March 4, 2013 | Las Vegas, Nevada, North America, Travel
I love a quick trip to Las Vegas. The flight is less than 2 hours from Denver, the temperatures are mild, and it has a Disneyland sort of atmosphere thanks to the many elaborate hotels. I don’t go to gamble, although I won $251 dollars in a penny slot machine in 60 seconds this time. But you know what happened to that, right?Yep, a short while later this is all I had left to cash out. So no, I don’t go to Vegas for the gambling.I go to see the beautiful hotels – these are the lights hanging high above the bar foyer at the Wynn and they are gorgeous.I go to see the seasonal decorations at the fancy hotels. It was Chinese New Year (the year of the snake!) and all of the hotels had incredible displays. These hanging balls of live flowers were simply spectacular.And I go to Vegas when my husband and I need a little time away alone together. But mostly, I love going to Vegas for the food. I’m not sure there is another city where so many famous chefs and restaurants have decided to plant some version of their famous restaurant in the same city. From Saturday night until Tuesday morning, we basically just ate our way through Vegas. Here’s the roundup.I always make dinner reservations for Las Vegas – you just never know what the convention scene or crowds are going to be like and I hate getting stuck eating somewhere I’m not thrilled about. We had reservations at Hubert Keller’s Fleur for the first night, in the Mandalay Bay Hotel. I must say, I was less than overwhelmed, and really expected this meal to blow me away. The restaurant is located quite near the large hall, so it feels a bit exposed and not too intimate. The ahi tuna tacos we ordered were simply bland and needed some zip to them.The restaurant serves small plates, so fortunately the other things we ordered were much better: gazpacho, shrimp with an orzo riff on paella, and sliders. With so many places to choose from, I’d probably not return here on another trip to Vegas.Mon Ami Gabi is in the Paris hotel right across the street from the Bellagio (where we were staying) and our friends had recommended it for brunch on Sunday morning. They also insisted the only way to go was to eat out on the patio (assuming a nice day) and share a bottle of champagne. And boy were they right. We shared some salmon and sour cream with toast tips……and I followed that up with the classic French dish, quiche lorraine. It was so rich and so large that I could only eat half of it, which was a shame. Consider sharing it with a friend if you go.There is a famous restaurant in East Harlem called Rao’s. It’s an old school classic Italian joint, and because so many clients hold standing table reservations, it’s become next to impossible to dine there unless you are some dignitary or something. So when I saw they had opened a place in Vegas, and knowing my husband’s love for old school Italian cuisine, we picked here for Sunday night. It’s just what you would expect: walls lined with the photographs of famous people who have dined at the real Rao’s in Manhattan, dark wood interior, and huge portions of classic dishes like shells with ricotta and sausage and peppers. We also shared a Caesar salad that could have fed a family. Again, a shame to leave so much food uneaten, but it was great and if you want good solid Italian food, this is a great choice. Rao’s is located in Caesar’s hotel right next to the Bellagio but be warned that walking from one hotel to the next in Vegas almost feels like walking to the next town they are so large and spread out!On Monday, after checking out the incredible pastry selection at the Palio in the Bellagio (and showing restraint by only grabbing a coffee) we wandered around in the morning checking out the new City Center and the Aria hotel – it’s quite expansive and the Aria is gorgeous, so I’m sorry I didn’t think to start snapping any photos.We returned to the Bellagio to have lunch on the patio of Todd English’s Olives restaurant. This is another spot where it’s great to sit outside, in this case so you can enjoy the famous Bellagio fountains show.A meal at Olives starts out predictably – and deliciously – with a tray of black and green olives and two choices of olive tapenade.Both my husband and I chose pasta dishes – mine was a wonderful spring pea mezzaluna pasta with fava beans and my husband’s was a classic ravioli. Both were outstanding. You’d think we were done for after such a large lunch, but we spent the afternoon walking all the way up and down the strip to prepare ourselves for our final meal in Vegas.Tao Asian Bistro is a renowned New York hotspot and the Vegas outpost is located in the Venetian. It’s both a restaurant and a nightclub, so be warned that the loud thumping music that accompanies your meal may not be what you are looking for. But the Hong Kong Chinese food that they serve is simply outstanding.Salmon tartare over crispy sushi rice.Thai crab cakes with mango chili sauce.Peking duck spring roll with hoisin sauce.Pork potstickers with chile sesame glaze.And we finished up our meal like gluttons by ordering the Buddha’s Harmonized Vegetable Feast for the Minor Gods with Udon Noodles.It feels like we left Las Vegas without leaving a morsel of food on a plate and a few pounds heavier. But, boy was it worth it!
Here are links if you want to check out any of the places mentioned in this post:
Caesar’s Palace Hotel
Mandalay Bay Hotel
Mon Ami Gabi
Tao Asian Bistro