Year in yum: Jim Begley’s 13 favorite dishes of 2013

Hakkasan’s crispy duck salad was one of the top new dishes of the year.

1. Bacon-wrapped bone-in pork chop at Comme Ça Like a Möbius strip, swine intertwines swine in this endless outpouring of bacon-y goodness. Laid atop charred Romaine salad with subtle blue cheese, it’s an epiphany. Cosmopolitan, 698-7910.

2. Short rib rice at Fat Choy Picking my favorite of chef Sheridan Su’s offerings is difficult, so I’ll go with the entrée I’m inexorably drawn to, where pickled greens skillfully offset short rib richness. Eureka Casino, 794-3464.

3. Gyro at Great Greek Take it from a native; in a town full of Chicago expats, this is simply Las Vegas’ best rendition for anyone clamoring for a taste of home. 1275 W. Warm Springs Road, 547-2377.

4. “Little Piggy” deviled eggs at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill This dish exemplifies Ramsay’s twist on typical pub fare—smoked bacon and Welsh cheddar provide smoky, sharp flavors. Kudos, Gordon. Caesars Palace, 731-7410.

5. Tostones con queso at Doña Norma This nondescript Nicaraguan restaurant serves sweet plantains and deep-fried cheese triangles reminiscent of curds. It’s a side dish that begs to be ordered on its own. 1122 S. Maryland Parkway, 385-7309.

The Great Greek serves Jim Begley's favorite gyro in town.

6. Avocado kale Caesar salad at Pub 1842 Why order a salad at a pub? Because this creamy, sharp riff on the standard Caesar is probably as good as it gets. MGM Grand, 891-3922.

7. Crispy duck salad at Hakkasan Tossed tableside, rich, crispy meat mingles with pomelo, pine nuts and pomegranate atop leafy greens for a symphony of textures and flavor contrasts almost as majestic as the room itself. MGM Grand, 891-7888.

8. Mtabal baba ghanoush at Khoury’s Accompanied by fluffy, baked-to-order pita, this app is a meal unto itself. Pronounced, roasted flavors will linger long after you’ve finished. 6115 S. Fort Apache Road, 671-0005.

9. Black peppered albacore at Sen of Japan Lightly seared and served atop enoki mushrooms with a garlic butter sauce, this fish dish is both subtle and robust, not to mention infinitely craveable. 8480 W. Desert Inn Road, 871-7781.

10. Chilaquiles at Nosh & Swig I love ordering off-menu, and you should, too. This secret is a swirl of spicy cheesiness as authentic as it is delicious. 3620 E. Flamingo Road, 456-6674.

Doña Norma serves its <em>tostones con queso</em> as a side with a skewer of crisp pork and a garlicky rice and bean mixture.

Doña Norma serves its tostones con queso as a side with a skewer of crisp pork and a garlicky rice and bean mixture.

11. Cachapa con queso at Viva Las Arepas A sweet corn patty stuffed with gooey cheese? Yes, please. Owner Felix Arellano should consider renaming his place Viva Las Cachapas. 1616 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 366-9696.

12. Chicken skin BBQ at Cafe de Cebu Widely recognized for its lechon, Cafe de Cebu serves smoky, skewered chicken skin that might deserve more accolades. If it’s available, order it. 6680 W. Flamingo Road, 538-7588.

13. Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese at Aces & Ales This comfort-food pinnacle melds buffalo sauce-doused chicken tenders with mozzarella and blue cheeses for just the right kick. 2801 N. Tenaya Way, 638-2337; 3740 S. Nellis Blvd., 436-7600.

Tags: Dining
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Jim Begley

Jim Begley is an avid food lover who began writing about his Las Vegas dining adventures to defray his obscene ...

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