The Best New Tequila Bar in Las Vegas Is Hidden in the Back of a Food Hall
B.S. Taqueria is showcasing Mexican spirits without compromise at the Sundry.
There's a lot going on inside the Sundry at UnCommons. So much it can almost be overwhelming. At first glance, the 18,000-square-foot space is the latest opening in a wave of Las Vegas food halls with prices that test the limits of what's acceptable in the Southwest suburbs.
Yet if you're only glancing at menus and scoffing at prices without digging deeper into what this place is all about—or even trying the food—you're missing out on surprise moments that rival, and sometimes surpass, flashier high-profile restaurants on the Strip.
The main food hall area, where items from various concepts arrive from a single kitchen with QR codes used to place orders, is a reward of discoveries that best unfold over multiple visits. Begin with the oysters and low-intervention wine at Bar Oysterette, grilled fish platters of Kávos Coastal Greek Grill, lumpia of Petite Peso, and Bloody Mary cocktails made with Diane Mina's exceptional garden-fresh mix, and take it from there.
The Sundry also has two traditional full-service restaurants, and while it's hard to resist the sushi rolls, chilled pork ramen, and Japanese whisky collection at Mizunara, its next-door neighbor is an especially intriguing presence; a Mexican eatery that reflects the ambition and possibilities of the Sundry one sip at a time.
Ray Garcia's B.S. Taqueria may have the best tequila bar in Las Vegas. If not, it's easily the most ambitious one to come around in years–perhaps ever. The first thing you'll notice is the absence of common, familiar brands. No Casamigos, amigo. The most recognizable name is Casa Dragones, which is only on the shelf because there wasn't room for it at the Sundry's main cocktail bar—and still a prized boutique label, regardless. George Strait's excellent Codigo is the lone celebrity tequila, and even that one is represented by a limited-run Estate Harvest edition.
Overall, the collection is driven by small-batch producers who distill spirits with traditional hands-on methods while aggressively skipping any additives. You'd be surprised how often large corporate brands use flavorings, colorings, and even texture enhancements in their supermarket booze. You get none of that here.
"We wanted to mirror the principles and ethos of what we're doing on the culinary side," Garcia says about the bar program. That means you get Mexican spirits with clean, drinkable, natural flavors to pair with dishes made with house-pressed heirloom corn tortillas, chilies imported from Oaxaca, and fresh produce from proud, family-owned farms north and south of the border.
The tequilas range from Siembra Valles Ancestral (distilled in a centuries-old, pre-colonial process with agave roasted in underground pits–similar to mezcal–and hand-mashed with wood mallets) to Komos, an emerging luxury brand that cuts no corners with its pure, aged tequilas, which end up in stylish, bell-shaped, ceramic bottles.
Even the well tequila, which can change occasionally, will always be certified additive-free. B.S. Taqueria is currently using Octavio Silver, sustainably distilled in the Jalisco highlands. It works perfectly in The Marg (a house Margarita kept simple with lime juice and agave) or San "Dia" Drinking, a spiked agua fresca.
Mezcal provides a robust base for the Holy Mole!–a modified Negroni with smoked sea salt, mole-infused Campari, and coffee liqueur–and the Cactus Cooler, an amped-up Margarita with cucumber, cactus, and pineapple."The cocktails showcase the spirits," according to Beverage Manager Phil Ochoa, "But you want to showcase the produce and agriculture of Mexico as well."
Ochoa, part of the TableOne Hospitality team that operates the Sundry, collaborates with Garcia to make the bar at B.S. Taqueria a fully realized experiment that overachieves without compromise. When it comes to Mexican spirits, tequilas and mezcal tend to dominate the attention. Still, the team is also passionate about featuring sotol, which is slowly growing in popularity in the United States. The bright and grassy spirit is distilled from desert spoon, a plant similar to agave but actually in the asparagus family. Dig deeper into the collection, and you'll come across raicilla (sweet and floral "Mexican moonshine" with fewer regulations) and bacanora, which is often earthy and distilled with specific types of Sonora agave.
The bar even carries xtabentún, a Mayan honey and rum liqueur that's especially nice as an after-dinner drink. "It's made in a more modern way now, but the idea behind it is rooted in tradition, which I love," says Ochoa, a California native with Mexican heritage. "The more I learn about these things, the more I find myself being really proud of my culture."
B.S. Taqueria offers tasting flights that run between $27 and $55; fair prices when considering the cool stuff you get to try out. Even among the tequilas alone, there's an incredible disparity of flavors, which Garcia compares to those found in chili peppers.
"A lot of people think chilies are just there for spice and heat," the chef observes. "And that might be part of its characteristic, but a chilli can also be earthy, fruity, sweet, or smoky. I think the same thing happens with tequilas. If you start tasting our tequilas side by side in a flight, you'll see the nuances."
The original B.S. Taqueria and the predecessor that inspired its name, Broken Spanish, are now closed in Los Angeles, but Garcia is enjoying a revival in Las Vegas, beginning with ¡VIVA!, which opened two years ago at Resorts World. By comparison, B.S. Taqueria is smaller and more efficient, which fits the image and format of the Sundry, giving an off-Strip customer base something special without lowering the bar to draw them in. Look for the restaurant's spirits list to evolve even further and expand to more than a hundred bottles in the months ahead–giving you and anyone who appreciates fine spirits more than a hundred reasons to return.