SIEGEL’S 1941 is Much Better Than It Has to Be

Monday night dining is not a fertile field for the hungry, intrepid gastronaut to explore…much less plow… if he’s downtown. Glutton is closed, as is La Comida,  and there’s only so many platters of finely-tuned fish ‘n chips one dude can put away at the always-reliable Smashed Pig. And ever since Therapy fired their second good chef in less than six months, we’ve decided to give up on it entirely…or at least until management gets its act together.

And don’t even think about a meal at that beyond-stupid sex-toy fondue joint (or The Perch), both of which may not be long for this business cycle. (What’s keeping either of them afloat is anyone’s guess.)

So, with options limited, we wandered in to the El Cortez last night (“wandering” being sort of a euphemism for dodging wheelchairs and various other nearly-dead geriatrics in various stages of one-foot-in-the-grave infirmities) and settled into a four-top at Siegel’s 1941 for some all-purpose dining.

And by “all-purpose dining” we mean a menu that’s so all-over-the-map it would make Magellan dizzy.

You wants your all-day breakfast? No problem. Sandwiches? Sure! Steaks? Why not? Eye-talian? You gotta problem wit dat? Seafood? Certainly! Jewish specialties? You want we should ignore our ancestors already?

Burgers to Belgian waffles,  Irish corned beef to crab cakes, Siegel’s has got it all.

In other words, if you can think about a comfort food, it’s probably on this menu.

But here’s the thing: they do most of these things very well. Much better, in fact, than any other generic eatery or coffee shop we’ve been to on or off the Strip.

We’re not vouching for every thing on this menu — that would take more time and calories than we’re willing to spend — but some things are flat out superb.

Like the matzo ball soup:

…chock full of chicken meat swimming in an intense broth loaded with onions and celery. It’s not subtle, but this “Jewish penicillin” is so brimming with restorative powers it could cure a guilty conscience.

They also do some fair-to-middlin’ meatballs:

…that won’t make anyone forget Rao’s or Allegro, but are pretty darn good for Italian food made by (most probably) Latino cooks, in a Jewish gangster-themed restaurant, serving a slightly-past-their-prime clientele.

If you’re a first timer to Siegel’s, a good place to start is with the sandwiches. Like the rest of the menu, they run the gamut from Arthur Avenue Hero to Kentucky Hot Brown. True Kentuckians will blanch at the Hot Brown — the version here being an open-faced roast beef sandwich, not a turkey one with Mornay sauce as it’s supposed to be — but if you take it on its own merits and forget the erroneous nomenclature (that ELV informed management of when Siegel’s opened, only to be ignored (sigh)), it’s a good sandwich and a steal for ten bucks. As is this “Miami Cuban”:

…the only fault with which we could find was that it contained too much roasted pork. Not necessarily a sin in some circles, but all that shredded meat throws the intricate ham-pork-cheese-mustard-pickle harmony out of balance.

Still, it’s as good a Cuban sandwich as you’ll find 2,150 miles from Habana.

All of which got us to remembering something John Mariani said to us fifteen years ago. “The food in Las Vegas is much better than it has to be,” he remarked, as we gazed upon horde after horde of the culturally un-washed masses that flock to our casinos — most of whom don’t know or care where their food comes from.

“So it is,” we thought to ourselves at the time (and many a time since), but we’re just glad that some chefs, in some kitchens, take the time to make things the right way, not just the easiest one.

Our meal for three came to $88.12 and we left a $20 tip.


In the El Cortez Hotel and Casino

600 East Fremont Street

Las Vegas, NV 89101




4 thoughts on “SIEGEL’S 1941 is Much Better Than It Has to Be

  1. I recently ate at Siegel’s 1941 and found the food to be quite good. I ordered the Bugsy Siegel Burger as well as the Siegel Spritzer (I asked what Bugsy would have ordered) and was very delighted with the burger. The drink was overly sweet in my opinion, but a great restaurant! Thanks for posting this review! It looks like there’s a lot more delicious food to try there!

  2. Today is the 65th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s manned space flight. It lasted 1 hour 48 minutes and freaked the fuck out of every American. Just thought you would like to know.

  3. Siegel’s still serves some excellent dinner menu items from the days of Roberta’s/The Flame. I have a new favorite, however – the Moe Green Veggie burger. Marinated and grilled whole portabella on a ciabatta bun….

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