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First Trip to Vegas: Critique my restaurant choices

I'll be in LV for the first time in late July for 3 days/nights. The person I'm going with is coming for a conference and this is her 4th time in LV over the last couple of years. So there are times when I'll be eating by myself, breakfast and one lunch bc of her conference responsibilities.. The budget for breakfast is $25, lunch is $25 and dinner is $45 ex taxes and tips.

Would love to try LOS but we will not have a vehicle. I can take a taxi but I'm all thai'd out after having thai locally and in LA in April of 2012 and Yum Yum Too Thai NYC in late 2011.

My flight arrives on a Thursday at 7:45am and hers at 10:45am.

Day 1:

Breakfast at Bouchon - A lot of people on this board recommend it and we're staying at the Palazzo. I'll be eating by myself.

Lunch at Burger Bar - I orginally had BLT Burger based on recs from the board but I saw some posts about Burger Bar and I looked at the menu and I like what I see. It'll be the two of us. Didn't know the Hubert Keller owns the place.

Dinner - Right now I'm leaning towards Italian and I have Valentino at the Venetian down for now. It'll be the two of us. However, Scarpetta at the Cosmopolitan was brought up by someone here so I've been looking at that. For reference, we ate at RPM Italian in Chicago in Oct and we loved the food and atmosphere there. So a rec that is similar or better would be appreciated.

Day 2 Friday: I'm heading to the Grand Canyon.

Day 3 Saturday: Breakfast at the Bacchanal Buffet. Two of us. Read good things about this buffet and also Wicked Spoon. Anyone have any insight in Bacchanal? I originally had Central down but thought that I should try a buffet on this trip.

Lunch at the Secret pizza place in the Cosmopolitan. She will be with me.

At 7:30pm we're going to Zumanity at New York New York. Would like to do meal after the show but she doesn't want to eat then. So I may end up having a late meal by myself.

Can someone recommend a good late night meal for after the show?


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  1. You should definitely hit up a buffet since this is your visit trip to Vegas. Better to make it a lunch or dinner for the full experience. Bacchanal and Wicked Spoon are the latest modern style buffets, along with Bellagio and Wynn are still some of the best. Be prepared for hour long lines on weekends.

    Nothing special about any of the burger places on the strip. Recommend Milos or Comme Ca for lunch.

    Skip Cosmo secret pizza, go to Grimaldi's at Palazzo where you are staying.

    Valentino will be closed permanently by July. Scarpetta is solid pick for Italian.

    Jaleo and Julian Serrano are great for Spanish/tapas.

    Check out this happy hr list:

    4 Replies
    1. re: zack

      So Jaleo or Julian Serrano for after the shows?

      1. re: playboy

        FWIW -- I thought BLT Burger blew Burger Bar out of the water.

        Fab milkshakes, too.

        1. re: linguafood

          Really? Which place has the better fries including sweet potato fries?

          1. re: playboy

            I don't remember the fries at either place. The burger and shake at BLT were too memorable, and I only have limited space in my brains :-D

            Also, this was 4 years ago....

    2. Welcome, playboy!

      Puck's Grill in the MGM for late night?
      Or, how about In-n-Out burger if you want casual (really casual).

      BTW, I think Secret pizza is open late...or at least it was. Haven't been recently.

      5 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        Thanks for the welcome. I lurked Chow for all of my previous trips but this is my first thread. I'm not going to do In-n-Out Burger. I ate there enough while I lived in Phoenix.

        The menu at Puck's looks good. I did that Secret pizza place is open late. I'll have to think about bc I didn't want anything to heavy after the show.

        1. re: pinehurst

          What is this fascination with In-N-out? I just don't understand how average fast food burgers, and horrid fries get so much press.

          1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

            Believe me I agree with you. I thought that it was average at best.

            1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

              It's a nice thing to try for those of us who live east of the Mississippi, like Krispy Kreme donuts in many respects. Certainly not a fascination. Hadn't realized playboy was a westcoast (AZ) guy. My 4X4 animal style was pretty good. Didn't try the fries.

              1. re: pinehurst

                I now live in FLA but I'm a west coast guy deep down inside after having lived in PHX.

          2. Um - you're "all Thai'd out" after eating Thai over a year ago but you're eager to get a burger and a slice of pizza. My critique is that you're not serious about food if you'll pass up the best Thai food in the country for burgers and pizza

            6 Replies
            1. re: kagemusha49

              Maybe all thai'd out isn't the right word. I'm serious about food and I do want to try LOS as both of us love Thai. We could go there on Thursday or Sat for lunch.

              1. re: playboy

                You won't regret going there. The lunch menu is the same as the dinner menu.

                1. re: playboy

                  If you make it to LOS, I think you'll be glad you did. :)

                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                    If you fail to go to LOS, you will regret it for life. Food adventure is knocking on your door.

                  2. re: playboy

                    FYI Lotus only open for dinner on weekends.

                    1. re: zack

                      So I just spoke with my sister and she is ok with going to Lotus for lunch on our first day. I'm looking forward to it. However, she will not be joining me for breakfast on Sat bc of her conference but we'll have lunch and she wants to have dinner around 6:00pm before the show.

                      I'm thinking Delmonico's for lunch on Sat (she love's bread pudding) and something for dinner (not sure).

                2. A couple of things to mention here. Early July is when the monsoon season starts around here , high humidity + triple digits = ugh!

                  Rental cars are very inexpensive, check with AVIS at the airport rental corral. I rented a car for 2 days with unlimited mileage for $56 while my vehicle was in the shop.

                  If you are on your own, and rent a car, get off the Strip and explore the area. Even in Downtown LV there are some good eats.

                  1. I would suggest going to Bouchon for brunch instead of breakfast. They only do brunch on weekends though, so that would require some switching around. I am not a fan of buffet breakfasts, so Bacchanal doesn't excite me and I'd nix it from the itinerary if it were mine. I've also heard rumblings that the food quality, selection, and service at Bacchanal have slid downhill considerably since they opened. Avoid Central at all costs.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: fledflew

                      I should clarify why I prefer brunch over breakfast at Bouchon. They have chicken and waffles at brunch and their seafood bar is open. If that's not a concern, then a weekday breakfast there should fit your needs just fine. It is likely that the wait to get seated (if any) on a Thursday morning will be significantly shorter than weekend brunch.

                      1. re: fledflew

                        After reading what you said about Bacchanal I'll nix it. I like chicken and waffles. I had it for the first time last year at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles in Inglewood, CA. Is Bouchon's chicken and waffles similar or do they put a different spin on it?

                        1. re: playboy

                          I love chicken and waffles in all forms. Bouchon's definitely has a spin on theirs. The entree consists of a half young chicken, perfectly roasted. Easily some of the best roast chicken I've ever had. Also comes with a bacon and chive waffle and house made vanilla butter. Also has a sauceboat on the side which is slightly sweet and savory with lardons swimming in it.
                          I've had it probably a dozen times and unless I end up ordering a huge seafood platter/tower, the chicken and waffles is my go-to selection there.

                    2. For Italian, go to B&B, the Mario Batali restaurant at the Venetian/Palazzo. You'll get better food than at Valentino or Scarpetta.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jwsel

                        We love B&B and the last time we were there in 2011 we had one of our best meals of that year there. Yes, it was THAT good. We have not been to Scarpetta (though we want to go next time) or Valentino, so cannot weigh in on how B&B compares to those restaurants.

                      2. I know this ain't food related but I read that on day 2 you are going to the Grand Canyon.

                        Please be advised is you are doing the bus trip to the Sky Walk be prepared for a miseralble trip. It is a long ride through the desert on washboard roads. The Sky Walk is very nice and the view is amazing but the long bumpy road on a miserable bus is not worth it. The only way I would go back there is on a helicopter. The lunch provided at the Sky Walk is nothing special so I won't comment about it.

                        Please tell us how Zumanity is. I know it is an adult show but has some scenes that I cannot come to grips with. As far as late night eats all of the casinos should have a late night place to eat.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: ilikeNOLA

                          Not to mention, the Sky Walk (and for that matter, the helicopter tours) go to the _west_ Grand Canyon, which is OK, but nothing like the famous South Rim. Same canyon, very different part, inferior view.

                          1. re: Steve Green

                            Just a quick request to keep things focused on food! Thanks!

                        2. I have a random recommendation for dim sum, if you're so inclined. Orchids Garden- they serve dim sum every day, and we had one of the best experiences of our trip there. It was lovely.

                          1. Do I need to make reservations at Lotus for lunch? I've seen posts where people have done that. My thought that since it is lunch and the crowds are typically less at lunch, there isn't a need for reservations.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: playboy

                              They don't take lunch reservations. If you show up at 11:30 you'll be fine. Be sure to tell them you'll be ordering off the menu, not buffet.

                              1. re: playboy

                                On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I ate at Lotus six times, and the crowd pattern was totally unpredictable. There were a few periods on Saturday night where there were some empty tables (albeit reserved ones, with little or no waiting line), and then on a Monday afternoon at almost one, there was a 45-minute wait. I think Steve is right that the safest thing to do is arrive early.

                                    1. re: playboy

                                      If you want to save some $$$, you can take the monorail out to the last stop and walk 10-15 min the rest of the way to LOS. It is not the best part of town, but we (2 women) did it for lunch twice with no problem. The only other concern in July would be whether it is too hot to walk there mid-day.

                                      1. re: cobpdx

                                        Trying to kill our beloved playboy. ; )

                                        10-15 minute walk from the monorail to LOS in July in the heat of the day at around 115 degrees is not something I would recommend for my worst enemy.
                                        $20+ a day for midsize car rentals are so cheap and with free parking at all the casinos and he is going to GC, would be perfect vs. the bus/tour scene.
                                        hotwire.com has great car rental deals

                                        1. re: Beach Chick

                                          Ha. Yeah, I don't plan on walking in that far in July.

                                1. Breakfast..
                                  Country Club

                                  LOS menu not buffet
                                  Oyster Bar at Palace Station

                                  Charlie Palmer Cut of the Week
                                  Country Club Wynn
                                  Bouchon bar dining.

                                  Happy hours..
                                  Todd English PUB
                                  Drinks at Chandelier Bar at the Cosmo
                                  Couple of slices at Secret pizza..

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                    Thank you Beach Chick for the suggestions. It seems like a comprehensive list.

                                    I gotta tell you, I appreciate your input and the input of the other folks. When I was lurking back in Nov looking for suggestions for my San Diego trip, I saw a number of your posts in the SD forum and your recommendations were spot on in terms of food and atmosphere. So thank you for that and for this current post.

                                    1. re: playboy

                                      Thanks playboy for your kind words!

                                      Regards to LOS, get there right when it opens for lunch and I always get an extra Pad Thai with Tofu spicy with extra peanut sauce to go for later in the evening when I've had a couple of cocktails and I'm jonesing for something good before hitting the pillows.

                                      Also, car rentals are super cheap and with free self parking or valet for a buck or two as tip, drive yourself to GC vs some funky bus with funky cold medina player's..

                                      ; )

                                  2. Hi.....a couple of thoughts for you.....
                                    Working backwards: After Zumanity, stay at NY/NY and either fun/light at Gonzalez y Gonzalez (worth a trip for the salsa alone!) or Nine Fine Irishmen for good food and Guiness...they serve more Guiness than any pub in the world...really!! Both places can offer a good after-the-show bite to eat and drink. If you want more "dining,"...Gallagher's is a solid steakhouse with a good "feel" to it. The beauty of NY/NY, is that it is a very small hotel/casino and the restaurants are a 2-minute (at most) walk from the Zumanity show.
                                    Italian?.....Go off the Strip (only a few minutes...on Paradise, across from the Hard Rock) to Ferraro's. Start off sharing the entrée portion of mushroom risotto as your app, then move into the amazing Osso Buco, prepared with a reduced Barolo sauce and with faro on the side....very special. An excellent wine list....may I suggest an Amarone for the Osso Buco. :-)
                                    Buffets?....Not a big fan...I find them more about EATING than DINING...breakfast, lunch, dinner...doesn't matter. If you're in this forum, you can do better than a buffet for breakfast/brunch....Perhaps The Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay?....

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: VegasGourmet

                                      Forgot to mention.......From 11pm to closing, Ferraro's has a 50% off "Happy Hour"....they close, usually, at 2am....for the entire menu! Their Happy Hour prices are in the bar/lounge/outside area....totally worth the cab ride. If you can talk your friend into going, she can have the wonderful, fresh, thin-crust margherita pizza to herself (light, flavorful), and you can have a great late meal at Olive Garden prices!!