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Morel's J.L. Carrera Shares Family-Favorite Restaurants

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.

JL%20Carerra-3.jpgJ.L. Carrera [Photo: Cal Bingham]

Morels executive chef J.L. Carrera moved to the United States from Guatemala in 1985 and began honing his skills in the kitchen at a seafood restaurant in Malibu before starting his career with Market City Caffe Hospitality Group two years later. He ended up learning every position in the kitchen and eventually becoming the executive chef of the Pasadena outlet of Market City Caffe. After opening branches in Burbank, Beverly Hills, Brea and the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas, he headed back to Southern California to open Rose City Diner and Market City Caffe in Arcadia. Later, he became the executive chef of Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro at The Grove in Los Angeles before opening the concept in the Palazzo in 2008, where he remains the executive chef. Here he shares some of his family's favorite places to dine when he's not in the kitchen.

JL%20Carerra-1.jpgJ.L. Carrera [Photo: Cal Bingham]

Which restaurants do you turn to when you're not working?
Family is really important to me. I've been married for 20 years this month and have two children (both born and raised in Vegas) so I like to treat them to the restaurants they enjoy.
Dragon Noodle

What dishes are most memorable?
Brio is my wife's absolute favorite restaurant and you know the saying — happy wife, happy life. I usually order their special with the Bruschette and the chef's toppings of the day or the Caprese salad because they use fresh mozzarella.

My daughter absolutely loves Carraba's and their wood-fired pizza, so we always get one of those to share with pepperoni and tomatoes. I'm friends with the sous chef so they bring the pizza dough out to the table so she can knead it before cooking it. She likes feeling like she helped cook it.

Dragon Noodle at Monte Carlo is traditional Hong Kong-style Chinese food and that's where I take my work family. I love all Asian cuisine but my top favorites there are kung pao shrimp, Mongolian barbecue and soup noodles.

Why do you enjoy going there?
Like I mentioned, I've been married 20 years so I enjoy going to nice family restaurants where my wife and children like going to and you know you are going to get a great meal every time you go. Dragon Noodle has fun quirky decor that makes you feel like you've stepped into Hong Kong, Brio is great to get away from the Strip and have dinner on the patio and Carraba's helps bring out the fun in cooking for my children.
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Morels French Steakhouse and Bistro

3325 South Las Vegas Boulevard, , NV 89109 (702) 607-6333 Visit Website