The spicy taste of Mexicotown, Egypt
Thu, Oct 30, 2008 (midnight)
“I wonder if there’s a limit to how many bars you can have in a casino,” my friend Brandon comments as we circle around Liquidity, the center bar in Luxor’s casino.
“I imagine there’s no limit,” I say. “All they need is another liquor license.”
“I don’t mean legally. What I mean is…there are a lot of bars in here.”
He’s right. While strafing around the narrow corners of Liquidity, we pass Flight, CatHouse and Aurora. Company is around the corner, and, of course, there’s the nightclub LAX. There literally isn’t room for another bar. Noir has to be accessed from the outside, and T&T (Tacos & Tequila), the newest bar and restaurant at Luxor, had to be put on a whole other floor.
- Restaurant Guide
- T and T (Tacos and Tequila)
- The Luxor Hotel and Casino
It’s all part of Luxor’s ongoing renaissance, which began well over a year ago. Slowly but surely, the casino’s original, high-concept theme (a relic from the days when high-concept themes were all the rage) has been giving way to a nightlife Mecca. Gone are Nefertiti’s Lounge and Ra Nightclub. A sandstorm of progress and re-invention has all but buried the Egyptian influence. Although, it’ll never completely disappear. No matter how many chic and stylized watering holes they cram inside, it’ll never change the fact that the outside is—and always will be—a big, freakin’ pyramid.
We ascend the escalator to the Atrium level. Just past the Bodies exhibit is T&T. (It’s recommended that you eat at the latter BEFORE visiting the former). Without a ceiling or a front wall, the restaurant is open to the rest of the level, providing a blended vista of both Mexican and Egyptian décor (although the pyramid housing the IMAX theater is more Mayan in architecture than Egyptian, so it pairs well with T&T).
Once inside, we proceed straight to the bar at the center of the room. Overhanging the bar is a brushed silver awning, perforated with geometric shapes.
“Check out the skull designs in the awning,” I point out to my friend.
At first, he thinks I’m joking. But the holes in the awning do indeed form abstract skull designs. He scrutinizes it as though it were one of those magic eye images that you have to focus on just right in order to see the picture. I present him with one of the hot sauce bottles from the bar counter, emblazoned, “Hell Sauce,” with a similarly fragmented skeleton design on the label, and then he sees it. The grinning bone is a Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) reference, and there are several incorporated into the room’s décor. But the most eye-catching of all the Mexican themed-decorations is a wall-sized mural of a bullfighter twirling his cape. One glance at that, and there’s no mistaking that you’re in the Mexicotown portion of Cairo.
My friend and I peruse the menu, and Brandon is almost immediately disappointed by the beverage selection.
“How can they not have Root Beer?” he complains.
My friend, who doesn’t drink, has to settle for Pepsi, but those of us who readily imbibe have plenty to enjoy on this cocktail menu. There are 72 different kinds of tequila. And while this might not be the widest selection in town, it may be the most varied.
“We went for variety rather than quantity,” the bartender informs me.
For tequila connoisseurs, the menu is divided into sections: Blanco/Plata, Reposada, Anejo, Extra Anejo and Mezcal. And for the uninitiated, there are detailed descriptions of each, allowing them to become connoisseurs in no time. (The tricky thing is that the more tequila experience you gain, the less likely you are to retain the knowledge).
I stick to the most exotic offerings on the cocktail list. The Spicy Lover—a concoction including Gran Centenario Plata Tequila, cilantro, spicy Tabasco pepper sauce and a garnish of cucumber—is likely far hotter and delicious than my friend’s burrito.
“This is great,” he barely has time to comment between bites.
I’ll have to take his word for it, as I’ve chosen to limit myself to chips, salsa (one smoky and one sweet) and booze. I quickly run through a number of imaginative, quirky yet flavorful margaritas, including Spiced Apple, Pineapple Chipotle and White Peach. They’re all so tasty, it’s a testament to the power of alcohol that I’m able to stomach a standard lime margarita on my way out. But the lure of T&T’s adjoining frozen daiquiri bar, just outside the restaurant, is irresistible. I’m tempted to go for the boot-shaped cup, but I opt for the standard cylindrical kind.
Descending the escalator to the casino level, we might’ve once arrived in something resembling Egypt. Now it’s much riskier. We arrive in a realm of countless more bars, making it much more likely that when I finally wake up in the morning—with a splitting hangover after an evening of bar-hopping—I’ll have somehow actually found my way to Egypt. I’ve woken up in stranger places.