Reviews from the Road: Las Vegas Casinos, Where the Food Is a Gamble

Gentle Readers, once more The Practical Cook returns from a Las Vegas convention, wondering how it is possible to eat so many meals in one day. You see, for whatever reason, be it jet lag, hyperoxygenation, or adrenaline, when in Las Vegas, I seem to be eating at least two dinners per day. Lunch is a crap shoot (literally), and breakfast is often overcomplicated.

Beautiful presentation, but beware, those are hazelnuts.

Beautiful presentation, but beware, those are hazelnuts.

So then comes dinner, usually a social affair, and then second dinner, which is a more social affair necessitated by the amount of time and alcohol that has passed since the first dinner. (Thus burgers and waffles, sometimes together, are popular choices for second dinner, whereas first dinner is often either more lavish or more a cocktail and snacks affair.)

The Inevitable Vegas Burger

The Inevitable Vegas Burger

Point being, there’s time to eat a wide selection of things, but I find myself being underwhelmed. Before you reach out to smack me down, let me explain the context.

1. Atmosphere matters to me when I’m eating, and Las Vegas casinos are like Epcot, built on illusion. Epcot does not make me think “gourmet food.”

2. For an industry that relies on hospitality, we experienced some incredibly bad service. I’m willing to put up with quite a lot, I fully understand waiting tables is hard work. But at the point that you deliver eggs on a plate that you tell me is too hot to touch after waiting 45 minutes for them, I can promise you I’m not going to eat them.

Cobb Salad from Dos Caminos, with Chicken and Chorizo

Cobb Salad from Dos Caminos, with Chicken and Chorizo

3. I favor simplicity. Some of the best finds were humble foods done well. A beautiful cheese plate, a composed salad, fried triangles of macaroni and cheese that would make any state fair proud.

Fried Macaroni and Cheese from Burger Bar

Fried Macaroni and Cheese from Burger Bar

In the end, I always enjoy the company more than the food, and have learned to order simply, follow recommendations, and not expect too much. In two trips, I’ve enjoyed the bar food and different Mexican restaurants most.

Carne Asada Tacos at Dos Caminos

Carne Asada Tacos at Dos Caminos

At Dos Caminos, where I landed twice, the real stand-out was the beautifully orange habañero salsa. I’m not a spice-head, and this was a well-balanced salsa with kick on the front of the tongue and this smooth, almost creamy, pumpkin-ness to it. I plan to take a swing at recreating it at home.

This time, I’m happy to say, the Italian-themed hotel featured a lovely coffee bar, which made a very respectable latte. However this blog post owes its title to The Dealer, my aptly self-named barista at my coffeehouse of choice, who supplied me with the perfect road recovery drink, shown here.

Recovery Latte from My Native Coffeehouse

Recovery Latte from My Native Coffeehouse

To my comrades in burgers and waffles, you know who you are, I salute you.

Do you have a favorite restaurant from the casino scene in Las Vegas? Am I the only one craving waffles at 3 AM when there? Post a comment or Tweet!

Send your shrimp cocktails (well, send those elsewhere) and queries to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Thanks in advance for spreading The Practical Cook Blog word. Press “like” on Facebook today!)

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Tomorrow, Weekly Menus, Labor Day Edition!

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2 Comments

Filed under Kitchen Philosophy, Restaurant Reviews

2 responses to “Reviews from the Road: Las Vegas Casinos, Where the Food Is a Gamble

  1. Wendy

    Totally The Hash House A Go Go’s chicken and waffles. It was worth a cab ride way the hell up Sahara back before they were famous but now apparently there are locations inside the M and the Imperial Palace, I think.

    • The Practical Cook

      So wish we would’ve taken that cab ride, it would’ve been faster! Next time. I think I need to take a world tour of chicken and waffles, actually.

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