[Chef Talk]

Chef Carlos Guia of Country Club likes his lunch with a little tongue

Photo: Beverly Poppe

The son of a Venezuelan father and a New Orleanian mother, Country Club chef Carlos Guia has a diverse ethnic background. Throw into the mix a childhood spent traveling around the United States, and he’s experienced more culinary cultures than most. Which makes him a good man to ask for a restaurant recommendation.

Viva Las Arepas (Dino’s parking lot, 1516 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 366-9696) For a taste of Venezuela, Guia suggests this spot for—you guessed it—arepas. The flattened cornmeal patties are stuffed with a variety of meats, his favorites of which are the carne machada (shredded beef) and the lengua (beef tongue). “I grew up on arepas,” Guia says. “For us, it was either for breakfast or as street food, because in Venezuela they have similar stands that are almost like food trucks. It was our staple snack.”

Lola’s (241 W. Charleston, #101, 227-5652) For a reminder of his mother’s cooking, Guia likes this Cajun restaurant in the Old Holsum Bakery building—in particular, the gumbo and po-boys. “They’re a nice and basic representation and do a good job at achieving the real flavors. It’s a simple, good ol’ example of Gulf Coast cooking.”

Due Forni Pizza and Wine (3555 S. Town Center Dr., #105, 586-6500) Guia’s first job was spinning dough in a New York City pizza parlor. Due Forni might not toss theirs, but good pizza is good pizza. “They serve a good pie at Due Forni. I like the Due Forni on Neapolitan [crust]—the more meat, the better, although I’m always good for a Margherita, too.”

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