For all of the talk of celebrity chefs and high-end dining, we may have the best news item on the Strip for 2011 so far – Tacos El Gordo has opened on Las Vegas Boulevard in the strip mall just north of the Wynn/Encore (Key Center, the 3000 block of Las Vegas Boulevard South). That puts them within easy walking distance from many of the Strip properties, and provides something that has been missing entirely from that scene – top-notch ethnic food at very low prices (we will get to that latter aspect in a moment).
Tacos El Gordo has been mentioned on this board before – the chain was founded in Tijuana, and their first Las Vegas location opened on East Charleston about a year ago, a major hit from the start. The focus is on extremely fresh product, and each type of meat has its own cooking station. You order at the stations first, then take the goods to the cashier. There will also be a complimentary plate of grilled chiles and grilled spring onions with each order, and they will load those up as much as you like.
The menu is the real deal, and reflects the Tijuana roots. Meats being offered are Cabeza (beef head), Lengua (beef tongue), Sesos (beef brains), Buche (pork stomach), Adobado (spicy pork), Carne Asada (skirt steak), Tripa (beef stomach) and Suadero (beef shoulder). They can be had as a Taco, Quesidilla, Sope, Tostada, Mula or Vampiro, and there are also large platters of fries available Carne Asada or Adobado. Even when ordered as simply as a taco, each meat comes with its own particular sauce (on today’s visit the Sesos were tried for the first time, with their creaminess playing nicely to a tart tomatillo-infused green sauce).
There is seating both inside and out, and they are open until 3 AM during the week, and 5 AM on Saturday and Sunday mornings, which makes for a hell of a post-clubbing stop for those that have had too much to drink.
Here is the kicker, and it came as a major surprise – they are charging the same prices as they do at all locations. So you only pay on the Strip what you do in a beaten-down area of East Charleston. Tacos are $2, and a large soft drink from the fountain will only set you back $1.40. Those are great price points for the location, yet there is nothing “cheap” about the food – this is quality product