We’re a city of nondescript strip malls and identical parking lots—that’s one of the most common complaints I hear about Las Vegas. But many of those naysayers don’t realize that some of those strip malls are actually treasure troves, home to some of the city’s most prized gems.
One fine example is Laos Market, an authentic Laotian grocery across the street from the Neon Museum on Las Vegas Boulevard. The store’s stocked to the brim with an assortment of Asian dry goods, seasonings, sauces, snacks, seasonal produce like rambutan and mangoes and prepared foods, and it also features a small menu of made-to-order Laos and Thai specialties. Owned by the Luangpraseuth family, Laos Market is a real-deal mom-and-pop shop, and it has been serving the local community in the same location for more than 20 years.
There’s a lot to browse within the small market, but the refrigerator is a good place to start, where pre-made items like spicy minced chicken salad (lap), fermented pork nam and desserts like coconut pudding khanom-tako await. There’s also a sign near the register with a small list of noodle soups, beef and pork lap and papaya salads.
Laos Market isn’t a typical sit-down restaurant—the dining area consists of a few tables and chairs sandwiched between aisles of produce—but it’s absolutely worth the trip. The traditional beef and meatball pho bursts with sweet, herbaceous flavor perfect for a chilly night, and the must-order lap with chicken, liver, fish sauce and onions is a salty and spicy delight.
Laos Market 629 Las Vegas Blvd. North, 702-366-0881. Daily, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.