The Las Vegas Foodie Extreme Challenge began just minutes after our plane touched down at McCarran International Airport at 10:15am. Some people visit Las Vegas to gamble. Some visit to party by the pool. For us, we go to eat. So just how many restaurants did we squeeze into our weeklong Las Vegas vacation? Our foodie record is now a whopping 30 restaurants.
Our meals were scheduled on a spreadsheet with careful planning so there were no back-to-back endless buffets. Immediately after checking into our Aria Hotel suite, we ditched the luggage and started our 144 hour foodie challenge:
Five50 Pizza – Aria Casino Hotel in the CityCenter Complex
Five50 Pizza is one of Aria’s new eateries and they offer full table service and a grab-and-go counter. The space looks sharp and you can see all the action. Counter service was quick and they had a few different options – all at the same $5.50 a slice. The crust was crisp and not soggy at all and the toppings were all very fresh. This was one great way to kick off the trip. We kept jokingly referring to this place as the Five Hundy Pizza.
Great views and directly on the strip between Monte Carlo Hotel & Casino and NYNY Hotel & Casino. It’s a cool spot with a full bar and entertainment on evenings. Menu is total comfort food from burgers to fried chicken with some gastro pub fare. The sautéed Brussel sprouts ($12) were cooked perfectly but could have used a little more bacon. The egg was a bit out of place, but that egg is the new tend everyone puts on top of everything. The crispy smoked chicken wings ($14) were really good and packed the smoke flavor promised and we liked that they give you six, easy to split.
Awesome Asian noodle and dim-sum spot in the Paris Hotel & Casino. We love instant gratification and here there was no wait. Immediately as we sat down, the dim-sum carts rolled by. WE LOVE DIM SUM and this was one of the best we’ve had. Great variety, very fresh and served hot. We had several rounds before ordering the #10 Hong Kong Style Noodles and #11 Shrimp Pork Dumpling.
This bakery/dessert spot in Aria Hotel does one heck of a business. Pass by during peak times and its standing room only and not an open chair. We actually stopped here often for a sweet snack on the way back up to the room. Everything was rich and tasty and about $7 an item. Our favorites were the Chocolate Cheesecake and the Chocolate Intense.
Planet Dailies – Planet Hollywood Hotel & Casino
This was not on our original list for breakfast, but we are glad we made it here. We liked it so much we actually headed back on our last day. Early arrival in the morning means no line and quick service for this diner/coffee shop spot. Great $7.95 steak & eggs breakfast special (M-F). Solid breakfast of eggs, bacon and potatoes filled us up for a little while. The potatoes were amazing and those crispy wedges are still a topic of discussion.
White Castle Hamburgers – Casino Royal
This is the first White Castle Hamburger restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip. This was also my first time trying them. The little square sliders were just as greasy and tasty as my memory serves. To me, they are similar to Crystal Burgers (yes, I know I’ll catch hell for that comparison). Everything was fresh and we were there a bit early in the morning so beat the rumored lines. The fries are a must, but the chicken rings are a pass. 4 slider combo – $7.99, Chicken Rings 6 pc ($3.79).
Shake Shack – NYNY/Monte Carlo area
Shake Shack rules the Northeast US and this is their first Last Vegas venture. The new restaurant was busy and they kept the line moving. It’s consistent with the location Mark reviewed here in South Florida (Boca Raton) and a solid choice if you are a Shake Shack fan. For me, this was my first time trying Shake Shack and it was pretty good. If I could change anything would be the pickup process. There’s a cattle call of people waiting blocking the counter waiting for their number to be called. Maybe they could deliver to your table. ShackBurger – $5.19.
Remember the lion exhibit? We’ll its gone and now you’re sitting in the same spot. Nice open dining area but we found today’s service very slow, despite appearing overstaffed. We decided to skip a full meal because of the slow service and order a couple drafts ($9 each) and the Cheese Curds ($12.00). The curds were very good portion. The ranch dip needed some extra zip.
This was one of the dinners we were looking forward to most. We’ve heard good things about Yusho Japanese Grill & Noodle House but really found the whole meal disappointing. Service was very slow and that was only with two tables of customers in the place. Drinks went unfilled and the glasses were so small you finish the soda in one sip. Both noodle bowls were underwhelming and the broth tasted ‘odd’ and over complex. The shrimp was overlooked and chewy, which is inexcusable. Luckily we saved $17.00 with the MyVegas Buy-One-Get-One deal.
Hidden Pizza (or Secret Pizza) – Cosmopolitan Hotel & Casino
While most people don’t seem to gamble at the Cosmo, they sure eat here. Every restaurant is always busy, even those that are ‘hidden’. Hidden Pizza is one of the most buzzed about spots in the Cosmo. Siri was no help, there’s no sign at the entrance or on the ground flood kiosk – you really have to “know” where to look for the non-descript hallway. Once you find it, you feel transported to a NYC pizza shop. There is limited seating (and a pinball machine) and really not much else. Single slices are the norm and the line moves quick. Our slices were hot and fresh and really good for a late night snack.
The Peppermill restaurant is a true Las Vegas landmark. The neon is tacky, the decor follows suit. Portions are large and service is quick. We loved the rainbow sugar crystals on the table for coffee. While the portions were large, we felt the food was average. The omelet ($11.95) was a bit too overworked and fluffy and the fries were overlooked. The hash browns were the bright spot, made from fresh potatoes and crisp on both sides. It’s worth a stop and you get a total taste of ‘Old Vegas’.
Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, multiple Off Strip locations.
This is one of our favorite fast food spots in Vegas. The fresh chicken fingers are lightly breaded and taste amazing. You can tell these are not frozen and breaded in-house. The crinkle fries are a must and to top off the carb overload is some Texas toast. Three Finger Comb with fries and two sodas, $6.19. Love this place.
Big Ern’s BBQ – Container Park (Downtown)
The Container Park is a cool concept and worth a visit. Made up of old cargo containers, there is retail, restaurants and bars to please everyone. Big Ern’s BBQ fills the area with a nice smoky scent that begs for a visit. Service was very friendly and before I knew it I had my order in hand. I got extra house-made BBQ sauce and headed out to meet Jeff so we could dig in. Each pork spare rib was very meaty ($2.95 each) and had a nice smoke flavor. The BBQ sauce was balanced well, both tangy and sweet.
A tiny place with big flavors. I asked which taco was the best and was told without hesitation the Al pastor ($2.70). Homemade tortillas with onion, cilantro and salsa. Absolutely a great choice….and so inexpensive. You order at the counter and they deliver to wherever you’re sitting in the park.
Noodles – Bellagio
We were on a winning streak with great noodle restaurants but our luck ran out here at Noodles. Dining room was noisy, wait staff were few, tables were extremely close and just not a comfortable meal. My curry noodle soup was thick enough to eat with a fork. Prices were more than we paid at Yong Kang Street.
This place use to be the KING of the buffets, but our last few visits here have been less than amazing. Zero waiting line at 8:00am today. Food was warm at the counter, but already cold when you got to your table. Bacon was dead – no flavor or salt. My selection today was beef tenderloin, smoked trout, seafood ceviche, apple blintz, guacamole, bacon and smoked gouda. We saved $19.99 using the MyVegas points for a two-for-one brunch. I guess it’s pretty sad when my favorite item here was the guacamole.
Yes, I had ice cream at 9:42am. Tried having it last night but they had an hour wait. They text your cellphone when your table is ready. We had the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate ($12.00). It seems to be 2/3 whipped cream and the rest a chocolate ice cream blend. Kinda like an ice cream “slushi’. And yes, one of us got brain freeze.
OMG this place is insanely busy. There were 20+ people waiting to pickup orders and another 20+ people behind me in line. I got one burger ($2.19) which included fresh sliced onion, tomato, lettuce and their secret sauce. So much better than the McBurgers back home. Please, Please, Please someone open one of these in South Florida.
Yes, my first Coney dog experience was a good “messy” one. Loved the chili sauce, mustard and the nice “snap” of the casing. Only $3.85 and we also need one of these in South Florida
Just a block north of Freemont, the pizza by-the-slice portions are HUGE. A little greasy from the pepperoni, but a great deal at $4.50 a slice and the 32 ounce soft drink was only $3.25. They have both inside dining and outside tables.
Haute Doggery – LINQ Entertainment District – The LINQ area was really nice. But Haute Doggery was a disappointment and/or I probably selected the wrong menu item. Ordered the Plain Jane Haute Dog ($4.49) and Crinkle Fries ($3.99). It was just a hot dog like you’d get at the supermarket and make at home. Nothing special and nothing Vegas-like.
China Poblano Noodles & Tacos – Cosmopolitian – Another “Vegas” let down. The wait staff was not attentive which was odd because the dining room was mostly empty. Ordered the Lucy “6” and Lotus Chips. The Lotus chips were oddly fun. Very thin, seasoned with star anise salt and to me they because of the holes, they seemed like the “Swiss Cheese” of potato chips.
Bobby’s Burger Palace – City Center – Ordered a burger and grilled cheese sandwich which was okay. As I walked to the restroom, I noticed one dollar bills sticking up on the condiment trays of all the empty tables. This was to “remind” you to tip the food runner for walking the 20 feet from the window to your table. In a word – Tacky. Come on Bobby. How about just paying your workers a few more dollars?
Pantry 24 Hour Kitchen – Mirage – The bad – Slow, slow, slow, SLOW service and the loud room noise level. The good – Loved the smashed potatoes, the whole coffee pot left on the table and the little jams in tiny mason jars.
Mon Ami Gabi – Paris – Hands down, the BEST outdoor breakfast view on the strip, right across from Bellagio. Had the quiche and the spinach omelet, both were amazing. The service staff was excellent and our drinks were always topped off. Thank you to the Five Hundy by Midnight fans for recommending this place to us.
Yard Bird Southern Table – Venetian/Palazzo –Really liked the chicken, but it was
expensive a little pricy. The menu outside the restaurant listed pork belly, but it was not on the menu inside. No worries, the waitress checked with the kitchen and confirmed they would gladly make one for me. Now that’s service.
Julian Serrano Tapas – Aria – The BEST HAPPY HOUR ON THE STRIP. The service staff was beyond friendly. Happy Hour items include $5 Sangrias (large) and 50% off appetizers. The best items were the Gambas, Fried Calamari and the Bomba. Even though we returned again the following day, we’re still counting this as one.
Nine Fine Irishmen – New York New York Casino – Seems odd that a two story, Irish restaurant fits so well in the New York New York casino. Thanks to MyVegas, we used their two-for-one coupon, but instead, the casino redemption desk offered us a $35 credit to use as cash. What a deal! We had the house specialty Chicken Pot Pie and Fish & Chips with two Guinness drafts. Both were outstanding, but the Pot Pie was the winning dish.
In all honesty, we did a couple repeat visits to Planet Dailies, Jean Philippe Patisserie and Yong Kang Street Noodles which would really total 33 meals, but we really don’t want to appear as foodie gluttons.
Sadly, our week came to an end and we had to head home-sweet-home. But surprisingly, when jumping on the bathroom scale, I had actually LOST weight this trip, thanks to the 10+ miles a day walking on the Strip.
And yes we’re already starting to plan on next trip and would LOVE to hear from you on your favorite place to eat in Las Vegas.