The Illuminarium launched at Area15 on April 21 and includes a restaurant from Chef Kim Canteenwalla and hospitality veteran Elizabeth Blau. Serving kicked-up comfort dishes, Lumin Cafe & Kitchen feeds diners inside Illuminarium, an immersive, family-friendly virtual reality experience with multiple 360-degree shows.
At Illuminarium, visitors leave reality behind to enter a virtual world where, depending on the room, the scent of flowers fills the room or the ground shakes as VR elephants stampede. Opening with several VR simulations, attendees in “Space” can walk and leave footprints on the moon, tag along on a safari during “Wild,” or walk into a Georgia O’Keeffe painting before entering the light-filled room at Lumin Cafe.
The restaurant pair, also behind Honey Salt and Buddy V’s Ristorante in Las Vegas, as well as pending restaurants like the incoming Conrad, teamed up with architect and designer David Rockwell to create a dual-purpose, modern restaurant space with a separate patio. “David Rockwell has been a friend, collaborator, and mentor for probably the better part of 25 years, so whenever he calls and tells me he’s working on something exciting, I don’t even ask questions. I just literally say yes,” Blau says about the opportunity to open at Illuminarium, adjacent to Area15.
Bathed in natural light with an earthy decor, the lively cafe, situated on one side of the building, offers counter-service ordering with an approachable all-day dining menu, serving American comfort food favorites with some unexpected elements. The cafe is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. “It’s so light and airy,” Blau says. “It’s earth tones and there’s tons of greenery, so we certainly have that natural aesthetic here that we love so much at Honey Salt.”
Opposite the lobby and juxtaposed against the big, industrial building, a covered patio and bar serves a late-night tapas-style menu ideal for night owls — the patio is open until midnight five nights a week and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. An attraction ticket is not needed to dine at either location. Explaining how the modern museum restaurant has evolved in recent years, Blau says she wanted “something unique and special” in the style of the memorable destination cafes found in New York City and popping up in other cities across the country.
The menu at Lumin Cafe takes familiar salads, burgers, sliders, and fries and ups the ante. Think: a salad with red lentils, chickpeas, and hummus; a BLT bowl (mimicking the classic sandwich sans bread); a fried chicken sandwich topped with kimchi; and, on the more classic side, a fish and chips plate and hamburger options, including an Impossible burger. Sides include parmesan and truffle fries, an indulgent mac and cheese with a Ritz cracker crust, and crispy onion rings. There are also small snacking plates like pretzel bites with the cheese sauce for dipping and a tater tot poutine, one of Canteenwalla’s staple dishes.
Expect a little heat, too. The Korean fried chicken and buffalo cauliflower bites offer a bit of spice, while the hot chicken sliders and crispy arancini with sriracha aioli also pack a punch.
When it comes to drinks, Lumin offers beer, wine and canned cocktails on the cafe side and a full bar on the patio, complete with a trio of themed cocktails based on each Illuminarium show. From the O’Keeffe menu, guests can order drinks with floating flowers like the Red Canna, a vodka cocktail and a marigold floater, while “Space” section includes three speciality drinks including a Tiki-inspired vodka cocktail with a blend of juices, spices, and gold sugar garnish. These drinks are also available at Illuminarium After Dark, where the backdrop morphs from the streets of Tokyo to a floral French garden, among other scenes.
Those who leave room for dessert can take a trip to the cookie and pastry bar. Here, you’ll find dark chocolate chip cookies, s’mores nachos, and Oreo milkshakes, among the many offerings.
“It’s going to be every bit as entertaining as the shows you’ll see here,” Blau says of the new restaurant. “It’s a great accompaniment to the experience.”
Lumin Cafe and Kitchen is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Patio hours from Sunday through Thursday extend to midnight; patio hours on Friday and Saturday extend to 2 a.m.