Thursday, March 11, 2010

Eatin' and Drinkin' in Las Vegas! Feb 2010 version

I just have to say first that drinks and snacks in Las Vegas are expensive. It is really tough to eat well and cheap. Even "to-go" places like 'wichcraft are going to be pricey. Over the years, I've also heard again and again how amazing the culinary experience is in Vegas - but on a recent trip: meh, not so much. I may be biased though (and not just bitter and cynical) because I live in San Francisco. SF really is a foodie town and a haven for cocktails. 

Happy Hours seem to have finally taken off in Vegas, probably due to the economy. At the MGM Grand, Michael Mina's Seablue had a great happy hour - $1 oysters, $1 peel and eat shrimp, lobster corndogs and Stella on draft. Also at the MGM, Nob Hill (another Michael Mina restaurant) had a late night happy hour with cocktail and food specials. We ended up here two nights in a row and had a blast. I love the lounge in Nob Hill also - very comfy and off the beaten path.

Still within the MGM: I wasn't impressed with Pearl. Very pricey and portions were average. The service was average and overall, the food was just not interesting. Studio Wok is not far away and is cheaper for about the same quality of food. Finally, Wolfgang Puck's was outrageously expensive and without any true distinction to the food.

Dining outside the MGM: Michael Mina at the Bellagio was a favorite of ours a few years ago, but this time around it just did not seem to hit the mark. It is hard to put a finger on what exactly it was, but on the winter tasting menu it seemed like more of the dishes were a "miss" than a hit - and the ones we enjoyed were barely above average. One of my favorite restaurants in Vegas is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Consistently we've had good service, excellent food and are lucky enough to get the romantic window tables with views of the Bellagio fountains. This is the BEST way to see the fountains too - you miss out on the cheesy music to which they choreograph the fountains and just get to see the amazing display!

Drinkin': My favorite lounge is the Baccarat bar in Bellagio. Drink prices are average for Vegas (in other words, not cheap) but the piano and bass player there are just too much fun. When they pulled out a version of Coldplay's "Clocks" I was laughing - they were clearly enjoying themselves and having fun shaking it up. For the lounge you have a view of the casino and the people watching is just rich. We love to make up stories about the people we see around us - just so many different folks coming and going. Back inside the MGM, I am going to go for cheese factor and admit to liking Rouge. I love red and I like the fact that while you have a bit of a shield around you, you still have some good people watching. The drinks are average quality and (of course): over-priced.

The loser in the Drinkin' category for Vegas: West Wing Bar in the MGM. Wow. No smoking in this bar, but they do have TVs with sports on. This completely clashes with the "ultra-modern cool" vibe they are going for and to top it all off: this is the area people walk through to get to the elevators for their rooms in the West Wing.

Clearly, there is much more to Vegas - I hope to return to debunk the "Vegas is a foodie heaven" myth or find those secret gems somewhere.

Happy Travels!

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