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Desert Companion

Durango unchained

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"France" galette from La Maison de Maggie
Photography by Brent Holmes

"France" galette from La Maison de Maggie

This southern stretch of an otherwise standard street reveals flavors from all around 

When it comes to the local Las Vegas dining scene, it’s easy to look to historic Downtown, Downtown Summerlin and even Green Valley as restaurant hot spots. But, on a rather nondescript strip mall stretch of South Durango across from Desert Breeze Park, quite the collection of eateries has come into its own. To discover some new gems and rediscover some mainstays, let’s head from north to south on an edible suburban itinerary.

 

La Maison de Maggie

In perhaps the most Gallic crêperie in the valley, the actual Maggie serves the beloved thin pancakes in her namesake nook. Go for the most authentic of them all, the “France” galette. It’s made with nutty buckwheat flour and is filled with ham, cheese and a fried egg, just like it’s done back in Normandy. (3455 S. Durango Drive #112, 702-823-4466, lamaisondemaggie.com)

 

Paiz Latin Foods

If you don’t want any animales in your tacos, you can grab a few vegan tortillas filled with veggies such as mushrooms, zucchini and deep-fried avocado at this Mexican shop. (3655 S. Durango Drive #27, 702-426-0821, facebook.com/PaizLatinandVeganFood)

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Scoops

While gelato and shaved ice might seem to have taken the town over, there’s still plenty of good ol’ American ice cream about, like at tiny Scoops. Featuring the familiar Thrifty label of frozen treats, you can get your bubblegum flavor on up in here. (3655 S. Durango Drive #19, 702-463-8599, thriftyslasvegas.com)

 

TC’s Rib Crib

One of the most venerable 'cue joints in town, TC’s serves Louisiana-style pork in abundance. There’s also fried catfish on Fridays, and daily inexpensive deals on “sammies,” including beef brisket and pulled chicken. (3655 S. Durango Drive #18, 702-451-7427 tcsbbqcrib.com)

 

Zaytoon Market & Restaurant

The finest Persian cuisine around can be had at friendly Zaytoon, which, of course, has a menu replete with varieties of kabobs, from chicken and beef to lamb and, yes, sturgeon. The saffron-scented rice is amazing, and the lavash bread is addictive. Wash it down with a green tarragon soda. (3655 S. Durango Drive #11-14, 702-685-1875, zaytoonlasvegas.com)

 

The Rice Shop

What’s likely the most microscopic eatery in Las Vegas proffers some of the biggest flavors. Owner/chef Anthony Zappola’s two-table Rice Shop specializes in, of course, bowls of steamed grain topped with savory delights like Korean beef and Kentucky fried fish. With a pedigree that includes Heritage Steak at the Mirage, he even makes his own pickled vegetables, which, like everything else here, taste extraordinary. (3655 S. Durango Drive #9, 702-889-0468, riceshopvegas.com)

 

Other Mama

While less than two years old, Other Mama has made big waves in Southern Nevada’s epicurean scene. Owner/chef Dan Krohmer spent two years in a culinary dojo in rural Japan perfecting his craft, and the restaurant’s seafood-centric menu is the result. Seasonal specials like grilled octopus with aji amarillo and black beans are standout, and the happy hour oyster service is a true score. The bar creates top-notch mixology, too. The entire package is as good as any casual dining destination you can find on the Strip. (3655 S. Durango Drive #6, 702-463-8382, othermamalv.com)

 

Norm’s Cafe

For a handful of years, Norm’s was located in the same plaza as Other Mama, but moved a block to the south in early December. It has great greasy-spoon offerings, including a from-scratch eggs Benedict and a satisfying lox scramble. (3945 S. Durango Drive, 702-431-3447, facebook.com/normseggscafe)

 

Naked Fish’s Sushi & Grill

Naked FishNaked Fish’s is one of those old-guard (for Vegas) places that’s been around for more than a decade, but doesn’t really get spoken or written about much anymore. But it’s still quite worthy. Beside raw denizens of the deep, try rustic Japanese maki rolls filled with relatively uncommon gobo (burdock root) or natto (fermented soybeans). (3945 S. Durango Drive #A6, 702-228-8856, vegasnakedfish.com)

 

Amore Taste of Chicago

PizzaExpats from the City of Big Shoulders — and the people who love them — surely hold Amore dear for dining. Big, big dining. In the miracle Year of the Cubs, you can satisfy your Upper Midwestern cravings for deep-dish pizza, beef sandwiches, and pasta with peppers, in view of many sports-filled HD screens. Sports are definitely big here, too. (3945 S. Durango Drive, 702-562-9000, amoretasteofchicago.com)

 

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