Welcome to the vibrant world of vegan dining in Las Vegas, where the dazzling lights of the Strip are not the only stars of the show. In this column aptly named Vegas Vegan Bites, we embark on a culinary journey through the city’s ever-expanding vegan scene.
Las Vegas, renowned for its diverse culinary offerings, has embraced the plant-powered movement with open arms. Whether you’re a dedicated vegan, a curious foodie or simply seeking healthier alternatives, this column is your guide to discovering the most delectable vegan fare in town.
Crossroads Kitchen: Where Plant-Based Excellence Takes Center Stage
Crossroads Kitchen carries the distinction of being the only plant based vegan fine dining restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip, and it’s truly an incredible experience.
Meet Chef Paul Zlatos
Chef Paul Zlatos is the executive chef and partner/owner with Chef Tal Ronnen, who runs Crossroads Kitchen in Los Angeles, California. In fact, they used to work together for Oprah Winfrey. The two are close and talk almost daily dreaming up new creations for both restaurants.
Chef Paul Zlatos, the driving force behind Crossroads Kitchen right here in Las Vegas, shares his thoughts.
“Everybody has become more open to vegan cuisine, right?” he says. “Five years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible, ten years ago absolutely not, so everyone is a lot more comfortable with it.”
Plant-based vegan foods offer a canvas for creativity because they encourage culinary exploration with diverse ingredients. These dishes often simulate non-vegan fare by using innovative techniques and substitutions, such as plant-based meats or dairy alternatives. Additionally, the focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes allows for a wide range of flavor combinations and textures, leading to satisfying and wholesome dishes that cater to different dietary preferences while promoting health and sustainability.
Chef Paul explains, “Having been a chef for over 25 years, it’s a lot easier for me to come up with the dishes that we make because I understand the textures and the flavors of what we want to emulate. And with a lot of dishes, we don’t need to do that because a vegetable is amazing in itself, right? But there are a few things we want to mimic because we have things like calamari and meatballs on the menu. For example, with the calamari we use a kombu stock to add seafood flavor.” Chef Paul’s creativity has no boundaries.
True Pioneers of Plant-Based Vegas Vegan Cuisine
Today, plant-based vegan restaurants are exploding onto the food scene as more people, including many celebrities, are changing what they choose to eat, and Las Vegas is proving to be cutting edge.
“When I go out and table touch with the guests, I would say that about 75% of them are from right here in Las Vegas and many of them are return customers. And we do get a share of celebrities,” Chef Paul confirms.
They have met the challenges too. “Because we are in a Strip casino (Resorts World), when large conventions come into town, we get big parties of guests and of course not everyone in the party is vegan. But because we are Mediterranean cuisine, we also have great fresh pastas, everything we do is homemade, so we’re very comfortable with that. We have something for everyone.”
Sunday Brunch Is New at Crossroads
Brunch has emerged as a contemporary social phenomenon, drawing people together to savor delightful meals during late mornings. Its appeal lies in its relaxed atmosphere allowing for leisure interactions along with bottomless mimosas.
However, this traditional brunch concept often excludes vegans due to the prevalent use of ingredients like eggs, cream and butter. These elements are deeply ingrained in classic brunch menus, making it challenging for those who follow a vegan lifestyle to partake fully in the experience.
As the demand for inclusivity grows, Crossroads Kitchen found it a wonderful opportunity to reimagine their offerings by crafting innovative vegan brunch options that capture the essence of this social ritual without compromising on taste or values.
Chef Paul Zlatos is right at the forefront of this transition. “We are bringing back the buffet style brunch and the response has been great,” says Chef Paul.
The Sunday brunch menu boasts an array of offerings that mirror traditional dishes. From the selection of “cheeses,” including the nuanced blue cheese and cream cheese, to the remarkable creations like carrot “salmon” and “caviar” that awaken the palate with their uncanny resemblance to their aquatic counterparts.
Chef Paul redefines familiar favorites like chicken and waffles, serving up plant-based renditions that embody both taste and ethics. Sausage and bacon, long considered staples of hearty breakfasts, find their plant-based counterparts with flavors that pay homage to tradition while embracing compassionate culinary choices.
Even the seemingly unattainable, like the true texture of scrambled eggs, finds its vegan counterpart at the very capable hands of Chef Paul — an ode to culinary craftsmanship. Overnight oats and parfaits present flavors and textures that invite indulgence without compromise.
What elevates Crossroads Kitchen’s Sunday Brunch experience is the commitment to ever-evolving variety.
“We try to put out different items each Sunday Brunch so customers are coming back to a new variety of options,” says Chef Paul.
With each passing Sunday, changes in the ensemble emerge, inviting patrons to return to discover what’s new, and that is fun. This dedication to novelty showcases the creativity that vegan cuisine can bring to the table.
Inside Crossroads Kitchen
If you love bluesy rock music, the ambiance at Crossroads Kitchen is a harmonious blend of rock and roll vibes, warm earthy tones, and iconic black and white photos of legendary rock stars. The atmosphere complements the culinary experience perfectly, setting the stage for an unforgettable meal. The diverse dining music adds to the charm, while the menu itself showcases the mastery of vegan cooking.
The Tasting Menu
Chef Paul presented us with an incredible tasting menu.
First out was Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms — lightly crisped stuffed blossoms with a delectable spiced creamy filling; and Impossible Cigars, which we were surprised to learn are wrapped in crispy perfectly executed rice paper — this is a must try with the spicy dipping sauce.
The Wedge Salad is fully reminiscent of its non-vegan counterpart. A blue cheese dressing combined with all the flavors you would expect. A special mention is deserved for the Truffle Mushroom Bianca, a pizza style flatbread covered in mushrooms and Parmesan cheese and of course truffle.
The third course with the Mafaldine Cacio e Pepe was a treat with freshly ground black pepper that burst with flavor in every bite. I was especially pleased with the Grilled Romano Beans — beautiful ribbons of long flat green beans that tasted even better than they were amazing to see. And the showstopper? Truffle Potatoes stacked and coated with shaved truffles and sprinkled with parmesan. If you love potatoes, you will not be disappointed.
We tried two desserts, the Baked Alaska and the Brownie Sundae. Both were perfect toppers.
In Crossroads Kitchen, every detail resonates: the ambiance, the music, the artistic photography, and the menu converge, crafting an experience that is not merely a meal, but a soulful composition that lingers in your memory long after the plates are cleared.
Crossroads Kitchen is located inside Resorts World on the Las Vegas Strip
Dinner: Sunday through Thursday 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday Brunch Buffet: Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.