If you’re waiting for one amazing restaurant to land in Downtown Las Vegas and redefine our most talked-about neighborhood’s landscape, give it up. It’s not gonna happen that way. If Downtown dining is to reach the next level, it will be through a collective, competitive effort—casinos will renovate and reinvigorate, local restaurateurs will take risks with new ideas, and outsiders will jump in for a piece of the pie. It could be interesting to watch, and hopefully to eat.
Two new venues from proven operators recently opened their doors to an increasingly hungry public, and both are welcome additions. Just off East Fremont, Michael and Jenna Morton bring La Comida, while over in Art Square, the group behind the popular Mexican restaurant Mundo has expanded with Mingo Kitchen & Lounge.
- La Comida
- 100 Sixth St., 463-9900.
- Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
- Mingo Kitchen & Lounge
- 1017 S. First St. #180, 685-0328.
- Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Mexican is the only cuisine Downtown already has in spades with Mundo, Casa Don Juan, El Sombrero and more. But La Comida is different, elevating food and drink beyond the hole-in-the-wall standard in a casual, bustling, often loud setting. The building has been here forever, and the restaurant’s thoughtfully assembled décor looks like it has been, too; the Mortons wisely decided not to over-polish the place. La Comida feels like a colorful old cantina you’d see in a movie, a place made for drinking tequila. You should do that here, tasting your way through a wide selection of margaritas ($9 to $19) ranging from prickly pear and passion fruit to the charmingly spicy Siempre Caliente ($13), made with Chamucos Blanco, house sour mix and hot sauce.
Some have said the prices are a bit high at La Comida, but they’re comparable to Mundo or Summerlin’s new Dos Caminos. Considering La Comida is attempting to bring that type of diner to East Fremont, the numbers makes sense. Appetizers include huevos rancheros and queso fundido (both $11) or Mexican street corn with chile lime butter ($8). There are salads and ceviches, taco plates and a hamburger with ancho chiles, avocado and Oaxacan cheese. My favorite dishes are puerco ahumado ($15), chunks of smoked pork shoulder in a deep red chile sauce, and the totally shareable huarache ($11), a fried masa disc covered in beans and roasted vegetables.
It would be easy to assume that Mingo is another Mexican kitchen, as the compact menu at this hip lounge and patio spot is created by Mundo chef/partner Robert Solano. But the food here is more of a refined take on bar bites with a little Latin flair. Share edamame, sliders, spicy sriracha wings or béchamel-laced mac and cheese, or order your own bacon-wrapped hot dog, steak salad ($16) or honey-glazed mahi mahi ($18). Everything I sampled at Mingo was executed nicely, especially dark beer-battered fish and chips ($10) and an open-faced fried egg sandwich ($12) on brioche with fontina and Gruyère cheeses, bacon, avocado and arugula. Mingo’s potent drinks ($12-$13) are explicitly named, except for the Alien Mule, which is made with tequila and agave nectar produced by a booze company also owned by the Mundo partners.
Both of these new eateries are perfect jump-off spots for a night of carousing, which is how the new Downtown works: There’s not a single destination, restaurant or otherwise, that you must visit now. The fun sum of Downtown is what you shouldn’t miss.