There are tons of places to eat at Downtown Summerlin, but it’s a mall, and the majority are understandably generic. Most of the standout restaurants can be found at the northern end, a path charted by Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, Shake Shack, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken and Andiron Steak & Sea. New to that area is another Mexican restaurant, Casa Del Matador.
The latest DTSum spot is bookended by the Red Rock Resort’s Mexican offering, Libre, and Pancho’s, located close to Sahara on the southern end of the massive mall. All three offer similar cuisine and prices, so I have to wonder, before even walking into Casa Del Matador: Is it necessary here?
But this is not a big chain operation. Upstart Seattle restaurateurs Nathan Opper and Zak Melang created the scratch kitchen Mexican concept and expanded around Washington State, and to Boise and Denver. The Summerlin location offers brunch and stays open a bit later than most restaurants around here, and it’s big on tequila and cocktails.
Meats and sauces. Those are the factors that determine which local Mexican-American restaurants are great, and Matador’s are of high quality. The table salsa is fresh and slightly spicy. The smooth, rich sauce on the enchiladas Poblanos ($12.50-$14.50), made from roasted chilies, garlic and cream, will force you to finish every bite. The house-made pork chorizo ($12.50 for a two-taco plate) is bold and savory. The braised beef and shredded chicken are tender and delicious, and you can try those meats and more with the five-street-taco sampler platter ($12).
Matador’s casual environment is sure to make it a happy hour destination for the Summerlin set, which will love nicely done appetizers like bacon-wrapped, goat cheese-stuffed jalapeños ($11) and black bean queso dip spiked with habanero and tomatillo ($6). I can’t say which of the three proximate Mexican spots will come out on top, but I know I’ll come back to this one often.
Casa Del Matador Downtown Summerlin, 702-228-2766. Monday-Wednesday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Thursday & Friday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 a.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-midnight.