Las Vegas Weekly

March 6, 2014

Las Vegas Weekly

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It's genius, really; a terriic chicken taquito— savory and tender inside and delightfully crunchy outside—is pretty similar to Vietnamese cha gio, crispy fried spring rolls. So why not treat it the same? El Segundo Sol serves its taquitos with fresh lettuce leaves to wrap around the cylindrical treasures, and a spicy, slightly sour, citrus-y dipping sauce. Let the new dimensions of lavor abound. For all its greatness, the Fashion Show mall is still just a mall, which means you shouldn't expect better Mexican food than Chipotle. But El Segundo Sol catches you of guard. The taco-centric menu is minimal, with each dish executed faithfully, and the salsas are fantastic. If you're brave, ask for the roasted habañero version and deinitely the "Chuy" sauce, named for the chef who created it: fried serrano peppers, fried garlic and olive oil. See? More lavor. –Brock Radke 50 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM MARCH 612, 2014 VIVA MERCADO'S BY SPENCER BURTON; EL SEGUNDO SOL BY L.E. BASKOW A& E | FOOD HALFPRICE HECHO MGM's new spot has a happy hour worth your time Hecho en Vegas, the newly opened restaurant in the space formerly occupied by Diego, marks a collaboration between Tucson's Flores family—which claims to operate the country's oldest, continuously run Mexican restaurant, El Charro Café—and MGM Grand. The remodeled space, in the back of the casino's restaurant district, feels more inviting, beckoning you in to hear mariachi bands and enjoy happy hour activity. And what a killer happy hour it is: All appetizers are half-price, so you can decide between short rib taquitos ($6), tres quesos fundido—a gooey, charred combination of Oaxacan, blanco and asasdero cheeses—and the chimichanga experience ($6), highlighting the Tex-Mex favorite purportedly invented by El Charro's founder in 1922. Best of all are the Hecho Wings ($7), a Mexican ri on chicken wings. Frenched for easy handling, the wings come prepared in either prickly pear barbecue or 702 sauce. The prickly pear is well- balanced with a hint of sweetness, while the 702 is mind-numbingly scorching. I personally like dunking my prickly pear wings into the outrageously addictive chipotle ranch. Should you really be eating chicken wings in a Mexican joint? When they're this good, why not? –Jim Begley A chile relleno is a thing of beauty if done well, and Viva Mercado's has been serving its beautifully simple version for years. "It's been our calling card," co-owner Bobby Mercado says. "We really introduced the authentic one here, because everybody else was using Anaheim peppers. But the Pob- lano is the true chile relleno." In his kitchen, they roast the pepper to mellow its acid and heat and bring out its earthy, smoky nature, stuff it with Monterey Jack cheese and lightly fry its savory egg batter coating. Most restau- rants make it too crispy or too soggy; this one is right on the money. Because Mercado and his family are steadfast—and maybe because Las Vegas demands it—this relleno has returned. Viva Mercado's reopened at Village Square in November after Mercado, who had relocated to Minnesota after going broke trying to keep his former location alive on Rainbow Boulevard, struck a deal with the owners of the fledgling Chinita restaurant operating there. It seems like the right fit for both Village Square, which has been adding popular restaurants to its movie theater-anchored center in recent years, and Viva Mercado's, which maintains a strong local following. (It had 17 solid years in its original location at Flamingo Road and Jones Boulevard before moving to Rainbow in 2007.) Mercado said it seems like an old customer finds the new location every day, a reassuring sign that maybe the economic factors that drowned his business are brighten- ing up. There are still not many family-friendly, full-service Mexican restaurants in this area, and even fewer with a menu as big as Viva Mercado's. All the staples are here, from enchilada- style burritos to Enseñada-style fish tacos, but there are plenty of signature items cre- ated by Mercado or his chef of 28 years, Jose Rodriguez. Chicken mulitas ($14.95), soft corn tortillas layered with beans, cheese, meat, cab- bage, guacamole and sour cream, are another simple joy. The seafood taco salad ($10.95) incorporates a ceviche of shrimp, crab and tilapia, and the sharp flavors saturating the chicharrones ($14.95) come from salsa costeña, laced with garlic, tomatillos and amarillo pep- pers, a bright contrast to the rich chunks of crisp pork. If you like sticking to combination plates in this type of Mexican restaurant, Viva Mercado's is a terrific place. Great tacos, great enchiladas … just make sure to tack on a relleno. REAPPEARING ACT Local favorite Viva Mercado's inds new life at Village Square BY BROCK RADKE VIVA MERCADO'S 9440 W. Sahara Ave. #165, 4548482. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. EL S EGUNDO SOL Fashion Show, 2581211. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. TAQUITO EVOLUTION HECHO EN VEGAS MGM Grand, 8913200. Sunday- Thursday, 510 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 511 p.m. > GO FISH Viva Mercado's seafood taco salad packs lavor inside its crispy exterior. > Bandera-style chimichanga 50_Food_1_20140306_CB.indd 50 3/5/14 2:42 PM

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