It’s just the opposite of the Joni Mitchell lyric – here, they took a paved parking lot and made it into a paradise.
The truck(s) in that former parking lot, now a grassy plaza, stand tall in a Mike Ross sculpture named Big Rig Jig. If you’re seeing the two-headed tanker truck “tango”, you’re here. And if you’re here, you are at Peyote, the newest restaurant at Fergusons Downtown.
Big Rig Jig Sculpture - Photo credit: John Hardin
Peyote Interior Dining - Photo credit: John Hardin
Peyote Interior - Photo credit: John Hardin
And yes, you pronounce that final “e”. It’s pay-o-tee. Peyote the plant is a small, spineless cactus with psychoactive alkaloid, particularly mescaline. However, Peyote the restaurant, under the direction of Chef Justin Kingsley-Hall, needs no such enhancements. Just bring your mouth.
Back of Peyote menu - Photo credit: John Hardin
The Peyote sign can be seen from the street at 11th and Fremont. Inset from the tall Ferguson’s Motel sign, Peyote’s large outdoor dining patio (once the motel’s pool area) sports a terra cotta floor in multiple earth tones, flameless, stained-glass candles on light green wrought iron tables with pink chairs, and, above it all, strings of ever-changing colored lights. Music is pumped through speakers in trendy beats that signal the impending arrival of guests. It’s a mellow, tropical vibe that invites one to imbibe.
The drink menu offers cocktails with names like Downtown Spritz (PAMA Pomegranate liqueur, Mount Rigi infused Kirsch liqueur, cold pressed cactus pear and pomegranate juice, fresh lime juice and Prosecco) Vow of Silence (Botanist Scottish gin, Yellow Chartreuse, fresh lemon juice, all-natural golden beet syrup, and rhubarb bitters) and Hey, Smokey! (Bardstown Fusion Bourbon, Copper & Kings Apple brandy, Aperol, Amaro Nonino, and orange and tobacco bitters barrel-aged for 30 days and smoked with a proprietary blend of wood). The El Camino features gentle smoke notes and is made with Joven mezcal, Alpine Preserve liqueur, passion fruit puree, fresh lime-agave sour and smoked sea salt.
Peyote Downtown Spritz - Photo credit: John Hardin
The Tea For Two, a refreshing shared beverage made with either certified organic vodka or small batch bourbon, OM organic lemon and ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice, fresh white peach and cold-brewed organic earl grey tea is served in a glass teapot which appears to include dry ice for a misty effect. As your humble correspondent was a dinner guest, this intriguing cocktail was unavailable and is offered at Peyote’s Brunch, which occurs each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, from noon to 4:00 p.m.
Appetizers don’t disappoint. The Shrimp Salad Toast is piled high and should be eaten from the center out. It has a delicate but firm bite and, enhanced by lemon, fennel, and smoked roe, is a pleasing contrast to the crunchy toasted bread beneath it all.
The Beet Tartare is a deep red avalanche of flavor and texture, sitting upon a roasted onion puree and accompanied by puffed rice in the form of a light, crispy cracker that is crumbled over the dish. Enhanced by chili sunflowers, garlic, and pickled onions, it also comes with a smoked watermelon dressing. The beets are elevated to a crimson, root vegetable caviar in a melding of exquisite flavor sensations that tends to make one want the dish to be entrée sized.
Peyote Beet Tartare and Shrimp Salad Toast - Photo credit: John Hardin
Among the entrees sampled by your humble correspondent were the creamy Carolina Gold Rice Risotto, which went down too easily with the inclusion of grilled corn, sunflower seeds, leeks and almond milk, and the showstopper Mushroom Chili Relleno. This fungi stuffed pepper was perched atop a smoked carrot tomatillo molé, and was so wondrously original and palate pleasing, your humble correspondent was sad to see it disappear, but greatly enjoyed making it do just that.
Peyote Golden Rice Risotto - Photo credit: John Hardin
Peyote Mushroom Chili Relleno - Photo credit: John Hardin
A return trip to Peyote is planned in order to partake of the Santa Maria vintage tri-tip, the Beet in Baguette, the Pink Peppercorn Buttermilk Fried Chicken, and the Grilled and Chilled Seafood Platter (Brunch only), and the Beet Root Niçoise salad. There are several gluten free and plant-based options on the menu.
Manager Matt Evendy will see to it that your visit brings with it numerous discoveries of taste sensations and flavor-pairings from the original creations of on-site Chef Justin Kingsley-Hall. Just when you think that one dish can’t be “beet”, you might just happily discover that it can.
Peyote manager Matt Effendy - Photo credit: John Hardin
Peyote Exterior Dining Patio - Photo credit: John Hardin
Your Humble Correspondent - Photo credit: John Hardin
1028 E. Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101
About Fergusons Downtown:
Fergusons Downtown is a mixed-use residential and retail space built at a once abandoned 1940s motel (then called the Franklin Motel) on Fremont Street. There is an outdoor reception desk staffed by friendly and welcoming attendants who can point you in any direction within the compound.
It’s been called a desert oasis and a city block rooted in community. Arrive in daylight to view the cactus and succulent garden, and the various shops in the compound. At dusk the natural light is replaced by neon. It is a marketplace, a collection of small businesses. Its co-founders are former Stitch Factory managing partner Jen Taler, and the late Downtown Project founder Tony Hsieh.
The white building with a large green plaza, punctuated here and there with cozy two-chairs-and-a- table nooks overlooking an expansive lawn, is home to the many small shops that offer coffee, plants, self-care items, a tintype studio, furniture, and puzzles, among others. Neon Cactus Vintage is a local pop-up thrift retailer. There is live music quite often.
The shops at Fergusons Downtown are open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Market in the Alley takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.