If you’re looking for a truly unique dining experience in Las Vegas or just a fantastic way to escape the heat, Pine Dining on Mt. Charleston provides a wonderful getaway for both locals and tourists. We were invited in for a hosted evening to check out the experience from start to finish. Each weekend consists of a Saturday Cookout Experience and a Sunday Chef’s Table Experience.
Escape Las Vegas With Pine Dining at Mt. Charleston
Your visit will begin with a shuttle ride from one of several local neighborhoods to Mt. Charleston. The area at the top of the mountain has very limited space, and the venue is limiting vehicle traffic for numerous reasons (it’s also pretty handy to have a designated driver back into town). We grabbed the shuttle at Santa Fe Station—all visitors receive a confirmation in advance with details and a map that makes finding the park and ride location a breeze.
The Journey to Mt. Charleston
Once on the mountain, guests are greeted with a welcome cocktail and have time to explore the space and enjoy the bars and activations inside the tent. You will also have the chance to learn more about the evening’s community partner—each dinner benefits a foundation of the feature chef’s choosing. We attended the dinner with local favorite Chef Gina Marinelli (of La Strega and Harlo Steakhouse & Bar), and the evening benefitted Second Chance Dog Rescue.
The Lodge at Mt. Charleston
Pine Dining takes place at the site of The Lodge at Mt. Charleston. We talked with Christina Ellis (of Ellis Island Casino & Brewery) about the space, the inspiration for Pine Dining and the upcoming return of The Lodge. “We wanted to give people a reason to come back out to the lodge, especially during the summer since, you know, the weather’s so beautiful up here and the atmosphere and just get that kind of back in people’s rotation since we lost the lodge, you know, a year ago now, sadly,” Ellis explained. “And we came up with the idea to partner with local shops and have it be a charity, you know, have all the proceeds for the event go to charity, to give back and thank the community for waiting for us to release our plans for the new Lodge. And welcome people back and give them something to do in the meantime.”
Pine Dining partners with some of the most celebrated chefs in Las Vegas. “We started making a list of chefs we loved and people we knew would bring their audience and draw a crowd,” Ellis told us. “And we partnered with Feast of Friends to expedite that outreach to the chefs. Luckily, they were also overwhelmingly eager to get involved, which was wonderful, and they’ve all been so great to work with.”
Pine Dining recently announced a weekend of events with Chef Todd English that are scheduled to take place on September 10 and 11. The series also announced the extension through October, with chef partnership announcements coming soon. “We have the next week announced with our Todd English event, but then going forward, we plan to keep activating the space for as long as we can before we start construction,” Ellis said. Updates on the construction of The Lodge are coming soon.
Inside the Kitchen
Because of the temporary space and portable design, feeding dozens of people can be a bit of a challenge. We talked with Food & Beverage Director David Barragan about the set-up. “The kitchen is a couple of components. US Foods is one of our biggest vendors, and they were able to help us out with a refrigerated truck,” Barragan explained. “We do a lot of the ordering through the chefs when we get started, and we have a trailer back there. The trailer is a very conservative-sized trailer. The chefs do a lot of prep at their own restaurants and do a lot of the finishing over here. We vetted a couple of different trailers before we pulled the trigger on the one that we got, it seemed to make the most sense, and we had one of the chefs give us his feedback on it, which proved to be very, very helpful.”
Despite limited access in the mountains, the set-up and execution of each event have been beautiful. “So, for instance, for this one, we’re figuring out, you know, it family style for most of the experience, and a couple of individually plated items. So it kind of texturizes experience,” Barragan told us. “It’s fun to kind of interact with the large table and the different individuals from all over Vegas. It’s a great environment.”
Chef Gina Marinelli and Second Chance Dog Rescue
We had the chance to catch up with Chef Gina Marinelli after dinner to talk about the event and the menu. “We wanted to really capture northern Italy, especially when I see the mountains, I think of alpine I think that the Alps of Northern, so we wanted to tap into our like Andorra, or more Italian roots,” Marinelli explained. “So all the chefs have an Italian backup. So we just wanted to feel like if it’s a communal table, you know, like your ground like Italian family, you have a wine and share. And, you know, that’s where I think the best conversations are had is at the table. So that was the whole thought process behind me.”
My dogs are my life. And so they asked about finding a charity to donate to,” Marinelli told us of the decision to partner with Second Chance Dog Rescue. “I did some research, and I found them and called them up and said, you partner with the vet that takes care of my dogs, and I would love the opportunity to get together and give back to these dogs that are being saved from kill shelters and everything. And the women that work at Second Chance. Their whole life is just devoted to taking care of these animals. And it’s beautiful.”