The Quiet Funk of West Sahara

Yes, there is life along that slight stretch of Sahara Avenue just past Palace Station, so stop with the eye-rolling. If you’ve bothered to study beyond the low-rent, mason-bricked apartments, fetish shops and the interesting fashions of those hanging out at the bus shelters, you could be in for a lively time. Beyond the odd bar and coach deli in a parking lot, there’s an undercurrent of odd personality that surrounds the perks in this neighborhood. I enjoy hanging out on this piece of road between Valley View and Decatur boulevards for its melting pot of international buoyancy, its general affability and its faint vibe of a David Lynch movie—you know, where deceptively uneventful exteriors are met with nervy insinuation. Enough already. Here’s the lip service on good curry and worthy martinis:

Egg & I. A staple of this city for more than 20 years, this casual restaurant delivers a banner selection of breakfast and brunch items—the standouts, of course, being the egg-related dishes. Old standards include the breakfast burritos: four eggs, diced bacon, bell peppers, onions, potatoes, cheese and salsa. The omelets are why I’m here, though. A favorite is the kickin’ Kay’s Special: a spinach omelet stuffed with artichokes, Swiss cheese, parmesan, garlic and cream cheese, topped with fresh tomatoes and feta cheese. Good sandwiches, salads and service also abound. 4533 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 5, 364-9686.

Tacos Mexico. The small parking lot is often hogged by a Univision or Telemundo van in the middle of the day, and that goes quite a ways in demonstrating authenticity for me. Check out the specials written in faded black markers on crepe paper duct-taped to the walls. The food is quick, cheap and filling. The carne asada burrito and the three-tacos plate (with rice, beans and a drink for $5) are popular, but try the “tongue” or “guts” taco if you have the moxie for that sort of thing. In true Vegas fashion, it never blinks to sleep with a 24/7 schedule. 3820 W. Sahara Ave., 444-1171.

Pastry Palace. Although widely acknowledged for its specialty cakes (weddings, baby showers, anniversaries), this small, lovely bakery holds a line of delights. It’s particularly fun to see the pastries vary from day to day, but you can depend on good slices of cake. Noteworthy, too, are pastries with an Armenian bent, such as the dolmas (shells stuffed with vegetable or meat) and the heaven-sent kadayif (shredded dough with nut filling and syrup). They’ve earned your attention. 4523 W. Sahara Ave., 251-1555.

Samosa Factory Indian Cuisine. Sure, the light and flaky samosas are first-rate, but you can go beyond the literal here. This joint has a variety of strong standards, such as spinach lamb, beef curry, tandoori chicken and, best of all, a ripping vegetarian selection. The baigan bharta (charbroiled eggplant, onions and tomato) and malai kofta korma (potato, carrot, paneer, pea kofta in a coconut cream sauce) are to be cherished. Some good, cheap lunch options include aloo matter (potatoes and green peas) and baby spinach curry. 4604 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 6, 258-9196.

Cellar Lounge. This underground watering spot serves its purpose for good drinks and a low-maintenance atmosphere. The dimly lit cellar connects all the right dots: good martinis; a nonjudgmental mix of Bohemians, tourists and those who just got off the swing shift; fine acoustics as would befit a basement with good live acts; and a breezy outdoor courtyard with a wine bar (for those who want to reconnect with the outside world). For a cozy, discreet quality, what more could the jaded night-fly need? 3601 W. Sahara Ave., 362-6268.