Border Grill at Mandalay Bay
Campechana – seasonal sustainable seafood cocktail, onion, cilantro, housemade clamato, tortilla crunch, avocado balm
Chips & Salsa – chipotle, verde, roja, habanero
Steak & Egg – aspen ridge farm skirt steak, avocado, over easy egg, crispy potato cake, chipotle sauce, salsa fresco
Peruvian Shrimp & Grits – aji panca salsa, roasted peppers, creamy hominy grits
Chilaquiles – crispy corn tortilla chips, salsa verde, panela cheese, sofrito, fried egg
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes – cinnamon chocolate glaze, strawberry compote, cinnamon butter
Spicy Chicken Tamale – guajillo sauce, avocado puree, salsa fresco
Yucatan Eggs Benedict – manchego cheese biscuit, yucatan roasted pork, slow cooked egg, hollandaise sauce, pickled onions
Chia Berry Power Parfait – aztec chia seed, almond coconut milk, lemon zest, fresh berries
Breakfast Fries – crispy carnitas, guacamole, salsa fresco
BBQ Brisket Mini Tortas – slow cooked beef brisket, cascabel bbq sauce, escabeche, onion, cilantro
Bacon Jalapeno PBJ Sandwich – peanut butter, homemade jelly, crispy bacon, jalapeño, biscuit
Mary’s Chicken & Waffle – noble maple syrup, seasonal local fruit jelly
Tres Leches Bread Pudding – brioche, condensed milk, fresh berries, whipped cream, coconut syrup
Churro Tots – cajeta drizzled churros, cinnamon sugar, passion fruit coulis
Arroz con Leche – berries, rice pudding, preserved orange, caramel puffed rice
Last visited when scouting houses in September 2013, that morning compromised by a traffic cop clearly looking to fill a quota, it was alongside a friend met just a few weeks later that Brunch was planned inside Border Grill at Mandalay Bay on Saturday, the return of Chef Mike Minor to the kitchen seeing several new items added to the endless Brunch in addition to several old classics.
Joined by a second location at The Forum Shops since that first visit, a pair of meals there plus one in Santa Monica providing a good frame of reference for Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger’s brand of Mexican cuisine, it was after navigating a good bit of the Hotel and Casino en route from Self Parking that guests were checked-in at the hostess podium, Chef Mike briefly seen greeting diners in the upstairs dining room before returning to the kitchen and later visiting downstairs patrons.
Offering both an a la carte plus $38.99 all-you-can-eat option on weekends from 10am until three o’clock, the ability to add bottomless Mimosas, Micheladas and Bloody Marys for just $20 clearly a popular choice, it was deferring Alcohol not once but *five* times throughout the course of the meal that the decision was made to partake in the AYCE Brunch, a basket of Guava Empanada’s familiarly starting things off and as good as what one might find in Miami or Mexico while the housemade Tortilla Chips with four Salsas proved tempting throughout a nearly two-hour meal.
Receiving 14/16 of the menu’s diverse options during the course of the morning, service hit-and-miss with a youthful Hispanic gentleman a bit overzealous while his lanky Caucasian counterpart could not have been more blasé if he tried, it was as Tortilla Chips were being presented that a vessel containing plump Shrimp and a vibrant mix of Vegetables arrived, a refreshing opening bite that quickly transitioned to medium-rare Skirt Steak atop crispy Potatoes with smoky Chipotle Sauce and a Sunny-side Egg.
An enormous and intriguing space, the soaring ceilings and walls all painted with both indoor and al fresco seating, it was shortly after Steak that the Two Hot Tamales Shrimp and Grits came from the kitchen, the creamy base and Sustainable Seafood bolstered by Peruvian Pepper Paste while the Chilaquiles spoke well of Border Grill’s Chips which remained crisp despite several toppings.
Going sweet for a moment, the coursing left to Chef Minor smartly using fluffy Cinnamon Pancakes to refresh the palate before offering up a fiery blend of Masa and Shredded Chicken, it was in follow-up that Border Grill’s Benedict proved to be one of the Brunch’s most memorable items, a housemade Cheese Biscuit stacked high with Pork and Pickled Onions plus the expected Egg and Hollandaise.
Adapting to current dining trends by offering a “Power Parfait,” the presence of ‘superfood’ Chia Seeds on menus certainly not common in 2013 and neither adding nor detracting from a fresh Fruit and Coconut Milk in this creamy vegan concoction, it was again with senses freshened that Breakfast Fries and Sliders came next, the typically American pairing given a southwest spin by way fresh Salsa and dried-Pepper BBQ Sauce plus braised Meats including crispy Carnitas and tender Brisket.
The rare ‘everything to everyone’ menu that still manages to maintain its concept, Border Grill’s longtime success likely attributable to precisely that fact while several other “Mexican” or “Latin” Restaurants on The Strip have struggled, it was with Milliken and Feniger’s comforting Bacon Jalapeno PBJ Sandwich followed by Mary’s Organic Fried Chicken atop a tiny Waffle soaked in 100% Maple Syrup that savories came to a conclusion, the ingredient quality never in question and frankly remarkable in comparison to Las Vegas’ other all-you-can-eat choices.
Wasting nothing more than a few smears of Sauce to this point, Chef Mike complimenting the table’s capacity when visiting guests around the room, it was with a sliver of Tres Leches Bread Pudding plus chopped up Churros in Caramel plus Passion Fruit that Brunch neared its finish, the addition of $9 Rice Pudding from the a la Carte Dessert Menu highly recommended, though the portion here seems a bit less bountiful than that served in the Forum Shops with a Pecans and Bananas.
FOUR STARS: Happy to see Chef Minor back in a kitchen showcasing his talents, the ingredient quality and cooking across fifteen plates speaking volumes about both ownership and the man at the stove, those looking for an upscale Brunch option that brings the heat while remaining accessible would be well-advised to stop by Border Grill at Mandalay Bay on weekends, though some consistency in service would make the experience even better.
RECOMMENDED: The fact that everything is made to order and all-you-can eat leaves diners free to explore, but if prioritizing stomach space the Steak & Egg, Chilaquiles, Yucatan Eggs Benedict, Bacon Jalapeno PBJ Sandwich and Mary’s Chicken & Waffles are all great, as is the a la carte Arroz con Leche.
AVOID: Aside from the Passion Fruit I also recall the Churro Tots being a bit crispy in the past.
TIP: Border Grill is currently celebrating “Veganuary Las Vegas” with several vegan specials offered at both locations throughout the month, though Carnivores and Omnivores are still welcome to enjoy all the classics as well.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.