UPDATE! THIS RESTAURANT LOCATION HAS CLOSED! THIS ARTICLE WILL BE BE LEFT INTACT FOR REFERENCE PURPOSES.
A nice place for good Mexican food in Las Vegas!
Las Gorditas is located at 2300 North Rainbow Boulevard just south of the intersection of Smoke Ranch in Las Vegas and they have a few other locations in the Las Vegas valley. I have driven past this restaurant on Rainbow many times and I finally gave Las Gorditas a try. I only wish that I had stopped by this restaurant a few months ago, because this could become my favorite local Mexican restaurant!
Las Gorditas looks plain from the outside of the building, but once the door is opened, it is easy to see that this is no ordinary taco stand style restaurant. Las Gorditas has a really nice dining room with an old fashioned black and white checkered tile floor, modern furnishings and a nice layout. The open view kitchen looked like it was designed for doing some serious business and the equipment was modern and very clean. In fact, Las Gorditas was one of the cleanest well maintained restaurants that I have ever seen! The owners, management and employees really seem to be on the ball!
I was greeted by a friendly person behind the counter who was helpful in describing the menu items that I had questions about. Las Gorditas offers many Mexican specialty items on the menu that are not seen everyday. Many of the menu items were food that I have only cooked or eaten once or twice in my lifetime. The menu even had items that I have never had before, but I have read about them and regretfully also forgot about them.
Huaraches were on the Las Gorditas menu! Everybody knows what a huarache is, right? A huarache is a Mexican flat sole, open toe, strapped sandal. A Mexican food huarache resembles a shoe huarache. The food huarache item is made with a papusa dough or sopapilla that is patted flat and it is as thick as a pancake. The shape of the dough is oblong like the sole of a huarache sandal. The huarache is grilled till light brown highlights appear, just like a Salvadoran papusa. Then the toppings are placed on the huarache.
Traditionally refritos negros are the base topping on a huarache, instead of refritos pintos. The black beans add a rich flavor. I ordered a beef steak carne asada huarache! The grilled marinated beef steak had a good traditional Mexican carne asada flavor. The grilled beef steak was chopped before being placed over the refried black black beans. Shredded cabbage is a traditional topping. Cabbage is refreshing and it holds up better in the hot Mexican summer heat than lettuce. The further south you go in Mexico, the more cabbage toppings that you will see.
A Mexican dry grated cheese that was similar to Italian parmesan was generously sprinkled over the huarache. Cotija is a well known Mexican fine cheese. Obviously the chef and owners of Las Gorditas chose authentic top choice Mexican ingredients for the food on the menu, rather than to use that cheap yellow gringo queso that the American fast food taco joints use. That was a very good decision that they made, because they captured a customer that likes their high quality Mexican food. Me!
Gorditas are made from a nixtamal masa harana papusa like dough. Gordita translates to fat baby! Gorditas are stuffed with a filling, just like Venezuelan arepas. I chose the Puerco Adoba Gordita as part of my meal. I just happened to be very hungry the day that I visited Las Gorditas! Us chef school students do not just sit around eating food all day. Sometimes, we just listen to boring lectures and get hungry!
Puerco Adoba is pork that is slowly simmered in dark red chile adobo. Puerco adoba has a rich good tasting barbacoa kind of flavor, but there is usually no sweet piloncillo in the sauce. The pork becomes very tender from the slow cooking and it easily shreds. The puerco adoba gordita on my plate was plump, full of filling and very nicely crafted!
One thing that really impressed me about Las Gorditas was that all the nixtamal masa harana dough items were patted out by hand the old traditional way and they were all made to order. Las Gorditas is not a fast food restaurant, but the highly skilled employees do work fast. I thought that I was fast at patting out papusa dough and tortillas, till I saw how fast and expertly the girl that made the huarache and gordita patted out the dough. That girl was very fast and she really did not overwork the dough. Both the gordita and the huarache had a great texture.
Like nearly every southwestern Mexican restaurant, Las Gorditas has a self serve condiment bar. The salsas looked fresh and they looked like they were made fresh, instead of being poured out of a bottle! That made my day! The escobeche was good and all of the vegetable garnishes were fresh.
Obviously, Las Gorditas is a good, sound, quality oriented business establishment. The food was great and the ingredients were top choice. Everything was fresh and well prepared.
I highly recommend Las Gorditas for visitors of Las Vegas and locals alike! Las Gorditas offers great traditional Mexican cuisine and there are many items on the menu that you do not see everyday. By the way, the banana smoothy was delicious too! Yum! ... Shawna