A first look inside PublicUs

A place Downtown for good bread? That’s only the beginning

Forbidden fried rice (center) flanked by several dishes at the new PublicUs.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore
Greg Thilmont

Fremont Street and Maryland Parkway was one of the most forlorn intersections in Old Vegas. A vintage commercial building, generous with sidewalk windows and pre-Interstate Era architecture, sat largely empty, seemingly so far from the new monuments of Downtown. A few weeks ago, however, the much anticipated PublicUs opened in the completely refurbished northeast corner unit there, filling one of Downtown’s “food desert” holes—a lack of good, locally baked bread.

PublicUs’ hallmark items are its boules, rustic bowling balls of French bread ($6). They’re crusty and substantial, each day’s limited supply sacked away by customers to eat at home or torn into in their cars. For prepared foods, PublicUs has a walk-up system where diners order at a counter from a daily printed menu and a number of on-display salads and sides they dub “The Kitchen Table.” Recent sandwiches have included coffee-rubbed roast beef with Brie cheese, pear-horseradish slaw, hazelnuts and truffle aioli ($12) and pork schnitzel with braised red cabbage ($13). Knife-and-fork entrées range from seared ahi with bok choy and wild mushrooms ($16) to a hash-like roasted pork belly with black “forbidden” rice and fried egg ($13).

A London Fog served at PublicUs in Downtown Las Vegas.

The Kitchen Table larder features plates with a rotating selection of items, like arugula with pomegranate, prosciutto and shaved Grana Padano ($4.50), or red quinoa with green grapes and goat cheese ($4.50). Vegetables are heavily represented, from roasted cauliflower to shishito peppers.

Sweets include bread pudding or Guinness cheesecake, perfect with PublicUs’ advanced coffee and tea offerings. The restaurant’s espresso machine alone is a wonder of culinary artistic design. It looks like a Ford Galaxie 500 hooked up with a flying saucer.

The interior design is unique, filled with custom woodwork and slatted tables with curved ends. Interior trees bring a welcome verdant atmosphere to a hot climate—it’s a refreshing place even for laptop-toting business types on working breaks.

PublicUs 1126 Fremont St., 702-331-5500. Daily, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.

Tags: Dining, Food
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