Television celebrity chefs have been padding their culinary resumes with Las Vegas eateries for more than a decade, but several still manage to attract long, long lines of hungry Vegas visitors, and they show no signs of abating.
The latest venture from nightlife impresario Ryan Labbe’s 81/82 Group, whose projects have included Instagram darling Mas Por Favor in Chinatown, will bring natural elements indoors as it honors the cultural heritage of Mexico.
La Neta Cocina Y Lounge, which is expected to open this summer in Downtown Summerlin, will have plenty of natural accents, including a living tree in the dining room and a living wall of greenery in the lounge. Labbe has worked with the Light Group and Clique Hospitality and shares their dedication to attention to visual details.
“I’m a firm believer that people eat with their eyes before their mouth,” Labbe said Friday, adding that his philosophy applies to food and cocktails as well as the space. Other decorative accents will include stained-glass murals, exposed-brick walls and wooden beams in the vaulted ceiling.
As for the menu, Labbe said it will embrace the junction between the authentic and the familiar.
“People’s idea of Mexican food is very diverse,” he said. “I don’t want to say we’re traditional Mexican food, because we’ll probably have a bunch of hurdles there. It’ll be really good food with authentic Mexican flavors with our own twist. It may not be prepared the way traditional Mexican is prepared.”
Labbe said details about the menu would be forthcoming in about mid-April, but he readily ticked off a list of his favorites.
“The lobster enchilada, shared taco dish, short rib, our tomahawk — the way it’s served and garnished,” he said. Other dishes will include Cochinita Pibil, which is braised and slow-roasted pork garnished with habanero onions and chicarron crumble; paella with shrimp, calamari, lobster, oysters and fish with a white wine-lemon butter; Chicken Relleno, stuffed chicken with arroz verde and poblano cream; and roasted acorn squash served with sauteed seasonal vegetables. Chef Israel Castro will be in charge of the kitchen.
Labbe said the spot is being extensively renovated, and the lounge will be in the space formerly occupied by Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken and the dining room will be in an adjoining space that was previously empty, on the complex’s Oval Park Drive.
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