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If you listened last week you know that I'm now on the bottom five of the second ten of the top twenty restaurants in Las Vegas. Get that? What I mean is we are down to the last of those places serving the best food at the best prices in town. I like to call it bang for the buck, which might come from only a few items on the menu, but which definitely makes each of these establishments worth a special trip.

What are not worth your time or money are the slew of mediocre Italian restaurants which never seem to go out of business no matter how bad they are. My pet theory is that you can throw anything on a noodle and Americans will eat it, but, rising waaay above this red sauce rabble is: (6) Mama Jo's on Durango. Chef John Muccico takes that usual American eye-talian fare to a new level with better ingredients and sharper flavors than any of us are used to. In the same vein (7) Lindo Michoacan gives gringos a full service taste of the real thing, but if you insist on eating your Mexican food while on the run, there's no better taco stand in town than (8) La Tacqueria on West Charleston. And, while you're there, cruise the parking lot and check out (9) Tinoco's Bistro, where Chef Enrique Tinoco puts his heart and soul into pasta and fish dishes that are stunning for their freshness, originality and price. Like Gabriel's in Green Valley, Tinoco's only handicap is its location. For my last selection, I'd like to play "Somewhere my love lies sleeping" with a male chorus (whoops, wrong gig) or Tim: John, remember we're talking about food, okay? Well, maybe my mind was wandering but as long as we're on the subject, for the liveliest and most musical bargain in town it's hard to beat the Marrakech on Paradise, for the price of an entrée in most hotels, you get a Middle Eastern feast, some great eye candy and treatment like the sultan of swing, it's hard to beat that, and hard to beat any of these places for price to value.

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Happy new you and bon appetit.

This is John Curtas.

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