Curator and urban historian Paco Alvarez is a self-admitted food snob when it comes to one of his favorite cuisines: Mexican. He often sticks close to his Downtown Las Vegas neighborhood, where he favors the mole at La Comida, but occasionally he ventures out. (He loves the fish tacos at El Segundo Sol.) Alvarez also has a sharp eye for design. “There is so much culture in Mexico,” he says, “so you need to set that mood.”

Doña Maria Tamales
Alvarez stops in here up to five times a month for dishes like enchiladas con mole. “They have been a mainstay of Las Vegas for almost 40 years,” he says. “The Downtown location has murals on the walls and a shrine to the great Mexican boxing champs.” Two locations

Lindo Michoacán
Alvarez has been going to Lindo since he was a kid, long before the 2002 fire at the original East Desert Inn location. “They rebuilt it in the Mexican mission style,” he says. Spanish tile roofs and archways like the ones seen here have been common in Vegas architecture for more than 100 years. “The guacamole, which they produce right there in front of you, is stellar, plus they have great margaritas and a nice tequila selection.” Three locations

Mundo
Alvarez likes to spice things up at World Market Center’s Mundo, his go-to for “Latin chic” (as the restaurant describes itself), before taking in a show at the Smith Center. “It’s not so Mexican-in-your-face,” he says. He counts its Alien tequila, fluffy tamales, and “to live and die for” corn dish among his musthaves. “If you want a really nice romantic evening, Mundo is the place to go.” 495 S. Grand Central Pkwy., 702-270-4400

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