What started as a small renovation to add a live-fire kitchen to Chica at the Venetian turned into a multi-million dollar makeover to include everything restaurateur and owner John Kunkel loved about the sister restaurant in Miami. After closing in the summer for the remodel, Chica reopened in late December with a new look to pair with chef Lorena Garcia’s Latin cuisine.
Design and architecture firm Rockwell Group created the look of the space that includes Josper ovens, live-fire cooking, new murals, and a clear view from the front to the back of the space. “Rockwell Group did this Miami design for us for Chica and they just nailed it, says Kunkel, who owns 50 Eggs Hospitality Group and Chica. “We just felt that it was just such a sophisticated, fun, sexy interpretation of kind of what we wanted to do with the brand with all these really fun cooking pieces of equipment.”
The new design informed menu changes as well, with everything from octopus and steaks and chicken and small plates coming off the live fire. After 10 p.m., the space turns into more for a supper club on Friday and Saturday nights with dancing and music. “We changed the whole aesthetic of the place with terracotta-looking walls and greenery everywhere.”
The main bar at the front of the space features new seating and fixtures with a blend of contemporary and classic Latin American influences. Handmade plaster and gold stencil accents pepper the bar, and a canopy of greenery hangs over the top. Tropical colors with regional inspirations from Cuba, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela fill the space, giving it the feel of a cigar lounge straight out of South America. Murals from Latin American artist Daniel Osorno center the lounge; other work from the Miami-based graffiti artist can be found throughout the Wynwood Art District in Miami.
“It’s basically a brand new restaurant,” Kunkel says of the renovations. “You take a perfectly good restaurant. It’s making money and everybody’s happy with it and you just redo it because you think you can make it better.”
Some of the new menu items include crispy Peruvian octopus with blistered padrón chile and crispy quinoa, ember-roasted PEI mussels cazuelas in a coconut broth with chorizo, a wagyu quesabirria empanada, baby back ribs al pastor, and roasted meat parrillada with wagyu New York strip, tenderloin pinchos, lamb, venison chorizo, Meyer lemon chicken, and chimichurri sauce.
Also of note, Chica opened a new location in Aspen, Colorado, that features many of the same design elements and dishes as the original in Las Vegas and second in Miami.
Chica is now open Monday through Friday for breakfast from 8:30 to 11 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and dinner from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday bring brunch from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 10:30 p.m. Chica Nights takes over on Friday and Saturday nights starting at 10:30 p.m. with bottle service, live entertainment, and more.