When you arrive in Las Vegas for a 3 day weekend there are just certain things that are a given;
1) You will gamble. Duh! Weather it is the elusive penny slot or you’re a high roller dropping Ben Affleck money, everyone has to give it at least a little try, hoping that the lucky jackpot will sway their way. Gambling has changed noticeably over the past few years in sin city. Possibly the saddest thing to hit Vegas is the banishment of coins with your now printable winning ticket. The clink of quarters and the need for hand sanitizer has been replaced by paper that prints out as a tidy little ticket resembling a parking receipt. Now I understand it is more efficient, less labor intensive, and more profitable for the casino, but it’s sad all the same. The heavy buckets of quarters, have such a nostalgia to them.
2) You will drink! Now I realize not everyone is a drinker, but for those of us that do indulge in the occasional libation, we are suddenly overtaken by the idea of “free” drinks, pool side drinks, drinks while walking down the street, drinks while wearing a sparkly dress, or even drinks because your kids are 500 miles away and that’s reason enough.
3) You will eat! While Vegas is not known for any particular cuisine, or culinary trend, it is definitely an eating town! You might be able to get away with just a Starbucks at breakfast and some aspirin to nurse last nights hangover, but be guaranteed that by lunchtime you will be inundated with food. In the old days you could get away with a pretty decent all you could eat buffet for under $10 and be set for the day. Those days are long gone. Sure, you still see advertisements for a questionable looking shrimp cocktail for 99 cents or the promise of the Worlds Best Prime Rib Dinner for 2.99, but more than likely if you do opt for the buffet route you will be $30 lighter and rarely impressed.
On our recent trip we were lucky enough to dine at some very highly recommended, fine dining restaurants. We ate at The Top of the World, located high over the strip at the Stratosphere. We had a late night post show dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant in the Paris Hotel. Even our snacking was very European with an $8 gelato at the Venetian hotel. While the views were spectacular, over all I think our dining experiences was a little disappointing, which is so sad to say. These were not cheep meals. When someone orders a $58 fillet minion there comes with it expectations not only on the quality of the food, but the entire dining experience. You expect it to be not only flawless but unique. I want to walk away with a memory that will stay with me and separate that restaurant from all others. As someone that has worked her way through college as a server you start to notice the cracks in every dining experience. I suppose ignorance is bliss. Why is it that only at the fanciest most romantic restaurants do they feel it is OK to walk around with a staff photographer and try to sell you a commemorative photo? Serious mood killer. But when I do order a cut of steak that equals my electric bill I shouldn’t feel regret, or have that inner debate on should I send it back because it is not prepared to my liking? No, it should be infallible.
On our last full day in Vegas, which just happened to be a Sunday, we thought let’s spend a few hours at the sports book and place some bets, sit back, watch football and drink some beers. The image that comes to my mind of a sports book is a few old guys that look a little bit like Robert DeNiro siting around looking at the TVs sucking on cigars, practicing some fancy math skills on horse statistics and injured players lists. I have never thought of them as inviting or ever very comfortable. The hotel across the street, the SLS, was new so we went to check it out. The SLS It had a very refreshing take on the traditional sports book. Instead it was a sports bar with huge comfy booths and TVs at each booth. There were also enormous TV’s throughout showing every current game. There was a wagering counter at one end of the restaurant that almost could be mistaken for a take-out counter. We sat down and were greeted by the server offering us menus and cocktails. Burgers and onion rings were washed down with ice cold Stella beers and water cooler quarterbacking.
So on your next trip to Vegas plan to eat like pig, spend a small fortune and have a stash of Tums ready. If you are lucky enough to know a local that doesn’t make a living off of commission ask them where they eat. Local dives are hands down better than over hyped and over priced! Where is your favorite place to feed your face while in Vegas?