El Dorado Cantina is an off-Strip dining gem
If you're looking for a great Mexican restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip, you’ll find several. But one of the best in Vegas isn’t even on the Strip. El Dorado Cantina, in an industrial area not far from the Strip, will make you happy you’ve ventured out. (Plus, it just opened a new El Dorado Express on the Strip, so technically it is on the Strip).
Since it opened three years ago, El Dorado has garnered a huge amount of acclaim for its organic, non-GMO cuisine, and rightly so. This place rocks!
Chef Francisco “Paco” Cortes was key in developing the wide-ranging menu, which pulls from traditions and spices all over Latin America and helping build relationships to purveyors of sustainable products. Although the website carefully lets you know that organic and non-GMO ingredients aren’t guaranteed, it also lists the companies that the restaurant sources from, all the way from meats and dairy to chips.
You’ll want to start with guacamole and a margarita, of course, because who wouldn’t? Guacamole is prepared tableside by your server, who uses a mortar and pestle made of volcanic rock to combine garlic and cilantro, onion, jalapeños, tomato and avocado. The fragrance alone will drive you crazy.
The Smokey Margarita also delivers on fragrance and flavor—El Silencio Espadin mescal provides intense flavor, tamarind purée adds to that, and Sweet Heat syrup gives a little touch of spicy ghost pepper. Order two if you must.
El Dorado Cantina
Other appetizers include the queso fundido, which becomes vegetarian-friendly with the addition of mushrooms and raja peppers. It’s served sizzling on a skillet, and the cheese is crispy underneath and soft and scoopable above. If you’d like even more protein, try the chorizo variety. And who wouldn’t want to indulge in chapulines? The crispy fried grasshoppers are a very old Mexican dish that have a surprising following.
Taco Tuesday can definitely occur every day here—you’ll find al pastor and carnitas, corn rajas, and pulled chicken street tacos as well as many signature varieties including cactus, short rib, cabeza, veggie, shrimp and cheese.
The entrée list may make you reconsider your tacos—in the cochinita pibil, pork has been marinated with achiote and wrapped in banana leaves. And accompanying habanero onion citrus mix adds a huge kick. The Mexican corn is an exceptional side dish as well—on cob or off.
To cool off that kick, try the deep-fried ice cream. Vanilla bean ice cream is coated in cereal flakes, fried, and covered in rich banana and chocolate sauces. For a traditional dessert, get the flan. This might be from an old family recipe, and you'll want every bite (if you don’t, I do—just call me).
3025 Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, 24 hours daily. 702.722.2289