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Posted by on Apr 6, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Restaurant Reviews | 2 comments

Las Vegas Take-Out Reviews

 

Yassou Las Vegas

 

TAKE-OUT REVIEWS (LAS VEGAS WEST WIDE)

Here are my thoughts on the best take-out spots on the West Side of Las Vegas. I’m also including places that weren’t so good.

This list is by no means complete. It’s limited to the places I’ve tried in the last few months. Note that I am *not* a take-out enthusiast. I almost never did take-out nor fast food before this crisis. So, this whole ordeal is somewhat new to me.

THE BEST:

Flower Child (Charleston and Ft. Apache) — Outstanding quality, healthy food. Build your own platter options, all very tasty. Recommend the protein plus two side dishes for $12. Call in or order online and pick up inside. Social distancing strictly enforced indoors. Lunch and dinner served in very convenient circular take-out containers. All around, a positive experience. Also recommended: Forbidden Rice ($12)

Blaze Pizza (Hulapai and Sahara) — Fast. Easy. Cheap. For $9 you can build your own pizza, and it comes out exactly as you’d get it inside the store in a sit-down setting. Pizza travels well in a box, so there’s that. Online ordering was easy, just check the boxes on toppings your want (unlimited) and the price is the same. For $9 you can’t lose on a fresh, hot pizza. Must go inside to pick up was the only minor grievance.

Zaytoon (Durango and Twain) — This is one of the few take-out places I frequent regularly. Consistently good. $12 gets you the Koobedeh platter (spiced ground beef), rice, tomato, onions, and add a small salad for $5 and you’re all set. Family-run Iranian restaurant. Small kitchen. But fast and reliable. Must go inside to pick up. Served in styrofoam box which is no-frills, but can’t complain about the food, so this gets a high mark from me.

Nittaya Secret Kitchen (Fort Apache and Lake Mead) — This is one of my favorite Thai spots, been here close to 100 times. But this was my first take-out from them. Food travels pretty well, some items better than others. Curbside pick up is very convenient. 20 percent discount on all orders (I think, if memory serves). Sadly, some people might be dissuaded from trying Asian food at this time, which is a whole another discussion. But Nataya is always reliable. To the best of my knowledge, they are doing their entire menus as take-out.

Yassou (Charleston and Buffalo) — Very good Greek take-out with curbside. Excellent quality platters with meat, rice, salad, and pita bread all-inclusive for about $12. Solid. Never a disappointing meal here and take-out is every bit as good as dining inside.

AVERAGE:

Carrabas Italian Grill (Charleston across from Boca Park) — So-so on food quality and pricing. In their favor, pick-up at curbside is very convenient. One notable exception is the Mama Leone’s Chicken Soup. If you can get portions of that in a takeout bowl (which we did), that alone is worth the trip. Very good spicy chicken soup. The rest of the menu seems pricy and not worth it.

Bonefish Grill (Charleston across from Boca Park) — Family meals are on special; $38 for a meal with a main course, side dish, bread, and cookies which is a decent value. Unfortunately, selections are limited to only about five items. Wife liked them a lot. I thought they were average. Walk up to take-ut window is mandatory. In their favor, Bonefish currently has a “buy $50 gift card and get $25 free” promotion, which basically makes all the orders 33 percent off. I could have listed them in the “best” category if the take-out food and options were better. Nonetheless, they might be worth trying.

Marie Callender’s (Sahara and Cimarron) — They have a family meal bundle where they give you a free pie, which is pretty good. Food is bland but hamburders are decent.  Reasonable cost, and very convenient. Can’t believe I’m touting Marie Callender’s. Man, times are getting tough.

NOT RECOMMENDED:

Lucille’s (Green Valley/Henderson) — Since the Red Rock store is closed, I ordered from Green Valley and did the curbside pick-up. Didn’t seem busy, but there was still a 90-minute wait on all take out orders. Curbside seems convenient but isn’t. Poor food runner has to go back and forth inside getting extras and making change, delaying the process. Food (barbecue) is typically good here but lost some quality in the take-out experience. Cannot recommend.

Olive Garden (Summerlin on Town Center) — People know I bash Olive Garden as garbage Americanized Chef-Boyardee “Italian” fare, but for the money, you get what you deserve and the prices are reasonable. Tried the lunch one afternoon and the food was horrific. Frozen meals microwaved are much better (I’m not exaggerating — the Italian frozen bag meals at Trader Joes far outclassed Olive Garden). Rubbery noodles. Tasteless sauce. No frills standards. Boring as hell. Cold breadsticks may not be their fault, but this food doesn’t travel well, either. I won’t go here again.

Sonic (Drive-In — Multiple Locations) — No, I didn’t go here, but I found it interesting they seem to be packed every time I drive by. Perhaps it’s the easy drive-up car-hop style of eating that attracts customers. I think most of their food is crap (been perhaps a dozen times over the last 15 years), and I don’t like trays (do they wash them between servings?) and kids touching my food. Just seems like a risk to me, but maybe this is no worse/risky than any other restaurant. I don’t know. Open to persuasion if people think drive-ins are a good idea at this time.

Krispy Kreme (Drive-Thru — Multiple Locations) — Don’t even get me started.

This review is pretty limited because I haven’t done many to-go places. I welcome others who may want to post their own “best” and “worst” take-out spots. Since we might be on lockdown for weeks or perhaps even months, hopefully exchanging this information will be helpful. Please also note that I’m aware the best way to protect oneself is to stay inside and cook. We do plenty of that, too.

ALMOST FORGOT:

Parsley (Tropicana and Fort Apache) — Israeli-owned place that is outstanding. Metal containers make food travel well. Make your own Mediterranean dish for $9-12. Excellent food quality and extensive menu. Must pick up inside. they have counter that makes everything on the spot. Their pita is boring, but that’s a minor complaint. Also. I’m not fond of their sides, but main dishes are wonderful.

 

JOIN THE DISCUSSION ON FACEBOOK HERE.

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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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