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.
Yardbird Southern Kitchen & Table’s Melvin Johnson just moved up to executive chef at the restaurant at the Venetian. The Los Angeles native grew up in his parents barbecue restaurant before he made the jump into Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in New York City as a broiler cook in 2002. He moved on to Southern chef Norma Jean Darden’s Spoonbread group of restaurants as a sous chef before he opened a gourmet food truck called Slow Cal BBQ in San Diego in 2010. Three years later, he brought Slow Cal BBQ to Las Vegas and began working as a banquet sous chef at Mandalay Bay. In 2015 he joined the Yardbird team as chef de cuisine. Here, Johnson shares some of his favorite places off the Strip to grab some breakfast.
Where do you like to go for breakfast in Las Vegas?
My favorite place to go when family is in town is Rise & Shine. They make you feel right at home — the servers are even in pajamas! I take my kids there often.
Another favorite is LoLo’s Chicken & Waffles. It’s got that Southern feel that I love — sweet Kool-aid in the morning and down-home comfort food.
Divine Eatery is a hidden gem that I go to. It’s my favorite place to read the Sunday paper while drinking a coffee.
What breakfast dishes are most memorable?
At Rise & Shine, the ribeye and chilaquiles is my favorite. The steak is always cooked perfectly, and the fried spicy tortillas with eggs are great. After I go there I usually need a nap afterwards.
At LoLo’s, I get chicken and waffles, catfish and grits and red velvet pancakes.
At Divine Eatery, they make a great frosted flake French toast that’s to die for! They also serve an amazing coffee blend.
Why do you enjoy going there?
All of these places are very far from the Strip and loved by locals. It’s great to be in a neighborhood rather than on the strip where I work all the time.
My favorite breakfast food of all time is cold pizza — but when I’m feeling adventurous, I love finding breakfast places that don’t just have the simple eggs, grits and potatoes. I like when it’s all about the meat — a nice pork belly, Portuguese sausage, a great steak, fried fish. Now that to me is great breakfast food.