Richard Sandoval Restaurants is an international culinary company operating 35 different dining concepts and many more actual restaurant locations all around the world. In Las Vegas, the Mexico City-born chef (and one-time professional tennis player) has helped create and open Tacos & Tequila at Luxor and the former Isla at Treasure Island.
Sandoval’s food is back in Vegas at the new Commissary at Downtown Grand, now serving tortas drowning in tomato chile de arbol sauce, rotisserie chicken and smoked brisket, burgers, dogs, burritos and more.
The Commissary was designed as a sort of upscale food court, a quick and casual environment with multiple service counters located next door to Triple George Grill on Third Street. Sandoval, who was working with the Grand’s owners, CIM Group, on a project in Chicago, was attracted to the concept right away.
“I really like what they’re doing at [Downtown Grand] and I’ve been hearing about the renaissance in Downtown Las Vegas,” said Sandoval, whose company is based in Washington, D.C., and Denver, Colorado. “I was involved in a few projects in downtown Denver, which had some similarities, but I hadn’t done anything like this before. It was intriguing to me.”
He pulled different menu items and recipes from his many varied restaurant projects to create something fresh, easy and flexible for the Commissary, utilizing his signature flavors. Tortas offer layers of flavor, such as a crispy chicken sandwich ($10) with black bean puree, avocado, chipotle mayo and pickled jalapeño. “Anything you can do in fine dining can translate into fast-casual, as long as you care about what you’re doing,” Sandoval said. Other tortas are stuffed with slow-roasted pork, melted Oaxacan and Chihuahua cheeses, crispy cod or carne asada, all with the option of adding a cup of spicy sauce for dipping.
The Commissary also serves salads, soups, build-your-own burgers, and tacos, burritos and burrito bowls with choose-your-own ingredients. Sandoval operates a rotisserie chicken concept in Miami and threw that recipe into the mix, tender and juicy with crispy skin and spicy, citrus flavors from achiote, a spice made from annatto seed. There’s also a coffee bar with gelato, and at the burger station, milkshakes are made from that gelato, with rotating flavors ranging from mojito to chili cocoa.
The Commissary is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and plans are in the works to extend hours late into the night when the venue will incorporate a lounge-style atmosphere, music, tequila flights, craft cocktails and Sandoval’s special small plates menu. “What I like about Downtown is that it has a home-away-from-home vibe for locals. People who work on the Strip want to get away when they get off, and we are developing a small plates menu of chef-driven food that chefs will appreciate,” Sandoval said, hinting at bites like crispy shrimp with aioli, ramen noodles, and Chinese-Peruvian tiradito, a marinated raw fish dish. “You can’t just open for late night and not do some interesting stuff.”
The Commissary Downtown Grand, 719-5311. Sunday-Thursday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 6 a.m.-midnight.