It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
While it doesn’t compare to UFC Gladiator or Construction Worker, being a food critic can be demanding. This is especially true of Las Vegas, which has restaurants of all specialties and price ranges, from glitzy palaces on the Strip to easy-to-miss neighborhood hangouts.
These challenges didn’t deter an intrepid group of the city’s top restaurant critics who brought out Desert Companion magazine’s annual restaurant awards. They were announced this week, and the judges stated that a food revolution was unleashed in Las Vegas this year.
“From hidden corners of Chinatown to suburban shopping malls to the upscale citadels of The Strip, 2016 was a year of culinary revolutions,” write the judges. “Some restaurants pursued uncompromising purity and simplicity. others poured their energies into whimsical, diluted inventions; Still others practiced a principled devotion to great food that appeals to real people. “
Published by Nevada Public Radio, the magazine devotes 15 pages to the best of the restaurant scene in southern Nevada. It is available at Jamba Juice, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Libraries, as well as online.
About the Las Vegas Restaurant Revolution:
Food critic John Curtas:
“We’re slowly starting to see the stripe’s stranglehold relax.”
“After all, these young chefs and some of them we mentioned in Desert Companion get their money’s worth.”
As a good restaurant critic:
“You have to know why something is good or bad, not just whether it is good or bad.”
Foodwriter Jim Begley:
“You have to love food. You have to love restaurants. You have to be willing to track down those places that are not necessarily visible to the public. “
If you know a good restaurant:
“They are looking for early signs that someone really cares about what they do.”
“Watch what they do with a simple roast chicken or a simple chicken dish. The way it is presented is that it is crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. Do you put on the plate and compose the plate? Even a simple restaurant can do really well a chicken breast if it takes a minute or two more to get it right. ”
“Almost the first indication of whether or not I’m in a good restaurant when I go to a place that is completely blind: homemade salad dressing … if a place makes its salad dressings 9 times out of 10 in the house, I can guarantee you, it will be a decent meal. ”
About alternative suggestions for El Sombrero:
“If you’re looking for truly authentic Mexican food in town, head down East Lake Mead Blvd. Hit these little taquerias on a Saturday afternoon. Los Mocajetes is right on East Lake Mead. My favorite place from last year: El Menudazo “
What makes a good steakhouse:
“Steak starts with the steak itself. It’s the meat itself … New York and Las Vegas have the best steakhouses in the country, and they get the best meat. You get this top notch meat. Then they age it. It’s not just about throwing a steak on the grill. It’s about how you flavor it. How to get the right crust. How you trim. There is a lot in a great steak. ”
Why Green Valley / Henderson doesn’t have the choice of local restaurants like Summerlin:
“It has to do with property values and what the district commission did. As they crossed the backbone of Eastern Ave. Corridors laid out, they practically assured, as they split those lots, that all of these lots would be big subdivisions aimed at big ticket franchises, and that’s exactly what kills the kind of organic private restaurants about you speak ”
“I strongly recommend hitting Standard and Pour. Standard and Pour is a great locally owned venue and they do pretty creative stuff up there. “
“And Bratalian and kitchen table. There are some, but they are swimming against the current. “
From Desert Companion: Dining Guide