Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

Bomb Tacos Restaurant Closes Abruptly Downtown

A downtown taco spot, Bomb Tacos, has closed in what has proven to be challenging for any restaurant that opens in the space.

The place was fairly busy whenever we visited for lunch (both times), but a busy lunch doesn’t necessarily translate into a financially successful eatery.

We’re hearing there was some behind-the-scenes drama that led to the closure, with tensions running high between the partners in the business.

Bomb Tacos

Adios, tacos de bomba.

Bomb Tacos, owned by chef Robert Solano, was located a block off Fremont Street on Carson Avenue, near Vegenation and 7th & Carson restaurant.

Given the deliciousness of the fare, we hoped the third time would be a charm for this location in downtown’s “restaurant row.” Bomb Tacos is the third establishment to close in recent memory. Previously, it was Zydeco Po-Boys and Two Bald Brothers.

So, the location has hosted Mexican, Cajun and Mediterranean cuisine to-date. Time for some Italian, already. Or at least something with booze.

Downtown doesn’t have a vast assortment of taco options, but La Comida is nearby and Pinches Tacos, at Downtown Container Park, will do in a, well, pinch.

Farther west on Fremont Street, try Taqueria El Buen Pastor or Wana Taco at Four Queens.

Thanks to Twitter follower John L. for sending this tip our way. As John observed, “If they couldn’t make it, not sure anyone can.”

You can find another Bomb Tacos location at 3655 South Durango Dr., wherever that might actually be.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 90: Stuff Your Face With Vegas

It’s time for a new installment of the Las Vegas podcast that’s nearly as annoying as being issued a W2-G form.

We kick off the show with an irredeemable holiday poem, “A Very Pappy Christmas.”

There’s also an interview with chef James Trees, owner of Esther’s Kitchen. The downtown restaurant has gotten great buzz, and listening to the chef it’s fairly clear why.

Esther's Kitchen

The flatware at Esther’s Kitchen is from the Dunes. ‘Nuff said.

You won’t want to miss our “12 Days of Las Vegas Christmas,” or our perfunctory round-up of Las Vegas news.

Bond at Cosmo will be Barbershop Cuts & Cocktails in 2019, “Totally Twisted Brunch” is coming to SLS, investors are working to bring Major League Baseball to Las Vegas, Salt and Pepa are on hiatus at Paris, Palms is making moves in nightlife, target dates for Resorts World and The Drew are pushed back, same for Criss Angel’s new show at Planet Hollywood, “Fuerza Bruta” comes to Excalibur, Sadelle’s opens at Bellagio in December, 322 Pizza Bar opens on Fremont and Rob Lowe brings “Stories I Only Tell My Friends” to Planet Hollywood in April.

We pop into Bellagio’s Conservatory, too, because podcasts are the perfect vehicle to share something so visually stunning.

Bellagio Conservatory Christmas 2018

It’s not Christmas until the Bellagio Conservatory says it is.

Just for good measure, we also review Holsteins at Cosmopolitan, as well as the cookies in the casino’s completely awesome high limit lounge.

It’s all the Vegas you can stomach, so let out your belt a notch and take a listen.

Esther’s Kitchen Lives Up to the Hype

Whenever a Las Vegas restaurant gets as much hype as Esther’s Kitchen has, we brace for disappointment. Thankfully, Esther’s Kitchen not only warrants its good buzz, it makes us wonder why it hasn’t garnered even more.

Casual diners and serious foodies alike have given Esther’s Kitchen glowing reviews, and the place has pretty much been packed since the day it opened (Jan. 3, 2018).

Esther's Kitchen

Reservations are tough to come by during peak hours, so try the bar. Actually, try the bar whether you have a reservation or not.

The restaurant’s accolades include being named Best Italian Restaurant by Desert Companion in its “Best of the City” issue. The magazine recently named it one of the city’s best restaurants of the year.

Desert Companion, published by Nevada Public Radio, is a brilliantly written and insightful magazine, and not just because we love being a frequent guest on KNPR. Probably.

Esther's Kitchen

Easily one of the best things about Esther’s Kitchen is the flatware is from the Dunes. No, really.

Every dish we tried at Esther’s Kitchen is a revelation, familiar but new, all from a chef who exudes passion for food, drink and community.

James Trees is the chef behind downtown’s Esther’s Kitchen, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

Trees earned his stripes as places like the Mirage, and has worked with chefs like Michael Mina and Bradley Ogden.

He even worked with up-and-coming chef Gordon Ramsay, who apparently has a couple of popular TV shows and approximately 26 successful restaurants at Caesars Entertainment resorts in Las Vegas, give or take.

We chatted up James Trees, so check out the interview via the SoundCloud thingy at the bottom of this blog post.

Before we dive into the food and drink, we should get the name of the place out of the way.

Esther's Kitchen

Fun fact: This neon sign is in the chef’s handwriting.

Esther was the chef’s great aunt. She not only paid for him to attend the Culinary Institute, when she passed away in 2016, the inheritance helped pay to open his restaurant. The chef’s site says Esther’s Kitchen is “named in her honor because everyone has someone like Aunt Esther, and whoever that person was, when you walk in the door we want you to feel like you’re at their house.”

Dry your tears, it’s time to eat.

Esther’s Kitchen is all about seasonal Italian cooking, with dishes prepared from scratch, in-house.

That includes the bread ($4), the reputation of which preceded our visit by nearly a year. The housemade sourdough bread was lovely. It comes with butter and olive oil, with the option to get anchovy garlic butter or burrata all panna and basil oil for a small additional charge.

Esther's Kitchen

You know how people say, “Don’t fill up on bread”? Those people are morons.

The menu offers fresh pastas, pizzas to order, antipasti and entrees.

The menu also has a “Verduras” section, or “vegetables.” Yes, we actually tried the vegetables, despite the fact the last time we did that Ronald Reagan was President.

The salad ($13) had kale, apple and squash, and yet we enjoyed it, anyway.

Esther's Kitchen

Kale is a leafy crucifer, which, coincidentally, was the name of our band in high school.

Naturally, the entire time we were eating the kale, we had our eye on the pizza, and man alive, it was great.

The pizza ($15) had sourdough crust topped with tomato, Greek sausage and salumi, fennel, charred peppers and orange.

Before typing that last sentence, we didn’t entirely know “salumi” existed, so we thought it might be a misspelling of “salami.” We are, come to find out, and idiot.

Salumi are Italian cold cuts mainly made from pork. “Salumi” comes from the Italian word “salume,’ meaning “salted meat.” We would typically slip in a meat joke here. But we are nothing if not mature.

Esther's Kitchen

We are typically a cheese person. Now, we are more of a this pizza person.

The Margherita ($10) was solid, with fresh mozzarella, basil and Chris Bianco’s tomatoes. Chris Bianco is arguably the country’s most revered pizzaiolo. Again, the crust was epic.

Esther's Kitchen pizza

Yeah, that’s the first time we’ve heard the word “pizzaiolo,” too.

The pasta was equally memorable. We tried three.

First, it was the rye tagliatelle ($24), with braised duck, mushroom, greens and cracklins (fried pieces of pork fat).

Or, as we like to call it, pasta.

Esther's Kitchen

Following an ugly break-up of the Leafy Crucifers, we later formed a band called the Rye Tagliatelles.

We also cozied up to the rigatoni carbonara ($17), with guanciale, peas, egg yolk and grana padana, whatever that might be. Hey, we are not a food critic.

Esther's Kitchen

Simple, yet satisfying. Or, basically, the same thing we keep telling our girlfriend we are.

We also had to try the spaghetti ($15), with Sungold tomatoes, pomodoro (“tomato” in Italian), Parmesan (“Parmesan” in Italian) and basil. Add Italian meatballs, called “polpette,” for $6.

Esther's Kitchen spaghetti

The singular of “polpette” is “polpetta.” Vital Vegas, raising the bar for useless photo captions.

The prices are very reasonable, and some may experience reverse sticker shock, especially if they’ve dined at comparable restaurants on The Strip.

While it’s not on the dinner menu, we got to try this mushroom panini. A sentence we never in a million years thought we would be typing.

Esther's Kitchen

We’re unclear how the chef made mushrooms this good, especially given the fact we’d rather eat an our own foot than mushrooms.

Make sure to try these house-made taro and sweet potato chips.

Esther's Kitchen

No, they’re not French fries. You’ll survive.

We’re fairly sure Esther’s Kitchen doesn’t have an official dessert menu, but if you ask your server to bring you a caramel budino, you won’t be disappointed. “Budino” is Italian for pudding. Man, is there anything this blog doesn’t know right off the top of its head without the use of Google, at all, whatsoever?

Esther's Kitchen

The best way to describe this dessert is “Heaven shot.”

Esther’s Kitchen also prides itself on its beverage program. Original and classic cocktails are refreshingly inexpensive ($8), beer is $5 and wines by the glass are around $10 (no bottle costs more than $40).

During happy hour, nothing’s more than $5.

Esther's Kitchen

This is the Burning the Witches cocktail, which we recall virtually nothing about, which is a wonderful attribute of a cocktail.

Our only complaint with the place would have to be the lack of Captain Morgan, but all was forgiven when the bartender improvised a rum-based drink that made our eyes roll back into our head. In a good way, in case that wasn’t clear.

From the prices to the quality and originality of the food to the top-notch service, Esther’s Kitchen simply nails it and by the time you read this, we’ll be back at the downtown restaurant stuffing our face with delicious things made from ingredients we can pronounce.

Esther’s Kitchen deserves to be in your Las Vegas rotation. Your taste buds and your bank account will send you a thank-you note.

We should note the place can get loud when it’s busy, but that’s par for the course with many restaurants, in Vegas and beyond. Solution: Visit during non-peak hours, or just suck it up.

Frankly, Esther’s Kitchen isn’t easy to find, even using the latest in GPS technology. We know everything, but we drove past it at least six times. While there’s not a lot of outdoor signage, that’s not the issue. It’s that the restaurant doesn’t seem to be on the same street given as its address.

Here’s the official address: 1130 S. Casino Center Blvd., Ste. #110, Las Vegas, NV 89104.

The restaurant is actually on East California Ave., though, halfway between Casino Center and Main Street.

We’d say it’s in the Arts District, but nobody really knows what, or where, that is.

Just hold this photo up until you see a building that matches.

Esther's Kitchen

Any restaurant can have signs. It’s better to have awesome.

Our newfound hunger for all things James Trees couldn’t have come at a better time, as the chef is set to open two new eateries, one at Stratosphere and another at Tivoli Village, about 15 minutes west of The Strip.

The chef’s new place in the Strat will be in its observation tower, 108 Eats. More to come on that one, and we can’t wait to give it a taste.

In the meantime, get to Esther’s Kitchen, and we can’t thank them enough for inviting us to sample the menu. Vegas has some stellar Italian, and Esther’s Kitchen ranks among the very best.

All the good things we’d heard about Esther’s Kitchen were confirmed during our first visit, and it’s a sure thing it won’t be our last.

It’s worth noting the restaurant’s chicken parm is only available on the lunch menu, so our take on that much-talked-about dish is pending.

Learn more about Esther’s Kitchen, check out the menus here and take a listen to chef James Trees through the miracle of the Internet.

RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room Close at Mandalay Bay

Two restaurants from noted chef Rick Moonen have closed abruptly at Mandalay Bay, RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room.

Chef Rick Moonen has been called the “Godfather of Sustainability,” possibly the least imposing nickname, ever.

Seriously. The guy uses knives constantly. Why not the “Godfather of the Monarch Steampunk Dragon Knife”? So much cooler.

Rx Boiler Room

We never dined at Rx Boiler Room, but we sure as hell libated there, if that’s a thing.

Anyway, RM Seafood (the RM stands for Rick Moonen, in case that wasn’t obvious) opened at Mandalay Bay—The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, to be more exact—in 2005 and Rx (pronounced Rick’s) Boiler Room opened in 2013.

It seems the chef couldn’t hammer out a mutually agreeable deal on the lease, so Moonen packed it in, to the great delight of a good many Spanish octopuses which will now avoid being sustainably charred.

Rick Moonen

Take a few days off, Rick. Years of pan searing can take a lot out of a person.

Fun seafood fact: The fish people know as “Chilean seabass” is actually the Patagonian toothfish. The sexier name was invented by a fish wholesaler named Lee Lantz in 1977 to make it more appealing to Americans.

Moonen says he’ll be back soon with a new restaurant concept in Las Vegas, which we also won’t visit because we are not a seafood person.

Plug Pulled on Tao Group Nightclub and Restaurant at Palms

Boom. We did not see this one coming.

Seemingly out of the blue, Tao Group and Red Rock Resorts announced they’re bailing on plans for a massive nightclub and restaurant at the off-Strip Palms.

The companies made the announcement in a joint statement. (Las Vegas translation: They have to play nice in public.)

Here’s the entire statement, as there’s not a lot of other information about this sudden change of course at Palms.

“Red Rock Resorts, Inc. and Tao Group announced today that they have jointly agreed to terminate the agreements previously entered into by the parties in connection with the dayclub/nightclub and a restaurant that are scheduled to open around the end of the first quarter in 2019 at the Palms Casino Resort. The terms of the agreements are confidential, but no payment will be required of either party under the agreements.”

Palms

This marquee came down as part of the Palms overhaul, probably in an attempt to make us openly weep.

Crazy, right?

Palms has been trumpeting its partnership with Tao Group for some time now, and a substantial investment has already been made in the nightclub space.

The 29,000-square-foot nightclub will presumably move forward at Palms, just without Tao Group as a partner.

Tao was also slated to bring its Vandal restaurant brand to Palms. The original Vandal has been a trendy smash in New York City, and was highly-anticipated in Las Vegas.

Tao Group

It’s pronounced “dow,” no matter how many people insist upon mispronouncing it.

So, that’s all the hard news about this turn of events. The rest is mostly conjecture, and our usual sources are being tight-lipped about the divorce between Palms and Tao, although it’s fairly obvious it was due to “irreconcilable differences.”

There’s a chance Tao got cold feet. Palms is in the midst of a $620 million makeover, and Tao was going to play a significant part.

But Palms already has a nightclub, Apex Social Club. Sources tell us Apex has struggled since opening in the former Ghost Bar space. Reports are mixed about the hotel’s new steakhouse, Scotch 80 Prime.

Did Tao Group lose faith in the new “From Dust to Gold” direction of Palms? See more.

Palms dust to gold

Wasn’t this the plot of a James Bond movie?

Tao Group, of course, sold a majority interest to Madison Square Garden in 2017 for about $180 million. The Madison Square Garden Company has gained a higher profile in Las Vegas with the development of the Sphere at Venetian.

Is there a chance Las Vegas Sands, owner of the Venetian, wasn’t thrilled with Tao Group (and by extension, it’s Sphere partner) playing in somebody else’s sandbox?

There have also been rumblings related to Tao’s Marquee nightclub at Cosmopolitan (rumors it would close have been denied by Cosmopolitan and Tao reps) and Tao Beach at Venetian (we’ve heard its planned expansion was stalled until news of the Palms deal fell through).

We’ll keep poking around to see what we can dig up about what we’re sure is some juicy drama!

Unknown bar Palms

The new Unknown bar at Palms recently joined our list of offbeat Vegas photo ops.

At the moment, it seems Red Rock Resorts and Palms are in need of a dayclub/nightclub partner.

On the restaurant side, there’s no time to cry over spilled hot pretzel steak tartare, whatever that might be. Bottom line: There are tons of exciting new restaurant offerings in the works at Palms.

New concepts on the way include restaurants from Michael Symon (BBQ), Marc Vetri (Italian) and Bobby Flay (seafood). We’re literally getting hungry typing that sentence.

There’s also a new buffet, AYCE (All You Can Eat), a new cafe (Lucky Penny) and a new noodle bar (Send Noodles).

That’s just for starters. Check out our list of 22 New or Renovated Things Coming to Palms.

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina Knows How to Throw a Party

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina in Mandalay Place doesn’t tend to get a lot of ink, but it’s a go-to for many Vegas visitors looking for memorable food and drinks in a festive atmosphere.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

A great night out you’ll partially remember begins here.

While we’d heard of Hussong’s, we weren’t entirely sure what to make of the name, but we we fairly sure “Hussong” isn’t Mexican.

In fact, the founder of the original Hussong’s was John Hussong, a German. Hussong’s original cantina, in Ensenada dates back to 1892.

The Las Vegas Hussong’s opened in 2010 and has been putting livers to the test ever since.

Hussong's Cantina Mandalay Place

You’ll need to know this word in Spanish, “resaca.” You’re welcome.

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina’s claim to fame is it was allegedly where the margarita was invented, in 1941.

Nobody’s actually sure who made the first margarita, but we were damned well going to have one no matter who invented it.

Here’s the original margarita at Hussong’s.

Hussong's Cantina Las Vegas

It’s believed the margarita was based upon a popular Prohibition drink called the Daisy. Margarita is Spanish for “daisy.”

Naturally, there are quite a few variations of the margarita available. We’d like to say we remember the names, but margaritas.

There’s a small chance this is the Raspberita.

Hussong's

Ever see happiness in a glass? You have now.

An undeniable hit is the Bulldog. There’s not only a margarita of some sort involved, but also an inverted bottle of beer.

Even if you weren’t in the mood for a fiesta before you arrived at Hussong’s, the Bulldog is guaranteed to manhandle your maracas. Or something.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

Consider your Vegas vacation underway.

The frosty libations are certainly a big draw at Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, but the restaurant’s “sing-along rock ‘n’ roll Mariachi band” tends to steal the show.

While we are famously not a loud, live music person, the energy of the performers is infectious so we’ll give Hussong’s a pass.

Hussong's Las Vegas

This bigass guitar is called a “guitarron.” Please remember that as it will increase your appreciation of a joke coming up.

The mariachi band roams from table to table, lingering at tables with bachelorettes, of course. The band plays an eclectic mix of tunes, many of which are funny takes on pop hits. Lots of places in Vegas tout their “interactive” entertainment, but the mariachi band at Hussong’s actually delivers.

Hussong's

Trumpets began as signaling devices in battle or hunting and only later were used as musical instruments. Because you can never have too much information you’ll never, ever need.

The food at Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, described as “authentic Baja cuisine” is consistently satisfying.

We started out with a taco threesome. Hey, it’s Vegas.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina

Taco can mean wedge, plug ramrod, short or even billiard cue. It can also mean “those things we stuff into our face when we have the drunchies.”

Also tasty was the carne asada, Spanish for “At this point, we were so drunk, we’d have enjoyed a bite of a guitarron.

Told you you’d need to know what.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

The carne asada is a skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, mainly because you can’t not have fun if you say “chimichurri.”

See the full Hussong’s Mexican Cantina menu online.

Topping off the meal was the delicious fried ice cream.

There are nearly as many origin stories of fried ice cream as their are for margaritas, so let’s just say friend ice cream was invented by Saint Charles Borromeo, patron saint of big thighs.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

There are few things in life that cannot be improved by frying.

If you’re looking for a tranquil, low-key evening out in Las Vegas, Hussong’s Mexican Cantina isn’t it.

But if you’re looking for strong drinks, filling fare at a decent price and a raucous good time, include Hussong’s at Mandalay Bay part in your Las Vegas escapades.