Updated 

14 places for casual American dining


Each week Neon spotlights a different cuisine in the Dining Guide, with casual American restaurants this week. Restaurants are rated on a letter-grade scale, from A to F. Opinions by R-J critic Heidi Knapp Rinella (H.K.R.) are indicated by initials. Price symbols are based on the cost of an average entree: $ = entrees less than $10; $$ = entrees $10 to $20; $$$ = entrees $20 to $30; and $$$$ = entrees more than $30.

AL’S BEEF

6840 W. Sahara Ave.; 702-644-2333 (BEEF)

If you know your Chicago-style Italian beef you know Al’s has been famous for it a long time. Al’s now is in Las Vegas, and since the company takes quality control very seriously, this is the real thing. Get it dry, dipped or wet, with hot or sweet peppers, and fries plain or with any manner of toppings, and chances are good that you won’t find much to beef about. (4/25/14 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

BORN AND RAISED

7260 S. Cimarron Road; 702-685-0258

Sliders are the way to go at Born and Raised; they have a lucky 13 of them, many of them quite creative — and delicious, in the case of the Cubano trio we tasted. We thought the barbecue sauce on Bucky B’s Jack Daniel’s Ribs was on the too-sweet side, but a grilled artichoke was right on the money. (9/16/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$$

BRADDAH’S ISLAND STYLE

2330 S. Rainbow Blvd.; 702-222-0767

Add to Las Vegas’ fusion profusion the Hawaiian-Mexican cuisine of Braddah’s, where you can get a burrito, bowl or taco (or salad) with things like kalua pig and huli-huli chicken instead of carne asada or carnitas. It’s counter-service; you follow along the line and tell them what to add to your order. We loved our kalua pig burrito despite the grease that drained from it, and also tacos with huli-huli chicken and pulehu steak (no, not together) and a starter of guacamole and chips. (2/21/14 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

CHOCOLATE &SPICE BAKERY

7293 W. Sahara Ave.; 702-527-7772

Except for a slightly disappointing cannoli, everything we had at Chocolate &Spice reflected the meticulous attention to detail that owner Megan Romano has always brought to her pastries — and everything else. We loved the wedding soup, a grilled Brie sandwich, grilled Kalbi beef ribs and two choco-centric pastries, one with clouds of chocolate mousse, the other infused with coffee. (1/25/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

CREPE EXPECTATIONS

9500 S. Eastern Ave.; 702-583-4939

If you thought for a minute that crepes aren’t sufficient to sustain an entire restaurant you’d be sadly mistaken because at Crepe Expectations it’s all crepes all the time. The menu of this tiny place is well varied, and we loved our sweet and savory choices, the Avalon with buttered pears, candied walnuts and goat cheese, and the Greek, with grilled chicken fresh spinach, feta and tzatziki. (2/15/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$

THE EGG &I

4533 W. Sahara Ave.; 702-364-9686

A car-restaurant wreck last spring certainly hasn’t kept people away from The Egg &I, which was positively packed when we went late on a weekday morning. The draw, no doubt, is the simple American fare, kicked up a notch in dishes such as housemade shredded corned beef hash and eggs, a Sicilian Skillet with Italian sausage, marinara, peppers and onions and warm banana muffins rich enough to qualify as an indulgence. (6/21/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

ELIXIR

2920 N. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson; 702-272-0000

Elixir bills itself as “a local lounge” but, following the recent practice among poker bars, its menu lists far more than bar food. Stuffed mushrooms were a good way to start, but we thought the flavors in the French onion soup, beef stroganoff and chicken roulade were a little too generic. (12/16/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: B

$$

THE GRIDDLE

9480 S. Eastern Ave. (and three other locations, one of which is called Mollie’s Kountry Kafe); 702-360-3636

Plate-sized pancakes that are light and fluffy but still substantial enough to hold together, porous enough to absorb the butter and syrup, can be somewhat of a challenge. But not at The Griddle, where they come off the griddle perfectly. We had them as part of a Lumberjack platter that also included a couple of eggs and bacon or link sausage. Also worthy of note: the crab cake Benedict, one of a long list of The Griddle’s Benedicts and one with a crab-centric base and a well-executed Hollandaise. (6/29/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

LA CAVE

Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-248-3463

La Cave’s name is reflected in the wine-themed interior in which it serves its small plates, but the airy open-to-the-outdoors patio is quite pleasant on a balmy evening as well. We sipped and shared in the small-plates style and were impressed by the bacon-wrapped dates (despite that fact that one was sort of charred), sliced sirloin steak with mushroom fondue and cipollini onions and diver sea scallops with polenta cake and shrimp sauce, although we thought the raclette a little tame, especially for lovers of this characteristically pungent cheese. (4/13/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$$

MTO CAFE

500 S. Main St.; 702-380-8229

While we thought the menu descriptions could be a little more clear we mostly liked the food at MTO Cafe, including a cheesy potato soup with bacon, French onion soup and the Spam Madame. We also liked the atmosphere of the bright, airy space across from Las Vegas City Hall, with whimsical art for a dash of fun. (3/14/14 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$$

MAC SHACK

8680 W. Warm Springs Road; 702-463-2433

One step from fast food, the counter-service Mac Shack offers economical, well-prepared pasta dishes in a sleek, casual atmosphere and seems to be of particular interest to busy families. We designed our own rigatoni dish with marinara, meatball and sun-dried tomatoes, and also liked the Farmhouse Pasta, farfalle with creamy sauce, ham and peas. But we’d advised skipping the oh-so-plain garlic loaves. (8/10/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

THE MARTINI

1205 S. Fort Apache Road; 702-227-8464

The Martini replaced the former Martinis and there’s still an emphasis on the classic drink, with a menu that includes lots of variations and art prominently featured on the walls. But the food, which is a couple of notches above bar food, measures up quite nicely, especially the Martini Sliders, Margherita flatbread and chicken scallopine, although the risotto served with the latter was on the chalky side. (3/30/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$

SPICY PICKLE SANDWICH COMPANY

7271 Amigo St. (also at 9985 S. Eastern Ave.); 702-263-4350

We weren’t enamored of the soups at the Spicy Pickle but the sandwiches were just fine — the Yard Bird, with its strips of chicken with fresh spinach, apple, blue cheese and bacon, smeared with honey mustard and served on honey multigrain, and the Three-Cheesini, with Swiss, cheddar, provolone, tomato and red onion on grilled marble rye. We also liked the pasta salad served as a side and the fact that the sleek counter-service spot is a great place to grab a quick lunch. (3/16/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$

STEWART + OGDEN

Downtown Grand, 206 N. Third St.; 702-719-5100

We wondered if the chicken pot pie at Stewart + Ogden would be just a knockoff of the one served at Triple George across the street, but this was a creative, offbeat take, with cheese-covered biscuits across the top. We also liked the surprisingly mild Buffalo-style wings, the surprisingly fiery Cubana sandwich and especially the butter brioche bread pudding with rum raisin sauce. (11/29/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$$

 

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