Having frequented the saucily named Pink Taco (in the Hard Rock Hotel, 702-693-5525) for a number of years, I’ve grown comfortable ordering the same thing: sabana de pollo, thinly pounded chicken breast topped with black beans, sautéed onions and Serrano peppers, always asking for fresh-made flour tortillas on the side as a vehicle. But the Mexican joint has launched a few more items that might have me reconsidering my favorite, including the Sonoran street dog ($14). It’s essentially a thick foot-long wrapped in bacon, then topped with caramelized onions and jalapeno relish. One small criticism: It lacks a few classic items you’d find on the North Mexican version, such as mayonnaise, pinto beans and the big, doughy bun. This might be the first time a dish that has been translated to Las Vegas has ever been dialed down.
Should you venture out to the Linq and want a taste of home (which, granted, isn’t too far away), there’s the new Off the Strip (702-331-6800) on the promenade. While the menu is not nearly as big as that at the original bistro (10670 S. Highlands Pkwy., 702-202-2448), the staff at the Linq location said they were in the process of rolling out some more locals favorites. Following my server’s direction, I went off-menu and got down on a bone-in pork chop, a secret item dressed with a smoky cream sauce and served atop a bed of creamy mashed potatoes. My dining companion did the same, with a rich plate of short-rib ravioli in a dark Bordelaise sauce. I can see why these two hearty dishes are so popular at both locations.
On the subject of oldies-but-goodies, I made it back to Forte (4180 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-220-3876) to sample the new breakfast offerings. While the Spanish and Over the Pond breakfast selections seemed passable, we were definitely more interested in the morning dishes from even farther East. The banitza—crisp phyllo dough layered with eggs, feta cheese and butter—is crispy, salty and tangy all at once, while langos was the simplest of fried dough topped with melted, mild kashkaval cheese, both served with copious amounts of sour cream. The spinach and cheese-stuffed waffle is a meal in and of itself, topped with a poached egg, chunks of bacon and breakfast gravy made from butifarra sausage that’s made in-house. Is this really how they do mornings in the old country?