The 20 Best Happy Hours in Las Vegas: #19 — Leticia’s Mexican Cantina (Tivoli Village)
Mi Casa es Tu Casa!
From the onset, restaurants and boutiques at Tivoli Village weathered a devastating financial crisis with mixed results. Some businesses opened their doors and failed quickly. Others survived and ultimately prospered as economic times improved. Tivoli Village’s most notable restaurant successes have included Cafe Leone, Brio, Echo & Rig, and — to no one’s surprise who’s dined there before — Leticia’s.
Now boosted by a loyal clientele and nearly a decade of positive reviews combined with word-of-mouth buzz, Leticia’s has established a cozy niche for itself. In a city teeming with mediocre Mexican restaurants, this family-owned treasure is run by Leticia herself and ranks as a standout. Every menu item is made fresh from scratch and is crafted with great care. That sounds like a canned statement, but it’s not. The kitchen’s attention to detail is extraordinary, especially given Leticia’s stunningly affordable prices. There are bargains galore for lunch ($8 full platters). Happy Hour specials are even more affordable ($3-5). Anything on this menu served down on The Strip would cost at least twice as much, not counting the charge for parking.
Leticia’s is open for both lunch and dinner, with continuous service from 11 am until 10 pm. The inner decor is both appealing and comfortable. The restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating (in a large garden-like setting, shaded by trees in the late afternoon). However, the outdoor section is best enjoyed during the spring and fall when the weather is most pleasant.
Indeed, while the atmosphere earns a high grade, we come to Leticia’s for the food. The official website boasts: “Mexican food is prepared as if her own mother had prepared it from all fresh products, most importantly: Never using canned or processed food or never using yellow cheese! Your salsas and guacamole are always prepared to order and made fresh each day.”
We’ve dined at Leticia’s many times over the years — which has always been a satisfying experience. Let me repeat how amazing the value of lunches are served here, available between 11-3 on weekdays, and priced between $7 and 13. Dinner choices are considerably more extravagant and hearty, but I never felt slighted by the smaller portions at lunchtime. Quality and care remain the same.
Leticia is originally from Mexico City, so this isn’t your usual Tex-Mex border fare. Most dishes can be described as Continental Mexican. Oh, and there’s a special breakfast menu available anytime. My only complaint with Leticia’s menu is — there’s almost way too much to choose from. Hence, I’ll wager most who try out this place will make repeated visits and become regular guests.
The Happy Hour schedule is a masterstroke of genius. Standard restaurant Happy Hours typically run 4-6 pm, or sometimes 4-7 pm. The earliest Happy Hour around town I’ve seen starts at 3 pm. Early birds like us have been orphaned and don’t seem to fit in anywhere. By kicking off their Happy Hour at 2 pm, Leticia’s is clearly going after that often-ignored midday late lunch crowd which likes to eat smack dab in the middle of the afternoon. Convict me guilty as charged. Judging by several tables being seated promptly at 2 pm when we first arrived, our peculiarities aren’t so strange, after all.
One of my favorite dishes at Leticia’s is the empanadas. We enjoyed empanadas for the first time on a visit to Argentina many years ago. They’re still relatively hard to find in the U.S., so when we see them that’s an automatic order for us. Marieta made empanadas at home a few times, which were absolutely delicious. But making them (correctly) by deep frying a pastry dough into a flaky crust after being stuffed with a filling is somewhat labor intensive. They’re really hit or miss. Leticia’s offers two varieties of empanadas, a large dinner portion (for $15) a lunch portion ($9) and a smaller Happy Hour portion, which costs just $3. Try these. You’ll be hooked.
Critiquing each of the menu items we’ve tried over the years would take far more time and space than needed. Everything we’ve ordered has been either good or great. Also, check out the daily specials, which really are unusual and seem right out of a home kitchen. Another interesting feature is a “singles night.” I haven’t attended, for obvious reasons. But it shows Leticia’s really does offer some outlier events and attractions.
As for the Happy Hour, every item is either priced at $3 or $5. That’s no typo. Also, you don’t have to sit in the bar or at one of those awful hightop tables. Happy Hour applies throughout the restaurant, which (again) make Leticia’s far more customer friendly than most restaurants trying to attract an early crowd.
Our most recent Happy Hour visit on a Tuesday included two mini-empanadas, two orders of quesadillas, two margaritas on the rocks — all for $23 with tax, plus a generous $10 tip. We also received multiple baskets of fresh tortilla chips with three complimentary salsas. Everything — including four menu items, chips and salsa, two cocktails, tax and tip…..came to $33. What a steal! I was full for the next six hours.
Each restaurant review I write must include something I think could be improved. Allow me to suggest the house margaritas are very average. First, I’m not a fan of the awkward tipsy glass, which is top heavy and hard to handle. Many Mexican restaurants serve margaritas in this shape of glass which I think its a mistake. Please everyone — switch to the regular highball glass! As for contents, I wasn’t impressed with the $5 Happy Hour cocktail. There wasn’t anything particularly wrong with it. But given how outstanding everything else was on the menu, the margaritas were somewhat disappointing. Just to make sure I wasn’t wrong, I ordered and drank two — so as to be sure.
Average margaritas aside, Leticia’s serves outstanding food, for a baragain price, and is a comfortable and fun place to hang out. Service has always been outstanding. This isn’t just one of the best Happy Hours places in Las Vegas. Leticia’s is also one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city.
View LETICIA’S MENU here.
To learn more about Leticia’s (Tivoli Village), please visit their website here.