Breakfast Bonanza(s) by Michael Uzmann

November 15, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, Food, Reviews

 ELV note: In our world, breakfast is good for only one thing: thinking about lunch. But obviously, others disagree. For that reason, we’ve turned the column over to M. Uzmann today for his discerning delectation in divining these (sometimes delightful, sometimes disgusting) digestibles. FYI: you can access these and other reviews of Michael’s at

Special to Eating Las Vegas by Michael Uzmann

Born Catholic in the Midwest during the 1980s Sundays meant one thing, breakfast…after church of course, and although raised middle class in a city not particularly known for anything culinary save for Tony Packo’s it was probably those early years that formed a palate prone to hefty morning meals of pancakes, French toast, and ‘Moons over My-hammy.’ Obviously evolving my palate over subsequent years and having dined at several of the “world’s best,” many still question my choices for breakfasts so heavy in sweets, particularly given my career choice, but still those masticatory memories persist – the result an ever growing list of morning meals to please gourmand and inner-child alike.

Now relocated to Las Vegas, a virtual Mecca for 24-hour (or early morning) dining, suffice it to say that options have expanded substantially and although many are drawn to the hotel buffet or a celebrity chef brunch it is more-and-more that I find myself drawn to the local’s only joints – those mom n’ pop spots or small chains that aim not to please the tourists but rather their friends and neighbors while devoting time, debt, and passion to doing something they lover rather than making a quick buck. Admittedly impressed by favorites like Bouchon and Bacchanal plus underappreciated casino gems to follow on a future list, there is simply nothing like breakfast at Toledo’s Uncle John’s Pancake House on the strip yet willing to drive the choices abound – a personal Top-10* ranging from a small French Bakery to a Hash House not one bit “a go-go” at all

Blueberry Hill


Locally owned and operated since 1966, with several 24/7 locations on each side of the Strip, Blueberry Hill is the sort of place where a steak is just as reasonable as soup, salad, or pie at 6:00am but the money at this homey space is in the pancakes, thick and fluffy stacks topped with any number of options for toppings while French Toast, Waffles, Muffins, and Cakes are also likely to tempt.

Bonjour Bakery


 Easily overlooked, with a quaint storefront inside a shopping complex off Rainbow, it would be a fool’s folly to mistake Bonjour as just another a bakery because although the croissants and chocolate brioche are indeed amongst the best in the city it is the caramelized, custard-laden French toast topped with berries, cream, and a scoop of ice cream that proves the pièce de résistance.

Born and Raised


 Not particularly a ‘breakfast’ spot, but rather a 24/7 Sports Bar full of Silver State Pride, B.A.R. is one of those ‘only in Vegas’ spots where one can indulge in Fruity Pebble French Toast, Banana Bread French Toast Sticks, and Fried Mac n’ Cheese alongside a Slider-based food challenge while smoking a stogie, playing video poker, and watching the Running Rebels.


006 - Eat (12)

 Established as part of the Downtown Project before most could even envision what Tony and his team were hoping to achieve, Natalie Young’s EAT is the sort of downtown urban eatery one might expect to find in hipster hotspots like Brooklyn or Asheville but with a well-culled menu of Southern-inspired specialties dressed up with organic produce and consciously sourced meats the results here far outperform the expectations generated by such an unassuming space. Excelling in sweets and savories, both, those looking for the city’s best shrimp and grits are likely to be satisfied in the spice profile and creamy texture of eat’s iteration while those looking for something more unique should appreciate the brazen Eggs Motulenos offering poached eggs over chilis, bananas, feta, and beans – an order of NOLA-quality beignets for dessert every bit worth the frequently long waits.
EggWorks / Egg & I


 Now featuring five locations, with the most recent expansion to Summerlin featuring an in-house bakery, the EggWorks family of restaurants feature the sort of cooking most accomplished home cooks could achieve with little effort but with low prices frequently complimented by coupons, friendly service, and seasonal specials including spicy pumpkin pancakes alongside their signature banana muffins and stuffed French toast nearly everything here is as good as ‘homemade’ without the need for a grocery list and a resultant sink full of dishes.

Mary’s Hash House


 Often confused with the four options ‘a go-go’ speckling The Valley but decidedly different despite a similar Midwestern theme this Hash House is owned and operated by two ladies you just have to love – each arriving early in the morning to prep any number of scratch made specialties from omelets to pancakes along with one of the best Monte Cristo Sandwiches in town, and even a variety of housemade jams.

Mr. Mama’s


 Highly praised on Yelp! for downright cheap breakfasts and some of the best service in town Mr. Mama’s is the sort of place that anyone from fly-over country can appreciate, the honest to goodness work ethic of a dedicated team proud of their work and ready to serve both newcomers and regulars alike – consider the pancakes, fill up on bottomless coffee, and make the Cinnamon Roll a ‘must.’

MTO Café

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Toqued by Johnny Church and churning out breakfasts for downtown crowds with a new offshoot to open in Summerlin soon, MTO Café is probably the most ‘upscale’ option on the off-Strip everyday-breakfast list but with farm fresh produce, top quality proteins, and a skilled team overseeing each seasonal plate the extra few dollars are well justified for items including pancakes, chicken and waffles, burgers, eggs, and wraps able to please almost any palate.

Original Sunrise Café


 Located just off the 215 with a devoted clientele undoubtedly created by stellar customer service that seems to assent to any request, Original Sunrise Café is about as close as it gets to a ‘destination’ breakfast in the Southeast Valley. Open for breakfast and lunch with the full menu available all hours the Original “OG” and Travis Pastrami are quite popular alongside several benedicts for those seeking savories while French toast creations like the fried graham cracker “Home Run” are there to tempt children and adults alike, the butter-soaked bagel snowcaps doused in confectioners’ sugar strongly recommended regardless of age or taste.
Waffles Café


Locally owned and operated by a mother and her sons, with five bases and innumerable toppings from which they begin, the namesake focus of Waffles Café on North Durango are simply amongst the best bites of batter in Sin City. The northernmost member of this list, not to be confused with the similarly named spot in Aliante, those desiring something savory are encouraged to check out the breakfast waffle sandwich while fans of dessert for breakfast would be well served by the “Sweet P” featuring a soft pumpkin waffle topped in apple pie filling, caramel, cinnamon, and ice cream.

* Note: Listed Alphabetically the list is limited to off-strip locations with no national franchising and no casino-based branch and (unfortunately excluding Bagel Café due to Del Mar Deli at Southpoint.) It also does not include “weekend brunch” restaurants or bakery-only options, but rather those serving proper breakfast most days of the week.

Also Considered: Al’s Donuts and Café Burger, Baguette Café, Crepe Expectations, Crepe Shack and Waffles, The Cracked Egg, Divine Eatery, Huntridge Pharmacy and Soda Fountain, Jamm’s, Kailyn’s Diner, Layers Bakery Cafe, Lula’s Bread and Breakfast, M&M Soulfood Café, Norm’s Eggs Café, Peppermill, Rise & Shine a Steak & Eggs Place, Tiabi Coffee and Waffles, Weiss Restaurant Deli & Bakery

ELV on Hiatus….

November 14, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Miscellaneous

In case you hadn’t noticed…ELV has been taking a break. The reasons for this are twofold:

1) He wanted to let his 50 Essential Restaurants list percolate for a while; and,

2) There hasn’t been much to write about in our humble burg.

For the record: our last two restaurant meals have been at Hearthstone Kitchen and Cellars (on a bet), and Café Chloé (on a dare).

Needless to say, neither meal meal went well.

Because both represented the same old same old sustenance that sells well, even if it seems sorry and cynical (in the case of Hearthstone), or sad and safe (at Café Chloé).

To be fair, there were glimmers of hope at both meals — the oysters at HK were impeccable (even if the cocktail sauce tasted of nothing more than mealy ketchup — and there’s no denying the freshness of Chef Piero’s sauces — even if we’d like to acquaint him with some herbs and seasonings sometime.

So, rather than rag on these two joints (representing distinct poles of our neighborhood restaurant offerings), we at ELV decided to take a break…and wait for our muse to visit us again. (see above)

Until it does, we plan on featuring some guest columnists, as well as working on the visual and aesthetic re-boot of the site…..both coming soon….we hope.

That is all.

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 2014

October 31, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, The List

Here it is food fans: our inclusive, independent, infallible, indispensable, indomitable, inevitable, individual, incorruptible index of Las Vegas 50 most “essential” restaurants. It represents our educated opinion of the best food and restaurant experiences Las Vegas has to offer, in descending order of importance to our food scene.

Put another way, these are the restaurants I would take another food writer, gourmet, world-class chef, or ardent food fan to if they asked me to take them on the ultimate epicurean tour of Vegas, and we had a month to complete the task. (For those of you who are wondering: every one of these places has been visited multiple times by yours truly. Many of them have fed us at least a half a dozen times, and in ten of them we’ve eaten more meals than we can count.)

Readers of the last printed edition of this title, will notice that 21 of the 50 entries are new — that’s how much our food scene has changed since we released the 2013 edition in November, 2012. The year ahead may be a quieter one as far as new openings are concerned, but don’t bet on it.

There may finally be enough interest (and affluent warm bodies) downtown to finally give that area some traction in the finer foods department (thank you Kerry Simon), and the venerable Strip hotels are going to be upping their games now that some of their stores are starting to show their age (are you listening MGM and Caesars?) Smaller hotels with a few, top flight offerings seem to be the wave of the future (à la the SLS), although Resorts World might be a behemoth that changes the game the way the Bellagio did in 1998.

All of us at Eating Las Vegas hope this will be the start of a tradition — that of releasing our 50 Essential list every Nevada Day/Halloween. We will be updating some of the reviews throughout the year, and you can look forward to our “new look” Web site coming on-line within the month, which will make accessing the 50 Essential much easier, as well as all past and current content.

In the meantime we will continue to give you Las Vegas’s only erudite, incisive, unfettered and un-compromised opinions on its restaurant and dining scene….and never forget that we at ELV stand by our ELV Guarantee: All Opinions Right Or Your Money Back!


1. Joël Robuchon

2. Restaurant Guy Savoy

3. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

4. Raku/Sweets Raku

5. Carnevino

6. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

7. Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare

8. Kabuto Edomae Sushi

9. Picasso

10. Estiatorio Milos


11. Yonaka

12. China Poblano

13. Julian Serrano

14. Sage

15. Allegro

16. China MaMa

17. Mizumi

18. Le Cirque

19. db Brasserie

20. Giada – The Restaurant (on Earth – The Planet)

21. Rose.Rabbit.Lie.

22. Yusho

23. Carson Kitchen

24. Spago

25. Lotus of Siam

26. Michael Mina

27. CUT

28. Bouchon

29. Bazaar Meat

30. Eiffel Tower Restaurant

31. Forte

32. Due Forni

33.  Jaleo

34. Rao’s

35. District One

36. Chada Thai

37.  Cleo

38. I-Naba

39. Sen of Japan

40. B&B Ristorante

41. Monta

42. Nakamura-Ya

43. Mint Indian Bistro

44. Marche Bacchus

45. Ku Noodle

46. El Sombrero

47. Desnudo Tacos/47.1 Rodeo Tacos Barbacoa estilo Hidalgo

48. Zen Japanese Curry

49.  The Goodwich

50.  Art of Flavors

Honorable mention: Delmonico; Chocolate & Spice Bakery; La Comida; Wing Lei, Botero; Katsuya by Starck; Honey Salt; Prime; Table 10; Mundo; Comme Ça; Top of the World; Aloha Speciaties; Soyo; O Face Doughnuts; Bin 702; Border Grill; Tacos El Gordo; Buddy V’s; Herbs & Rye.

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 50. ART OF FLAVORS

October 30, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Downtown, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews


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Let’s get one thing straight, shall we?

Art of Flavors is not a restaurant. It has no menu; it has no waitrons. There is no maitre’d to seat you, nor are there many real seats to be had. The flatware is plastic, the dishware is cardboard, and the appetizers and main courses are as non-existent as the good judgment of the girls dancing across the street.

So why is is number 50 on our list of The 50 Essential Restaurants of Las Vegas? Because, quite simply, no eating tour of our humble burg would be complete without a stop here.  Because, even more simply, lying in the shadow of both the Olympic Garden strip club (literally) and the Luv-it-Custard ice cream stand (figuratively), lies the best goddamned gelato ever to melt on a Las Vegas sidewalk.

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The brainchild of pastry chef Desyreé G. Alberganti, these luscious concoctions are all made on premises, with all natural flavors, no additives, and a ton of passion — passion (and intensity) you can taste with every silky smooth spoonful.

It is gelato so good that we at ELV have been in dozens of times and have to fight with ourselves not to go on a daily basis. It is gelato so good it single-handedly raised the foodie IQ of downtown Las Vegas the day it opened. It is gelato so good you will never be satisfied with store-bought ice cream again.

Yeah, it’s that good.

There’s nothing generic about AoFG. It is as hand-tooled and artisanal as food gets in the High Mojave Desert, and after one bite of Alberganti’s cioccalato di pepperocino (chocolate spiced with the back-of-the-throat warming glow of peppers),or her Fior di Latte (basic vanilla gelato base), or the Pumpkin Spiced Pie Creme Brûlée, or Smurf (yes, it’s very blue), or the last word in Cookies ‘n Cream, you will foreswear all other forms of frozen desserts forever.

And if it’s boundary-pushing sweets you’re after, you’ll swoon over things like Roasted Garlic with Herb and EVOO, Black Sesame Seed with Edamame and Caramelized Soy Sauce, or…..wait for it….Chicken Wings:

…each of which tastes exactly like the thing(s) it is named after….yet somehow manages still to be a sweet, palate-pleasing, slurp-worthy dessert.

How Desyreé does it is anyone’s guess, but one lick in and you’ll know you’re in the hands of a devilishly creative kitchen angel — with a heavenly sense of humor that’s going to be hell on your waistline.

Favorite dishes: The gelato, Bozo. All of them.


1616 Las Vegas Blvd. South #130


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 49. THE GOODWICH

October 28, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Downtown, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews


 ELV note: Until The Goodwich opened earlier this year, a good hot sandwich was harder to find than a Mormon distillery. Still less than a year old, it remains the only place to get a a superior version of the meal that made John Montagu famous. Rather than blather on and on about how good The Goodwich’s creations are, we’ll leave it to Mitchell Wilburn to extol its virtues, as he did in a posting back in March. Take it away Mitchell:

Damn man, damn.  I have been so consistently wowed by this place, that I’ve been going back about twice a week.  It does help that it is five  minutes away from my hip (and only slightly dangerous) digs in “The Downtown”, but I would drive from Summerlin consistently and even bear slumming it in Dino’s (and I REALLY don’t like Dino’s) to enjoy these seriously bad-ass sandwiches.

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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 48. ZEN JAPANESE CURRY

October 27, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews, Spring Mountain Road


It’s tasty.

It’s fresh.

It’s unique.

It’s inexpensive.

It’s chef-owned.

That chef/owner (Takaya Zenbayashi) is always at the stoves.

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Letter(s) of the Week – WTF Are People Ordering?

October 25, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Letter of the Week

ELV note: Our recent post about our foodie friend David Greco’s dining exploits in our humble burg drew a number of comments,  not about his main point –  being denied a table in a restaurant with plenty of open seats — but rather about his menu choices at one of our finer frog ponds (Twist by Pierre Gagnaire). The debate over whether to blame the resto or the customer when a dish is lackluster is one we’ve had with many food fans over the years, and we’ll weigh in with comments of our own below, after you’ve gotten a taste of the debate.

(BTW: This contumacious, contentious controversy  is the just the sort of creative, conversational convergence we crave in our confutation man-cave. We realize such conscientious confrontational conflict doesn’t have the currency of more considerable, constructive discourse — such as whether Tim Lincecum has lost is fastball, or Rene Zellwegger her face — but we must conspicuously concede to coveting and conflating such controversial cacophony.

 Let’s examine the positions of the respective parties, shall we?

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Life Is Beautiful on Channel 3 with DUE FORNI

October 24, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Events, Food, Wake Up With the Wagners


October 23, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews


Since Desnudo Tacos is kaput for the time being, our staff thought it appropriate to elevate Rodeo Los Reyes de la Barbacoa estilo Hildago to the much coveted “best damn hole-in-the-wall tacos” spot on our Essential 50 list.

The tag line says ¡ Todo hecho al momento! and they mean it.  The quality of the barbecued meats and the tortillas and the beans and the salsas they put out (for around ten bucks a platter) is nothing short of phe-nom-en-ol.

In terms of bang for the buck, it can’t be beat.

In terms of having the longest name in Las Vegas restaurants, it can’t be beat either.

To get there, take the Decatur North exit off the 93-95 (across from the Meadows Mall) and proceed north on Decatur. Look to your left a mile or so up the road and you’ll spot the barely lit “Barbacoa” sign in the middle of a seedy shopping center:

Don’t be put off by the bare tables and the fact there are only five people in the joint and three of them work there. Because two of the three are the ladies who are barbacoa-ing their hearts out back in the kitchen….in the “style of Hildago” of course.

The magic they make with these meats puts many a Mexican to shame. Take one bite of the carnitas, goat (chiva) or carne asada and be prepared to drop your taco in appreciation. The salsas will also blow you away.

Yeah, they’re that good.

Favorite dishes: What are you deaf? Get the tacos….all of them.

P.S. This picture doesn’t do them justice.


2115 N. Decatur Ave.


EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 47. DESNUDO TACOS

October 22, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews

ELV note: Unbekownst to us, 2 hours before we posted this today, Desnudo Tacos announced on its Facebook page that it would be shuttering operations at the end of this week due to a lease dispute. As much as it saddens us to hear this, we ‘ll stick by our pick of it as an “essential” Las Vegas restaurant (yes, the food is that good), and keep on the lookout for the new location — which we are confident will happen soon.

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