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 FTLToday.com record is now a whopping 30 restaurants. After months of planning, our food challenge began just minutes after we touched down at McCarran International Airport at 10:15am
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.
Okay, with all that food, its time to head back to our room at Aria for a quick nap and we’ll pick up the second half of the Vegas Foodie Challenge in Part Two.