LAS VEGAS – When we exit the Summerlin Parkway in Las Vegas on to North Rancho Drive, at first the shops and scenery reflect the outskirts of any number of U.S. cities: an enormous Walgreens, a corner 7-11, a Burger King. But towering above the standard signs there is one that stands out: “Dos Hermanas Supermarcado.” I hit the accelerator across two lanes for a hasty entrance into the parking lot. Where there are supermarcados there are bound to be good Mexican restaurants.
What I want is exactly what we find: La Choza #2 Mexican Restaurant. Choza translates as “hut” in English. Bingo. Forget the food palaces like Ricardo’s down near the neon Miracle Mile with their peach margaritas; I want a hole-in-the-wall with bottomless iced horchata. We enter La Choza #2 to the tinkle of bells on the door and are greeted in Spanish. Futbol blares on one of the two flat screen televisions against the turquoise walls, the other one airs a telenovela.
The latest census data puts the Latino and Hispanic population of Nevada as just over 26%, so it’s no shock that we’ve stumbled upon a strip mall that along with La Choza #2 and Dos Hermanas Supermarcado, includes Guadeloupe Medical Center, Botanica La Magnifica, and Rancho Dental. Much attention is given from both sides of the political aisle to the Latino Vote, and the Las Vegas Sun reports that the four GOP candidates have distinct engagement strategies with the Latino and Hispanic community. While Mitt Romney captured the Latino vote in Florida, the Latino community in Florida and the Latino community in Nevada could not be more distinct.
Differences aside, La Choza #2 has food to tempt anyone’s taste buds. As I finish my $8 plate of chili rellenos, the glowing yellow jukebox kicks in at an ear-shattering decibel, sending our waitress racing for the volume button. It’s hard to believe that we are a few short miles miles from high-rise hotels where the top suites can set you back as much as $40,000 a night.
I drain my horchata and we pay the bill.