Eat the world! Dig deeper into the Vegas Valley’s diverse ethnic-cuisine scene

Photo: Wade Vandervort

You've conquered Japanese, Mexican, Thai and Indian. Now, dig deeper into the Vegas Valley's diverse ethnic-cuisine scene.


Laos Market Laos borders Thailand and Vietnam, but its bold and flavorful cuisine has yet to make it on the ever-gentrifying list of commodified Western foodie trends. That’s why Laos Market, a small grocery and dining room inside a strip mall across from the Neon Museum, is such a special gem. For years, this family-owned shop has been serving Las Vegas’ Laos and Southeast Asian communities with its homemade treats and imported snacks, sauces and spices. Items like Laotian sausages, pepper beef jerky and spicy chicken larb are pre-made and available in the market—but made-to-order dishes like papaya salad and pho are also musts. 629 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-366-0881. –Leslie Ventura

Malaysian style barbecue shrimp from Island Malaysian Cuisine

Island Malaysian Cuisine Long before fusion was all the rage, Malaysia had it covered. Food from the Southeast Asian nation not only reflects traditional Malay influences, but also many others including Thai, Chinese, Indian and Portuguese. While its neighbor, Singapore, is currently regarded as one of the great global culinary destinations, Malaysia hasn’t received its just due. At this family-owned Malaysian Chinatown outpost, dishes range from asam laksa—a soothing tamarind fish soup—to nasi lemak, a coconut- and pandan-infused rice served with several accoutrements, considered to be the national dish of the country. 5115 Spring Mountain Road #217, 702-898-3388. –Jason Harris


Oiga, Mire, Vea Originally from Sevilla, Valle del Cauca, owner Olmedo Hoyos operates one of the most popular Colombian restaurants in the Valley. Named after a song by one of the best-known salsa groups in Colombia, Oiga, Mire, Vea brings authentic South American flavors to the desert—think popular, traditional dishes such as the whopping bandeja paisa, a platter of savory proteins like grilled steak, fried pork rinds, chorizo, a fried egg and red beans—all with rice and fried plantains. Looking to grub during the World Cup? Get there early if you want a seat. 2580 S. Decatur Blvd., 702-221-4359. –LV

Pollo a la Canasta from Rincon Catracho

Rincon Catracho You already know that Las Vegas is filled with astounding Mexican food options, and Salvadoran restaurants are becoming more and more common. But Honduran food? That remains mostly uncharted territory. Thankfully, UNLV neighborhood staple Rincon Catracho delivers. Try the assorted pupusas (cheese with loroco flower, chicken, chicharron, shrimp and more), the traditional Desayuno Centroamericano (Central American breakfast) or the Cena Hondurena, a traditional Honduran dinner with grilled steak or pork, fresh cheese and crema. Come for the food, stay for the karaoke. 4110 Maryland Parkway, 702-699-9579. –LV


Pro Kabob Persian Restaurant Pro Kabob touts itself as a Persian restaurant, but in reality it’s Afghani, an establishment from a family native to Kabul that came looking for a better life in the U.S. As the name implies, Pro Kabob’s menu centers on grilled skewer options, including cumin-laced beef and lamb, each served atop rice. Other traditional offerings include mantu, vegetarian steamed dumplings served swimming in a mix of mild yogurt and sweet, vegetable-strewn tomato sauce; boolani, vegetable-stuffed bread similar to scallion pancakes; and the staple qabeli palaow, Afghani rice pilaf. A welcome variant of Middle Eastern cuisine. 3854 W. Sahara Ave., 702-586-9229. –Jim Begley

Shish taouk from Amena.

Amena It makes sense that owner Amer Hamed would name his healthy, Mediterranean café after his mother, considering the recipes stem from his family back in Nazareth, Israel. Originally from the Northern District, Hamed lived in Denver before opening Amena in 2007. Since then, he has been serving fresh eats with a smile on the west side—vegetarian and vegan options like homemade pita bread, falafel, various flavors of hummus and salads, plus delicious meats like lamb chops, chicken and beef shawarma, and my personal favorite, ground lula chicken kabobs seasoned with mint and spices. 2101 S. Decatur Blvd. #9, 702-382-1010. –LV


Nigerian Cuisine In a south Maryland Parkway strip mall, Nigerian Cuisine has become a gathering point for Valley expats from Africa’s most populous country. The welcoming venue is more like a home than a restaurant, replete with couches surrounding a big-screen TV looping Nigerian sitcoms. Nigerian Cuisine provides a peek into a cuisine influenced by the country’s position as the world’s top yam producer. You’ll find it in a variety of presentations, including pounded and boiled into a mochi-like consistency called fufu. Used as a scoop for “eating” soups, as opposed to thinner “drinking” soups, such as the spicy egusi with a melon seed-base, fufu is your only utensil in a manner similar to Ethiopian injera. But don’t fear the mess—a mixing bowl of water is served for a handwashing to keep you clean. 5006 S. Maryland Parkway #11. 702-798-0303. –JB

Lamb tibs from Cafe Luhena

Cafe Luhena While Ethiopian cuisine has developed a loyal following in Las Vegas, it hasn’t yet trended the way other types of ethnic fare have. It will surely have its moment—how can it not with this many deep, flavorful dishes? Cafe Luhena, at the southeast corner of Flamingo and Decatur, serves up an assortment of spicy, often stewed dishes, such as tibs—sautéed lamb, beef and other meats with a comforting feel. Elsewhere on the menu, tasty medleys are presented on top of spongy injera, a sourdough vessel somewhere between bread and pancakes, intended to be eaten with your hands. And don’t skip the kitfo, minced raw beef blended with herbs, spices and chili powder. 4825 W Flamingo Road #1, 702-901-7280. –JH


Red Rice People from the island of Guam can be Guamanians or Chamorros, but the savory, satisfying cuisine from this Western Pacific nation is called Chamorro. It has some similarities to Hawaiian or Filipino food, but there are deep, distinctive flavors that set these dishes apart, from the achiote that imbues smoky notes and dark orange color in the rice (hineksa’ aga’ga) to the deep-fried, corn-flour empanadas filled with toasted rice and chicken. This is how two of the most popular items are made at Red Rice, the Valley’s only authentic Chamorro restaurant, opened by Carmen Tenorio and her family a little over three years ago. Another staple is the cold chicken salad kelaguen loaded with lemon and tangy spices, and the newest menu addition is the Chamorro beignet, coconut doughnuts dipped in powdered sugar and served with mango sauce. 9400 S. Eastern Ave. #106A, 702-912-4826. –Brock Radke

Churrasco con Mamposteao from Sofrito Rico

Sofrito Rico Authentic Puerto Rican Cuisine Where to go when craving mofongo? Options are scant in Las Vegas, but your best bet for the beloved fried plantain/chicharrones mash—and likely any other dish from the Caribbean U.S. territory—is Sofrito Rico, which first opened at the Campus Commons Food Court near CSN, then expanded nearby into its own standalone dining room. There, you can start with starchy Boricua sides like trifongo (that’s mofongo plus yuca) and arroz con gandules (rice with pigeon peas, a PR staple), or add them to main dishes such as the popular churrasco (skirt steak with chimichurri sauce) and flavorful pollo guisado (stewed chicken). Either way, you’ll leave full. 5201 W. Charleston Blvd. #110, 702-822-6220. –Mike Prevatt


Cafe Prince Serving as a de facto social club for our burgeoning Balkan community, Prince, passed down from one Eastern European immigrant to another, is dark and nondescript but welcoming to all. English can be sparse, but that shouldn’t prevent you from ordering such Serbian specialties as ćevapi (thumb-sized sausages served on a browned house-made bun with a side of a butter/cream cheese amalgam known as kajmak) or the immense karađorđeva šnicla, a deep-fried pork schnitzel-roll stuffed with mozzarella, kajmak and ham. Limited-distribution beers like Serbian Jelen and Croatian Karlovačko are available in bottles, so immerse yourself in the Old World without the overseas flight. 6795 W. Flamingo Road #A, 702-220-8322. –JB

Pirojky at Cafe Mayakovsky

Cafe Mayakovsky Harsh winters are a Russian reality, so it’s unsurprising the cuisine reflects the hearty fare needed to face them. Cafe Mayakovsky—the latest iteration of a westside restaurant formerly known as Tverskaya, now located in a nightclub-cum-restaurant space next to the former Liberace Museum on Tropicana—offers traditional offerings such as pelmeni (miniature meat-filled dumplings), schnitzel and of course beef Stroganoff. Even a cold dish like the slightly salty herring offers a reprieve from the elements. With Wednesday night chess gatherings and a selection of Baltikas (aka Russian beers), Mayakovsky transports you from the desert to the frozen tundra. 1775 E. Tropicana Ave. #30, 702-848-1775. –JB

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