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.
Jeffrey Weiss and his chef-partner Paras Shah brought “paella for the people” to Las Vegas earlier this summer when they launched Valencian Gold, a fast-casual Spanish restaurant specializing in customized dishes of the rice dish. For nearly two decades ago, Weiss worked with chefs such as José Andrés and April Bloomfield, as well as Spanish-based chefs Adolfo Muñoz and Dani García. He earned an ICEX culinary scholarship in 2009 that enabled him to live in Spain, learn the regional cuisines, and cook in the kitchens of top Spanish chefs. His James Beard and Gourmand World Cookbook Award-nominated book, Charcutería: The Soul of Spain, chronicles his time working in Spain and learning the various charcuterie styles of the Iberian Peninsula. Here, Weiss shares some of his favorite restaurants in Las Veas.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (wherein this particular Jedi had a little more hair and a lot less body fat) I was a pairs figure skater — Spandex and all. We came to Vegas for a competition, and I vividly remember the brunch buffet where I tried my first eggs Benedict. It was a lemony, Hollandaise-y revelation and I was hooked for years! I ate eggs Benedict from then on every chance I could get, right up until I read Anthony Bourdain’s diatribe against both brunch and Hollandaise. Then it was onto banana pancakes… until those were ruined too, thank you very much Jack Johnson.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
Paras and I searched for the perfect home for Valencian Gold for over a year, but just couldn’t find that unique fit of where we wanted to spend time while introducing our first-of-its-kind Spanish concept. But when we came to Vegas, we knew we found our home. There are just so few major cities where cooks can afford to live where they work, let alone where they can have the chance to own a home and build a life alongside their career. That’s why we are so grateful to have the chance to become part of the hospitality world here in Southwest Vegas, and to bring Valencian Gold to this area and beyond.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
I cannot tell you how many collective calories we have consumed at The Original Pancake House on Fort Apache. Those buckwheat pancakes are money.
What about lunch?
That almost always means a stop at Meraki Greek Grill. I’m a sucker for a good avgolemono, and their grilled meats are just straight delicious.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
I’m a low maintenance dude… just give me a burger with integrity and a cold beer. And the best damn burger in town, without question or argument, comes from the butcher room of Ralph Perrazo at BBD’s in the Palace Station. This dude knows meat, and really knows burgers… but I will legit fight you for the last bite of his giant pretzel and fried mozz. OK, maybe not fight you but I’ll definitely steal them all when you’re not looking.
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
José Andrés has selflessly done so much for my career — from recommending me for a scholarship to cook in Spain, to writing the forward to my book Charcutería: The Soul of Spain — so I will always be his biggest fan and follower. I consider every one of Jose’s restaurants a special place, whether it’s Jaleo where I first learned to sling paella or the incredible kitchen of our friend chef Alex Pitts at Bazaar Meats and some of the most innovative steakhouse food (and amazing charcuterie) you’ve ever seen.
Are there any brunches in town you like to frequent?
All day, any day, I will go to Café Breizh in Summerlin for ALL of the things. Pierre is an amazing pâtissier, and his breads are so good that we begged him to make our mini baguette for Valencian Gold’s pan con tomate. Oh, and his quiche is one of the most perfect expressions of an egg I’ve ever seen.
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
OK, I’ll let our little secret out: if we want late-night food, and we want to stay away from the Strip, it’s all about Pure Indian Cuisine near the airport since Paras is half-Indian, I just make him order everything. Our table always has chana masala, chicken tikka naan, and their tandoori mixed grill. Foodies may turn their nose up at our favorite hangout, but this place checks all of the boxes for us cooks: (1) legit food, (2) cold beer, (3) great prices, (4) an amazing and gracious staff, and (5) just the right amount of Bollywood kitsch.
• All Coverage of Valencian Gold [ELV]
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]