Veteran chef Mark LoRusso originally landed in Las Vegas in 1998 to open Aqua, now known as Michael Mina Bellagio. “I thought I’d stay for two years, and here we are, 14 years later,” he says. LoRusso moved on to open Tableau at Wynn before sliding over to Botero at Encore, where he currently serves an innovative, seasonal steakhouse menu.
Favorite trend: farmers’ markets “I’m very impressed with the Downtown 3rd Farmers’ Market. The quality is there; it’s not just arts and crafts. There are real purveyors. It excites me to see more people doing stuff off the Strip to make Vegas a great food city.”
Favorite supermarket grub: Cardenas (4700 Meadows Lane, 835-8800) “We have a Botero softball team on Tuesdays in the area, and we always hit Cardenas after. Their roast chicken is so good, so we’ll take two chickens, a huge bag of beans, salsa and tortillas. They make tortillas fresh every day.”
Biggest dining change: the club scene “Shows have been replaced a little by the clubs. Here at Botero, the clubs [XS and Surrender] have been great for us. There’s a weird rush coming late, a lot of ballers coming in and ordering big.”
Favorite taco break: Tacos El Gordo (3049 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 641-8228) “It’s right next door to Encore. Sometimes some of my guys will disappear for a while and then come back with a big bag from Tacos El Gordo.”