Coastal Mexican Fare at Encore
What comes to mind when you hear the term Coastal Mexican? In the case of Casa Playa at Encore it references a wide range of seafood delights enlivened with wonderful spices and ingredients by the talented Executive Chef Sarah Thompson.
As you enter the restaurant you are greeted with the color orange, with paper representations of marigold flowers (which are popular in Mexico) hanging throughout. There’s also large wicker globe hanging lights, three-toned wood floor and carpet and in keeping with the coastal fare on the menu, several black and white prints of beach scenes.
Executive Chef Sarah Thompson ably helms the kitchen and is well-trained. She was born and raised in Massachusetts and is a graduate of the four-year program at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, one of the most respected culinary schools in the world. After graduating, Sarah worked at the renowned Cosme in NYC, which she says is where she learned to cook Mexican cuisine. In explaining how she came to the culinary profession, she says, “I always loved food and cooking at home, but knew from my sophomore year in high school that this is what I wanted to do. My inspiration came from my parents who were always supportive.”
The menu, which is 100% hers, is indeed inspired and makes use of myriad ingredients. Meals are designed to be enjoyed family style. The appetizers are not-to-be-missed, with outstanding offerings like Squash Tamal with mole verde and Thai basil, Octopus with coloradito mole and potato in escabeche and Scallops with honeynut squash aguachile and Asian pear.
The entrees, all served with housemade tortillas and salsas, are highlighted by the vegan Chile Roasted Eggplant with sesame salsa macha, Branzino Zarandeado with chile soy adobo and watermelon radish, Chicken with Mole de La Casa with carrots and sesame seeds and American Wagyu Short Rib Suadero with avocado, shishito and tomatillo. There are also several large format dishes for the table, including Whole Snapper Tempura with mole amarillo, Playa Prawns with chipotle orange butter, Pork Belly Al Pastor with roasted baby pineapple and 48 oz Dry Aged Tomahawk Steak with chimichurri.
Don’t skip enjoying some of the sides, like the Cucumber Salad with green apple and cumin vinaigrette and Crispy Brussels Sprouts with spicy peanut salsa.
Who says there’s no longer dinner shows in Vegas?
If you order the La Flama Blanca dessert you’ll be treated to a pyrotechnical display as your server ignites rum and pours it on the sphere covering the dessert, which as it melts down reveals the dulce de leche with pecans and caramelized banana ice cream. (Click here to view a video of this spectacle.) Another winner is the Pineapple Raspado consisting of passionfruit vanilla ice cream and mezcal caramel.
If tequila is your spirit of choice, you’ll find much to like here, with nearly 100 choices including Cristalino Anejo and several tequila and mezcal flights of three like the Labor of Love tequila flight with pours of Patron Wynn Select Barrel, El Tesaro Wynn Select Barrel and Casa Noble. Several of the cocktails also feature the blue agave spirit, like the Vitamin Sea with Patron Silver Tequila, Cointreau, watermelon, lime and agave. Beer lovers should definitely be pleased with the Wynn Signature Singing Frog, an easy drinking Japanese rice lager made for the resort by local Tenaya Creek Brewing.
Chef Thompson has created an all-you-can-eat weekend brunch menu with dishes such as masa pancakes topped with piloncillo caramel and pineapple; chicken tinga enchiladas; steak and eggs; spicy shrimp and chorizo-filled masa empanadas; and a made-to-order taco station with options of beer birria, crispy skin carnitas and cauliflower al pastor.
Casa Playa is open for dinner Wednesday-Sunday from 5:30 p.m. and brunch Saturday-Sunday from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. and closed Monday and Tuesday. The Encore/Wynn offer free parking for three hours.
Casa Playa dining room photo by Douglas Friedman © 2023. Used by permission for editorial.
Food photos by Steve Legato and provided courtesy of Casa Playa, Las Vegas, NV.
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
- More info
Bob Barnes began his food and beverage writing career in 1998 as Regional Correspondent for Celebrator Beer News and wrote the Nevada Beer Nuggets column from 1998-2019. He was Editorial Director of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional from 2012-2021 and has covered Las Vegas for Gayot since 2010. He continues to contribute to Gayot, writing the Gayot Las Vegas Restaurant News, features on new restaurants, and beer and spirit reviews. He also writes regularly for Off The Strip, The Vegas Voice, Neon Feast, and Las Vegas Magazine.