Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Christina Olivarez, the executive chef of Diego at the MGM Grand, made her national television debut last night on Chopped, where she became the first female chef in Vegas and at MGM Resorts to win the whole kit and caboodle. The new TV star has spent most of her career at Diego, working at Fiamma before making the leap over to the Mexican restaurant. Here she shares her favorite places to dine when she’s not in the limelight on television.
Where do you enjoy eating when you’re not working at your own restaurant?
Some of my favorite places to eat are Circo at Bellagio, Egg Works and the SnOw ONO shave ice truck.
Of those restaurants, what dishes are most memorable?
At Circo, I really enjoy their pastas. Everything is hand made and delicious. Pappardelle with handmade sausage? Yes, please! They also have a braised duck-filled pasta, Pansotti, that comes with porcini mushrooms that is rich and delicious. I also cannot leave Circo without a strawberry souffle. They bring out this beautifully risen souffle with a quenelle of strawberry sorbet and Anglaise then put the sorbet and Anglaise into the souffle tableside. The sorbet melts as you eat it and mixes with the Anglaise and it is definitely the best souffle I’ve had.
At Egg Works, I love the seasoned potatoes that come with everything. They are simply crispy potatoes with seasoning but they are great! They are COVERED in the spice and the potatoes are beautifully orange and salty and delicious, perfect with any omelet, eggs, skillet, you name it! They also have the option for a banana muffin? I’m not a big banana nut person but these are a whole different story!
SnOw ONO is the perfect stop in the summer. You have the choice of a gazillion flavors and I always do banana along with another flavor. Tiger’s Blood, Guava Punch, POG (a mix of pineapple, orange, guava) or piña colada are on the top of my list. I always have to top my shave ice with a “snow cap,” sweetened condensed milk! Yum!
Why do you enjoy going there?
Circo is a special place for me and my husband to go. We usually end up there for a celebration or something special and it holds a lot of special memories for the two of us. Circo is definitely our perfect date spot. Totally romantic with a table overlooking the fountains.
Egg Works is the weekend go-to. It’s great to sit there with the pot of coffee, relax and chill out. We pick people up at the airport and head straight to Egg Works and that’s the start to many trips for family and friends.
SnOw ONO is fun, refreshing and the people who run it are super friendly. I’ve gone as far as waiting for two hours to get a shave ice. I had just discovered SnOw ONO and they were out at Vegas StrEATS one night and I couldn’t leave without getting my shave ice! The line to order took almost an hour then we waited another hour to get our shave ice! Well worth the wait!
· All Coverage of Diego [~ELV~]
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Christina Olivarez [Photo: MGM Grand]