Eating Las Vegas will be handing out its major restaurant awards in another two weeks. These will include all of those categories that were bestowed on worthy recipients by KNPR (and later the Desert Companion magazine) for the past ten years or so. Unfortunately, the powers that be at Nevada Public Radio seem to have other things on their minds these days (college costs, Utah immigration, zombie subdivisions), so recognition for Chef of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Excellence in Service and Management (among others) will be coming from this website and not from the traditional bestow-er of these accolades.
In the meantime, we thought we’d start the holiday season with recognition of a certain dubious distinction: that of the worst place in town for a restaurant.
Our first nominee is Sabi’s Thai Kitchen:
How bad is it’s location? Consider this: if you take a light industrial area, with no retail, no food outlets, nothing for a mile radius in any direction that looks remotely like you’d want to eat there, and then tuck a tiny, restaurant into a space more appropriate for a warehouse office, and expect customers to somehow find you…you get Sabi’s.
Sabi’s is so hard to find because the address tells you it’s on Arville when, in fact, it is on Hacienda. The best way to find it is to look during the day — after dark is impossible. Go to the corner of Arville and Hacienda (as our staff did) and start driving up and down both streets until you see the little sign board on the ground by a curb. You’ll miss it at first since you’ll make the mistake of first driving up and down Arville. The sign is actually too low to be seen from a car unless you are dozens of yards away from it — and driving down Hacienda, not Arville. Got that? Then pull in and look for an awning that prefers to face an empty ditch rather than any actual traffic. If you find yourself staring at the Bon Breads’ trucks across that large empty lot/ditch, turn around and you’ll see the industrial door housing Sabi’s. Got that?
As for the food, it is best described as basic, by-the-numbers Thai. Good enough, but not good enough to make you search out and find this unlikely eatery. (Amazingly, the space used to house a take-out sushi operation. Talk about wishful thinking!)
Our next nominee is the very vegan Pura Vida Bakery and Bystro:
…the best place in town to grab a vegan meal right after you’ve bought some shitty antiques, a rebuilt transmission, and stared into the nethers of a barely legal stripper. With muffler shops and Little Darlings within a stone’s throw, hot tacos…and hot tacos…are there for the asking. The fact that this space exists on a desolate stretch of road that no one outside the neighborhood even knows exists is a fact that daunts not whoever rents it until it inevitably fails. (Pura Vida is at least the fourth restaurant we know of to occupy the storefront in the past ten years.)
But hey! Hope springs eternal! As it must for our winner of this year’s coveted Worst Location Award. And that winner is:
Great Bao! (applause applause)
Yes, Great Bao…the best food we’ve ever had in a hair salon. Actually, the only food we’ve ever had in a hair salon…and the best bao we’ve had left of a David Chang operation.
You’ve really got to hand it to Sheridan Su — that is, when you’re not getting your nails done or your tips frosted — he’s doing something uncanny amidst the polish and permanent wave solutions: bring food worth seeking out to the oddest place for seeking good food we can think of. (Coincidentally, also previously home to a sushi operation(!?) – do you sense a theme here?) On that basis alone he would be a most worthy winner, but the odds he faces are the tallest, as the traffic he will see will be the least, so we at ELV hope this award will serve (among other things) as an inspiration to all, and to help Su raise his tiny-but-worthwhile restaurant’s profile.
Congratulations Great Bao…and a tip of the stevedore to these intrepid, passionate restaurateurs — who boldly go where no sensible chef has gone before!
SABI’S THAI KITCHEN
5333 South Arville Road (but remember, it’s really on Hacienda)
Las Vegas, NV 89118
PURA VIDA BAKERY & BYSTRO
1236 Western Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Inside a Hair Salon
4965 West Tropicana Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89103