Eatz Dinner Club for that month. I am more than ready for a return visit.
440 S. Rampart Blvd. #180 (Inside Tivoli Village)
Las Vegas, NV. 89145
Hours: Dinner Sun-Thurs 4:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat 4:00 p.m.-11:00 p.m.
The Den (Upstairs Late Night) Wed-Thurs 7:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Fri-Sat 10:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m.
Great friendships are true treasures in life. I am fortunate to be living in a very exciting time of life and be surrounded by some pretty amazing people. People who are smart, loving, compassionate, and dedicated to making a difference in this world. One of those people is my friend, Vincenzo Granata, the general manager at Panevino. Panevino is not only a beautiful place but one that I also call home. It is one of my very favorite places to be. Vincenzo is a big part of that.
Vincenzo is simply one of the most intelligent and gracious people that I have ever met. Not only do I learn from him, but I am always encouraged by him. He is a true gentleman and makes sure that everything at Panevino runs as it should and makes sure that he puts his very personal touch on it all. The fact that he is also vegan and certified in plant-based nutrition only adds to what he offers to his guests. I believe that Vincenzo is one of the most dynamic restaurant personalities in all of Las Vegas.
So when Vincenzo asks if I would like to come in and try the new fresh pasta that they had perfected and made there at Panevino, I said just tell me the time and I am there. I have gotten this far in this blog and haven’t even mentioned the food at Panevino…which is superb. They boast a full vegan menu that rivals any that you will find anywhere…in Las Vegas…and beyond. Vincenzo started me out with a delicious salad of greens with tomatoes, artichokes, hearts of palm, and avocado. So fresh and delicious. The pasta that they made was made of whole-wheat semolina, spinach and flaxseed. The texture and taste was amazing. Mixed with heirloom tomatoes, chanterelle, and porcini mushrooms…it was a dish that hopefully will be on the menu soon. I will definitely need more of this.
Lunch was topped off with a cup of delicious vegan hot cocoa…let’s just say it was dessert in a cup and nothing else was needed. Looking out the expansive windows on a beautiful, cloudless fall day at the Las Vegas Skyline…there was much to be thankful for…great friends and great food to begin with. If you would like to participate in our special holiday Las Vegan Eatz Dinner Club at Panevino…it is taking place on Saturday, December 7 at 7:00 p.m. For more details and for tickets you can go www.brownpapertickets.com/event/511854. Ciao baby…
246 Via Antonio Ave.
Las Vegas, NV. 89119
Hours: Lunch Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30 p.m.
Dinner Mon-Sat 5:00-10:00 p.m
I went to my first Pizza Rock location a couple of years back in their location in Downtown Sacramento. I was impressed with the quality of the pizza from 11-Time World Pizza Champion Tony Gemignani. The semi-truck coming out of the wall was pretty cool as well as the steady stream of rock tunes coming out of the speakers. Not that I mind going to Sacramento at any time, but I am glad to report that Pizza Rock is now open in Downtown Las Vegas across from the newly remodeled Grand Hotel and this place is indeed rocking!
Artisan pizzas cooked in a 900 degree wood oven and a spacious, attractively decorated interior with you guessed it…the cab and front of a semi-truck sitting right in the middle of it. And they do offer a pizza, the Marinara, without cheese. Many people do not know that going back to pizza’s inception back in Naples, Italy, not all pizzas even had cheese. The gooey mess tends to mask some of the real flavors going on. This Marinara Pizza is fantastic with San Marzano tomatoes, sea salt, garlic, oregano, EVOO on a fabulous crust. I added caramelized onions and had the top covered with arugula. It was so good I came back a few days later and had another one!
It is also possible to adapt some of the other pizza combinations and leave off the cheese or other animal products. Lots of great veggies and things to add. The management is very open to expanding their vegan-friendly offerings so make sure when you go in you let them know that you would like to see more. A good non-dairy cheese would be a start…but I have to tell you that this Marinara with the extras was terrific by itself. The also have a take-out window and you can call ahead for an order to pick up and take with you. Pizza Rock is a wonderful addition to the amazing transformation that is happening in the heart of our great city.
Pizza Rock Las Vegas
201 N. 3rd. St.
Las Vegas, NV. 89101
Hours: Sun-Thurs 11:00 a.m.-12:00 midnight
Fri-Sat 11:00 a.m.- 4:00 a.m.
By now…you must have been to Veggie House in Chinatown at least once…or a dozen times. I think most all of the vegetarian/vegan community here in Las Vegas and those that visit have become acquainted with the mastery of Chef Kenny and what he is able to create without the use of animal products and artificial ingredients.. I personally don’t care for the terms “faux meat” or “fake meat.” Perhaps that is how some would see it. I just see them as tasty protein source alternatives. Do I eat them every day? Certainly not. Yet if that is what you are desiring, or if you want to bring a meat-eating friend or two to a place where they can sample some delicious, kind alternatives…then Veggie House is the place you need to bring them to.
Even with as many times that I have been to Veggie House, I have yet to make a dent in their extensive menu. I have a hard time getting past the Spicy Crispy “Beef.” Though I do try. The thing of it is…every time I come in Chef Kenny is telling me he is working on another new creation and I know at that point I will not be able to catch up. The menu will continue to grow and evolve past my ability to be able to sample it all. I will continue to press on. Smiles…
I did try something new this time…the Kung Pao Beef. It was delicious and spicy and went so well with the side of side of brown rice. I nibbled a bit on the Lemon Chick’n and Broccoli and that was wonderful as well. We started things off with the Spicy Crispy Eggplant, which if you have never tried before is a revelation in itself. I could probably make a meal of that alone but it served to be a great appetizer. I never have room for dessert at Veggie House, though I have sampled them and they are a terrific way to end a meal. There are very few sure bets in Las Vegas, but I would have to say that Veggie House must be considered as certainly one of them.
5115 Spring Mountain Rd. (a block west of Decatur)
Las Vegas, NV. 89146
Hours: 11:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Daily