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Without DACA, Vegas Wouldn’t Have Its Best Al Pastor Tacos

Sure we’re all familiar with Plato’s quote, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” It’s true, for the most part. But invention isn’t exclusive to the phrase as well. Survival is a logical byproduct of necessity, facilitating dreams to be manifested and goals to be achieved. Such is the case with sisters Faviola and Gabriella Trujillo, whose own chain of successful taco restaurants, Taco Y Taco, was born from a need to simply survive, especially with odds stacked against them.

Their father is an entrepreneurial success story as well, starting from a small butcher shop in Mexico, to opening up multiple full-service markets in Las Vegas, NV. But when economic downturn forced him to close up locations save for one, the Trujillo sisters knew that their circumstance as undocumented individuals made it likely that no one would hire them or offer them a work permit. The necessity to survive immediately grew from that seed of uncertainty and led them to formulate a sound business plan that would serve as the blueprint for their now successful business.

But defying the odds isn’t new to Faviola and Gabriella, who beyond their immigration status in the country, also broke through the typical perception of what a Mexican restaurant is, and presented a unique and different approach to a customer’s dining experience. Fresh ingredients, tried and true recipes, and attention to detail highlight Taco Y Taco’s model, creating a meal that’s memorable through a couple euphoric bites of their nationally-recognized al pastor tacos or simply knowing that it was built through taking a chance and living out one’s own dreams, no matter what circumstances or how daunting they initially seem to be.

Faviola and Gabriella have definitely made their mark in the world — have they or other similar experiences inspired you to do the same? 

Recognizing that everyone has the ability and potential to do so, Cerveza Montejo wants to empower people to share their ideas with the world and turn them into pathways for extraordinary success. With the launch of their Stories That Defy Contest, Montejo is providing an opportunity for someone to win $10,000 to start their own business, artistry, or pursue creative endeavors. Find out more and enter now at StoriesThatDefy.com.

MONTEJO “STORIES THAT DEFY” CONTEST

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY.  Open to AZ, CA and NV residents 21+.  Entries must be received by 8/31/20. See Official Rules at www.storiesthatdefy.com for prizes and details. Message and data rates may apply. Void where prohibited.

Created in partnership with Montejo.

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Health News Plant-Based Restaurants

Truth & Tonic Is First Plant-Based Cafe On Las Vegas Strip

Photo Provided by Canyon Ranch

Las Vegas is notorious for many things. Aside from over indulgent gambling, city lights and raucous behavior, one cannot overlook the buffets. Vegas is buffet heaven. Add to that an innumerable amount of restaurants that satisfy any flavor preference, it’s pretty close to a foodie’s dreamland. That’s, erm, if the city ever slept. From cheap eats to fine dining casino treats, the place that seems to offer it all has surprisingly enough added something plant-based to their array of options.

Enter Canyon Ranch, an award winning leader in health and luxury spa getaways. Starting in 1979, Canyon Ranch has since expanded their integrative professional approach to wellness throughout the U.S. Their first Las Vegas location opened in 1999 at The Venetian® Resort. Since its launch, they’ve opened several culinary concepts within the city that further promote their 360° health based ethos. 

On January 17th, Canyon Ranch opened their latest brainchild, and first fully plant-based cafe on the Las Vegas Strip, Truth & Tonic. Noticing the uptick in veganism, one that’s reportedly grown 600% in the past three years, Truth & Tonic falls perfectly in line with Canyon Ranch’s wellness gospel. The cafe is headed by Executive Chef Pete Ghione and joins fellow Canyon Ranch restaurants CR CREAT and the aptly named Canyon Ranch Grill.

In hopes of “breaking down the barriers that typically divide vegan and non-vegan,” Chef Ghoine has curated a menu suited for anyone who enjoys tasty yet healthy eats. He shares the Truth & Tonic mission here: 

“By incorporating plant-based ingredients that are equally unexpected and satisfying to our menu, Truth & Tonic makes the overall journey to wellness a more desirable and enjoyable experience,” he says. “Our diet is an integral piece to one’s well-being and as the first fully vegan restaurant on The Strip, we are excited to bring this health-conscious option to our guests.”

With an all-day menu that ranges from roasted cauliflower dressed in house made caesar to a caramelized curry cauliflower, spinach, and toasted pine nuts frittatas made with “Just Egg,” Truth & Tonic is sure to be palate pleasing. Your next Vegas visit doesn’t have to end with a hangover. Before the drive of shame back, detox your night of sin with a stop by Truth & Tonic.

Photo Provided by Canyon Ranch
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Behind The Scenes of One of America’s Top Buffets

Buffets often get a bad rap. I get it. For the most part, the concept plays to the strength of only quantity. Trays of food sit endlessly under heat lamps, scorching whatever little life it had away. Each batch of it made it large quantities that give more room for error. They earned this rep. But thanks to a select few standouts clustered in Las Vegas, namely The Buffet at the Wynn Resort & Casino, folks can experience a glorious meal in all you can eat form.

The latest episode of Taste the Details has me right in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip to go behind the scenes of one of not only the city’s, but also the country’s, top buffets. Whether it be That Drunken Noodles or Southern-style fried chicken or hand-rolled sushi using real crab meat, The Buffet does it all superbly. Sure, the quantity factor comes into play big time given the amount of patrons that come in, yet the remarkable feat here is how quality is not sacrificed one bit.

So trust that I’ll have plates stacked of the same dish just on the fact that its lowkey better than restaurant quality. And in a town where I’ll more than likely need to stress eat to soothe the sting of all the money I lost in the casino, that’s crucial.

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Hello Kitty Cafe Opening In The Heart Of Las Vegas Strip

First look at the Keroppi Doughnuts that will be sold at the Hello Kitty Cafe in Las Vegas/Photo used with permission from Andy Nguyen

Quotes used in this article we’re transcribed from Andy Nguyen’s recent appearance on the Foodbeast Katchup Podcast.

There have been whispers about a Hello Kitty Cafe opening in Las Vegas, and we have received official confirmation that the rumors are true, and the restaurant will be opening this summer, July 12.

Photo used with permission from Andy Nguyen

While on the Foodbeast Katchup Podcast, restaurateur Andy Nguyen revealed that he was behind the project, and officially announced that the popular Japanese cartoon-inspired cafe would open its doors at MGM’s The Park Vegas, which is littered with several popular restaurants such as Shake Shack, Bruxie Original Fried Chicken, and even Best Friend by Roy Choi.

“I’m bringing Hello Kitty Cafe to the strip,” Nguyen said. “I think Sanrio recognizes who our group is as a people, and they know what we’ve done in the past. They’re going to let us apply that element… like our street element. It’s not going to be the same.” 


Nguyen added that the cafe is inside what he described as, sort of a giant pink shipping container – one that has already been spotted by curious tourists.

 

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Giving a sneak peek of what will be in the cafe, Nguyen hinted at pistachio-filled Keroppi donuts, character-inspired croissants, and quality merch — which is a given if you’ve followed Nguyen’s streetwear background.

Co-Owner Andy Nguyen gives a sneak peek of the doughnuts and croissants that will be served at the Hello Kitty Cafe/Photo used with permission from Andy Nguyen

We’ll keep you updated, as official menu items and photos are released within the next few weeks.

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Culture Features FOODBEAST Restaurants Video

Roy Choi’s Newest Restaurant Successfully Transplants LA Right On the Vegas Strip

“I wanted anyone that was from LA, that grew up around hip-hop as a brown skin, black skin or minority in Los Angeles, to walk in this thing and be like, ‘Oh f*ck yeah! This is it!”

For lauded chef Roy Choi, his fierce love and loyalty to the city of Los Angeles is one of his defining characteristics. Everything up to this point in the proud Angeleno’s culinary career has been an homage of sorts to the City of Angels. Given an opportunity to extend his culinary empire to Las Vegas, Nevada, Choi took that very flavor and vibe of Los Angeles’ Koreatown and successfully transplanted it right onto the Vegas strip.

Enter the latest Taste the Details episode highlighting Best Friend, the newest restaurant venture from the celebrated chef credited for sparking the gourmet food truck movement. For Choi, capturing the very nucleus and substance of his beloved KTown was of the utmost importance when first considering this latest venture. Since we’re talking about Las Vegas, the world’s playground for high-end escapism, virtually transplanting the one-of-a-kind vibrancy of a liquor store on Olympic Boulevard right in the heart of the infamous Vegas Strip was no problem, given the big budget that Choi was able to work with.

The end result is an honest snapshot of Choi’s Los Angeles, from the menu serving up his greatest Korean-inspired hits to Best Friend’s very own “Kimchi Chamber” to the regular rotation of veteran hip-hop DJ’s orchestrating the vibe — all within the brand new Park MGM Resort & Casino.

 

Photos: Audrey Ma & Travis Jensen 
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Celebrity Grub News

Shaq Is Trying To Take Over The Fried Chicken Scene

NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal is causing some waves throughout the City of Sin by opening his Big Chicken restaurant, right as fried chicken is having a moment in the food world.

With five restaurants already sprinkled around Las Vegas, Shaq decided to open another, this one with a little more hooplah surrounding it, thanks to his collaboration with Facebook.

The NBA legend’s Big Chicken restaurant opened off the strip this October, and the “Big Aristotle” built an entire Facebook Watch show around the process, from the ideation period all the way to the celeb-driven grand opening.

While Shaq told Foodbeast he didn’t really plan on expanding the chicken restaurant, his mind changed a few weeks later, as Carnival Cruise announced that the big man would be setting up his Big Chicken shack aboard the brand new Carnival Radiance in 2020.

With the emergence of cult chicken shops such as Howlin’ Ray’s in Los Angeles or quickly-expanding chains such as Raising Cane’s, fried chicken is being sought after more than ever.

 

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Shaq is now entering this competitive arena, not just putting his name on a building, but carefully constructing it from the ground up, as has been documented on his Big Chicken Shaq show.

“I don’t really like doing cash grabs in my life,” O’Neal said. “Everybody loves fried chicken, and I just wanted to do it differently.”

From the textures in the design, with his footprints on the floors, to using his mama’s secret recipe on top of giant “antibiotic-free” chicken breasts, Shaq made a point to have say in the restaurant’s entire makeup.

As far as the chicken itself, Mama O’Neal sure knew what she was doing.

Being at the soft opening, and being asked to be brutally honest by Shaq himself, I can honestly say that he has a game-winning free throw here.

The spice-filled batter is delicious, with the chicken fried to order being a nice touch. The flavor combinations work, and having fresh guacamole on deck is always a plus.

 

If this was going to work for Shaq, in a city that is already rife with great food options, this chicken was going to have to be top notch, and at least in the opening, it was.

It’s still early, but the reception on Yelp seems to be good, as well. Aside from some wrong orders being sent out —which was also a problem during the soft opening—customers are digging the food and friendly service.

While Shaq might not have intended Big Chicken to be a chain, it’s quickly looking like it might end up in that direction.

With the “Big Diesel” working closely on this passion project, he could shake up the fried chicken scene the way he shook the basket with every monstrous dunk.

Featured Photo by Paul Ryu
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Italian Food Wonderland Eataly Finds New Home In Las Vegas

PRNewsfoto/Eataly USA

The first time I visited Southern California’s Eataly location in Century City, I was floored by all the wonders the Italian marketplace and food hall had to offer. They had authentic Italian meats, pastas, cheeses, as well as a bevy of restaurants that highlighted the spirit of traditional Italian cooking. It was a veritable playground of sorts for anyone in love with the culture and its expression through food.

Now, one of the most iconic cities in the country will be getting their very own spot to boast.

Eataly is opening its first-ever location in Las Vegas and the authentic Italian market place will find a home at the new resort Park MGM in December.

“Eataly Las Vegas will showcase our continued evolution,” Nicola Farinetti, CEO of Eataly USA, said. “We are integrating our retail store and restaurants further than ever before to create a more immersive and interactive experience surrounding premier food offerings.”

Las Vegas will be the sixth US location for Eataly, with 35 total locations worldwide. The new Park MGM will feature culinary programs which include Roy Choi’s Best Friend, Bavette’s Steakhouse, and NoMad restaurant.

With the hundreds of activities that Las Vegas has to offer, Eataly’s newest spot has just climbed to the top of the list

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Roy Choi’s Upcoming Las Vegas Restaurant Has Finally Been Revealed

Prolific Los Angeles chef Roy Choi has famously ventured from a food truck to restaurants exploring varying styles of food pertaining to the theme of the restaurant, like Hawaiian food at A-Frame, and even, his game-changing Korean short rib taco birthed at the Kogi food truck.

With each new restaurant — whether the entire menu oozes with traditional-Korean flavors or is more of a fusion fare — he remains perched in Los Angeles, California. Choi’s status amongst Angelenos attributes to expanding in LA county, but at the top of this year, he announced his big move of opening a new restaurant in Las Vegas where a piece of L.A. will go along with him. After much anticipation for this new restaurant, Choi finally unveiled the entrance, dining area, and the name— ‘Best Friend,’ planning to open this December.

 

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It is located right on the Las Vegas Strip, in the new Park MGM Hotel, and this piece of Los Angeles pertains to Choi and Angelenos themselves. For Choi, the restaurants he opened in his hometown have a place at this establishment: “It is the only place to sink your teeth into all the flavors from Kogi to Commissary and everything in between, along with fresh new ideas I’ve been cooking up for years.”

 

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The first step into ‘Best Friend’ is the ‘Liquor Store’, which is essentially, a small neighborhood bodega: mildly quaint and retro — the mild barred by the extravagance of Las Vegas. This remixed version of Los Angeles with bright colors and neon lights makes it as Vegas as it could get.

“It’s Koreatown in a capsule — a portal to the streets of LA, but also rooted in what makes Las Vegas, VEGAS,” says Roy Choi. From the looks of it, the ‘Liquor Store’ boasts relics and iconic figures from the City of Angels along with nods to Choi’s musical tastes: an N.W.A poster, Biggie’s quote ‘It was all a dream’ fluoresced with neon lights, and a ‘Koreatown’ neon sign, too.  An early look at this entrance feels like a game of I Spy, the premise being: How LA is this LA-inspired restaurant?

In a previous interview with Foodbeast, Choi stated: “I want people from L.A. to walk in and be like, ‘FUCK YEAH‘ and ‘OHHH SHIIIT‘, you know? I want you to roll up with all your friends and feel at home. And then I want people from elsewhere to feel like they’re getting a good glimpse into what it’s like to live in Los Angeles. We’re very aware that this is gonna be a Vegas restaurant. So we won’t shy away from the big and spectacular. If they can recreate the cities of Paris and Rome in Vegas, I want to recreate Los Angeles, too, with varied levels of nuance.”

Yes, the food and the origins carry the culture of L.A., but what seems to matter to Choi more is the atmosphere. He wants to mirror L.A.’s laid-back, yet urban vibe; highlighting the quaint, corner-shops and passing cars bumping N.W.A, Tupac, and The Pharcyde (so, expect to hear all of the hip-hop classics blasting throughout the restaurant).

Los Angeles’ food in Las Vegas is a symbol of Choi extending his vision past the L.A. city limits, but beyond that, it is a creation made through collaboration with his own best friends — utilizing Sean Knibb and David Irvin’s design, Patrick Martinez’s neon art, and Travis Jensen’s photography.

As ‘Best Friend’ opens up in December, it will capture the vibe of Choi’s hometown but resonate around the culture — where diversity, is formed by the food and people— and that, is what makes this L.A.-inspired restaurant truly L.A.: “I want Best Friend to energize the minds of people looking to experience the best in life. Whether they are from Hollywood or Hong Kong, D.C. or Down Under, I hope all guests are licking their fingers with their mouths full saying ‘holy shit!’ as they reach across the table for another bite. L.A. food in Las Vegas. Los Vegas. Best Friend. Forever.”

Photos: MGM Resorts International