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Nov 22, 2006 12:34 PM

Las Vegas: free-spirited 'hound seeks chow, no reservations required?

Esteemed 'hounds: I expect that most fine dining options-- including many Chowhound favorites-- in Las Vegas require reservations, particularly around the holiday weekends. I've got a long week-end in Las Vegas ahead of me where my aim is to liberate myself from my grueling schedule. My Day-Timer is staying at home.

I want to lie around the pool, drink fruity drinks, read trashy novels, and occasionally get up to gawk at the sites on the Strip. Maybe pop in to one of those wedding chapels and get married at 3am. Spontaneous. Casual. Low-key. Accordingly, I don't want to make any "commitments;" sadly, even a lunch or dinner reservation seems like too much of a commitment right now.

Do you have any recommendations for good chow --breakfast, lunch and dinner--that is available on a walk-in or more spontaneous basis? Basically, I'm hoping for a list of restaurants to tuck in the inner pocket of my leopard-print purse that I can consult when we reach that, "Hey, we're hungry now, where shall we eat?" point.

We'll be staying on the Strip, but we'll have a car. We'll probably want one "dress-up" meal; otherwise, we're casual people. (There will be two or three of us.) We're open to all kinds of cuisines--we've eaten at Lotus of Siam, Peppermill, Fatburger, the Four Seasons (for afternoon tea), The Grand Luxe Cafe(just ok), Bally's cafe (don't recommend it)...probably some others that I can't remember. We plan to have pancakes at the Wynne because I've been tipped off that they are "the best pancakes ever". We'd love to hit LOS again if we can get in without reservations. Also, we'd probably like a decent steak for at least one meal. We missed Luv-it Custard last time--that's still on the list.

Any ideas? And, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Thank you!


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  1. Frankly, I think your strategy is a WONDERFUL way to do Las Vegas. I rarely make reservations in Las Vegas, and rarely eat on the Strip. I wouldn't recommend this for folks who don't have a car, but if you do, why not play things by ear?

    I rarely eat breakfast in LV, so one way I cope with potential crowds is by eating at odd hours in places that are open straight through between lunch and dinner.

    I posted about my last trip. Before this, most of my Chinese meals have been in the major section of Spring Mountain Chinatown. Based on Chowhound recommendations, I visited Hue's Thai Sandwiches a Vietnamese restaurant that has an extensive menu -- especially at dinner-- as well as bahn mi and terrific fruit drinks). While there, I stumbled onto Penang Malaysian Cuisine and Champion Food, much to my pleasure --
    The fish and roti telur at Penang were outstanding.

    All of these are located at 5115 Spring Mountain, and I'd guess there are other treasures there.

    "Arcosdesign," a Chowhound, tipped me to Mariana's Supermarket at 3631 W. Sahara, a place I had passed countless times. Inside is a snack bar/restaurant that serves excellent tacos and tortas, the best I've had in Las Vegas, and much much more. I enjoyed almost everything I ate in two visits except for wretched tamales. While you're waiting for your food, feast on the unlimited *excellent* (fresh, usually warm or hot) tortilla chips (which you can buy, bagged, to take out) and salsa. Mariana's also serves frsh soups and daily specials.

    The place is packed at prime-time for lunch but not unpleasantly so. If you go at an off-hour (say, before 11:30 or after 2:00), it's much less crowded.

    1. You can always pop in to Rosemary's and grab a spot at the bar. Both barkeeps are top-notch food servers and you can avail yourself of the entire menu, plus the small plates from the bar menu. Go on Sunday night for half-price wine. You've hit some major hound spots in past trips...if you don't know Rosemary's it's high time you did.

      1 Reply
      1. re: GroovinGourmet

        The first time we went to Rosemary's we hadn't made a reservation because we were indecisive and had decided to play it by ear that night. The dining room was full so we ate at the bar from the regular menu. Great experience, fabulous meal, and actually a very different experience from our subsequent meal in the dining room. The bar was very quiet that night and we had ample time to chat with the bartender about anything and everything.

      2. I've found Craftsteak at MGM is a place that you can often walk into or call ahead as it has such a large seating capacity. I've called as I walked out the door for Nobhill a few minutes later and been seated. If you want a dress up dinner that you can do on short notice, Nobhill would be a great choice. Excellent food, service as good as it gets, soothing ambience, and a menu that has something for pretty much any taste. There may be other choices, but these are the ones I know for certain about. I'd also recommend Mesa Grill for lunch, very reasonably priced, fun atmosphere, and the burgers were sooooo good! 877-2dinelv will get you the reservations for all MGM properties, they're very helpful at making suggestions.

        1. The Ellis Island Casino and Brewery features dollar pints and the best BBQ in town:

          1 Reply
          1. re: LordOfTheGrill

            Beware, we once tried to pop into Ellis Island for some BBQ on a Thursday night to find that there was an 1 3/4 hour wait! Who'd have thoguht...?!

          2. At least at lunch, and I suspect at dinner if you aren't eating at 'prime time', you don't need reservations for Mon Ami Gabi if you don't insist on eating outdoors with the view of the (Bellagio) fountains. No need to dress up either, and the food is great, imo.