By: Bob Gourley
Many of us like sameness, especially when it comes to dining out. I’m guilty of it too going to the same restaurants and ordering the same things.
It is great to try new places and dishes and there are times when you have to. On New Year’s Eve, my wife and I were headed to our favorite Mexican restaurant. We arrived and found that it was closed.
We continued down the road and saw a sign for a place we had not heard about or seen reviewed: Macayo’s on Charleston. I’m sure there are many of you who not only know the place but love it, but it was a first for us.
We entered and were impressed with the casual look and friendly staff. The hostess informed us that they were open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. After looking at the large menu the dishes looked pretty traditional. But after viewing plates of nearby diners, I knew that this was indeed a different kind of place.
The Johnson family started the chain in Phoenix in 1946. There are two locations in the valley now and six in Arizona. One of their claims to fame is that the patriarch Woody Johnson invented the chimichanga, which has become so popular all over. He was trying to put together a burrito but instead stumbled into this signature creation by accidentally dropping it into a fryer.
One of the very different dishes here is the large chicken burro enchilada that is more like a lasagna, with a couple of layers of tortillas interspersed with cheese. It was enough for two, but I devoured it solo anyway. There are traditional enchiladas on the menu as well, with beans and rice, but you really should give this one a try.
Mexican corn is one of the “true flavors of Mexico” fare. The roasted kernels are served off the cob and delivered with queso fresco and Pepe’s Picante Salsa. You can also order a green chile pork stew with Poblano chile, tomatillo, jalapenos, onion and cilantro served with warm flour tortillas.
Lighter fare is available with an attractive slate of salads like the Fiesta with grilled chicken or certified Angus beef, fresh greens, black beans, mixed cheese and Pico de Gallo tossed in cilantro lime dressing all sitting inside of a taco shell.
An affordable lunch set-up available on weekdays from 11:00AM to 3:00PM should satisfy the wallet and growling stomachs. A chalupa taco with rice and beans is just $7.49. Red beef or chicken enchiladas are similarly priced.
Devotees of happy hour will want to put a smile on and visit weekdays from 3:00 - 6:00 pm or weekends all day. $3.00 appetizers like a cup of spinach con queso is order-ready. $5.00 appetizers including sliders like chicken tinga or a red chile chalupa are enticing.
After visiting Macayo’s I have added them to my list of much-visit Mexican restaurants in the area.
Macayo’s, 1741 E. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas (702) 382-5605, 8245 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas (702) 360-8210. www.macayo.com.