As I think I mentioned in my previous post on Las Vegas, New Mexico…this town is sleepy in the extreme. And late night dining? Forget it. If Ginger and I got a hankering for some late-night grub after we wrapped we had two choices…fast food and Wal-Mart. Seriously, they don’t even have a Denny’s!
You’d think the daylight options would be better…but you’d be wrong there too. The free breakfast at the Plaza hotel’s Landmark Grill wasn’t bad, but if you wanted a truly spectacular taste of New Mexico…there was only one place in town worth hitting on a regular basis…Charlie’s Spic & Span Bakery and Cafe.
Not only do they make and sell fresh flour tortillas all day long (see picture below) but the food was my first — not to mention second and third — taste of classic New Mexican cuisine. And wow…what a way to start! Similar to Mexican food in many ways, the big difference here are the chiles. They are fresh, spicy, and best of all, they use them in and on top of everything here!
There are two different shades of chile here in New Mexico, Green and Red and almost anything you order (including bacon cheeseburgers, which are amazing!) is smothered with them.
Your server will always ask a color preference first, and if you’re unsure, there is always the option of ordering your food “Christmas” style. That means red AND green chiles! And let me tell ya, that is the only way to fly, baby! Delicious.
The other big difference between New Mexican and Mexican cuisine is the way they kind of cover everything with a layer of beans and chiles. My sister-in-law, Laura — a stickler for segregated food groups — would probably die, but everything here just sort of runs together in a big old plate of deliciousness. Yep, it’s messy, but man, is it good!
Most places here also serve their enchiladas (mostly made from blue corn tortillas) flat rather than rolled. It’s kind of odd, but the taste is right, so, who cares? In case you were wondering, that’s a blue corn enchilada and a homemade pork tamale under all those beans and lettuce above.
And lest you think Charlie’s Spic and Span is all about the fresh tortillas and tasty dinners, they also serve a pretty kick-ass breakfast too. Ginger had some strawberry French Toast that was melt-in-your-mouth good but the real highlight for us was my machaca plate with papitas. The potatoes were a bit ordinary, but the machaca — served with shredded tortillas, fresh salsa and eggs — rivals some of the finest Mexican chilaquiles I’ve ever had. IN MEXICO! They were amazing!
And finally, it should also be noted that Charlie’s is the one and only place in Las Vegas where you can get a real Starbucks latte. And trust me, after drinking good, but mild, craft service coffee all week long, that is really something to look forward to!
To quote my Grandpa Romero and the colorful t-shirts the staff wears: “Panza llena, corazon contento…full stomach, contented heart.” Rock on, Spic and Span!