Vegas: El Patron deserves El Skippo Grande!
I posted this to the ReviewJournal's comments section, but I don't know if it will be approved or not. So, for the benefit of Mr. Kite (and the Chowhounds, too), here's my take on the RJ's Staff Pick for Best Mexican:
Usually, I am firmly behind the RJ Staff on their picks. When the people of the land, the common clay, you know, morons in Las Vegas vote for Taco Bell as the Best Tacos or The Olive Garden as the Best Italian, the Review Journal Staff will bring some sensibility to the table and suggest a place worthy of acclaim.
Not so in this case. So, very, very not so.
Our dinner tonight at El Patron was completely unremarkable. Well, it *was* very odd to have dinner at a Mexican restaurant while a Jazz quartet with a combined age of over two centuries belted out standard American hits. (With a grey haired lawyer as your hip vocal cat, you don't get much more of an authentic Jazz experience, do you?) So that was an interesting "note" to the evening, however, the food was competely and totally average. It was like when the Griffins went to Purgatory for their vacation: Not good, but not bad.
(Side note: If I EVER get to the point where I'm chair dancing to jazz while eating chips and salsa, you all have permission to cleave me however you see fit.)
When checking out a new Mexican joint, I will often order the pork in green chile sauce as a basic reference point. It's a true peasant dish and quite easy to overlook and even easier to present as a half-assed dish since it's so "simple", yet an outstanding version of it speaks volumes of the restaurant's attitude toward the cuisine.
Unfortunately, the route taken at El Patron is the path most frequently traveled: mediocrity. The path is consistent, though since the salsa presented with the chips was little or nothing more than canned tomato puree, cilantro, and jalapeño. My wife's enchiladas were just there on the plate. Nothing made them nor her margarita stand out in the slightest.
My hopes that were elevated by seeing Birria de Chiva on the menu (weekends only) were dashed by the food. You just don't see goat meat on the menu of a restaurant that doesn't know a thing or two about real Mexican cuisine. They also seemed to have their fair share of octopus/shrimp/bait combination dishes on the menu, too. Sadly, I don't think the person responsible for it was there tonight.
About the only other people in the place were the retired, jazz loving White folks.
That's NOT a good sign. Unfortunately, we ignored it and ate there, anyway. This was a trip for us since we're in the northwest, but the evening was saved by $7 spent at The Pinball Hall of Fame and a side jaunt to Sheridan's Frozen Custard.
The truly sad part about this is that we love to find new restaurants, yet when you go out of your way to get food that doesn't even approach your "regular" food from the Michoacans, it's THAT much more disappointing.
RJ Staff...you should be ashamed of yourselves.
Thrown to the Chowhounds with a couple of edits and additions to flesh out my feelings about the $33 that could've bought incredible food elsewhere.