Eat this, not that: How to skip and savor Vegas

Deciding where to dine in Las Vegas can be a daunting task. In fact, if it’s your first time here or you haven’t done your research, it can be overwhelming.

For those of us on a lunch hour either for work or attending a convention, I know we want something we can order fast and have it taste good. If you’re looking to move up in social ranking, going clubbing might not be the way to go.

Here are a few restaurants to skip and a few to savor, right here in Vegas.

When choosing a Café

Skip: Terrace Point Café
This coffee shop is artfully adorned with lavish furnishings and a front row view of the pool. However, dig a little deeper and you’ll find acceptable, but not outstanding food.

Society Café Encore

Society Café Encore

Savor: Society Café Encore
For relatively the same price, Society Café Encore has acclaimed Chef Kim Canteenwalla at the helm and menu items that don’t disappoint. Mac & Cheese bites, lollipop chicken wings and filet mignon sliders are just some of the upgraded cafe items Canteenwalla serves up. As an added bonus, there’s a plush velvet bright pink banquet when you walk in. Form, function and food–sign me up. 

For your lunch hour

Skip: Lunch at your desk or convention hallway.

If salad out of a tupperware container isn’t cutting it for you, you’re not alone. I can’t stand eating tasteless iceberg lettuce and dousing it with dressing out of a bottle. I can’t imagine eating a pre-made sandwich while surfing the web on your laptop in a vacant convention hallway is much better.

Savor: The Nordstrom Café
It’s one of my favorite places to have lunch with fellow friends in the workforce. Tucked away on the third floor of Nordstrom at the Fashion Show Mall, I feel like the café is my little secret, where I can go and have delicious food and not be bothered. In reality, nearby employees on their lunch hour frequent the place because of dishes like roasted chicken with fresh grilled vegetables and new potatoes going for a steal at $10.50. Quite simply, it’s quick, it’s cheap and it’s delicious.

The see and be seen, scene

Simon at Palms Place

Simon at Palms Place

Skip: Saturday night at a nightclub.
It’s noisy, confusing and unless you’re a 22 year old that can afford $800 bottle service, you’re crammed into a corner of the bar trying to order a drink (and trying to remember when you were 22.) Oh, and it’s usually not well lit in nightclubs, so no one really sees you.

Savor: Sunday brunch at Simon.
Sunday brunch at this Palms Place restaurant has become a Vegas staple. Wear your pajamas (not your stilettos) and rub elbows with Holly Madison of “Holly’s World” and Sammi “Sweetheart” Giancola of “Jersey Shore” fame. Ladies, feel free to show off your cute jammies and boys, it’s some of the best eye candy around. That’s because Simon’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlook the Palms Place pool. But, if pajama-wearing and bikini-clad girls don’t wet your whistle, perhaps the sugar-laden junk food platter will.

Everyday Asian

Skip: Takeout

When I lived in New York, the takeout options were seemingly endless. But here in Vegas, not so much. Greasy Americanized Chinese food and stale fortune cookies with elusive fortunes like “time will tell” (I actually got that one once) don’t really float my boat. Plus, taking Chinese food back to your hotel room invites the aroma of lo mein to linger far after you’ve finished it.   

Savor: Lemongrass
The Thai food here is good—really good. With a true-to-Thai spice scale (I was crying at a 5 out of 10) and authentic dishes (fish cakes, Pho, satay and Panang curry,) this little gem, tucked in a corner of the massive Aria resort, is a winner.

On a budget

Skip: Buffets
While you might think you’re saving money, Las Vegas Strip buffets can be as much as $38 per person for a meal, plus tax and tip. On holidays, and weekends, it can even be more.

Savor: Tapas.
In Vegas, bigger is usually better. Hair, high heels, hotels and egos usually come super-sized. But when it comes to food, small plates, usually run you between $6 – 12 each and you get gourmet fare at a discounted price. Granted, if you order five small plates, it does add up. But, if you’re just looking for a snack or light meal, try small plate-based restaurants like Julian Serrano and Firefly. For additional restaurants that offer small plates, click here.

Brunch ‘n’ munch

Skip: Mon Ami Gabi.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Mon Ami Gabi as an American-run take on a French bistro and it does an excellent Sunday brunch. In fact, maybe a little too good. On average, one usually has to wait at least 20 minutes to get a table on Sunday, possibly longer for outside. The place is packed and lively with guests and waiters hustling around the over-stuffed restaurant. Between the animated atmosphere and the wait, sometimes, it’s just a little too much for a Sunday morning. 

Savor: Bally’s Sterling Brunch
It’s a classic. After more than 25 years in service, the Sterling brunch has brunch down to a science. Champagne flows freely and caviar is distributed like it’s a side of ketchup. Crab, shrimp, lobster tails and crêpes all served on your plate and yes, you can come back for thirds. If the luxurious cuisine isn’t enough, the charming Ilario Pesco, Maître d’ of the Steakhouse at Bally’s (where the Sterling Brunch is located) is an absolute delight. Pesco has been with the property for more than 30 years and much of his staff are veterans as well. The waiters remember you, there’s a newly expanded salad and dessert area and best of all, it’s all included.