Park MGM’s newest venue, Mama Rabbit, has a secret weapon: curator Bricia Lopez. The James Beard Award-winning “mezcalera” hails from a family of mezcal-makers and restaurateurs. She was born in Oaxaca, Mexico, where the agave-based spirit is largely originated. “Mezcal is part of my DNA and what encompasses me, like who I am,” says the self-described “fun girl with a Oaxacan soul and an LA vibe.”
The bar’s name is fashioned after the goddess Mayahuel, who presides over agave and fertility and famously fed her 400 rabbit children mezcal. It’s easy to wonder if Lopez, herself a warm and nurturing presence, is the contemporary embodiment of the goddess Mama Rabbit.
Lopez’s favorite spirit is a “roasted-but-not-too-roasted mezcal” that has been distilled in clay pots. But for her, it’s not just about the drink, but also the experience. She describes her ideal scene: She’s surrounded by friends and she’s drinking mezcal at sunset in the middle of a field while eating barbacoa. She’s wearing a little blanket to warm against the evening chill, and she’s nibbling on chocolate.
Lest there be any confusion, there are no bucolic fields at Mama Rabbit. But that same ideal of friends, fun and food is in full force at the Strip bar. Through colorful art and lush decor, Mama Rabbit channels a hip Oaxacan tavern. Of course, the Vegas version has gaming tables alongside live music, banquets and a double-sided bar.
The menu is divided into two halves, cleverly titled “To Agave” and “Not to Agave.” Even if you’re not a fan of the smoky flavor of mezcal, you must try the Guelaguetza Cocktail, named for Lopez’s family’s restaurant in LA. Mezcal and lime are complemented by a flavorful Gusano salt rim and finished with a lime ice pop. An extensive mezcal and tequila list balances out the offerings.
The food menu consists of botanas (snacks) and dulces (desserts). There are tacos, street quesadillas and shrimp aguachile—and be sure to try the queso fundido, rich chorizo dip made with melted Oaxacan cheese. It’s even more perfect while sipping a strong cocktail.
MAMA RABBIT Park MGM, 702-730-7777. Monday-Tuesday, 5 p.m.-midnight; Wednesday-Saturday, 5 p.m.-3 a.m.; Sunday, 6 p.m.- midnight.