Las Vegas is a city filled with food, some fabulous, some not-so-fabulous. On a recent trip there, my husband Neal and I experienced both.
On our first night in town, we had reservations for Border Grill, an outpost of Mary Sue Milliken's and Susan Feniger's (Too Hot Tamales) Santa Monica restaurant. It's located in the Mandalay Bay, and nearly impossible to locate if one enters from the street, as we did. After ordering a margarita and a scotch and soda, Neal and I carefully perused the menu of familiar Mexican foods. For starters, Neal tried the rock shrimp ceviche with jalapeno, mint, red onion, cilantro, and lime. It was delicious, with perfectly-textured pieces of "cooked" shrimp and bites of the onion and herbs. My Caesar salad consisted of several large slabs cut lengthwise from a head of romaine lettuce, with garlic croutons and a tangy-fishy dressing and a dose of grated romano cheese. The dressing was more citrus-y and less garlicky than typical Caesars.
I chose carnitas for my entree, and Neal ordered the marinated skirt steak. His entree was too strongly flavored with cumin for my tastes, and it reminded me of the smelly tourist on the airplane with us that day. The extremely tender steak was accompanied by a roasted corn salad, black beans, and a large flour tortilla. My carnitas failed to measure up to the memory I carry with me of the ones I ate in San Diego 20 years ago. These were good, don't get me wrong, but not posessing quite as much purely unadulturated "porkiness" as the ones of yore. The sides were all delicious - a dollop of guacamole, some cucumber citrus slaw, and an onion relish - and there was also one of those large flour tortillas. The tortillas I found a bit odd - they were really large, and I supposed we were to rip off chunks of it to encase our meat and sauces. That's what we did, anyway. But after a few bites, the tortilla got cold and oddly stiff, and it was a bit greasy too, as if the heating had come in the microwave and then for perhaps a few seconds too long.
By the time dessert rolled around, I was stuffed. I can't tell you what Neal ordered, as I've forgotten and nothing on the Web site menu looks familiar. I succumbed to a scoop of very tart lime sorbet, which really put me over the top.
Staggering back to our hotel, the Luxor, we discovered we could have quite easily traveled indoors from our casino to the restaurant via overstreet walkways. Duh. Well, now we knew to try that method of getting from one casino to the other for the rest of our trip.