Let’s talk about menudo! No, not the Puerto Rican boy band from the ’80s (shout-out to Ricky Martin though!). I’m talking about the classic Mexican dish customarily served for breakfast after weddings, birthdays and family gatherings. This traditional stew, painstakingly made with beef stomach cut into bite-size pieces in a rich red or white broth along with hominy, has been bringing families together and curing hangovers for centuries.
Menudo is available to the masses in many markets and restaurants in Las Vegas, but finding the right place with fresh, clean, tasty stew options is sometimes a challenge. That’s why when I found El Menudazo (3100 E. Lake Mead Blvd., Suite 18, menudazo.com), I was filled with so much joy and emotion, I felt like Simba in that part of The Lion King when the clouds open up and a beam of sunlight shines down on him and his kingdom. I was Simba and El Menudazo was my Pride Rock.
Now let’s get into the menudo. The most common version is the rojo (red), but El Menudazo gives you the option of blanco (white) menudo, which is typically made in the northern states of Mexico. The menudo rojo broth is usually crafted with guajillo and árbol peppers, then stewed for hours with pieces of beef stomach. The blanco is cooked sans red peppers. El Menudazo also gives you the option of adding hominy and pig’s feet for no additional charge. ALWAYS GET THE HOMINY AND PIG’S FEET! If you’re gonna do something, do it right and go all the way.
My favorite part about eating menudo is adding all the fixings. Crushed dried oregano, finely diced onions, cilantro and lime are a must for both types of menudo. In the blanco, add slices of jalapenos and mint to give it a spicy and refreshing kick. The accoutrements not only add flavor to the blanco but a complexity that is delightfully surprising.
And now for a debate that has tested a few of my friendships: bread or tortillas? Mexican dishes are complex, and the way you eat them varies regionally based on history and resources. In the north, it’s all about the bread. The south keeps it pre-Colombian and usually sticks with corn tortillas. So what do I pick? The answer is both. El Menudazo offers slices of toasted bolillos (french bread) with a salted butter spread and/or handmade corn tortillas.
El Menudazo’s menudo is reasonably priced at $7.99 for a medium portion and $10.99 for the large. If you are trippin’ about trying tripe, no worries. El Menudazo also has bomb pozole, and the tacos are definitely worth a second, third and fourth visit. Hakuna matata.
Justin Favela is a Las Vegas native, artist, podcaster and taco enthusiast. When not in his studio, he is usually eating. Listen to his podcast at latinoswholunch.com.