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Street Foodie: Taco Stands for the New World

thumbnail_pollos_culiacan.jpg

Photography by Brent Holmes

Chicken wizardry from Pollos Culiacan

In the end, you can’t keep a Street Foodie off the street. As the world reopens, so do our mouths, yearning for the new and exciting. No more standard evening take-out and what’s-in-the-pantry recipes; enough homemade baked goods, vapid and repetitive like ambient techno. Street Foodie wants — no, needs — jazz, salsa, orchestras of flavor. All while keeping an appropriate distance from the throngs of masked strangers now emerging into this new version of the world. 

 

Pollos Culiacan

2462 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-488-2424

Befitting the ancient adage “winner winner chicken dinner,” this sweet little cart doles out a victory in every bite. Wonderfully seasoned and grilled chicken, sold piping hot with plump tortillas and salsa. This menu is perfection in its simplicity. Three chicken entrées — basically, whole or half chickens (photo, above) — ranging from $7 to $15, plus tacos, burritos, and quesadillas made from the same meat. It’s a culinary solo so adept it’s impossible to forget. 

 

Tacos El Buen Sabor

2000 E. Charleston Blvd.

Beauty can come in many guises: a cloud cresting a beam of sunlight, a Milky Way night in the high desert, a bacon-wrapped hot dog drowning in salsa, guac, and crema on a steamed bun. *Street Foodie’s eyes unfocus for a minute.* Tacos El Buen Sabor would be an incredible spot if it served only this hot dog. Luckily, the menu has more. The cabeza queso taco (more like a quesadilla, actually) is a noteworthy addition to your to-eat list: shredded head meat with an intense beef flavor tangled up in cheese. I might even have to call it unctuous. Consume it with a mixture of joy and shame as you try to remember if the gyms reopen in phase two or three.

 

Taqueria El Buen Pastor

530 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 702-325-4020

Just beyond the U.S. 95 overpass you’ll find this bustling counter for delicious encounters. Taqueria El Buen Pastor has several locations around the valley, but this one, an open-air food stand, is Street Foodie’s favorite. Tacos here are little slices of heaven. Or try the gringa quesadilla, stacked high with al pastor, pineapple, and half an avocado. Then try it again. It’s gonna take a couple of tries to get all this goodness in. Pro tip: Get the tripa (tripe) if you’re up for some funk. 

 

 

 

 

 

Camaradas Mexican-Italian Kitchen

2535 S. Torrey Pines Dr., (702) 708-1202

It’s no secret that much of the backbone of the culinary industry is made up of Mexican immigrants and their descendants. In this very special case, seasoned veterans of Italian kitchens have folded their collective knowledge back into their mother cuisine. This gastronomic hybrid is a gem hiding in plain sight on West Sahara. The chicken tinga taco left your unsuspecting Street Foodie shocked and defenseless against the onslaught of flavor. And the carne asada fettuccine — must I say more? Should I mention its creamy rising heat, large chunks of beef, mushrooms, caramelized onions, and roasted poblano peppers, all coexisting in a dimension of cheese and cream? It appears that I must. Let’s do you one better: the mescal pink sauce poured over penne pasta, covered in cheese. The sauce is soft, rich, and nuanced with smoky vegetal goodness and the bright flourishes one expects from both cuisines. This fusion was a long time coming.

 

Soy Mexican Veggie-Vegan 

1516 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-503-8823

The greatest surprise in Street Foodie’s exploration of this new transitory world came at a little shack that has a legendary local reputation. Located in the parking of of Dino’s, the Downtown dive bar, this kiosk was the birthplace of valley standards like The Goodwich and Vivia Las Arepas. Now it’s Soy Mexican, and Street Foodie hopes it achieves the same success. It’s all about fresh Mexico City-style fare, with none of the animals included. The vegan chorizo hits all the right flavor profiles, but the true thrill was the vegan corn tortilla quesadillas: Street Foodie swoons for the hongo (mushroom) and is ecstatic about the nopales (cactus). The extremely fresh flavors with a composition of old and new ingredients left your humble Street Foodie gobsmacked with joy — a rare feeling in this strange new world.  

 

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