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22 places for ethnic cuisine

Each week Neon spotlights a different cuisine in the Dining Guide, with ethnic 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.

BERTOLUCCI BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSE

2895 N. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson; 702-458-0080

Bertolucci doesn’t have the pizzazz of some of the similarly formatted chain operations in the tourism corridor, but it makes up for it with an extended hot (and cold) buffet and tons of personal service. Our pork rib was extremely dry, but we liked the pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon, marinated flank steak, sirloin, filet mignon and roast lamb, as well as the fried bananas, fried cheese balls, polenta, Feijoada and flan. (1/31/14 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$$$

CAFE BERLIN

4850 W. Sunset Road; 702-875-4605

Although it seems natural we won’t make comparisons between Cafe Berlin and other once-and-future local German restaurants. This one is somewhat sparsely decorated and has a somewhat minimalist menu, but what’s there is mostly satisfying to lovers of all things Teutonic. We liked the pretzel with Obazter; the Wurstplatte with its authentic bratwurst, knockwurst and bockwurst, a slightly crispy Jaegerschnitzel; spaetzle; and apfelstrudel. (7/20/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$$

COTTAGE CAFE

4647 Paradise Road; 702-650-3395

Signature dishes: Ethiopian-style meats, injera bread.

ENGLISH’S

Town Square, 6599 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-478-8080

English’s bills itself as a gastropub but the food is more reminiscent of a traditional, old-fashioned pub — not that there’s anything wrong with that. The cod and chips carried all of the crisp/moist goodness of the classic, and the steak and ale pie had hearty flavor and was accompanied by creamy whipped potatoes and some nice honeyed carrots. But we thought the Cornish pasty and Ploughman’s were lacking a little luster. (2/17/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: B

$$

FIREFLY

3824 Paradise Road; 702-369-3971 (also at 9560 W. Sahara Ave.)

Firefly’s early 2013 public-health issues understandably stoked a lot of strong feelings but we not only lived through but loved our visit to the new location, where we had a raft of tapas favorites old and new: stuffed dates, fresh garbanzos, heirloom tomato salad, albondigas, piquillo peppers, eggplant cannelloni, an ahi tuna skewer and classic flan, all skillfully prepared. (8/16/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$$

GORDON RAMSAY PUB &GRILL

Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 877-346-4642

Despite a design glitch that made us feel like we were eating at Papa Bear’s table we enjoyed the casual pub vibe of Gordon Ramsay’s place at Caesars Palace. Worthy of note: the salted pretzel-bread sticks and pub cheese brought to the table, a starter of heirloom tomato salad and traditional entrees of Yorkshire Ale Battered Fish and Chips and shepherd’s pie. But the seating kept us from staying for dessert. (6/7/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$$

THE GREAT GREEK

1275 W. Warm Springs Road, Henderson; 702-547-2377

The Great Greek is a mom-and-pop with all of the personalized service that implies as well as top-notch gyros, the pillowy pita overflowing with meat and graced with a decorative swath of feta cheese, a whole pepperoncini perched atop. We also loved the hummus, Greek salad, souvlaki and baklava. (3/29/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$

HOFBRAUHAUS LAS VEGAS

4510 Paradise Road; 702-853-2337

Signature dishes: schnitzels, pretzels.

INDIA MASALA BAR &GRILL

1040 E. Flamingo Road; 702-431-8313

Service was a little laggy at India Masala — we kind of felt like they were stuck in lunchtime-buffet mode — but we really liked the place for its gorgeous atmosphere and very good food that included tandoori chicken, lamb Madras curry and the cilantro-mint and tamarind chutneys served with the better-than-average pappadum. (3/15/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$$

ISLAND SUSHI &GRILL EXPRESS

Plaza, 1 S. Main St.; 702-386-1600

Island Sushi, a downtown spot from longtime local chef (and native Hawaiian) Terence Fong, brings the flavors of the eight islands here to the ninth one. It’s counter-service and that service can get a little iffy (especially when customers wait until they’re first in line to start thinking about what they want) but the food, for the most part, is pretty good. Kamaboko may be an acquired taste but the Wonton Min had lots of other things to recommend it; we also liked the Hawaiian roll, the ahi poke and the plain and chocolate-filled malasadas. (7/5/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$

JALEO

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-698-7950

Jose Andres is considered the father of the tapas movement in the United States, making a splash with them on the East Coast, but while he was somewhat late to Las Vegas, his tapas, showing a fine balance between the classic and the innovative, are proof he deserves exalted status. We loved them all: a cone of La Serena cheese and quince paste, pan con tomate with Manchego, carne asada with poquillo pepper confit, chorizo wrapped with potato, dates wrapped with bacon, grilled asparagus with Romesco sauce and — most spectacularly — flan, and olives stuffed with anchovy and piquillo with Ferran Adria liquid olives. (2/3/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$$$

JAMMIN’ JERK HUT

3333 S. Maryland Parkway; 702-433-3303

What’s jammin’ at the Jammin’ Jerk Hut? The food, primarily, like oxtails, slow-simmered, subtly seasoned and tender; Jammin’ Jerk Chicken that had many of the same attributes; and Curry Chicken that was the epitome of mellow. With a side of perfectly prepared plantains and the stew peas and rice that came with our entrees, we were jammin’ indeed. (4/26/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: B+

$$

JERUSALEM GRILL

4825 W. Flamingo Road; 702-341-5555

It’s all kosher at the Jerusalem Grill but even if you’re not, you may well enjoy it because the food is fabulous. That would include the complimentary cumin-laced warm garbanzos and cold marinated vegetables served before the main event, plus such innovative dishes as hummus centered with a mound of sauteed mushrooms and onions and such classic ones as a falafel platter and probably the best shawarma we’ve had anywhere. (5/3/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$$

MAD GREEK CAFE

8565 W. Sahara Ave.; 702-242-7669

If, like us, your only acquaintance with The Mad Greek was via the drive-through at the location in Baker, Calif., you might be surprised at the great quality of the food (not to mention large portions, and reasonable prices) of this Las Vegas outlet. We loved the saganaki, the pork gyro and the combo plate that included moussaka, pasticchio, dolmathes, kebabs, beef and lamb gyro meat and more. (4/11/14 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$$

MARKET GRILLE CAFE

7070 N. Durango Drive (also at 7175 W. Lake Mead Blvd.); 702-396-0070

We wondered how the Market Grille Cafe had made the transition from a counter-service to a full-service space (although the second location, on Lake Mead Boulevard, remains counter-service). The answer: swimmingly, in large part because the owners have been all about the details since the beginning. We loved our appetizer of kefredes meatballs, our lamb souvlaki and the Greek Trio Platter, although we thought the rice on the last a bit of carb overkill. (7/12/13 H.K.R.)

Overall: A-

$$

MARRAKECH MOROCCAN RESTAURANT

3900 Paradise Road; 702-737-5611

Signature dishes: six-course dinner including beef kabob, chicken.

MI PERU

1450 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, Henderson; 702-220-4652

Signature dishes: Polla a la Brasa (roasted marinated chicken), deep-fried yuca root, Lomo Saltado (beef with tomatoes and onions), purple corn drink.

ORIGIN INDIA

4480 Paradise Road; 734-6342

Signature dishes: vegetable samosas, paneer tikka, lamb sheek kabob.

PLAKA AUTHENTIC GREEK CUISINE

2550 S. Rainbow Blvd.; 702-471-0270

That our food at Plaka was served well below lukewarm was extremely unfortunate considering the overall quality otherwise. We liked the combination plate with its dolmathes, moussaka, pastitsio, roasted lamb, gyro meat, rice and roasted potatoes, and the chicken shish kebab, but especially a starter of saganaki, which was flamed before it was served and therefore nice and hot. (1/17/14 H.K.R.)

Overall: B

$$

RED SQUARE

Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 702-632-7407

Signature dishes: caviar, Salmon Kulebyaka.

SULTAN’S GRILL

1910 Village Center Circle; 702-838-3221

Sultan’s Grill was somewhat of a mixed bag, with falafel that was dry and flavorless and a promising parsley-and-scallion green hummus that was a pasty disappointment. Those were balanced, though, by really good shawarma — carefully seasoned, well marinated and tender and juicy — and solid red and classic versions of hummus, and by friendly service and a clean and sleek, if somewhat plain, interior. (5/4/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: B-

$

TAJ PALACE

9530 S. Eastern Ave.; 702-685-0222

The mini-melting pot that is the Sansone Park Place has great Indian food thanks to the Taj Palace, which has a quietly elegant interior and vegetable samosas with an ultra-flaky pastry casing. Also worthy of note: tender Paneer Pakoras, super-tender Lamb Saag, zingy Chicken Kabab Adraki and mellow Good Ole Butter Chicken. (8/31/12 H.K.R.)

Overall: A

$$

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