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Posted by on Mar 3, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

Big B’s Texas Barbecue (Review)

 

 

 

BIG B TEXAS BARBECUE (REVIEW)

Big B Texas Barbecue is located on the far south side of Las Vegas. It’s adjacent to South Hills Medical Center on Fort Apache. It took over the Chef Jose Andres spot (which I loved) after the french bistro closed down last year. It’s also a few doors down from where Khoury’s (Lebanese) used to be before they relocated to Village Square.

Las Vegas is stacked with several average-to-good barbecue joints. Most are serviceable. Barbecue is either hit or miss, with not much in-between, but can be great comfort food. I’ve tried most of them here in town.

Big B appears to be independently run (I did no research on this, so some things might be incorrect). It’s one of those old-fashioned open-air kitchen places with giant slabs of pork and beef, with a standing line where customers order over the counter. Meals are served on wax paper on plastic trays. The whole place smells like smoke. This is probably ideal for the neighborhood and is a quick take out, though plenty of tables are available for dining in.

The barbecue was very good. I’d rate it 8/10. We enjoyed a platter of smoked ribs, pork, and brisket. Platters come with two sides and are priced around $10-15. Quality was a high thumbs up.

Where I think Big B missed the target was entirely a matter of personal taste. I don’t like hoagie rolls and that’s how sandwiches are served. I much prefer a butter crusted shiny bun, lightly toasted. Hoagies are cold, doughy, and are simply too much bread for the barbecue. I don’t like hoagies. But hey, that’s me.

I was also unimpressed with the sauces. Big B offers sweet, mustard, and spicey. I found out the sauces are all homemade, which I appreciate. Unfortunately, none of the three were the right match for my taste. I’m far more inclined towards a Worcestershire flavor with a thick ketchup-like texture. These house sauces didn’t work for me and given how vital moisture is to a mix of mead and bread, this was a strikeout. I stress, my tastes might be different from yours. Others might like Big B’s hoagies and homemade sauces.

The sweet barbecue beans were also annoying, but this too is a matter of personal taste. I don’t like sweet food, certainly not on my barbecue, but others may disagree.

Big B’s was busy during my lunch visit. It appears to be doing well.

Let me add that I hope Big B’s succeeds. A man I presume was the owner came by and was very attentive. He brought us silverware, re-fills, and genuinely enjoyed his role as host. I like “hands-on” ownership and admire people who pay attention to details. I only wish I could give Big B’s a higher recommendation.

Unfortunately, my criticism of this authentic Texas barbecue joint was entirely based on my own tastes and expectations. Others might have different ideas. So, I don’t want to dissuade anyone from trying this place, at least once.

Final grade: This wasn’t suited to my tastes, but you might think otherwise. The quality of meat and hands-on ownership alone is enough to make at least one visit worthwhile.

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Posted by on Jan 14, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

Restaurant Review: Hafez Persian Cuisine (Las Vegas)

 

 

RESTAURANT REVIEW:
HAFEZ PERSIAN CUISINE (LAS VEGAS)

I’ve enjoyed Persian (Iranian) cuisine for more than 30 years. Ever since I ordered my very first Koobideh, the authentic preparations from that part of the world have me completely hooked.

Persian food often gets miscategorized as Lebanese, Turkish, Armenian, and even Greek. Indeed, some of the dishes and many of the basic ingredients are very similar to other nations in the area. However, Persian food, which dates back many centuries, is distinct for its glorious mix of spices and flavors, meticulous preparation and attention to detail, and a few odd ingredients specific to the land which is now Iran.

Las Vegas has half a dozen or so decent Persian restaurants. Zaytoon’s within walking distance of my home, has been a family staple for more than a decade. Shiraz, on Decatur, is also very good. Now, let’s add Hafez to that list of dependable, delicious, and affordable restaurants.

Owned by a family that immigrated to the US many years ago (their photo hangs on the wall and they work in the restaurant), the location is somewhat the outlier. Hafez is smack dab in the middle of Chinatown, which means it’s easy to miss and not so easy to find. But the search and journey is well worth it.

On Monday, Marieta and I enjoyed the house lunch special which is offered 7 days a week. Koobideh (and other items) are complete and sell for only $9.95. What a steal. Marieta added an Aush soup, as well, and noted it was the best she’s tried since Royal Persis (LV’s first Persian establishment, now closed). The soup was plenty large (easily enough to share).

Hafez, named for a 14th Century Persian poet, is a spotless restaurant. The decor is modern and tastefully done. Large television screens with visuals of nature and animal life compliment a bright room that is open and airy. Modern Middle Eastern music was playing during our visit, which was just the right volume and vibe. There’s also a bakery connected to the restaurant. Everything is made in-house.

Dinner prices are about one expects from the typical Mediterranean establishment in Las Vegas. Main entres are priced in the $12-20 range. This makes the lunch special quite a bargain (same food for essentially half the price, though the portion is smaller).

Hafez deserves a visit, especially if you enjoy Middle Eastern cuisine. And even if you don’t give Hafez a try. They merit a strong recommendation and deserve to succeed.

 

HAFEZ:  WEBSITE AND MENU HERE

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Posted by on Jan 10, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

Restaurant Review: Aroy Thai Kitchen (Las Vegas)

 

Pad Thai

 

AROY THAI KITCHEN

[On Ft. Apache, just north of Tropicana]

We discovered a new place yesterday, AROY which is right next to the beltway and Ft. Apache in a strip mall. Nothing fancy. Just a cheap and solid lunch spot.

Thai specials were $6.95 to $8.95 and include small soup, fresh Thai roll, lettuce, and entre of choice. Food was every bit as good as any casual Thai place — but super fast and affordable.

Marieta and I dined for $18.50 and left very satisfied.

Inside is clean, somewhat spartan, but real silverware, and amenities. It’s a bargain for the money.

When I used to travel all the time, Thai food was often my “go-to” road cuisine because rarely have I had a bad experience with Thai menus. Las Vegas is packed with cheap and good Thai restaurants. I really don’t need more choices, but do also like to step out and try new places, on occasion.

If you’re in the mood for good Thai food at a bargain price and live on the West Side, AROY is yet another solid recommendation.

Website:  Aroy Thai Kitchen

Note: I had the Pad Thai on my first and only visit. Marieta had the spare ribs, which were fall-off-the-bone delicious.  I’m returning there for lunch again today.

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Posted by on Jan 8, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 0 comments

Restaurant Review: Juan’s Flaming Fajitas & Cantina

 

juan's flaming fajitas las vegas

 

The difference in a good restaurant and a great restaurant can be summed up in one word:

DETAILS

It’s the details that matter. The small things. The little touches.

Flaming Fajita is a Tex-Mex restaurant on W. Tropicana. Marieta and I have dined here perhaps 20-25 times. The food is very good. The service is friendly. The prices are reasonable. It’s an above-average eatery in most ways.

But what makes Flaming Fajita great are the DETAILS.

Consider this complimentary sampler that comes when we sit down, at lunch no less, when prices are cheaper. The warm bottomless basket of chips, with three side dips. But the kicker is the slices jalapeno peppers with roasted onions on the side. Served without asking. Free of charge. To me, that’s class. That’s a bargain.

The lunch margarita is $3.99 — so what you are looking at in the photo (above) is essentially $3.99 worth of food. The Tuesday special is any TWO items off the menu, with rice and beans, for $11.95.

No, this isn’t the greatest Tex-Mex food I’ve tasted, though it’s always reliable and quite good. What makes me take 10 minutes out of my day is when I see a private establishment go out of their way to serve the customer and take pride in the presentation and value. So, let this post serve as my personal endorsement.

BTW, there is one other Flaming Fajita location, on Water Street in Henderson. I’ve had two people tell me that spot is even better than the westside location. But, I have never been there.

Glad to share what I think is one of the better lunch places in Las Vegas, especially if you reside on the west side (or in Henderson).

WEBSITE:  JUAN’S FLAMING FAJITAS & CANTINA

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Posted by on Jan 8, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 1 comment

Restaurant Review: Limoncello (Las Vegas)

 

Limoncello Restaurant (W. Sahara -- Las Vegas)

 

Las Vegas is a highly-competitive city for Italian fare. Fueled by transplants, retirement, and international exposure….quality, ambiance, and price varies widely. I’ve witnessed a dozen Italian restaurants open and close in this city. As soon as one goes out of business, another one down the block opens its doors.

I’ve been greatly anticipating the new Limoncello’s opening for months. It took over a mediocre Mexican-food restaurant location on West Sahara between Cimmaron and Durango, invested heavily in remodeling, and now looks every bit the stylish but traditional Italian eatery-bistro.

The building and decor are magnificent. The dining area is unusually spacious. The first impression was positive. I also liked the host asking if we preferred a table or a booth. Most seating staff doesn’t do this. So, let me give credit where it’s due.

I’ll also acknowledge the service and management did a very thorough job. Service was attentive — perhaps even too much so. On a few occasions, the table conversation was interrupted. I don’t like that. But, that’s a small detail and I’d rather see the waitstaff trying hard to please rather than mired with indifference.

Food quality was good.  Nothing exceptional.  But good.  Admittedly, I saw only three entres and tasted two, so my score of the food probably deserves a grade of “incomplete.”

Limoncello’s mistakes and misses were small, but gradually added up over the course of our 90-minute stay to the overall grade of disappointment:

— prices were a little high for a neighborhood eatery.
— chairs are terribly small and uncomfortable
— there’s no music in the restaurant [this might be considered a good thing by some, but it seemed very quiet on a night with perhaps 10 tables occupied in a 35-table (est.) restaurant].
— the waiter tried to take my guest’s plate away when she had plenty of food still on the platter. I don’t get the “rush” here, and this happens a lot in upscale restaurants. Please stop it.
— I ordered baked lasagne. The temperature was inconsistent. Lukewarm on one side. Piping hot on the other. This would be a non-issue if I paid $11. But for $18 (no frills, everything else ala carte), a poorly heated product is unacceptable.
— Food portions were small.
— Parmesan cheese, which is a standard accompaniment in any traditional Italian restaurant had to be requested. The cheese should have been delivered on the spot at the time of dinner presentation.
— Bread was peasant-style…very rustic. I presume this is a stab at authenticity. But the bread was a teeth breaker. Not good.

Bill for three came to $115 with tip. We shared on an appetizer, had three entres, and two Stella draft beers. That price would normally be in line with most upscale dining establishments that delivered on all fronts. But Limoncello missed too many checkmarks. I simply didn’t feel we got our money’s worth.

There are way too many good Italian places all over town to return. I hope Limoncello improves and eventually does well. I like having good restaurants in my neighborhood.

Unfortunately, I cannot recommend them.

 

LINK TO LIMONCELLO’S HERE

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