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.
Just weeks before his wedding in 2006, Vaughan Lazar sat down with his college friend Michael Gordon. They weren’t fine-tuning toasts or planning the bachelor party, but rather intently discussing what they could do to make a difference in the lives of others. After a round of brainstorming, they realized that there was a lack of organic restaurants with quick dine-in, pickup, or delivery options, and thus, Pizza Fusion was born. Their menu features pizzas with regular, multigrain, and gluten-free crusts made from scratch and crowned with local produce, free-range chicken, and vegan toppings. Wine, gluten-free beer, and all-natural soft drinks from Honest Tea and Boylan accompany salads tossed with pear and gorgonzola or sandwiches stacked with portobello mushrooms and pesto. In addition to their organic pantry, the restaurant franchise keeps the environment clean, taking measures such as supplying a fleet of hybrid delivery cars for each store, constructing LEED-certified buildings, and purchasing renewable energy certificates to offset 100% of its power consumption. The pizza place is also home to the Organic Kids Club, which teaches children lessons in basic organics and rewards them with Pizza Fusion diplomas and early registration privleges for future semesters.
With its gleaming marble demonstration counter, wooden cabinets topped with carved grapevines, and overhead televisions, the teaching kitchen at Nothing To It! Culinary Center would look perfectly at home on a film set. Instead, it sets the stage for the school’s master chefs to share the secrets to baking a flaky, golden pie crust or simmering a fragrant Moroccan stew with more than 500 students each month. Under the helm of Culinary Director, Chef Lara Ritchie, a graduate of New England Culinary Institute in Essex, Vermont, expert gourmands constantly add new hands-on and demonstration classes to their already encyclopedic schedule. Budding Boyardees hoping for a comprehensive approach can take the eight-level techniques series, which starts with knife skills and finishes with advanced techniques such as rendering an emulsified aioli or soft-boiling an egg with telekinesis. Pupils interested in more specific, contained lessons join hot-topic sessions, which delve into gluten-free cooking or sausage making, or international classes that explore Lebanese cuisine’s spices or Spain’s rustic charcoal-fired meats. Over the holidays, the 6,000-square-foot center fills with apprentices who learn to craft seasonal edibles such as truffles or gingerbread houses.
Nothing To It! also feeds visitors feasts they don’t have to cook. Its Napa Valley–style Gourmet Deli layers sandwiches with lavish ingredients such as imported cambozola-cheese pesto and flavors salads with creamy curried-mango chutney.
Born in Avellino, Italy, and raised in Brooklyn, Pasquale Ciampa and his two brothers shared a love of great fare and culture instilled in them by their parents. All three now exercise that love of Italian cuisine in their own culinary endeavors, with Pasquale bringing authentic Italian recipes to Las Vegas by way of Spaghetti and Company. Homemade beef meatballs, simmered in marinara, and freshly baked italian bread set the tone for the expansive menu, filled with Old World delicacies topped with ricotta and parmesan, alongside New World buffalo wings and New York–style pizzas and cheesecake. A rustic dining room and light-strung terrace surrounds guests as they toast with Sicilian-style pies, and kids clamor to the kitchen to craft their own masterpieces during pizza parties.
Groups whisper together in dimly lit, red-leather booths, underscored by the tinkling notes of a nearby grand piano. This isn’t the set of the latest mafia movie, but the main dining room at Capo’s Italian Steakhouse. The restaurant cheerfully embraces the city’s scandalous past, from its wood-paneled walls accented with movie posters to a menu of Italian classics sporting snap-brim fedoras and colorful names. Whether diners delve into Wise Guy alfredo by the fireplace or sample Goodfellas piccata on the patio, Capo’s atmosphere invites them to experience the mystique of old Vegas.
For its more than 20 types of golden-brown pancakes and plentiful selection of omelets, waffles, crepes, and other hearty American breakfast dishes, The Original Pancake House has gleaned accolades ranging from a Zagat rating and a feature on The Food Channel to being named one of the nation's top 200 franchises in 2009 by Franchise Times. It's no wonder why. Since 1953, every one of the family business?s morning specialties have been prepared from scratch daily with a commitment to real ingredients such as pure whipping cream, hard-wheat unbleached flour, and butter made from fresh sweet cream. Powdered sugar lines the souffl?-styled rims of oven-baked German pancakes, which The Food Channel lauds for their "ever so-slightly crispy" edges and calls "just the right balance between a crepe and a pancake." Apple pancakes?with granny-smith apples in the batter and sinkiang cinnamon glaze on top?are another favorite, and those tart apples also share the menu with fresh blueberries and toasted Georgia pecans for a turn to simmer in Belgian-waffle circles like actual grannies in syrup-filled jacuzzis. Unique ingredients add distinction to house specialties such as oven-baked mushroom-sherry-sauce-topped omelets and gourmet fruit-filled crepes garnished with sweet cherry-wine sauce. To accentuate the flavors of each meal, The Original Pancake House brews its own signature coffee blend.