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Dining

Eat these up: panuchos at Chicken Itza

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A thing of beauty: Chicken Itza’s panuchos.

If you ask me what kinds of restaurants Las Vegas needs—and sometimes you do—I think the answer is: more restaurants named after ancient Mayan cities. So far, we only have one. It’s friendly and orange, and the menu is small, cheap and delicious. So more of these, please.

Chicken Itza (the name’s a play on Chichen Itza) is just north of Highway 95 on Jones Boulevard, a tiny spot in a quiet old strip mall. You’ve probably driven past it. You should stop and get some food, mainly panuchos ($6.50), a Yucatecan dish. Think of them as a hybrid of tostada and Salvadoran pupusa: A handmade tortilla is fried crisp, split and filled with black beans, then the whole thing is topped with shredded chicken or pork, pickled onion, avocado and lettuce. You get three in an order, which will fill you up without weighing you down and can only be improved by a splash of house red, green or mouth-singeing habanero orange salsa.

Terrific tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas and steak nachos ($7.99) round out the menu, along with a hearty torta de cochinita pibil (Mexican sandwich with achiote-marinated roasted pork, $4.99) and salbutes ($5.50), which are similar to the panuchos but with a fluffier tortilla and shredded turkey instead of chicken. This is no-frills food, easy and satisfying and criminally inexpensive, with a little extra-special flavor beyond the ordinary taco shop. I’d like to go every day.

Chicken Itza. 240 N. Jones Blvd., 834-0278. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Saturday, noon-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.

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Brock Radke is Las Vegas Weekly's food editor and author of the Strip-focused column The Incidental Tourist. He has written ...

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