In case you haven’t noticed, casual sit-down, full-service restaurants have been giving way to a concept known as quick-casual. A cross between a casual restaurant and a fast-food joint, these places generally offer inexpensive, yet quality food, ordered from a counter, made to order and delivered to your table. It’s certainly not a new concept—we’ve had places like these for decades. But much like high-end chefs shifting toward more casual concepts, they’re capturing an ever-growing segment of the marketplace. Case in point: Sami Ladeki recently converted Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza’s Centennial Hills location into a quick-casual spot called Table 89.
The first Sammy’s Woodfired opened in Southern California more than 25 years ago, and the chain expanded into Las Vegas in 1997. It now boasts more than 20 locations in California and Nevada. In 2013, Ladeki opened the more formal Sammy’s Restaurant & Bar in Green Valley. But Table 89 is a step in a different direction. The menu is smaller, and nothing is priced above $12, thanks to smaller portions and lower overhead. And while you’ll still find such Sammy’s classics as nine wood-fired pizzas and his signature duck tacos, he’s also significantly tweaked the salad selection and is, for the first time, offering sandwiches. Despite the lower prices and more casual atmosphere, Table 89 doesn’t skimp on quality. As with all of Ladeki’s restaurants, Table 89 is dedicated to keeping the food local and natural.
As for what to order, you can’t go wrong with familiar dishes such as the aforementioned duck tacos, a luscious salted caramel pudding dessert or any of Ladeki’s famous pizzas. But I was considerably more interested in the dishes I can’t get at another location closer to my home. From the appetizer section, a plate of pork and beef meatballs in a well-spiced red sauce was worthy of any neighborhood Italian restaurant. And for a mere $6, the portion was surprisingly generous. Moreover, while I’m not a big salad eater, I like the way the chef uses a hearty mixture of kale and romaine lettuce in an otherwise traditional Caesar.
Moving on to the sandwiches, my wife and I both loved the steak and watercress. The tender cut of marinated steak was grilled to medium rare, sliced thick and topped with a dense horseradish aioli. We had mixed opinions, however, on a grilled chicken and hummus wrap. My wife felt the hearty dose of kalamata olives overpowered the poultry, hummus and roasted red peppers. I concede her point to a degree. But I apparently like kalamata olives more than she does.
I’ve heard at least one friend complain that the portion sizes have decreased since the concept changed over. But in this age of super-sizing, I don’t see portion control as a horrible thing. As for service, it’s difficult to critique in a quick-casual restaurant. But the cashiers and servers have been extremely personable and helpful. (My only significant complaint was that someone at Google entered the address wrong for Table 89’s listing, and I ended up at a bus terminal.)
It’s debatable whether the prevailing shift toward casual dining is good or bad. But you can’t fight market trends. And if quick-casual is the wave of the future, I’d prefer to get it from someone like Ladeki.
Al’s Menu Picks
- Mini duck tacos ($7)
- Meatballs and marinara ($6)
- Organic kale and romaine Caesar salad ($8)
- Steak and watercress sandwich ($12)
7160 N. Durango Dr., 702-365-7777. Open for lunch and dinner daily, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Dinner for two, $20-$30.