April 30, 2008
Las Vegas, Part I: not your typical Vegas
So I was not able to post from the road because I left my computer at home. It's a long story and it took us a looooooong time to get to Las Vegas due to delayed flights, missed connections, incompetence at the airlines, etc. I'm still trying to forget that part of the trip but note to self: never fly United and never fly to LV unless it's direct.
That being said, we had a great time visiting my family for a few days and I am more convinced than ever that the Spring is the best time to go there. Have you ever seen the desert in bloom? It is a sight to behold (see above). All the years I lived there growing up and I had never seen the beautiful colors of orange and yellow, purple and blue that cover the desert floor from April until June. We took a nice hike on our last day there and I have to say it was a highlight of the trip.
Now for what you're really here for --the food. I am going to divide our four days into a few different posts. That way I can manage it all and keep it brief. The trip was not a culinary odyssey by any means, although some of the best chefs in the world have outposts in Vegas and there is plenty of great food to be found. But most of that takes place on the Strip and for the tourists. When I go home, I go directly to my dad's place on the west side of town --15 minutes from Red Rock national park and never set foot on the Strip or downtown unless I absolutely have to.
So, this trip was like most of them in that we ate in a few of our favorite local places, most of them pretty humble and good, and I cooked at home. Except that my brother brought 10 friends from NYC with him to visit the same weekend. They were all great and we all had fun... more on that later too.
Straight from the airport --do not stop -- to LOS TACOS.
There is only one, and it is, as they say on their business card "simplemente lo mejor." Simply the best. Our favorite taqueria has been around for a while and the owners have no intention of expanding. They have one location and it is always packed, day or night, weekday or weekend with families, businessmen, construction workers, white people, mexicans, and everyone in between. That's because you won't get a better taco anywhere else in the city. They're messy and big and packed with only the freshest ingredients and mexican meats.
The menu is refreshingly simple: you have your choice of meats and that's it. I always get 'al pastor' (marinated pork) and my dad always, I mean always, gets 'lengua' (tongue). Other options are carnitas (pork), carne asada (beef), chorizo, cabeza (beef head), pollo, and jamon y queso. You order at the counter, you take a number and when they call your number you better know Spanish so you can get up quick and go get those delicious tacos.
You can't stop at one, but more than two will kill you, unless you skip the grilled beef flour quesadilla, which we never do.
You wash it all down with a yummy and traditional 'agua fresca' (just the fruit and water) in your choice of watermelon, strawberry, mango, almond milk or tamarind.
To me, this is Mexican food at its most stripped down and authentically simple. Just the facts. Just Los Tacos. It doesn't get much better than this and I miss it already.
1710 E. Charleston Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89104