Hospitality veteran Andy Hooper has a new restaurant opening next week, this time bringing Mexican fare to Mountain’s Edge. El Luchador Mexican Kitchen + Cantina takes over a former Burgerim space in the Mountains Edge Marketplace, close to Hooper’s other restaurant, Locale Italian Kitchen.
The 2,286-square-foot space features room for a patio up front with an occupancy of 75.
Hooper brings in chef Aaron Bryan to helm the kitchen. The Southern California native attended Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon, and went on to intern with the Four Seasons Newport Beach. After a year, he was accepted into their sous chef training program before being promoted to assistant banquet chef. He worked as a chef tournant at Nero’s Steakhouse at Caesars Palace in 2006, and moved on to become a sous chef at Charlie Palmer Steak, executive room chef for Station Casinos, and chef de cuisine at Eggslut at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
As the restaurant prepares to open next week, it’s starting to tease some of the menu. Guacamole made table side with house-made tortilla chips and elote with Fresno chili peppers, tajin, and queso cojita are just two of the dishes highlighted so far. The restaurant plans to stock more than 80 tequilas behind the bar with $10 shots of Don Julio 1942, Clase Azul Reposado, and Don Fulano Imperial on Sundays and Mondays.
Hooper’s long career in hospitality includes opening B&B Ristorante and Carnevino Italian Steakhouse as general manager, working at Steven Starr’s Buddakan in New York City as general manager, and then director of operations for Alicart Restaurant Group and for chef Daniel Boulud and Dinex Group. In 2017, he opened The Black Sheep, the Restaurant of the Year for Eater Vegas with Chef of the Year Jamie Tran and Jon Schwalb. Hooper followed that up with Locale Italian Kitchen in June 2019.
Once El Luchador debuts, it plans to be open daily from 4:30 to 9 p.m.