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.
Mexico native Francisco “Kiko” Ojeda moved to Los Angeles at age 15 to start what his long career at The Palm Restaurant. He started as a dishwasher and later a line cook in West Hollywood. Twelve years later, Ojeda transferred to Las Vegas to work as the location at the Forum Shops at Caesars, first as a line cook and later promoted to executive chef. During his 34-year career at The Palm, he spent 22 in Las Vegas, where he continues to lead the kitchen. Here, Ojeda shares some of his favorite places to dine in Las Vegas, and they all have a Mexican feel to them.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
I visited Las Vegas for the first time in 1988 to visit family and friends who lived in the area. This trip was the first time I understood the “Las Vegas experience” and couldn’t wait to come back and take in even more sights.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
I relocated to Las Vegas because I loved the variety Vegas had to offer as I still got the quiet town vibe yet there was always something exciting to do. I also wanted to further my career by working in a larger and busier Palm Restaurant as opposed to my previous location in West Hollywood.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
My favorite place to eat breakfast and lunch is at Tacos Los Toritos Mexican restaurant. If you have an opportunity to go, I highly recommend the chile relleno. It’s my favorite and the best in Vegas.
If you're going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
I enjoy Viva Zapata’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina but I also frequent Doña Maria Tamales as well. My favorite plate to order is carne asada because it’s the most authentic, tender beef in town and reminds me of home.
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]