Housemade Tortilla Chips – Salsa
Corn Queso Fundido – Oaxaca, Mozzarella and Chihuahua Cheese Blend, Sweet Corn, Red Peppers, Breadcrumbs, Cilantro, Housemade Flour Tortillas
Chorizo Stuffed Dates – Smoked Bacon, Tomato Chipotle Sauce, Cilantro, Grilled Torta Bread
Mexican Seared Tuna – Rare Tuna, Cucumber, Avocado, Crisp Tortilla, Mexican Cocktail Sauce
Al Carbon Chicken Taco – Flour Tortilla, Pico de Gallo, Cotija Cheese / Smoked Mushroom Taco – Flour Tortilla, Oyster and Crimini Mushrooms, Black Beans, Cilantro Pesto, Radish / Al Pastor Taco – Flour Tortilla, Roasted Pork, Pineapple Salsa, Radish
Crispy Shrimp Taco – Flour Tortilla, Modelo Beer Battered Shrimp, Red Cabbage Slaw, Chipotle Crema, Avocado / Gringo Taco – Corn Tortilla, Ground Beef, Cheddar Cheese, Pico de Gallo, Shredded Lettuce, Sour Cream / Pink Taco – Corn Tortilla, Chicken Tinga, Cilantro Serrano Sauce, Shredded Lettuce, House Queso, Avocado, Pickled Red Onion
Braised Short Rib – Hominy Grits, Crispy Hominy, Sliced Peppers, Pico de Gallo
Coriander Crusted Halibut – Fennel and Blood Orange Salad, Charred Corn Puree
Pork Tamales – Sweet Corn Masa, Mexican Crema, Salsa Fresca, Chile Verde, Cilantro Green Rice, Refried Beans
Pineapple Flautas – Warm Cinnamon Sugar Flauta, Pineapple Chutney, Vanilla Ice Cream, Salty Caramel Sauce
Chocolate Sancho – Dulce de Leche and Abuelita Chocolate Custard, Chili Caramel Popcorn, Passion Fruit Macaron, Tajin Chocolate Crisp
Churros – Cajeta Filled, Spiced Almond Toffee, Crème Anglaise, Raspberries
Open for over a dozen years inside The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, a property in the midst of a yearlong renovation that has widened corridors and changed nearly everything from its suites to several shopping and dining options, it was on the word that Pink Taco had recently reinvented itself by bringing everything in-house with a whole new staff that lunch was enjoyed alongside two local Chefs on Friday afternoon, the results nothing less than shocking given mixed reviews levied on the place over the past decade.
Described as a ”hipster Mexican cantina” and originally born out of Los Angeles, the Hard Rock location operating independently of the mothership whose website seems to indicate plans for upcoming nationwide expansion, Pink Taco Las Vegas resides conveniently across from The Joint en route from Paradise Parking to the main part of the Hard Rock and although little has changed in terms of familiar signage there is no doubt its ‘what’s on the inside that counts’ these days as Chef Crystal Parker has completely overhauled the menu along with improved service.
Certainly not claiming to be an authentic Taqueria, though such a thing seems less relevant than ever in an era where $10 Tacos are sold in Copenhagen or Barcelona and toppings such as Lobster or Truffles decorate the former Street Food in Manhattan, guests entering Pink Taco will find themselves immediately greeted at a hostess podium that stands in front of a handmade Tortilla factory, a tiny woman quickly flattening individual rounds on a rotating wheel no different than what one might see on a street corner in Mexico City.
Doing away with the bagged Guacamole and frozen Tamales of the past since Bradley Manchester took over the property, Chef Parker charged with the difficult task of building and executing a menu intended to please both discerning diners and folks who just need a quick bite before returning to the ReHab Pool, it was after being led past innumerable trinkets and oddities decorating the walls that seating was offered at a large table beneath mixed lighting and cherubs, a quick look at the menu charting a course that included fifteen items including two upcoming additions plus a big basket of warm Chips and thick, smoky Salsa.
Leaving day-drinking to the younger folks and those in town for the NFR, though a bevy of Beers, Margaritas and Cocktails such as “The Panty Dropper” are available to suit most predilections, it was with conversation easily held below mid-volume music that the menu kicked off with three appetizers including current favorites such as lightly seared Tuna beneath spicy Cocktail Sauce and housemade Chorizo-stuffed Dates resting in a pool of warming Marinara while the Corn-Cheese Fundido proved to be a fun bit of fusion delivering a Korean dish by way of Mexico with just a touch of heat.
Next investing in six styles of Tacos including one order of the Restaurant’s eponymous item it can safely be stated that although a bit more costly than stands lining Eastern Avenue the quality to cost ratio at Pink Taco outperforms most thanks to not only the Shells and accoutrements but the primary fillings themselves, the Smoked Mushrooms particularly enjoyable with a deep woodsy flavor perfect for those who enjoy such things while the plump Shrimp and tongue-in-cheek ‘Gringo’ were also great at just $4 a piece.
Rounding out savories with three entrees, Zonkey Nachos and Burritos left for a later date and time, the decision to bring Tamale making to the kitchen has turned out very well in terms of a thick roll of Masa stuffed with spicy pork and topped in green Salsa while flaky Halibut with a Coriander ‘skin’ should prove accessible to those looking for something light, though those seeking something a bit more hearty would be well advised to take a look at Chef Parker’s new Short Rib dish that placed braised Beef amidst crispy Kernels atop a bed of smooth Hominy ‘Grits.’
Never one to pass on Hard Rock Pastry Chef Mickey Harden’s Desserts, the menu again seeing a lot of recent change, fans of fruity flavors will find lots to like about Pink Taco’s Pineapple Flautas with crisp Pastry and Vanilla Ice Cream while Chocoholics should show no remorse about the Black n’ Tan Pudding mixing Abuelita with Caramel, though for those seeking something a bit more “Mexican” the Churros may just be Sin City’s best in terms of not only taste and texture, but also presentation.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: With no knowledge of the Restaurant’s Food prior, and judged entirely on its own merits in comparison to other like concepts in terms of taste, quality and value there is nowhere else in town offering an experience on par with Pink Taco at this time – Mi Gusta not as good, Chayo compromising the experience with too much going on and Border Grill as well as Javier’s far more expensive.
RECOMMENDED: Corn Queso Fundido, Smoked Mushroom Taco, Braised Short Rib, Coriander Crusted Halibut, Churros, Chocolate Sancho.
AVOID: If anything, the Chicken al Carbon seems redundant in comparison to the better Chicken Tinga Pink Taco.
RECOMMENDED: Brunch is available 11a-2p on weekends, and Happy Hour offers a lot of great deals from 4p-6p on Weekdays save for those with a show at The Joint.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.