Hakkasan Group is partnering with the new hotel to open a north-of-the-border version of Casa Calavera, the Instagrammable Mexican cantina that debuted at Vidanta Los Cabos in 2018.
Derek Silberstein, Hakkasan Group’s executive vice president of food and beverage, says that Casa Calavera Las Vegas will be full of surprises at every turn.
“The entrance will be adorned in altars, an important aspect surrounding the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos, which is the underlying theme to Casa Calavera,” Silberstein says. “Throughout the restaurant, wall-sized murals depict the Mexican holiday, Lady Catrina and Calavera skulls. Outside of the restaurant, a patio featuring a food truck and overlooking the new Virgin hotel pool will provide guests the option of outdoor dining on those perfect Vegas days or nights.”
Renderings of the restaurant reveal that bold, colorful works of art flank the square, carved wooden bar, and clusters of ornate chandeliers create a dynamic lighting effect. Rope cords, wood beams and pieces of cut tile, pebbles and stacked stone give the interior design texture, depth and warmth. Geometric variations in the flooring lend the indoor/outdoor space eye-catching flair.
Though Casa Calavera’s biggest Instagram moments unfold on the Tequila Throne, which teems with bright marigold flowers — also expect more altars, candles and mirrors galore.
A look at the menu reveals some tempting fare. Grilled yellowtail with salsa verde; ahi tuna tostadas with pickled cucumber, guacamole and blue corn tortilla; and adobo prawn tacos with kale slaw and avocado salsa offer a taste of Mexico’s rich coastal seafood traditions. For vegans, the grilled cactus tacos with salsa verde and guacamole introduce a rich take on a protein-alternative dish. Mexican street corn served on the cob with mayo, cotija cheese and chile Tajín pleases all palates — the recognizable dish is both comforting and bursting with flavor.
Casa Calavera’s cantina program showcases a wide range of tequilas and mezcals, which have seen a surge in popularity across the globe. It also will shake up craft cocktails using Mexico’s most well-known spirits.
“During the day, we anticipate Casa Calavera to be more of a casual hangout with pool-goers coming in to grab a bite before or after heading to the Virgin hotel pool — bathing suits and flip-flops, poolside chic,” Silberstein says, noting that the outdoor experience includes real sand for you to dip your toes in and a perfect view of the five-acre pool oasis. “At night, the culinary and cantina hot spot will shift to be a place to start off before heading to the clubs, or quite possibly a place for some to eat, drink and stay late into the night.”
However, a few pieces of the puzzle are still missing. An opening date for Virgin Hotels Las Vegas — located off Strip on the site of the former Hard Rock Hotel & Casino — will be announced this fall; an executive chef for Casa Calavera has yet to be named; and the style and genre of entertainment in the restaurant will be conceived closer to opening.
Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, owned and operated by JC Hospitality, will be a part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. Marking itself as the place for food, drinks, music and culture, the hotel also will have more than 1,500 rooms, a 60,000 square-foot Mohegan Sun Casino, a 4,500-capacity theater and a five-acre pool.
The Virgin Hotels Las Vegas restaurant collection brings an impressive list of new and returning concepts to the resort. Todd English’s legendary Mediterranean restaurant Olives, formerly at Bellagio, will reemerge, as will former Hard Rock restaurants Nobu, MB Steak and Pizza Forte.
Newcomers include Los Angeles’ top names: Thai eatery Night + Market, Afters Ice Cream and Nick Mathers’ Kassi Beach Club (a sister spot to his star-studded Southern California concepts Eveleigh, Élephante and Kassi Club). Virgin Hotels also brings its signature brands The Kitchen at Commons Club, The Bar at Commons Club, The Shag Room and Funny Library Coffee Shop to Las Vegas.
The opening of a new resort like Virgin Las Vegas was the ideal way for Hakkasan Group to expand its portfolio on home turf, Silberstein adds. “The demographics of [our] brands are perfectly in line,” he says.
Hakkasan Group is known for international restaurants, such as Hakkasan (including the Forbes Travel Guide Recommend Las Vegas outpost), Ling Ling, Yauatcha, Sake no Hana, Herringbone and Searsucker, as well as nightclubs and dayclubs, like Hakkasan, Omnia, Jewel, Wet Republic and Liquid.