A Perfect Start: The Secrets behind Chips & Salsa at a Las Vegas Mexican Restaurant


Mexican restaurants come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and styles, especially in Las Vegas. But nearly all of them begin a meal the same way with a serving of chips and salsa brought to the table:

It’s a familiar and friendly tradition, but not all chips and dips are created equal.

Bandito offers the same care, attention-to-detail and focus on fresh ingredients in the very first bite of your meal as it does every other item on the menu. Call it the “perfect start” to the best Mexican restaurant experience in Las Vegas. And…about the salsa:

The red salsa at Bandito is a cross between a traditional pico de gallo and a fuller, darker restaurant-style salsa. It’s made fresh daily and here’s the secret — the tomatoes are roasted on a grill until charred on the outside.

When combined with peppers, onions and cilantro, the tomatoes create a salsa that’s thick, robust and savory. Look close and you’ll even see a few black specks from when the tomatoes were grilled.

The red salsa is always served alongside a green tomatillo salsa that’s also made fresh daily. Tomatillos tend to have a tart and fruity taste that makes for an especially flavorful salsa. However, they also contain a lot of water. That’s why green salsas often have a liquefied rim along the edge of their container. You’ll never have that problem at Bandito:

Under the leadership of owner and operator Kent Harman, his culinary team has perfected a unique onion reduction technique to thicken up the recipe. The onions are diced very thin and then caramelized. When mixed with the traditional base of tomatillos, lime and cilantro, they form a perfect green salsa in which every bite carries the same degree of thickness ensuring a coated chip with every bite. If spice is what you seek:

Just ask for the infamous “secret salsa.” Available only by request, it’s a combination of the red and green salsas with habaneros added for a spicy punch. Rather than being brutishly hot and overbearing, the salsa is complex in both taste and texture. A bite offers a mild initial spiciness followed by a powerful lingering kick on the back end. Be warned — this is not for modest taste buds. Here’s another insider tip:

Ask for a serving of the Habanero Blood Orange sauce on the side with your chips. It’s one of five signature sauces at Bandito and especially popular on the enchiladas or Habanero Shrimp entree. However, it also makes for an addictively delicious dipping sauce, not to mention a worthy alternative for guests with tomato or nightshade allergies who are looking to avoid salsa. The sauce is 98 percent carrot puree, which almost gives it the color and texture of queso, even though it’s completely free of cheese or dairy. The addition of blood orange juice and habanero gives the sauce a nice complexity with a tart citrus bite and subtle spicy undertones.

Of course, nothing beats the feeling of dipping a chip into some fresh-made guacamole. Using only U.S. No.1-rated avocados, the guacamole is prepared throughout the day with a simple recipe of cilantro, jalapenos, red onion, lime juice, salt and pepper. When served, the guacamole is topped with shallots, heirloom tomatoes and Cotija cheese, adding additional layers of texture and flavor into each bite. Speaking of cheese:

Another great starter is the Queso Bandito, prepared with Oaxaca cheese, a Mexican “string cheese” similar to mozzarella. Blended together with Monterey Jack, cheddar, caramelized onions and roasted peppers, the creamy mix is served bubbling hot and fresh in a skillet.

As you can see, Bandito spares no effort in making sure the very beginning of your meal is as delicious as every bite that follows. It’s just one of the many reasons our team shines above all others as the best Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas. Are you hungry yet?

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