John Curtas is …

TAQUERIA CANONITA

We owe a debt of gratitude to Executive Chef Daniel Marquez. Because if he hadn’t said “hi” to us one afternoon at Marche Bacchus, and invited us to return to Taqueria Canonita we might have forgotten how much we like this place.

We’ve eaten here many times over the years, always been in awe of the quality of the fresh made margaritas, tequila selection, ceviches, smoked chicken enchiladas, taco trios, corn and green chile soup, as well as one of the better queso fundidos around. We say “in awe” because the thing we’ve always thought to ourselves as we’ve dined here is how much better the food is than it needs to be.

Looking around, you notice the “outdoor” patio filled with turistas who don’t look like they care a whit about what’s on the plate, as long as those ‘ritas keep comin’. They’re there for Mexican food alright, but if the same old same old mushy beans and packaged burrito meat were thrown at them, nary an objection would be made. So it’s something of a marvel when you taste a crab cake that is all crab and perfectly sauteed, or bite into your ultra-fresh taco that contains piquant pico de gallo and top shelf meat.

Then you notice Penn Cove mussels on the menu (not the more pedestrian PEIs), and are taken with the brightness and pepper kick in their steaming broth. From there it’s on to a juicy pork loin, dressed with an apricot tomatillo marmalade, napped with a pineapple mole, sitting beside perfect, cilantro-infused rice (and black beans to make you weep), that will make you realize what you’ve been missing in your Mexican meals lately.

Finally, there’s one small, side item that illustrates this kitchen’s commitment to quality. Accompanying the pork loin is a hoja santa corn tamale wrapped in a banana leaf, and infused with the scent of this elusive herb. Fresh ground corn kernels are steamed inside this leaf, and the result is a corn pudding/bread-like tamale that is irresistible.

It’ like nothing you’re gonna taste in any neighborhood, South of the Border joint, and a good example of the type of food that is just done better on The Strip than elsewhere in our humble burg.

That’s because all those inebriated turistas, by their sheer numbers, support a sophisticated Mexican kitchen in our midst.

Whether they can taste the food or not.

We didn’t pay for the above meal for two, thanks to Chef Marquez. On at least a dozen occasions in the past, we have. Had we paid, the meal pictured above would’ve run around $70, not including tip.

TAQUERIA CANONITA

In the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian (When they spell it “shoppes”, they saw you comin’.)

3377 Las Vegas Blvd. South Suite #2160

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702.414.3773

www.Canonita.net

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5 Responses to TAQUERIA CANONITA

  • OMG, don’t tell me you’ve actually found another decent Mexican restaurant on The Strip (with the only that I know of being Border Grill)! I MUST try this place ASAP. I’ll be astounded if this place is as good as you say and we have another Strip Mexican joint that’s actually worth eating at.

    Maybe “The Curse of Bad Mexican Food” has ended for Las Vegas? I guess one Orange County ex-pat can hope… ;-)

  • I tried Taqueria Canonita shortly after the Venetian opened, and wasn’t impressed. At the time, I thought the food average, and the prices high. But I’ve heard good things about the place lately. Maybe I’ll give it another try.

  • The food is amazing, authentic, and fresh. You must try this place if you like healthy, good quality, and fantastic food!

  • My husband and i recently enjoyed an amazing dinner here and would definately return. We would also love to have the recipe for the pomagranite cocktail served during happy hour!!

  • My husband and I just had lunch at the Canonita today, and that was simply amazing!!!… The restaurant itself is very well located, along the gondola ride at the Venetian. We were seated just by the balcony and could enjoy the surprisingly good singing while eating (OK, listening to O sole mio while eating tamale is a bit unusual, but hey! It’s Las Vegas, let’s be crazy!). The service was friendly, and last but not least… the food was extremely good! It is Mexican food brought to the next level. We had a ceviche trio that was very tasty and freshly prepared, and the star of the lunch was their sonora steak cooked to perfection, served with a very good tamale. That all seems very simple, but the taste is there, it was well presented, it makes you think food doesn’t need to be over complicated to be good. We come from France, so it’s not like we can come back any time soon… much to our regret!

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