A coastal Mexican restaurant with a playful vibe opens at Encore Las Vegas in September. The resort opens Casa Playa in the former Elio from superstar chefs from Enrique Olvera, Daniela Soto-Innes, and Santiago Perez of ATM Group space. Elio permanently closed in November 2020.
Elio executive chef Sarah Thompson returns to debut her own menu, while Wynn resort mixologist Mariena Mercer Boarini created the daring cocktails and assistant general manager and agave expert Noah Arenstein curated the robust mezcal and tequila collection.
Casa Playa has a new look courtesy of Wynn Resorts’ creative studio, Wynn Design and Development, bringing a Mexican escape right off the casino floor. Two new fixtures feature cascading marigolds in the main dining room, while the front lounge remains. Encore promises “an upscale feet-in-the-sand, resort-style dining experience,” with creative director of Wynn Design and Development Michael Wood calling it a space “illuminated by candlelight along a moonlit beach.”
The menu takes its inspiration from the grilled seafood found at hidden playacitas along the Mexican shoreline. Thompson calls her menu a “culinary adventure,” where she tried to balance creativity with tradition. She created her own playful takes on dishes such as a squash blossom quesadilla, Baja fried fish tacos, and queso fundido with house made chorizo. A crudo of Mexican blue shrimp comes with young coconut, tomatillo, and cucumber; yellowfin tuna tartare comes with pasilla chile and avocado; and towering seafood platters come with options such as Kusshi oysters, Hokkaido scallops, king crab legs, lobster tail, and shrimp cocktail. Appetizer options include a black truffle tostada with Cabot clothbound cheddar and corn cream; duck confit tamal with mole de la casa and ricotta; and octopus served with coloradito mole and potato in escabeche. For main courses, diners can opt for shareable dishes such as whole cauliflower al pastor featuring pineapple butter and cashew salsa macha; branzino a la Talla topped with guajillo adobo, herbs, and salsa cruda; and Yucatan chicken pibil made with orange annatto adobo and potato. Casa Playa also plans to have family-style dishes meant for the table to share. Whole roasted carnitas come with crispy skin, smoked agave syrup, chipotle slaw, chile toreado, and charred cucumber salsa, and the Casa Playa surf and turf features wagyu carne asada, lobster, chorizo, short rib suadero, green chorizo, and serrano.
Live entertainment includes deejays to go along with Mercer Boarini’s divinely balanced cocktails. The Temple of Doom comes with Mal Bien Espadin Mezcal, grilled pineapple, chipotle, and lime, while the Forbidden Fruit is a riff on the frozen margarita featuring El Tesoro Blanco, mango, lime, chamoy caramel, and mango trinity salt. For something a little different, diiners can opt for the City of Dawn with Grey Goose Essence Watermelon Basil Vodka and cucumber mint agua fresca or the Ojo De Tigre with Uncle Nearest Bourbon with Patrón Roca Añejo Tequila mixed with salted peanut marzipan and plantain.
Casa Playa also delivers a robust mezcal and tequila collection, courtesy of Arenstein, with barrel picks and rare batches of 200 bottles or less. Diners can order by the sip, as a flight, or as part of a pairing tasting. Some highlights include Neta Mezcal Tepextate, Cascahuin Extra Añejo Tequila, Fuenteseca 18 Year Tequila, and Vago Mezcal Tobala de Aquilino, which, with a limited 125 bottle batch, is only available at Casa Playa.
Other recent openings at Wynn include Delilah, the over-the-top supper club, and Overlook Lounge, the cocktails gathering spot right off the casino floor.