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Jul 8, 2011 06:37 AM

Dallas CH visiting - need help planning

Listed below are places I have prioritized for various lunch/dinners. I may not end up hitting all of them, but I could use help on my dining itinerary. Will be there 4 nights, July 27-30 with a group that is going for the Evo fighting game tournament.

I'd normally have no problem doing high end/expensive; trust me, I'd love to do Raku's kaiseki or L'atelier or E by Jose Andres. However, I am traveling with friends who have a much lower budget than I do. More than $30-40pp all-in would be tough for them to pull off for dinners. And LoS and Raku are pretty much obligatory for me.

Aburiya Raku - seems like a place that'd get busy at dinner, so how far ahead should I call for a reservation?
Lotus of Siam
Monta Ramen and Yokohama Kaigenro (these should at the very least be better than the sloppy excuses for ramen we have in TX)
Burger Bar at Mandalay (hear they have excellent craft beer too?)
Bouchon (likely gonna do this for breakfast. gotta do it at least once)
Rio Seafood Buffet (any advise on discounts?) - The Rio is where Evo is being held so any good and low priced (no more than $20-30) lunch/dinner nearby would be appreciated too if that is possible.
Jean Philippe - do I go to the one at ARIA or Bellagio?
Any advice on a coffee shop for a good latte? I saw Illy but would prefer an indie shop and Sambalatte sounded promising too.

I've been to Jaleo in DC and they do a happy hour ("Jaleo hour") that has a discounted menu. Do they do this at the Las Vegas location? Otherwise I guess I'll round up some people to share paella and a few other tapas items. More happy hour ideas would be great actually.

I'm also pretty into craft beer, any other bars I should hit besides Burger Bar, 32 Draft, and Aces and Ales?

3355 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Aburiya Raku
5030 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89146

Lotus of Siam
953 E Sahara Ave Ste A5, Las Vegas, NV 89104

Yokohama Kaigenro
4503 Paradise Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89169

Monta Ramen
5030 W Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89146

3708 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

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  1. Avoid the Rio seafood buffet. It is way past it's heyday. It is way overpriced for mediocre food. There have been several posts on this board saying the food, in s word, sucked.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Eric

      I normally never do buffets, but the rationale for that is the location. We'll be there most of the trip and it's going to be a go-to if anyone's immediately hungry and doesn't want to go very far, plus I figure it will likely have discounts. If you know anything else that's pretty closeby, that'd be real helpful!

      1. re: air

        I would avoid this place as much as possible. Unless you are forced into going, try to find somewhere else to eat there. It is around 40/pp and not worth it at all. The lobster tails are tiny and flavorless and chewy.

        I suggest Tableau in the Wynn for another breakfast. Just as good if not better than Bouchon.

        Jean Philippe - go to the one in Aria, it is bigger and they make all the pastries at that location now.

        1. re: air

          I've have been living in Las Vegas for twelve years. I also use to come out five to six times a year to visit my parents. In all of those years not once have I seen the Rio give out discounts on any of their restaurants. Remember that it's owned by Harrahs. They do not even give discounts to the locals. The Bellagio and Caesers are both a very short cab or bus ride from the Rio.

          3600 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV

          1. re: Eric

            Also note that it doesn't have to be a buffet. Basically suggestions on a reasonably priced meal without going to a chain place near the Rio would work.

            And instead of just focusing on this little bit, how else does my plan look?

      2. I'm afraid this is another in the chorus of anti-Rio food folks. You are relatively close to the Gold Coast. I'm not as enthusiastic about Ping Pang Pong (and its sister restaurant, Noodle Exchange) as many CHs, but they are good values. And if you have a car, you are also close to the many options of Chinatown on Spring Mountain Road.

        Ping Pang Pong
        4000 W Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89103

        Noodle Exchange
        4000 W Flamingo Rd, Paradise, NV 89103

        7 Replies
        1. re: Dave Feldman

          Yeah didn't realize that about the Rio and will change plans accordingly. I do have a car and actually, is there a good Filipino place in the area?

          1. re: air

            I often end up in Vegas with groups similar to yours. I'm willing to spend more but their budget is more limited so I can understand the balance of finding something acceptable to you but within their means.

            Having a car will help. The Filipino in Las Vegas tends to be only okay if you're familiar with Filipino food. Mainly turo-turo joints or buffet places. Most of them will be on Maryland on the other side of the freeway from Rio. There are some up and down Spring Mountain but nothing outstanding. Having a car, it's breeze to shoot up Spring Mountain from the Rio side of the freeway.

            You can try doing a Yelp search on Filipino food and seeing what comes up for you. I grew up eating Filipino food for FWIW. I crave it as comfort food but recognize the limitations of that cuisine be served in a restaurant. My lukewarm recommendations from the handful of places I've tried are:

            DJ Bibingkahan - solid chain turo turo. Probably the most consistent. Nothing mind blowing but not a lot of land mines either.

            Nanay's Gloria - Turo, turo. My Filipino uncles seem to like this place a lot. Although I think their maids cook a better version of most of the dishes.

            Both places are very inexpensive and for the people in your party who are concerned about loading up, they would be a possibility.

            If you're into finding decent ramen, would you be open to Pho? On Spring Mountain, on the Westside Rio side of the freeway, I heartily recommend Pho Saigon 8. They're not very English friendly but the service is decent enough. Great Pho and get the drip coffee. Good place for morning after hangover meal.

            Another good place would be Rincon de Buenos Aires. Low key argentinian. Tables are set next to the deli counter. The meat here is very good but it's inexpensive for what you get. The mixed grills are outstanding. Or you can just get the steak entrees. The short rib or skirt steak is popular with my friends. Big hunks of quality meat with one side dish for $12 for the short rib, $17 for the skirt steak. It's a great compromise for low cost but still a good meal.

            Good luck!

            Pho Saigon 8
            5650 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89146

            1. re: Jase

              Thank you so much, that nailed it really well! And of course we will have a car. Loading up at the turo-turo places would a good bet for the group and probably extremely fast and convenient too. Plus turo-turo from my experience has been a safe way to get non-Filipinos into trying the food.

              Argentinian sounds pretty awesome as I haven't run into that cuisine outside of empanada specialists in DFW and Houston.

              And would definitely be open to pho. I eat it very frequently and you are right it's perfect for a morning after drinking.

              1. re: air

                Rincon does have solid empanadas. But if your group are anything like some of mine then they'll gravitate towards the meat and be happy they didn't spend so much. Attached is a pic of one of their mixed grills. They're for two people and run $30-35 depending on what kind you get. For the less adventuresome get the ones that doesn't contain any sausages or sweetbreads. Just the one with different cuts of meat, I think it's called the Martin Fiero? Be warned that the grills don't come with side dishes though. It's still a lot of food. You also get a lot of complimentary bread and their chimichurri sauce.

                I used to be able to do a whole grill by myself when I was younger but don't do that anymore. Unless you have huge eaters in your party, two per grill is sufficient or get two grills for three people. Then a couple of side dishes and it'll still be around $20 a person before tip. Hint, the grills come with coals and keep cooking while at the table. Either order it on the rarer side of your preference or pull it off the grill quickly after getting it.

                If you're looking for Filipino buffets and willing to drive, I think there's a much larger selection of places on Maryland on the east side of the freeway. Not too bad if you have a car, use Desert Inn to cut back and forth from East and West side of town. It avoids most of the major traffic and fast overpass over the freeway. I don't have a lot of experience with the Filipino places that side of town though. Most just opened up the past couple of years and I don't really go out of my way to eat Filipino while in Vegas.

                Also second the Orleans recommendations below. The Orleans cafe has a 24 hour prime rib special for $14. It's a decent quality of meat. 10 oz portion, comes with all the trimmings. Another good compromise for value, quantity and quality while being convenient. The cafe is easy in and out and hardly any lines. Parking is easy and service is prompt, efficient and friendly. The rest of the menu can be a bit hit or miss though. Bonus is it's right next to their great sports book.

                If possible, think about coming in early or staying late a day or two. That's what I generally do if I go with these kinds of groups. I dine solo at the high end places. The rest of the time when everyone else shows up, I eat decently and enjoy the company.

                Oh what about Korean AYCE? Although those would run closer to the max budget you have stated. But generally that also makes those kinds of groups happy.

                1. re: Jase

                  Actually I'm already coming in a day early! Wish I could work out some way of extending the stay but it's just not in the cards.

                  Korean AYCE sounds good, what are your ideas?

                  Also I just noticed where the Rio is in relation to Spring Mountain, wow those are all pretty close!! What else is noteworthy in that area? I noticed there is a Sam Woo BBQ; is this the related to the same ones in SoCal? And as I'd previously said I love slurping on noodles, so besides the pho and ramen, any Chinese spots to recommend?

                  How about Cathay House vs Ping Pang Pong for dim sum; what are the strengths of each? What are your favorites or their standout dishes/specialties? Do any places do menu service (those are typically better in my experiences in SGV), or are carts the way to go in Vegas?

                  Saw that Monta added hayashi chuka to the menu. Sounds awesome!

                  Also... Raku question below still unanswered. Casual ok there, or is there a dress code? What is the pricing of their omakase (not same as kaiseki)?

                  Sam Woo BBQ Restaurant
                  4215 Spring Mountain Rd Ste B101, Las Vegas, NV 89102

                  1. re: air

                    I live in LA so don't go out of my way to do Asian in Vegas since the choices here are spectacular. I don't have a lot of experience with Korean AYCE in Vegas. But the one that we go to regularly is in the same center as LOS. It's called Jin Mee. If you have your back to LOS and are looking at the parking lot. It's in the big building on the left, just go around the left corner of the nightclub that's facing you as you're looking at the building..

                    It's $29 for the AYCE and close to your max budget by the time you get some beers and what not. Yelp reviews are inconsistent but we've always had good time there. But we tend to go earlier in the evening before most Koreans hit it and gets really busy. It's not super high end or anything. And a hard core hound will find it only passable. But for the kinds of groups you and I have, it's good and good enough for me. The banchan spread is solid and they keep it coming. I'm asian and go with a bunch of non asians and never get bad service so I'm not sure where the bad service reviews from Yelp are coming from.

                    There's other AYCE on the other side of town nearer to Rio but I haven't been to them enough to give you a good idea. Generally I find Yelp reviews for Korean AYCE to be somewhat accurate but YMMV.

                    Sam Woo's are franchises. So the quality can vary all over the place. Board consensus is the LV one is pretty solid as long as you stick with basic Cantonese fare. I'd imagine if you get roast duck, some noodle dishes and bbq pork you'd be fine.

                    I'm not super familiar with Cathay House vs Ping Pang, as mentioned due to not doing a lot of Asian in LV. That said, board consensus is that both are pretty equal and solid. Ping Pang probably has the slight edge from what I can tell. Also a very respected LA hound, Das Ubergeek went to Ping Pang a while back and he said it was solid with some good surprises. He's never steered me wrong. I think it's probably a very safe bet for you and considering distance, much easier to go there from Rio.

                    Not familiar with Raku so can't help you much. But generally in Vegas, dress code is very casual unless it's complete high end like Robuchon. For Raku, I think pants and non-tshirt and you'd fit in perfectly. Even jeans you wouldn't stand out in most places.

                    Feel free to email me at addy in my profile if you want some non food discussion or driving around tips. I go to Vegas regularly and many of them are the same kind of trips you do. Group of friends with limited budget but want some decent food and I want food I'm happy with also.

                    Cathay House Restaurant
                    5300 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89146

                    1. re: air

                      Dress is casual at Raku. You wouldn't feel uncomfortable in shorts and a t-shirt or in a jacket and tie. The service is exceedingly gracious -- the waitresses are lovely.

                      Like Jase, I'm so-so on Jin Mee. Not bad at all, and a good introduction for the uninitiated, but not worth sacrificing meals at LOS or Raku or Monta, IMO.

                      If you look at older threads, you'll see voluminous threads here about dim sum. There are many options besides Ping Pang Pong and Cathay, but I've had a grand total of one dim sum meal in the past few years in LV, so I'm not the right person to comment.

                      Ping Pang Pong
                      4000 W Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89103

          2. Went to Vegas with a similar group for a basketball tournament held at the Orleans. The guys main focus was gambling and the tournament( knew this going in, but hey, any excuse to go to Vegas). Food was simply to fill their bellies and budget was low. We ate mostly at the hotel and found the Prime Rib Loft to be pretty good. For around $20 you could get your entree, potato, salad and bread. Since both Rio and Orleans are off strip, the drive shouldn't take long.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sherriberry

              I agree with your assessment. While the food isn't spectacular at, say, Al's Oyster House or Prime Rib Loft or Canal Street (all at the Orleans), to me they are better than, say, the buffet at Orleans or Rio, and are a better value. It pains me to see the Gold Coast, which cares enough to offer two decent Chinese options, have off-loaded their coffee shop operation to TGIF's.

            2. Couple more inquiries:

              What do you guys think of Hash House A Go Go? Seems like a good potential late night option as I see the one in Imperial Palace is open til 2AM.

              Does Raku have a dress code? I also wasn't sure about bringing a group of 6-8 here, but WOW, the prix fixe (non kaiseki) sounds like a killer value. I'm guessing this is synonymous with their omakase option?


              Another lapse in thought that I forgot, any recommendations for craft/classic cocktails? How much can I expect to pay for a typical drink (Manhattan, Old Fashioned etc) at these places? Herbs and Rye and Downtown Cocktail Room sounded promising.

              I know I am pondering about a ton of places, but I also want to have as many good alternatives as I can in case plans fall through and I gotta think of a backup - which is pretty much inevitable. Thanks again for all the help.

              Hash House
              2605 S Decatur Blvd Ste 103, Las Vegas, NV 89102

              2 Replies
              1. re: air

                favorite among locals, tourists and celebrities alike, Hash House A Go Go offers a unique style 'farm food with a twist' - coupons at

                Fremont has tons of low cost eats and for retro fun an arcade bar video game lounge "Insert Coin"
                for crazy happy hours and sometimes getting on free guest lists:

                Lavo is gorgeous and now has happy hour; see any images on web search;
                Firefly is still the locals' TOP happy hour and tapas/sangria place, but there are other options too;
                for stylish sexy energy; Stack at Mirage; KOBE "Stacked" Burger Adult Tater Tots with Bacon & Brie, Hot Rocks, Thinly Sliced Sirloin, Tableside Preparation
                and a sunset drink at Foundation Room at Mandalay is impressive

                these should make you a rock star Vegas planner ;


                Hash House
                2605 S Decatur Blvd Ste 103, Las Vegas, NV 89102

                Lavo Restaurant
                3327 South Las Vegas Blvd. Suite 1760, Las Vegas, NV 89109

                1. re: air

                  My personal opinion is Hash Hash A Go Go is somewhat overrated and overwrought food. It's not bad, but pretty expensive for what it actually is. I think they rely too much on huge portions and combinations they put together. I don't complain if I get outvoted to go there but it's not a first choice by any means.

                  What are you looking for in a late night option? Convenience, cost for your group, quality trumps all? Contrary to image Vegas isn't really a 24 hour town for a lot of things. There's not a lot of great choices for late night dining.