Tony Gordy is a busy man. First and foremost, he’s the owner of American Gypsy Cafe, but walk into the restaurant at Flamingo and McLeod and you’ll notice he’s also the host, greeting you with a big smile at the entryway. Once you’re seated, he’ll probably take your order—and feel free to ask him for recommendations, because he’s also the chef.
Gordy moved from Iran to the United States in 1991 and settled in LA, where he started working in Persian kitchens. That’s how he learned English, and it’s also where he learned to cook, on the way to launching his own successful Iranian eateries. In 2014, he moved to Las Vegas, and a year ago he opened American Gypsy Cafe, a large, banquet-style space in the heart of the Valley.
“It’s very close to what Americans like,” Gordy says of Iranian food, though, he says, a lot of people don’t realize it. He isn’t wrong. Persian cuisine tends to be meat-heavy, with an emphasis on lamb, but there’s something for every type of eater (including vegans) at American Gypsy.
Each morning, Gordy comes into the restaurant to prepare everything from scratch—from well-known staples like hummus, grape leaves and kabobs to more traditional fare like tahdig ($8), crispy rice topped with a savory stew.
If you’ve never had Iranian food before, begin with a cup of Persian black tea made with rosewater and cardamom. The falafel ($6) doesn’t stray far from the more common Mediterranean treat, though AG’s chickpea fritters are squashed flat and fried extra crispy, making them incredibly addictive.
Ask Gordy what to order and you’ll get a few answers. If you’ve never had koobideh ($10-$13)—a kabob made of ground chicken or beef and seasoned with salt, pepper and onion powder—it’s a must-try. Gordy’s secret to making the juiciest chicken koobideh is to combine breast meat with chicken fat, which renders a rich and savory sausage-like dish.
For dinner, you’ll never regret ordering the rack of lamb ($25), which includes six tender, melt-in-your-mouth chops and a side of basmati rice. Like most items on the menu, you could order one to share, but you’ll want to enjoy it all for yourself.
AMERICAN GYPSY CAFE 2790 E. Flamingo Road, 702-799-0336. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.