clock menu more-arrow no yes
A man wears a black shirt with his arms crossed

Filed under:

Healthy Mexican Cuisine and a Molino Arrive When Milpa Opens

Chef DJ Flores opens a restaurant with roasted vegetable and grain bowls, tetela, and tacos

DJ Flores at Milpa
| Louiie Victa

Consider Milpa a healthy Mexican restaurant with its hearty roasted vegetable bowls, tetelas, and tacos. Chef DJ Flores opens his first solo project on Monday for takeout and delivery only.

Milpa combines a molino and cafe-style restaurant serving contemporary Mexican food with different grain and roasted vegetables bowls. “Our mission is to bring a better alternative to Mexican cuisine with sourcing better ingredients from farms and using the highest quality heirloom corn for our in house-made, stone-ground masas and tortillas,” Flores says.

Las Vegas native Flores got a head start in the restaurant world when he began working at age 16. He’s worked under chefs such as José Andrés, Aitor Zabala, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, and Lorena Garcia during his career, and then moved to Mexico City to become a stagiere for Jorge Vallejo’s acclaimed restaurant, Quintonil, which helped him come up with the cuisine at Milpa. Flores then opened Vegas’ Meso Tortillas, which supplied nixtamal masa and tortillas to local restaurants, and worked at La Monja at Fergusons Downtown.

Flores was working at Chica at the Venetian as the chef de cuisine when he contracted COVID-19 and missed three weeks of work. While he wasn’t hospitalized, he says he was very sick. After he returned to work, he lost his job, and decided to team up with other unemployed culinary workers to launch his own restaurant. He ended up taking over the former Elia space 4226 S. Durango Drive near Flamingo Avenue.

He plans to serve fast-casual fare highlighting corn from Mexico with a good mix of vegan and vegetarian dishes. He calls it “healthier alternatives to Mexican cuisine.” Flores uses produce from the Intuitive Forager as well as quinoa and chickpeas in his dishes. “It doesn’t have to be complicated,” he says. “It should just be straightforward from the farm.”

Milpa grain bowls
From left: Avo and chickpeas and the Milpa grain bowl
Louiie Victa/Eater Vegas

The molino side of the restaurant offers heirloom corn from Mexico in tetelas, triangular masa pouches filled with eggs and black beans or mushrooms and squash, and taco kits that feature cauliflower tinga, beef barbacoa, or pollo adobado. “People in Vegas want that healthier option.” Everything on the menu costs less than $13.

Milpa
Beef barbacoa and pollo adobado taco kits at Milpa
Louiie Victa
Milpa
From left: black bean and eggs tetela and mushroom and squash tetela at Milpa
Louiie Victa

The bowls come with avocado, quinoa, and chickpeas; roasted corn, squash, and lentils; cilantro farro with butternut squash and spinach; or roasted squash, beets, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. Customers can add chicken thighs or cilantro lime shrimp.

Eventually, Flores plans to open the dining room when restrictions are looser for restaurants, now operating at 25 percent occupancy to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and he will launch a coffee program. Some of his chef friends plan to open ghost kitchens in the restaurant in the coming weeks with their own menus for takeout and delivery.

The name of his restaurant, Milpa, comes from the crop-growing system used in Mexico and Central America. He says he was thinking about how he could help the community and grow at the same time. “If I grow with them, they grow with me.”

Milpa, 4226 S. Durango Drive, 702-247-4147. Open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Order online.

Every Restaurant and Bar That Opened in Las Vegas: 2021 Edition [ELV]

La Monja

1028 Fremont Street, , NV 89101 (702) 848-3530 Visit Website

Fergusons Downtown

1028 Fremont Street, , NV 89101 Visit Website

Las Vegas

, , NV

Chica

3355 South Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (702) 805-8472 Visit Website

Milpa

4226 South Durango Drive, , NV 89147 (702) 247-4147 Visit Website
Vegas Restaurant Openings

Highly Anticipated Superfrico Debuts on the Las Vegas Strip With Entertainment Spilling Into the Dining Room

Eater Guides

Las Vegas Dining 101: A Guide for Eating and Drinking in Sin City

Vegas Restaurant Openings

Downtown Newcomer Peyote Brings a Palm Springs Vibe With Cactus, Pastels, and a Huge Patio

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater Las Vegas newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world