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LA COMIDA

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Downtown

100 Sixth St.

Las Vegas, NV 89101

702-463-9900

website

$10-$20

Mon-Thu 11:30am-11pm

Fri-Sat 11:30am-2am

Mexican

A-

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A Mexican restaurant from Michael Morton.

Where is it?

In Downtown Las Vegas, just off the Fremont East Entertainment District.

What kind of food is served?

Regional and local specialties that emphasis fresh ingredients and a homemade style.

What is the atmosphere like?

A great Mexican cantina vibe.

How is the service?

Very good and very patient.

What are the prices like?

Pricey for Downtown but not at all out of line.

What else do I need to know?

They have a full bar with great margaritas and tequila flights.

What's the bottom line?

The best Mexican food in Vegas.

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FULL REVIEW

Restaurateur Michael Morton has had an interesting journey in Las Vegas. His restaurants and nightclubs at The Palms including Rain, ghostbar, Moon, N9NE Steakhouse, and more helped establish that hotel as one of the preeminent destinations for cool vibes and good food. That partnership ended (somewhat acrimoniously) in 2011 and Morton moved on to other ventures like this, his first Downtown Las Vegas restaurant and one of the few in Downtown Las Vegas that are worth going out of your way for.

Located right around the corner from Fremont Street, just steps from The Commonwealth bar and El Cortez hotel, the place is charming from the beginning as you walk down a Mexican garden inspired path to the main door tucked away off the street. The restaurant is a sunny space with big windows and doors opening up onto a sidewalk patio and it has a bit of a unfinished adobe vibe, with exposed brick and concrete mixed with gorgeous dark woods, metal work, and stained glass throughout.

La Comida is Spanish for food and here that translates into a relatively small but flavor intensive menu of Mexican and Latin influenced cuisine. This is not 99-cent soft tacos and rubbery cheese quesadillas, this is the real stuff; the kind of local and regional specialties that you'd find cooking in real kitchens as opposed to served through fast-food windows.

Consider starting with the chicken tortilla soup, done with a spicy chipotle tomato base and loaded with delicate white meat and crunchy strips. It's a bit on the fiery side so you have been warned, but if you can stand the heat it is well worth it.

The huevos rancheros and spare ribs in green tomato salsa also looked tempting in the appetizer section.

There is a taqueria section on the menu with chicken, pulled pork, and various seafood options but we went for the signature specials. The enchilada de pollo went way beyond the standard versions to include perfectly seasoned chicken in tender tortillas topped with a chocolaty mole sauce; the puerco ahumado was a deliciously tender portion of pork shoulder, mesquite smoked and served in a red chili adovada sauce; and the pollo al horno is a half-chicken roasted mixiote style inside leaves with poblano peppers, squash, and a garlic and tomato achiote sauce.

Of course we stayed for dessert. The tres leches cake is a little bit of heaven on a plate, with a delicate vanilla-cinnamon dough soaked in condensed, sweetened, and evaporated milk. Start with one of their kick ass margaritas and end with that cake and it almost won't matter what you have in between.

Everything tasted homemade and beyond fresh, with the kinds of flavors that you can't get at a fast-food Mexican joint or even at most dine-in ones.

Prices are more than reasonable for this caliber of restaurant and certainly cheaper than what you'd pay for similar food on The Strip, but still a bit higher than what most Downtown eateries charge. Salads, appetizers, and ceviche are between $8-$13; and main courses are between $9-$22 with most hovering around the $15 mark. Throw in one of their $9 margaritas, dessert, tax, and tip and you're looking at about $35-$40 per person although you can obviously do it cheaper if you cut out the booze and grab a bag of M&Ms at the concession stand of whatever show you're going to see, but you'll hate yourself for it later.

Service was great - knowledgeable about the menu and helpfully patient with our gringo inability to grasp some of the more obscure parts of it.

La Comida is exactly the kind of restaurant Downtown Las Vegas has needed to help establish it as a foodie destination and should challenge the ones that come after it to raise their game. Gauntlet officially thrown.

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