Southwest Diner is a quirky, comfortable stop on the way to the Hoover Dam. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and pies are homemade with Southwestern touches. This is much appreciated, because Southwestern cuisine is bizarrely difficult to find in Southern Nevada.
An outdoor patio just off the main road makes for a scenic breakfast nook. Coffee is served in little flower pot mugs; water and bloody Marys come in Mason jars. Maple syrup is presented in tequila bottles.
A chile relleno breakfast casserole is in fact more casserole-like than traditional rellenos. It features chopped-up green chiles rather than whole ones, and is pan-baked like an egg strata. Ranchero sauce reduces in the pan to become a glaze. It adds up to a clever breakfast bake worth returning for. On the side, those potatoes are griddle-crisped russets that make us think of lazy man’s home fries. Banana bread, a common option in this region, is close-textured, but better than what you’ll find at most bake sales.
Santa Fe pancakes are are potato pancakes with chives instead of onions. They are billed as spicy, but they are not. They taste like little more than potato, which is not a bad thing, especially when they’re dressed with Tabasco sauce and house-made applesauce. In fact, applesauce steals the show. It’s whole slices of apple, the fruit still a fresh and juicy, so spiced with cinnamon that it almost burns. Perhaps that’s what the menu means by describing the pancakes as spicy. Incidentally, the applesauce is really good on banana bread.
A large board lists the day’s pies, about a dozen. Triple berry pie contains recognizable flavors of strawberry, blueberry, and blackberry. Its stiff, savory crust is a good match for sweet, juicy berries. Peach pie, on the other hand, isn’t peachy enough, the fruit overwhelmed by its starchy crust. As a rule, we suggest getting any fruit pie warmed up to unlock the full flavor of its filling.