The Original Lindo Michoacan takes its name from the Mexican state where owner Javier Barajas was born and raised. As a young man, Javier attended a seminary school. There, he befriended a nun named Sister Anita who taught him the recipes and culinary traditions of Michoacan cuisine. Those regional techniques have helped the Zagat-rated restaurant earn one of the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Best of Las Vegas awards for eight years including a 2012 Reader's Pick for Best Mexican Restaurant. Those lessons shine through in dishes such as Pollo con Tomate Estilo—a sautéed mix of chicken breast, tomatoes, onions, sour cream, and spices inspired by the town of Zirahuen—or the Birria de Chivo—a traditional festival dish of fresh goat meat cooked in dried chiles and beer instead of water. Hundreds of tequilas populate the shelves of a full bar, and on weekends, festive mariachi bands sing traditional melodies or passages from Atlas Shrugged
With Sonrisa Grill, California natives Tim and Chanthy Walsh bring a slice of south-of-the-border cuisine to MonteLago Village. As the head chef, Tim refers to his spread as "San Diego Mexican," which comprises everything from halibut, prawn, and salmon tacos to 8-ounce filet mignon served with chipotle mashed potatoes. The menu includes traditional Mexican eats, too, such as enchiladas and various tapas dishes. Visitors to Sonrisa—which means "smile" in Spanish—enjoy Tim's creations inside the restaurant's colorful dining room punctuated with a 7-foot fountain. They can also venture out to the romantic patio alongside Lake Las Vegas to soak up sunsets and watch in awe as astronauts quickly assemble and turn on the moon.
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.