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Desert Companion

The Dish: Raise your fork to Eastern Avenue

Raise your fork to Eastern Avenue, an underrated street of incredible eats

Where most great cities have pockets of restaurants, neighborhoods for noshing, dining districts, the Vegas valley is, as always, a little different. I like to think we like to go big. A single one of our mega-casinos might have more delicious dining options than a puny city intersection could ever contain. Here, we eat streets. Show me a four-mile stretch of desert roadway and I’ll give you a delicious bounty ready for investigation.

Las Vegas Boulevard from Sahara to Russell — aka the Strip — is not only the best spot we’ve got, it’s likely the greatest restaurant street in the world. Number two must be Spring Mountain Road from the Strip to Rainbow — aka Chinatown — a wildly diverse Asian flavor explosion. For your consideration, I offer Eastern Avenue as our third great thoroughfare. (Eatery Avenue? The Nom Belt? Eh. You’ll have to think up your own nickname for it.) Stretching southeast from the Beltway to Anthem, it’s an ongoing expedition of pizza, sushi, diners and cafés, and something new is always popping up. Of course, this is suburban Henderson, so the landscape is crowded with fast food and franchise restaurants. Don’t be overwhelmed. Strike through the static of sprawling strip malls with this handy situational dining guide. Let the Eastern exploration begin.

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Wakey, wakey …

You know you’re starting your day right when your menu asks if you’d like to add jalapeño bacon to your breakfast. Wake up with the lively deli cuisine at 1 Original Sunrise Cafe (8975 S. Eastern Ave. #5, 257-8877, eatatsunrise.com), a comfy and classic diner. Just a couple doors down, hip and healthy 2 Greens and Proteins (8975 S. Eastern Ave 541-7800, greensandproteins.com) has become everyone’s favorite guiltless meal. Try the roasted Anaheim chili-laden tofu and chorizo breakfast burrito, or addictive snacks like tofu fries — way better than they sound — and Thai peanut chicken satay.

3 The Griddle (9480 S. Eastern Ave., 360-3636, thegriddlelasvegas.com) keeps it simple and satisfying, specializing in fluffy buttermilk pancakes and variations on Eggs Benedict. You can find a different kind of pancake in that same bustling Sansone Richmar Plaza — where it seems like restaurants are opening and closing every week — at 4 Crepe Expectations (9500 S. Eastern Ave. #150, 583-4939, crepeexpectations.com). Sweet and/or savory options abound, with a nice selection of coffee and champagne (you’re not supposed to mix those together). Way out by Anthem, of course, resides the neighborhood brunch favorite, 5 Bread & Butter (10940 S. Eastern Ave., 675-3300, breadandbutterlv.com). The best waffles, sandwiches, and waffle sandwiches you can find await at B&B, not to mention its alluring pastry case and root beer bar.

Republic Kitchen and Bar

Date night

Our ’burbs are notorious for lacking cozy night spots, not the case along the Eastern. There’s warm and reliable 6 Italian at Gaetano’s (10271 S. Eastern Ave. #111, 361-1661) and thrilling Thai at 7 Pin Kaow (9530 S. Eastern Ave., 407-1188, pinkaowthai.com), both charming dining rooms that invite you to linger with a glass of wine. For a little more energy, 8 Republic Kitchen & Bar (9470 S. Eastern Ave., 463-3500, republickitchenandbar.com) and tapas institution 9 Firefly (11261 S. Eastern Ave., 778-1400, fireflylv.com) package fun food and drink with exciting environments that will have you planning your next visit before you’re done.

10 Bratalian Neapolitan Cantina (10740 S. Eastern Ave. #155, 454-0104, bratalian.com), with its multi-layered menu of authentic Italian cuisine, is well on its way to becoming a true neighborhood favorite, kinda like 11 I Love Sushi (11041 S. Eastern Ave. #117, 990-4055). Amazingly, locals are still driving across town to meet friends and share tuna tataki and Jerry rolls at this joint. If it ain’t broke, keep ordering the tempura.

Top Notch Barbeque

New arrivals

The best barbecue in Vegas is back, only this time it’s a restaurant, not a food truck. Venture inside Doc Holliday’s at Eastern and Serene for a taste of 12 Top Notch Barbeque (9310 S. Eastern Ave., 883-1555, topnotchbarbeque.com) and take a slab of ribs home. Also packing outsized flavors is the friendly new sandwich shop 13 Beach Hut Deli (9500 S. Eastern Ave. #180, 749-9200, beachhutdeli.com), where immense stacks of ham, turkey, roast beef, pastrami and crisp veggies might somehow fit on a single roll.

Fantastic Asian restaurants have been migrating from Spring Mountain Road to Eastern Avenue in recent years, from pho shops to banh mi dens. Will this tasty street become Chinatown East? The ’hood has two more interesting additions with the traditional 14 East Ocean Dim Sum (9570 S. Eastern Ave., 567-4800) and the Cajun-style seafood cafeteria California Crab (9560 S. Eastern Ave., 868-9154).

Cheap eats

Question: What’s more important than tacos? Answer: Nada. 15 Fausto’s Mexican Grill (2654 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, 617-2246) has been the go-to around here for years. Now there are two 16 Super Burrito locations (8899 S. Eastern Ave. and 10110 S. Eastern Ave., 364-8226) along the main drag, packing high quality fillings into your choice of tortilla foundation. For something different, check out 17 Inka Grill (9400 S. Eastern Ave., 614-8818), a rare Peruvian restaurant. Ten bucks gets you large portions of hearty grub and a truly unique culinary experience.

Okay, it’s beef time. 18 Windy City (9711 S. Eastern Ave., 388-4300, windycitybeefsndogs.com) is serving up Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches, dipped in salty au jus and speckled with spicy vegetable giardiniara, plus Vienna Beef hot dogs and even pizza. And challenging that In-N-Out near the Beltway for Eastern Avenue burger supremacy are those 19 Five Guys (10271 S. Eastern Ave. #101, 405-9555, fiveguys.com) and their thick, juicy patties with unlimited toppings. A few dollars goes a long way around here.

Sweet thingsSweet Ruby Jane Confections

After more than 50 years in business, 20 Freed’s Bakery (9815 S. Eastern Ave., 456-7762, freedsbakery.com) is more than just the place to get your holiday gingerbread house or recommend a wedding cake. It’s part of the community. But it’s not the only bakery on Eastern; there’s also the new 21 German Bread Bakery (9255 S. Eastern Ave., 649-8771, germanbreadbakerylasvegas.com), with its killer apple danish, and a sweet little outpost of 22 The Cupcakery (9680 S. Eastern Ave. #100, 207-2253, thecupcakery.com). For more specialized desserts, check out 23 Popped (9480 S. Eastern Ave. #110, 998-9234, poppedcornshop.com), where innovative gourmet popcorn flavors run the gamut from dill pickle to hatch chile, or 24 Sweet Ruby Jane Confections (8975 S. Eastern Ave. #3B, 648-1000, sweetrubyjane.com), where old-fashioned candies, brittles and fudge fill out the colorful display case. Go ahead, splurge. You deserve it, your
reward for eating all of Eastern. 

May we recommend …

Ribs at Top Notch Barbeque. Simply put, they’re the best spareribs in the
 valley, if not the best barbecue this desert has ever seen. Chef and owner Jimmy Cole won’t reveal all the ingredients of his cowboy spice rub, but it’s got enough peppery kick to saturate these succulent, smoky pork bones and render barbecue sauce completely useless.

The Monkey at Crepe Expectations
As it turns out, bananas and Nutella were made for each other, and the folks at Crepe Expectations support their love. The warm, slightly chewy and slightly crisp crepe is the perfect vessel for this creamy-sweet romance, and a little chocolate drizzle, fresh whipped cream and powdered sugar never hurt anyone, either.

Bacon Cheeseburger All the Way at Five Guys. It may be the messiest, happiest burger you’ll ever eat, dripping with ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions and sautéed mushrooms. No bun can handle these ingredients, let alone the beefy-melty cheese-bacon sensation they’re stacked upon. Just don’t get caught using French fries as napkins.  BR

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