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Feb 23, 2014 01:12 PM

Vila Algarve - Rustic Portuguese cuisine in the desert

Vila Algarve -

Items ordered:
Milk Bread
Half Chorizo – Pork Sausage with Red Wine, Flame Grilled and finished tableside
Trinchado Chicken – Red Wine, Creamy Sauce, Olives, Toasted Bread
Halloumi Cheese – Goat Cheese, Sweet and Sour
Snails – Chardonnay White Wine Garlic Sauce, Mixed Cheese
Calamari Curry – Creamy Coconut Curry Sauce, Rice, Chutney
Bacalao “A Brass” – Salt Cod, Shredded and Cooked with Onions, Garlic, Potatoes, Eggs, Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Located in a sprawling space at the corner of Tropicana and Jones where proprietor Lubka (Luby) greeted us with a smile at the door as her husband, Ross, tended to the kitchen it would be difficult to imagine a more charming first impression of a new restaurant than the one with which I walked away from Vila Algarve on Saturday afternoon. Empty save for one other table at our 2pm arrival and featuring a diverse menu anchored in rich Portuguese traditions with all stocks, sauces, and spice blends made in house it was with a small amount of experience in the region’s cuisine that our quartet perused the options but with staff more than willing to engage, discuss, and suggest despite significant language barriers the seven items selected all proved not only well prepared and presented, but also highly educational and thoroughly enjoyable. Skipping over seemingly out-of-place pizzas and pastas, though we were assured that these too are common to the cuisine, and focusing instead on the items favored by Luby as well as personal tastes it was with dense, warm milk bread that we began and with plates coursed out one-by-one appetizers commenced with lightly spiced Portuguese chorizo, ablaze on presentation and smoky with a snappy kielbasa-esque flavor, followed by squeaky griddled Halloumi with house-made sweet and sour serving to balance the brine. Moving next to tender snails in thick garlic cream it was fourth that the primary reason for my visit arrived and living up to high hopes the milk-soaked and shredded preserved cod was perfect as two large cylinders arrived featuring ample salinity balanced by smashed potatoes, eggs, and subdued aromatics to form something rich, rustic, and satisfying…something I routinely seek out elsewhere now done well in my own back yard. Rounding out the savories with two more richly sauced proteins including snappy squid in bright curry and tender chicken with notes of cumin, paprika, and something citrus perfuming the palate it was with full stomachs that Luby compelled us to order dessert, the tiramisu made by herself that morning, and whether ‘traditional’ or not I’m uncertain but either way the scoop of light mascarpone and bold coffee was much like the rest of the afternoon – delicious, comfortable, and served with gracious smiles and requests to come back soon, something I’ve no doubt the bacalao will compel.

No Website
6120 W Tropicana Ave.
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 666-3877

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  1. I love Portuguese food and am thrilled that it looks like LV might have a decent place. The menu looks typical -- pastas are indeed popular in Portugal. The one dish I'm not familiar with is the calamari curry. It might be what I've seen referred to as Madeira calamari stew. Did it have ginger and a tomato base?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Dave Feldman

      Ginger, Tomato, Coconut, a touch of lime. Not a ton of heat.

      I was surprised at how much of the menu had an Italian spin to it - pastas, pizzas, even a house-made lasagna. I definitely want to go back to try some of the offal, as well as the other bacalao preparations. Really good people, and excellent food. Total bill before tip was $72.

      1. re: uhockey

        I am far from an expert in Portuguese culture, but given that it was at one time the greatest sea power in the world, and did commerce with nations all over the globe, that influences would be from all over. And the Portuguese Piri-Piri is found all over the cuisine, and I'm guessing that wonderful pepper created the heat in any of the dishes that packed some. And Portuguese hospitality is legendary.

        1. re: Dave Feldman

          They offer a house piri-piri that she claimed was "extremely" hot. If Dave Santos' version on the shrimp at Luoro is any indication, I'm glad I refrained. :-) Absolutely a spot to check out when you're next in town.