The energy might have shifted throughout the years—out to Summerlin, back Downtown—but there remains a long tradition of Vegas doing business at the cluster of restaurants radiating out from the intersection of Flamingo and Paradise roads. This is where power-lunch and happy-hour institutions like Firefly, Lawry’s, Del Frisco’s and Gordon Biersch dwell, and it hasn’t been easy for other eateries to join this exclusive, successful club. But Bandito, a breezy Mexican restaurant that opened over the summer in the Hughes Center, seems perfectly constructed to break through.
Created by longtime Border Grill Mandalay Bay GM Kent Harman, Bandito offers familiar food with an ultra-fresh spin. Salsas, sauces and tortillas are made in-house every day, and you can taste the difference. Would-be deal-closers will find an array of shareable items for kicking off lunch meetings, from guacamole spiked with roasted serrano peppers ($9) to seafood ceviche crisped-up with English cucumber and radish ($13). A healthy turkey taco salad ($14)—surprisingly loaded with cauliflower dressed in citrus-serrano vinaigrette—eats light but should keep you satiated for hours. Heartier lunch options include a grilled steak torta ($14) and enchilada or taco plates with various fillings. The fish tacos ($16), fried or grilled with plenty of spice and crunch wrapped up inside, are exceptional.
Dinner adds entrées including a brick-pressed chicken ($20) with roasted veggies and potatoes “al pastor,” and a sizzling New York strip ($28) served with a fun take on Mexican street corn. But eating at Bandito after business hours comes with the beautiful benefit of the bar’s creative cocktail menu. Check out the Cenote Verde ($13)—reposado tequila with Grand Marnier, Green Chartreuse, tomatillo, lime and agave—or the refreshing Sandia Margarita ($12) made with Marie Brizard watermelon liqueur. The non-alcoholic, house-made agua frescas are just as tasty as the boozy creations, confirming Bandito’s dedication to great ingredients and colorful innovation.
On second thought, this place might be too much fun to be the next great power-lunch spot. Time to take the afternoon off.
Bandito Latin Kitchen & Cantina 325 Hughes Center Drive, 702-857-7550. Daily, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.