There is a proverb that states: “He who has never traveled thinks that his mother is the only good cook in the world.” Ask around and many would claim, that while Mom’s dishes hold a special place in their hearts (and tummies), a very real beauty of traveling is the food. Las Vegas has a temporary remedy to dispel the yearning desire to travel, but still feed the soul with authentic foods of the world. Take a trip to these countries to experience the essence, flavors and aromas of each.
Forte European Tapas Bar and Bistro
4180 S. Rainbow Blvd., barforte.com
Chef Nina Manchev’s eclectic hangout specializes in Bulgarian cuisine that delights the palate with some of the greatest traditional dishes in southeastern Europe. The offerings are lovingly made and heightened with the finest and freshest ingredients. Must-tries are the refreshing Shopska salad, created with tomatoes, Persian cucumbers, green onions, roasted peppers and topped with a flurry of imported shaved Bulgarian feta cheese; the slow-
roasted Bulgarian Easter lamb with arugula mashed potatoes drizzled with lamb au jus; and the Bulgarian mixed grill with three types of pork sausages, served with a bean relish, potato salad and liuteniza, a bright Bulgarian relish. Finally, the Sofisk Baniza—feta cheese rolled in handmade filo dough and baked to perfection—is best enjoyed morning, day and night.
1775 E. Tropicana Ave., cafemayakovsky.com
From Russia with love come foods that are essential to the cuisine such as cabbage, meat and sour cream. Café Mayakovsky features dishes that bring Moscow to Tropicana Avenue. Start the experience with a bowl of borscht, a lively tart soup of beets and sour cream, and potato or cabbage-filled perozkis. Move on to Stolichniy, a chopped chicken salad tossed with cooked vegetables and dressed with mayonnaise and spices. A must is the comforting beef Stroganoff, served over rice or mashed potatoes, and the chicken Kiev, which features a generously breaded chicken breast cooked to crispy perfection.
India Urban Turban
3900 Paradise Road, urbanturbanlv.com
Dig into delicacies from all areas of the subcontinent, as Chef Tarun Kapoor delivers elevated Indian cuisine, from vibrant street food and curries to tandoor. The minty and herbal Pani Puri is a crunchy potato puff with an open center in which to pour spiced water just before popping it into your mouth. Another classic is the Bombay Bhel, made of seasoned puffed rice, which is often found wrapped in paper and eaten on the go. Butter Chicken Royale is a signature dish made with cream and cheese tikka in butter sauce and sprinkled with edible pure silver leaf for a cooling effect. The slow-simmered black lentil stew Dal Makhani with garlic or butter naan is heaven on a plate.
Fiesta Filipina Cuisine
3310 S. Jones Blvd., 8545 W. Warm Springs Rd., 2980 St. Rose Pkwy., fiestafilipinacuisine.net
There are many things we can thank the Philippines for—namely lumpia, adobo and lechón. Lechón is pork basting in its own juices and seasonings, then deep-fried until the skin becomes unbelievably crispy. Often called the national dish of the Philippines, adobo is prepared with chicken, beef or pork, simmered over low heat to absorb the garlicky and peppery vinegar–soy sauce and served with rice. Lumpia, the Philippines’ answer to the egg roll, is best known in its deep-fried iteration, filled primarily with vegetables. Other variations include the smaller, crispier lumpiang Shanghai, which is packed with meat, water chestnuts, onions and carrots; lumpiang Sariwa or fresh lumpia, which is not fried and served on egg crepes with ingredients such as chestnuts, jicama and lettuce, and garnished with a sweet sauce.
Viva Las Arepas
1616 Las Vegas Blvd. South, vivalasarepas.com
Fully capable of taking hearts by storm is the arepa, Venezuela’s culinary attaché to the U.S., Viva Las Arepas chef and owner Felix Arellano handcrafts his with Venezuelan corn flour that is made into a masa, then mesquite-fire grilled. There are 13 different fillings—the two most popular are the wood-fired beef and Reina Pepiada, a creamy mix of chicken breast, avocado, mayo and cilantro. Empanadas are also served fresh daily and come with shredded chicken or black bean and cheese fillings. Opt for the mixed grill, which includes a generous selection of chicken, beef, pork ribs and sausage, along with a choice of sides such as plantains and black beans. For dessert, try the Pastelitos, a deep-fried confection that combines sweet and savory flavors of fruit such as guava and coconut with cheese.