Border Grill blends favorite dishes with progressive offerings
Although it’s sometimes said you can never go home again, in Border Grill executive chef Mike Minor’s case, he can, and he did. For nearly a decade, Minor served at the helm of celebrity chef duo Susan Feniger's and Mary Sue Milliken’s storied Mandalay Bay Mexican venue—more than half the time both it and the resort itself have been open. In 2013, he departed the Strip to explore other culinary ventures. But late last year, he returned to his roots in charge of the kitchen. And it’s so comfortable once again, it’s almost as if he’s never even left.
Begin with guacamole; accompanied by a trio of house-made salsas—including a smoky, chipotle-laced rendition—and chips, it’s a consummate starter. Pair it with some elote—Mexican grilled corn—slathered with ancho ash aioli or a fork-tender grilled octopus asada.
Other appetizers include a long-running menu fixture, the Border ceviche. In the latest rendition, mild mahi mahi marinates in a citrus juice mixture laced with aji amarillo, a bright orange chile commonly found in Peruvian fare. The pepper offsets the citric intensity of the dish, accompanied by semisweet plantain chips for serving.
And the Kurobuta pork cheek layers rich braised pork on an open-face sweet corn tamale, with an intensely smoky, chocolate-rich charred chile chimole, intermingling sensations or sweet and savory with hints of heat.
Minor’s influences are apparent on the menu, such as with the recent addition of the hearty gaucho steak. With the grilled beef, finished with seared serranos and caramelized citrus, served atop manchego-laden chilaquiles, you could imagine it’s his high-end riff on nachos. And who doesn’t like nachos? An equally memorable pescado Veracruzano delivers branzino—European sea bass—swimming in a complex broth tinged with butter and lime and hinting of salinity from olives. Once you’ve finished the seafood, have a side of rice waiting to sop up what lies beneath. Trust me on this.
Border’s asado Norteño chicken delivers half a grilled fowl atop colorful roasted purple Peruvian potatoes and cumin-dusted carrots. The poultry is smoky, while the accompanying citrus vinaigrette contributes a contrast in acidity.
Elsewhere from the ocean, shrimp and scallops griddled a la plancha are paired with intriguing paella fritters and nestled in a rich roasted butternut squash purée. And while it’s all intriguing, finish with the ethereal tres leches cake, a traditional Mexican dessert consisting of sponge cake soaked in a trio of milks as the name would indicate. Not overly sweet, Border’s rendition is a classic.
Mandalay Bay, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Sun., 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat. 702.632.7403