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Vegas Airport - One Night Only!

Hi all,

I have a 3.5hr layover at the Vegas airport on Friday, and I'm wondering if I'd have enough time to enjoy a tasty meal somewhere (outside of the airport) while I'm there. I don't know what the airport's proximity is to the strip. So, if anyone has any dinner recs for 1, either on strip or off (not too pricey), that would be within a shortish taxi ride, I'd love to hear them!

Thanks much.

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  1. The airport is very close to the Strip, and I think you would have enough time to go somewhere for a meal - maybe somewhere at MGM which is one of the closest, if not the closest, hotels to the airport - maybe 5 minutes away. Keep in mind that the security lines at McCarran tend to be lengthy, so leave yourself plenty of time to get back to the airport, and there are also cab lines at hotels but they move along quickly. As to the restaurant itself, I think you could eat pretty well at Emeril's New Orleans Fish House at the MGM - you can eat at the bar or in the bar area w/o a reservation, and it's not super pricey.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Debbie W

      Interesting, thanks very much for the reply - I've heard mixed reviews about Emeril's, but will definitely investigate further. I looked up Lotus of Siam, and see that it's not too far either, but I'm slightly nervous about eating spicy thai before a long flight back east... now that I know the strip is close, I'll def be lookin into other options at close hotels. thanks!

      1. re: eating out

        Since you will be there on a Friday, keep in mind that the traffic on the Strip is basically gridlock. Don't go too far afield. The hotels look close together but they are humongous so the distance is greater than you think. Emeril's isn't my favorite food in Las Vegas by far but we still enjoy it from time to time, and the banana cream pie is to die for - the slice is enormous so you could take the leftovers on the plane for a snack.

    2. Unless you're into serious risk-taking, 3.5 hours is pretty tight, especially considering the long security lines, and the time you will need just to get from your arrival gate to a taxi, and to find your way from the front door of a place like MGM to the actual restaurant (not trivial). To avoid both street and hotel congestion, I'd consider some of the independent places near the airport. Table 34 is close. There are numerous possibilities toward Henderson, including Todd's, Koto, Ventano's, and others. But even Henderson is ify--you will probably have at best under an hour for actual eating, and clearly you would need to go somewhere you can be seated quickly.

      1. Just recently someone mentioned an Italian restaurant that was next to the airport that over-looked the runway. Sorry that I cannot remember the name but I looked it up on the net and it looked pretty cool.
        If Lotus of Siam doesn't work (it is off the charts good and I think you should throw caution to the wind about the long flight, and go!) I agree w/earlier posters about staying close on a Fri night. L'atelier de Joel Robuchon in the MGM may fit what you are looking for to a T. It is cool, very good and location is perfect for you. If you want a big hunk of Prime Rib that is delicious and not very expensive, try Sir Galahads in the Excalibur. I think it is some of the best in town. Security @ LAS is bad but remember, it is Friday night and people coming to town is the norm, not leaving so I do not think the security will be out of control like Sundays or Mondays. And since it is a layover, you will not have any luggage.

        1 Reply
        1. re: LVI

          the restaurant overlooking the runway is Panevino. You can make a reservation and ask for a table by the window. At least you can get a view of the strip w/out having to deal w/ the congestion. Take the Sunset rd. exit from the airport...you should be able to bypass the NIGHTMARE on the strip on a Friday.

        2. Well, I"m not so into serious risk taking, and I agree it might just be better to go to a place off the strip - in which case, possibly Table 34? Would Rosemary's be a stretch? I know everyone says Lotus of Siam is out of this world, and I believe them - is everything on the menu that good, or are there certain dishes that top the charts? Last thing I want on an overnight flight is to be spending any time in the lavatory... ew.

          1 Reply
          1. re: eating out

            LOS is a fair distance from the airport (city streets), and Rosemary's is a LONG LONG way. Basically, I'd say you'd better forget both of them. Among independents, Table 34 is the closest spot to the airport I know about which is frequently mentioned here as chow worthy. Some of LVI's suggestions above may be good, but I'd still worry about the time factor. For example, L'Atelier is great, but getting a quick seat on a Friday, even with a reservation, may be chancey.

          2. You folks are very brave! The last time we were in Las Vegas we stood in the security lines for nearly an hour(it was mid-day on a weekday earlier this year)! If you decide to try this make sure you check the convention schedules and that no big conventions are ending that day that may make lines long even on a Friday night.

            1. The last time that I flew out of McCarren Airport, I arrived 2:45 BEFORE scheduled departure and got through security with 40 minutes left.

              IMO, you would be really pushing it especially considering some of the gridlock on the Strip.

              Now if you are flying full fare and can take the next flight out of town without penalty, 5 hours would give you plenty of time to get to a restaurant close to the airport without a major rush.

              1. I would really hesitate before trying this, much as I love all things chow. First, what airline are you on? If it is UAL, AA, Delta, or US Air, you will be at the "D" gates, which involves a tram ride into the terminal and back out. Even if you are on America West or Southwest, with closer gates, figure at least 10-15 minutes off the plane to the main terminal and then to the cabs. The cab line on a Friday night could be VERY long. Then you have to get where you are going; the closest restaurants to the airport probably are Panevino and table 34; I like Todd's better than either of those, and it's reasonably close too. Another good close restaurant is Cili, which is on the Strip, but is a stand alone a bit south of the main drag. Then you are going to have to get the restaurant to order you a cab to go back to the airport...cabs are not just hanging out by any of these places; then you have to go back thru security. Yikes! Now, it is easier to get a cab on the Strip, but it is a lot busier, with more traffic, and even with a res it might be a problem. If you want to go to the strip, I'd probably go with Mandalay Bay, b/c it is the furthest down and thus a bit outside the traffic pattern; the Border Grill in MB has pretty good Mexican food and is likely to turn your order pretty swiftly. But I have to be honest, even tho there is no good chow at McCarren, I still would hesitate to run the risk. One compromise might be to make your way down to the cab line and see how long it is, and then make your final decison. There is a sit down restaurant in the main part of the terminal if that is where you end up staying....

                2 Replies
                1. re: lvnvflyer

                  Cili isn't doing dinner service anymore. They will do "banquets" and buyouts but they stopped serving dinner several months ago. They just don't get the business at night. It's a shame too as it's an absolutely gorgeous spot. The food wasn't anything stellar but still good.

                  1. re: lvmanager

                    I wondered about that; I was at a private event there a couple of weeks ago and thought it was odd that the whole restaurant was available on a friday nite. We've always enjoyed it b/c it is so pleasant, the outdoors is great, nice bar. The food has always been just fine. I'll have to keep it in mind for events, and I'm sorry they couldn't make a go of it for dinner. I suppose they do a decen golf business during the day....

                2. If I were you I'd really watch your time, you'd better be heading out of the restaurant 1 1/2 hours before your flight, and for goodness sakes, see how long security lines are when you head out, if it will take more than a half hour you'll be late. I gotta admit that I'd do this if I were you; I am a huge Vegas foodie/nut and I'd find a way. Don't go to some off the Strip place, if you do that you'd might as well go to some place at your destination. Go to MGM or Mandalay and soak up a few minutes of Vegas glitz. I'd try Nobhill-the service is tops in the business and if you tell them about your time crunch and when your flight is leaving and they'll help you out, heck, they'll remind YOU that you need to get the heck outta there! Sitting at the bar won't really save you time. You may have to skip the apps, and ask them to bring the bill with the food so you can get that out of the way. You need to spend less than 45 minutes in the restaurant total.

                  Make a BEELINE for the cabs as soon as you get off the plane, seriously, jog if you can. Minutes will count if you're going to do this. You'll have to let us know what happens-don't let anyone talk you out it, you'll have an interesting story to tell!

                  1. What time does your plane land? If it's at prime dinnertime, I'd worry about going to the Strip. If you go to Table 34, Todd's, or Lotus, the restaurant can call a cab for you on the way back. As others have mentioned, the lines for security at LAS can be unpredictable. And long.

                    I'd go to Lotus if I were you, and get ready to take some stuff on the plane with me, if necessary.

                    1. Hehe thanks for all the tips guys! Here's my deal - I am taking the redeye from San Fran to DC, with a stop in Vegas. My flight gets to Vegas around 8:30, and leaves for DC at midnight. Now, I realize this is a crazy idea to leave the airport, but I am willing to run, and do think it might be better not to go to the strip b/c of the traffic on a friday night. But do you still think that the security lines will be that long at 11pm on Friday night heading out of town? How crazy is this? I'm flying out on America West, comin in on United. Seems to me i'm safer going with a place like Todds or Lotus. I'm figuring, I get off the plane, jog to the taxi lines, and get to the restaurant, all within 30-45 min. that puts me at about 915-930. then, order, eat, order cab, leave the restaurant by 1030-1045? End up back at the airport no later than 1105... which gives me about 40 min to get to my gate. then i sleep with a full belly on the plane all the way to DC :)

                      Ultimately, I just feel like i'd be depressed sitting in the Vegas airport for 3 hours when I'm sooo close. I could just head to the strip, walk around for like 20 min, and head back. I've only been to Vegas once! Gotta make the most of it :)

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: eating out

                        Well e.o., you're a bigger risk-taker than you claim. 40 min. from the front of the airport to the gate? May the fates smile on you. Maybe you should see if Todd's will do you up a nice go box.

                        Which Friday is it? I'll be flying out of LV on a red eye myself next Friday the 24th. Maybe I can watch as you jump the security line :)

                        1. re: eating out

                          Here is my experience as of last week. We flew southwest. The line to get a taxi to the airport can take 45 minutes to an hour. Security was not long- we left the hotel (MGM) and were through security in 50 minutes. However, a red-eye is very popular flight out of Vegas- so Vegas airport is very busy at that time of night. However our plane was 1 1/2 hours late- and you will probably be able to tell that before you try to leave the airport. Only then would I try it. I loves Emeril's Fish house - best clam chowder I had at a restaurant, oysters were cheap for vegas too. Also liked Craft (lovely bar) and Wolfgang's place

                        2. the hardrock hotel and casino is closer to the airport than the strip is - maybe a 5 minute cab ride - and you wouldn't have to deal with all the strip traffic. in terms of restaurants, there's simon kitchen, which i love and is a great place to eat by yourself at the bar, and nobu, which i've never been to but it has a lot of fans. and the coffee shop (in the hotel - not the hardrock cafe in the parking lot) is decent if you're really pressed for time.

                          1. Unless you make a reservation in advance I wouldn't even attempt it. Yes MGM and Hard Rock are both close with great spots for dining but it's too risky on not making it through security going back. Just my .02

                            1. I work in the airport on a regular basis and the security lines are some of the worst I've ever seen. Particularly on
                              a Friday night......
                              The only place I would even attempt to get to near the strip
                              would be Mandalay Bay - you can get to it from behind the airport and never have to deal with the strip traffic. Sorry - LOS is not close at all - and The MGM is too massive to get in and out of. You can access Mandalay Place - without going through the hotel.
                              Good Luck!

                              1. Some of you are really gutsy. Red eye's in Vegas! Most popular flights! That airport is big, and 3 hours goes by really fast with all the walking, delays and security. Heck, your first flight might be late getting to Vegas anyway, or have you may have to sit on the tarmack for 1/2 hour just to get an open gate. I would either try to get a later flight if you don't have any penalties, or stop at the subway in the airport and eat up. When you get home, go to one of those vacation sites and book you a nice weekend or so in Vegas. You won't regret it. If you leave that airport that night, Vegas will overwhelm you and you'll forget you even have a flight out that night! LOL! Vegas Baby! I love Vegas!