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.
Zuma’s chef Sergio Flores moved to Las Vegas to help the restaurant open at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas in 2017. The former sous chef at Zuma in Miami worked at Trader Vic’s for 10 years, first as an executive chef, then as a corporate culinary trainer, and finally culinary consultant who helped open the restaurant in Ras al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates. Here he shares some of his favorites places to dine in Las Vegas.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
I had just graduated high school in Modesto, California, and had an older cousin who was living in Las Vegas. Somehow, he convinced me to catch the train or bus to Las Vegas, which eventually took me 14 hours to arrive.
I want to say I was standing outside Treasure Island on my 18th birthday waiting for my cousin to sneak out some “free” drinks. Not only does he come out with some fruity, syrupy mixed drink, but a foot-long hot dog for only $1.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
I moved to Las Vegas for Zuma. I was part of the opening team.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
Personally, I’m not big into breakfast. But if I do have the time, I love to stop by Paris Baguette on Spring Mountain for a house iced coffee (similar to Vietnamese-style coffee) and a hot dog bun.
What about lunch?
Now if I’m being selfish, I’d have to go with Tacos El Gordo. This place is somewhere that I can definitely rack up a nice bill. Everything seems so inexpensive priced at $4 and below but trust me after a few carne asada tacos, followed by couple tostada de pastor, but the kicker is buche, which is pork stomach. Don’t shy away from this succulent, fatty cut. Be sure to order it “con todo” and a squeeze of lime to cut the fattiness.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
Hands down Hachi on Jones and D.I. (Desert Inn for you “non” locals”). Order some skewers with a cold Asahi draft and you’d think you’re at local yakitori/izakaya place in Tokyo. Bacon-wrapped mochi, pork with negi shio, karage (Japanese fried chicken), and as my sous chef Briant aka Cheeks would say… “ayeee don’t forget the hamachi kama.”
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
Not sure if I want to mention “my bar” to the public. Then it will no longer be the nice, quaint, relaxing place I’ve grown to love. But all things must grow so I’ll let the world in on my little secret — The Tailgater Tavern.
• All Coverage of Zuma [ELV]
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]