Veteran Vegas chef Mike Minor pretty much invented a new kind of food when he left his post at Border Grill in 2014 to launch his own food truck, Truck U Barbeque, blending his passion for slow-smoked awesomeness with the authentic Mexican flavors he had mastered. It wasn’t Tex-Mex, and it wasn’t traditional, but it was bold, memorable, satisfying and definitely barbecue.
Now that he has returned to the kitchen at Border Grill, Minor has brought his unique creation to the Strip at the new BBQ Mexicana, a lunchtime takeout operation just across from the Mandalay Bay stalwart. Vegas conventioneers are now participating in the righteous experience locals used to savor after too many drinks at Atomic Liquors, specifically the burnt ends burrito ($16)—chunks of slow-smoked brisket with that salty, crispy bark on the edges, packed into a tortilla with chipotle coleslaw, fried potatoes, manchego cheese and barbecue mole sauce. There are pulled pork ($13) and avocado chicken ($14) burritos, too, along with new breakfast burrito options including the lighter egg white ($10) with spinach, black beans, mushroom and soyrizo, and a more standard chorizo, egg and potato burrito ($10) with guac and salsa fresca.
BBQ Mexicana is a more refined and streamlined version of what Minor started with Truck U, meaning there are salads and bowls instead of massive beef ribs and fried chicken tacos (but check the special of the day to catch some of those truck favorites returning to action). The Coop ($14) chicken bowl is a crowd-pleaser but we’re stuck on the Brisket Lover ($16), more meat with barbacoa sauce, chili-lime broccolini, cilantro slaw, red rice and pickled veggies.
BBQ MEXICANA Mandalay Bay, 702-632-7200. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.