There once was a myth floating around the Las Vegas dining scene propagated by locals and tourists alike: There’s no good Mexican food here. It never seemed to make sense, because there was never any truth to it. Great Mexican food has always been a prominent piece of the Vegas culinary puzzle. And you don’t have to go far to discover how true that really is.

Mexican cuisine has continued to develop and diversify in Las Vegas because it’s so popular here. There’s plenty of space for different specialized restaurants as well as similar and familiar concepts that distinguish themselves with big flavors and exciting atmosphere.

One of the newest additions to the scene is the centrally located Mariposa Cucina & Cocktails (702.476.3330), which is serving up colorful libations and favorite plates everyone can enjoy while spicing things up with some unexpected twists. Try the house specialty braised beef short rib enchiladas with a decadent ancho chile cherry sauce, bold flavors that pair perfectly with a refreshing prickly pear paloma. While exploring the menu at Mariposa, you’ll notice that each dish has a little special something to it, from spicy-sweet grilled pineapple mango habanero salsa to crispy avocado tacos with tomatillo ranch. These flavors will stick with you.

Speaking of Mexican food favorites, a local institution recently re-opened its beloved original location after a renovation, and the many fans of Lindo Michoacan (702.735.6828) are overjoyed. Cozy new booths and tables and refreshed décor are waiting along with signature dishes like New York steak and shrimp, chicken in green mole and carnitas fajitas. With three locations spread around the valley including the original restaurant just west of the Strip, El Dorado Cantina (702.722.2289) is another local hot spot recommended by many. Its authentic fare and dedication to organic and non-GMO ingredients make El Dorado an industry leader, but one bite of fresh guacamole, chile-rubbed seared tuna or crispy mahi mahi tacos is all you need to experience to become a fan.

Mexican food offerings have traditionally been more accessible and abundant in various Vegas neighborhoods than in Strip mega-resorts, but there are certainly several casino restaurants in this category that need to be experienced. At Aria, Javier’s (866.590.3637) is known for its hand-shaken margaritas, bright and tangy ceviche, extensive tequila selection, and shrimp and crab enchiladas in tomatillo sauce. But its unique, Aztec-inspired décor and buzzy, almost clubby vibes also set this dining destination apart. It’s hard to find this kind of combination of coolness and comfort anywhere else.

South on the Strip at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, Hussong’s Cantina (702.632.6450) has all the energy you could ever want in a Mexican restaurant, transporting diners to Enseneda for a celebration of greatest-hit dishes and delectable libations. Choose between carne asada, Baja shrimp or beer-battered fish specialty tacos, and don’t miss the original margarita, the recipe that allegedly kicked off this cocktail craze, created in 1941 at the original Hussong’s. If you like what you’re tasting, there’s a second location away from the Strip in the Summerlin area.

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