Superstition is a legitimate belief system in Las Vegas — so I considered it good luck that the first sign I saw when walking out of the McCarran International Airport was an advertisement for Chica, my destination.
Chica is The Venetian Las Vegas’ brand-new Latin American restaurant that’s earning buzz for its trendy interiors, diverse array of Latin food, inventive drinks and celebrity chef Lorena Garcia.
Garcia, a Venezuelan-born chef known for her time on “Top Chef Masters,” is the Strip’s first Latina chef — a milestone I celebrated with a festive order of colorful Venezuelan arepas.
In addition to the handmade arepas assortment — which include green-colored avocado arepas and black-colored black-bean arepas — I enjoyed my favorite Mexican brunch dish, huevos rancheros, as well as a shot of espresso. I skipped out on alcohol because I had work to do, but I derived some joy from reading the cocktail menu’s intriguing names and ingredients, such as Grilled Poblano Presidente (which features grilled peppers infused in Dolin Blanc vermouth) and Some Like It Hot (a spicy margarita featuring papaya jam and scotch bonnet peppers).
And while I couldn’t order the entire menu, I got a sense of the restaurant’s other culinary priorities just by looking around. The multiroom restaurant features a kitchen with a built-in rotisserie wall and churrasco grill. Ceviche magic happens at an ice bar.
But it’s not just food and drink that take inspiration from across Latin America. I spotted patterned fencing inspired by an ancient civilization, jars of Latin spices, foliage spilling out of terra-cotta vases and a mural drawing of magical realism.
The mural depicts a “chica” (young woman in Spanish) clutching a half-blown dandelion flower. Like the folks eating at Chica, she’s content in her good fortune.