Archive for the ‘Food’

Breakfast Bonanza(s) by Michael Uzmann

November 15, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, Food, Reviews 10 Comments →

 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 www.endoedibles.com.

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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

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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

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 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

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 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.

EAT

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 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

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 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

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 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

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 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

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 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

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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

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 10 Comments →

50. ART OF FLAVORS

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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.

ART OF FLAVORS GELATO

1616 Las Vegas Blvd. South #130

702.569.3636

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 1 Comment →

49. THE GOODWICH

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 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 3 Comments →

48. ZEN JAPANESE CURRY & TOPPINGS

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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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Life Is Beautiful on Channel 3 with DUE FORNI

October 24, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Events, Food, Wake Up With the Wagners 2 Comments →

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 47.1 RODEO LOS REYES DE LA BARBACOA ESTILO HIDALGO

October 23, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews 1 Comment →

47.1  RODEO LOS REYES DE LA BARBACOA ESTILO HIDALGO

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.

RODEO LOS REYES DE LA BARBACOA ESTILO HIDALGO

2115 N. Decatur Ave.

702.638.1100

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 2 Comments →

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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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 45. KU NOODLE

October 16, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Openings, Reviews Comments Off

45. KU NOODLE

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Chinese restaurants in Las Vegas come in two sizes: on-the-Strip and overpriced, and off-the-Strip and down and dirty. The holes in the walls are stuck into seedy shopping centers up and down Spring Mountain Road. They are generally excellent, but also, due to their being the genuine article, off-putting to most round eyes. Strip Chinese joints usually charge double for dishes remarkably similar to ones you get a mile to the west, but at least you’re not afraid to look into the corners, and the ingredients are usually better.

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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 43. MINT INDIAN BISTRO

October 13, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Max Jacobson, Reviews 1 Comment →

43. MINT INDIAN BISTRO

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Calvin Trillin once wrote that the average Italian restaurant gets more customers in a day than the average Indian restaurant gets in a month. ELV — the man, the myth, the yogurt-yogi-spiritual-advisor — used to agree with him. These days the tables have been turned (somewhat) and from the lines out the door at Mint Indian Bistro, it appears the Indians (dots not feathers) are giving the Italians a run for your money. ELV also thinks every vegetarian restaurant in Vegas is a joke. They should all close up shop immediately, and every vegetarian in town should start frequenting this place  instead.

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My Food Film Faves on My News 3

October 10, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Downtown, Events, Food, Wake Up With the Wagners Comments Off