Taste of Spain Tour 2020 – The Ultimate Food and Wine Fest

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Here it is food fans — the ultimate food and wine tour of Spain — being offered in advance to my readers, fans, friends and foodies who would like to experience the best of Spain with its greatest guide (not me, Gerry Dawes). Take a gander below and contact me at johncurtas@me.com (or call 702-528-7454) if you’d like more information or to discuss things further.

I’m thinking it would make the ultimate stocking stuffer for the Barcelona/San Sebastian lover in your life.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Gerry Dawes & John Curtas Taste of Spain Tour 2020

Bilbao, San Sebastián, Navarra, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante & Madrid

Wednesday, May 20 – Sunday, May 31, 2020
(11 Days, 10 Nights)

A Customized Itinerary for John Curtas & Eating Las Vegas Followers

Tour Designed and Guided by Gerry Dawes
Premio Nacional de Gastronómía 2003
(Spanish National Gastronomy Award)

$4,995 per person; $5,995 single supplement
(without airfare)

 

A complete prospectus and trip contract will be sent to each interested party.  Travel insurance is recommended.  Check with your credit card provider or personal insurance company.

“In his nearly thirty years (now fifty) of wandering the back roads of Spain,” Gerry Dawes has built up a much stronger bank of experiences than I had to rely on when I started writing Iberia…His adventures far exceeded mine in both width and depth…” — James A. Michener, author of Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections

“Trust me everyone, I have traveled with this man, if Gerry Dawes tells you to eat somewhere it’s like Bourdain, believe it!!” – – Chef Mark Kiffin, The Compound Restaurant, Canyon Road, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“My good friend Gerry Dawes, the unbridled Spanish food and wine enthusiast cum expert whose writing, photography, and countless criss-crossings of the peninsula have done the most to introduce Americans—and especially American food professionals—to my country’s culinary life.” — Chef-restaurateur-humanitarian José Andrés of José Andrés ThinkFoodGroup, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019

About Gerry Dawes and His Unique Experiences in Spain

“But, for Gerry, Spain is more than just the Adriàs and (Juan Mari and Elena) Arzaks. He has connected with all manner of people working at every level and in every corner of Spain. I’m always amazed at this reach. You can step into a restaurant in the smallest town in Spain, and it turns out they know Gerry somehow. I remember one rainy night in Madrid during the 2003 Madrid Fusión congress. I wanted to go to my favorite place for patatas bravas, but Gerry had another place in mind, and I didn’t know about it. But Gerry is always right. The potatoes at his place were amazing.” – – Chef-restaurateur José Andrés, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee and Oscar Presenter 2019; Chef-partner of ThinkFoodGroup and Mercado Little Spain, Hudson Yards, New York.

Gerry Dawes will lead an exceptional, intensive, insider’s food, wine and cultural of the Basque Country’s Atlantic food and wine regions, with an excursion into la Rioja and Navarra and on to Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante’s contrasting Mediterranean interpretations of food and wine, before ending the trip in Spain’s capital city, Madrid. 

In all our travels, we will be dining in restaurants specially selected by Gerry Dawes for their authenticity, quality and uniqueness and our meals will be accompanied by wines chosen by Gerry to reflect the best aspects of each locale.  Although the emphasis will be on food and wine, there will be cultural activities and some spectacular countryside to see and photograph as well.  Participants on this trip will meet and interact with Spanish chefs and wine personalities, with whom Gerry Dawes is very well acquainted, visit placed known only to long-time Spain hands, and relax and enjoy the company and camaraderie of our fellow travelers.

Gerry Dawes received Spain’s prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003.  He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish gastronomy, wine and cultural themes.  He has shown Spain to many top American chefs and culinary figures such as Thomas Keller, Mark Miller, Michael Chiarello, Michael Lomonaco, Mark Kiffin, Norman Van Aken, cookbook author Rozanne Gold, Michael Whiteman (Joseph Baum Michael Whiteman Restaurant Consultants) and many others, including baseball great Keith Hernandez.  He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation’s Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute’s First Prize for Journalism (€14,000)for his article on Cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià.  

 About John Curtas

John A. Curtas has been the voice of the Las Vegas food and restaurant scene since 1995. As a resident since 1981, he has seen Vegas grow into one of the leading restaurant cities in the world. His weekly radio commentaries air were heard on KNPR-Nevada Public Radio, 88.9 FM www.knpr.org for 15 years, and since 2008, he can be seen Friday mornings as “Las Vegas’ Favorite Foodie” on KSNV (NBC) Morning News in Las Vegas.  He is the author of EATING LAS VEGAS – The 52 Essential Restaurants, which will have its 8th edition published in December, 2019, as well as being the author of the Eating Las Vegas website (www.eatinglv.com). 

Mr. Curtas has been the restaurant critic for the Las Vegas Weekly, Las Vegas Life, SCOPE and Desert Companion magazines. He also and writes (or has written) on Las Vegas restaurants, food and wine for a variety of publications and web-based sites, including VEGAS magazine, VURB, BestPlaces Las Vegas, Fodor’s Las Vegas, TimeOut Las Vegas, and the Virtual Gourmet (www.JohnMariani.com).  He has also been a member of the North American voting panel for Restaurant Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants in the World issue and has been the Las Vegas voting correspondent for the James Beard Foundation. John has also made a number of appearances on national TV shows, including as a judge for the finale of Top Chef Masters (twice) and Iron Chef America (four episodes).  

John Curtas & Gerry Dawes A Taste of Spain Tour 2020 

Itinerary

(B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, T=Tapas, D=Dinner)

Day 00 Wednesday, May 20 U.S. to Madrid 

*Each traveler or group of travelers will arrange their air transportation from their departure city to Madrid and from Madrid to Bilbao.  Many airlines such as American or Iberia have special pricing to cities in Spain via Madrid.  Flights should be booked U.S. to Bilbao* (via Madrid) and return from Madrid to U.S.  (*It is important to make the U. S. to Bilbao flight as part of your ticket, so your luggage gets checked through to Bilbao and you do not have to check in again and go through security again in Madrid to get your connection to Bilbao.

 

Day 01 Thursday, May 21 Madrid – Bilbao (D)  

All tour members will rendezvous in Bilbao at our hotel.  At 2 p.m., for those who have arrived and want to go for lunch, there will be an optional tapas crawl in the old quarter, then the afternoon will be free to relax.

In late afternoon, we will have a look at the Guggenheim Bilbao from the exterior and take a tour of the interior.   

Bilbao Guggenheim Museum

 

At 9 p.m., we will meet across the river from the Guggenheim at a terrific Basque steakhouse with great steaks, regional specialties and good young wines from the Rioja Alavesa wine country southeast of Bilbao.

Day 02 Friday, May 22 Bilbao – San Sebastián (B, L, D) 

We will relax in Bilbao until late morning, then our bus will take us down into the mountainous interior of the Basque Country for lunch at Extebarri, one of the greatest grill restaurants in the world. 
After lunch, we will ride to the wonderful seaside city of San Sebastián, the gastronomic capital of the Basque Country.   We will check into our hotel, which has stunning views overlooking the city and one of the most beautiful urban beaches in the world.  We will spend the afternoon free for relaxing, shopping or enjoying on a walk on the spectacular Playa de La Concha, one of the world’s greatest urban beaches.  

 

 San Sebastián.
Paseo de la Concha, San Sebastián

 

In the evening, we will take a ride up to Monte Igeldo, which has stunning views overlooking San Sebastián, then a kilometer back down the hill, we will have a relatively light dinner in a traditional Basque cuisine restaurant, accompanied by specially selected wines from the restaurant’s wine cellar, which is one of the greatest in all of Europe.


Day 03 Saturday, May 23 San Sebastián – Getaria – San Sebastián (B, L, T)

In the morning, we will visit the market in downtown San Sebastián and stop for a morning tapa at one of the city’s most popular tapas spots.

Ferry to Pasajes de San Juan, a one-street seaside village where Victor Hugo once lived, near San Sebastián.

 

After the market visit, we will make a short excursion via bus and a five-minute ferry ride to a beautiful, one-street Basque village where Victor Hugo once spent a year.   We will stroll the town, have a tapa and a glass of the local txakoli wine, then drive half an hour west of San Sebastián to the fishing village of Getaria, hometown to the dress designer Balenciaga, to opera singer Plácido Domingo’s mother and the birthplace of Juan Sebastián Elkano, the first man to complete the circumnavigation of the world (Magellan was killed in the Phillipines and Elkano completed the voyage). 



 Fishing village of Getaria, hometown of Juan Sebastián Elkano, the dress designer Balenciaga and Plácido Domingo’s mother.
Getaria´s famous seafood restaurants specialize in fish, like the exquisite grilled rodaballo (turbot) shown here, grilled on open grills outdoors alongside the restaurants.

 

We will have lunch in a spectacular restaurant in Getaria overlooking the port, dining on exceptional, whole, wood-grilled rodaballo (turbot), other dishes such as txangurro (the classic Basque crab dish) and baby squid, all accompanied by special wines from the restaurant’s exceptional cellar.

After lunch, we will visit the Balenciaga Museum, then see some wonderful Basque countryside on our way back to San Sebastián, where the rest of the afternoon will be free to stroll, explore and relax.

 Gerry Dawes and Kay Balun tapas hopping in San Sebastián.
 Typical bar de pintxos (Basque for tapas) in San Sebastián.

 

In the evening, we will gather in the lobby of our hotel and began a walking tour of the tapas restaurants in the old quarter of San Sebastián, sampling emblematic tapas as we go, then have the option of a ending our evening in a classic bar that is credited with starting the Spanish gintonic craze among great chefs, who drank them here after attending one of the legendary gastronomic conferences held here. 

 

Gintonics maestro Juanjo, Bar Dickens, San Sebastián.

Day 04 Sunday, May 24 San Sebastián – Navarra – Barcelona (B, L, T)

 Olite, a striking Medieval castle village in Navarra.
 
In the morning, we will ride south to Navarra, where we will visit a striking Medieval castle village.  We will have an early lunch in southern Navarra with a winemaker at a restaurant that specializes in vegetable-based dishes from this great vegetable-growing district in Spain.  We will also taste a lineup of white wines, exceptional garnacha rosados (rosés), red and sweet dessert wines with the winemaker. 

 

 Drinking wonderful 100% free-run Garnacha rosados in Navarra.

 

Bodegas Aliaga owner, Carlos Aliaga, Navarra.

 

After lunch, our intrepid travelers can take a siesta on the bus as we press on to Barcelona, stopping a couple of times for refreshments.

We will arrive in Barcelona in early evening, check into our centrally located hotel, have a little time to relax, then those who are game can have the option of going out for a few Catalan tapas.

 

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.

Day 05, Monday, May 25 Barcelona (B, L, D)

 

In the morning, we will take a walking tour of the old quarters of Barcelona with an English-speaking author who has written extensively on Barcelona and is a con-summate expert on the city.

Miró, Picasso and Dalí, three legendary artists associated with Barcelona.

For lunch, we will go to a seafood-and-paella specialty restaurant in the port area of La Barceloneta, whose owner is a long-time friend of Gerry Dawes.  We have lunch on a terrace that looks out on the beach. 

Tapas in Barcelona.

 

The afternoon and evening will be free to explore, shop or take an optional cultural tour of the Barcelona, etc.

Day 06 Tuesday, May 26 Barcelona (B, L, D)

 

In the morning, we will visit the famous la Boquería market and have lunch with Cava (Spanish Champagne) at one of the top market bars, whose chef-owner is a great friend of Gerry Dawes and where you will be amazed at the food his cooks turn out from market kitchens. 

 

Quim Márquez, Quim de la Boquería, La Boquería Market, Barcelona with his costillas de ternera (veal ribs) with potatoes, Maldon salt and black Chinese garlic.

 

In the afternoon, there will be free time to shop, take an optional cultural tour of the Barcelona, etc.

We will have a dinner at a superb traditional Catalan cuisine restaurant run by Albert Adrià, Ferran Adrià´s brother and José André’s partner in Mercado Little Spain in New York.   After dinner, those still game will have the option of going to one of the best cocktail bars in the city.

 

Albert Adrià, Ferran Adrià´s brother and José André’s partner in Mercado Little Spain in New York.

 

Day 07 Wednesday, May 27 Barcelona – Valencia (B, L, D)

We will leave Barcelona early and drive to Valencia, where we will see some of Santiago Calatrava’s famous City of Arts and Sciences, visit Valencia’s Mercat Central (Central Market), then take a short excursion south of the city to see the picturesque Albufera lagoon and rice fields and get a hands-on class in paella making, then have paellas for lunch.

 Antonio Catalan spice shop, Valencia’s Mercat Central (Central Market).



Helping to make a paella at La Matandeta in La Abufera south of Valencia.

After lunch, weather permitting, we may take a short boat ride on the Albufera lagoon, then return to Valencia to relax, shop, visit some of Valencia´s many attractions or just stroll around the city.

In the evening, with the owner, we will have a great tapas dinner at the ambience-filled Bodega Casa Montaña, originally founded in the 19th Century.

Emiliano García, owner of the Valencia classic Bodega Casa Montaña and a long-time friend of Gerry Dawes.

Day 08 Thursday, May 28 Valencia – Alicante  (B, L, D)

In the morning, we will leave Valencia and drive just over an hour to visit a saffron processing facility, then visit the cooking school of the great chocolatero, Paco Torreblanca, voted the Best Pastry & Desserts Chef in Europe.   Paco Torreblanca is a friend of Gerry Dawes and either he or his son, Jacob, voted the top Pastry & Desserts Chef in Spain, will take us on a tour of his amazing chocolate and fancy pastries facility.


Gerry Dawes and Maestro Paco Torreblanco at Paco’s Baking School near Alicante.

After visiting Paco Torreblanca, we will take a short tour of an Alicante winery, then drive to a family restaurant in a nearby village, where we will have a paella with wild rabbit and snails, cooked over grape vine cuttings, along with other regional specialties and special wines from the region. 

 An Alicante winery.

 

 Paella with wild rabbit and snails, cooked over grape vine cuttings.

 

 Paella with wild rabbit and snails.

After lunch, we will return to Alicante and have the rest of the afternoon free to explore this lovely Mediterranean city.

Dinner will be at a tapas restaurant run by a woman chef who was awarded a Michelin star in her modern cuisine restaurant, but whose traditional tapas restaurant focusing on stellar Spanish products was recently voted the Best Tapas Bar in Spain.

Alicante Chef María José San Román, Chef-owner of Michelin-starred Monastrell and La Taberna del Gourmet, one of the best tapas restaurants in Spain.

We will stay in a boutique hotel near the port and Alicante’s palm tree-lined Explanada.

An Alicante winery.


Day 09 Friday, May 29 Alicante – Chinchón – Madrid  (B, L, T)


Don Quixote country, where we will stop to see some of the storybook windmills of La Mancha.


This morning, we will head to Madrid, passing through Don Quixote country, stopping to see some of the storybook windmills of La Mancha along the way, arriving in the storybook town of Chinchón in time for lunch at a charming restaurant specializing in classic Castilian cuisine and overlooking the Plaza Mayor, one of the most enchanting plazas in Spain.  



 The storybook town of Chinchón.
 Mural at the entrance to La Balconada Restaurant in Chinchón.

After lunch, a 45-minute ride will bring us to Madrid, where we will check into our hotel, then have the rest of the afternoon free to explore Madrid, shop, relax, etc.

In the evening, we will take a stroll through the literary quarter and the Plaza Mayor.  Near the Plaza Mayor, we will visit the renovated Mercado de San Miguel, a combination market-food court-wine bar.  We will divide into small groups and, coached by Gerry Dawes, each group will have the option to sample different tapas, moving from counter to counter.  There are shellfish, cheese, Ibérico hams and desserts counters; a sushi bar; an oyster bar and a wine bar.


Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid.


Day 10 Saturday, May 30 Madrid (B, D)

In the morning, there will be a guided tour of Madrid’s Prado Museum and the option of visiting other museums in the Triangulo del Arte, including the Reina Sofia, which houses Picasso’s Guernica, and the Thyssen-Bornemizsa, which is based on the remarkable private art collection of the late Baron Thyssen-Bornemizsa.

At lunchtime, we will stroll through Retiro Park to a top Madrid restaurant, famous for exceptional seafood tapas, but also offering a variety of dishes such as fried artichokes, superb jamón Ibérico and other specialty dishes.

After lunch, our tour members will have free time until dinner.

Cochinillo asado, brick-oven roasted suckling pig, at Casa Botín, Madrid.

In the evening, we will have our farewell dinner in a colorful traditional Madrid restaurant, famous for roast suckling pig, lamb and Castilian specialties, all of which will be accompanied by plenty of vino.

After dinner, our travelers will have the option of attending a performance at one of Madrid’s top Flamenco clubs.

A performance at one of Madrid’s top Flamenco clubs.

Day 11 Sunday, May 31 Madrid (B)

Flights to USA.

 

You Know You’re An Old Vegas Foodie If…

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You know you’re an old Vegas foodie if you remember:
 
The Green Shack
The Swiss Cafe
The Alpine Village Inn
The Hilltop House
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Larry’s Villa (the steakhouse, not the toothless stripper joint)
Ferraro’s when it was trimmed in pink neon
Nora’s when it wasn’t any wider than an SUV
Chateau Vegas when it was a mob hangout
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Hugo’s Cellar when it was cool
The Golden Steer when it was good
When you first ate a Capriotti’s “Bobbie” (probably around 1996)
When the Rio Wine Cellar was run by a weird-ass Brit named Barry Larvin
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Don the Beachcomber
Morton’s and Palm being our two best steakhouses
When there were only 3 sommeliers in the entire town
Little Joe’s BBQ joint at Plant World
Cosmo’s Underground
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Hamilton’s Cigar Bar
Taco Cabana’s roof caving in
The House of Lords
Nick’s Supper Club
Lillie Langtry’s and its carved wood interior:
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That’s Italian – which barely was…since it was owned by a smarmy Frenchman who smothered everything in cream sauce
When Andre’s was the coolest place in town
Nicky Blair’s
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Bob Taylor’s Ranch House… when you had to look for the blue light
Frogeez
Pamplemousse when it was a celebrity hangout…not a tourist trap
The Monte Carlo Room at the Desert Inn
Dickinson’s Wharf
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The Dome of the Sea….with a moveable harpist!
Commercial Center when it was crawling with decent restaurants….a dozen of which were Asian, with 4 Korean joints in the middle of it all
The Venetian being where Herbs & Rye now is located
Prepare to eat, prepare to DIVE:
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 The original Bacchanal Room
Piero’s when the chef was actually named Piero
The Palace Court when Burt Reynolds hobnobbed with men in leisure suits:
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Finally, you really know you’re an old Las Vegas foodie if you remember…
Women in helmet hair dining with men in tuxedos in a purple fern bar:
Image(The Imperial Room at the LV Hilton)
Many thanks to Classic Vegas for many of these tasty Vegas snaps.
 
 

My Worst Meals of 2019

Image(Yeah that’s me, dunking on bad food)

Sick of “Best Of” lists?

Tired of “Top 10” torpor?

Had it with holiday hype?

Then Being John Curtas has a refreshing intermezzo for you….

Sorry if these ruffle a few feathers, but since real food writing is fast becoming non-existent in Las Vegas, we thought we’d supply you with some information that flies against the all the bought-and-paid-for drivel.

For the record, none of these meals was truly terrible; all of them are good restaurants; most diners would enjoy them without batting an eye. But each fed me one or two or three things that had me shaking my head throughout the meal, and grumbling to myself that there was no reason to return.

In a small way this breaks my heart. In my world, I want every meal to be transforming, life-affirming, jaw-dropping, and transcendent. I’m rooting for the restaurant every time I walk through the door. Leaving a restaurant mumbling about a dish puts me in a bad mood for hours, sometimes days. The Food Gal has been known to consult everyone from therapists to divorce lawyers whenever darkness descends upon my countenance after a dining disaster.

And sad to say, it only takes one misfire to sometimes ruin an entire meal for me. Especially in a place I know and love.

In fact, the way I feel about my favorite restaurants is a lot like love…or at least lust. As with the latter, sometimes it doesn’t take much to cool your ardor. With sex, the line between “I want to kiss you all over” to “Ewww” can be pretty thin. With food, all it takes is a pseudo-Caesar with some caperberries in it.

Image(Not even a 9 year old would eat some of this stuff)

My Worst Meals of 2019.

Bavette’s

I had a pretty good steak dinner here. Two of them, actually. But I couldn’t see what I was eating. At these prices, you ought to be able to see what you’re paying for.

Burnt Offerings

We so wanted to love this place. I so wanted to be able to crow to my Jewish friends how I’m now “keeping Kosher” (at least for one or two meals a year) and actually admit to enjoying it. But the tough meat (at a place that brags about its smoking skills) was a sin that Yahweh himself could not forgive.

Carson Kitchen

Calm down. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. My two lunches here this year were perfectly fine. But as game-changing as CK has been, it hasn’t followed its success with anything further on the local scene. Instead, it’s being used as a flagship for expansion in other cities. Bravo for them, but the menu and the concept here has gotten stale. There, I said it.

Image(Dumb Dish of the Year – bony fishy fish on burnt toast)

La Strega

People love La Strega, so who am I to argue? Well, I’m me, and for what that’s worth: the apps were more than a little disappointing (I almost broke a tooth on some stale, toasted baguette, the tartare tasted like hospital food, the Caesar has caperberries in it). Pizzas and pastas can impress though (if you go for overload, subtlety isn’t in this kitchen’s vocabulary), but the feeling I got on my two trips here was that La Strega is that all-too-common creature: a restaurant where everything sounds better than it tastes. The menu might be fine for restaurant-starved Summerliners, but at its core, it is safe and boring…which is just what its customers want.

Locale

Locale amused us more than La Strega, but is still flawed in fundamental, incurable ways. The menu is too big and actually the inverse of La Strega’s — too hip for the room, too complicated, trying too hard to separate itself from the pack. If it were downtown (or playing to a black-belt foodie audience) it would give Esther’s a run for its money. Out in the sticks, its prospects for success are questionable. The old saw: “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink,” ought to be rephrased here into: You can lead Las Vegas to interesting Italian food, but they’ll still want chicken parm.

Forte Tapas

What once seemed fascinating (kachapurri, Bulgarian mixed grill, pelmini, Stroganoff fries, etc.) tasted tired and rehashed. The verve of the room, the brightness of the recipes, snappiness of the staff, all had disappeared. It didn’t help that they served us one corked wine, and another at a nice, warm bath-like 80 degrees. I think I liked this place better when it was filled with Russian mobsters in track suits.

La Comida

For the last seven years or so, La Comida was on our regular downtown rotation. But we ate there twice at the beginning of the year and something was different. The menu read the same, but the management was different, the food had changed, and not for the better. These things can be subtle, but sometimes it’s just a matter of some under-seasoned meat, less vibrant guacamole, cold corn and stale tortillas that tells you they don’t care anymore. Haven’t been back since February. Don’t intend to go back.

The Nomad Restaurant

What Daniel Humm did with Eleven Madison Park in New York was phenomenal. What he and his investors are doing in Las Vegas is predictable. The Nomad is a chain restaurant pretending it’s a gourmet one. Worst service of the year too, by a country mile.

Image(Oh no, they’re serving us sardines on stale toast! Mr. Curtas is not amused.)

Oscar’s Steakhouse

God bless Oscar’s. It so terribly wants to be a top-tier steakhouse but it so consistently fails miserably at it. To paraphrase “A Christmas Story”: it’s not that bad…but it’s not that good either.

Pepe’s Tacos

The Food Gal® and I were starving at lunch one day and pressed for time while driving on N. Decatur. Suddenly, like a Mexican apparition it shimmered before us: a bright yellow awning beckoning, “Come hither, partake of our tacos poor pilgrim, enjoy our asada sopes, Help Wanted.” So in we trudged, seduced by hunger, the advert (and stomach pangs) having relieved us of our common sense. From now on we’re sticking with Del Taco.

Sara’s

They start you off here with some gargantuan, brontosaurus bone-in beef rib-thing they serve as an appetizer. Yes, an appetizer. This is supposed to impress you. Our Dover sole was the worst piece of fish I’ve had in a decade. Strictly for those wowed by dark rooms and hidden doors.

Image(Pearl can’t bear to look at our best of the worst)

The Kitchen at Atomic

We went in for a steak. We were told that they only had one, 48 oz. rib eye left. We settled on other meat: a hangar and something else. None of it was very good and the flatbread was a mess. I had four meals here in 2019 and loved 3 of them. We’ll leave it at that.

Tim Ho Wan

Don’t believe the hype. This is a copy of a copy of a copy of a famous dim sum house. You will not eat badly, but you will wait in line to eat food that’s done better (and cheaper) across the street at Ping Pang Pong.

Water Grill

I enjoyed my one meal here…in the same way I used to enjoy McCormick and Schmick’s….in 1998.

Image(Some of these meals deserved a good sabering…and needed more champagne)

Years ago you would’ve found me wallowing in a lot more mastication misery. These days, I am much more selective about where I eat — discrimination and an encyclopedic knowledge of the Vegas food scene keep my “worst meals” at a minimum.

In the past, I would go to the opening of an envelope, but time, taste and age have left me little interest in whatever “fast casual” concept some ambitious restaurateur is launching to take him/her to the promised land. This knowledge alone has saved me from a lot of indigestion, and further enhancement of my already dyspeptic personality.

I really don’t eat badly these days, even in the restaurants noted above. As you can see, my “worst meals” usually amount to a few dishes that missed the mark and put a damper on the overall experience. These failings shouldn’t be looked upon as a condemnation of the whole operation. At all of these places (save poor old Pepe), your average diner can have a most enjoyable meal.

But unfortunately for restaurants, I am not your average diner.