Ending the Year With a Bang-Bang


Now that we’re a week into 2016, some of us are sticking to our resolutions to eat better. But before I joined the fray, I made sure I got in a “bang-bang.” Not familiar with the concept? Fans of the show Louie, starring Louis C.K., already know that to have a bang-bang is to eat two full dinners back to back. In one episode, C.K. and his brother decide that they’ll eat healthier tomorrow, and send off their gluttonous appetites with a bang—or, rather, a bang-bang. It’s customary to eat two different cuisines, so they consider Mexican then Italian, and sushi followed by pizza, eventually settling on Indian and a diner. My particular bang-bang was more based on proximity: Texas Station and Fiesta Rancho.

We began with what was supposed to be a couple of appetizers at Austin’s Steakhouse (in Texas Station, 702-631-1033), including an Alaskan king crab dip. The warm, creamy dip is a favorite with regulars but isn’t on the menu. Sometimes the joint pieces from the Alaskan king crab legs aren’t pretty enough to present to guests, but the hidden gems of meat are still quite good. Big hunks of crab are mixed with cream cheese and bright citrus to be scooped with crusty, toasted bread rounds.

Next door, Oyster Bar (702-631-1000) is a bustling casual spot—not as small as the one at Palace Station, but just as busy. There, the Creole-inspired Voodoo Pasta casts a spell on guests who keep coming back for more of this off-menu dish prepared in the same steam kettles as other Oyster Bar favorites such as seafood pan roasts. Chock-full of shrimp, Andouille sausage and grilled chicken, a creamy and pink-tinged, casually spicy brandy sauce coats strands of linguine. One order is plenty for two people, and with at least one more meal ahead of us, my dining companion and I wisely split the dish.

We lumbered across the street to Fiesta Rancho, where parts of the casino floor are getting a nice little facelift. Garduños (702-638-5602), a New Mexican restaurant, is doing the same. The tacos, burritos and sopaipillas are still winners, so we paid attention to the native peppers of the Southwest, Hatch chiles, which feature prominently on the new menu. We didn’t think we could eat another thing until we got to the Hatch chile straws—wide strips of the green pepper, lightly coated, deep-fried and served blooming onion-style with house-made ranch dressing for dipping. If you can manage to save room, the house-made tamales are a good reason to make the trek up north.

Although more of a “bang-bang-bang” than a “bang-bang,” I will concede that it was one great way to conclude a great year in dining.