You know you’re not in for a typical meal when the chips and salsa arrive at Tres Cazuelas. House-made chips are always a treat, but the gratis salsa selection is particularly elevated—three ramekins filled with smoky chipotle aioli, sharp-yet-subdued pickled onions and a charred tomato salsa skewing toward tawny. It’s good that the chips are delivered in controlled portions, or it would be easy to ruin your meal.
Adjacent to the Sand Dollar Lounge, the spot that former Marché Bacchus general manager Angelo Reyes has created is nothing short of amazing. The menu, a combination of family recipes and dishes he ate growing up, is eclectic and electric, fusing the flavors of Spain, Mexico and Latin America. (Reyes clearly had a much more interesting culinary upbringing than I did … sorry, Mom!)
Start with any of the rotating weekday selections of the eponymous cazuelas (dishes cooked in saucepots). Served with house-made corn tortillas, each saucy concoction can be ordered in three sizes: tapa ($5), regular ($8) or large ($14). Try to visit midweek when the restaurant’s outstanding moles are an option. Wednesday showcases a mellow mole verde, while Thursday delivers possibly the best mole I’ve had in the Valley: a complex, nutty mole poblano that’ll leave you wanting more. Costillitas de cerdo en chile ancho—savory miniature pork ribs in a rich ancho chile sauce—is another noteworthy cazuela, but if you’re texture-adverse, steer clear of the gelatinous chicharrón en salsa verde.
Most dishes will have you wishing you had a loaf of bread to sop up the sauce, like the garlicky butter in which the gambas al ajillo ($6) are swimming. Pro trip: spooning sauce onto chips will do if you’re short on tortillas. Equally enticing is the sharp balsamic-fig reduction on the Ibérico dates ($5)—not that these morsels really need any gilding. But best of all might be the pork belly skewer ($7) served atop grilled peaches and finished with a mustard sauce, the fruit offering a fine foil to the fatty swine.
At Tres Cazuelas, Reyes has compiled an extensive menu worth exploring over multiple visits. Why not start now?
Tres Cazuelas Artisanal Latin Cuisine 3355 Spring Mountain Road #35, 702-370-0751. Monday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, 4-9 p.m.