A Milder Dos Caminos Opens in Suburban Location

Max’s menu picks

Guacamole with bacon, chicharrón and pickled jalapeño, $9.75.

Roasted plantain empanadas, $7.50.

Short ribs barbacoa, $17.50.

Mexico City street corn, $3.75.

Despite rumors to the contrary, our food scene is not as cutting edge as that of New York, London or Tokyo, and that goes double when we’re talking the ’burbs. So when a Strip venue makes that rare move to one of our outlying neighborhoods, both the menu and the décor tend to be more conservative and less flashy than the original.

Case in point, the new Dos Caminos in Summerlin, in a space that formerly housed Agave. Agave was a pink stucco palace, part Antonio Gaudi, part Diego Rivera. This incarnation seems larger and simpler. Wooden chandeliers have replaced the showy starfish-shaped lanterns once suspended from the ceiling, and the front wall was knocked down to extend the space. But it remains a charming room, with sweeping, semicircular booths and lots of earth tones—mainly reds and browns.

In its former home in the Palazzo, the original Dos Caminos menu was created by Scott Linquist, and boasted regional Mexican dishes, such as seafood Campechana, from Mexico’s Campeche state, and the oven-roasted pork from Yucatan called cochinita pibil. Both of those dishes, which I loved, are absent here. That must have been a conscious decision by the restaurant’s parent company, B.R. Guest Hospitality (whose other Las Vegas venues include Fiamma in the MGM Grand) and its dynamic owner, Stephen Hanson. In New York, Dos Caminos’ executive chef Ivy Stark—who was mentored by Border Grill’s Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger—has become a celebrity chef in her own right. This is her menu, too, minus a few dishes, such as the braised goat stew found at her New York restaurants.

Nonetheless, the kitchen here puts out a solid effort. Bocaditos, or starters, have range. I love the various guacamoles, such as one with bacon, chicharrón and pickled jalapeño peppers, with the pork rinds sticking out of the top. Roasted plantain empanadas, a real Border Grill-type dish, are nice, too, served with a piquant chipotle aioli. But I’d like more heat in the blandish albondigas (meatballs) con chili, three hulking meatballs.

Ceviche, too, seemed to lack the acidity that you get in more authentic Mexican places, being big chunks of fish that would have benefited from a longer marinade. I tried one entrée listed under the heading “Especialidades de la Casa”: Black Angus skirt steak, marinated grilled steak cut into slices on a large platter with rice, beans and roasted vegetables. I’d call it fine, although generic.

On the other hand, Dos Enchiladas —two large enchiladas filled with chopped chicken—is rather monochromatic, despite each enchilada being blanketed in a difference sauce, in this case a soft brown mole poblano and a pale green tomatillo. Meh. The better choice might be to order one of the fajita-style cazuelas, especially the delicious short ribs done barbacoa-style, and paired with Mexico City-style street corn and spicy cabbage slaw.

I only tried one dessert, a tres leches cake served in a pool of sauce made from the selfsame three milks: evaporated, condensed and whole. It’s a delicious dessert, but I find the sauce redundant. The cake stands on its own; the sauce makes it too wet. And if you order a frozen fruit margarita, know that you get a slushy base, into which a fruit puree is poured, making the thing look like an adult snow cone.

It’s too soon to know if Dos Caminos will be a hit in its new location. B.R. Guest left a multimillion-dollar build-out at the Palazzo because of a lease dispute, and the building’s former tenant, Agave, saw its business sharply tail off after a strong three years. This feels like old wine in a new bottle. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, Dos Caminos is a happy addition to the westside dining scene. But I’d like it better if it showed a little more daring.

Dos Caminos

10820 W. Charleston Blvd., 462-8800. Dinner 4-10:30 p.m. Sun-Wed, 4 p.m.-midnight Thu-Sat. Dinner for two, $56-$89.

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