Mary Sue Milliken of Food Network’s Too Hot Tamales was in town last week. I caught up with her at her Mandalay Bay restaurant, Border Grill (632-7403), which she owns with Susan Feniger.
Milliken hasn’t changed much since I met her in 1983, but her style of cooking has, considerably. “When we started, I think we were overly concerned with authenticity,” she says. “We wanted to do Mexican food just like somebody’s grandmother. Now, it’s our own spin.”
Border Grill has just launched an all-you-can-eat weekend brunch, and it’s a deal. For $25 you get small-plate versions of signature dishes such as Yucatan Egg Benedict, Coconut French Toast, Green Corn Tamale, Huevos Ranchero and many others. For $5 extra, the brunch includes free-flowing mimosas.
Here’s a bit of good news for those looking for an eclectic dining experience downtown. Bar + Bistro at the Arts Factory (107 E. Charleston Blvd., 202-6060) is now open for lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. daily, except Sundays. The menu features excellent tapas. Two of my favorites are the garlic camarones (shrimp) with Spanish sherry butter and cordero (lamb) chops with honey aioli and pickled shallots.
I’m happy to report that after a slightly rocky start, I Love Burgers (ILoveBurgers.com) in the Shoppes at the Palazzo is on an even keel. I recently lunched there, where I had a ridiculously caloric meal that included fried dill pickles, I Love Bacon (an enormous piggy burger, pictured), a blueberry milkshake, and several bites of the challah bread pudding for dessert. Chef Errol LeBlanc, formerly of his own R.E. Tapas Kitchen, has lots of good ideas such as baked potato fries and various sliders, and service is cheerful and efficient.
Finally, Market Café at Vdara is now open. It’s not a replacement for the ill-fated Silk Road, a gorgeous space now fallow and deserted, but still a foil for the hotel’s talented chef, Martin Heierling. You can have good, if pricey ($15 for a classic American breakfast of bacon, eggs, toast and potatoes) fare from the counter, but be aware that some of it takes a solid 15 minutes, as much of it is prepared in a remote location. Still, the coffee and pastries are excellent, and there is a raft of Dean & DeLuca products sold in the adjoining shop area.