A Unique Rendition of Coastal Mexican Cuisine | Mijo, Durango Casino & Resort, Las Vegas, NV
Savor Coastal Mexican Cuisine at Mijo in Las Vegas
Las Vegas, NV, January 2024
• GAYOT’s Rating: 14/20
• Cuisine: Mexican / Seafood
• Open: Dinner Sun.-Thurs. 4 p.m.-10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 4 p.m.-11 p.m., Brunch Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Mijo Modern Mexican Restaurant is on GAYOT’s:
– Top 10 Mexican Restaurants in the U.S.A.
– Best Las Vegas Mexican Restaurants
– Best Las Vegas New & Hip Restaurants
– Best Las Vegas Outdoor Dining Restaurants (Off-Strip)
– Best Las Vegas Sexy Restaurants
Mijo Modern Mexican Restaurant at Durango Casino & Resort
“Mijo” is a Spanish term of endearment and after dining at this coastal Mexican restaurant at the Durango Casino & Resort, you’ll likely feel affection for this unique eatery.
In addition, while the coastal theme is prevalent through an array of seafood on the menu, an added plus is the use of a wood-fired grill to add a touch of smoked BBQ flavors to the offerings.
Your first introduction to Mijo is through the entryway with naturesque features of marigold flower art and terracotta brick amidst tequila lockers and a hidden passageway to The Wax Rabbit speakeasy (see below).
Within are three dining areas, the first being inspired by the agave plant with deep blue, warm beige and sandy hues; and a center oval-shaped bar and multi-level shelves lined with tequila and mezcal bottles. Beyond is a brighter ambience bringing natural light from large windows and the 1,958-square-foot outdoor patio is even more luminous with a Tulum vibe and couchlike seating.
Executive Chef Donald Thompson brings authenticity to his cuisine
Thompson’s mother is from Mexico, and growing up in Austin, Texas prepared him for infusing BBQ into Mexican cuisine. Thompson’s training included time spent working on Norwegian Cruise Line ships, more than three years at GAYOT’s highest rated Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace, and 18 months helming the kitchen at Hearthstone (a restaurant known for wood fire grilled cooking) at Red Rock Resort. These experiences evidently readied him for his current endeavor. He says, “I am exploring my heritage while using classical French techniques. I love BBQ and meat and using the best ingredients money can buy.”
RELATED: All About BBQ
The menu is designed to be shared and also to be admired for colorful presentation. Great care is taken to contrast colors and bring the wow factor to your eyes. Such is the case of the Prime 55 oz. Angus grilled tomahawk, reportedly the largest in Las Vegas. It is first brought to the table on a wood platter in all its glory—unsliced and accompanied with street corn, charred scallion, salsa and potatoes—before being returned to the kitchen to be sliced.
Size does indeed matter here, as the slow cooked charred octopus with chorizo, white beans and pickled shallot is a whopping two-pound portion and is so popular that chef Thompson shares they go through more than 500 pounds of it a week. There is also a three-pound butter poached and grilled lobster and two-pound whole grilled branzino served with escabèche and grilled onion and chili.
Appetizers offer several fruits of the sea, like tiraditos featuring blue fin tuna with mango and pickled shallot and hamachi with orange and cucumber; Baja oysters on the half shell with chipotle cocktail sauce; and sea bass ceviche with tomatoes, cucumber, corn, avocado and leche de Tigre.
Traditional Mexican cuisine is also available but is enhanced, like beef enchilada with tender short rib, quesabirria tacos with shredded beef and consommé, lobster & corn tostada and the black beans side made up of charro beans and slow-cooked smoked ham hocks.
The dessert menu is highlighted by Mexican “twinkies”—chocolate coated vanilla pound cake, strawberry guava and marshmallow; and Churro Churro Churro, a trio of chocolate, strawberry and dulce de leche served with cinnamon/chocolate sauce and tres leches crème anglaise. You can end your meal with a show by partaking in the Diablo Skull en Fuego—a chocolate shell which is set afire and when it burns off reveals a vanilla flan with Mexican chocolate mocha sauce and red fruit salsa.
Mijo offers a wide range of pricing, portion sizes, variety of ingredients and menu offerings. Dining here will certainly make you rethink what your idea of Mexican fare is and you will likely come away with a realization of what heights a high-end dining experience of south of the border cuisine can reach.
Not surprisingly, as a bevy of tequila and mezcal bottles are part of the décor, the agave-based spirits are plentiful here. The list tops more than 100 choices of both aged and non-aged versions. Signature cocktails include the El Tesoro with Patron, Ancho Reyes, Licor 43 Chocolate and espresso.
The wine list focuses on California wines from Napa and Sonoma.
The Wax Rabbit—Hidden Speakeasy
As previously mentioned, within the private members wooden tequila lockers in the entryway you’ll need to “find the right rabbit to pull,” that is actually a doorway leading to The Wax Rabbit speakeasy. The wax in the name refers to the fact that DJs spin only vinyl records, ensuring you’ll be treated to a bit of nostalgic music. The rabbit references the Aztec legend of the 400 rabbits, mischievous characters who show up whenever people drink agave spirits.
The 1,000-square-foot speakeasy is decorated in red velvet with arched double-height mirrors on both sides of the room and a luminous rabbit emblem joined by rabbit artifacts strategically placed throughout. The room can seat up to 54 guests and host 90 total guests. The bartenders craft extravagant cocktails like the Candy Jar featuring Botanist gin, aloe vera, acai, Blueberry Red Bull and vanilla, exquisitely presented in a lidded glass vessel.
> The Wax Rabbit is open from 6 p.m. Tue.-Sat. and DJ’s begin spinning records at 8 p.m.
– Tequila and mezcal are taken so seriously here that the restaurant employs a tequila sommelier—known as a catador—so guests can perfectly pair their meals with fragrant and flavorful cocktails or some of the hard-to-find spirits.
– An aspect that makes Mijo stand apart from other Mexican restaurants is the use of a Josper grill burning a mix of beechwood and hardwood lump charcoal.
– Unlike the majority of resorts on the Vegas Strip, both valet and self-parking are free here. In addition to the parking garage, there is ample free surface parking surrounding most of the resort.
– The Durango Casino & Resort is quite easy to get in and out of with easy access from the 215 Freeway. The Durango exit of the 215 is just north of the front entrance and when exiting, on the north side of the parking lot is an exit which takes you directly onto Rafael Rivera Way and feeds into the 215.