From street tacos to fajitas, Mexican food-loving herbivores have more fresh options.
Southern Nevada’s vegan food scene isn’t the barren wasteland it was five years ago — more and more restaurants are responding to the demands of those, like me, who opt out of meat and dairy. This has led to several vegan-specific food trends. One that’s hard to ignore is the vegan reinvention of authentic Mexican food. Having sampled more than my fair share, here’s a selection of favorites.
Vegan Chicken Soft Street Tacos at Pancho’s Vegan Tacos
Located in an unassuming shopping center, this taco joint is a hidden gem. The interior is humble, but the food is bold. These vegan soft street tacos derive from a beloved Mexican comfort food: “Street tacos are the most popular thing in Mexico,” says Sacbe Meling, owner of Pancho’s. “As Mexicans, we crave them all the time.” His chicken is so tender and flavorful it’s hard to believe it’s a soy-based, in-house recipe and not our cute feathered friends. The warm, slightly crisp tortillas hold a savory filling topped with cilantro and a squeeze of lime for the perfect addition of freshness. 865 S. Pecos Road #5, panchovegano.com
Vegan Fajitas at Nacho Daddy
This sizzling hot plate of chicken fajitas is realistic enough to fool any carnivore. The tender, juicy faux meat is served with piping-hot peppers and onions. This dish could feed two (or one very hungry me) and comes with an array of toppings, including vegan sour cream. Nacho Daddy in Summerlin also offers a free margarita or beer on Mondays with any vegan meal, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with it being on my list. 9560 W. Sahara Ave., nachodaddy.com
Pozole at Pancho’s Kitchen
Pozole is traditionally centered on chicken broth and chicken breasts, so I fretted that I would never enjoy this classic comfort food again. Then I found Pancho’s Kitchen. The team here has created a perfect blend of tart and salty, totally capturing that conventional pozole taste. It’s served with a variety of sides and toppings; I recommend the crispy rolled potato tacos, which are even more amazing dipped into the broth. Between this hot comfort food, the brightly colored interior, and the warmth of the staff, this is the perfect escape from the winter blues. 5201 W. Charleston Blvd. #120, panchoskitchenlv.com
Sweet Potato Enchiladas at Frank and Fina’s Cocina
Come for the quiet and low-lit, relaxing atmosphere, but don’t miss the sweet potato enchiladas. Simple but satisfying, they are a perfect blend of smoky and sugary. The warm sweet potato filling is complemented by a rich slathering of enchilada sauce. A vegetarian (not to be confused with vegan) dish, it comes topped with cheese and sour cream, so plant-based eaters must make sure to ask for it without. 4175 S. Grand Canyon Drive, facebook.com, search Frank and Finas
A lifestyle choice such as veganism can seem daunting, but having these kinds of options makes it seem less like a sacrifice and more like a luxury. Sacbe, owner of Pancho’s Vegan Tacos, says compassionate dining will continue to grow, so long as diners keep showing the love. “Vegas is growing really fast — not just in vegan food but overall — and it’s taking the vegan movement with it,” he says. “We hope it’s not a trend.”