Strip Food

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We hit what are widely considered to be the top three buffets on the strip, and I'd rank them in this order: Paris, Aladdin, Bellagio. None of the others are in the same league as the Paris when it comes to decor. The Paris buffet looks like a little French village and is really quite lovely, in a Disney kind of way. What I particularly liked about their cuisine was that it stayed remarkably on-theme. The other buffets offer stations providing food segregated by nationality-- Mexican, Chinese, Sushi, American, Italian, etc. At Paris, the stations are grouped by region of France. I have no idea if the cuisine was authentic to those regions, but I can tell you there were no tacos or stir-fries to be found. Some things they couldn't get away from-- a carving station, crab legs, Caesar salad-- but the majority of their offerings felt at home in a French restaurant. Fondue, crepes, quiche, brochettes, gratins, exceptional mashed potatoes and creamed spinach, and of course divine desserts (although, oddly, no creme brulee). The quality of the food at the Aladdin buffet was also top-notch, and the desserts seemed the highest quality and most varied of the three places we visited. The Bellagio suffered only in comparison to the other two, and I'm sure other people with different tastes might rank it higher-- I do give it extra points for offering a poke (pronounced PO-kay) at its sushi station, a dish that's become my favorite form of raw fish.

We also dined at Mesa Grill at Caesar's. On the whole I was disappointed here-- the hollandaise on the chicken and sweet potato hash overpowered its other flavors, and the nine-spice chicken salad was nothing special. But if nothing else, I'd go back for the goat cheese fundido-- a small cast iron pan of cheesy heaven. Go for lunch or a snack, order this, and you'll be happy happy happy.

Vegas has become a foodie's dream but a casual diner's nightmare. Top chefs from around the world have outposts here, and getting from one to the other is easier than anywhere else in the world. Reservations are virtually required at any of the better restaurants, and prices are a far cry from the days when $2.99 steak and eggs ruled the roost. There are less expensive options-- most casinos have a food court with Nathan's and the like-- but restaurants are now as much a destination as the casinos and are priced accordingly.

At the other end of the scale, we also took a trip to In-N-Out Burger just off the strip. While I applaud their fresh-cut fries, Nathan's is still the champ in that category. I've said this before, and it still holds-- I don't understand the fanatic loyalty this place inspires. It has to be for reasons other than the food itself, because the burgers are absolutely nothing special-- even a Whopper is better.

If you and your friends are thirsty, I recommend a visit to the Coca-Cola store near the MGM. The soda fountain upstairs offers a $7 "Tastes of the World" sampler: 16 glasses of various soda flavors from around the globe, most of which are completely unavailable in the United States. Some, like the green apple, were just delish (think liquid Jolly Rancher) while others-- one in particular-- were flat-out repulsive. There was too much for just the two of us to finish in one sitting. A group of four that doesn't mind sharing the same cups would be just right.

6 Comments

paris lost me when you said, "no creme brulee". that's just wrong.

Perfect timing! My wife and I are headed to Vegas for a wedding next week and we're staying at the Aladdin and we're thinking of trying the Mesa Grill. Since we'll have an infant with us we won't be spending much time in the casinos so we figured we could spend our money on some nice restaraunts. Any good recommendations for Breakfast?

We only ate breakfast once during our stay, and that was at the buffet at the MGM where we were staying. It was perfectly fine. I think it's pretty hard to screw up breakfast.

while others-- one in particular-- were flat-out repulsive

Based on my Ice Station Cool experience at Disneyworld, does this mean you've met Beverly? I actually like it, I think it tases like Fresca should.

You got it. "Beverly" was just horrid. There were two guys sitting next to us at the soda fountain. They saw and heard our reactions to Beverly and wondered what could be so awful, so we passed it on to them and told them to help themselves. They regretted it. =) Hard to believe anyone could enjoy something so bitter.

I'm back from our Vegas trip and have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Mesa Grill (as did my wife and the couple we were visiting.) My wife had the chicken & sweet potato hash which everyone enjoyed. I didn't find the sauce overpowering, but I only had a few bites. I had the BBQ Salmon which was cooked perfectly and had a balanced sweet, spicy, smokey flavor (gotta love chipotle!) Our friends had the BBQ Pork sandwich which was melt in your mouth tender despite the thick slices of pork that were used. And the final dish was the Chile Relleno which I didn't try, but got the thumbs up from the rest of the group. We also tried the fundido, which I thought was just okay, but was polished off eagerly by the rest of the group. As a nice bonus, Bobby Flay was in town and had stopped by the restaraunt just as we were finishing our meal. We didn't bother him, but our waiter said he is very personable and doesn't mind posing for pictures.

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