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This year's dining issue of Desert Companion includes not only the 2022 Restaurant Awards, but also a special section called Street Eats, celebrating both fine dining and everyday eating out in Las Vegas.Read the digital edition

Family Business

Photo of the owners and chefs of Laz Cazuelas Restaurant
Brent Holmes
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Brent Holmes Photography

Ancestral recipes, cultural traditions, and teamwork give these restaurants an inimitable warmth

LAS CAZUELAS

Searching in vain for the flavors of home (Puebla, Mexico) led husband and wife Manuel Avendano and Anna Tobon (above) to found Las Cazuelas. “When we arrived in America, we tried to find the food with all our memories,” Tobon says. “It was hard because most (Mexican) restaurants do the Tex-Mex way.” Avendano worked at Ventano Italian Grill & Seafood to hone his culinary skills while Tobon developed the recipes for their own venture. “It’s a good combination,” Avenando says. (9711 S. Eastern Ave., Silverado Ranch, 702-837-0204)

SERRANO’S

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Chef Jose Manuel Serrano’s cooking history dates to age 13, when his mother told him to make the salsa for a meal because he was good at it. That talent evolved into a culinary career that began with preparing international dishes at Stoney Point in Pasadena, California, in the ’70s. Eighteen years ago, Serrano brought the tradition full circle, opening his family restaurant, where his mother’s influence is still in the food. “But my wife does the best table service,” he says, “and my son gets everybody here.” (136 S. Rainbow Blvd., Las Vegas, 702-243-4552)

MAS TAKOS

Photo of the family that owns and operates Mas Takos
Brent Holmes
/
Brent Holmes Photography
Photo of the family that owns and operates Mas Takos

Alejandro Ortega made the culinary journey from young immigrant working at Wendy’s to back-of-house cook on the Strip. Eventually, catering brought his family into the business: Wife, Angelica, ran operations; mother and sister helped in the kitchen; son, Alexis (then 10), even worked the grill. Now 19, Alexis manages the family’s brick-and-mortar eatery, which opened in a refurbished Taco Bell in 2019. “It’s not just Mexican culture,” Alejandro Ortega says. “The food — it’s part of the family, so we make everything fresh. We make our own recipes.”  (4425 Sunset Road, Henderson, 702-780-8100)