Las Vegas Sun

October 16, 2021

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Around the world in 12 meals

Eat your way around the globe without leaving town

Around the World in 12 Meals

Clockwise from left, Khoury’s Mediterranean Restaurant, Bosa 1 and Julina Serrano.

[ Spanish ]

Julian Serrano Inside Aria

3730 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 230-2742

Julian Serrano, the Madrid-born chef of Picasso at the Bellagio, pays homage to his native cuisine at this CityCenter destination. The restaurant is stocked with tastes of Spain, like jamón Ibérico pata negra — cured ham that's sliced straight off the leg in most Spanish home kitchens and is so ubiquitous it could practically double as currency. Serrano's tapas nod to traditional cooking and modern dining with classic dishes like patatas bravas and croquetas alongside innovative, molecular fare. Dine here the way the Spanish do, snacking slowly and washing everything down with plenty of sherry or red wine. –Sarah Feldberg

[ Cuban ]

Cuba Café Restaurant

2055 E. Tropicana Ave., 795-7070

All the usual suspects are on the menu at this diminutive Cuban restaurant, tucked into an East Tropicana strip mall. You'd be wise to start with a fruit batido, then dig into a basket of freshly toasted Cuban bread that will leave your fingers glistening with butter. Prepare to down heaping portions of stewy ropa vieja, shredded beef with peppers and onions, served alongside mounds of black beans and rice. An order of ripe plantains, their slightly charred edges playing nicely against the starchy sweetness, is worth the extra $2.75. Of course, Cuba Café also serves a mean Cuban sandwich. But where's the adventure in that? –Sarah Feldberg

[ Vietnamese ]

Bosa 1

3400 S. Jones Blvd., 418-1931

Though the incredibly friendly crew (straight from Orange County's Little Saigon) running the show at Bosa 1 will soon serve the popular Vietnamese noodle soup pho, that's not what this tiny Vegas Chinatown eatery is all about. Instead, the focus is one of the best bargains in town: com tam, or broken rice plates, piled high with exceptional goodies like peppery egg-pork patties, shrimp cakes or grilled meats. The homemade fish sauce amplifies every flavor on your plate. In a town full of decent pho shops, Bosa 1 is a revelation. –Brock Radke

[ Lebanese ]

Khoury's Mediterranean Restaurant

6115 S. Fort Apache Road, 671-0005

Most of the Mediterranean food in our town is a mish-mash of different cultures and cuisines. At Khoury's (and Hedary's, the other local restaurant owned by this Lebanese family), you'll find a lot of familiar favorites and even some pizza. But don't let it throw you off. Khoury's kibbi, a mixture of ground sirloin, lamb, a blend of spices and cracked wheat, is the only Vegas version that comes close to my Syrian-Lebanese grandma's, and savory sausages kafta, maanik and sujik will remind you that Mediterranean can be meaty. Khoury's also bakes some of the best pita in town. –Brock Radke

[ Thai ]

Lotus of Siam

935 E. Sahara Ave., 735-3033

How authentic is this place? My first appetizer was a shrimp with the shell still attached. And yes, you eat the whole thing, and yes, it's delicious. (In Thailand, dairy products are extremely limited, so shells are one of the only ways they can get calcium.) I return mainly for the crispy rice, yellow curry and, when I'm feeling adventurous, the Northern Larb (a salad with meat). Quick tip for newbies: Start at 1 on the temperature scale. That's usually enough for most American palates. –Ken Miller

[ Southern ]

Hot n' Juicy Crawfish

4810 Spring Mountain Road, 891-8889

Though the list of available crustaceans include shrimp, and massive king crab legs, the place is, after all, called Hot n' Juicy Crawfish. Order the mudbugs by the pound in your choice of sauces: lemon pepper, cajun, or my favorite: the Hot n' Juicy special that combines them all. Then twist, pinch and suck your way to a slow burn in your mouth and a messy, but fun eating experience. –Grace Bascos

[ Chinese ]

Dong Ting Spring

3950 Schiff Drive, 387-7888

There are a multitude of authentic Chinese restaurants up and down Spring Mountain Road. But for a taste of Hunan cooking at its finest, none beats Dong Ting Spring. This unassuming spot, left next to an excellent Yunnan restaurant (Yunnan Garden) provides a jolt of the chile-infused cooking of western China — at prices that are criminally cheap. Don't miss the pickled long beans with pork, or lamb with cumin if you want a taste of Chinese food the way fellow travelers enjoy it. –John Curtas

[ Japanese ]


5115 W Spring Mountain Road No. 117, 222-2321

Ever since Raku opened, every chef and foodie in town has flocked to the place. When a table there gets impossible to book, we suggest crossing the street to Shuseki — a casual Japanese restaurant with a picture menu chock full of ramen, udon, soba specialties and fish dishes from this Far East mecca of pristine eating. Don't miss the omurice (Japanese rice omelet) or tan tan men (spicy pork ramen noodles) … but expect to be the only round-eye in the joint. –John Curtas

[ Mexican ]

Los Antojos

2520 S Eastern Avenue Suite B, 457-3505

Mexican mediocrity abounds in Vegas, but for the real enchilada, stroll into Los Antojos at lunchtime for consommé "loco" (a Mexican chicken soup to die for), chilaquilies or alambre (a steak-and- pepper scramble straight from Mexico City). Everything is made in-house, and the line out the door tells you that all other Mexican restaurants in town (save Los Molcajetes) are pretenders to the throne of authentic Mexican eats. –John Curtas

[ French ]

Mon Ami Gabi Inside the Paris

3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 944-4224

Great French chefs are now as common in Vegas as high-priced hookers. If you've got the coin, nothing compares with a meal at Guy Savoy, Twist or Joel Robuchon. But for those with more pedestrian tastes (and bank accounts), nothing beats sitting on the patio of Mon Ami Gabi, watching the world go by as you tuck into a plate of steak frites, excellent onion soup, or profiteroles that will make your heart skip a beat. The best people-watching in town is thrown in at no extra charge. –John Curtas

[ Brazilian ]

Texas de Brazil

In the Town Square Shopping Center, 6533 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 614-0080

I'm under no illusions that most Brazilians (or Texans) commonly eat like this — served by hovering waiters who slice hunks of nicely grilled, marinated meats from skewers (beef, pork, lamb, sausage), all you can eat, until you pop. Brazil knows too much poverty for that to be the norm. But there's something sense-pleasing, even opulent, about the experience that jibes with our paradise-found fantasies of Brazil, and that's transporting enough for me. –Scott Dickensheets

[ Italian ]

B&B Ristorante Inside the Venetian

3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 266-9977

Bad Italian food is as common on the Strip as down-on-their-luck gamblers. But for pasta the way it tastes in Italia, we always hightail it to B&B Ristorante to see what Mario Batali and Executive Chef Zach Allen are cooking up. Everything changes seasonally, but once you've had a taste of their red kuri squash lune or coppa di testa (Italian head cheese), you will settle for mediocre macaroni no longer. –John Curtas

— Originally published in Las Vegas Weekly

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