Tucked away in the depths of the World Market Center downtown is a hidden haute spot, Mundo. Gourmands have been singing its praises since opening last year. Many thought it might not survive the troubled economy and out-of-the-way location, but the restaurant has held its own and it has brought a breath of fresh air to the downtown dining scene.
Mundo is a place that relies on word-of-mouth and must be sought out. It’s not one that anyone would just stumble upon since it is engulfed by the towering World Market buildings. Parking is plentiful and valet is most convenient. A few steps away you will enter the stylish illuminated dining room that blends old world and chic.
That fusion lingers into Chef Robert Solano’s nouveau Mexican cuisine. Solano’s hails from Merida, Mexico, which is nestled in the heart of the Yucatan. He ignites native favorites like carnitas, guacamole, tamales and quesadillas with modern cooking techniques and quality ingredients. This allows Mundo to offer an array of dishes with upscale flair and complex flavors.
Appetizers range from traditional guacamole ($9) to Queso Flameado ($14) which is not your usual fundido. This version is spruced up with tangy goat cheese, earthy mushrooms, plump tomatoes and Serrano chiles that provide just the right amount of kick. The guacamole is kept simple with fresh avocadoes, red onion, tomatoes and cilantro. Let’s not forget about the complimentary chips and three made-from-scratch salsas.
After whetting your appetite you can dig into celebrated entrees like the Chilean Sea Bass ($34) that is flavored by a delicious jalapeno cilantro lime marinade. Then, there are the tamales which are special, unlike most steamed versions deft care is taken in creating these corn husk filled treats. The Short Rib ($14) and Pulled Chicken ($12) varieties are available at lunch. I indulged in the Shrimp Tamale ($26) at dinner. Large tender shrimps are coated with a chipotle glaze and piled over loose polenta flavored with sweet corn, which is accompanied by queso fresco and a splendid creamy red chile brandy sauce.
I was also unable to resist Carnitas ($24) since they are my favorite Mexican dish. Sadly, Mundo’s version was a disappointment. Chunks of fatty, albeit, tender pork was presented with avocado pico de gallo and cucumber habanero salad with dull (presumably mass-produced) corn tortillas. The experience left me longing for the authentic carnitas and hand-made corn tortillas nearby at Casa Don Juan.
Aside from the carnitas, Mundo outshines the other nouveau Mexican cuisine restaurants I’ve experienced in Las Vegas including Agave in Summerlin, Dos Caminos at Palazzo, and Isla at Treasure Island. Furthermore, Mundo is part of the regular rotation of restaurants that participate in restaurant.com dining certificates (I saved $25 on my meal). Unfortunately, no certificates are currently available, but do check back. Instead, you can take advantage of $3.00 Margaritas and half off appetizers during Happy Hour, Tuesday thru Saturday 3-7pm.
Mundo is located at 495 S Grand Central Parkway A-116 Las Vegas, NV 89106