Archive for the ‘Food’

In the News: EL SOMBRERO Closes, WILD Gets Tamed

April 14, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Wake 2 Comments →

After a 64 year run, Las Vegas’s oldest restaurant has closed its doors for good. José and Teresa Aragon (who took the business over from Jose’s uncle, Clemente Griego, in 1970), have fried their last sopaipilla and ladled their last batch of  sweet and smokey salsa.

Eating Las Vegas estimates we’ve eaten at the Big Hat about 50 times since we moved to Vegas in 1981; that figure seems right, but now it seems a little wrong. That’s because El Sombrero embodied everything that is good and noble about family restaurants. The husband was always in the kitchen and the wife was always in the dining room, fussing over and flirting with all the customers. The food was good to boot, with Aragon’s green chile and chile Colorado being fine versions of the New Mexican staples he learned to cook way back in the day — after he returned to Albuquerque after the Korean War.

In other words, it was just the sort of restaurant people are always bemoaning Vegas’s lack of — as they enslave themselves to whatever familiar franchise or chain link makes them open their wallets.

ELV will miss you, José. We will miss your salsa fresca and your huevos chorizo (always greasy and thick, just the way it should be) and the magical re-fills of chips and soda that always appeared at just the right time at the table. And we will miss Teresa’s never-ending smile and calling to customers by name and the Mexican menu with its corny Spanish-English translations…and that gorgeous flan.

But most of all, we will miss those sopaipillas – warm, flaky and slathered in melting butter and honey. They always tasted the same,  just the way they do in New Mexico, just the way you learned to make them in Old Town Albuquerque so many years ago.

In far less sad and nostalgic restaurant news, Joel Schoenmann has reported in the Las Vegas Sun that Wild in The Ogden has parted ways with Miki “Do Cool Sh*t” Agrawal, and has installed chef Natalie Young at the helm to finally give this place food worthy of its decor.

Agrawal, who describes herself as a “serial social entrepreneur,” was a cute little thing….who knew as much about running a full service restaurant as ELV does about quantum particle entanglement. She got the job after meeting Tony “Mr. Personality” Hsieh at one of his numerous networking seminars where he uses his substantial wealth to find cool kids to hang out with.

That the concept and food behind Wild were god-awful is beside the point. What Hsieh and his minions (and most F&B people on the Strip) fail to grasp is that there is a type of restaurant that is dedicated, determined, local and personal. It doesn’t come from hipster hangouts or convention-friendly concepts. It comes from a cook who knows his or her craft and wants to make good food. Such food might be wildly inventive, or it might be workmanlike, consistent versions of the same product day after day. It isn’t motivated by trendiness or accountants, but rather by a desire to work at your chosen craft, to the best of your ability.

José Aragon knew this. It was in his bones….for over 50 years. He never got rich and he never got famous. But we will miss him. The Miki Agrawals of the world we will miss not at all.

SUZUYA PASTRIES Featured on My News 3

April 11, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Wake Up With the Wagners No Comments →

More Hidden Gems

(Hard to find but worth it!)

1.    SUZUYA PASTRIES & CREPES – 7225 South Durango Dr.

2.    I-NABA – 3210 South Decatur Blvd.

3.    YUNNAN GARDEN – 3934 Schiff Dr.

4.    SHOKU RAMEN-YA – 470 East Windmill Ln.

DISTRICT ONE KITCHEN & BAR

April 07, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food, Openings, Reviews, Spring Mountain Road 11 Comments →

Picture 1 of 1

Lobster pho photo by Sam Morris

Eating Las Vegas has often wondered whether Vietnamese food in America is the ultimate revenge for that little dust-up we caused there in the 60s. They could never hope to outgun us, the thinking goes, so the expats figured they’d bore us to death with their cuisine.

(more…)

Up Yours Henderson (kidding) on My News 3

April 06, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Food, Openings, Wake Up With the Wagners No Comments →

HIDDEN GEMS

(Hard to find but worth it!)

The Blind Pig - 4515 Dean Martin Dr.

Chef Flemming’s Bake Shop – 7 South Water Street, Henderson

Fat Choy – Inside the Eureka Casino, 595 East Sahara Ave.

Rock ‘N’ Noodle – 1108 South 3rd Street

Secret Pizza – Inside The Cosmopolitan

Eric L’huillier Needs to Stay in Vegas

April 04, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Food 1 Comment →

We’ve just had our 3rd outstanding meal in less than a year at Pinot Brasserie – Las Vegas’s most underrated restaurant.

Over the past year or so, we’ve taken to calling PB an under-appreciated jewel in our crown of restaurant gems, and nothing we’ve tasted lately has dissuaded us from trumpeting the excellence of the cooking on display here.

We also know this Joachim Spichal mainstay is not long for the Vegas restaurant world. (Sources have been telling us for months that the Venetian has tried to buy out Splichal’s lease, but he’s not budging until it expires sometime in the next year.)

Be that as it may, the Executive Chef at PB — Eric L’huillier – the man who has churned out precise and drop-your-fork-delicious versions of French bistro food here for the past seven years — is soon to be out of a job through no fault of his own. (ELV feels L’huillier’s pain, as he has been out-0f-a-job many times in his life, although always through some fault of his own.)

Eating Las Vegas thinks L’huillier (pronounced Loo-WEE-lee-ay) would be a perfect fit at a place like Tableau in the Wynn or Marche Bacchus – places in need of some real talent (and stability) in the kitchen.

Of course, they’d have to pay him a boatload of money.

But he would be worth it.

Because the man knows French cooking like I know alimony.

PINOT BRASSERIE

In the Venetian Hotel and Casino

3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702.414.8888

www.patinagroup.com/restaurant.php?restaurants_id=26

PIZZA AGONISTES by John Mariani

March 31, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, Food, Zines 7 Comments →

ELV note: This article is from the current edition of John Mariani’s Virtual Gourmet and originally appeared on Esquire.com. We re-publish it here on the slim chance that a few of our loyal readers do not already subscribe to Mariani’s essential Web publication. Read away in either format and prepare to get hungry.

http://hometown-pasadena.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/settebello.jpg


It’s been a bad month for bad pizza. First, Sbarro announced the closing of 155 of its 400 U.S. stores, then declared bankruptcy. Again.  Then, in one of the few conservative judicial decisions I actually applaud, Justice Antonin Scalia, born in Trenton, NJ, declared that Chicago-style deep-dish pizza “shouldn’t be called pizza. It’s very tasty, but it’s not pizza.”

(more…)

Savoring the Sweet 16 on My News 3

March 29, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Events, Food, Wake Up With the Wagners Comments Off

ELV: Now that the University of Louisville has suffered a (select one:  bonecrushing, gut-wrenching, ego-deflating, gonad-shriveling) defeat at the hands of hated Kentucky, ELV is barely able to crawl out of bed this morning. Those of you still interested in the (select one: stupid, juvenile, overrated, sophomoric, commercial-driven, corrupt, made-for-television freak show) NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament might want to watch this….but what’s the point? ELV is retiring to his hovel with a bag of Cheetos and a quart of Maker’s Mark for the day. That is all.

SAVORING THE SWEET 16

(Best Sports Bars)

Pizza Rock – 201 N. 3rd Street

Todd English P.U.B. – Aria Hotel and Casino

Aces and Ales – 3470 S. Nellis Blvd.

Steiner’s – Multiple locations

Lagasse Stadium – Palazzo Hotel and Casino

The Top 30(?) Foodie Destinations in Las Vegas

March 20, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Food 29 Comments →

Picture 1 of 16

Because they were buried somewhat in an earlier post….and because numb nut newspaper and magazine stringers just might learn something, here they are (again), updated and in no particular order, for your debate and delectation:

1) Raku

2) Kabuto

3) Sweets Raku

4) Carnevino

5) Spago

6) L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

7) Joel Robuchon

8) Restaurant Guy Savoy

9) Chada Thai

10) Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

(more…)

The UNLVino Rad Off-The-Hook BLOWOUT ‘14

March 15, 2014 By: mitchell Category: Events, Food, Wine 1 Comment →

Hold on to your most radical of hats, bros and broettes, firmly by the brim, and make that red sucker turn a three-sixty, then another 120 degree turn, COUNTER clockwise!  Yeah, that’s right, screw time!  That’s a concept we won’t be needing where we’re going, which is NOW.

(more…)

It’s Restaurant Week 2014!

March 07, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Deals, Events, Food, Wake Up With the Wagners Comments Off

Be there or be Three Square!

ELV’s Top Picks for Restaurant Week:

1) Eiffel Tower Restaurant – $30.14 Lunch

2) Buddy V’s – $20.14 Lunch; $30.14 Dinner

3) Delmonico – $30.14 Lunch

4) MOzen Bistro – $30.14 Lunch; $40.14 Dinner

5) Morel’s Steakhouse & Bistro - $20.14 Breakfast; $30.14 Lunch; $50.14 Dinner

Other denoted notables for delicious deals and dynamite dining:

Table 10

AquaKnox

Poppy Den

Empress Court

Hakkasan

Honey Salt

Lawry’s The Prime Rib

Rick Moonen’s Rm Seafood

Todd’s Unique

Verandah – Four Seasons Hotel

Stewart+Ogden – The Grand Hotel Downtown

Mesa Grill

Hank’s Fine Steaks and Martinis at Green Valley Ranch Resort

Culinary Dropout

Bar + Bistro