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Sensi Magazine

Rapido y Sabroso

Jan 30, 2019 12:19PM ● By Debbie Hall
Fast food, including what passes for Mexican cuisine, has proliferated throughout the decades. Today, a new influx of consumers is demanding fresh as well as fast. Sharky’s Modern Mexican Kitchen (SHARKYS.COM) answers the call for flavor, nutrition, and an extensive menu in a relaxed atmosphere that fits everyone’s schedule.

Sharky’s is all about food with a purpose. Founder and CEO Steve Paperno’s passion for healthy living sparked his idea to develop a different kind of Mexican casual dining place. He traveled to the various regions of Mexico to learn about distinctive flavors and recipes he could introduce to the US market.

Paperno originally used the name Sharky’s for a branding character in a business he eventually sold. “I took a trip to Hawaii, saw a shark, and that became the name of the restaurant,” he explains.

While the name is catchy, it is the menu that makes Sharky’s stand out from other taco places. The quality is evident in fresh, natural, and organic ingredients with vegan, vegetarian, low-carb, and gluten-free options.

Sharky’s contemporary approach to Mexican cuisine features roasting, braising, and grilling. The flavors appeal to diverse tastes and lifestyles with many different regional cooking styles. Menu highlights include hand-crafted burritos filled with organic beans and rice with a choice of all-natural grilled chicken or steak, vegan roasted cauliflower and mushroom tacos, chipotle-braised chicken tinga tacos, and guajillo-braised pork tacos. Seasonal salads include roasted pear and apple salad made with organic greens, quinoa, Bosc pears, Fuji apples, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, queso fresco, and tomatoes served with cilantro buttermilk dressing.

Top sellers include Baja fish tacos made with wild fried Alaska pollock, topped with a chipotle crema and jalapeno tartar sauce, and served on a bed of green cabbage and Brussel sprouts.

Sharky’s uses all-natural chicken breast that contains no added preservatives, hormones or phosphates and all-natural, antibiotic-free Angus steak with no added hormones. Wild-caught Alaska salmon and other sustainable wild-caught fish selections are Marine Stewardship Council-certified to maintain healthy oceans.

Non-GMO corn chips are fried in non-GMO canola oil, and organic black and pinto beans are made without lard. Other organic menu items include whole grain brown rice, long grain white rice, baby spinach, baby kale, yams, and non-GMO tofu. Dairy products (including cheese and sour cream) do not contain the rBGH hormone.

Ingredients are regionally sourced from farms in Arizona, northern Mexico, and California, especially eastern San Diego County in the winter months. Guests can also enjoy beers from Southern Nevada breweries.

“ All of our restaurants are community based, and it is about the lifestyle brand.”

Sharky’s offers a happy hour daily with beer, wine, and sangria drink specials as well as tacos, nachos, flatbreads, and quesadillas. It’s Taco Tuesday all day with $5 taco specials.

All of this delish nourishment is part of a bigger plan to create a nationwide chain, but the current Vegas locations are miles from the Strip with an eye for connecting with locals. Paterno hopes to develop national recognition first and then perhaps open in tourist-centric areas such as the Strip.

“All of our restaurants are community based, and it is about the lifestyle brand,” says Paperno. “We do offer special dishes throughout the year keeping the location in mind.”


As dining trends change, with some restaurants reinventing themselves and other new ones opening, Sharky’s is part of the tech world of food. Guests can order online, and there are delivery options including DoorDash.

“Our responsibility is to make certain the food is delivered so that our guests have the best dining experience, even if it is at home or in the office,” states COO David Goldstein.

“The dining community has learned to ask what our guests want,” adds Paperno. People respond to menu changes and other issues using social media, which Sharky’s monitors as an essential tool for communication and gauging trends.

“Lifestyle is important to us. Understanding how people get and remain healthy becomes our goal. We use clean ingredients and make everything from scratch,” says Goldstein.

Sharky’s Modern Mexican Kitchen presents a new paradigm in fast casual dining incorporating a healthy way of life.