Viva Las … Cuisine! Eating My Way Through Vegas, Part 1

21 Apr

vegas march 2013 013

About a month ago — ack! Did I seriously take a month to write this post? For SHAME, GKG! — THT and I made our way to Las Vegas for four whirlwind days. THT had a conference for work (tough life, right? I wouldn’t mind getting sent to Vegas to “work”) and my spring break — miracle of miracles — was during that same week. We packed our carry-on bags and flew from DC to McCarrick Airport on Monday, and landed to see that beautiful, gaudy, absurd, once-in-a-lifetime sight:

vegas march 2013 020

Vegas, baby! [Cue the Rat Pack]

Hard to believe I’d ever make my way to the City Where No One Remembers Anything The Next Morning, but it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore another part(-y?) of the country that I might not have again. And, in the words of any risk-taker under the sun, why not?

While THT was being responsible and attending work conference-stuffs, however, I mostly spent my vacation doing four things:

1. Walking up and down the strip (and cruising in and out of casinos to check ’em out.

This was my "workout" for the week: Casino-and-Strip-cruising. (That sounds bad.)

This was my “workout” for the week: Daily Casino-and-Strip-cruising. (That sounds bad.)

2. Window shopping. Because, really, where else can I try on masks at a Cirque du Soleil store?

Yup. Real. (REAL AWESOME.)

Yup. Real. (REAL AWESOME.)

3. Seeing Celine Dion in concert. GREATEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE? YES.

You know, sometimes, you just have to take a selfie with your Celine Dion ticket. #sorryimnotsorry

You know, sometimes, you just have to take a selfie with your Celine Dion ticket. #sorryimnotsorry

And, of course, 4. Stuffing myself silly. Holy cannoli-and-caviar, Batman! The food in Vegas, in a word? Un. Real. (Ok, I had to separate the words with a period. A little extra drama never hurt anyone. Especially when the food was that good. And, oh, IT WAS.)

In an effort not to eat myself and my wallet silly, I tried to carefully balance some budget meals / snacks (almonds, coffee & a Starbucks croissant for breakfast, for example) with some not-so-budget meals (Yes, I took myself to Spago, and yes, it was so incredibly worth the splurge). This, generally, is my approach to eating while traveling, especially when you’re in a region known for its cuisine:

Let yourself splurge … but balance the splurges out!

On Celine Concert Day (which was a Tuesday, by the way), I stuck to my plan and had a budget breakfast (see above), a budget-but-adventurous lunch (In-N-Out burger — which I’ll describe in all of its drool-inducing glory in the next paragraph), and a splurge-irrific dinner at Gordon Ramsay’s new pub in Caesars Palace. Total cost, including tip at the pub? Approximately $60. For one person in Vegas — a town where I could have spent that much on a “cheap” bottle of wine — that’s pretty respectable.

Boom.

Boom.

Now, let’s get to the good stuff: The food-stuffs.

Tuesday: In-N-Out Burger … Taxi-Cab Style?

Image sourced from hipstercrite.com. OH MY SWEET LORD, THIS BURGER.

Image sourced from hipstercrite.com. OH MY SWEET LORD, THIS BURGER.

I have tasted the promised land of fast food, In-N-Out Burger, once before in my life: The small, primarily West Coast franchise came to North Texas right before I left the Lone Star State, and a necessary pilgrimage (er … burger-age?) was made about a week before I moved away. The restaurant’s legendary, simple menu (and just as legendary Secret Menu) was one of the best burger experiences I’ve ever had. Knowing full well that Vegas has its own In-N-Out outpost just across the highway from the Strip, I knew I had to hunt it down again.

And hunt it, I did … in a cab. Taxi Cab Confession, my friends: I rode a cab through the restaurant’s drive-thru. And bought my cabbie his lunch as a thank-you. Which cost about half of my actual cab fare ($8 for 2 burgers and a shake — mine, thank you; I wasn’t THAT close with this cab driver — versus a $16 cab ride to burger paradise).

To cut an absurd story short, my meal — an Animal-Style burger (their regular cheeseburger topped with a Thousand Island-esque sauce, grilled onions, lettuce & tomato) and a Neapolitan Shake (Strawberry, Chocolate and Vanilla swirled into one milkshake) — was delicious, albeit strangely acquired. I ate it so quickly that I have no actual pictures of the event. Just the savory, beefy, and fabulous memories.

Tuesday: The Caviar of Mac & Cheese, Thanks to Gordon

vegas march 2013 058

On Tuesday night, I was heading to see Celine (if I use her first name, it sounds like we’re friends; just like how Gwyneth Paltrow is actually my bestie, Gwyneth. Duh.) at the Coliseum @ Caesars Palace (cue “Hangover” reference here). Knowing that Caesars had its fair share of fabulous dining, I decided to make it a true Date-With-Myself by taking myself to a tasty supper.

When I walked into Caesars, I saw a whole lotta gold, gambling and gastronomy.

vegas march 2013 057

But the important thing, aside from the fun of being in such a glitzy, goofy, fun environment, was that Macaroni & Cheese. After exploring the dining options (including Spago, which I decided to save for lunch the next day), I knew I had to try Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill.The design and decor of the place — dark leather, metal beer barrels, industrial-chic chandeliers and funky fabrics — were so unique and fun to explore. Vegas design with an accessible, decidedly English appeal — what’s not to like?

Image sourced from Thrillist.com

Image sourced from Thrillist.com

I sat myself at the bar and ordered up some lovely British beer (London Pride — can’t beat that Fuller’s ale!) and, after only a little persuasion from the bartender, that absolutely absurd macaroni & cheese. It had:

  • Chopped black truffles
  • Croutons fried in duck fat
  • So much cheese, it was almost a sin. Seriously! Un. Real.

gordon mac and cheese

Let’s just say, I was a happy camper.

I’ll wrap up this travel-log halfway through, but I’ll leave you with these tantalizing details for my next post:

Spago chopped salad … Hand-made pasta … Shopping in the Cosmopolitan … a whirlwind wine bar … and more!

Have you wonderful folks ever been to Vegas? What were your favorite adventures there? And, most importantly, what did you nosh upon? Happy eating, everyone!

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2 Responses to “Viva Las … Cuisine! Eating My Way Through Vegas, Part 1”

  1. Amy April 22, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    This looks like an amazing trip. I love that you got to explore alone (sometimes more fun when you can just wander around on a whim). Wandering around a new city is one of my favorite things to do when I go to conferences. I hope you let THT have a little fun with you!

    • galleykitchengal April 23, 2013 at 9:28 am #

      🙂 Definitely! It’s fun to explore individually and just see where your whims take you. THT and I definitely had some adventures too, hehe — we hit up a great wine bar in another casino on Wednesday night and supped and drank to our hearts’ content. 🙂 Stay tuned!

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