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.
Chef Michael Plourde, the owner and chef at Paid in Full with Jason Olson, met his partner while working at Michael Mina’s Aqua, now Mina’s namesake restaurant, at the Bellagio. Plourd worked on the pastry side of the restaurant, later moving on to Cliff House in Pikes Peak, Colorado, and then worked as a kitchen manager in Boston. He returned to Las Vegas to be the pastry chef at Nobhill Tavern at the MGM Grand, and then helped open Tableau at Wynn Las Vegas. He went on to work at Nobu at the Hard Rock Hotel, then Botero at Encore Las Vegas. He opened Suzuya Pastries & Crepes with his wife Misuzu four years ago. Here, he shares some of his top picks for breakfast, fancy dinners, and a night out on the town.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
I first came to Las Vegas for my brother’s wedding. He had moved out here a few years before. I stayed with them for a week after the wedding and realized there was more to Vegas than just the Strip. People actually lived here like normal people and didn’t go to the casinos every night.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
This was around the time that Bellagio was opening and Mandalay Bay was being built. The culinary scene in Vegas was starting to change. I put in an application at the Bellagio and was hired at Aqua, now Michael Mina.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
Being an owner of a pastry shop and restaurant now, I don’t have much free time to get out and eat. When I do get a chance to wake up early for breakfast, Baguette Cafe is always a great choice. Their egg and bacon croissant always hits the spot, but you also can’t go wrong with any of their quiche. I don’t think I’ve gone a day without Frankly Good Coffee, fair trade coffee roasted in Boulder City. Glenn and Stef are two of the nicest people you will ever meet. Hit them up at most of the farmer’s markets around town, or Suzuya Patisserie.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
For dinner, Ocha Thai has become one of my favorites. It has been a family-owned fixture in Las Vegas for about 30 years, but a few years ago the owner, Bundit, took it over from his aunt and started to make some updates. The mint chicken is great, but ask for it over rice with a fried egg, an off the menu special. He’s opening a late-night bar and the Isaan sausage is a perfect bite with a beer after work.
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
There are a lot of places in Vegas to go for special occasions. For our 10th anniversary, my wife and I went big with the degustation menu at Joël Robuchon. It was quite expensive but well worth it. How many times do you get to celebrate your 10th anniversary? But for any other occasion, Kaiseki Yuzu can’t be beat. I don’t have any favorite dishes. Just get the kaiseki menu and let chef Aze-san work his magic. He did cook for the Emperor of Japan, after all.
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
If I get a chance to go out after work, I like a simple, well-made cocktail, like a Manhattan or Negroni. One of the best is at Herbs & Rye.
• All Coverage of Paid in Full [ELV]
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]