A great grinder, standout fried things, a closure and a new arrival

If you’ve been jonesin’ for a Cuban sandwich, I think I’ve found the best one in Las Vegas. It’s at Varadero, a mom and pop Cuban eatery hard by Santa Fe Station, 5081 N. Rainbow Blvd. They call it Media Noche, literally “midnight” in Spanish, a sandwich crafted from an egg bread pressed with roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, mayo and a touch of mustard.

What makes this sandwich great is the quality of the roast pork. It is fragrant, redolent of orange, garlic and natural juices, as tender as the law allows. Other dishes, especially the arroz con pollo—a chicken and rice casserole served in an earthenware cazuela—are equally spot-on.

I also visited the Vegas outpost of the legendary Chicago chain called Harold’s Chicken & Fish, way down south from Varadero, 4950 S. Rainbow Blvd. The specialty here is fried foods: perch, catfish, chicken and giblets, meaning chicken livers and gizzards. It’s not exactly health food, but it is pretty hard stuff to resist, except for the forgettable french fries.

My choice would be the perch, crusted with a cornmeal-based batter, or the fried mushrooms, which look like large golden beads. There is a terrific hot sauce here, and a nice tartar sauce for the fish. For dessert there is banana pudding and lemon pound cake. Expect a line. Dinners from $7. Call in orders at 222-3378.

I was saddened to learn that one of my favorite new restaurants, Silk Road at Vdara, is closing March 1. Chef Martin Heierling created one of the most interesting menus on the Strip, such as Turkish eggs, and desserts using pashmak, spun sugar in various flavors and colors that he imported from a Persian confectioner in Australia.

The complex will instead open Market Café at Vdara, featuring a grocery store and coffee bar, offering snacks and drinks for guests. Heierling will remain as Vdara food and beverage director, as well as executive chef at Sensi, his Bellagio restaurant. At least for the present, the stunningly designed Silk Road will be vacant.

Finally, Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay has announced that Anthony Fusco has taken over as the restaurant’s new chef de cuisine. Two of Moonen’s chefs, Adam Sobel and Gerald Chin, recently departed to accept other positions, Sobel at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak in Washington, D.C., and Chin at the Cosmopolitan.

Fusco has a great résumé with such notable restaurants as Gramercy Tavern and Harbour in New York, Mesa Grill and Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace in Vegas under his belt. I recently enjoyed a catfish sloppy joe there, and things seem to be running as smoothly as ever.

Hungry, yet?

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