I was stoked when The Venetian announced that Chica by Lorena Garcia was opening earlier this year. The Latin restaurant is bringing a type of cuisine that isn’t found in most other Las Vegas casinos.
Restaurants on the Vegas Strip seem to be operating on two paths right now. Many of the lower cost dining options are being homogenized with chain restaurants. Meanwhile, moderate to fine dining is becoming more diverse with new options that you won’t find in every casino. There’s a place for both in life but I’m always up for something new (as long as it isn’t fish).
Pricewise, Chica is somewhere in the middle. It isn’t cheap but it’s affordable. I’m sure many people will balk at paying $18 for a Cuban sandwich. However, this was one of the best Cuban Sandwiches I’ve had in Las Vegas. The quality of the food and service made the meal worthwhile. Even the dinner which was hit and miss still felt like a fair value.
Chica – Beautiful Space and Amazing Cuban Sandwiches
The first thing that stands out is that Chica is a beautiful restaurant. Before checking in for our reservation a friend and I just wandered into the beautiful bar area. The rustic, yet modern finishes are gorgeous. Even the mural on the wall is stunning. There are pops of color throughout the bar that match with the aqua color of the dress.
The bar area has plenty of seating and was perfect for a quick lunch in between sessions at G2E. I didn’t even open the menu. My friend quickly decided on a Cuban sandwich. That sounded like a good idea so I joined. I figured that a chef who became famous for restaurants in Miami would have the ingredients to make a good Cuban sandwich. HUZZAH! This is one of the best Cuban sandwiches I’ve ever had.
This is an “elevated” Cuban sandwich with higher quality ingredients than some other restaurants. The sandwich has mojo marinated pork and smoked ham and is topped with dijon mustard, Swiss cheese and house pickles on a pressed sweet roll. I barely touched the delicious seasoned fries. My focus was 100% on the fantastic sandwich. The sandwich was put together perfectly and there was an even distribution of ingredients and flavors. This is what a Cuban sandwich should be.
The Venetian is a luxury resort and everything in the casino is priced accordingly. The Cuban sandwich and fries are $18. I added a delicious green iced tea and the total was about $25-$28 per person after tax and tip. This wasn’t a cheap meal but it was delicious and worth the price.
Dinner started with an order of chicharrones ($16) and grilled corn lollipops ($13). The chicharrones are crispy, spiced chicken bites and were fantastic. I think I tasted the spices all night long. Sometimes that’s annoying but the flavor was so good. This was a great way to start a dinner.
The corn was grilled and topped with chile piquin, lime, butter and cotija cheese. This was also fantastic. Expectations for the main course were high. Unfortunately, I don’t think some of the dishes matched the anticipation.
One of the recommended dishes was porchetta with crispy yuca hash ($36). This isn’t something I would normally order but it seemed as though this was a specialty so I decided to try something different. The results were a surprising meh.
The actual meat from the roasted suckling pig was good. However, the skin wasn’t crispy and was quite a turn off since that could have been the best part of the dish. The dish had crispy brussels sprouts, fried yuca, pearl onion escabeche but I didn’t bother with that. I really just wanted the pork and was slightly disappointed.
Overall opinions at dinner were mixed. A friend at the table ordered the lamb and said it was some of the best he’s ever had in Las Vegas. Another said the steak was fine but not amazing. The other person also had the porchetta and was very disappointed. Coincidentally, that person also loved the Cuban sandwich.
Since I only had the main portion of my dinner there was room for dessert. I had a scoop of ice cream. I’ve never heard of coffee cookies and cream ice cream before and thought I must have it. The coffee flavor was mellow but the ice cream was excellent and a nice way to end the evening.
The Venetian is continuously offering new dining experiences. I enjoyed Mercato della Pescheria, I really enjoyed Yardbird Southern, and I enjoyed both of my meals at Chica. The restaurant is beautiful and the service is great. I had a fantastic lunch and an okay dinner.
I will return but probably only for an afternoon visit. The lunch menu is more appealing to me than the dinner menu. Even though the prices are a bit high it’s also more affordable to try the unique cuisine at Chica during the day.