Chicken wings: nature’s bar food. In the Vegas spirit of frenzied invention, you can get ’em brined, smoked, spiced, and there’s a probably a chef coating them in Sriracha Pop Rocks as I write this. Fine. Bedazzle the hell outta those yummy flappers, but let’s not forget a core principle: respect the meat. Three valley eateries get it. Chummy Hendo beerhole Johnny Mac’s (842 S. Boulder Highway, 702-564-2121, johnnymacswings.com) serves ’em by the pound — one for $10.25, up to 10 pounds for $49.95. Their milds and hots make a respectable showing, but their watermelon wings are a surprising treat, with a subtly fruity frisson that also (bonus!) tastes like chicken. The $8 “Spicy Korean Style” wings at KoMex Fusion (4155 S. Buffalo Drive #103, 702-778-5566, komexexpress.com) are well-prepared, wuss-friendly (*sheepishly raises hand*) and afterburn with a pleasing, lip-tingling heat. But leave it to perennial sleeper hit Fat Choy (595 E. Sahara Ave., 702-794-3464, fatchoylv.com) to boast the most winning wings of this chicken crawl. No zany Mortal Kombat flavor combos here, just your Buffalo-style ladder of mild/medium/hot that delivers a steady, spice-induced dopamine high. But execution is the real buzz here: Fat Choy’s wings ($7) present a perfect yin-yang of crispy and tender, chewy and moist, won’t-stop and can’t-stop, making these classic wings truly take flight. — AK
Hummus is to vegetarians what ground chuck is to omnivores: a multitasking staple that inserts a savory layer of protein into any dish. Being a veggiephile, I frequently partake of chickpea-tahini concoctions, and I’ll say this: You can keep your roasted red pepper and artichoke-Sriracha whatever; I like my hummus straight up. The intrigue is in the conversation between the half-dozen simple ingredients at play. For instance, White Cross Market deli’s hummus, handmade by owner Jimmy Shoshani’s Iranian mama, is screaming, “This lemon overdose is meant tobrighten my garbanzo-heavy base!” But at $5.99 for a 12-ounce container, who cares? (1700 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-382-3382, whitecrossmarket.com) If the base proportions must be off, I prefer they tilt to the tahini side, as at Parsley Mediterranean Grill, whose $5.99 hummus owes its unction to slightly overbearing sesame seed butter with a pronounced paprika accent. (6420 S. Pecos Road, 702-489-3189, parsleyfmg.com) But it’s best when chickpeas and sesame seeds disappear into an equitable discourse of lemon, garlic, cumin and olive oil. That’s the case at Amena Café & Bakery, which serves up a pound of its Nazareth-style hummus for $6.99. With fresh-baked pita bread and ramekins of pickled vegetables on the side, this one gets the last word. (2101 S. Decatur Blvd., 702-289-1010, amenacafe.com) — HK
Conservative estimate, I’ve probably eaten 2,500 burgers in my (no doubt considerably shortened) life. So, as we survey a few boutique burger chains — which, for this exercise, we define as fast-foodish chains existing between the luxe-burger joints of the spendy class and the mass patties of the hoi polloi — I have this to say: Get your buns in gear, Five Guys cheeseburger ($6.59, fiveguys.com). Sure, your weighty, double-patty mouthful thrills my inner carnivore. Lotta meat there, and quality stuff. But you don’t bring quite enough char or robust beefiness; remember, hype isn’t a seasoning. But big feelz for Smashburger’s Smash Classic ($5.99, smashburger.com). It tasted fresher, the in-mouth interplay of ingredients more varied and satisfying — though it could pump up the beef flavor, too. No such worries with The Farmer’s Burger at Farmer Boys ($6.39, farmerboys.com). It may not live up to the company’s winking
hyperbole — “The World’s Greatest Hamburger” — but there’s a nice, high char on this two-patty belly-buster, which neatly complements the bacon. (Though I did have to dislodge an unappetizingly large lump of avocado.) If you’re not up for Burger Bar or down for Burger King, plow down a Farmer.