Saturday, January 12, 2008


Border Grill is located in the Mandalay Bay Resort near the Shark Reef attraction. Border Grill is a bright, 2 level urban space with a large patio for those warmer days and a balcony with heaters on the second level for chillier days. The second level is divided into 2 spaces, a comfortable dining room and a vibrant bar. Both levels overlook Mandalay’s “river” and tropical pool area. I sat in the bar for a late lunch.

I selected the Cucumber Mojito. This tasty libation is a combination of homemade cucumber infused vodka, fresh lime juice and soda. It was refreshing but the vodka was lost with much more than a “touch of soda.” I stopped with the one and switched to a cola.

A basket of homemade chips and trio incredible salsas are served with your beverage as you review the mouth-watering menu of modern Mexican dishes. The salsa verde is made with tomatillos & possibly a bit of lime; the salsa rojo is with pureed tomatoes, onion, cilantro, & jalapeños for a bit of heat; my favorite, the chipotle salsa is with smoked jalapeno, tomatoes, onion. Delicious! After commenting on the salsas, my server brought me a fiery 4th salsa – one made with habanera peppers. This one is for the daring. My first basket of chips should not have been served; it was nothing but chip fragments too small for dipping. My second basket was filled with large crispy, warm, salty chips waiting to take a “dip.”

After much deliberation, I chose the Cochinita Pibil (roasted pork) for my lunch. The slow roasted pork has an achiote marinade. I detected the bold flavors of achiote (annatto seeds), chipotle pepper, cumin, cinnamon, & maybe some allspice in the pork. This combination is typically used as a rub for meat. The moist, perfectly roasted chunks of pork accompany black beans, guacamole, pickled red onion and a salsa of plantains & oranges – served on a banana leaf. The chunky guacamole of avocado, fresh lime, onion & cilantro and the side of black beans are simply the best I have eaten in the US. The side of grilled/glazed plantains and oranges were the perfect end to my meal. As much as I wanted to order a dessert, it was not possible after finishing the generous portions on my plate.

Service is slow and inattentive, but friendly when they appear at the table. I actually found the busboys more concerned about me and my meal than my server. This is surprising considering the dining area was at 50% of capacity.

I would return to the “border” but only to the original Border Grill in Santa Monica closer to the owners', Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, home base.

Mmm, Mmm…


$ 10
$$ 20
$$$ 30
$$$$ 40+

+ Stop bothering me!
++ Anyone here?
+++ Stopped when in the area.
++++ As needed and friendly.
+++++ Invisibly perfect!

✦ “One visit too many!”
✦✦ “Convince me!”
✦✦✦ “I’ll be back!”
✦✦✦✦ “Same table next week!”