Great global grub in Las Vegas


To many travelers, enjoying global food means having a heaping plate of "Eye-talian" at an "international buffet." For others, it's only bona fide exotic cuisine if it's cooked by a street urchin in a clay pot that doubles as a cat bed. Many of us are in between.

Those of us in the middle are neither food Neanderthals nor are we intractable foodies. We are, however, willing to go out of our way for a great meal that showcases the very best of a culture that's not our own. In Las Vegas, having just such an experience is easier than you think.


Taco Tijuana

If you're convinced Taco Bell's triple double crunchwrap is authentic Mexican food perhaps you should avoid Mexico... and Taco Tijuana.

For starters, Taco Bell would never serve a tongue taco. And Taco Tijuana would never put their tongue in anything called a "Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco" shell.

Afraid to try tongue? Fear not! Tongue isn't the only item served at Taco Tijuana. They also have brain tacos. And, as a non-authentic Mexican, I avoided them both. I merely pointed to the meat grilling on the spit and hoped it hadn't come out of a cow's head.

On my first visit, I ordered three pork tacos then immediately ordered two more. On my second visit, I ordered four and then got another.

Taco Tijuana is located in an unassuming, free-standing building on the edge of a strip mall just a few miles east of the Tropicana casino on Tropicana Avenue.

Cornish Pasty Co.

Take all of your favorite hearty Sunday afternoon dinner dishes, stuff them into a baked pastry, remove the "r" from pastry and you have a Pasty. It's not pronounced "paste-y." The word "pasty" sounds more like a bored teenage girl saying "nasty." The "a" is long.

Cornwall, England is the legally designated home of the pasty in Europe, hence the establishment's name, Cornish Pasty Co. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is known for them in America, which is where I first tried one.

The menu is pretty varied considering they mostly focus on one type of food. They have the traditional "Oggie" which is stuffed with steak, potatoes, onion and rutabaga, with a side of gravy or ketchup. But they also have versions containing lamb vindaloo, pesto chicken and salmon with cream dill sauce. There are even meatless options to keep your whiny vegetarian friends happy.

Try one with a Newcastle Brown Ale and you'll feel like cheering on Exeter in the Premier League. Or, you'll want to head over to Paris to talk about how rude the French can be.

Origin India

If you've watched the movie Slumdog Millionaire, you probably have a hard time believing an Indian restaurant serving a Spiced Creamsicle Martini could be anywhere near authentic. I wouldn't know. I've never been to India. Mostly because snakes, monkeys and crowded trains make me uncomfortable. So, while I can't vouch for the cultural realness of Origin India's cuisine, I will say that it is legitimately delicious.

Origin India isn't a take-out restaurant. It leans more towards gourmet, which means the prices are slightly higher and the portions are slightly smaller than a neighborhood joint. They do, however, have a very reasonable afternoon buffet.

From 11:30 a.m to 3 p.m. on weekdays, you can try a variety of dishes for $11.95. On the weekends, the buffet will set you back only a few dollars more.

Origin India is located off The Strip across from the Hard Rock hotel on Paradise Road. Since Paradise Road is one of the main arteries to and from the airport, it's a great place to stop on a travel day. Warning: If you've never eaten Indian food before, it may not be a good idea to ingest Chicken Tikka Masala for the first time right before a long plane ride. Please don't make me explain why.

Lotus of Siam

For the past few years, the nation has been buzzing about Lotus of Siam and for good reason. It's regularly been named one of the best Northern Thai restaurants in the USA.

Back in 2011, chef and owner, Saipin Chutima won the prestigious James Beard award. And, while I'm sure she's proud of this coveted honor, I have always been troubled by a food award that contains the word "beard." You might as well give out the Tony Toenail Foundation Trophy.

Expect long lines. The reputation of this restaurant has made it very popular so customers are willing to wait for a table. If you can't make a reservation, consider going for lunch.

The quote from Anthony Bourdain on their website says it all, "Mmm. That's perfection, man."
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Traci Skene is a stand-up comic based in Las Vegas. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. @traciskene