ADVENTURER | CHARLIE JOHNSTON
You could be forgiven for not noticing “eat.” or its unassuming façade at the edge of downtown Las Vegas, but gritty as the neighborhood looks, eat. is about as refined as a breakfast and lunch joint gets, and you would certainly be remiss to pass it by on account of its surrounds.
The culmination of chef Natalie Young’s 20-plus years of culinary experience and expertise, eat. opened in September 2012 to the delight of a downtown hungry for something fresh and unique on the menu that is its dining scene. Young has built a reputation in the city at the helm of kitchens at MGM Grand, Hard Rock Hotel, and P.J. Clarke’s at the Forum Shops, but eat. is finally her chance to do exactly what she wants with food. “I’ve done really well in Vegas, but I’ve done so cooking for an exclusive, largely tourist clientele,” she says. “I want to bring that same level of quality—fine, fresh food that tastes as good as it looks—to a more low-key, local audience. To my community.”
The eatery’s unpretentious, open interior is specifically designed to make its customers feel welcome, and it houses an exposed kitchen with reclaimed and lightly used equipment. The décor is a pleasantly eclectic mix of natural wood, bold orange and green accents, and exposed brick combined with used and recycled furnishings. The varied artwork gracing eat.’s walls includes permanent fixtures by local artists and rotating displays of featured artists.
The brief, but lovingly prepared, list of offerings delivers on Young’s promise of “healthy, hearty breakfast and luncheon favorites…using the freshest, most sustainable, and—whenever possible—locally sourced organic ingredients.” On the healthier side, breakfast’s Mediterranean egg white frittata comes with spinach, tomatoes, kalamata olives, micro basil, and a whole-wheat English muffin. The heartier side of breakfast includes shrimp and grits with thick-cut bacon and farm-fresh fried eggs.
The same variety of healthy and hearty greets diners on a lunch menu of salads, sandwiches, and soups. The roast beef sandwich comes on a ciabatta bun and strikes a nice balance of savory beef and wild mushrooms, bold blue cheese, and tart and tangy pickled red onions and arugula lettuce.
The DWBLTA (the “DW” stands for Don Welch, one of the investors) features thick, smoky bacon with tomato, iceberg lettuce, avocado, and chipotle mayo on thick, buttery toasted sourdough. All sandwiches come with a choice of crispy house-made potato chips or creamy and filling potato salad. The website promises that dessert is coming to the menu soon and will include brownies and chocolate chip cookies.