Poutine, the simple, fast-foodish plate of French fried potatoes with cheese curds and brown gravy that allegedly originated in Quebec, has taken over Las Vegas in recent months. This is both alarming (first signs of a Canadian invasion?) and reassuring (the most obviously delicious food ever?). Whether you’re scared or drooling, probably the best place to start your local poutine hunt is Smoke’s Poutinerie (Pawn Plaza, 702-823-4555), the first local installation of a popular Canadian chain. You don’t have to get the traditional version ($5-$11); you could get crazy and try the bacon-sausage-mushroom-caramelized onion poutine or the spicy chicken inferno ($9-$13).
The first great Vegas poutine I discovered was at Naked City Pizza Shop (two locations, nakedcitylv.com), which uses fresh mozzarella and super-savory beef-stock gravy ($5-$7). Fancy hot dog shop Haute Doggery (Linq Promenade, 702-430-4435) does a decent discounted version ($5) with just-right crispy fries. Its big brother restaurant Public House (Venetian, 702-407-5310), still one of the best versions of a gastropub we have in Vegas, does an all-out upgrade: beautifully tender duck confit, chunky curds and rich stout gravy ($13), with the irresistible option of added fried egg ($2.50), and why not?
If there’s a truly Vegas’d-out poutine, it’s gotta be the one at the Barrymore (Royal Resort, 702-407-5303). Somewhere between ideal steakhouse side dish and old-school Vegas kitsch, the poutine “Oscar-style” ($22) tops the taters with lump crab meat, asparagus and béarnaise. Maybe it breaks the rules by subbing out the gravy, but how do you not order this?
Since St. Patrick’s Day happens this week, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Rí Rá (Mandalay Place, 702-632-7771) and its Irish-pub overhaul of poutine. We’ve been eating chips and curry ($9) at the bar with beers for years, but the pub poutine ($14) takes those same, perfect, hand-cut potatoes and lovely curry sauce and adds sizzled lamb, rosemary and goat cheese. This doesn’t seem very Canadian at all, eh? Sure is good, though.