I Found The Best Burger In Downtown Vegas…In A Pizza Joint

Burrata Burger and Garlic Fries at Pizza Rock
Burrata Burger and Garlic Fries at Pizza Rock

There are a few people in Vegas that I follow on twitter that share similar tastes in food as I do. When it comes to burgers there’s really one person I listen to and that’s @Vegasburger, Erik from Vegas Burger Blog. He hit the mark on every place I visited that he recommended last year in his 8 Great Burgers in Las Vegas blog post (on AC2LV). We don’t agree on everything but when he gets excited I do to.

His excitement for the burger at Pizza Rock made me drop everything the next day and head to Downtown Grand (Of course I stopped in the casino) and Pizza Rock.

The Burrata Burger was EASILY the best burger I’ve had in Downtown Vegas and one of the best new burgers I’ve eaten in Las Vegas in the past year.

The Burrata burger is American Kobe Beef, Burrata Cheese, Crispy Bacon, Caramelized Onions, Arugula, Balsamic Reduction. I got my burger sans onions. The burger comes with a side of super crisp french fries topped with crazy garlic and was $13.50 minus a 15% discount for a) being local or b) foursquare check in. This is a bit pricey for Downtown Vegas but would cost $18 for the burger alone on the Vegas Strip.

I could taste each element on the burger on every bite. The bacon was crisp enough to be good but not too crispy to break apart in one bite. Generally, I think grinding kobe beef is silly but the beef made for a delicious burger and brought everything together. Even the bun had its own flavor. Damn, writing about this makes me want one for lunch. 

I’m a New Yorker and never think highly of Las Vegas pizza but I enjoyed the pizza at Pizza Rock. It’s not the pizza I grew up with but was good and made with fresh ingredients. For comparison, I love the pizza but the burger at Pizza Rock is about 1000% better.

I love the burger, like the food, enjoy the rock jams and consider Pizza Rock my newest crush in Downtown Vegas. 

Buddy V’s At Venetian

Sunday Gravy At Buddy Vs at Venetian Las Vegas
Sunday Gravy At Buddy Vs

I had some friends in Vegas last night and recommended we go to Buddy V’s at Venetian. Reviews have all been positive so this seemed like a safe bet. And it was a safe bet. The food wasn’t anything special but it’s not made to be special. It was just good and tasted like food that a friend’s grandmother would make. Again, that’s the idea.

I had Grandma’s Sunday Gravy because it was Sunday and recommended. The dish was a pot of meatballs, sausage, lamb and beef with a nice sized plate of rigatoni. Most pasta dishes at Buddy V’s were around $20 but Sunday Gravy was $25 because of all of the meat. It was very good and the most full I’ve been in a long time. I didn’t even finish all of the meats. One of each (ok, 2 meatballs) was enough.

With appetizers and a couple of bottles of wine dinner came out to about $62 a person before tip. The food is on par with other good mid-range Italian restaurants on the strip like Carmine’s at Caesars Palace. I’d return if someone wanted to have Italian but wouldn’t go out of my way. It’s good but, again, nothing special. If you spend about $10 more per dish you’ll have better food with a better view at Lavo.

Giada And Gansevoort Las Vegas A Strange Mix

Giada De Laurentiis Cooking
Giada

Earlier this week it was leaked and then confirmed by Caesars Entertainment that Giada De Laurentiis would be opening her first restaurant at Gansevoort Las Vegas when it opens next year. Giada is a beautiful woman and her cooking show seems like it’s popular (Although google image search shows about 20 pictures of Giada’s boobs for every 1 of her cooking. Maybe her cooking isn’t so popular).

Like Rachel Ray she’s not exactly cool or hip, which is what Gansevoort Las Vegas is aiming to be. Additionally, she’s not anything different from the celebrity chefs Caesars Entertainment has been attaching with just about every new restaurant opening. When Gansevoort was initially announced Caesars Entertainment’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tariq Shaukat opined that Gansevoort would be different.

“We wanted to bring in a partner who had not just expertise, but a passion for creating something really unique”

When finished Gansevoort Las Vegas may actually create a unique hotel to Las Vegas but, besides this being her Giada’s first restaurant, another chef from television doesn’t offer something you can’t find at other hotels on the strip.

Giada’s brand seems like something you’d get at a big box retailer like Target than at a boutique store.

I was looking forward to Gansevoort being a truly unique Caesars Entertainment hotel in Las Vegas but if they keep medling this will just be another overly commercialized hotel with bad housekeeping, overpriced rooms and 6:5 blackjack. Lame.

Photo: FanShare 

Cronuts In Las Vegas

Lulu's Bakery Las Vegas
Lulu’s Bakery

The cronut craze has landed in Las Vegas. Just a couple of weeks ago my search for cronuts in Las Vegas returned nothing. What’s the big deal with a cronut? Here’s a little reason why cronuts are the cool new food.

The Cronut is a croissant-doughnut pastry developed by Chef Dominique Ansel for Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City and offered under the same name.[1] In May 2013, the bakery trademarked the name. The Dominique Ansel Bakery’s website states that though the item is best described as “Half Croissant, Half Doughnut” it is not made by simply frying croissant dough,[2] but a type of laminated dough using a proprietary recipe that took the Chef two months and 10 recipes to create. The bakery’s Facebook site also states that Cronut is not a generic term to describe all croissant-doughnut hybrids, but a specific pastry associated with the bakery.[3] A Boston Globe article describes the Dominique Ansel Bakery croissant-doughnut hybrid as a food portmanteau.

I wasn’t excited by the cronut at first but after seeing people so excited by them I became curious. After seeing this photo from Jay Fenster yesterday of a nuttela stuffed cronut from Bread & Butter I really became curious.

Nutella Cronut Bread and Butter Las Vegas

WHOA! That looks insane. Now I became really curious about trying a cronut but the nuttela cronut from Bread & Butter is about 40 minutes away. Later in the day David Shapiro shared a more “traditional” cronut from Lulu’s Bread and Breakfast which is on my side of Las Vegas.

Cronut Lulu's Las Vegas

Yes, I was officially intrigued by both of these cronut’s. Even though the nutella stuffed cronut looks better I decided to check out Lulu’s since it’s much closer to my house than Bread and Butter.

When I arrived at Lulu’s Bread and Breakfast this morning I was made aware that they only make the cronut on the weekend. Since I was there I decided to get a breakfast sandwich called the Captain America (egg, cheese, ham, sausage). It was one of the best egg sandwiches I’ve had in Las Vegas but it wasn’t a cronut.

Captain America Egg Sandwich Lulu's Las Vegas

On my way out I was told that there was also an espresso stuffed cronut on the weekend. I love espresso flavor almost as much as nuttela so I’m pretty sure I’ll return to Lulu’s Bread and Breakfast.

When I returned home I was made aware that a third bakery in Las Vegas had cronut’s available. Unfortunately, for me, Bon Chef Cafe is located on the other side of Las Vegas so I probably won’t get there.

The cronut has begun its invasion on Las Vegas and my curiosity to try it is greater than ever. As of today here’s where you can find a cronut in Las Vegas.

  1. Bon Chef Cafe
  2. Bread and Butter
  3. Lulu’s Bread and Breakfast
  4. Pinkbox Doughnuts (Thanks @hivelounge)

At some point the cronut will reach the casino bakeries in Las Vegas. For the time being cronut’s aren’t available everywhere so I’ll try to keep this list of cronut bakeries in Las Vegas update to date.If you know of any others leave a comment or tweet me. 

MGM Las Vegas Specials And Happy Hours

Stella Artois Video Poker Bar At Red Rock Las Vegas
mmm….beer

I don’t normally write about individual casino specials but the MGM Resorts in Las Vegas have too much going on to share with a single tweet and the info is worth sharing. The first thing I learned is that Aria has a blog called Taste Of Aria. Taste of Aria isn’t necessary reading per se, but it has good info if you’re planning to visit Aria or Las Vegas. Earlier this week they detailed all of the Happy Hour deals at Aria. Here’s the only one with a price attached.

Nothing compliments a mouth-watering slice of pizza like an ice cold beer and Five50’s Happy Hour brings the two together in perfect harmony. Starting at 5:00 pm, a specialty beer will be $.50 until 5:50 pm daily!

Since there are no specialty beers mentioned by name I’d assume Aria means Miller Light (UPDATE: Vegas Chatter says that it’s Goose Island beer. Not bad!). Still, it’s a beer for 50 cents. You don’t see many deals like that for any kind of beer on the Vegas Strip.

MGM Resorts International still uses the MGM-Mirage URL for their blog and recently posted locals discounts for Vegas residents and their various Happy Hour deals. Here’s a look at Mandalay Bay. You can see the other MGM Resorts specials here.

Happy Hours

  • Stripsteak 4pm – 6pm daily. $7 food items, $3 Beer and $6 Well Cocktails.

  • Fleur by Hubert Keller 4pm – 6pm daily. $4 domestic select beer, $6 house wine, and $6 well cocktails.

  • Aureole 5:30pm – 7pm. $4 domestic select beer, $6 house wine, and $6 well cocktails.

  • miX Lounge 5pm-7pm. 25% off lounge food and drink menus.

  • House of Blues 2pm – 5pm daily. $3 domestic beer, $4 house wine, and $5 call cocktails.

  • RM Seafood downstairs lounge 3pm-7pm, $3 domestic beer, $7 well drinks, ½ priced seasonal cocktail specials & select sushi.

  • RM Seafood upstairs lounge 5:30pm-7pm Tues-Sat. $4-$9 unique small bites, $4 craft beers, and $8 signature cocktails.

  • Mizuya 2pm – 5pm daily. $8 selected sushi, $3 beer, and $7 cocktails.

  • Charlie Palmer Steak 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Tues-Sat. Complimentary Sommelier’s choice wine pairing with purchase of any small plate.

  • Verandah 4pm-7pm daily. Choose from five specialty cocktails & five small plates for $5 each.

  • Burger Bar 4pm-7pm Sun-Thur. $3 beer selection, $6.95 food selection and $6 cocktail selection.

  • Slice of Vegas 3pm-6pm Mon-Thur. $4 PBR Pints, $4 Absolut Captain Morgan and Jameson Cocktails.

  • Hussong’s Cantina 4pm-6pm Mon-Thur. Buy One, Get One draft Beer. Buy One, Get One Traditional Margaritas.

  • Rira Irish Pub 3pm-6pm Mon-Fri. $4 Carlsberg & Heineken drafts, $3 domestic bottles, $5 house wine and $6 Smirnoff cosmopolitans.

Some of these Happy Hour’s and discounts are better than others but it’s a nice excuse to add a visit to any of the specific hotels. When I used to vacation in Vegas the only plans I’d make with friends were around dinner so we could spend an hour together catching up on the events of the last 24 hours. These specials are a good way to get the night started a little early. Viva Las Vegas!

Bacon Wrapped Dates In Vegas With No Salmonella

Jaleo Las Vegas Menu
Jaleo Menu

The Firefly location closest to the Vegas Strip was shut down this week because of a large problem with salmonella. 90 people got sick and may file a lawsuit. That’s not good.

Every person I know who loved Firefly went for its bacon wrapped dates which are a classic dish with actual spanish tapas (not to be confused with small plate dishes that are just called tapas). Good news for bacon lovers – this dish should be available at any  traditional tapas restaurant you visit.

When I think tapas in Las Vegas besides Firefly, I think of Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan because of their great selection of restaurants. Jaleo has bacon wrapped dates on the menu for $10.

Jaleo Las Vegas Bacon Menu

An order of Bacon wrapped dates at Firefly are under $5. The Jaleo price look insane since it’s more than twice as much ($10) as Firefly but at least there’s an option when the craving for bacon hits. I make no promise that there isn’t salmonella but Jaleo hasn’t been cited for salmonella poisoning.

There are more options for tapas in Las Vegas but Jaleo is a nice option in the center of the Vegas strip.

Photo: Las Vegas Daze

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

Checking Out Trevi At Caesars Palace Forum Shops

You may remember the blogger meat up I wrote about last year from Ranch House. These meetups are always a good time with good people and sometimes include good food and good drinks. This time it was all of the above. We met up at Trevi which is inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Trevi is one of the first restaurants you’ll see when you walk into the Forum Shops from the Caesars Palace casino.

Trevi at Caesars Palace

I’ve been to the Forum Shops over a hundred times and never noticed Trevi but I’ve walked by it every time I’ve been there. To my defense I’m usually in a rush heading somewhere in the netherworld deep inside the Forum Shops. I get lost almost every time I’m at the Forum Shops because I don’t pay close attention and I’m not directionally inclined. Back to Trevi.

Trevi has dining inside and “outside” of the restaurant. The “outside” dining is a fenced of part of the forum shops which seats you close to the pretty fountains. If you sit too close to the fountains you’ll realize how loud they can be. The airy feeling is nice but head inside if you don’t want to be seen or would prefer less noise.

Grey Goose Trevi at Caesars Palace

While everyone else was sampling the fancy cocktails or some wine I decided to fix a craving I had with a perfectly made Grey Goose Orange and Soda. This picture looks so good that I want two or three more like I had at Trevi. Right. Now. This was the perfect way to begin the night.

Meatballs at Trevi at Caesars Palace

We ate family style and the first course brought the excellent meatballs at the top of the page and this very cool chicken parmesan appetizer. What could make chicken parm cool? Look at the picture…the cheese is in the middle. There was little sauce which is just the way I like it and this made the dish very neat and easy to manage. That’s not always the case with chicken parm.

Dessert Trevi Caesars Palace

Between the meatballs and chicken parm I barely touched the main courses. I wanted to keep room for dessert and I dipped into something called gooey chocolate cake. The outside may look dry but when I dove inside and grabbed some of that hot fudge everything was all good. The fresh berries made for a perfect palate cleanser.

The small plates above shared with a friend would make for a perfect happy hour. Trevi’s happy hour is called Trevi Time and they offer similar plates for $6. Not bad.

Happy Hour At Trevi At Caesars Palace

This wasn’t an ordinary day on the Vegas strip. You may remember the tragic shootout last week where three people died and a car blew up. That closed part of the strip so I decided to cut my travel during the day in two. This is why traffic didn’t seem too bad.

I worked from The Venetian food court for a couple hours before heading to dinner. While drinking one of the best latte’s ever I noticed this incredibly animated dude sitting across from me. Unfortunately he took off shortly after I took this picture and we didn’t meet but I think I’d like to play craps with him some day.

This Guy At The Venetian Food Court

Note: The food and drink were complimentary but my thoughts are my own. If you want to see more pictures from dinner at Trevi, check out the tumblr.

 

27 Places To Eat In Downtown Las Vegas

Earlier this week I said to stay away from Heart Attack Grill because diners have been having heart attacks and I’d rather you didn’t die. Call me crazy.

In that post I mentioned that I’d come back later in the week with some other downtown Las Vegas dining options. I put this list together based on personal experience and by crowd sourcing on twitter. Thanks to everyone that helped!

There were 25 restaurants on this list that were brought up repeatedly. I added Dunkin Donuts because I love Dunkin and I added Denny’s because I like saying Deli Dinger.

  1. The Beat
  2. Binions Cafe
  3. Binions Steakhouse
  4. Cafe Cortez
  5. Chicago Brewing Company
  6. Chicago Joe’s
  7. Denny’s
  8. Dunkin Donuts
  9. DuPar’s
  10. Eat
  11. Grotto
  12. Hash House A Go Go
  13. Hugo’s Cellar
  14. Island Sushi & Hawaiian Grill
  15. Le Thai
  16. Luna Rossa
  17. Magnolia
  18. Mob Bar
  19. Mundo
  20. Oscar’s Steakhouse
  21. Pop Up Pizza
  22. Second Street Grill
  23. Starbucks
  24. Triple George
  25. Tony Roma’s
  26. Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse
  27. 777 Restaurant and Microbrewery

If you have any other restaurants to recommend downtown leave a comment. Downtown Las Vegas continues to expand so expect this list to grow as more restaurants open.

Note: I have no idea why that puppy came up when I searched “Deli Dinger Denny’s” but it made me laugh and who doesn’t like puppies?!

 

Downtown Vegas Updates

There are so many new businesses opening up in Downtown Vegas that it’s difficult to keep track of. The changes range from casino renovations to new bar and restaurant openings. I’m always excited by the shiny new things in Las Vegas but I got way too excited when Vegas Chatter went the preview of the Downtown Grand.

If you’re into Downtown Vegas but not as in touch as you like I recommend following a few websites.

Vegas Chatter – They’re a legit press outlet located in Las Vegas but they’re not mainstream media. They go to the press events so they have the mainstream info covered but they also have a lot of people on the street writing for them (including me) to give first hand views, pictures and opinions. Follow on twitter for all of their Vegas stories plus first hand accounts and follow the downtown Vegas tag for just the downtown articles.

Fremont Street Bars – They have all the news you could imagine one the bars on Fremont Street. There have been a lot of bar openings so there’s a lot to keep track of. While 90% or so of the website is focused on bars they also have news restaurants and larger projects. The focus of Fremont Street Bar is it’s strength. There’s no news from anywhere else in Las Vegas distracting from Downtown Vegas. Follow on twitter or their RSS feed for the news.

Joe Downtown – Joe Downtown covers Downtown Vegas for the Las Vegas Sun. Since the Sun is a mainstream newspaper for all of Las Vegas you’ll find coverage of everything from government to what’s happening in the casinos. It’s a nice mix of what’s happening in downtown Vegas that you won’t find on Vegas Chatter or Fremont Street Bars. Follow Downtown Joe page on the Las Vegas Sun or on twitter