When Darin Feinstein told me he was opening a food court on Las Vegas Boulevard, I smiled, said something like “Good luck, with that,” and filed it away for a rainy day. Fast-forward a few months, and Feinstein invites me to come check out what he’s opened, adding that the food-concept anchoring the collective is a street-food version of his popular El Dorado Cantina. Now he had my full attention, because ElDo is fan-freaking-tastic.
Now, historically, the number of my readers who’d be likely to find themselves strolling down Las Vegas Boulevard were few and far between; but quite a few work on the Strip, and are always looking for something quick and delicious that they can eat in their offices, or en route to a meeting. Besides, with such pedestrian-friendly areas as The Park Las Vegas, The LINQ Promenade, having become destinations in their own right; the future is now.
So, I drove on down to the Strip, and met Darin and Chef Paco Cortes, for a quick bite of lunch at Boulevard Food Court. And then a few more bites. And, well, by the time I finished, a few hours later (seriously); I was certain that I was either gonna sleep for the next day, or lapse into a diabetic coma (fortunately, it was the former).
From AAA Sandwich Co., I tried the signature Bacon & Pastrami Reuben (pastrami, Applewood-smoked bacon, smoked Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and Russian dressing, on marble rye bread), and the Hot Cuban Sub (roast pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard; pressed and grilled). The first was a nifty twist on a longtime favorite; and as for their Cuban, imagine a particularly juicy Cuban sandwich on a flakey po’boy.
From Cannonball Wings & Fingers, I indulged on the Sweet Chili Sriracha Wings that were incredibly meaty, lightly crispy, just zesty enough, and not at all oily. So, cheers to these! At this point, I’m just beginning to realize the dizzying speed with which they’ve been mixing gastronomic genres and culinary mediums: It’s just lucky for all of us, that their palates and skills work so well.
From Voodoo Pizza, I was given a slice of Pepperoni Ranch (crispy cupping pepperoni, mozzarella, tomato sauce, ranch dressing) where they’d baked the ranch into the crust, and put a light layer down, below the cheese. Subtle, but innovative. I absolutely adored the Garlic Dolls (garlic knots, slathered in garlic butter and parmesan, and shaped like totemic voodoo dolls). Then I was proffered a slice of the Cubano (ham, carnitas, sliced pickles, Swiss cheese blend, and Dijon mustard sauce). It mightn’t have been much to look at, it sure was tasty!
Mighty Fries is the concept from which my Pork Carnitas Fries (sidewinder fries, carnitas, pico de gallo, sour cream, nacho cheese, and cilantro) came, and by this point my taste-buds needed help reconciling what I was looking at (very widely-cut curly cheese fries) with what I was tasting (delicious Mexican street carnitas). I’m not sure how baked they were when conceiving the menus; but, I do know that I’ve gotta make a more-concerted effort to hang-out with these guys.
Reb Dog made me a mean Chicago Dog (beef dog, garden-style, with yellow mustard, onions, sweet relish, tomatoes, sport peppers, and celery salt), that was so good I wished for a moment that there’d been another bite or two; until I realized (both gratefully and more than a bit frightened) that were I to merely hint at this, I’d have another entire Chicago Dog in front of me. And I wasn’t close to finished, yet!
The real star of the show, at Boulevard Food Court, is the first outlet of El Dorado Express. As with its big sister, all of the vegetables, meats and fish originate from farm that are free of antibiotics, pesticides, and steroids. Never, have I eaten “street tacos” like what I ate at ElDo Express. But I’m getting ahead of myself, because first there were the Carne Asada Nachos (what you’d expect), the made-to-order Street Corn (uh-mazing!), the Cochinita Pibil Taco (absurdly delicious), a pair of Mexican sodas, and the Cactus Taco with Grilled Cheese (perhaps the yummiest healthy thing I’m likely ever to eat).
As much as I enjoy El Dorado, I don’t know why ElDo Express took me so by surprise, but it did – and in such a delightful way, too! So, then came the tacos. There were the Carnitas (braised slowly over low heat), Al Carbon (barbequed), and Al Pastor de Trompo (combines Mexican seasonings with the Lebanese Shawarma technique of spit-cooking). I even ate brains (Cabeza), with nary a zombie in sight!
But wait: There’s more! Before I headed-out into the blazing midday sun, I’d planned to grab my de rigueur Mocha Iced Blended from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (which has a pride of place in BFC’s layout); but before I could even maneuver, a pair of ice cream treats from CookieMUFU were in front of me. Left to my own devices I’d have never considered putting Prailines & Cream Ice Cream between two Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Cookies; nor would I have paired Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream with Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. And I would’ve been an ass, because they were awesome!
So, the next time you’re meandering on the Strip, and have a hankering for something really delicious, that’s made from quality ingredients, and isn’t fast-food, stop by the Boulevard Food Court, and tell Chef Paco that Shulman sent ya!
Boulevard Food Court
Las Vegas Blvd South
Click HERE for info
Get into it!