Less than six months after it opened, Peyote’s menu is being reimagined by a new team: Daniel Arias and Isidro Marquez-Castillo, the chefs behind the successful Black Pearl pop-up at Vegas Test Kitchen, are taking over the kitchen.
Peyote opened in September 2021 with a kind of Palm Springs vibe and a seafood-heavy, broadly American menu under the direction of chef Justin Kingsley-Hall. Earlier this month, Kingsley-Hall departed the team. In his place, Aris and Marquez-Castillo are bringing their own unique perspective to the space. The pair met working at é by José Andrés 2018 where they were both cooks at the time. “We just hit it off,” Arias said. “We both had kids and usually on Mondays we would just get together and cook. Isidro would bring salsas and his flavors, and then I would make ceviches and stuff that I grew up eating.”
Those day-off hangs eventually turned into a semi-regular pop-up at Vegas Test Kitchen, where the two teamed up to form the Black Pearl. The two served food that was inspired by the mix of their different culinary backgrounds: Arias grew up in a border town in Baja California, where he ate seafood from both the Gulf and the Pacific Ocean. Marquez-Castillo grew up in Puebla, where he ate mole for special occasions and came to have an affinity for all kinds of dried chiles, both of which feature on Peyote’s new menu.
Black Pearl began running regular events in June 2021, serving up what they described at gourmet Baja cuisine, with dishes like octopus tostadas, salpicon, and mole from Marquez-Castillo’s family recipe. “Justin [Kingsley-Hall] was coming in all the time, and the whole team from Peyote started coming in,” Arias said. “They liked what we were doing, and it ended up being Justin who came to talk to us about taking over the kitchen at Peyote. It felt like it was meant to be.”
In an email, Ryan Doherty said he could not comment on the reason for Kingsley-Hall’s departure (Las Vegas Weekly reported that it was due to health reasons). Doherty said he and the rest of the team at Peyote are “grateful for the time and impressive talent Justin Kingsley-Hall has brought to developing Peyote’s menu. He has been working hand-in-hand on this transition with chefs Daniel and Isidro, who will bring their own talent and expertise to Peyote.”
The menu has already begun to shift toward Arias and Isidro’s long-term vision, which is to serve dishes inspired by the traditions not just of their upbringing but from throughout Latin America. Despite this broad category, they say the food will stay personal. The chilaquiles, a staple of their new brunch menu, are based on the recipe that Arias’ wife cooked for him early in their relationship. Crispy tortilla chips are topped with a cheesy green sauce and kicked up with an herbaceous epazote foam. The octopus dish on the dinner menu is a version of the one they often served at the Black Pearl.
“Right now, we have a skirt steak with chimichurri, which is Argentinean,” Arias said. “It’s our little spin, focusing on the flavors that we like to eat. The chimichurri that I make is my son’s favorite sauce. So it’s all things like that.”