Pura Vida Bakery & Bystro chef and owner Mayra Trabulse has one goal: to create compassionate cuisine with a level of flavor that reflects her diverse cultural background. As she shared with Katherine Fernelius of Vegas Seven, Mayra is half Lebanese and half Cuban, and was born and raised in Mexico City. After moving to Las Vegas and attending community college, Mayra found herself unfulfilled. She decided to relocate to Florida, where she began to explore the politics of eating and her own relationship with food. She founded a catering business and became a private vegan chef before returning once more to Las Vegas to share her signature Caribbean- and Southwest-inspired dishes with Nevadans.
Mayra incorporated the Spanish phrase "pura vida" into the moniker of her eatery because it's a greeting or a farewell that can signify a sense of community and enjoying life slowly. That's exactly what she wants diners to feel at the restaurant, where she uses local, organic, fair-trade ingredients and incorporates macrobiotic, Ayurvedic, and raw-food principles in her low-temperature cooking. Mayra enhances her creations with unrefined oils and sweeteners and grinds whole spices for maximum flavor. Boasting a designated gluten-free area of her kitchen, she can cater to most any dietary restriction—Vanessa Meier of The Green Girl Next Door blog described how Mayra composed custom, on-the-fly dishes that were "beautiful and clearly prepared with so much love" for her and her husband.
And Meier isn't the only critic to take note of the blossoming restaurant: it earned Las Vegas Weekly’s 2012 Best Vegan Eating award and was named the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Dining Pick of the Week in October 2012. Mayra and her team also cater special events and bake custom vegan wedding cakes for couples being married by an Elvis wearing faux-blue-suede shoes.
Elixir Organic Cafe expertly crafts its housemade fare with 95% organic ingredients, including succulent meats free from hormones, nitrates, and artificial preservatives. A dozen burger designs bedeck nine types of patties—enough for each player on a baseball team to pad his glove with a different kind of patty—including turkey, eggplant, and grass-fed beef. The eatery tailor-makes its meals to satisfy a range of appetites, from those of strict meat eaters to those of faithful vegans and gluten-free dieters. More than 10 sandwiches come in hot, cold, and panini form, further solidifying Elixir's reputation for a culinary range as wide as a piece of taffy stuck to two racecars traveling in opposite directions. Expert bakers churn out an array of decadent desserts, such as cherry-dotted black-forest cake and vegan and gluten-free carrot cake. The cafe's multigrain pancakes and eggs benedicts make for a wholesome breakfast, and creamy smoothies and fresh-pressed vegetable and fruit juices packed with vitamins wash down the nutrient-rich dishes.
Inside chef Binu Sridharan’s kitchen lies a portal that connects Las Vegas to India via his Northern and Southern Indian recipes. Located steps off the Las Vegas strip, Binu's restaurant, India Masala, is filled with the smells of his southern seafood curries and minced meats sizzling in traditional tandoori ovens. He also throws in a few Indo-Chinese recipes to diversify flavors. From brightly lit wooden tables, diners take in views of the bustling Las Vegas nightlife, with its neon signs, glamorous shows, and fresh, hopeful dice just rolling into town.
Next to veggies, tofu is the main attraction at the Asian-inspired Veggie House Vegetarian Restaurant. Like a cell phone duct taped to a pocket knife, protein-rich tofu is versatile—it can be braised, grilled, and fried before being tossed in Szechuan sauce or mixed in with bamboo flowers. Crisp, freshly cooked veggies also make up the base for hearty meals, including sweet and spicy eggplant and curry vegetables with tamarind sauce. Cold dish combos include 2-5 different food items per order, such as bitter melon salad and lightly smoked fish.
Roma Deli & Restaurant distills the flavors of Italy into its menu and its stores' shelves, which overflow with Old World--style pastas, sauces, and wines. As owner Giuseppe Consarino told the Las Vegas Review Journal in 2010, "a lot of people claim [to use] Grandma's recipes. We have our own grandma in the kitchen." He went on to describe the deli's passion for Italian culinary traditions, such as making sausages and mozzarella in-house and seeking out freshly baked loaves of bread. These ingredients lend rustic flavors to the assortment of hearty sandwiches, sauce-glazed pastas, and prosciutto-topped entrees on the menu.
Roma Deli & Restaurant's decor pays similar homage to Italian culture. A striped awning crowns the deli counter, and the walls sport Old World touches, such as vintage advertisements for Italian wines and a painted mural that commemorates the invention of Rome's first food blog.