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Chinita Mexican Bar and Grill: Summerlin’s New Meh-xican

In an effort to diversify my reviews, I made sure that this time I wasn’t going to do yet another Asian or Asian Fusion place.  Anyone who keeps one eye on the new openings in town can attest that this is becoming somewhat taxing.  Next week will no doubt be some kind of infused tapas, so don’t get used to this.  Submitted for your approval is one Chinita Mexican Bar and Grill, located in the slowly but surely growing collection of Summerlin restaurants.  As far as sit-down Mexican places, I believe the only real name in the area is that corporate-sterile “Modern Mexican” Cantina Laredo in Tivoli.  Its redeeming quality seems to end at putting something interesting like spinach or pinapple mostly in dishes that deserve it,  maybe avoiding some of the cliches in decor, but not much else.

Fortaleza Flight

Chinita has become something of a polarizing series of experiences, and I think I have narrowed down the reasons for them.  Apart from a few key details, they have really missed the mark on things.  Their tequila list is muy bueno, fair-ish priced, and Vicente behind the bar has a great working knowledge and ability to recommend to your tastes.  The flight of Fortaleza blanco, reposado, and anjeo ran us a bit, but was worth the damage.  Their margaritas seem like they were made with the awkward lunch-date social lubrication in mind (however committing that cardinal sin of making a few anjeo margaritas), but aside from their cucumber one I couldn’t imagine ingesting too much of that sickly sweet stuff.  I can only say that I was happy they were not obliterated in a blender, and I could imagine getting excited over them if I was used to your average World Famous Chili’s ‘rita sampler.

Cucumber Jalapeno was... alright.

There’s one thing I got excited over and will probably find myself going back for is their AYCE tacos tuesdays for only one Zander Hambone.  Their pulled pollo is almost too juicy and flavorful, the pork is delicious little cubes crispified on one side, the steak is… well lets just say I stuck with the chicken and pork after my first round.  Nothing wrong, just nothing special.  I get them Mexican style, just cilantro and onion.  Leave the shredded cheese and lettuce for the plebs!  The best part about it is that it avoided what I disliked the most in the rest of the menu: No nasty rice and beans!  I swear these rice and beans you get at literally every Mexican restaurant must come in a cargo ship because their uniform sadness would make Budweiser jealous.  Next time I’m subbing for their house-made onion rings, and damn any up-charge they may dare!

I put away about three of these plates

Aside from that swell deal, I can’t recommend much.  The Camarones a la Diablo were small, scant, and downright angelic compared to the spice levels I expect from “A La Diablo”.  Twenty two of my  dollars got me a handful of frozen tail-on shrimp, a dollop of a mediocre tomato sauce, but enough beans and rice to craft a life sized bust of myself.  The app sampler came almost entirely out of a fryer, and boy could you tell.  The only thing I found myself enjoying were the nachos, and there were like four!  Next time, getting a plate of those and skipping the rest.

Camarones of a milquetoast, cartoonish Devil

Their Chorizo hamburgesa was about the only redeeming original/special item.  It had all the smoky, spicy, identifiable chorizo flavor in the burger, some of their pretty solid guacamole, and you can get it with those onion rings I mentioned.  Now, it’s not usually a great sign when the burger is the best thing in a Mexican place, but at least it’s a better “tex mex” style burger than danged near anywhere else that’s tried.

Half and half pork/chicken enchilada style burrito: delicioso!

Overall, I’d say you should gamble the ten-spot for Taco Tuesday as soon as you can, get a little education in the tequila for the curious, maybe try a Mexican staple with that tasty pork or chicken or the hamburgesa, but leave the rest for El Diablo.  Until someone steps up the Mexican game in town (or someone gives the so-far best in town Tacos el Gordo a satellite), we’re stuck with Summerlin having two places worth going to satisfy a specific craving, but not much more.


Chinita Mexican Bar and Grill

In Village Square

9440 W. Sahara Ave #165
Las Vegas, NV 89117

http://www.chinitamexicangrill.com

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7 Responses to Chinita Mexican Bar and Grill: Summerlin’s New Meh-xican

  • I am so waiting for a good real Mexican restaurant. Not Mexican american covered in red sauce and served with bean goop and bland almost white rice.

    You let me know when you find something worth checking out and we will be there!

    Thanks for the review and I’ll pass.

  • Looking forward to trying it. I also agree about Cantina Laredo; I had the Huevos rancheros last week which left me perplexed as to why they had a dirty water like smell to them. In addition, I also tried the Chicken Mole enchilada during the week and they were devoid of seasoning. Somewhere in town must have a decent Mole Pobleno…..

  • Border Grill at Mandalay Bay is still the best Mexican in Vegas. Chef Mike Minor is the man, and cranks out authentic Mexican food, with a few twists and turns along the way. As for Cantina Laredo, it’s basically the Mexican version of Olive Garden, with all the same chain pitfalls.

  • Ken, I couldn’t agree more on both points! Chef Mike is a great guy, and he does the best brunch in town, IMHO.

  • Los Tacos is still the champion in Las Vegas. They just need a liquor license.
    Cantina Laredo is pitiful.

  • John, the folks in Summerlin just don’t know good food. This is another failed attempt at lousy Mexican food. it wreaks all over the valley. POPPY den sucks too.

  • It is not authentic Mexican (sombrero’s wont come to your table and sing “Gauntanamera” to your sweetheart.) The beef taco was bare and bland like the Baja Fresh. Some guy with a guitar was making hell of a noise. The outdoor is nice in Spring and I might try the buffet.

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