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.
Jalisco Cantina’s vibrant neon sign burns 24 hours a day, beckoning diners in for authentic Mexican fare and music. Named for the Mexican state of Jalisco, the birthplace of tequila, Jalisco Cantina offers up more than 80 kinds of the iconic drink to pair with their homemade "casero" cuisine. Mexican flags flutter from the rafters and massive flat-screen TVs beam down from colorful walls, illuminating diners as they feast on authentic Mexican cuisine. On Tuesdays and Saturdays, diners can also enjoy live blues music performed by local musicians.
Meanwhile in the kitchen, frying pans simmer with fresh, authentic Mexican breakfasts and dinners. Dishes feature guacamole made from whole avocados, fresh tortillas, black boiled beans, and an array of cheeses such as queso fresco, manchego, monterrey jack, and quesadilla. Meanwhile, a dessert menu boasts a caramel Kahlua sundae. Meals are joined by Mexican beers and frozen margaritas, all of which are made from 100% agave tequila, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and real fruit juice.
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.
Just off the path from the bustling tropical revelries and loot-filled gaming at Treasure Island Hotel & Casino stands the Seafood Shack, a succulent destination where diners sink their teeth into freshly caught bites of the sea itself. Known for its signature clambake?which combines steamed clams, mussels, prawns, and a whole lobster into a two-person feast?the restaurant also plates massive breaded shrimp and flaky fillets that grace plates alongside fresh vegetables and finely tuned sauces. After a warm chowder or grilled salmon, diners can indulge in one of five homemade desserts including a chocolate layer cake with fudge icing and a trio of tropical sorbets. Patrons wanting to stay a part of the action can also relax at an open bar area that overlooks the casino floor, where machines ring in jackpots and dealers fold unused decks into 52 paper cranes.
“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.