March 31, 2005
While I'm sharpening my appetite in anticipation of the Wynn opening, I
thought some quick dining notes were in order about some of my recent meals
that I'll call HITS AND MISSES. Among the hits was a dim sum lunch at what
is now called Chow's Cuisine on West Sahara, but what many old timers
remember as THE CHINESE RESTAURANT WITH THE SIGN THAT SAID: CHINESE FOOD TO
GO IN REAR. That sign made me laugh for about ten years. I don't know what
was funnier, the fact that the owner put it up in the first place, or that
no one ever told him it had another meaning.
Anyway, Mr. Chow now owns the place, the sign is gone, and there's nothing
funny about the tasty, and huge selection of Chinese small bites that come
rolling by your table the minute you sit down. Dim sum is the world's
fastest food, and none other than Bill and Doris Fong were at the next table
chowing down with delight. Many remember Bill as the purveyor of great
Chinese-American food at the Huntridge Drug Store for decades, until he
semi-retired several years ago. There can be no higher endorsement of dim
sum in this town than having the Fong's as regular customers.
Two other BIG hits couldn't have been farther apart, culturally or
gastronomically. Those looking for grrreat Mexican food should brave the
wilds of Bonanza and Eastern-and find El Tenampa. That's right Mr. and Mrs.
Humvee, I said: "venture to the wilds of Bonanza and Eastern." I know you
think civilization ends east of Town Center Drive.but if you want to
experience Mexican food at its tastiest, this neighborhood is where it's at.
At El Tenampa, the signoras make everything to order, the chiliquilies with
green sauce sneak up on you like a peppery smart bomb aimed at the back of
your tongue, no one is speaking English, and the food will blow you away as
it's blowing your head off. Don't fret.. they've put pictures on the menus
to help us gringos. Gringo, it doesn't get any better than that.
And when I heard James Benson had left my beloved Circo, I was sure the food
would take a dip. But based on two recent lunches, I'd have to say that the
kitchen, now in the hands of Stefano Chiarugi, hasn't missed a beat. The
pastas and appetizers are as wonderful as ever, no one cooks fish any
better, and the desserts are..well they're still the desserts that made the
Maccionis famous. Come to think of it, I always thought an Italian chef had
to have at least one name that ended in a vowel. Mr. Benson turned that
theory on its head, but Circo's seafood risotto was as silky as ever, so all
is still right with the world.
When it comes to misses, I'll be blunt, and terse, and to the point, and
brief and concise in saying the food at Olives is awful as always, the RM
Cafe in the Mandalay Bay is a work in progress, Sensei looks better than it
tastes, and eat at the Carnegie Deli in the Mirage only if you enjoy paying
fifty bucks for two sandwiches. You have been warned.
El Tenampa's address:
556 N. Eastern Ave. (Corner of Bonanza and
See discussion rules
|Nov 24, 2010 | Thanksgiving 2010 - Another Beanie Reveal|
John Curtas delves into family history to discover the real story behind Grandma Schroader's Sour Beans.
|Nov 19, 2009 | Valentino -- You don't know the truffles I've seen|
According to Food Critic John Curtas, no other Italian restaurant in Las Vegas has performed at such a high level for so long.
|Oct 1, 2009 | Blow It Up|
In at least one part of town, our dining critic John Curtas says the food used to be a lot better.
|Sep 25, 2009 | Social Media Meltdown|
For our dining critic, John Curtas, social media has started to intrude on dining out.
|Sep 2, 2009 | Discovering LOS ANTOJOS|
Our dining critic John Curtas finds a new affordable favorite.
|Aug 20, 2009 | Chinois R.I.P.|
For John Curtas the recent closing of Wolfgang Puck's first Las Vegas restaurant brings back memories.
|Aug 3, 2009 | Food, Inc.|
John Curtas turns movie reviewer today - but the subject is in his usual area of expertise. Hear his review of "Food, Inc."
|Jul 16, 2009 | The Steak That Saved Las Vegas|
Dining critic John Curtas finds some steak aged for EIGHT MONTHS and he tells us how it tastes.
|Jul 2, 2009 | Bang for Your Buck|
Everyone's food budget is tighter these days. But if you still want to dine out now and then, our dining critic John Curtas has a few tips on restaurants now giving you more bang for your buck.
|Jun 19, 2009 | Whassup with Wazuzu|
Explore Dining Critic John Curtas' love/hate relationship with Wazuzu. If you want to spice up your dinner go for at least a "4 or 5."
|Jun 12, 2009 | Two Farmer's Markets|
Fresh, locally produced food has become a big trend across the U.S. Our food critic, John Curtas, says there's more of this trend in Las
Vegas than you might think.
|Jun 4, 2009 | MandM Soul Food|
John Curtas tells us about one of his favorite dining spots - a surpsingly affordable one.
|May 28, 2009 | Checkpoint Charlie|
While fine dining has seen a downturn in Las Vegas in recent months, our dining critic John Curtas says at least one dining legend intends to stay put. Charlie Trotter is standing pat in Las Vegas. John Curtas reviews Resturant Charlie.
|May 8, 2009 | Food Festival Frenzy!|
It's a time of many food festivals in Las Vegas. John Curtas has an overview.
|May 5, 2009 | Peppermill Coffee Shop and Fireside Lounge|
A landmark Las Vegas restaurant gets a visit from John Curtas. He takes you to the Peppermill.
|Apr 23, 2009 | Thai Me Up Thai Me Down|
Thai cuisine is starting to show up in more places in Las Vegas. John Curtas has some recommendations
|Apr 9, 2009 | A Gourmet Corner - In Spring Valley?|
Food Critic John Curtas takes a trip to the strangest gourmet corner in town.
|Apr 2, 2009 | Pip's is a Pip|
If you're looking for good dining near Aliante, our dining critic, John Curtas, has found a new place to go.
|Mar 26, 2009 | Stripped to Its Bare Essentials|
Dining on steak at Planet Hollywood! John Curtas takes you along.
|Mar 19, 2009 | Hachi is absolutely amazing!|
John Curtas has a find - a Japanese-fusion restaurant on the
west edge of the city.