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M&M SOUL FOOD

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Just West of The Strip

3923 W. Charleston

Las Vegas, NV 89102

702-453-7685

website

$10-$25

Daily 7am-8pm

American/Sou Food

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AT A GLANCE

What is it?

Classic down-home, deep south cooking at its finest.

Where is it?

There are two locations. The original is on Charleston Ave., just west of The Strip, and the second is on The Strip between The Stratosphere and SLS Las Vegas.

What kind of food is served?

Do you want gravy with that?

What is the atmosphere like?

Basic but that's the way it should be.

How is the service?

Very friendly.

What are the prices like?

Higher than you'd expect but portions are enormous.

What else do I need to know?

The answer to the above question is yes, you want gravy on that.

What's the bottom line?

Now this is what I call food.

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FULL REVIEW

In 2006 I took an extended road trip through the American south and experienced some of the best down-home cooking to be found on this continent: fried chicken from Gus's in Memphis; hot links from E&T's in Natchez; and barbecue of all stripes and variety from roadside shacks throughout Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Louisiana. These are the places that you should seek out if you ever are in the area because they offer up "real" barbecue and classic southern American cooking that can never be authentically recreated elsewhere.

Or can it?

M&M Soul Food in Las Vegas does a fantastic job of bringing the taste of down-home cooking to the Nevada desert and is not only the best example of the cuisine you're going to find in Vegas but is one of the best of the breed anywhere that I've sampled.

The no-frills restaurant located in a slightly run-down strip mall in a slightly run-down neighborhood may intimidate sheltered suburban types, but if you're insisting on valet parking and cloth napkins when you're looking for collared greens and gumbo you need a good talking to. As of 2015 they have another location on the North Strip at 2211 Las Vegas Blvd. S. between The Stratosphere and SLS Las Vegas.

The full lunch and dinner menu includes the kinds of things that you usually don't find north of the Mason-Dixon line, like chitterlings, oxtails, and black-eyed peas but even the more recognizable items have that southern-cooking flair. For instance, the fried chicken is crispy and juicy with a blend of slightly spicy seasonings that kicks the butt of that stuff that comes in a bucket. If cholesterol is not an issue in your life, you have to get it "smothered" - covered in their sweet gravy, which adds a new layer of flavor and texture that shouldn't be missed.

Other entrée items include baked or barbecue chicken, short ribs, liver and onions, pork chops, meat loaf and more. You can get them ala cart or as a meal with your choice of three sides which include macaroni and cheese, collared greens, red beans and rice, cornbread dressing, fried okra, and more. Each meal starts with an amazing cornbread pancake and real butter to kick things off in a down-home kind of way.

Breakfast specialties include a lot of the above plus things like ham steak, hot links, corn beef hash, and omelets. Most come with your choice of Mississippi style potatoes, rice, or grits; two eggs cooked to order; and a choice of homemade biscuits or toast.

The prices, at first glance, seem a bit on the high side. Lunch and dinner entrees start at around $13 and go up to $20 for a large seafood gumbo but the portions are almost epic and don't forget they come with three sides. It is entirely too much food for one normal human being to eat so sharing is an option as are a doggy bag if your room has a fridge. Plus, this is less than you'll pay at most Strip buffets and the food is vastly superior than you'll find at many.

Service is as down-home as the rest of the joint - expect a familial greeting and plenty of conversation with the staff.

Everything in the tourist areas of Las Vegas is processed to the point of banality, from the experience to the atmosphere to, often, the food. What a joy, then, to walk into someplace as real as this.

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