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Moving to Las Vegas, looking to get the lay of the culinary landscape

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PreludeInZ Aug 9, 2009 05:08 PM

Hello! I am new to Chowhound, though I've been peripherally aware of it for ages now, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to get some information from a knowledgeable community of people.

So this is my situation, in brief. Currently I live in Manitoba, Canada, and I was married at the end of May. I'm currently in immigration purgatory, but as soon as all the paperwork for my permanent resident visa goes through, I'm going to be joining my husband in Las Vegas. He's in the air force, and transferred to Vegas from Florida almost a month ago, so while he's more familiar with the area than I am, access to really good food has never been high on his list of priorities as it is on mine.

We have an apartment in the northwest corner of the city (I think the area's called Centennial?), right near the junction of N Durango Dr and the 215. Anyway, I love to cook and I love good restaurants, and I'd like to know what's out there as far as good grocery stores (I know absolutely nothing about American grocery chains) and places to eat out in the vicinity. Are there any restaurants that someone new to the city absolutely must check out? Are there places in the northwest that are best avoided?

I'm also curious about specialty stores and farmer's markets and butchers, and which of them are worth a drive across the city. I've done a bit of research, but I really haven't got much for a frame of reference, and I'd love to hear from residents and people with personal knowledge of the city.

Thanks so much :)

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    Eric Aug 9, 2009 06:31 PM

    Larry's Great Western Meats, on Valley View just north of Alta, is a great butcher. There are a couple of farmers markets. However, they are very small and, in one word, suck. The traditional supermarket chains in town are Smiths, Albertsons and Vons. There really is no t much difference between them. Whole Foods has several locations as does Trader Joes. These are both specialty chains and are worth shopping at.

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      Dave Feldman Aug 9, 2009 07:57 PM

      There have been quite a few threads on the subject. Using the search mechanism, I've found three. The one on top is the most recent and probably the most helpful:

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/637009
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/314871
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/501963

      1. s
        selfportrait93 Aug 9, 2009 10:50 PM

        Costco Centennial is on Decatur

        1. janetofreno Aug 10, 2009 10:08 AM

          I live fairly near to where you'll be moving....there really aren't huge numbers of great restaurants in this neighborhood, alas. Search for my posts to see what ideas I have...as far as places to avoid, they are mainly chains...so avoid chains! lol!

          There is a upick farm between Farm and Grand Teton (take Grand Teton south from N. Durango) that is worth checking out..Gilcrease Orchards. However, they are under new management and have reduced their hours this year...try googling them and see what the website says.

          The closest Farmer's Market to you is in Summerlin...west of where you are at. But as someone said, its not very large or exciting....

          Oh, and at the corner of Grand Teton and Tenaya (I think its Tenaya; near the orchard...) there is the egg lady. Fresh eggs, any time the gate is open. And sometimes honey and other goodies....

          1. foodlvrzen Aug 10, 2009 11:01 PM

            welcome P! btw, love Canada, Toronto waterfront shops/restaurants in particular, and Canadian people in general :-) am also in the Centennial nw part of the 'vegas valley'; neighbors that moved in last year are also connected to air force based out of Nellis, he is an F16 or something (not up on my military jets) pilot, very nice couple - anyway, slim pickings for groceries in the 15 mi. range, which is my general rule of thumb for basic grocery travel time, as our traffic is sometimes nuts and will make you bonkers, but that said, there are some great places in every zip code, like most places, as DF said, see other posts on ch for local food recos; so, for a new las vegan, some things to do;
            >skim websites of lv papers/radio and news stations, i.e. las vegas sun, lvrj 'reviewjournal.com', lasvegasweekly.com
            >join email mailing lists of vegas locals and receive loads of benefits in local discounts; i.e. vegas4locals.com, stayandplayhere.com, visitlasvegas.com, savelv.com, spyonvegas.com, major casinos etc.
            >enjoy the shiny big brand new Centennial library, has the usual goods plus movie showings, classes etc.
            >join costco, excellent quality/prices of items, i.e. see chow thread on costco $9.99 prime steaks; you really can’t believe the myths about cost of living being cheaper in desert towns, practically everything is equal to or more expensive than other big cities, and of COURSE that includes food :rolls eyes: :-(
            >shop for finer ingredients/quality basics at whole foods 1-2x month, otherwise use local groceries Fresh & Easy, Vons, Smiths
            >weather depending, definitely explore and go ooh and aooh at your new terrain, #1 must see Valley of Fire, incredible and immense nat'l park/sacred Native American Indian spot, need a few trips to see even half of it, #2 choice Red Rock Canyon, for simply sitting or hiking, horseback riding; and then locals favorite spots like Red Rock Casino, Lake Las Vegas-cobblestoned streets dining/shopping European charm, nice lakeside jazz concerts, Summerlin, Green Valley, Town Square, First Friday monthly art/food festival, Mt. Charleston for skiing and the lodge’s hot chocolate w/ butterscotch rum
            >Sept/Oct has some entertaining outdoor festivals; San Gennaro Feast 9/15-20, BalloonaPalooza IV North Las Vegas, held again at Craig Ranch Golf Course/City Park 9/18-20; other, car shows/wine festivals/art shows
            >great winter activities, huge Halloween town/gorgeous holiday lights festivals-especially Bellagio gardens/new years fireworks massive crowds walking on closed strip, and lots more; we're like reverse bears hibernating in the summer, peek our heads out with cooler weather and really wake up autumn/winter/spring
            and sounded like you're renting? if so you might already know real estate is 5th worst nationally and LOTS of serious property deals; i.e. 2 bd 2bth condo west valley, near summerlin, $48K ...! $400 month mortgage; even decent investment rental prop...hmmm
            >for nostalgia, there is a classic drive in movie place West Wind
            sidenote, made poutin a la NY style today, a staple back in NY for many memorable 3am snacks, and my SO who has never heard of it LOVED it;
            reco near your location of Durango and 215; you are right next to Deli Den, authentic NY Jewish style deli; fav breakfast special during the week, 2 eggs/cheese/bacon on everything bagel $3.50, and add'l treats, macaroons and madelines; used to get the best rugelach there but their baker can't do items that take so long to make anymore....sigh...
            add'l reco, Mimi's Cafe, a french bistro style eatery very moderate prices; delicious breakfasts like stuffed french toast and worthy home fries => I am REALLY picky about home fries and hate when places serve the frozen kind; they also do a nice dinner menu, tasty caesar salad and they give a bread 'basket' of assorted goodies including a scrumptious super dark banana bread...which I have no willpower against...I always buy a side loaf for following breakfast mmm mmm good ;-p
            if Manitoba still has strong British roots, there is a gem of a place The Crown and Anchor
            again, welcome! will think of more!

            1 Reply
            1. re: foodlvrzen
              p
              PreludeInZ Aug 11, 2009 08:29 AM

              Wow! Thank you, that's tons of information, and of exactly the kind I wanted. Thanks for the warm welcome, and my husband works out of Nellis, too, as a mechanic (F-16 sounds right to me, although the extent of my knowledge of aircraft is limited to "It's a plane!" and "You smell like jet fuel, get out of my kitchen") Thank you so much for all the references, I look forward to putting in some more research about these specific locations.

              I'm glad to hear that the city sort of picks up as the weather gets colder, because it looks like it's going to be the end of the year before I get down there. I've been keeping sort of half an eye on the weather in Vegas, and being a little freaked out by daily temperatures that are consistently higher than the single hottest day of summer I remember in my entire life. But, it'll be nice to call the family in the winter, when it's -40C back home :D

              I'm especially excited about Mimi's Cafe, as it sounds somewhat like a cafe/bakery right across the back lane from the house I live in currently--I'm pretty serious about potatoes for breakfast, too--and I'm looking forward to having a place that serves good, simple food on those mornings when I just don't feel like cooking.

              Thank you again, so much, for all this information. It's really helpful to have knowledgeable people provide some direction for my research :)

            2. vegasmuse Aug 11, 2009 02:08 PM

              I'm out in the NW (Centennial) area as well. I love that some parts of the area are still a bit more rural, and it's far enough away from the craziness of the strip, but not too far of a drive to get there for the restaurants, shows, etc.

              A few restaurants in the NW area you might be interested in that haven't been mentioned yet: Bob Taylor's Ranch House, which is an 'old school', mesquite grill steakhouse, and quite good; Buzz BBQ, which is a bit to the south and has the best bbq (IMO) in Vegas; Sushi Loca, which has a nice variety of sushi rolls and other Japanese dishes; Indian Curry Bowl, which is the only Indian restaurant in the NW, but fortunately a good one; Market Grill Cafe, which has good Mediterranean food, gyros, etc.; and the Cracked Egg, which is one of my favorite breakfast spots.

              Good luck with the move & welcome to Vegas!

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                Illuminatus Aug 11, 2009 05:13 PM

                Hello Canadian Friend,

                I will not begin to recommend restaurants to you since I don't know what sort of food you like but I will recommend places to shop for you.

                There are two different places I would shop at for fruits and vegtables which have large selections and affordable prices.

                One place has a few locations in the Las Vegas area and it is called Sunflower Market. They are very good for fruits and veggies and have good prices. Just do a Google search for Sunflower Market in Las Vegas, NV and you will find their locations.

                Another good spot to shop at for fruits, veggies and some meats is in the small Las Vegas Chinatown. There are a few Asian grocery stores in the small Chinatown area. The most popular one is called 99 Market and it is located on Spring Mountain Road which is where our Chinatown is located. Good prices for fruits and veggies.

                Specialty stores where foodies like to go for unusual food items are Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Market. Trader Joe's is a small store but has a great wine selection and is not too expensive. Whole Foods Market has a very large selection of specialty foods like Truffle Butter, lots of different cheeses, great wine selection, bakery etc etc. This is a great store that I love to shop at but it's quite expensive.

                The regular grocery stores in town that most people go to for everyday items are Albertsons, Smiths, Vons, Food4Less, Wal-Mart Supercenters and Costco for bulk purchases.

                I hope this helps. You'll just have to check out each of these places yourself to see what you like about each of them.

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