Blue Ballz – Don Julio Blanco Tequila, Triple Sec, Blueberries, Ginger, Lime
Pink Cadillac – Herradura Reposado Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime, Grand Marnier Float
Horchata Colada – Cruzan Velvet Cinn Horchata Rum Cream, Bacardi Superior Rum, Pina Colada
Housemade Tortilla Chips and Salsa
Churro Brioche with Dulce de Leche
Chorizo Cornbread, Zucchini, Cotija Cheese, Jalapeno Peppers
Tres Leches Cinnamon Roll, Strawberries, Cajeta
Avocado Mollete, Refried Beans, Oaxaca Cheese, Tomato-Cucumber Salsa
Albóndiga with Chorizo and Beef, Tomato Salsa, Guajillo Sauce, Cotija Cheese
Aguachiles with Shrimp, Octopus, Avocado, Serrano Chiles, Cucumber, Red Onion
Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts with Abuelita Mousse
Garlic Shrimp with Shrimp Head Compound Butter, Achiote Paste, Lime, Fresh Corn Tortillas
Tres Leches Pancakes, Strawberries, Fried Ice Cream, Sweetened Milk Syrup
Pork Chile Verde Benedict – Yucatan-style braised Pork, Ancho Chile Cream, Pickled Onions, Poached Eggs, Guacamole, English Muffin
Chilaquiles – Corn Tortilla Chips, Sunny Side Up Eggs, House Queso Blend, Guajillo Salsa, Black Beans, Cilantro
Mole Tots with Cilantro, Fried Peanuts, Amaranth, Red Onions
Choco-Flan, Whipped Cream, Raspberries, Dulce De Leche
Pineapple Cake, Horchata Ice Cream, Poached Pineapple, Caramelized Rice
Although Bradley Manchester has been hard at work with the transition to Virgin Hotels, that has not stopped he and Mickey Harden from coming up with some new ideas across the building currently called Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and at Pink Taco on Saturday morning several items made their debut alongside some old favorites.
A part of Las Vegas for nearly twenty-five years, the California import now old enough to be considered iconic, Pink Taco resides just steps from The Joint and is the only Restaurant besides Nobu that remains since the property on Paradise opened, its self-applied description as a “hipster Mexican Cantina” underselling what is actually a space that doesn’t take itself too seriously despite turning out bold and frequently authentic flavors.
Large in size, and best during warm months when the party spills over onto an outdoor patio, it is after making way past a Tortilla stone, kitchen and bar that guest find themselves immersed in Mexican folk-art, everything from skeletons to cherubs surrounding while music plays overhead at a reasonable volume.
The rare place still serving complimentary Chips and Salsa, both housemade and setting a high standard, fans of Tequila will likely find themselves drawn to Cocktails with risqué names and pronounced sweetness, the “Horchata Colada” taking an alternative approach with Cinnamon Rum and performing beautifully alongside Pastry Chef Harden’s new Churro Brioche with a creamy Dulce de Leche core.
Acting as a sounding board for much of the meal, the reservation not accidentally made on a day when Chefs Harden and Manchester were both present to assist Pink Taco’s Chef de Cuisine Hugo Rodriguez with new plates soon to join Brunch or Happy Hour, guests not counting carbohydrates will be excited to know that Mickey quietly continues to prove himself as one of Sin City’s best Pastry Chefs with two additional Appetizers, Cornbread hot from a skillet riddled with Chorizo plus added moisture from Zucchini, and a Cinnamon Roll topped in Cream, Cajeta and Berries that riffs on the flavor of Tres Leches Cake without the sogginess that many find off-putting.
Not ignoring patrons seeking healthier fare, all three Chefs currently pursuing their own fitness goals, guests who cannot get enough Avocado Toast should strongly consider the new vegetarian Mollete additionally featuring Refried Beans and housemade Salsa while those following keto can find big flavors and nothing off-limits in tender Meatballs topped in smoky Sauce or Aguachiles indistinguishable from what one might find south of the border save for their slightly lower spot on the Scoville scale.
Back to Mickey for a moment, his Cinnamon-Sugar Donuts with Abuelita Mousse toying with the idea of Mexican Hot Chocolate and outperforming the fresh-made rounds one will find at Fractured Prune or even Delmonico Steakhouse, it is through considerable effort that Pink Taco’s most impressive new plate delivers boldly flavored Shrimp cooked in Butter fortified by Shells and Garlic, each bite dazzling from the fork and even better when nestled in a Corn Tortilla hot off the stone.
Impressed by the veracity of flavors from Veracruz to the Yucatan, Chef Manchester’s affinity for the area no secret to those who follow him on Social Media, another new plate delivers slowly braised Pork as a Benedict, the English Muffin perhaps better replaced by Bolillo or Sopes as they do at Broken Yolk Café, while Chilaquiles served wet and Tater Tots topped in housemade Mole plus fried Peanuts each offer textural rollercoasters that are best shared given their substantial portion-sizes.
Not afraid to both start and finish sweet, though prices lower than portions or quality might suggest already had several diners over-sated, it should go without saying that Pink Taco’s buttery Tres Leches Pancakes topped with Fried Ice Cream are a must while new items including Choco-Flan and Pineapple Cake that eats like a Financier amidst the flavors of a Piña Colada are each “works in progress” that already best other Mexican Desserts served throughout town.
N/A STARS: Intentionally inauthentic, but simultaneously embracing flavors and techniques that continue to please guests from a variety of backgrounds, Pink Taco has been doing things the right way ever since Bradley Manchester took over as Hard Rock Hotel & Casino’s Executive Chef and the new menu shows he, Mickey Harden and the current kitchen led by Hugo Rodriguez have no intention of pumping the breaks until Hard Rock temporarily shutters in 2020 to make way for Virgin.
RECOMMENDED: Horchata Colada, Churro Brioche, Chorizo Cornbread, Albóndiga, Aguachiles, Garlic Shrimp, Tres Leches Pancakes, Mole Tots, Pineapple Cake.
TIP: Only the Cocktails, Chilaquiles and Tres Leches Pancakes are currently available, though several of the new items will debut soon in mostly-similar form.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.