Downtown’s Carson Kitchen Warrants Venturing Off the Eaten Path

Chef Kerry Simon’s Carson Kitchen has gotten some great reviews since it opened in June of 2014, and it’s well worth venturing a block off Fremont East to enjoy a menu that’s full of quirky, surprising dishes with a focus on shared plates.

Carson Kitchen

Not everything downtown has to have neon on it, you know.

Carson Kitchen is at the intersection of Sixth Street and Carson Avenue, in the renovated John E. Carson Building. The building is also home to O Face Doughnuts, Bud & Vine (a flower shop), the new Bocho Downtown Sushi and other small businesses.

Carson Kitchen can be a little tough to spot at first, but again, well worth finding.

Carson Kitchen

No, they didn’t forget to finish the ceiling. In Vegas, that’s a thing.

The restaurant has two levels, including a charming upstairs patio. There’s a full bar both upstairs and downstairs, so either works fine for this blog.

Carson Kitchen patio

The patio is awesome during the two weeks in Las Vegas when it’s not 120-degrees or 20-degrees.

In case you’ve never heard of Kerry Simon, he’s the chef behind a couple of Las Vegas restaurants, KGB: Kerry’s Gourmet Burgers at Harrah’s and Simon Restaurant & Lounge at Palms Place.

Simon was once dubbed the “Rock ‘n’ Roll Chef” by Rolling Stone magazine (because of all his musician friends and customers), and he stepped into the national spotlight when he won a hamburger battle on “Iron Chef America” in 2005.

The ailing chef (Simon was diagnosed in 2013 with Multiple System Atrophy, a terminal illness) was very much involved in creating the menu at Carson Kitchen, and it reflects his thoughtful, often-playful culinary sensibilities.

Kerry Simon

We took this pic of chef Kerry Simon back in 2010.

If you’d like to know more about chef Simon, here’s a story in Esquire, as well as a story we did about him for Today in Las Vegas magazine.

On with the food.

Because the menu features lots of small plates, called “Social Plates” on the menu, you’ll get to try a few dishes and explore flavors you may never have experienced before.

Carson Kitchen

You’ve probably had crispy chicken skins before, but have these.

Nothing too crazy or exotic, and since it’s downtown, nothing pretentious. Just some food that’s fun and value-priced, especially when compared to similar restaurants on The Strip.

Carson Kitchen devils eggs

The Devil’s Eggs, with pancetta and caviar ($8). Don’t worry, they’ll make more.

Check out the full Carson Kitchen menu.

Carson Kitchen

Think you know Spam? Try these Spam Croquettes with jalapeno creamy mustard ($8). You don’t know everything.

We hear Kerry Simon still visits Carson Kitchen often, but the day-to-day duties are left to Executive Chef Matt Andrews. Read an interview with Andrews.

Carson Kitchen gyro tacos

The Gyro Tacos with lamb, tzatziki, cucumber and tomato ($10).

Also on the modest menu are burgers, flat breads, “Meat and Fish” items and “Farm and Garden” selections.

Carson Kitchen Butter Burger

Kerry Simon shines when he does burgers. This is his Butter Burger ($14). Bonus: Tots.

One of our favorites was the Wellington Empanada ($10).

Carson Kitchen

This dish has duxelle, an item we looked up on the Internet and still don’t quite grasp. We are a Las Vegas blog, not a food ingredient grasper.

The menu also features desserts like a Bourbon Fudge Brownie and Glazed Donut Bread Pudding.

Oh, and Kerry Simon’s take on Twinkies.

Carson Kitchen Twinkies

Less sweet than real Twinkies, but some people seem to like that.

Overall, the service is friendly, although a little inconsistent at times. As we mentioned, there’s liquor, so who even notices such things?

Carson Kitchen bar

There’s a solid variety of beer, wine and specialty cocktails. See the beverage menu.

Carson Kitchen joins an ever-growing list of must-try restaurants in downtown Las Vegas, including Pizza Rock, Nacho Daddy, La Comida and others.

At Kerry Simon’s Carson Kitchen, the prices are right, the vibe is laid-back and the menu is a testament to a chef whose personality shines through even in the midst of the fight of his life.

Kerry Simon's Carson Kitchen

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  • Steven Brown

    Carson Kitchen is somewhere that I was staying on The Strip, I would venture Downtown to go eat at. The bacon jam is awesome, but one of the dishes that surprised me was the tempura green beans. I’m not much of a veggie eater, but those were excellent (The red pepper jelly and cream cheese dipping sauce really made the dish.). I ordered the short rib sliders, which were pretty good, but the root beer glaze made them a bit too sweet (You can tell they’re using root beer sweetened with cane sugar.). Both cocktails I had, the Standing 8 Count and the Towns End were excellent and the bartenders are also on point with the classic cocktails as well.