Archive for the ‘Food’
EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 47.1 RODEO LOS REYES DE LA BARBACOA ESTILO HILDAGO
47.1 RODEO LOS REYES DE LA BARBACOA ESTILO HILDAGO
Since Desnudo Tacos is kaput for the time being, our staff thought it appropriate to elevate Rodeo Los Reyes de la Barbacoa estilo Hildago to the much coveted “best damn hole-in-the-wall tacos” spot on our Essential 50 list.
The tag line says ¡ Todo hecho al momento! and they mean it. The quality of the barbecued meats and the tortillas and the beans and the salsas they put out (for around ten bucks a platter) is nothing short of phe-nom-en-ol.
In terms of bang for the buck, it can’t be beat.
In terms of having the longest name in Las Vegas restaurants, it can’t be beat either.
To get there, take the Decatur North exit off the 93-95 (across from the Meadows Mall) and proceed north on Decatur. Look to your left a mile or so up the road and you’ll spot the barely lit “Barbacoa” sign in the middle of a seedy shopping center:
Don’t be put off by the bare tables and the fact there are only five people in the joint and three of them work there. Because two of the three are the ladies who are barbacoa-ing their hearts out back in the kitchen….in the “style of Hildago” of course.
The magic they make with these meats puts many a Mexican to shame. Take one bite of the carnitas, goat (chiva) or carne asada and be prepared to drop your taco in appreciation. The salsas will also blow you away.
Yeah, they’re that good.
Favorite dishes: What are you deaf? Get the tacos….all of them.
P.S. This picture doesn’t do them justice.
RODEO LOS REYES DE LA BARBACOA ESTILO HILDAGO
2115 N. Decatur Ave.
ELV note: Unbekownst to us, 2 hours before we posted this today, Desnudo Tacos announced on its Facebook page that it would be shuttering operations at the end of this week due to a lease dispute. As much as it saddens us to hear this, we ‘ll stick by our pick of it as an “essential” Las Vegas restaurant (yes, the food is that good), and keep on the lookout for the new location — which we are confident will happen soon.
47. DESNUDO TACOS
Las Vegas might not have the Mexican food chops of San Diego or Tuscon, but ever since Desnudo Tacos opened earlier this year, things have been looking up. These aren’t just the best street tacos in town, they’re also the most interesting, using good ingredients and spicing them to a fare thee well.
The whole enchilada is a Chris Palmieri/Christian Dolias production and was inspired by Palmieri’s work with Rick Bayless, and it shows. There is a certain pride on display here that honors the authenticity in the master’s work, while giving it a spin all their own.
The hole-in-the-wall location on the edge of Chinatown looks like a Hell’s Angel with an artistic streak threw it together, but whether you’re into the Mexican-biker-bar look or not, you’ll forget the rough-hewn surroundings as soon as the food shows up.
All told we’ve had five different tacos, one burrito, the rice, the beans (more on them in a minute), and the best goddamn guacamole in the whole goddamned town.
The Chivo (stewed goat meat) and Tinga Poblana (slow-braised pork shoulder) are the featured menu items with good reason. Each highlights its soft, silky meat with the appropriate accents:
…lots of herb-y greenery — avocado and banana leaf, cilantro and guajillo chile — accent the goat, while creamy chipotle, tomatillos, roasted garlic, avocado and crema emphasize the pork’s sweetness without overwhelming it. Adding house-made chorizo to the mix is a stroke of artery-hardening genius. Achieving balance and harmony this complete in a corn tortilla is not something your average taco fan is used to. But Desnudo Tacos are to your average taco what great Mariachi music is to bad pop — filling your senses with layers of flavor, not one-dimensional pablum.
As for the other three tacos we’ve tried, the carnitas — pork shoulder braised in fresh lime juice, sprinkled with lime queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese) — is the clear winner, but the pollo (chicken with pumpkin seed sauce) and carbon (marinated skirt steak) are no slouches either.
Taking a page from the Rick Bayless cookbook, each pops with the taste of good ingredients, freshly prepared — not prepared from a can. Even such shopworn staples as beans and rice — commonly known around the ELV household as the side of the platter that gets scraped into the garbage — are given new life by actually cooking them on premises and not reducing each to a pile of tasteless mush and starch. Take a bite of either and two things will happen: your eyes will get wide and you won’t be able to stop taking forkfuls of them.
All of this — the better groceries, thoughtful recipes and careful cooking — gives lie to the cheap, easy to fill up on reputation of most Mexican-American food. To the average American fast-food consumer — weaned on four buck, double-taco specials at a drive-through joint — the $6.50 price tag for one Desnudo order (for two) will seem high. But to those who want to take their tacos to a higher level, and see why this food got popular in the first place, it’s time to get naked.
Rick Bayless would be proud of what his acolytes have done, and we at ELV are proud to name this little joint as an essential Top 50 restaurant . No eating tour of our humble burg would be complete without it.
Favorite dishes: Get the tacos….all of them. And the guacamole….and the tortas…and everything else on the menu.
3240 Arville St.
45. KU NOODLE
Chinese restaurants in Las Vegas come in two sizes: on-the-Strip and overpriced, and off-the-Strip and down and dirty. The holes in the walls are stuck into seedy shopping centers up and down Spring Mountain Road. They are generally excellent, but also, due to their being the genuine article, off-putting to most round eyes. Strip Chinese joints usually charge double for dishes remarkably similar to ones you get a mile to the west, but at least you’re not afraid to look into the corners, and the ingredients are usually better.
43. MINT INDIAN BISTRO
Calvin Trillin once wrote that the average Italian restaurant gets more customers in a day than the average Indian restaurant gets in a month. ELV — the man, the myth, the yogurt-yogi-spiritual-advisor — used to agree with him. These days the tables have been turned (somewhat) and from the lines out the door at Mint Indian Bistro, it appears the Indians (dots not feathers) are giving the Italians a run for your money. ELV also thinks every vegetarian restaurant in Vegas is a joke. They should all close up shop immediately, and every vegetarian in town should start frequenting this place instead.
The only thing I love more than great food is a movie about great food.
This Friday night you are welcome to share my passion for the finest in food fantasia at the first, fabulous foray into his fount of feedbag film fare fodder.
Or something like that.
Finally….it’s all FREE….in the cozy little Black Box theatre, with the purchase of a cocktail at the exquisite Scullery bar.
See you tonight, fellow food film fans.
Monta is still Number 1 among the righteous ramen revelers in town, and with its no-nonsense 10-item menu and only 26 seats, it proves less is more when it comes to regularly revealing the royalty of this remarkable repast.
40. B&B RISTORANTE
Mario Batali simplified Babbo’s menu when he and partner Joe Bastianich brought B&B to the Venetian six years ago. They slightly modified the format to best comport with the middlebrow tastes of the average Vegas conventioneer, rather than challenge the pasta hounds as they do every night their flagship in Greenwich Village. The good news is the bold flavors that put that flagship on the map made it out here without losing much in the process, and this kitchen still manages to crank out Vegas’s most interesting pastas half a decade later.