La Comida will invigorate the burgeoning Downtown Las Vegas dining scene with a menu inspired by the cosmopolitan fare of Mexico City when it opens in mid-April.
The latest creation by the Morton Group, led by restaurateurs Jenna and Michael Morton, La Comida will blend authenticity and tradition with a delightfully funky vibe.
“In the restaurant industry ‘comida’ is the meal shared by staff before they begin their service. We call it ‘family meal,’” says Michael Morton. “La Comida was designed to recreate that feeling of camaraderie in a fun, eclectic atmosphere with fresh drinks and Mexican food we all love.”
The menu offers familiar Mexican cuisine using true traditional ingredients and cooking styles from various regions in Mexico with the sophisticated influence of Mexico City. Appetizer selections include Tostada Mixta served with shrimp, scallop, snapper and yellow aji dressing; classic Pozole prepared with hominy, pork, avocado and shredded cabbage; and Mexican street corn flavored with cotija cheese, cayenne pepper, butter and mayonnaise. Regional specialties include Carne de Res a la Parrilla served with beef skirt steak, wild mushroom and oven roasted poblano peppers; Pollo al Horno created with mixiote chicken, Mexican squash and achiote sauce; and Puerco Ahumado prepared with mesquite smoked pork shoulder, adovada sauce and plantain chips.
La Comida’s executive chef, Pablo Sanchez-Ortiz, grew up in Mexico City and Sahuayo Michoacán, Mexico, where his grandmother began to teach him her cooking secrets when he was seven. His family owned restaurants in both cities, inspiring his desire to work in the family business from an early age. He still uses authentic preparation methods for the cuisine at La Comida, including a molcajete to grind spices for his mole, mixiotes made from a half bone-in chicken and a blend of spices baked in banana leaves. After moving to Las Vegas in 2001, Sanchez-Ortiz worked in some of the Strip’s top resorts including Wynn and Cosmopolitan, where he often prepared authentic meals for high-end Mexican guests, including politicians, who would request his cooking on subsequent visits.
La Comida’s signature fresh fruit margaritas were inspired by a dinner the Mortons had in Cabo San Lucas when the bartender pulled a tamarind from a tree to make a margarita for Michael, creating what he believes was the best margarita he had ever tasted. La Comida brings the same quality to its signature cocktails using fresh fruit purees made from guava, prickly pear, passion fruit, pomegranate, tamarind, mint leaves, lime, basil and tajin spice, along with, of course, the tequila.
The La Comida drink menu boasts more tequilas than it has seats in the restaurant and outdoor patio. Tequila offerings feature varieties from around the world including Cabrito, El Tesoro, Milagro, Partida and more. As Michael says, “A tequila for every toast.” The drinks will flow from the zinc top bar situated next to a Dutch door, creating an open feel.
The physical structure of the restaurant grew out of the bones of an old laundry facility at 106 Sixth Street in downtown Las Vegas. The history of the building itself contributes to the essence of La Comida with a merging of the old with the new. “Normally we would want everything to be perfect,” Michael says, “But with La Comida, anything that is out of order or not perfectly aligned just adds character and familiarity.”
Designed with 555 Design, La Comida carries an irreverent ambience with distressed construction details, creating a combination of familiar weathered comfort with the energy of Mexico City. The front of the restaurant faces Sixth Street with an old-school overhanging ‘La Comida’ sign stretching across the sidewalk beneath a 7-foot sculptured metal monkey clinging to the rooftop corner, whose bones flash in pink neon in keeping with Downtown Las Vegas tradition.
Patrons will enter La Comida through the back alley, where graffiti peeks out from behind ornate metal window grates. The restaurant seats 80 in the dining room, 15 at the bar and 24 on the patio, and is comprised of 3,000 square feet including the open kitchen, a 25-foot cocktail bar overlooking Sixth Street, with 13-foot accordion style doors opening the façade to allow seating on the sidewalk outside. Design elements include wood floors, reclaimed tiles from Mexico, authentic church pews, and stained glass from old church windows, as just a few of the authentic touches. Other reclaimed pieces include a hostess stand fashioned from an antique cart, and the metal entry gate that once graced the garden entry of someone’s home. An ofrenda filled with Dia de los Muertos iconography and off-beat milagros, situated above the open kitchen overlooks La Comida’s lively dining room and pays homage to the tradition of the communal enjoyment of dining that extends back millennia in human history.