You know how you walk into a restaurant, give your name to a smiling hostess, and sedately follow her to a quiet table?
Yeah. This is not that place. This is Paradise Cantina.
Lee’s the owner, but there’s also Paco, Reynaldo, Maximo and Pancho. Paradise Cantina is the kind of place where last names aren’t required. Or even real first names. The people who go to Paradise Cantina know they can become anyone they want to be.
This is the place in Vegas where Happy Hour happens twice a day. The place comes alive from 4 to 8 p.m., when all drinks are two for one, and again from 4:30 to 6:30 a.m. – yes, that’s morning – when much of Vegas is getting off the third shift.
The music is vibrant, the decor is pure south of the border, and the food is made fresh all day. The original recipes include the Paradise Roll, which is two crispy flour tortillas stuffed with chicken, beans, jalapenos, cheese, pico de gallo and spices, a Chicken Tortilla Soup reportedly made from a 130-year-old recipe and topped with homemade tortilla strips, and Fajitas served on a sizzling platter.
This is a place that turns even the food on it’s ear, with creations such as the Fajita “Sandwhich”—made with steak, chicken, or white fish on a handmade Mexican Telera bread, and the Paradise Rice Bowl, with sauteed vegetables, Mexican rise, three cheese, beans, onion and more fusing Asian, California, and Mexican flavors all together.
In fact, the flavors of many of the items are as bold as the Margaritaville-like decor. Try the enchiladas with blue corn tortillas, or the fresh salsa, or the pork tamales. In fact, try it all. The food is what Lee calls “ a mixture of Tex-Mex, Southwestern California Pacific, and Mexico for gringos.”
Of course, it’s when you turn the menu over that you get to the heart of the place. Here’s where you will find Paradise Cantina’s “Classic Concoctions” such as the Siesta Sangria (red wine, Bacardi white rum, brandy, Triple Sec, orange juice, pineapple juice, sweet & sour, fresh lime juice all infused with an assortment of fresh fruit) or the Mexican Jumping Bean (Patrol XO Cafe Coffee Tequila, coffee, Bailey’s, Triple Sec, and white Creme de Cacao). Or, go for one of the margaritas, such as the Puerto Vallarta Platinum, the Rosaritopolitan, or the Cabo Coconut.
No wonder they’ve been voted “best happy hour.” In fact, according to Lee, they’ve been the local’s favorite for four years in a row.
Lee credits much of that popularity to the atmosphere, which he calls, “Your home away from home.”
It is, indeed, a comfortable hang out, with tin signs layered on top of posters, trays and banners scattered here and there, banners and cabana flags hanging wall to wall, and a Corona pinata randomly dangling from the ceiling.
But, when it comes down to it, Lee says the food brings them back because of his adherence to quality ingredients. “When the economy went south,” he says, “We didn’t cheapen any of our ingredients. Offering a quality product is most important to us. We will not compromise on the integrity of any of our products—they have to be the real thing.”
He adds, “It may feel like home, but you’re not going to get Mexican food like this at home!”
They also serve what Lee calls, “an awesome Mexican brunch” on Saturdays and Sundays, plus seasonal value items with sports themes.
It’s what you might expect from a place with 21 plasma screens where you can watch any game at any time . . . and where the unexpected soon becomes the norm.
So, head that way. Tell them your name. Or don’t. Either way, you’ll have a sombrero on before you know it.
See our blog from the Las Vegas tour, here.
See the video from Paradise Cantina here.
Visit Paradise Cantina when you are in Las Vegas:
4480 S Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89136
This is a Raves & Faves Featured Restaurant. For more images from Paradise Cantina and other stops along the way, visit iraves.