If you were to drive by casually, it would be hard to guess that the sprawling mall anchored by a Vons at the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Durango Drive housed a wonderful diversity of fine restaurants. But as the French say, plus ça change. The mall just lost Bamboo Bistro, a Vietnamese place, but is gaining Moretti’s Eatery, a new Italian concept, across the parking lot. In the meantime, these five places offer far more than cold comforts.
Sababa. If it’s ethnic and casual you’re craving, you can’t do much better than Sababa, an Israeli restaurant that specializes in falafel and shawarma. The latter—thin, crisp slices of highly spiced turkey cooked on one of those rotating spits also used for gyros—is incredible on pita bread. The restaurant is Glatt Kosher and also features Israeli salads. Open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sun-Thu, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Fri, 3220 S. Durango Dr., 547-5556.
Sen of Japan. Local foodies consider this the best off-Strip sushi in Las Vegas. I’ve eaten here more than 10 times and never been let down. Hiro Nakano, the chef/owner, has an impeccable eye for quality and great technique. Delicacies such as salmon skin salad, the Spicy Spider Roll with seared salmon, mango and sweet chili sauce, and tsukune, soy-glazed quail meatballs on wooden skewers, bring customers back again and again. Open 5 p.m.-2 a.m. Mon-Sat, 5 p.m.-midnight Sun, 8480 Desert Inn Road, 871-7781.
TC’s Rib Crib. This hole-in-the-wall seems to be popular with everyone who likes ’cue and soul food. TC’s does the whole gamut of barbecued meats, such as pulled pork, tender beef brisket and even hot links, and there are sides such as Grandma Georgia’s Mac and Cheese, Aunt Ada’s Potato Salad and Big Sam’s Baked Beans to accompany them. The restaurant makes lots of its own desserts as well, including an outrageous grilled doughnut bread pudding. Open 11 a.m.- 10 p.m. Sun-Thu, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Fri-Sat. 8470 Desert Inn Road, 451-7427.
Porchlight Grille. Unlike most 24/7 gaming lounges, this one has serious food. There is a restaurant separated from the lounge, but food is served in both rooms and the menu is huge. Appetizers like Thai chicken skewers, burgers, pizzas made from scratch, and sandwiches such as grilled salmon on a ciabatta roll, are just a few examples of this good pub fare. Open 24 hours, 8416 Desert Inn Road, 562-3990.
It’s a Grind. If you’re looking for the un-Starbucks (yes, there is a Starbucks in this mall as well), look no further. This funky café grinds its own coffee and makes good sandwiches, even three kinds of tiramisu. Sink into one of these huge leather chairs, and enjoy your Coconut Crunch, a signature coffee here. The café also prides itself in being dog-friendly. Open 24 hours, 8470 Desert Inn Road, 360-4232.