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Las Vegas Insider: A Taste of Vegas with Susan Feniger

by Matthew Wexler
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Apr 11, 2017

Chatting with Susan Feniger, you can't help but feel the infectious energy and enthusiasm of one of the country's most celebrated chefs. In collaboration with Mary Sue Milliken, the culinary duo has been legendary in bringing the flavors of Mexico and Latin America to the U.S.

Since 1999, their Las Vegas outpost of Border Grill at Mandalay Bay has drawn enthusiastic diners from near and far to experience a menu deep in culture and tradition. And it all came about in a most unusual way.

"Mary Sue and I both worked in French kitchens early on, and at that time, women were mostly put into prep positions and we worked alongside a lot of guys from Mexico," Feniger recalls. "They'd make a great salsa or staff meal and it was delicious."

With a bit of success, the pair decided to move their successful Los Angeles restaurant, City Café, to a larger location, and put a new concept in the old space. After a road trip through Mexico where they discovered authentic ingredients like hoja santa, tamarind, and achiote, the pair was inspired to fully embrace the culinary prowess of the Mexican kitchen.

Feniger saw Las Vegas, with its global appeal and burgeoning food scene, as an ideal locale for another Border Grill location. "We were very interested in Las Vegas," says Feniger of their leap of faith. "I felt like there was an opportunity to inspire and educate people about such an interesting cuisine."

Feniger is also a fan of the Las Vegas lifestyle. "Right after opening, I remember sitting on Border Grill's outside patio with the wind blowing and amazing greenery, and I was enthralled by what it was - mystical and wonderful," says Feniger.


Border Grill Essentials

On your next visit to Las Vegas, be sure to stop by one of Border Grill's two locations. (A second restaurant can be found at The Forum Shops at Caesars. Feniger is all about hospitality, saying, "No matter how busy we are, we want our guests to feel appreciated and respected, whether it's a single taco, quesadilla, or a well-done skirt steak with a side of ketchup, let 'em have it!" But here are EDGE's top three picks for the ultimate Border Grill experience:

Queso Fundido - Start your meal with this guilty pleasure of Oaxacan and Spanish manchego cheese, pickled mushrooms and peppers, and warm flour tortillas.

Pescado Veracruzano - Using only sustainable seafood approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, enjoy seared striped bass with capers, olives and tomato.

El Diablito - Forego the margarita and enjoy this spicy cocktail made with Sauza tequila, La Pinta pomegranate tequila, ginger beer, honey ginger syrup and fresh lemon.


Don't Miss

For the ultimate Border Grill experience and the chance to check out dozens of other celebrity chefs and culinary personalities, head to Vegas Uncork'd April 27-30. Milliken and Feniger will be hosting the Quickfire Happy Hour and cooking up a storm at the Master Series: Transcendent Tapas and Worldly Wines dinner.

Also keep an eye out for the next Las Vegas installment of Cool Comedy - Hot Cuisine, a benefit for the Scleroderma Research Foundation, for which Feniger has been a board member since 1988.


Feniger's Hot List

"I love the aliveness and the spirit of Vegas," says Feniger. And just to make sure you make the most of your time, she's offered four picks for the perfect Las Vegas getaway.

Lotus of Siam - Perhaps one of Las Vegas' most legendary restaurants, this northern Thai spot delivers authentic recipes passed down through generations of chef Saipin Chutima's family.

Cirque du Soleil® - "O™" - This jaw-dropping theatrical masterpiece is inspired by the infinity and elegance of water. Be sure to allow time to wander among the equally majestic Bellagio.

Carrot Top - Dubbed "the wackiest comedian since Lucy," don't miss Carrot Top (aka Scott Thompson)'s hilarious show at the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.


Grimaldi's - A slice of New York-style coal fired, brick-oven pizza is never far away with four locations throughout the Las Vegas area. Choose from more than 20 toppings, including an extra slather of their famous sauce.

Celine - Guess who's back? Celine triumphantly returns to The Colosseum at Caesars Palace for a show that hits stratospheric notes.


For more ideas on planning your Las Vegas vacation, go to VisitLasVegas.com.


Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Style and Travel Editor. More of his writing can be found at www.wexlerwrites.com. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.


Visit Las Vegas

This story is part of our special report titled "Visit Las Vegas." Want to read more? Here's the full list.


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