Food Finds: More Winning Meals in Las Vegas

You would be hard pressed to find a bad meal in Las Vegas.  Anything is possible but this is indeed an eating town.  Finding "cheap" eats is another adventure altogether not just off the beaten path or outside of the strip.  As I wrote in my previous post, we had a more than enjoyable light lunch on our first foray onto the Strip.  Our next few meals in the heart and hotels of Las Vegas would prove to be winners as well.  
Breakfast on the Strip: A quiet breakfast in a subdued beautifully lit "created" Italian street scene in the lower level of the Venetian Hotel.  Meandering into the Venetian Hotel, up, down, across, you're not sure if you're in an M.C. Escher drawing or some Bizarre Disney Land experiment.  The Venetian offers many lovely zen-like places of calm in an otherwise town of  pulsating madness.  

We hit up Caffe Zefferino for a quiet breakfast.  It felt very authentic.  The mood lighting, the air quality (smoke free!) and the pretty surroundings, with the calls of the Gondoliers in the distance truly put us in a happy place.  Breakfast was more American style in that the portions were large and tasty.  Coffee, well, stick to Starbucks, but for a good breakfast that won't hurt your wallet and will keep you going well past lunch, this is a place to fill up!

Dinner on the Strip: We had fun meal at The Yard House at the LINQ along the QUAD corridor between The Flamingo Hotel and Harrahs.  I was skeptical at first, not wanting to dine at yet another knock-off bar filled with penis balloon toting bachelorettes (there were quite a few, wearing sashes and tiaras no less); or muscle headed bachelors sporting foot long dong bong vuvuzela shaped drinking vessels strung around their necks (way more than a few of these all over the place). 

The Yard House is a multilevel, fine pub grub dining and drinking destination in the heart of what is to my eyes and ears, a busy, night club, food club, shopping arena.  It was too dark for food photos so none to share.  I had the first of several street food fusion meals.  Korean meets Mexican style tacos.  Short Ribs slowly cooked until meltingly tender.  Piquant Mexican Rice.  Luscious Beans.  And an East-Coast Centric Micro Brew Draft Beer List - which really surprised me.  I opted for some North East Coast brews. If you find yourself in Las Vegas, the street known as the QUAD is worth a look-see and The Yard House is well worth a stop for a nibble and a slosh!

Il Fornaio at the New York New York Hotel: Head here for the sheer audacity of doing the entire NY skyline, from The Statue of Liberty, all the important iconic sky scrappers to a miniature Brooklyn bridge walkway.  Whether or not you do the roller coaster that winds its way around and through the buildings is up to your and your nerves.  If you find yourself hungry and the Coney Island food court fare isn't for you (and it shouldn't be) walk through the casino floor and do yourself a favor and have a nice, calm, quiet meal in Il Fornaio Restaurant and Bakery.  Authentic, New York style, thin crust pizzas.  Decent wine by the glass selections.  Good hearty bread with nice olive oil for dipping. If you aren't starving, you and your dining companion can share a salad and a pizza and feel satisfied for under $50! 

Off the Strip and way way away from the casinos:  If you are adventurous, not into the crowds and hubbub of Vegas, in any of the areas like the main strip, downtown near the Stratosphere, or in Old Las Vegas in the Old Downtown now known as The Fremont Street Experience, I have some DYNAMITE Places to suggest.  You'll need a car or be willing to pay a lot for taxi rides. 

District One LV - off the beaten path, in one of the many areas of the China/Asia Town district of Las Vegas, there are dozens of places to dine.  I can't exactly remember how we stumbled into this place. I think we were googling one place, and found three others and then practically threw a dart at a map and here is where we landed.  District One LV is a brand new Vietnamese Seafood and fusion bar and restaurant.  We hit on the hip insider's spot before the hip insiders found this place and ruined it!  Uber cool, the place has a North West Street Food and Pho vibe going on in here.  Lots of street food and other Asian food fusion influences happening on the menu.  If only we had time to eat more and more often...

Our meals were very memorable.  Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls in delicate cellophane rice paper wrappings.  Inside was a crunchy center that contrasted nicely with the tender bite of the basil leaves and shrimp. Steamed Edamame pods topped with a stir fry of Szechuan peppers, garlic and sesame oil.  More addictive than potato chips.  Rachel enjoyed a platter of Vietnamese pork offerings - chops, sausages; veggies, and broken rice topped with a poached egg.  Break the egg over the rice, pour on the Nam Ploc vinegar and you create a succulent sauce for the meal.  I had a Korean Fried Cornish Hen with Chinese 5 Spice, along with the steamed broken rice.  I think Rachel got the velvet box meal here but mine was very good.  After a few wheat style summer ales and even the fish heads would have seem like a gold-plated meal to me.  We ate until we were ready to burst and then took a few bites and sips more, rolling our way back to our car.  Happy, sated and delighted with our turn of luck at finding this true gem.  

Up a piece by the New Orleans Casino, in the shadow of the strip but several miles away, we discovered a fabulous Ethiopian restaurant called Abyssinia.  After our one and only night in a hotel dead smack in the heart of The Strip, at The Flamingo (the less said, the better...) we spent 3 nights at a time-share condo 4 miles outside of town.  We had a car, lots of guide books and ample time to find better food finds than what the management of corporate Las Vegas wants the tourists to find. After our amazing luck at District One LV, we weren't sure we could find another wonderful "ethnic" meal as cheap and plentiful.  How wrong we were.  I cannot find any decent Ethiopian places back home so it surprised me to find a large Ethiopian community in Las Vegas of all places.  We had a combination dinner of meat and vegetables, which was way more food than we could handle, even if I was famished.  Ground lamb; stewed lamb; chicken in spicy tomato flavors that I can't even begin to identify.  Goat. Lentils 2 ways; Collard Greens. Raw cabbage salad and stewed cabbage. All served on a platter of spongy bread called injera, along with a basket of additional bread.

Way off the Beaten Path: Henderson, Nevada: The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill.  As if the food finds weren't already superb, we found another buried treasure in the desert.  Rachel and I took a side trip to Nelson, Nevada, to visit an old gold mine and reclaimed town.  A post with those photos and stories will be forth coming.  After a few hours of photo taking we were hot, tired and ready for a proper meal in a cool spot. More googling and glances in my guide books led us to Henderson.  It's a town know for the famous Ethel M. Chocolate Factory (which we didn't see but I did load up on their chocolates at the airport shop); the town is also listed in my guides books as having more than a few great places to eat.  And away we went! 
In a strip mall shopping center we discovered The Great Greek Mediterranean Grill.  It is clean, lovely but looks like a take-out sandwich shop.  We were a tad skeptical but the aromas and platters of food all around us told us that we were about to strike it rich.  Our meals were out of this world.  Again, more authentic ethnic food, served up by some of the most handsome Greek gods.  Tender fresh hot  men pita; juicy plump grilled shrimp and chicken kebabs.  Fluffy rice pilaf; cool refreshing Greek salad; tangy tzatziki sauce.  I ate every drop of food in front of me and could have enjoyed more if there was room in my belly.  To think we almost passed up on this opportunity.

It was a quick trip filled with a lot of laughs and some amazing meals.  Vacations should be about enjoyment of the new found things.  Our trip to Las Vegas was unique as so much of our nearly 30 year friendship is.   Whatever brings to you to Las Vegas, convention, business, sin and pleasure, you won't be disappointed by the many authentic food finds if you just look beyond the glitz. 


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