Category Archives: Restaurants

Las Vegas Great Eight

The Great Eight: ‘cuz Top-Ten lists are tacky

1. See a Cirque du Soleil show
All of them will blow your mind and the real trouble is choosing which suits your fancy. The combination of a great recommendation and being a lifelong Beatles fan led me to see ‘Love.’ Located at the Mirage (coincidentally my favorite hotel in Vegas, or is it coincidence? Hmmm jury’s still out), the whole night of seeing ‘Love’ is an experience. Go eat at one of the incredible restaurants: Stack, BLT Burger, California Pizza Kitchen, Fin…(good luck choosing)…and then head over to Revolution, an all sensory stimulating bar rocking the Beatles pre and-post show to get you all kinds of in the mood for the Fab Four.
2. Tour the City Center
The largest privately funded construction project in the United States ($9.2 billion, according to Wikipedia); my jaw hurt from hanging open while exploring this massive complex made up of Aria, Vdara, the Mandarin Oriental LV and Crystals. Vdara and Aria are both LEED certified hotels (bonus!) and look and smell amazing. Yeah, I said smell. The Aria and I are linked for eternity by the olfactory sense. Walk into the lobby and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Also, Cafe Vettro has the best boneless buffalo wings in Vegas. (Sorry Hooters, you and I are quite incompatible) Aria’s restaurants and shops are breathtaking and I cannot wait to go back and spend more time exploring.
The Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan

Make sure you also pass through (and spend time at) The Cosmopolitan hotel and casino (adjacent to the City Center). My mind is still reeling from the contemporary luxury the place is literally “dripping” with.

3. Le Village Buffet at Paris for breakfast

My favorite meal of the day is breakfast and my favorite place to get breakfast is in Paris for Cabernet soaked pear halves, custom-made crepes and mouth-watering croissants. Sometimes I wake up at home and think about buying a ticket to Vegas… just for breakfast at Le Village Buffet.

4. Stay at Bally’s
The hotel with the most bang for the buck in Vegas: Bally’s. It’s the diamond in the rough of the dated hotels. The central location on the strip is excellent. The rooms are very basic and nothing special, but the beds are comfortable and clean. Who’s hanging out in their room anyway? It’s Vegas, baby!
blu pool @ Bally’s

The amenities are sweet: the blu pool @ Bally’s is bumpin’ on the weekends with loud jams poolside (although the drink prices are outrageous). If you’re on a tight budget, the buffet has an express buffet breakfast for $11.99. Ask for Alice at the reservations desk. She’s friendly, genuine and jovial; she’s been working in Vegas for nearly 30 years and kicks butt at her job.

5. Fremont Street Experience
There’s something so-very-nostalgic about taking a trip down to the Old Strip. Getting to see pieces of the The Golden Nugget opened in 1946 and it’s a staple of Vegas lore. I wandered the Golden Nugget a few years ago for historical value, and didn’t think it needed to be revisited. Boy, was I wrong! It has been completely renovated and it is the most unexpected surprise in Vegas. What a thrill to see the new life in the old place. Gorgeous updates inside and out, the entire place has a fresh, hip vibe. Our dinner at the Chart House with the gorgeous aquarium in the center was fantastic. I recommend the Edamame hummus and the Hot Chocolate Lava Cake haunts my dreams.
6. Bellagio dancing waters

One of the most famous shows in Vegas doesn’t feature the scantily clad or a rhinestone King impersonator or even a price tag. This free show flows with an unrivaled magnificence: the famous dancing waters at the Bellagio. You saw it in Ocean’s 11, and the movie magic isn’t even as cool as seeing it live. If you can only see it once, check it out at night.

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Bellagio Dancing Waters

Enjoy the time portal transport you’ll ride on the way back to your seven-year-old-self, agape in wonder at the power of the water.

7. Take Time for Tequila
Go find the Tequila Bar tucked in the back of Bally’s.  It’s like a hole in the wall with a great happy hour, decent prices for food, excellent fare, a margarita in a fish bowl and it features the biggest plate of Nachos I have ever seen. (Note the size of the salt shaker for reference). Yes, please!
Tequila Bar at Bally’s
8. Diversify your dining and do different dishes at different digs
(How’s that for alliteration? Snap!) There’s no way to choose the best restaurant in Vegas. It’s an impossible feat. Instead, try a self designed “Tour of Vegas Cuisine.” Do a different course at a different restaurant in one night! It’s the perfect way to see and taste as much of Vegas as possible, while going on a grand adventure. My “Tour” looked like this: before dinner drinks at Le Centre bar in Paris-featuring 2 for 1 martinis (raspberry lemon drop is the bomb! Thanks Mr. Joshua!). Then we cruised for appetizers at Aria-flashback to the heavenly buffalo wings; then entrees at Cafe Bellagio where I loved the yellow curry salmon. Most important: dessert. Serendipity 3 at Caesar’s Palace. The Frozen Hot Chocolate seems like an oxymoron, but I’m saying you just have to overcome the double negative and just it. If I had room I would have loved to try the fried oreo sunday, but that just means I am destined to return.

Until next time… M

Kaua’i Great Eight- Restaurants

The Great Eight: ‘cuz Top-Ten lists are tacky

Let’s face it, I love food. Particularly when someone does something special with it. Here’s a list of Great Eight restaurants that have repeatedly made me happy. The things I look for to qualify a restaurant for this list include: consistency across visits, diverse menu, fair value, deliciosity (yup, that’s a made up word for how delicious something is), atmosphere and service.

Great Eight listology of food:

1. Kountry Kitchen – Kapa’a

There are two things I do really well: breakfast and ice cream. That being said, Kountry Kitchen might very well be the best breakfast place OF ALL TIME. There’s usually a line out the door for this tiny little gem, and I will wait hours to get my hands on some Hawaiian sweet bread french toast. I am so in awe of the breakfast genius in the kitchen that I can totally ignore the decorator’s rooster problem.

2. Brenecke’s Beach Broiler – Poipu Beach

Happy Hour with a pitcher of mango guava coladas with a beautiful view and a great staff. FRESHEST FISH. We love Brennecke’s!

3. Java Kai – Hanalei

Great local spot for lunch-delicious Panini sandwiches, magnificent smoothies and an extensive coffee menu. It’s extra yummy because you’re supporting a quaint local business!

4. Olympic Cafe – Kapa’a

One of the biggest menus I have ever unfolded. Almost too many choices. Then I realize, there’s no such thing as too many choices! Go here for beers, laughter and appetizers. Dinner’s great too, if you have room after the awesome Pupus (appetizers).

6. Scotty’s BBQ – Kapa’a

Love the setting, a beach-facing second story building with awesome roll-up garage doors. The BBQ’s excellent, but be prepared to pay a little more than you might be comfortable with if you’re on a tight budget. The portions are huge though, so splitting a meal is definitely do-able. We do Scotty’s as a splurge and eat our faces off.

7. Duke’s Canoe Club – Lihue

No trip to the Hawaiian islands is complete until you’ve made it to Duke’s: the quintessential aloha eatery. Located in the Marriott, Kauai Duke’s is gorgeous. They host a salad bar -such a rarity in restaurants these days- and I always encourage ordering fish for the main course. Don’t forget dessert: Kimo’s Hula Pie is a mile high, and legendary.

8. Lappert’s Ice Cream – Princeville

Anyone who knows my Mom and sister and I are aware of our status as ice cream professionals. We don’t mess around. Really good ice cream is hard to come by on these islands, and Lappert’s does it right. Sometimes I get such a craving for Tutu’s Anniversary that I dream I’m eating it in my sleep. It’s a dream-worthy combination of coconut ice cream with swirls of raspberry and lilikoi (passion fruit) sherbet. “Heaven, I’m in ice cream heaven!”