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Experience Las Vegas like you’ve never seen it before: through the eyes of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’s Chef Mixologist Mariena Mercer, who leads food enthusiast and series host Noelle Scaggs of Adventures with Scaggs on an adventure of flavorful mushroom margaritas, fragrant Thai dishes and reinvented international bites.

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Daily food & travel inspiration in your inbox

Transcript

- My name is Noelle Scaggs. Some of you may know me from my social media account, @adventureswithscaggs, where I post my love for food and for travel. For my next adventure, I'll be in one of the most diverse culinary destinations in the world, Las Vegas. I'll be meeting Las Vegas insiders to act as guides to show me the coolest, most savory, and unique restaurants Las Vegas has to offer. And I have no doubt I'll be in good hands. I'm at the Cosmopolitan to meet up with my friend chef mixologist, Mariena Mercer. She's going to be showing me one of the best bars in town called Ghost Donkey. Oh, my God! Wow, this is amazing! That's cute! - Welcome to Ghost Donkey! - Thank you. - [Mariena] So, let's go chat, talk about some tequila and mezcal. - [Noelle] First of all, you're speaking my language on mezcal, tequila anything. - [Mariena] You are in the perfect place then. It's all about Mexican spirits. - Okay, now, what's the difference between a tequila and a mezcal? - So, tequila and mezcal are very different in many ways but very similar, also. They're both made from agave plant. Tequila specifically is made from the Weber blue agave plant. This is an un-aged, very traditional one. So, it's the true essence of the agave plant. Mezcal is different varietals of agave, and it's also cooked in an underground smoke pit. - That's where it gets it's smoky scent from. - Exactly, you're going to get a lot of that. - You sound like a sommelier. - My first job in the industry, actually, was called Tequila Goddess, because only in Las Vegas can you be a Tequila Goddess. - [Noelle] Yeah. You've been a part of this company for a long time, right? - I have been with the Cosmopolitan almost 10 years now. I design cocktail menus for 21 different venues. A mixologist's focus is on the creativity and elevating the craft and creating of cocktails. - Okay. What did you make? - [Mariena] So, this is called our Mushroom Margarita. - Rewind! Mushrooms? - So, it's technically it's called huitlacoche. It's a delicacy in Mexico. It's considered to be the Mexican truffle. - I'm trusting you. Mushrooms in tequila? Okay. - Oh, my gosh, that's so good! I couldn't tell that there was anything in this that's alcohol related, which can be trouble! - [Mariena] And here is your nachos. And so, this is the perfect pairing here. - [Noelle] Are those truffles? - [Mariena] They're truffles, which... - The most amazing thing to put on nachos. It's the perfect bar snack. Smell it. It has that kind of butteryness, unctuousness with the cheese. - That is so good. I mean, I could literally just eat this all day long, but I know that you have some places that you want to take me. - I do. - [Noelle] So I can get the real deal Vegas flavor. You know? - [Mariena] I certainly want to share my Las Vegas with you. Let's get going. - [Noelle] Let's do it. For lunch we headed to Le Thai. Located on Fremont St. downtown. - [Mariena] So this is classic downtown Las Vegas. - [Noelle] Okay - [Mariena] It's the best place for food and drinks and just really cool restaurants with the culture. - [Noelle] So if you had friends in town, this is one of the places that you would bring them to - [Mariena] Absolutely. - [Noelle] as a destination. I love that. It smells amazing. - I'll tell you one of my favorite things about Thai food is it is so fragrant. And I fell in love with it specifically because of the balance of flavor. There's sweet, salty, umami, spice. And it's just perfect. - Well I know I'm in good hands, so I'm gonna let you handle all the food. I'm not even gonna look at the menu. - Cheers. - Cheers. - [Noelle] Thank you. Here we go. - [Waitress] Pork jerky. We have the dipping sauce, sticky rice, and the pork jerky. - [Mariena] This is one of those dishes too, you kind of just have to get your hands in, get a little dirty. The sauce is amazing. It's one of their signature sauces here. It's called Waterfall Sauce. - [Noelle] This Waterfall Sauce is legit. - So this is our pork belly bacon. - You do not play. - [Mariena] You know just a little side of meat to serve it with our meat. - So beautiful. - [Mariena] So it has like that creamy, fattiness to it that kind of melts, but there's still like a really great crunch on the outside. - [Noelle] Mmmm-hmmm. - [Mariena] Melts in your mouth. This is my favorite soup of all time. It's called Tom Kha soup. It's a coconut soup, with lemongrass, some lime leaves, mushrooms, a little bit of curry, fish sauce. And I've always been that you don't serve your own soup. So I will serve your soup for you. - [Noelle] Oh! Okay. Laddle me. - You can smell the lemongrass. - Mmmmm. That is so good. I cannot. - I usually have it after my two meats that I eat. - [Noelle] Okay. - [Waitress] So this is our 3 Color Curry, it's a blend of our red, yellow and green, all mixed. - [Noelle] Yes. - Sounds like a journey of flavor. - [Noelle] That's got some kick to it. You're setting the bar like way way way up here. I cannot wait for the next place that you're taking me later. - [Mariena] Um I think we probably have to like walk off some of this food because we have a lot more eating in store for us. - All right, cool. Let's go then. Our next stop was Sparrow and Wolf in Chinatown for dinner. - [Brian] Our focus is on New American cuisine. With major focus on hospitality. It's very old world meets new world. There's nothing pretentious here. There's no egos. It's really just about deliciousness. - [Mariena] Everything is very unexpected. You know nothing really fits into a tidy little box. It's like every time I come I have the best experience. - [Noelle] I love it. It sounds like my kind of place. - -[Mariena] Oh wow. - [Noelle] Ooooo. - [Waiter] The fish to begin. - [Brian] The awordfish aguachile. It's got some fresh cucumber and jalapeno. And some lentil crackers to go along with that. One of my favorites on the menu is going to be our duck confit and sweet potato dumplings. It's got a little bit of a Calabrian chili broth, some crispy garlic. - [Noelle] I feel like we should jump into this duck here. - Let's get after it. - It's really good. I'm gonna dig into this crudo. - Very light, refreshing. Great palate cleanser. - Definitely. This is, every single bit that I've had so far is great. - Right? And it's such an amazing, eclectic group of flavors. I feel like we're globe trotting right now. - [Noelle] It's a true adventure. - [Mariena] Las Vegas is definitely a microcosm of all of these wonderful restaurants from around the world just kind of concentrated. - [Noelle] Yeah - [Mariena] So there's a lot of good eating and drinking to be done in Las Vegas. This looks amazing. - What is? Oh my god. - [Brian] A little bit of all day braised lamb neck glazed in it's natural reduction. It's got some Thai chilis, a little bit of crispy rice and black sesame. Fun dish, hot potato. It's a French potato pave. It's got a chive creme fraiche. A little bit of smoked trout roe. A Sichuan style pickle. Lastly, some beautiful scallops from the Atlantic. Topped with some marinated eggplant. - All right, I'm in. - [Noelle] So we are at Sparrow and Wolf. And look. It's Mariena. - [Mariena] Oh wow. It's like melting in my mouth. That sauce is amazing. Get in it. - This doesn't taste like any food I've ever had in the world. - [Waiter] So this is a foie-gras fat washed rye with a bit of a Bordeaux grape nectar. - That's crazy. - [Waiter] One is our house special. It's our caramelized honey toast. - [Noelle] I mean gorgeous. Let's dig into this. So good! - It's also so great and refreshing. - Thank you so much for bringing me here. Now I have like some of my favorite places that I'm gonna bring my friends when I come to Vegas. Thank you so much. - [Mariena] Of course - [Noelle] It's been so amazing. Mariena and I wrapped up our day together at Sparrow and Wolf. And what an amazing day it was. In a single day from Las Vegas, we visited Mexico, Thailand and some eclectic local cuisine in Chinatown. No question I was in good hands.