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Street Foodie: 'Tis the Seasoning

Pork belly bao at Fat Choy
Text and Photos by Brent Holmes
Text and Photos by Brent Holmes

Are you Hindu, “spiritual,” Jewish, atheist, woke AF, or just can’t have another discussion about the state of the world with that one family member? There are plenty of reasons to skip a traditional Christmas dinner — and Street Foodie is here for you! Here to shine a light brighter than a certain red-nosed cervidae. Let visions of sugar plums dance in everyone else’s heads; you’re going beyond dry turkey and grandma’s standard stuffing.

Pop’s Cheesesteaks

“There’s always someone here.” That was the most comforting thing the cook/superhero working the window at Pop’s could have said: 365 days a year, 24 hours a day (including Christmas!), Pop’s is serving up what this former East Coaster can confidently say is a very-Philly Philly cheesesteak. Street Foodie likes number 32, the cheesesteak with bell peppers and mushrooms — and don’t skimp on the Cheese Whiz. 501 S. Decatur Blvd.,


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Big Wong 

Deck your halls with umami at this low-key Chinatown institution. Street Foodie recommends the rib-eye or the fried chicken; both come with a side of rice and a deep-brown garlic sauce that’s more satisfying than watching Hans Gruber fall from the Nakatomi tower. Feeling venturesome? Try the curried fish balls or the chicken wings. 5040 Spring Mountain Road #6, 702-368-6808


Fat Choy 

Asian food is the standard option for Christmas abstainers, but I suggest you gift yourself the best of both worlds. Start with Fat Choy’s great bao — buns stuffed with duck, mushroom, or pork belly — that make Street Foodie’s jowls jiggle like a bao full of belly. Follow them with the ham steak dinner special that provides all the traditional flavors of the season. Fat Choy made its name by serving up big flavor, and this holiday season it won’t disappoint. 595 E. Sahara Ave.,


India Oven Masala Bar & Grill 

Street Foodie remembers a time, almost 20 years ago, when the options for Indian food in the valley were, let’s say, scarce. Even then, India Oven’s buffet was a beacon of spice — and it still is. It may be cold outside, but the warming sensation will start at your tongue with the butter chicken and curried goat (vegetarian options abound, too). Don’t leave without trying Street Foodie’s favorite snack, the idili masala — light dumplings sautéed in an aromatic blend that will make you forget French fries ever existed. 1040 E. Flamingo Road,


The pumpkin stir-fry with basil leaves at this “vegan menu before it was a thing” Thai joint will give a whole new meaning to “pumpkin spice” — pick your spice level (Street Foodie is a 3 out of 5, fyi) and get holly jolly. (Afterward, cool down with some homemade Thai iced-tea ice cream.) Komol also makes a red curry that is worth going out of your way for. This place often gets overshadowed by the love for Lotus of Siam, but for my money, you can’t go wrong with this midtown classic. 953 E. Sahara Ave., 702-731-6542

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El Dorado Cantina

What’s red and green and on fire? No, not that dangerously dried tree in your living room. I’m talking about the cactus tacos at El Dorado Cantina. Not for nothing is this the classiest Mexican restaurant next to a strip club (Sapphire) in town — it has so many bomb options Street Foodie hardly knows where to start. But let’s go with those cactus tacos: fried cheese girdled to plump corn tortillas and stuffed with grilled cactus, laden with guacamole and red salsa. And since this place is open 24 hours, you can sneak next door for a little naughty to go with your nice meal. 3025 S. Sammy Davis Jr. Drive (with a second location in Tivoli Village),


Starboard Tack

Christmas oysters, yes! Let’s start a new tradition by slurping down these briny beauties with a squeeze of lime and a dollop of horseradish-infused cocktail sauce. If you’re spending this holiday on your own, keep yourself company with the hearty loco moco, an egg on a beef patty doused in gravy that just won’t quit. And be sure to grab a cocktail, because these guys know how to make spirits bright. 2601 Atlantic Street,


(Editor's note: Brent Holmes no longer works for Nevada Public Radio)