My one big complaint about Pepito Shack has nothing to do with the food, the service, the location or the colorful characters that surround it. My issue is its hours—it opens at 4 p.m. daily, yet this is perfect food for Sunday football. That’s a whole lot of touchdowns and sacks during which my belly should be full of pepitos.
The Downtown shack is the brainchild of Felix Arellano, owner of the Downtown Venezuelan restaurant Viva Las Arepas. For those of us who have been ride or die with “the Arepa Man” since the beginning, this is a trip back to his original location outside Dino’s. For this version of the streetside kiosk, he’s given the keys to chef Richard Chavez, with whom Arellano worked at the Venetian.
The first thing you notice when you talk to Chavez is the pride he takes in the Shack. “This is my first time I’ve worked at this type of place. I love it ... Everything I make over here is homemade.”
As for the namesake item, the pepito is a guilty-pleasure gutbomb filled with all types of deliciousness. Open-faced sandwiches served on full 8-inch rolls (courtesy of Bon Breads) are topped with your choice of meat—as at the neighboring arepas joint, the chicken is outstanding—along with coleslaw, onions, tomatoes, crispy potato sticks and sauces flavored with garlic, cheese and bacon. If you need even more, you can add avocado, a fried egg or whatever; they’d probably let you top your pepito with another pepito. Flavors are maximized and combinations are unique, as is the case with all of Arellano’s contributions to the local food scene.
Pepito Shack 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-471-1000. Tuesday-Sunday, 4 p.m.-midnight.