Eat like a kid again in grown-up restaurants

I’m not your typical food snob. I’ve never been comfortable eating in stuffy restaurants and ordering food I can barely pronounce. Foie what?

Don’t get me wrong. If fancy food is your thing, then more power to you.  As for me, I’d rather not sit and savor goose liver or snails — definitely not my cup of tea. But I know I’m not the only adult who still chows down on food enjoyed by kids.

You don’t have to pretend and eat food that bores you just to fit in. Keep it real: For all of you who like to revisit your childhood and eat fun, “kid” food, yet still want to dine in a swanky, grown-up atmosphere, you’re in luck. We can still enjoy all of our favorites (with a twist!) in a sophisticated setting, all without compromising our taste buds.  Fans of mac and cheese, ice cream sundaes, corn dogs and tater tots, rejoice!


Sugar Factory Brasserie's Chocolate Decadence French Toast is sure to bring out your inner child while satisfying your sweet tooth. Photo courtesy of Carlos Larios.

Sugar Factory Brasserie, Paris Las Vegas

Known for its Couture Pops, designer cupcakes and other delectable sweet treats, Sugar Factory Brasserie at Paris Las Vegas is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and appetite, 24 hours a day.

“The menu is inspired by our childhood temptations, favorite treats and of course, the candy store,” said Byan Ogden, one of the chefs at Sugar Factory Brasserie. “We wanted to create something for anyone and everyone, any time of the day.”

Executive Chef Michael Sellman and Executive Pastry Chef Michael Gillet helped develop the creative menu.

“We like to think [of] our selection [as] classic American favorites,” Ogden added. “We’ve created old classics in a new and delicious way.”

Fun items include Nutella Chocolate Chip Pancakes, Chocolate Decadence French Toast and donuts with a variety of dipping sauces.

For a different kind of crêpe, try the Soda Pop Cotton Candy Crêpe, which includes cola gummy candies, vanilla ice cream, cola cotton candy, sweet and sour cherry sauce, toasted vanilla marshmallows and cherry pop rocks. This sounds like something my cousin and I would whip up as kids when we had complete control of the kitchen. S’mores crêpes are also available.

Fried Macaroni & Cheese Pops (homemade macaroni and cheese battered and deep-fried) give your fun favorite a new twist — a mac and cheese lollipop! How can life get any better than this?

A dessert not to be missed is Sugar Factory’s Cookie Jar Sundae — cookie dough ice cream, cookies and cream ice cream, warm fudge, caramel sauce, crushed chocolate chip cookies, Oreo cookies and whipped cream.


Sugar Factory Brasserie's Lollipop Passion Cocktail keeps this "grown-up drink" fun by topping it with sweet treats. Photo courtesy of Carlos Larios.

If you’re with a big group, the World Famous Sugar Factory King Kong Sundae includes (take a deep breath here) 24 scoops of ice cream, sprinkles, caramel sauce, fudge sauce, strawberry sauce, toasted marshmallows, Reese’s Pieces, chocolate chip cookies, crushed waffle cones, gummy bears, white chocolate strawberry shavings, sliced bananas, toasted walnuts and whipped cream, topped with giant lollipops and – wait for it – sparklers!

Or, if you want to take a ride on the wild side, the cocktails also have a twist. “We’ve given fun, creative spins to grown-up drinks,” Ogden said. “The most popular ones have to be the Lollipop Passion cocktail, Blowpop Martini and the Hubba Bubba Martini.”

Sugar Factory Brassiere at Paris Las Vegas is also a hit with Hollywood stars. “Many of our celebrity guests know us for our candy and Couture Pops, so when word spread about our new brasserie, our phones rang off the hook,” said Ogden.  

While you’re satisfying your sweet tooth or meal, keep an eye out and you might see your favorite celebrity. Stars who have visited Sugar Factory Brasserie include Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Eva Longoria, Drake and Nicki Minaj, to name a few.

Johnny Smalls, Hard Rock Hotel

Johnny Smalls is by far one of my all-time favorites. With more than 50 tapas dishes to share in an upbeat (yet intimate) atmosphere, I can easily camp out here.

Tapas with a twist includes everything like mini chili dogs, mac and cheese patties, mac and cheese sliders, grilled peanut butter sandwiches with jelly of the day, corn dogs and tater fries.

The best part of all? You can enjoy all of these tapas (as much as your stomach allows) for $23.99. Considering cocktails at a club are a whopping $15-$16, unlimited food for this price is a steal. If you want to make your meal a little more “grown-up,” bottomless sangria pitchers are available for $19.99. My kind of party.

Serendipity 3, Caesars Palace

Another fun shop to check out is Serendipity 3 at Caesars Palace. Before it opened in Vegas in fall 2009, you were only able to enjoy this eatery in New York City. Now making a home in the West Coast, diners can enjoy items at Serendipity 3 like mac and cheese flatbread pizza, grilled cheese paired with tomato soup, chili dogs and just about every hot and cold chocolate drink imaginable.


And if you can’t get enough of the fun treats on the Strip, make sure to stop by one of these spots:
  • Fleur by Hubert Keller offers “In the Shower Mac & Cheese” topped with lobster. Fun fact: Keller actually made this dish on Bravo’s “Top Chef Masters.”
  • Sushi lovers will get a kick out of this: Yellowtail at Bellagio has a sushi roll with pop rock candy inside.
  • The classic corn dog gets a grown-up twist at American Fish at Aria.  Award-winning chef Michael Mina adds lobster to this concoction and serves them “mini-style” with whole grain mustard.
  • Speaking of Michael Mina, sip on Michael’s Root Beer Float paired with warm chocolate chip cookies at Michael Mina at Bellagio.
  • A childhood treat gets a shot of adult flavor at Diego, a Mexican eatery at MGM Grand:  Signature Margarita Popsicles (pictured on right) are blended with fresh fruit juice and a shot of tequila, then frozen. The result? A fruity, frosty ice pop packed with a punch. 

Writing about all this food is not only making me nostalgic, but also very hungry. And I just ate lunch. It’s great to know in Vegas, I can feel young and embrace my child-like spirit through my stomach. I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Most folks take their Vegas jackpot winnings back home, but my dad decided to stay here instead. That’s how I left Seattle almost 20 years ago. I moved from greenery and rainy days to hot summers, palm trees and desert. As much as I love my hometown, I decided to stick around Vegas. This city just has so much to offer. You don’t even have to be a gambler, bar hopper or an all-night partier. I love Vegas for its awesome vegan-friendly spots, concerts, swanky hotel suites and spas so big, they’re like castles. The pool scene is not too shabby either, which is why I love taking stay-cations. Besides living it up -- Vegas style -- I’m hanging out with my handsome hubby, adorable baby girl, two cats and super-fluffy Shih-Tzu. I’m also a huge fan of '90s music, shows and movies. You can find me on Google+ and Twitter.