8 Great Burgers In Las Vegas

Cheeseburger Cartoon

I have been on a quest for the best burger in Las Vegas since I started visiting years ago. The gourmet burger craze in the past few years has made my conquest difficult with new burger joints opening and closing. I haven’t given up but there are so many more options available.

Last year I started following @VegasBurger and narrowing down potential burgers to try. Erik from Vegas Burger Blog and I have similar tastes in burgers and instead of tweeting him and asking for recommendations on where to go I figured I’d ask him what his favorite burgers in all of Vegas are so I can focus my time burgering around town.

You can find full reviews on each burger at Vegas Burger Blog by clicking on the link to the restaurant. Looks like I have some work to do!

The Badger

The Badger Café: Located just down the street from Dispensary and tied to an equally dingy bar, The Badger Café offers up some tight competition. Starting at only $3.99 this meal provides one of the best non-fast food burger values in town. You have the option to sit in the Rum Runner bar side, or in the quirky little diner next door, either way you’re in for a great meal. Bonus points if you’re a Wisconsin fan.

The Dillenger

The Dillinger: It’s a bit too far for me to frequent on a regular basis, but if you’re willing to take a drive out to Boulder City eat a burger at The Dillinger, it is definitely worth the trip. Their signature Dillinger burger topped with brisket and bacon is a delicious creation, and the Baby Face Nelson with brie and fig marmalade is something I try to replicate at home regularly.

Dispensary Lounge

The Dispensary Lounge: Once voted the #4 Best Dive Bar in the country by Playboy, this dark and dingy spot serves up an unassuming yet killer burger. It recently jumped in price from $3.95 to $5.95, but this is still one of the best deals around. The late ’70s furniture and decor add a wonderful bit of ambiance to the experience to make this an off-Strip burger experience you shouldn’t miss.

DW Bistro

DW Bistro: They offer one of the best brunches in town complete with bottomless Mimosas and one of the tastiest Bloody Marys around, and also happen to serve a fantastic burger. Their New Mexican-style green chili cheeseburger is topped with delicious, crispy jalapeno bacon also found in the Bloody Mary. DW has continually been one of my go-to restaurants in general; having a great burger on the menu is a bonus.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar: Rounding off the list is Summerlin’s best-kept burger secret; it’s only available at the bar, and to top it off this normally $12 burger is half price during happy hour. Anyone should be happy paying their regular price for what you get, but at $6 you get the value of Badger and Dispensary with much nicer surroundings. Just be prepared to fight for a seat at the tiny bar.

Public House

Public House: Now that Rattlecan is out of the building (see Honorable Mention), Public House can go back to claiming the title of best burger in the Venetian. Although it’s a bit pricey for some wallets at $19, the combination of bacon marmalade, gruyere cheese, roast tomato, frisee and Guinness aioli (whew!) make this one stand out burger, and the only one I’m currently willing to mention on the Strip. If the cost is a bit high or you’re looking for a different venue, head to either LBS at Red Rock or The Barrymore at the Royal Resort (and Holsteins at Cosmopolitan), they offer almost the exact same burger for far less money.

Wine 5 Cafe

Wine 5 Café: Located in a shady Target parking lot in the Northwest part of town, Wine 5 takes the prize for my most surprising burger meal of 2012. Who knew that a Kenyan/American fusion restaurant serving something called a ‘flat burger’ could produce such a massive masterpiece? It’s off the beaten path, but worth the trip!

View Wine Bar

Late Addition – View Wine Bar: Hidden in the ghost town known as Tivoli Village in Summerlin, the View Wine Bar serves up a surprisingly fantastic burger complete with equally fantastic fries. The view isn’t really all that special, and the space itself is pretty awkward, but don’t let either of those fool you; this burger shouldn’t be missed. A little tip: see if you can beg your server for a few extra fries as the portion will want you yearning for more. (Full Review Coming Soon)

Rattlecan

Honorable Mention – Rattlecan: In an attempt to break my heart, the news broke earlier this week that this newly opened restaurant shuttered far too soon. I only made it there twice, but both times I was totally surprised by the burgers I was given. To top it off they had a wonderful staff, so the rumors coming out about how poorly the owners failed to break the news to their employees is quite troubling. Hopefully this burger can be recreated somewhere in town soon, I just question whether I’ll be able to support the owners as the truth comes out.

Burger Photos: Vegas Burger Blog
Cover Photo: iliveontheweb.com

“Trading Bases” Book Preview

I’m not much of a reader but last year I learned about a book coming out that’s right up my alley. “Trading Bases” by Joe Peta looks at baseball and betting from a more analytic point of view then you’ll find in most mainstream media. Here’s the synopsis of the book and its full title  “Trading Bases: A Story About Wall Street, Gambling, and Baseball (Not Necessarily in That Order)” from Amazon.

An ex-Wall Street trader improved on Moneyball’s famed sabermetrics to place bets that would beat the Vegas odds on Major League Baseball games–with a 41 percent return in his first year. Trading Bases explains how he did it.

After the fall of Lehman Brothers, Joe Peta needed a new employer. He found a new job in New York City but lost that, too, when an ambulance mowed him down as he crossed the street on foot. In search of a way to cheer himself up while he recuperated in a wheelchair, Peta started watching baseball again, as he had growing up. That’s when inspiration hit: Why not apply his outstanding risk-analysis skills to improve on sabermetrics, the method made famous by Moneyball–and beat the only market in town, the Vegas betting line? Why not treat MLB like the S&P 500?

In Trading Bases, Peta shows how to subtract luck–in particular “cluster luck,” as he puts it–from a team’s statistics to best predict how it will perform in the next game and over the whole season. His baseball “hedge fund” returned an astounding 41 percent in 2011– with daily volatility similar to funds he used to trade for. Peta takes readers to the ballpark in San Francisco, trading floors and baseball bars in New York, and sports books in Vegas, all while tracing the progress of his wagers.

Far from writing a dry, do-it-yourself guidebook, Peta weaves a story that is often humorous, and occasionally touching; the topic may be “Big Data” but it’s as entertaining as a Bill Simmons column. Trading Bases is all about the love of critical reasoning, trading cultures, risk management, and baseball. And not necessarily in that order.

Towards the end of the baseball season last year I was introduced to Joe by mutual baseball lover and betting dork friend, Gill Alexander. The three of us grabbed a burger (this is when I discovered the awesome “Gold Standard” burger) at Holsteins at Cosmopolitan. After we grew tired of watching gamecasts on our phones we walked across the hall to watch the games at the sportsbook.

It was pretty awesome watching and talking baseball with such great baseball minds. Joe was kind enough to answer a few questions about “Trading Bases“.

What do you think readers will take away from the book?
If I’ve written it well enough, I hope they’ll realize there is a lot of overlap between those who apply sabermetric theory and those who trade stocks and those who bet on sports.  Each set of people, even though they might think they operate in a vaccum, could actually learn from the other groups as well.  Sabermetrics can help the bettor, Wall Street could learn a lot from the sabermetric community in terms of evaluating talent, baseball managers (and some GMs) could stand to learn a little game theory from traders and so on.  In the end, the book really celebrates critical reasoning, regardless of the pursuit.  But if the reader gets there without laughing, without reminiscing about the connection sports means to the relationship with their parents or children, or without smiling about the times he’s been in a sports bar or a casino with his buddies, then I didn’t write it well enough and that’s on me.

Explain the DIY guidebook that’s in the description for the book. 

I spend about six chapters at the beginning of the book describing how I came up with a model to bet baseball games on a daily basis.  Believe me, I knew how dangerous an undertaking that was  —  how many readers who pick up a book about golf would care how the clubs are made?  Yet, I figured I had to establish some credibility in terms of logic and critical reasoning with other gamblers and sports bettors who picked up the book.  So those chapters are filled with pop culture references, Wall Street and NFL analogies and in general try to make it read like a story instead of a data dump.  I’ve always thought that was the underrated strength of Bill James — his ability to weave stories around his data.  Between those chapters and a couple later in the book — which take up roughly a third of the pages — there is plenty of material in there for a would-be model builder to create his own model, with plenty of room for his own modifications.  I love what one early reviewer of the book said, however in discussing the DIY nature of the book, “The topic may be Big Data, but it reads like a Bill Simmons column.”

What are your favorite sportsbooks in Vegas to do bet games? watch games?

Boy, do I love watching sports with like-minded sports bettors in Vegas — doesn’t even matter if I know them well.  I view the experience like rating my favorite pizzas.  Even the ones that are bad – – – are still pretty good!  However, my favorite place to watch a slate of summer baseball games is at the Venitian sports book.  It’s a Cantor-run property so the aesthetics are great.  To top it off, it’s entrance is on the strip, next to a Walgreens so the ability to get in-game hydration is unparalleled   There is a noodle shop adjacent to the sportsbook and a Grimaldi’s Pizza shop upstarts in the Palazzo mall for take-out.  It’s simply perfect.

Honorable mention to the LVH Man Cave, especially if you use a car to get around.  And, as you know, if you have a group of guys coming from out of town, Legasse’s Stadium takes the sports bar experience to an entirely new level.  In general though, I avoided that location unless I wanted a restaurant experience.

As far as placing bets, any Cantor property, especially if you utilize their mobile technology along with the LVH and the Wynn give a baseball bettor access to three different dime lines.  Those three books captured the lion’s share of my handle last year.

I decided to do a preview of “Trading Bases” so that I can let you know about the book before the baseball season begins. I read slowly and I have no idea when I’ll finish the book to give it a proper review. If I get pressed for time I may just skip to the DIY Guidebook. Shhhh. 🙂

If you can’t wait for the book check out the Trading Bases blog where he just started going season previews.

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr

 

Vegas Vacation Notes

I used to take notes when I went on trips to Atlantic City and even sometimes in Las Vegas but I haven’t done it in a while. Last week a friend was in town and I took notes and caught much of what I did. As always there are a couple holes in my memory, but that happens. I’ll be writing up most of the trip between AC2LV and Vegas Chatter.

The photo above is the view of CityCenter from my room at Planet Hollywood.

UPDATE: This story was retitled from the original “staycation”, because I hate that word.

Sat
Car broke
Harrahs Check in
Upgrade
Diamond Lounge 1 drink turns to 4
Room old, but nice
Diamond Lounge 1 drink turns to 3. Waiter remembers us.
Craps, down $97. Then $3 hard 6, $5 hard 6, $5 hard 6, $5 hard 6 out. Bets for the boys and shooter.
Cosmo packed.
QOTSA
Henry Sucked. Music Sucked. Biggest buzzkill.
Cab line 20-30 minutes.
Walked to PH, no cab line.

Sun
Coffee
.25 BP VP
Room
Coffee
BJ
Check in to PH
Room fine
Cochon – AWESOME
Chandelier Bar
Caesars Craps Lesson & VP
PH
ZZZZZZ

Mon
Room coffee bad
Drop car to be fixed
Coffee Bean – Hard chairs, slow wifi
Afternoon – something sober
Striphouse – good steak, spicy wine
Peepshow – Almost fell asleep
Drinks/VP @ Sportsbook bar – bad
Hangover slots – mesmerizing, but too much $$$
UPDATE: PH BJ, TX woman, Staying on 12, BAD JUJU, lose
Gigantic Sevens – awesome
Dragons Spinning – awesomer
Heinekin Light
ZZZZZZZZZ

Tues
Early rise
Room coffee still bad
Starbucks diamond line returns
Starbucks now has wifi
Afternoon – something sober
Diamond Lounge – Vegas Bomb, snacks
Caesars – Casa Fuente – cigars & sangria
Caesars – Drinks @ Lobby bar
Cosmo – Pizza, girl burp loud
Cosmo – Girls like shoes
PH – ZZZZZZZZ

Weds
Early rise
Room coffee – put in machine, forgot to make it
Starbucks – Alcove near mall – write
Lunch @ Holsteins – Cereal Bowl Shake, Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran
El Cortez – $3 single deck BJ, $5 Pai Gow, $3 Craps, Dudes on Don’t = jerks
3 bands playing
Four Queens 2-1 buffet
6:5 blackjack
penny 100 play video poker
back to PH
ZZZZZZZ

Thurs
Early rise
Room coffee – still nasty
Starbucks packed – TGFD!
Late Check out
Pack
In and Out
Airport
Home

Thoughts On Cosmopolitan

I wanted to share some thoughts now that Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas has been opened for a couple weeks.  Let me say this, in general, as someone with a marketing background I usually try to avoid all of the grand opening hype.  Most people will report nothing but the good at that point.

I prefer to let other people break in a property for a few days before I grace it with my presence.  I did the same with CityCenter last year (which I need to look back at 1 year later).  I’ll have more thoughts moving forward, but I’ll break my thoughts on the Cosmo today down like this:

Tall, Skinny, Ugly on the outside but Pretty Inside

I’m not enamored by the way the building looks on the outside.  However, once I looked inside of the building I saw lots to like.  There are plenty of modern features and beautiful, shiny crystals and chromes.  The Cosmo is bright inside, but not in a bad way.  Think the opposite of Aria.

The furnishings are things I’d love in my house, but I can never seem to find affordable, comfortable modern furnishings.  I guess that’s what $4 billion can do.

The profile of the building(s) are very tall and very narrow.  Every time I’ve walked through the place looked and felt crowded.  There were a lot of people just looking around and not gambling or eating or shopping so I’ll look into this again in 6 months after the curious people are gone.

It would be great if Cosmo remains crowded but with people spending money.  She’s pretty today, but we’ll see what happens after a little wear and tear.

Casino and Sportsbook

As I mention above, the casino is narrow and feels crowded but upon further inspection those were just people looking.  Maybe the feeling of being crowded will lessen with time as people quit gawking and/or hit the tables.

Each visit I’ve seen the tables and machines have all been fairly quiet.  Maybe 1 player per table on average.  Tables are pretty good for a strip casino: blackjack minimums are as low as $10 with 3:2 payouts for blackjack on all except double deck games.  As per Vegas Tripping the video poker pay tables are slightly above other strip casinos.

The sportsbook is TINY.  I could never see myself hanging out watching games here.  It feels more like a lounge than a sportsbook.  Planet Hollywood has a tiny sportsbook, but at least they have Blondies and the PBR bars in the Miracle Mile shops for overflow.

They also have a stage in the sportsbook with free concerts, that’s pretty nice but it will definitely get in the way of the gamblers.  I’m stoked for the free shows, but I wonder how the two will work together.

I’ve walked by the sportsbook about 4 or 6 times and only noticed sports on the TV’s once.  I’m not sure that’s always the case, but that’s what I noticed.

Lastly, there is no poker room.  I’m pretty sure this will change in time.  There’s really no reason not to have one except for differentiation.

Restaurants & Shopping

The restaurants and shopping are on the second and third floors. There are a lot of restaurants that seem as if they’ll be good.  My first dining experience was great!

Some friends and I split a bunch of small plates & appetizers at Holsteins.  Everything was fantastic.  In fact, this was one of the best meals I’ve had in Vegas in a while!  The beer list was huge and the prices weren’t insane like most casino restaurants.  I cannot wait for a return trip.

On another trip I tried Comme Ca.  It was ok.  Not priced too bad for a casino, but there wasn’t anything amazing about my meal.  I’m looking forward to trying the others – specifically the pizza place, China Pablano and Scarpetta.

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