A decade ago it was difficult to find a good taco in Las Vegas; now there are at least a dozen places that we would never hesitate to stop at throughout the valley (probably more, but it is not easy to keep up). The newest has a chance to be among the best.
Desnudo Tacos ("naked tacos") is at 3240 South Arville, right next to the Naked City Pizza location at Moon Doggies. It is the brainchild of Chris Palmeri (of Naked City fame) and Christian Dolias (CutThroat Culinary), who finally decided to go bricks-and-mortar after a series of pop-ups over the past year featuring cuisine from South of the Border showcased their inspirations. Palmeri was able to learn from one of the masters while working for Rick Bayless, and Dolias was doing pop-ups for several years up and down the southern Cali coast before coming to Las Vegas.
This is not just a Taco shop - the menu offers creative soups, salads, both a ceviche and a traditional Mexican shrimp cocktail, sandwiches (Tortas) and Burritos, in addition to chalkboard specials. They even make their own horchata ice cream in-house, and a Tres Leches cake. But the tacos are the place to start. Today is was Chivo (Slow braised goat with guajillo chile, avocado leaf, banana leaf, onion, cilantro, radish) and Tinga Poblana (Braised pork shoulder, in-house made chorizo, chipotle, tomato, tomatillo, roasted garlic, avocado, crema), both executed flawlessly - these were tender meats that showed a lot of care in the braising, and while there were a lot of ingredients inside of the tortillas, there was a deft touch in the balance.
There is nothing fancy about the setting, but there will be a liquor license on the way. And for those that like Naked City Pizza, but not the ambience of MoonDoggie's, we were told that it will be perfectly acceptable to pick up the pizza and bring it over to eat at the smokeless Desnudo tables. This place is all about the food,
Just a quick bump, as we move our way to the "sandwich" part of the menu. The "Torta de Puerco" was every bit as good as it looks in the photo below - Pork belly 'carnita', lime-braised pork shoulder, quesadilla cheese, escabeche of vegetables, and lettuce "slaw" on a fresh bolillo. So many textures and flavors going on, yet once again in balance.
It is going to be fun having these guys around.