Your Lunch, on Vacation

The Sahara/Fort Apache area offers new tastes to those who want to break away from their same old takeaway

The intersection of Fort Apache Road and Sahara Avenue sees a lot of midday traffic thanks to the many office parks in the area. The lunch rut is an easy one to fall into, especially when you are relegated to the same 2-mile radius day in and day out. But even after escaping the office, lots of worker bees stick around or even head back to this area after hours to explore its many dining options.


Filipinos who want a little taste of home make their way to Jollibee, a fast-food chain based in the Philippines. Although most of the dishes on the menu will look familiar—fried chicken, burgers and spaghetti—they are undoubtedly inflected by how Filipinos perceive these foods. The spaghetti sauce is sweet and studded with cut-up hot dog. The fried chicken is good enough. What really brings people through are the breakfast platters, combinations of traditional meats served with scrambled eggs and a pile of garlic fried rice, served all day. Choices such as tocino (marinated pork that’s a bit like sweet, uncured bacon) and deep-fried bangus (milkfish) belly are breakfast staples in the Philippines. 9430 W. Sahara Ave., 483-6731.

Archi’s Thai Café

The third and most recent addition to the Archi’s Thai family is busy most weekdays, thanks to the stellar $7 lunch specials. Standard American Thai fare such as pad Thai and beef and broccoli come with a bowl of soup and an eggroll, and it makes for a quick but satisfying lunch. Moms with their kids are frequent visitors, as the menu is basic enough for children’s palates. But the a la carte menu has wide range of more exciting dishes, including deep-fried fish cakes, and meat and seafood salads. Those salads as well as potent curries and specialty dishes all come with a heat warning. Unlike a lot of other Thai restaurants, Archi’s is serious about its heat scale. So, when asked to pick your heat from 1 to 10, unless you are actually Thai or have had your taste buds removed, don’t be a hero and ask for the 10. 9350 W. Sahara Ave., 363-9699.

Shawarma Vegas

Walk into this tiny eatery on any given day and you’ll hear patrons conversing with the guys behind the counter in a mixture of English and Hebrew. It’s a lively scene that makes eating at the restaurant feel like you, too, are a member of the Tribe. Specializing in Mediterranean and Israeli cuisine, while observing the stringent rules in accordance with Glatt Kosher dietary laws, this cafe’s forte, as the name suggests, is its shawarma, sliced fresh off the vertical rotisserie in the back. The chicken shawarma, fragrant with pungent Moroccan spices, is moist and tender; an ample amount comes tucked into a warm pita with hummus, chopped vegetables and tahini. Sandwiches can be had on a baguette instead of pita. There’s also an assortment of all-you-can-eat salad available, including baba ganoush, eggplant and tahini and matboucha, a Moroccan tomato and pepper salad. 2521 S. Fort Apache Road, 651-1818.

Café Rio Mexican Grill

Given that it was founded in Utah, Café Rio isn’t the most authentic Mexican restaurant, but the menu is based on dishes and flavors inspired by New Mexican cuisine. The ingredients are fresh, and your order is prepared right in front of you. Plenty of workers from surrounding businesses flock to this casual spot, lining up for their custom-made meals, often taking the opportunity to eat outside on the bustling patio. The sweet pulled pork barbacoa is a popular filling, whether it’s ordered as a burrito or as a salad. No matter the vehicle, make sure you grab a side of the cilantro-lime vinaigrette, which brightens up every bite. 9002 W. Sahara Ave., Suites B, C and D, 948-1500.


The burger is the great equalizer, and Smashburger has done a great job of offering something for everyone, including a chicken burger and a black-bean variety, so the place is often filled with large groups and families in its diner-like setting. Smashburger evolves the classic American cheeseburger even more, tailoring specific burgers to each town in which it lands. The Sin City Burger, oozing with a fried egg on top, smoky from plenty of bacon and crunchy thanks to a heap of fried onion strings, is a perfect representation of Las Vegas on a bun. Order a side of fried pickles, and wash it all down with a Häagen-Dazs shake while you hum “Proud to be an American.” 9101 W. Sahara Ave., 462-5500.