At the French restaurant where they both got their start, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger discovered decidedly un-French cuisine in the privacy of the kitchen: homespun Oaxacan and Yucatan recipes prepared by their fellow chefs. The duo promptly untied their aprons, loaded them into a VW Beetle, and took off for a road trip to Mexico in 1985, where they sampled and studied delicacies prepared at beachside taco stands and family barbecues. Three restaurants, two gourmet food trucks, five cookbooks, hundreds of episodes of Food Network's Too Hot Tamales, and sizzling appearances on Top Chef Masters later, their Border Grill eateries add contemporary twists to authentic Mexican cuisine. Guests are greeted by dining rooms originally designed by the architect Josh Schweitzer, who is Mary Sue's husband and Susan's childhood friend. Within their walls, healthful plates enhanced by seasonal fruits and vegetables and fresh salsas roll into handmade tortillas or revel beneath cotija cheese. Devoted to sustainable eating, Border Grill infuses its dishes with sustainable seafood, organic rice and beans, and hormone-free meats, as well as Good for the Planet, Good for You meals made from at least 80% plant-based ingredients, just like Captain Planet's faux-leather jacket.
It goes without saying that Ukranian model and actress Oleksandra Nikolayenko-Ruffin knows a thing or two about beauty. But the 2004 Miss Ukraine Universe winner is also the brains behind her self-named spa, a tranquil and luxurious facility that earned a five-diamond rating from The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. Housed inside the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino, the wellness sanctuary pampers guests with a massive menu of services that enhances everything from skin and body to scalp, hair, and nails. Facials are enhanced with hydrating botanical extracts and ingredients such as pumpkin pulp or papaya enzymes, which may cause pores to ask for second helpings. Six Davines Natural Tech hair treatments perform a spectrum of good deeds for scalps and manes, from softening damaged hair with silk proteins to excavating strands sequestered beneath chlorine and hard-water deposits.
Marble tile accents the walls of the spa, where cushy recliners congregate with other upholstered furniture inside separate lounges for men and women. Visitors to the spa typically check in at least 30 minutes early so they may change or cartwheel into a robe and sandals and warm up in the steam room, sauna, or whirlpool.
The freezer cases in Casa Don Juan's kitchen make great echo chambers. They stand almost empty because the crew crafts the menu of traditional Mexican dishes exclusively with fresh, never-frozen ingredients.
Frida Kahlo prints peer down on diners as they chow down on plates of cheese-stuffed chili rellenos, cheese enchiladas, and beans. Plato Casa Don Juan, with its heaping portions of pork chops or chicken breast with mexican sausage, rice, and cactus salad, provides patrons with an ideal place to hide their favorite lucky pennies.
Festive streamers of colorful cutouts flutter above Casa Don Juan's jumbo Cadillac margaritas, which brim with tequila, Dr. Swami & Bone Daddy's mix, and Grand Marnier. Standing tall in the middle of the dining room, a thatch-roof bar houses a chorus of liquors and Mexican pottery, and a kaleidoscopic array of gleaming plates lines the bright-yellow walls to memorialize the chef's blank canvas.
“Members & Non Members ONLY,” reads the stamp on the front of Carlos‘n Charlie’s menu. Humorous touches such as this pervade the Mexican eatery, which sprawls across 8,000 square feet in the Flamingo Las Vegas. The wait staff star in impromptu comedy skits, as well as zany song-and-dance numbers, as they dart between the indoor dining area and the breezy outdoor patio. Fresh Mexican cuisine loads their trays, ranging from tacos, burritos, and chimichangas to sizzling platters of fajitas and mole-doused enchiladas. The food evokes the chain’s south-of-the-border roots; it's part of the Mexico-based restaurant conglomerate Grupo Anderson’s. Flair bartenders at the eatery’s two bars—one indoor, one outdoor—complete the scene, mixing drinks while delighting onlookers with tricks such as “The Backwards Shot,” where they funnel a shot back into the tequila bottle.
Sammy Hagar knows how to party, and his Cabo Wabo Cantina – equipped with two full-service bars, a daiquiri bar and a stage – set the scene for a true Vegas party atmosphere. Usually open from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. and located at the north entrance of the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, the menu features Tex-Mex fare including an array of burritos, fajitas, tacos and enchiladas, with special seafood options like lobster enchiladas, shrimp tacos and ahi tuna ceviche. As for libations, more than 30 tequilas are showcased, including Cabo Wabo’s own brand of Blanco, Reposado and Anejo; as well as fifteen margaritas and signature drinks. Live bands play Tuesday through Thursday from 7 p.m. on the Vegas Strip-side patio, which offers views of the Bellagio Fountain and the Eiffel Tower.
Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.