Palm trees aside, the dusty Las Vegas Valley is basically the geographic opposite of the shining Caribbean Sea. Nevertheless, numerous eateries here serve specialties from that balmy basin—think Cuban ropa vieja, Jamaican meat patties and Puerto Rican mofongo. At Lally’s Island Soul Cafe in North Las Vegas, add an additional tropical dish to the list: Belizean stew chicken ($9). It’s a national classic that’s part of a regional tradition of simmered poultry entrées.
“Across the Caribbean, they’ve got stew chicken. Jamaicans do a brown stew chicken; Trinidadians do curry chicken. [They’re] cooked the same way, they just use different spices,” Lawrence “Lally” Nunez, namesake owner of the two-year-old eatery inside Siegel Slots & Suites, explains regarding the version from his home country of Belize.
As served by Nunez, who first moved to Southern Nevada in the 1990s as a field engineer on Interstate 215, Belizean stew chicken arrives as hunks of bone-in bird slow-cooked in a sauce based on achiote, a reddish-orange spice common in recipes from the Yucatán Peninsula. Melded with an aromatic mirepoix of celery and onion and green herbs like oregano, cilantro and culantro, the ground achiote lends an earthy, slightly peppery tang to the tender poultry.
The sauce-lacquered meat is served with a mound of black beans and rice, along with fried plantains and a scoop of mayo-based potato salad. It’s a serious plate, served daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. For a Caribbean-appropriate beverage, ask for a snappy ginger beer, then top off your fricasseed escapade with a sweet slice of Key Lime pie.
Lally's Island Soul Cafe 5011 E. Craig Road, 702-643-6005. 24/7.