EL DORADO CANTINA
By Vegas Food Nerd
When you hunger for Mexican, and you know the authentic honest-to-goodness Mexico City flavors, couple that with the fact that you’ve owned and operated successful restaurants your whole life—then you’ve got the know-how and the where-with-all to open a Mexican restaurant to satisfy your taste buds. Then you do what Darin Feinstein did and open the place yourself.
El Dorado Cantina is located next to a famous spot in our city that many men don’t want their wives to see them patronizing, (it’s located next to Sapphire, AKA World’s Largest Gentlemen’s Club), but I urge you to look past that small, insignificant fact. Once you enter the restaurant, you forget all about the entertainers next store—or maybe you don’t—then feel free to visit them after your meal. No judgment here. The interior is a nice escape to the heart of Mexico City. The walls are adorned with these very cool rose tiles and big, cozy curved leather booths. Artwork is scattered around the room, with wooden beams on the ceiling and lighting that accentuates the bar, creating a relaxed dining experience that will have you settled in before you’ve eaten even one single bite.
This isn’t your stereotypical Mexican restaurant.
Darin Feinstein and Partner Bret Talia took their love of the authentic cuisine from this region and combined it with their passion for serving an array of menu items that are GMO-free and organic. Darin even offers in the front of the menu, a manifesto, if you will—detailing where the restaurant procures its food, showing his commitment to serving the highest quality ingredients. Darin said, “I live here in Las Vegas with my wife and children. I insist on serving only organic foods and non-GMO’s to them each and every day. I insist on that same quality for our customers here.”
Upon our seating, my friend and I were told the fresh pressed juice of the day was tamarind, so we had to get a couple of those to start the meal. A new obsession of mine is fresh pressed juices. The freshness cannot be duplicated, and tamarind juice was one I hadn’t experienced yet. It was sweet, fresh, and a great way to start the meal. Next up, we had to sample the tableside guacamole, which was visually a great presentation. A large butcher block is wheeled out in front of you and a big bull-shaped bowl of guacamole is whipped up right there in front of you. Along with our guacamole, we were given warm crispy chips and a trio of their house made salsas. Then we just reveled in the blending of all the fresh flavors. You do have to be a bit careful here though. The salsas do have a serious kick to them. They even feature a creation highlighting ghost pepper (which is the hottest pepper of all time).
I feel there is something truly wrong about visiting a Mexican restaurant without trying their house margarita. El Dorado’s did not disappoint, using fresh pressed lime and lemon juices, which made it one of the best I’d had in quite some time.
Next up we tried the Imperial Shrimp: shrimp stuffed with mixed seafood, then deep fried and adorned with a ring of bacon. It was a decadent hit with the table. Then we tried the Mexican family favorite, Posole. It burned just enough to warm your insides and your soul. Next up, we tried their take on the trend that many say will put an end to the American sushi obsession: Street Tacos. We sampled their Al Pastors (marinated pork with pineapple), and their Carne Asada Tacos (tender marinated steak with fresh guacamole). Both were executed perfectly, and though we had more to try, we could have finished our meal right there.
I had mentioned to the chef that I was a huge fan of enchiladas, so he insisted on bringing us an enchilada sampler for us to sample. We tried a beef, chicken, cheese, and the seafood. They were all a delight to the palate, but the seafood offering in particular was quite the surprise. It was light, tangy, and just very good. The other item that we sampled and might possibly be our favorite from the experience was the signature menu item, Conchitas Pibil, which is a Mexico City classic dish of pork that is slow-roasted, slathered in rich Mayan spices and wrapped in banana leaves over an open fire. Served with fresh house made tortillas and rice, it was truly something to try. And believe me, when you go, you should.
After sufficiently stuffing ourselves we tried to leave, until the ever-charming Chef Paco insisted: “You cannot leave without dessert! It is my Grandmother’s recipe,” as he laid down a tasting of his family’s Tres Leches Cake and Flan. How can anyone say no to a grandma-perfected dessert? Not me—so I obliged our very friendly chef for the evening and swooned over the cake, but completely fell in love with that flan.
—Chef Paco, you were wise to listen to your grandma, just as Mr. Darin Feinstein was to bring this concept into our city.
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