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August 09, 2001

FOOD FOR THOUGHT: Small but Mighty


Small but Mighty

Last week, I extolled the virtues of downtown dining. Some of you may find that hilarious but I say give some of these ethnic wonders a try and you will eat better, and less expensively than at a host of franchises that claim a sinfully large portion of our restaurant dining dollars for food that insults the intelligence. I don’t know why anyone would prefer the freeze-dried mediocrity of P. F. Changs to the sensationally seasoned delicacies pouring out of the Vegas-Thai Chinese kitchen, but that corporate den of victual vice probably has more patrons in a day than this little hole-in-the wall gets in a month. But guess whose eating knock-your-socks-off tom yum and authentic pad thai with fresh shrimp? Not those Beemer babies and Summerlin Saps. They might not care a thing about addictively sweet—hot cocoanut milk curry over chicken, but anyone with a taste bud in their head ought to.

Just like anyone who loves a good sandwich ought to check out the Italian pastrami sub at the Strip Sandwich shop. My sub munchin’ buddy Dan the Man swears by this downtown lunch haunt, and being from Chicago, the Man knows from good sandwiches.

And while we’re at it, I’ll let you in on a Mediterranean marvel. Located in the unlikeliest of places, right on Las Vegas Boulevard South, is the Café Cav Des Roi. It is the passion of a Lebanese cook named Kamal Zahnan, and a more unlikely restaurant in a stranger place you’d be hard pressed to find. I say strange because it’s part of a hot sheet joint called the Oasis Motel—which means you may have some esplainin’ to do if you’re seen walking to or from this mecca of middle eastern cooking. Next week I’ll esplain why the Cav Des Roi kicks the butt of every Mediterranean place in town…But for now let’s just say that one bite if his cooked Kibbe or killer Lubia transported me to the world of my ancestors. And just so you know, my mother-in-law, Esther LaHood Leeper, knew from Lubia—and I’m telling ya, she would have approved. tijc

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