John Curtas is …

BORDER GRILL

It may seem incongruous to some, but it’s pretty much a given that the two best Mexican restaurants In America are Topolobampo in Chicago (founded by chef/owner Rick Bayless — a guy from Oklahoma) and the Border Grill in Santa Monica (owned by a couple of gringo-white, California gals named Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken). Why more chefs/restaurateurs don’t try to duplicate the passion for authenticity found in these two places is a puzzlement to ELV, but we’re just glad someone in America has brought faithful renditions of this marvelous cuisine north of the border.

Added non-food-related bonus: Thanks to a groovy re-design by assemblageStudio, you can now enjoy all this organic, true-to-its-roots food amongst rammed earth subsoil paneling (whatever the hell that is.) ELV is no arch-i-teck, but assemblageStudio’s Eric Strain (an Official Friend of ELV) is, and if he tells us this textured decor method (?) dates to the days of the Anasazi, we believe him and assume this must be a good thing.

Vegas has its own Border Grill in the Mandalay Bay, and after at least a dozen meals there (and almost that many at the original in SoCal) we can find no significant differences between the two. The trio of ceviches (Baja-lime marinated halibut and shrimp with cilantro aoli; Hawaiian-fish-of-the-day with apricot salsa and spicy taro root; Aztec-fish-stuffed avocado with serrano-mint chimichurri) are still our favorite way to start a meal — along with the killer trio of fresh salsas. Just as good are the fish tacos (that’ll make you feel like you’re staring at an Ensenada sunset), green corn tamales that taste like Christmas in Monterrey, and Cochinita pibil — a huge portion of achiote marinated pork slow roasted in a banana leaf that puts most Vegas barbecue to shame.

About the only thing we don’t like about this place is its location. Unless you’re a conventioneer at Mandalay Bay, you’re gonna have a long walk from wherever you park. But Chef Mike Minor’s beef brisket taquitos or chicken chilaquiles make us forget that inconvenience, and by the time we’re on our third bite of his tres leches cake with passion fruit and prickly pear sauces, all is forgiven.

Click here to hear my earlier review of Border Grill for KNPR-Nevada Public Radio.

BORDER GRILL LAS VEGAS

Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino

3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89919

702.632.7403

www.bordergrill.com

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7 Responses to BORDER GRILL

  • One of my favorite, and one of the few, really good places to go for a nice lunch-especially when sitting at a table outside on the patio.

    Now, as far as photo #10″ goes, “ELV couldn’t quite get his hands around what this resembled….?”

    As far as I’m concerned, the only thing I DON’T want to put my hands around at Border Grill is this phallic device. A taco yes, hands on. Chips and Salsa, yes, hands on. This stand-up table display, hands off.

  • That taste should all involve figuring out when it is about to go up or down. You can set up your software to watch it and sell it by making the most profitable move at Christmas. That taste of a guy is one of The trio out there.

  • TOPOLOBAMPO AND BORDER GRILL ARE GREAT RESTAURANTS, BUT BY NO MEANS THEY ARE THE “BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANTS ” IN THE USA. YOU HAVE TO GO TO “LA CASITA MEXICANA” AND “LA SERENATA DE GARIBALDI” IN LOS ANGELES AND ALSO “ZARELA’S” IN NEW YORK. IN THIS PLACES, THERE IS RALLY MEXICAN FOOD, THE REAL STUFF, AND THEN YOU CAN COMMENT IN MEXICAN FOOD. I AM A CHEF GRADUATED FROM THE CIA AND ALSO FROM THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF MEXICO.

  • La casita mexicana is a no-go b4 I even taste it.
    Check out the underripe tomatos and food for less skirt steak on thier generic carne asada platter. (delicious banquet selections! pic)

    Ingredients. Ingredients. Ingredientes before anything. Fresh, organic ingredients. Rick Bayless understands this. Most wannabe Mexican chefs
    (including the ones from mexico) don’t.

    Don’t rag on John please. He’s one of the only honest food critics we’ve got.

    I would like to taste YOUR Mexican cooking though, and you are welcome to taste some of mine straight of of rick’s cookbooks too…
    So what say we take turns inviting each other over for dinner and then report our experiences back to this website? It should be fun.
    Contact me at OOCASHFLOW@HOTMAIL.COM

  • hola como estan yo trabaje ase 2 años y me dio mucho gusto trabajar a ora estoy en mexico trabajando en el negocio de la familia de artesano me gustaria mandarle un recuerdo de lo que fabrico . saludos al chef jaime covarrubias y alos compas de puebla
    S A L U D O S

  • I’ve been claiming free casino chips on many casino sites online but you need to be super careful with the terms. Sometimes, you need to wager 10 times your deposit before cashing out so just be careful!

  • Halo du echt schönen Blog betreibst du. Ich selbst hab auch schon länger eine eigene Webseite programmiert, nähmlich eine Suchmaschiene. gerade noch erreichbar unter http://beta.jerome.de . Währe nett wenn du mir berichtest was du von ihr hälst und was noch schlecht daran ist. Ein Redesign kommt erst im laufe des Monats noch dazu. Vielen Dank – 345zhf4

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