New restaurants typically get a grace period, a soft-opening phase during which they can work out kinks. But if chef Jamie Tran tried to open the Black Sheep quietly, it didn’t work. The Vietnamese-American fusion restaurant at the corner of Warm Springs and Durango captured locals’ attention as soon as it opened in the spring, bringing a unique culinary concept to an area where options had been underwhelming.
The Black Sheep warrants the hype, delivering creative dishes inspired mostly by Tran’s childhood. She grew up working in kitchens with her chef father and observing her mother cook comfort foods like beef short ribs, a dish so memorable Tran put it on the menu. Before try that, loosen up with La Flama Blanca ($9), a lemongrass and shochu-infused cocktail with lemon and spicy Thai chili syrups, or the Mr. Brownstone ($12)—High West American Prairie bourbon served with a brown sugar, ginger, vanilla and thyme-infused ice block.
Among the starters, don’t hesitate to order the addictive and crunchy fried beef crisps ($6). Tran takes beef tendons and flash-fries them until they puff up into irresistibly light and crisp chicharrón-like snacks, served with a garlicky chili-lime sauce. Bao sliders ($9) are another must, rich two-bite sandwiches stacked with two types of savory house-made sausage—one sweet and spicy ground pork patty and one thick, bacon-like cut. You’ll want to order another round, but save room for a traditional favorite, the Vietnamese imperial rolls ($9). Also known as cha gio, these crunchy snacks are stuffed with pork and shrimp and served with a frisée salad with a garlic citrus vinaigrette.
The chef’s specialty might be the slow-cooked short rib ($20) with homemade yucca gnocchi, summer squash ratatouille and crispy yucca threads, but the braised Duroc pork belly ($18) could be Black Sheep’s brightest star. Served aside seasonal mushrooms, spicy mustard greens, wild sticky rice and a decadent Hood River cherry sauce, it’s a dish you’ll return to throughout fall.
The Black Sheep 8680 W. Warm Springs Road, 702-954-3998. Daily, 5-11 p.m.