Checking into Hotel California, Grimaldi’s hat trick and a Great Greek

By now you know that the Boca Park space that has housed Tre, Hannah’s Neighborhood Bistro, Sea Stone and the short-lived Jilly’s has been given yet another lease on life (“Curses, Foiled Again”, May 19). It’s Hotel California Restaurant & Cantina (1050 S. Rampart Blvd., 463-5200), a Baja-themed concept that owner Jimmy Maddin has opened to offer locals “a nice place to gather, drink and eat at a reasonable price.”

Maddin has totally redone the space, putting in palm trees at the entrance, granite-top bars, original art work on the walls, sand from Baja California, driftwood and lots of wrought iron. The city’s—perhaps the country’s—first mezcal bar is one prominent feature. Another is a private cigar lounge with a self-serving humidor. Just swipe the Visa.

Food is from the Mexican-born, French-trained chef Martin San Roman. Don’t miss his oddball French-Mex nachos, terrific chile de arbol salsa or panqueques, stacked crepe desserts. The drink menu is a standout.

The latest Project Dinner Table, held May 14 on the roof at the World Market Center, was a smash hit for 138 hungry attendees seated at a ginormous table. Roy Ellamar of Sensi did an eclectic menu of worldly fare such as samosas, seviche, braised Jidori chicken and Vietnamese beef shoulder. Widmer Brothers Brewing of Oregon provided the suds. The idea behind Project Dinner Table is to bring locals together with local chefs, ingredients and growers at various community locations. Proceeds go to a local charity, and a good time is always had by all.

The fast-growing Brooklyn pizza chain Grimaldi’s (207-6757) has opened a third Vegas location at 7155 S. Rainbow Blvd., the only local branch that is offering curbside service. Pizzas are cooked in a coal oven, which produces a crisp, chewy crust, a nicely blackened bottom and a blistery surface. The New York-style ambience features red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, and walls plastered with black-and-white photos of famous landmarks in the Big Apple.

Across town, Jerry Goumroian, the son of Yannis Goumroian, a.k.a. “The Fat Greek,” has followed in his father’s footsteps by opening a gourmet fast food joint, The Great Greek, at 1275 W. Warm Springs Road in Henderson.

Goumroian cooked at Guy Savoy, and has serious chops, but here is doing a simple menu of kabobs, vegetarian Greek dips and homey dishes. Greek mac and cheese, called pastitsio, is enriched by ground meat in the casserole and baked béchamel sauce on top. Another is egg lemon soup, a chicken-based soup stocked with rice and swirled with eggs.

Hungry, yet?

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Don’t be alarmed by the name—the Naked Evader is simply a grilled pastrami sandwich with Swiss cheese, vegetables and mustard. But from the first bite, you’ll see why Johnny McGuire’s has been such a hit in Town Square in addition to its 20-year success story in Aspen, Colo. Perched over the bustling entryway to Rave Motion Pictures, the deli is perfect for a quick before or after-movie meal. Made-to-order cold and hot subs, homemade soups and a variety of expertly fried chips and fries make this shop one of the best in Vegas.

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