Hussong’s Cantina captures laid-back feel of the original
By Brock Radke
Photos by Peter Harasty
No hassle, no fuss, just a good time. Along with great Mexican food and classic margaritas, that’s what’s in store for you at Hussong’s.
It’s located in Mandalay Place, the exciting stretch of shops and restaurants between Mandalay Bay and Luxor, but step inside this lively bar and eatery and you’ll be transported to a beachfront cantina where the booze flows freely and there’s room for another fish taco. The original Hussong’s, an Ensenada landmark established by a German immigrant in 1892, is a can’t-miss destination in the remote area of Baja California. It’s perhaps best known as the probable birthplace of the margarita, originally concocted in 1941 by bartender Don Carlos Orozco with just tequila, damiana and lime (and a salt-rimmed glass, of course).
So the margarita menu is definitely the place to start at the Vegas version of Hussong’s. That original margarita was served over ice, so the drinks here follow suit and are never blended with ice. The modified original margarita is served with Azul Reposado Blue Agave tequila, triple sec, fresh lime juice and agave nectar, and you’ll want to share a pitcher with the table. There also is a traditional recipe with sweet and sour, the Cadillac margarita with a float of Grand Marnier, and the spicy El Pepino, augmented with freshly muddled cucumbers, cilantro and jalapeño.
Hussong’s is beloved for its Sunday through Thursday happy hour (4 to 6 p.m.), when you can complement these luscious libations with discounted munchies like street-style grilled corn and nachos. There also is a $5 Tecate and taco deal, which always hits the spot.
When it comes to appetizers, there will always be a basket of fresh, hot, flaky-crisp corn chips and red and green salsas to start things off. From there, don’t miss fresh guacamole, shrimp ceviche or queso fundido, a dish of decadent cheeses baked with borracho beans, chimichurri sauce, chorizo sausage and wild mushrooms.
The menu is a simple collection of Mexican favorites, supplemented by fresh seafood that defines Baja cuisine. Build your own nachos from a wild selection of proteins, vegetables and other toppings, or opt for a soulful bowl of posole soup with pulled pork, hominy and tomato. Salads range from the typical tostada bowl filled with fresh veggies to the interesting and mouth-watering crispy shrimp stuffed fried avocado salad.
Hussong’s is a taco lover’s paradise, with a multitude of styles and fillings available. Fish tacos, battered mahi mahi with cabbage, tomatillo-avocado salsa and guacamole, are an easy choice, a delicious no-brainer. But don’t be afraid to upgrade to tacos dorados, crispy shells filled with succulent lobster and topped with salsa, guacamole and sour cream. Enchiladas, burritos and chimichangas round out the menu, plus some interesting entrées you may not have expected: grilled salmon with a honey-chipotle glaze, or a chile relleno stuffed with chopped skirt steak and pasilla salsa.
No matter how many pitchers of margaritas your group has polished off, find room for dessert. Traditional sopapillas, fried pastry dough rolled in cinnamon and sugar, offer the ultimate final satisfaction, or go a bit more decadent with dulce de leche ice cream flash-fried in a crispy-sweet coating of cinnamon and panko.
11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily. 702.553.0123