The first new restaurant to open in the new year? Chayo Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar, taking center stage inside The Linq, the $550 million entertainment district that just opened between The Quad and the Flamingo. Chayo, near the front of The Linq with a separate entrance inside The Quad, serves up Mexican dining from chef Ernesto Zendejas as well as a deejay, a mechanical bull and a huge tequila collection.
On the ground floor of this 12,000-square-foot restaurant find a patio and a main room with floor-to-ceiling glass doors that open up in nicer weather. The centerpiece here, a mechanical bull nicknamed "Chayo." A granite-topped bar winds through half of the dining room, while exposed beams and distressed fixtures add to the Old World meets contemporary feel of the space. Booths are separated by thick ropes strung tightly from floor to ceiling while ornate frames showcase classic Mexican photographs and artwork. Also, a semi-private dining room for 40 finds a home here.
Head upstairs via a stairway lined with green, white and red sombreros that together create a Mexican flag. The second floor features a smaller dinner room with its own bar as well as an upper level patio with a fire feature running its length.
The menu here includes small bites, priced from $9 to $14, such as guacamole served with pork rinds or tortilla chips; queso fundido; pork sopes made with crispy tortillas topped with homemade black beans, spicy Mexican chorizo, crispy potatoes, a drizzle of Mexican crema and queso fresco; and bass ceviche topped with mango and avocado.
The appetizer menu ranges in price from $8 to $14 with choices such as tortilla soup made with queso fresca; mango and watercress salad tossed with jicama and honey vinaigrette; cilantro cream soup complete with serrano pepper and roasted pine nuts; and an array of tostadas and tacos. Entrées, priced from $18 to $32, include Ahi tuna served with fingerling potatoes and mole verde; grilled chicken with sweet potato mash and ancho chile cream; flank steak with yucca fries and chimichurri; pork tenderloin with cactus leaves and mole negro; and fajita variations.
Chayo also serves up more than 50 tequilas, as well as specialty cocktails such as the Puncho Villa with Tanteo jalapeño tequila, lime juice, watermelon juice, muddled cucumber and mint and the Buenos Dias, a combination of Ciroc peach vodka, Red Bull and pineapple juice.
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