In case you hadn’t noticed, the oft-maligned Boulevard Mall has recently undergone major tenant turnover and a more-than-cosmetic facelift, brightening it up in an attempt to lure a new customer base. And in a very visible frontage location, Olivia’s Latin Cuisine & Bar has opened as arguably the nicest off-Strip Mexican restaurant space in Las Vegas.
The lovechild of Taco Y Taco maestro Faviola Trujillo and former Mundo toque Robert Solano makes use of high ceilings and clean contemporary wood and stone finishes with an elevated menu to match. In fact, Olivia’s feels like a candidate for a Strip casino location rather than the Boulevard Mall. But if that were the case, locals would be less likely to explore it. If you haven’t visited, you’re missing out.
I’ve always considered guacamole to be a good measuring stick of Mexican fare. If a kitchen cares to make guac à la minute, chances are you’ll see attention to detail elsewhere on the menu. While I prefer the pageantry of tableside preparation, I’ll certainly accept Olivia’s made-to-order guacamole ($7), which highlights the creamy avocado with hints of citrus. The quesadilla de pollo al pastor ($9) excels above its typical cheese-stuffed brethren with the liberal use of smoky, spicy chipotle aioli and Oaxacan cheese. Oversized flautas de res ($9) are stuffed with rich, smoky, pulled beef brisket while remaining inexplicably light.
Olivia’s significant seafood emphasis can be found throughout the menu, from the sharply flavored ceviche tostada ($7) to tender grilled octopus ($12) highlighted by vibrant chimichurri. Given what Solano did at the former Mundo at World Market Center, the intricacy of these dishes is unsurprising. Garlic shrimp ($15) is sublime with enough heat in a complex citrus sauce worth sopping up with corn-laden cilantro rice so good it’s worth ordering on its own, while red chile shrimp ($15) is vibrant and equally alluring. These are dishes worth seeking out.
Olivia's Latin Cuisine & Bar Boulevard Mall, 702-906-1700. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.