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 readers to these potential discoveries, Eater Vegas enlisted some of the city's food players to share their recommendations for a feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
The Black Sheep chef and partner Jamie Tran learned how to cook fried rice from her mother as a kid, then followed her chef father’s footsteps by becoming a dishwasher and prep cook at a Northern California restaurant at age 15. She has a business degree from San Francisco State, then graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2011. Her first job in Las Vegas as a line cook at part-time line cook at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole at Mandalay Bay helped her learn fine dining under executive chef Vincent Pouessel. After five years, she followed him to DB Brasserie at the Venetian, where she met director of operations Andy Hooper. The two opened The Black Sheep back in May with her original take on casual modern Vietnamese-American food. Fun fact: The name “The Black Sheep” pays homage to “Tran’s rebellious spirit, following her dad’s suit instead of her brothers, and her breaking through a male-dominated industry.” Here she shares some of her favorite restaurants to frequent when she’s not working at the southwestern Las Vegas restaurant.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
My first trip to Vegas was around the time I turned 21. I stayed at the Paris and had a really amazing meal at Eiffel Tower. It was the first time I tasted foie gras and it came with a huckleberry jam, which was life changing. I also had a great experience at Mon Ami Gabi. There was a lot of drinking, so the memories are fuzzy, but needless to say I was hooked.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
After graduating culinary school in California, I wanted to be on the Strip in the middle of the action with the best chefs and restaurants in the world.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
My favorite place is Weiss Deli in Green Valley. It might come as a surprise but I love homey Jewish cooking, I love their matzoh ball soup and "black mountain" which is a slow-cooked brisket eggs Benedict. It’s the perfect place to go for breakfast.
What about lunch?
Eatt on West Sahara always impresses me with their nice atmosphere and quality ingredients at very fair prices.
A guilty pleasure of mine is great barbecue. Some of the best I've had in Vegas is Big B's BBQ in Henderson. I love brisket; Jewish brisket, Texas brisket, doesn't matter.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
Other Mama is one of my favorites. It is a great example of innovative off-Strip dining. I love their spicy tuna tartare with waffle fries. It’s a great mix of high and low.
Mon Ami Gabi was one of my first Vegas experiences and now many many years later, my mentor chef Vincent Pouessel is the head chef. I dream about his housemade charcuterie and eat it whenever I get the chance.
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
I am huge fan of Carnevino for big nights and celebrations. The service is exceptional, the steaks are perfect and they make some of the best octopus I’ve ever had.
Are there any brunches in town you like to frequent?
I recently moved from Henderson to the Southwest to be closer to The Black Sheep. A great find has been Andre's Bistro, which is in our neighborhood and has an awesome brunch. The eggs Benedict, duck fat fries and fresh beignets are some of my favorites.
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
Being off Strip for the first time in my career, my kitchen team and I have become big fans of Kyara, which is only a few minutes away. They are open late and have really good Japanese tapas, which, along with a beer, is a fun way to wind down after busy nights.
• All Coverage of The Black Sheep [ELV]
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]