SOUTH OF THE BORDER JACKPOT!
Seeing as Ensenada’s Hussong’s Cantina is a well-known rite of passage for most Southern Californians, it only makes sense that Las Vegas, which already has it’s own Eiffel Tower, Egyptian pyramid and Venice gondola, should have its own Cantina.
The original Hussong’s Cantina is credited with creating the margarita back in 1941 so it seemed like that was a perfect way to start our tasting adventure. A nice touch at the Vegas Hussong’s Cantina is that their margaritas only come on the rocks, mixed with tequila, Controy and lime over ice served in a salt-rimmed glass…it doesn’t get more refreshing that that. And make sure to give their mojito a try too; it’s prepared with tequila instead of rum.
Located at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place the same authentic Baja cuisine featured south of the border can be found here too. In fact, the authenticity and the vibe of the original watering hole is a large component of the Vegas outpost with numerous exact replicas decorating the walls.
But lets get to the food already. Zesty chips & salsa for starters and their homemade guacamole is a good addition too. Their Sopes, corn masa dough boats with your choice of pulled chicken, carnitas, or steak along with Mexican toppings, are highly recommended. Do yourself a favor and order these. Delicious!
Another must is the Elote Plazero, grilled white corn brushed with mayo butter and covered with cotija cheese. This is just like you’ll find sold on the street corners of Mexico City. I’m sure this isn’t the healthiest item on the menu but it is ever so savory. Come on, if you find yourself in Vegas with an original margarita in hand, you might as well go all the way and have one of these too. The treadmill will always be waiting for you afterwards.
The Queso Fundido, fondue of Mexican cheeses, refried beans and your choice of chorizo or wild mushroom mix is a hearty appetizer worth trying.
And while the Albondiga Soup was standard fare, the Pozole Soup, Guajillo/tomato broth, pulled pork, hominy, onion and cilantro is another must-have item. This is as close to excellent home cooking as you’re gong to find in Vegas.
The Shrimp Stuffed Fried Avocado Salad, Romaine lettuce, Hussong’s shrimp-stuffed avocado, pico de gallo, hominy, tomatillo / avocado dressing, may have you scratching your head when you see it on the menu but it is also worth tasting. I’ve never dreamed of deep-frying an avocado but this would be well received at any county fair. Good stuff.
Known for its assortment of fine tacos we were practically salivating when our taco sampler made its way to our table. Fish taco, shrimp taco, chicken taco, carne asada taco, carnitas taco, birria taco (traditional pulled goat meat), and lobster taco…oh my! Can you say sensory overload? The fish and birria tacos are highly recommended. I felt the chicken, carne asada, and carnitas tacos were too bland for my taste buds but that might have something to do with me being raised in L.A. having access to incredibly spicy food since I was old enough to say “picante.” Considering all the travelers who go to Vegas it only makes sense that you do have make everything palatable to all types.
And if that wasn’t enough, the pièce de résistance came with our final two entrees, the Enchiladas Suizas, chicken rolled enchiladas served with creamy tomatillo sauce, sour cream, cotija cheese, and watercress salad, is first rate, but the Grilled Half Chicken, cooked open fire style with membrillo/tamarind glaze, sweet corn mashed potatoes and Oaxacan green pipian, is out of this world. This is another must-have dish. This pipian even rivals Mom’s home cocking and that’s a compliment you just can’t bestow on anyone. This was a sure-fire favorite at the table.
We passed on dessert, perhaps it was because we were ready to burst at the seams, or maybe because I wanted to utilize whatever little space my stomach would allow for more tequila. Definitely do try a shot or two of the Fortaleza Blanco Tequila. Cheers! We may have gone overboard but that’s what you do on vacation in Vegas, right? At least that’s what I was telling myself.
Hussong’s Cantina is open from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m., seven days a week.
Hussongs Cantina Taqueria
3930 Las Vegas Blvd South #121B
Las Vegas, NV 89119
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