Our Chinatown is a touch different than that in other cities. We don’t have the history of mass immigrants arriving in the 19th century and forming sprawling, multigenerational cultural communities on the level of San Francisco or New York City. Indeed, you really didn’t see a vibrant C-town (my nickname) materialize here until the last 15 years, when that swath of Spring Mountain Road from just west of Interstate 15 became decidedly more lively with retail shops and markets dovetailed with Chinese aesthetics.
True, cynics do sneer that a few, well-constructed strip malls are merely a facade of a C-town, but I beg to differ. If this is where the pan-Asian community chooses to engage in free-market trade, steer their tourist buses from Beijing, and binge on late-night sushi and sake, then let it be their C-town. But this round-up isn’t about those haunts, but rather the ones that get a little bit lost in that melee.
Now that I am done with the civic lesson, here is my cheat sheet. The intersection of Decatur Boulevard and Spring Mountain Road outlines the western edge of C-Town, and it is my favorite spot in this neighborhood. It’s loaded with long-established joints and offers a variety of food and shops, and not just of the Far East influence. That ease of existence for all is what makes this area shine. Start with these, then roam bravely on your own.
Crown & Anchor. Although the one near UNLV gets most of the press, I actually prefer this “other” Crown & Anchor. It’s smaller but no less lively, with gabby punters, excellent selections in the jukebox, a lot of action by the dartboard and of course, a first-rate selection of beer (Guinness, Smithwick’s, Boddingtons). The pub grub isn’t bad here, either. The bangers and mash may not be entirely healthy, but it brings back good memories of youthful slumming in Blackpool, U.K., for this writer. 4755 W. Spring Mountain Road, 876-4733, CrownAndAnchorLV.com.
Rincon De Buenos Aires. Miss this one, and the loss is yours. Steak, chicken, seafood and vegetarian dishes are all for the asking. In case you might care, the Lomo Completo (an amazing sandwich of filet mignon, ham, cheese, lettuce and egg) is something I can never finish in one sitting; Argentina’s strong Italian heritage means the pasta dishes are going to register well on the taste scale, especially the shrimp tortellini; spinach empanadas (savory pastry) are always a nice courtesy. Also, for your entertainment, Argentinean soccer matches are on television monitors (“Goooal!”) to enhance the atmosphere. 5300 W. Spring Mountain Road, Suite 115, 257-3331.
Monta Noodle House. Monta isn’t exactly spacious and can be packed during lunch time. But go anyway, because a good noodle house is not always easy to find, and Monta delivers with bowls that are heady and effective. Thick, delicious ramen noodles (if your reference to ramen is the cheap, store-bought kind at 7-Eleven, I’m so sorry), in a variety of fine—if salty—broths (shoyu, tonkotsu and miso) with a rich assortment of vegetables, meats or fish. In short, habit-forming after one visit. 5030 Spring Mountain Road, Suite 6, 367-4600.
Ronald’s Doughnuts. If you read my last Neighborhood Epicurean piece (“A Taste for the Understated,” Jan. 13), you probably noticed I have a weakness for doughnuts. And if you ever saw my photo in this magazine, well ... you know that it shows. Still, my pride aside, I have to share the lowdown on the good stuff. This doughnut shop is popular for vegan doughnuts, as well as the usual stock: deliciously textured cherry turnovers with mounds of granulated sugar coating, buttermilk doughnuts rich enough to call attention to their decadence, and jelly doughnuts that display an amazing projectile stream if pinched in the proper spot. It all screams to our inner Homer Simpson. 4600 Spring Mountain Road, 873-1032.