The Downtown culinary movement is picking up momentum. MTO Café is the neighborhood’s latest contender, but there’s a twist; most new Downtown restaurants are near the epicenter of Fremont East, while MTO is to the southwest, oddly situated in the City Hall parking garage. Don’t let that dissuade you from a visit. The place is worth seeking out.
Head chef Johnny Church bounces between MTO and RM Seafood on the Strip, so it’s not surprising MTO isn’t open for dinner. Though the menu is concise, choosing between breakfast and lunch can be a Herculean task. On the breakfast front, Church gets creative with the bacon pancake dippers ($11)—fluffy, elongated flapjacks with crispy bacon innards served with a peppercorn maple syrup. Don’t overlook the mash browns, mashed potato-stuffed hash browns. Crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, they’re a novel take on the ubiquitous breakfast side, so good you might find yourself ordering them for lunch.
Lunch-wise, I’m thankful that the Thanksgiving burger ($14)—an open-faced turkey patty on truffle “stuffing” with orange-cranberry sauce—is available year-round. And I’m ready to proclaim MTO’s Hangover Burger ($13) not only Downtown’s best, but one of the entire Las Vegas Valley’s top burgers. Eggs may be the burger accoutrement du jour, but MTO’s are not to be missed, cooked over-medium, providing flavor without undue messiness along with bacon and an addictive special sauce.
If you’re not in a burger mood, the Queso Carne ($12), Church’s avant-garde cheesesteak, combines skirt steak and red wine onions slathered with cheddar, American and Monterey Jack sauce. (The menu says it’s Velveeta, but it’s so much more.) And the grilled cheese ($11) gracefully melds Pahrump honey with Brie and toasted walnuts on buttery brioche. Even the lightly dressed side salad of mixed greens was well done.
This place is already a hit with the City Hall crowd, so if you’re looking for a more relaxing visit, drop in on a Friday when city employees are out of the office. Come for breakfast. Stay for lunch.
MTO Café 500 S. Main St., 380-8229 Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.