[Chef Talk]

Keeping cowboy food fresh and fun with chef Yvonne Maatouk

Chef Yvonne Maatouk runs the show at Planet Hollywood’s PBR Rock Bar & Grill.
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

You wouldn’t expect the head chef at PBR Rock Bar to be a gluten-free eater. But that’s okay: Yvonne Maatouk is full of surprises, just like the fun menu at the Strip-side bar and comfort food kitchen. Southern fried chicken and waffle pizza? It’s real.

After 10 years (on and off) in Las Vegas working in hotel kitchens at Golden Nugget, Hard Rock Hotel and South Point, Maatouk finally hit the Strip to open PBR at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops four years ago. Now she’s hooked on the fast pace, and her patrons are equally enamored with her fun food.

On the crowd: “I tried to avoid the Strip for years, and now I’m literally right on it. But we do get some local action, and we do have regulars who come back every year to watch football even though they’re from out of town. We can be dead and then be suddenly packed, zero to 60 in two seconds.”

On the food: “We just rolled out a pretty big overhaul and put some more fun, new stuff [on the menu]. When you come to Vegas, you see all this stuff you’re not exposed to at home, so we like to do food that’s a little crazy so people go home talking about it … like the chicken and waffles pizza. It’s just one of those things you have to try.”

On the house specialties: “Burgers like the Double Trouble and pizzas are the most popular items, but we’re known for our barbecue, too. We smoke everything here. Our St. Louis-style pork ribs are huge; each rack is around 2½ pounds, and we do our own brisket as well every day, juicy and delicious.”

Tags: Dining
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