Chef Ariel Zuniga’s menu at Pamplona has more than a dozen different fresh and flavorful vegetable-focused dishes, some with the traditional flavors of Spain, others with a more playful twist on the classics.
Start your meal with a bowl of aceitunas (Spanish olives), house-marinated in rich olive oil, chili, thyme, garlic and these addictive, pungently flavored, Italian pickled onions called Lampascioni alla Contadina.
If it’s hot in Vegas (and let’s face it, it’s hot often), it’s the perfect time to sample all of Chef Zuniga’s gazpacho creations. Normally offered as a daily special, Pamplona features at least four different kinds of gazpachos: traditional tomato, watermelon, beet, and “green”. Each of the cool and refreshing soups are an adventure for the palate, full of pureed and diced fruits and vegetables, perfectly balanced with fresh herbs, the flavors blooming and transforming with each mouthful.
If you’re craving something green, try the ensalada mixta, a house salad of peppery mixed greens, red onion, “sweetie drops” peppers, and blueberries, which comes with a house vinaigrette (the original dressing has honey, but if you request the dressing without honey, they can do it).
The grilled artichokes, alcachofas asadas, are a real treat, with the smokiness from the grill and the acidity from the marinated artichokes, topped with crispy breadcrumbs, chili, and fragrant paprika.
Another delicious vegan dish at Pamplona is the coles de Bruselas, fried Brussels sprouts. These come perfectly tender on the inside, and fried until the outer leaves are shatteringly crispy. Tossed with sweet peppers and a homemade vinaigrette (remember, request no honey), these sprouts perfectly walk the line between sweet, savory, and spicy.
You can’t have tapas without patatas bravas. Here, fingerling potatoes are crispy fried and coated in a spicy, smokey paprika seasoning, served atop “brava” sauce, which is similar to a spicy marinara sauce. Make it vegan by requesting to hold the aioli.
The dishes at Pamplona all appear appear humble, yet pack a punch of flavor in every bite, and their vegetales asados, are no exception. Seasonal vegetables, like summer squash, onions, peppers and zucchini are sauteed until al dente, with tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.
If you’re a fan of garlic, then the setas al ajillo are a must. Champignon mushrooms are simmered in Spanish olive oil with white wine with a ton of garlic, chili, and parsley. This dish is rich and earthy, and full of deep garlicky flavor.
Let’s be real, the true showstopper at Pamplona is the vegetable paella. Their verdura is portioned for two, but could easily feed four. Chef Zuniga cooks this paella with pisto and house-made vegetable broth to keep it vegan. This rich, saffron scented rice dish is perfectly cooked, complete with the crispy socarrat on the bottom of the pan. Full of fresh vegetables that include peas, mushrooms, squash, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, artichoke hearts, and piquillo peppers, this dish alone is worth the trip.
At Pamplona, it’s not just about the food. They have a full bar with handcrafted cocktails and sangrias, and if you come in on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll be able to enjoy your vegan feast accompanied by the sounds of a flamenco guitar.
578 1 W. Sahara Ave., 89146, 702-659-5781, Sunday and Tuesday – Thursday: 3 p.m. – 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday: 3 p.m. – 11 p.m. Closed Mondays.
Michael Monson, a former teacher turned vegan YouTuber and content creator, has been living and eating in Las Vegas for over 20 years. Michael started his vegan YouTube channel, “Monson Made This” in 2017 as a way to give back and help grow the online vegan community that helped make his transition to a vegan lifestyle so much easier. When he’s not developing vegan versions of his favorite childhood (and adulthood) recipes, he’s hanging out with his two rescued pups, Tuff and Odie.