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. Know a chef who wants to share some top dining spots? The tipline is open.
Erik Syhre [Photo: Chelsea McManus]
Erik Syhre picked up a dishwashing job in the small town of Denver, Iowa, at age 15 and never looked back. "I quickly fell in love with the fast-paced environment," he says. After earning a degree in culinary arts and restaurant management at the Arizona Culinary Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz., he started working as a line cook with Fox Concepts. "Fox took me under their wing, had me help open a number of restaurants, trained me to become sous chef at Olive & Ivy, then executive sous chef at Olive & Ivy and eventually executive chef of Culinary Dropout," he says. "It's been an amazing five years." Even though he's been the executive chef at Culinary Dropout at the Hard Rock Hotel for a short time, he dove into the culinary scene here in Vegas. Here, he shares five of his favorite places to dine.
Which restaurants do you turn to when you're not working?
For me I like a range, don't want the same atmosphere everywhere I go. My favorites would include China Poblano, Goyemon Sushi House, Forte, Desnudo Tacos and Honey Salt.
What dishes are most memorable?
At China Poblano I enjoy the carnitas (a braised baby pork taco with pork rinds and salsa verde... does it get better then that), ensalada de remolacha y aguacate (beautiful salad composed of beets, tomatillos and avocado. Everything is done right and the ingredients really shine in this dish) and golden pigs (imagine having dinner and dessert at the same time, steamed buns fried and stuffed with barbecue pork, then to top it off it's served with condensed milk. It's salty, sweet, juicy all at the same time. It's amazing).
Goyemon Sushi House has great dishes and even better prices. The spicy tuna rice cracker is just crispy rice, tuna, yum and eel sauce. So simple and so good. They execute this perfectly. All their rolls are good really.
Forte is always calling my name. I love the octopus in olive oil, which is served with Spanish herb rice. The Vareniki is the best I have ever had. I love dumplings and these tower over others in comparison. You have to order the beef stroganoff ragu — great pasta and a delicious mushroom ragu. Nice rich, layered taste that makes you feel all warm and good on the inside.
Desnudo Tacos, well, there's tacos in the name so I was already a fan. Great street tacos, oyster ceviche, nice soups and drinks, house made salsas and pickled vegetables.
Love the home feel at Honey Salt. The food is great here. Start with the New England fry for sure. Fried clams, calamari and peppers, you can't go wrong here. For mains I keep going back to the chicken curry, sea scallops and the free-range chicken. The curry has great rice, great chicken, and great spice. Their scallops leave you wanting more every time. The chicken served with mac and cheese and chicken jus just makes me feel more at home when I'm there.
Why do you enjoy going there?
All of these places offer something different and at different price points. You know you're in for a great night when you start at China Poblano, great food, great service and the kitchen is so fast. After which you're on the Strip feeling great ready to take on Vegas. Forte and Desnudo are great spots to relax and have a great meal with tons of smiles, so quaint and friendly. I love how they have taken the normal and made it something that stands out and it shows in their food. Goyemon has a great sushi happy hour and great prices any other time of day. At Honey Salt you feel like you're eating at grandmas. Nice country feel with a heavy dose of elegance, and being from Iowa I enjoy that.
· All Coverage of Culinary Dropout [~ELV~]
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