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Can’t touch this

The court ruling that may change how the state is run

Preach impediment: an agnostic losin’ his irreligion page 18

Diary of a foster Kid page 52

dealicious J U LY 2 01 1


Atomic #7’s mint chocolate chip, freshly frozen with liquid nitrogen

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editor’s note

American spirit


I miss cigarettes. I’ve been

Next Month in Desert Companion

Find the best medical care with our Top Doctors issue

thinking about them quite a bit since tavern lobbyists cough cough ahem I mean lawmakers voted to roll back the wide-ranging smoking ban that Nevadans called for in 2006. Hey, mind if I bum an unfiltered Wha? But mine is a mild, smooth, flavorful sense of outrage marked by confusion and ambivalence. See, I’m an ex-smoker — make that an exfiendish-smoker. (My patented secret to quitting: Every time you crave a cigarette, go outside and walk in rapid circles or hop on your bike and pedal until you’re a wheezing pile of stupidly smiling forgetfulness. It’s all about replacing the high.) I know well that nicotine buzz that scoops you away to your own walled existential island of almost spiritual assurance that everything is going to be okay. So yes, I miss cigarettes. Which is why I can’t stand cigarettes — but, mind you, with the principled warmth invoked as a due to an old foe. Conversely, I love chicken strips. And I can’t stand it when my chicken strips smell like someone’s Parliaments. (Official editorial tie-in moment: See our DEALicious Meals on p. 26.) Sure. Maybe the legislative repeal of the smoking ban is a victory for freedom and economic sanity. Maybe the air quality in a bar really is the same thing as the color of the carpet and the kind of beer on tap — decided at the whim of the owner. Maybe our golden-egg economy is too fragile for ambitious public health initiatives. Maybe casinos and taverns haven’t

2 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

made — and shouldn’t make — that evolutionary leap to places of general public accommodation from absolutist cubes of private property, special sectors where, hey, you should expect Camel and Marlboro and Winston in the air and if you don’t like it then just blah blah blah. Okay. Fine. Agreed. But the rollback sure doesn’t feel like a victory, does it? It feels craven (much like the rollout of the original smoking ban felt shrill). It feels cynical (much like the ban felt paternalistic). It feels sneaky and low (much like the ban felt wily and compromised from the start, giving Strip casinos a pass; in their calculated nannyishness, smoking foes lacked the imagination to pursue a noble failure). Any bar owner or ear-wrangling lobbyist toasting this reversal as a win for personal responsibility and the liberties of poor, oppressed tavern owners may be right — but I suspect the loudness of the toast sounds like protesting too much. But at least we have, I suppose, an aesthetic victory. We’ve injected a dose of Botox into that notion that Las Vegas as a community is, like the glittering diorama we sell to tourists, some darkly glamorous libertarian stronghold with contrarian sensibilities unique to our region, our origins, our history. A stronghold where we see phrases like “public health” as the chimeras and shibboleths of nosy outsiders — outsiders as in, oh, you know, 25 other states that have passed aggressive smoking bans since 2000.

Hurray (I guess). In my years of lighting up, I smoked a lot of cigarettes in a lot of different ways. But I don’t recall ever quite smoking victoriously.


You read Desert Companion every month — but did you know you can read it every day? Bookmark us at, where at Desert Companion Daily we dish up daily links to and commentary on stories about all things Southern Nevada. But wait! There’s an even better way to keep up: By liking us on Facebook at desertcompanion and following us on Twitter at You’ll also get our well-curated picks on arts, culture and entertainment across the valley. Andrew Kiraly, Editor


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All Things to All People

A farmers’ market renaissance is taking root. What does this fresh move mean for the city and regional farmers?



Discomfort Zone

A heathen loses his irreligion at a Seventhday Adventist gathering. By Dave Surratt



The state Supreme Court ruling that may change the way the state pays for services By Steve Sebelius


From rock to theater to dance, your guide to culture



features 26

DEALicious Meals

75 meal deals (and desserts!) with big flavor for a small price

Love a good dining bargain? Are you stealthy? Can you run fast? We’ve got some meal deals for you! By Rick Paulas


How to repair a broken girl

Foster kid Heather Wilder learned how to heal through the power of writing

Got room for more DEALiciousness? Visit our archives at to read last year’s edition of DEALicious Meals.

on the cover Atomic #7 mint chocolate chip Photography: Sabin Orr

4 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

B U R G E R A N D F R I E S : C h ris to p h er S m i t h ; M A N : H E R N A N Va L E N C I A ; C OO K I E J A R : A A R O N M C K I N N E Y







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Mission statement

Desert Companion is the premier city magazine that celebrates the pursuits, passions and aspirations of Southern Nevadans. With award-winning lifestyle journalism and design, Desert Companion does more than inform and entertain. We spark dialogue, engage people and define the spirit of the Las Vegas Valley. Editorial & Art Andrew Kiraly Editor CHRISTOPHER SMITH Art Director Advertising CHRISTINE KIELY Corporate Support Manager laura alcaraz National Account Manager Sharon Clifton Senior Account Executive allen grant Senior Account Executive Markus Van’t Hul Senior Account Executive Marketing Catherine Kim Marketing Manager Subscriptions Chris Bitonti Subscription Manager OnLine Danielle Branton Web Administrator

SENIOR STAFF Florence M.E. Rogers President / General Manager Melanie Cannon Director of Development Cynthia M. Dobek Director of Business, Finance & Human Resources Phil Burger Director of Broadcast Operations Contributing WRiters Maureen Adamo, Cybele, John Hardin, Jarret Keene, Sarah Kokernot, Heidi Kyser, Joseph Langdon, Al Mancini, Juan Martinez, David McKee, Sara Nunn, Rick Paulas, Brock Radke, Steve Sebelius, Dave Surratt, Gregan Wingert, T.R. Witcher, J.J. Wylie

Contributing Artists Aaron McKinney, Sabin Orr, Hernan Valencia, Aaron Kent Warder

To submit your organization’s event listings for the Desert Companion events guide, send complete information to Feedback and story ideas are always welcome, too. Office: (702) 258-9895 (outside Clark County 1-888-258-9895) Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 258-9895; Subscriptions: Chris Bitonti, (702) 259-7810; KNPR’s “State of Nevada” call-in line: (702) 258-3552 Pledge: (702) 258-0505 (toll free 1-866-895-5677) Websites:,, Desert Companion is published 12 times a year by Nevada Public Radio, 1289 S. Torrey Pines Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89146. It is available by subscription at, or as part of Nevada Public Radio membership. It is also distributed free of charge at select locations in the Las Vegas Valley. All photographs, artwork and ad designs printed are the sole property of Desert Companion and may not be duplicated or reproduced without the express written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio.

ISSN 2157-8389 (print) ISSN 2157-8397 (online)

6 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

My Life. My Choice. My Doctor. My health and wellness is important to me and my family. I choose my current doctor because he understands who I am and what treatments work best for me.

An Important Personal Relationship

My expectations are simple: I expect my doctor to be my health care advocate. I expect my doctor to know and understand my patient history. And, I expect to have the right to keep my doctor.

Quality Care Starts Here.

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nevada public radio BOARD OF DIRECTORS Officers Elizabeth FRETWELL, Chair City of Las Vegas Susan Brennan, vice chair NV Energy REED RADOSEVICH, Treasurer Northern Trust Bank

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Susan K. Moore Lieutenant Governor’s Office JENNA MORTON Steve Parker UNLV Richard Plaster Signature Homes Chris Roman Entravision Kim Russell Smith Center for the Performing Arts CANDY SCHNEIDER Smith Center for the Performing Arts Stephanie Smith Bob Stoldal Sunbelt Communications Co. kate turner whiteley Kirvin Doak Communications Brent Wright Wright Engineers bob gerst Boyd Gaming Corporation

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Vegetative states

P H OTO : I S TO C K P H OTO . co m / kc l i n e

Hoist a locally grown organic carrot in celebration, you avid foodies, gourmands and epicureans: A minor renaissance of farmers’ markets is taking root in the valley. This month, a new weekly indoor farmers’ market launches downtown; meanwhile, the beloved Bet on the Farm also plans to revive its popular weekly market, this time at the Springs Preserve. On July 14, the Downtown FEED Farmer’s Market kicks off inside Club Azul from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and every Thursday after. FEED stands for Fremont East Entertainment District, but it’s also a fitting word to reflect the market’s goal of nourishing Vegas urbanites who might otherwise subsist on lattes and pad Thai. “It’s a great opportunity to bring produce and fresh food to an urban environment,” says Gina Gavan of Project Dinner Table.



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She worked with the entertainment district to put together the weekly event. “Because it’s a central location, this market will be easy for both chefs and the professional community to access — or anyone who’s near the 95 or the 15.” Gavan also figures that Club Azul, with its rolling garage doors and street-facing front, will boost the new market’s visibility and accessibility. (Club Azul is located at 115 7th St., across from the El Cortez.) Bet on the Farm farmers’ market closed at its popular southwest location in February after running into a licensing snafu with the county. But Doug Taylor, executive pastry chef for Mario Batali and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension employee, says he’s putting the finishing touches on transplanting Bet on the Farm to the Springs Preserve. It could open as early as

next month. “We want to continue bridging the gap between farming communities and the Southern Nevada community,” says Taylor. “That fits perfectly with the Springs Preserve’s mission of education.” Both FEED and Bet on the Farm will take place indoors — a crucial factor in Vegas’ leafwilting heat. That means they’ll attract vendors and producers who shy away from the valley’s outdoor markets because the temperatures can wreak hot havoc on their delicate vegetables. Now, for instance, grower Diane Greene of Herbs by Diane will have a place to sell her English mint and calendula petals. “We got spoiled by Bet on the Farm (being indoors),” she says. “We’ve been waiting for an indoor market to come back.” Besides being a boon for both farmers and foodies, there’s a broader benefit as well, says Bob Morris, a horticulture specialist with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. “It’s about making fresh produce available to people, but it’s also about keeping food dollars in Nevada,” says Morris, considered a kind of Johnny Appleseed who led the way in connecting regional growers with both megaresort chefs and fervent foodists, opening up whole new markets. “Once those dollars are gone, they’re gone. But if we keep them in the state, it turns into a multiplier effect.” Call it a different kind of crop circle. — Andrew Kiraly

Visit Desert Companion Daily for a mind-crushing blast of links to all things Las Vegas at

Local beekeepers create a buzz — and great honey — on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 11

N ews

Morton’s steak and lobster: tummy-friendly, gluten-free


Twinkies and beef jerky for dinner again? This issue is about DEALicious

12 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

Beat the wheat


Ditching the gluten? Local restaurants have a crop of safe eats by jarret keene

Gluten: It’s a sticky protein compound in wheat and other grains — and the latest nutritional villain. Once thought of as only a culprit in causing celiac disease (imagine indigestion with a superiority complex), some recent studies have found that up to 6 percent of the U.S. population is “gluten sensitive.” In other words, the stuff is suspected of causing everything from fatigue to migraines to stomach troubles. Now, going gluten-free is all the rage — and many local restaurants are harvesting customers who are embracing the diet trend. “We’ve always featured gluten-free dishes for guests with wheat allergies,” says Chris Rook, corporate chef for Morton’s (400 E. Flamingo Road, 893-0703). “We offer a variety of options, from our prime steaks, which can be ordered dry and with no au jus, to a seafood dish like shrimp Alexander, which contains bread crumbs, but we serve it grilled and non-breaded.” And if you suffer from soy allergies, for instance, your Alaskan King Crab will come with whole butter, as opposed to clarified. A sweet, gluten-free finale at Morton’s? Rook suggests the double chocolate mousse, which contains no flour, or the crème brûlée. Morton’s isn’t alone in giving Vegas diners options, of course. French bistro Mon Ami Gabi (9444224) in Paris Las Vegas has long boasted a gluten-free menu that includes everything from herbroasted chicken paillard (served with vegetable salad and lemon) to steak béarnaise (served with béarnaise sauce and shallow fry frites). Additionally, all gluten-free items come with warm, gluten-free bread, sweet cream butter, and olive amuse comprising roasted garlic, orange and herbs. Over at The Yard House (with two locations at Red Rock Resort and Town Square, they present menu suggestions that can be modified for the gluten-sensitive — for example, croutons, candied walnuts and other potential allergens can be removed from their salads, while something as simple as requesting no wasabi soy sauce with the spicy tuna roll can save a sensitive diner much grief. And for a sweet treat, it doesn’t get much better for the allergy-challenged than the ice creamery known as Atomic #7 (605 Mall Ring Circle #110, 458-4777), which boasts ice cream varieties that are vegan, organic and gluten-free. Whether you’re slurping down one of the their signature smoothies (Atomic Amazon, Molecular Mango, Gamma Green) or digging into one of their “out of this world flavor combos” (Life is a Chai Way, Karma Caramel, Espresso Yourself ), your stomach won’t punish you for indulging. It doesn’t always have to be a super-special dining experience, either. These days plenty of your, um, bread-and-butter chain restaurants offer gluten-free alternatives, too — P.F. Chang’s, Pei Wei, Chili’s, Maggiano’s (order anything you want with gluten-free pasta!), Outback, Red Mango Frozen Yogurt, and — last but not least — In-N-Out, where the straight fries have no additives and a proteinstyle burger comes with no bun and wrapped in lettuce. Summer is tasting better already.

P hoto C o u r t e s y o f Mo r to n ’ s

Meals — the mega-caloric, hyperglycemic fun starts on page 26! — but you know the old saw about too much of a good thing. Here’s the problem: Tens of thousands of Las Vegans live in “food deserts.” Oh, there’s food, all right — if you consider candy bars and microwave burritos food. A food desert is a low-income area with little access to fresh, nutritious eats. In poorer areas in Clark County, many residents — often without cars or other transportation — live more than a mile away from a grocery store that sells stuff that doesn’t come in a processed patty, paper bag or microwaveable box. That’s according to the recently launched Food Desert Locator website (, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. A quick calculation of the census tracts deemed “food deserts” in Clark County suggests that more than 51,000 residents do much of their grocery shopping at places like 7-Eleven. And last time we checked, there weren’t any broccoli Slurpees. A perusal of the site reveals the following: • Much of North Las Vegas has limited access to grocery stores, including areas bounded by Rancho Drive, Cheyenne Avenue, I-15 and Washington Avenue. • East Las Vegas, especially the area around Tropicana Avenue and Boulder Highway, is designated as having low access to grocery stores. • Hey, tourists gotta eat, too: Much of the Strip is labeled as having little access to nutritious food. Looks like tourists craving something besides restaurant or buffet fare better be prepared to catch a cab — or build up that appetite by walking. — A.K.

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July 14

July 21

July 28

Stories! Music! Enjoy tales about bugs and other little critters, and join us for a family sing-along.

Stories, puppets, music! Join us for tall tales from around the world, and a karaoke extravaganza.

Get ready for an “Out West” adventure as we are joined by Emmy-winning meteorologist and local author, Kevin Janison, sharing the latest adventures of Deputy Dorkface. Books will be available for sale and signing after the program.

Creepy Crawlies

Tall Tales

Deputy Dorkface!

Visit for more details


Grow your own, says Marilyn Yamamoto.

‘We’ll have asparagus out the wing-wang.’ Arugula, oregano, tarragon … “Really, everything grows in the desert, as long as you start with good soil and have enough water,” says Marilyn Yamamoto, founder of Organic Edibles. If the whopping harvest produced by her first planting is any indication of the bounty to come, then the nonprofit organization should have no problem fulfilling its mission of feeding the hungry and teaching people to grow their own. Their own beans, garlic, onions and tomatoes, that is. “You do have to amend the soil here. Our natural soil is too dry and doesn’t have enough nutrients,” Yamamoto concedes, surveying the raised beds filled with homemade compost and soil she bought from Gro-Well Organics. She should know. She earned her green thumb the hard way: through wheelbarrow-loads of trial and error during 20-plus years of gardening (16 in Las Vegas) capped by the completed Master Gardeners Program at the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. Yamamoto got into gardening after selling her exhibit design business and retiring. Suddenly, friends and neighbors found themselves on the receiving end of fruit-and-veggie bumper crops. Before she knew it, Yamamoto was helping others cultivate cucumbers, eggplant, squash, tomatillos … After a Meetup group she launched began to overflow, she founded Organic Edibles (, a nonprofit group that teaches people to sustain themselves, in part, through gardening. To cover overhead, Organic Edibles offers $45 annual memberships. Members get regular updates on what’s growing and the pick of the harvest at weekly markets and private appointments. Everything else goes to charity. Just one thing missing: an actual garden. Then, a year ago, Yamamoto bought the 1.5-acre Cowboy Trail Farm in Northwest Las Vegas. Last fall, she and Organic Edibles volunteers put the first seeds in the ground. By spring, they were harvesting broccoli, cabbage, soybeans … “Year after next, we’ll have asparagus out the wing-wang,” Yamamoto says. Organic Edibles also hopes to generate revenue by selling farm plots and seedlings. Another bumper crop: Science! The nonprofit even received a study grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to compare crops grown in greenhouses with those grown outdoors. “I test a lot of different vegetables and herbs. They’re acclimating to the heat,” Yamamoto says, peeking into a greenhouse full of Asian greens, carrots and … are those blackberries? Indeed. Organic Edibles is also seeking USDA Organic certification, avoiding herbicides and pesticides in favor of natural methods like bug-repelling marigolds. It’s like she can grow anything here. “Keeping your soil and plants healthy is the key,” she says. Anything? Even mangoes? That’s the plan for the new tropical greenhouse. “They need a lot more attention here. It’s not difficult, just different.” — Heidi Kyser

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PHOTOGRAPHY By Christopher Smith


The toys of summer Sun-friendly styles are here. We’ve got you covered (where appropriate)

Miu Miu contrast stitch wedge sandals It just wouldn’t be summer if you didn’t spend part of it teetering on wedge heels on the wet concrete, with only six inches and blind faith in your own balance between you and the ground. Tempt fate in style with these lipstick-red beauties. ($550, Miu Miu in Crystals Las Vegas at CityCenter) — S.N. Ray-Ban cat eye sunglasses in Havana Take the classic cat eye shape and up the sex kitten content with retroleaning tortoiseshell frames, and you’ve got yourself a pair of shades that will take you from modern casual cool to total retro goddess. Just add red lipstick and a saucy smirk. ($130, Saks Fifth Avenue at the Fashion Show Mall) — Sara Nunn

Diane von Furstenberg Mariela Printed Tote We’re in love with the print on this perfect poolside tote bag — is it zebra stripes? Feathers? Or simply something to stare at, mesmerized, as you sip a mojito and contemplate the endless hot glories of a Las Vegas summer? ($146, Neiman Marcus) — S.N.

Filson tote bag Filson, based in rainy, rainy Seattle, makes this bag in the U.S. out of a specially treated canvas that will do well by the pool. Green, kinda-sort-of military, it is also the manliest possible tote bag imaginable, which is not saying much. Not that Filson doesn’t try. The catalogue assures you that the bag is “designed for hauling, shooting, and field gear.” Let me reassure you: It also does a fine job with towels, trashy magazines about what’s going with Lindsay Lohan, sunscreen and melted candy bars you forgot you had in there. ($85, — Juan Martinez

J. Press coconut hat Better than a fedora, and long a staple of a certain kind of vacationing-lawyerin-the-Hamptons type, the coconut hat owes its renewed lease on life to the Prep renaissance of the last few seasons. It’s pretty wonderful, and (like seersucker) it looks absolutely out-of-place and awesome the younger you are — past a certain age, however, it’s no longer daring and more like the kind of thing you’d of course wear. ($89, — J.M.

American Apparel sailor stripe long-sleeve pullover These shirts are now all over Brooklyn, but that doesn’t mean you should automatically consign them to hipster hell. The nautical stripe is a hallmark of Picasso, and of Kirk Douglas in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and they are not to be messed with. The shirt belongs poolside. You’ll find that the American Apparel version is actually thicker than you’d maybe like for summer, but it’s a welcome thickness if you’re just exiting the Golden Nugget pool and it’s getting close to dawn and you’re not near one of those nice fire pits they have. ($48, American Apparel, Boca Park, Miracle Mile Shops, Las Vegas Premium Outlets) — J.M.

16 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

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discomfort zone

Losin’ my irreligion by dave surratt

Editor’s note: In Discomfort Zone, we urge teetotalers to have a drink, wallflowers to go to nightclubs and — in our first installment here — convince humanists to attend apocalyptic religious rallies. To riff and ridicule? No, to open their minds by taking them out of their comfort zone — and putting them in the Discomfort Zone.


How do you know you’re not comfortable in a particular environment? How about when you find yourself actually pretending you’re not there? That seems like a good, strong indicator. And if it is, I must have been pretty unsettled to find myself attending It Is Written International’s May 27 “Babylon Rising: Mystery and Mayhem” Apocalypse-readiness seminar at Cashman Field Center, because for me, the whole I’m-not-here-this-isn’t-happening pathology started in the lobby — before anyone even tap-tapped a clip-on mike or said

18 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

anything like, “Raise your hand if you do NOT believe otter-faced minions of the Antichrist are preparing to sauté your innards with a little minced Antigarlic over the Hell-plasma churned up from a freshly cracked Earth.” Okay, no one really said that out loud, but they thought it. I could taste it. And I didn’t really believe I wasn’t physically at the event, but I acted like it; I bore false witness to the unanticipated registration form, giving a made-up name, address and phone number, which felt needlessly shady and lame, especially after the Seventh-day Adventist volunteer at the entrance had already handed me a pen with unconditional love, which I didn’t know was possible. But see, I don’t want religion people — yes, religion people — calling me or texting me or showing up, God forbid, to make my porch a discomfort zone. I don’t want complimentary issues of Look Out! or Hide Your Innards!, or what-

ever they call their The discomfort: large-font monthly He’s a humanist with the maudlin put off by fire and brimstone drawings of folks in The zone: business-casual atA Seventh-day Adventist end tire fretting under times preach-fest literally rendered storm clouds of corporate logos, weapons and question marks, because it’s all very depressing on multiple levels. And I do know the difference between Jehovah’s Witnesses (who print Watchtower) and Seventh-day Adventists, but what can I say? The Witnesses have kind of ruined it for everybody. In any case, it’s not that I’m hostile towards those with heartfelt religious convictions, or that I squirm with discomfort even in the presence of full-on preachiness. The truth is, I’d much rather hear a wild-eyed believer freestyle about the God they love than listen to another

Illustration By Hernan Valencia

self-proclaimed atheist blather about how they see right through the church’s hypocrisy. It’s just that, as a devout … let’s see … “existential humanist” sounds good … I have a deep and undying (if often ailing) affection for us. Us: The hairless bipeds who mill around and struggle with agonizingly specific spiritual concerns under just one of the few hundred billion suns in our own galaxy, at a time when we now have, in our hands, a single telescopic photograph showing 10,000 other galaxies we found just in one random speck of sky you could cover with the head of a pin held at arm’s length. That’s completely insane. But that’s us! Stubborn, cuddly, idiotic, ingenious, murderous, heroic us. Life is hard, we’re awesome anyway, and anyone who insists any of us are going to suffer eternally for not following an instruction manual really needs to stop crying, pull themselves together and help lift this goddamn couch over the banister, because there’s still no sign of Him or the pizza and beer He promised, and it looks like we’re doing this job ourselves. Inside Cashman Field Center’s auditorium, Christian violinist Jaime Jorge busted out something seriously modern, smooth and epic while two or three hundred of us — same crowd you’ll find at a downtown casino — settled into our seats. “Mystery and Mayhem” was the third of four Apocalypse-related presentations scheduled for this week, and the installment that seemed to hold the most promise for righteous and specific fingerpointing of a highly discomforting, possibly enlightening nature. From the synopsis on Revelation’s “Mystery Babylon” sees leaders in all areas of society uniting in an alliance that produces chaos and confusion on a global scale. Dark spiritual forces are preparing to impose themselves on life at every level. It was the “leaders in all areas of society” part that hooked me. Would New Zealand-born Seventh-day Adventist pastor and “Babylon Rising” emcee John Bradshaw go all McCarthy on Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke? Mark Zuckerberg? Randy Jackson? Naming names would take guts — the kind of guts I like to see in an affable prophet of doom. No such luck. For about an hour, Bradshaw kept the alarm bells muffled, the targets non-specific and the take-home message more or less wait-and-see, with a wary eye to the horizon for the approaching Beast. It’s the “problems from within Christianty” we need to watch out for, said Bradshaw, the “collusions of church and state” that are the gravest threat to civilized society and our souls.

Statements like those actually rang pretty true, while others (“People are sicker than ever … more people are in poverty than ever …”) only rang true for those who deny the Middle Ages ever happened. More discomforting was the constant circling-back to terms like “debt,” “foreclosure” and “your children.” Scary words. Fightin’ words. Words that make a Las Vegan stand up and shout, “It’s like you know me!” At one point, Bradshaw even managed to take a personal tale of dismay at his young daughter’s accidental tumble and bruised chin, all the way to the mark of the Beast and its diabolic role in regulating global commerce — in less than five seconds. After all, why make sense when you can just blitz them with all the hot-buttons at once? In the end, “Babylon Rising” really did feel more like a make-millions-from-home infomercial than a revival. Similar to those outdoor tropical backgrounds on TV, Cashman Center’s stage was decorated with three Babylonian-ish faux-stone columns, potted Mediterranean-ish plants and sensuous orange lighting. It sent a weird, mixed message. Like, “Hey HEY! We’re already there, folks! And you can be too! Except … don’t. Because it’s bad. But isn’t it pretty?” I think a stage set for “Sodom Rising” would be pretty interesting too. But back to that couch and banister problem. Despite my discomfort with “Babylon Rising” and other dire manipulations of its kind, it seems that quite a few Seventh-day Adventists really are pitching in to help on the Earth level. Four thousand of them are employed with the 50-year-old Adventist Development and Relief Agency, which operates in 125 countries, and is recognized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council. I’ve not personally seen the agency in action, but I can at least report that the Seventh-day Adventists at Cashman were astoundingly helpful and cheery. Of course, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, and this may well be why the 150-year-old religion is now the fastest growing faith in the U.S. (2.5 percent annually, according to a recent USA Today report) at a time when Southern Baptism and other mainstays are losing members. Sounds like something any religion would be proud of, so I have to ask: Why was there no mention of Seventh-day do-goodism in Bradshaw’s talk, or on any of the promotional materials for “Babylon Rising”? Why the anonymity, Adventists? Afraid that if your audience finds out who you really are, they’ll judge you unfairly? Now I don’t feel so bad about the registration form. Good luck finding me at 812 Skeezurkingblatte Road.

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Denied A key Nevada Supreme Court decision stopped a taxstarved state from raiding local coffers. It just may change the way our state government is run

M by steve sebelius


Most of the attention during the 2011 Legislature was focused either on the legislative building or across the tree-lined courtyard at the state Capitol, where Gov. Brian Sandoval works in an expansive office. But the most significant event of the session actually happened at a third building that lies between the other two, set far back from Carson Street behind monuments, trees and greenbelts. It was at the Nevada Supreme Court’s building that justices composed the court ruling that turned a session headed for certain disaster into a collaborative lovefest that ended on time. Prior to that, first-term Gov. Brian Sandoval, first-time Assembly Speaker John Oceguera and state Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford were headed for a standoff, a special session and perhaps even a government shutdown. But the session turned on a pivotal case, which gave both sides the incentive they needed to compromise with less than two weeks before the final day of the session. Had the justices not ruled the way they did — or had they


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announced their decision after the Legislature had adjourned — things could have gone very differently indeed.

A new hope Sandoval was elected in 2010 on a pledge to not raise taxes, a pledge he modified to include allowing a set of temporary taxes passed in 2009 to “sunset,” or expire. But the pledge left him in a tough spot: If he built the budget only on the revenue the Economic Forum predicted, he’d have to cut far too deeply into education and health care budgets. So he decided to find new revenue without

taxes, a time-honored practice in Carson City that usually leaves local governments nervous — and poorer. He proposed diverting local property tax money to the university system, and sweeping school district bond reserve money into school operations, relieving the state of the obligation. The locals would protest, but the state had always won the day. That was the case back in 2009, when the Democratic majority in the Legislature took $62 million from the Clean Water Coalition, a group formed to build a pipeline to carry treated wastewater deep into Lake Mead. The need for the project had dimmed since

Political pundits discuss the 2011 Legislature on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at

20 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

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politics the coalition was formed, and the pot of money seemed like easy pickings for Carson City. The M Resort, which had paid into the fund, objected to the pilfering and sued, but the lawsuit was still pending in the state Supreme Court when Sandoval wrote his budget and delivered it to the Legislature. Democrats, especially Horsford, declared the governor’s budget dead on arrival. Horsford said the cuts to education and social services were simply too high, and said he would never pass the plan out of his Senate Finance Committee. Oceguera was more cagey in his public response, but similarly opposed. The session unfolded, with Sandoval repeatedly challenging Democrats to show him an alternative to his budget, while Democrats held highly visible hearings designed to attack it. Democrats, with majorities in both houses, muscled through more than $900 million in additional spending before reality began to set in. Although by May they’d proposed a tax package that would have extended the sunsets, expanded the sales tax to services (while lowering the overall sales tax rate) and added a “margins tax” on business profits (while elimi-

nating the hated payroll tax), it was too little, too late. Horsford sensed the mood when he admitted extending the sunset taxes was all Democrats could hope to get. “The last option is the last, best offer,” he said. “We need sunsets. We need to extend current revenues.” But cuts would still be needed. At a painful joint meeting of the Assembly Ways & Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee, they pared their ambitious budget back, still spending more than Sandoval wished and at levels that would nonetheless require taxes. Even business leaders came — literally — to the table, testifying that extending sunsetting taxes would be fine with them. “We would just as soon not get a tax cut,” said lobbyist Billy Vassiliadis, speaking for the Nevada Resort Association. “It’s not necessary to give us a tax cut.” The end of the session was only days away, and lines had been drawn in the sand. It appeared the Legislature would be unable to pass a balanced budget, and a special session would be necessary.

The ruling that changed everything Then came May 26, and everything changed. The Supreme Court released its decision in Clean Water Coalition v. M Resort v. State of Nevada. According to the justices, the state acted unconstitutionally in 2009 when it swiped the coalition’s money. The immediate impact was slight: The ruling only directly applied to $62 million. But Sandoval, a former federal judge and state attorney general, saw what other lawyers saw: The ruling could easily apply to other money he’d built into his budget, putting $656.7 million in doubt. Dale Erquiaga, a senior adviser to Sandoval, announced shortly thereafter that the ruling would cause Sandoval to do the unthinkable: He would reconsider his no-tax pledge, but only with respect to the “sunset” taxes. “The Supreme Court has completely changed the rules,” Erquiaga said. “You can’t gamble with the state budget. … It is a gamechanger.” Some Republicans who’d stuck with Sandoval through the entire session thought he’d

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22 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

given up far too quickly. Freshman state Sen. Michael Roberson — an attorney himself — would continue to insist until the end of the session that it was “a $62 million problem, not a $657 million problem.” But Sandoval refused to ignore the risk that local governments would sue to keep their funds intact. And the alternative was off the table. “To take $656 million from those budgets is not acceptable to the governor,” Erquiaga said at a news conference in the Capitol’s Guinn room, a portrait of the popular former governor looking on. “It can’t be $656 million lower.” In that defining moment, Sandoval proved that while his rhetoric may have matched that of his predecessor — the notoriously anti-tax Jim Gibbons — his philosophy did not. Where Gibbons would have cut further, Sandoval was ready to give ground. “We’re about to find out whether we have a statesman for a governor,” one longtime lobbyist said. Negotiations proceeded over a series of very long days and nights, with leaders shuffling between the legislative building and the Capitol. Those long nights finally ended at noon on June 1, as Republican and Democratic leaders and Sandoval gathered on the front steps of the Capitol to announce a deal had been reached. The brief news conference was an exorcism of sorts; two years before, in the same spot, Gibbons had vetoed with gusto a series of budget bills — including one containing the “sunset” taxes that were about to be extended. “This is a proud day for Nevada,” Sandoval would declare a couple hours later, as the details of the deal were outlined in a packed room in the legislative building. “We have reached a groundbreaking agreement to bring the 2011 session to a successful close.”

The endgame —  and the future Perhaps the most unusual thing about the final deal was the silence. Apart from explanations of the bills, there was virtually no debate on the budget or tax bills on the floor of the Assembly. No speeches, no overwrought rhetoric. In the Senate, debate was brief and to the point. Sandoval signed the bills without fanfare — including the tax extensions, waiting until the last constitutional day before doing so. He wasn’t having second thoughts; once the deal was struck, it was done. But it’s only done for 2011. What about 2013, when analysts are predicting yet another budget shortfall? Now, not only will there

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politics be no federal stimulus funds to help the state through hard times (as there were in 2009), there will also not be the popular budget “gimmicks” that lawmakers have often used to raid local coffers. Although the constitution calls for a balanced budget — and any Nevada politician worth his or her salt will claim publicly to have “balanced the budget” — it’s always been a carefully constructed lie. The truth is this: While the rule requiring a two-thirds vote to raise taxes, Republican opposition and general cowardice have often prevented traditional tax increases, Nevada’s leaders have added revenue to the budget anyway by taking money from local governments, special funds or savings accounts. They haven’t called that money “taxes,” but it’s essentially the same thing. Nobody took the Economic Forum’s forecast, built a budget around that and cut what couldn’t be paid for; they fudged the numbers, moved money around and, when circumstance finally forced their hand, actually raised a tax or two. Is it possible the impact of Clean Water Coalition v. M Resort v. State of Nevada will reverberate into the future, as the moment when the state finally decided to be honest about its budgeting? The time when, denied access to local pots of money, state leaders decided to level with taxpayers and explain they cannot have all the things they want without first paying for them? Did the court’s ruling, as Erquiaga said, “forever change the way we budget in the state of Nevada”? After all, the state constitution prescribes a simple formula for spending: “... whenever the expenses of any year exceed the income, the legislature shall provide for levying a tax sufficient, with other sources of income, to pay the deficiency, as well as the estimated expenses of such ensuing year or two years.” There will always be some gimmickry in Nevada’s budgets. Taxes will always be a sore subject, especially when the economy is down and unemployment is up. But in 2011, Nevada finally faced up to the reality that state government costs money, and that there are some budget cuts too high to bear. That two diametrically opposed sides found agreement on that point is perhaps the best evidence for at least a little bit of optimism for the future. Besides, thanks to the state Supreme Court, we’re pretty much out of alternatives. Steve Sebelius is the Review-Journal’s political columnist and a member of KLAS TV Channel 8’s I-Team. He blogs at

24 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

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10/14/10 9:53:36 AM

American Fish’s Dungeness crab “poppers,” page 31.

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Dealicious meals


Hope you’re hungry. Because it’s time to strap on your bib, loosen your belt and dig in to our compendium of the best cheap eats across the valley, from deep-dish pizza to bubble gum crepes to a Korean dish called, ominously and accurately enough, “fire chicken.” (We don’t recommend eating all those in one sitting.) It was a tough job, but we did it all — and we ate it all — for you.

Happy eating!


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Dealicious meals



Vintner Grill


10100 W. Charleston Blvd. (Summerlin), 214-5590


Whazzup Pizza 4440 S. Maryland Pkwy. (University District), 836-3516

Rising from the ashes of Rebel Pizza like a warm, crusty phoenix, Whazzup Pizza cleaned up the old space and obliterated years of drunken graffiti from the walls. Happily, the prices are still redonkulously low: $4.99 fetches a meatball sub and medium fries. The cheese pizza is simple and tasty, made exceptional by the price: $3.99 for a fresh, 14-inch pie. Get a side of fries or upgrade to pepperoni for a dollar more. (JH)


Hot Dog Heaven 87 E. Lake Mead Pkwy. (Henderson), 567-5050

The hot dog is a gateway meat for many vegetarians. Near downtown Henderson is a tiny food stand where you can lure your meat-free loved ones to the dark side. As omnivores know, encased meats are perfect to begin with. Make it Chicago style for $2.79 — with kosher beef, peppers, onions, relish and a pickle spear — and you may never have to endure a tofu dog again. (SK) Our DEALicious Mealers: Maureen Adamo, John Hardin, Andrew Kiraly, Sarah Kokernot, Joseph Langdon, Al Mancini, Juan Martinez, Brock Radke, Dave Surratt, J.J. Wylie

Du-par's classic cherry pie

Sweet deals



Crepe Shack and Waffles

1 Fremont St. (inside the Golden Gate) 366-9378, Downtown got a great diner and legendary pancakes when Du-par’s opened up in the Golden Gate about a year ago, but this place is just as famous for its made-from-scratch baked goods: giant glazed donuts, huge almond-sweet bear claws and, of course, big slices of creamy, fruity homemade pie for under a five-spot. I recommend banana cream, rhubarb or cream cheese pie. (BR)




Tacos El Gordo

Aloha Kitchen

1724 E. Charleston Blvd. (Downtown), 251-8226 3049 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (on the Strip), 641-8226

Multiple locations

The essence of Hawaiian cuisine is sweetly marinated meat married to a starch, and the teriyaki bowls at Aloha Kitchen embody this essence at a truly blue-collar price. Your choice of chicken ($3.59) or beef ($3.89) is generously ladled over a big bowl of rice. Or you could go truly local with an order or two of Spam musubi (a thin slab of fried Spam lashed to a big cake of rice by a band of nori). Add a Hawaiian Sun Guava Nectar, and your tummy will say “Mahalo” for this quick culinary junket to Land of Aloha. (JW)

For $2 and a bit of hearing loss (“What’d you say?!” “I said there are constant, clamorous throngs who love this place!”), you can experience the grand ceremony of the adobada soft taco: The meat carved from a swiveling totem pole of juicy, spicy pork, tumbled into a fresh corn tortilla, drenched in a creamy sauce spiked with cilantro and onions. It’s less a taco, really, than a tongue-tingling stew you can eat with your hands (Oh yeah: Watch out for your hands). A range of options such as steak and cabeza (head) come in taco form, too. (AK)

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How much would you pay to sample gourmet cheese and wine for an hour? How about nothing? Every weekday from 5-6 p.m., Vintner Grill pulls out one of the more interesting selections from their massive cheese inventory, and offers it for free — alongside wine chosen to complement it. Chef Matt Silverman is even in negotiation with cheesemakers to bring in special, rare selections for the program, which he’s calling “High Cheese.” (AM)

Dealicious meals

10345 S. Eastern Ave. (Henderson), 260-0860

Skip the deer-in-headlights deliberation and choose a preinvented specialty crepe ($4.95) or build your own blood-sugar rocket ship (waffle, $4.50; crepe, $3.50) with fruit, candy, sauces and ice cream (25 cents to $1). Quiet Asian influences — crepes rolled Japanese style, and red bean paste, condensed milk, green tea ice cream and mochi toppings — allow refreshing interpretations of this sweet trend. Get freebies and discounts by texting “crepes” to 77948. (MA)


The Steakhouse at Circus Circus 2880 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 734-0410,

The revolving Horse-Around Bar Hunter S. Thomas rode while wasted on ether has been converted into an ice-cream parlor. So the only real reason for grown-ups to visit Circus Circus

Getting an adobada (spicy pork) taco at Tacos El Gordo is practically a culinary ceremony.

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Dealicious meals

Right: Clockwise from left, American Fish’s Dungeness crab “poppers,” prime rib sandwich, Maine lobster corn dogs, and shrimp & grits; Below: BFG Chicken’s fried chicken strips and baked macaroni and cheese; Pho Thanh Huong’s barbecue pork sandwich

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Dealicious meals

these days is The Steakhouse. While the place boasts amazing bargains all the time, its daily 3-5 p.m. happy hour is particularly amazing. Nine different dishes are offered for $8 or less. But the best bargains are the prime rib, which you cook yourself on a hot stone, and the trio of chicken lettuce wraps, either of which is available for just $5. (AM)


American Fish 3730 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Aria at CityCenter) 877-230-2742,

Michael Mina’s Aria seafood house has a fairly extensive bar menu, with 10 items priced at $8 apiece. But visit Sunday through Friday during the 5-7 p.m. happy hour, and you can get them for just $5. Choices include Dungeness crab “poppers,” fish and chips, yellowtail sashimi and Mina’s famous lobster corn dogs. If you aren’t into seafood, they also offer a prime rib sandwich. And you can wash it down with a $4 beer. (AM)



Fausto’s Mexican Grill

Osaka Japanese Bistro

Mutiple locations

4205 W. Sahara Ave. (Central), 876-4988; 10920 S. Eastern Ave. (Henderson), 616-3788,

Although you can’t go wrong with their carne asada or al pastor tacos ($2.25 each), the real low-priced gems on Fausto’s extensive menu are the breakfast burritos, served any time. These freshly made, tightly wrapped missiles of food are big as your forearm and packed with hearty goodness. The best is the chorizo and egg ($3.75). Whatever you order, be sure to stock up on limes, marinated carrots and sliced cucumbers at their complimentary salsa bar, turning your takeout into a full-fledged, multicourse meal. They even provide baggies! (JW)

Here’s what’ll happen: You’ll drop in after 10 p.m. and ask for the $5 ramen bowl (in three varieties), but in the meantime your eyes will roam over the late-night menu, and you’ll point and grunt in an ordering frenzy at octopus fritters ($4), salmon skin salad ($5), mugs of Kirin ($3), jalapeñostuffed yum yum poppers ($5), Japanese lasagna rolls ($4) and Lisa Lisas ($5), to name a few. You’ll feast to your content —


Amena Bakery and Mediterranean Café 2101 S. Decatur Blvd. #10 (Central), 382-1010

Good falafel has the blissy texture of junk food but the savor, satisfaction and nutrition of something Dr. Oz won’t punch you in the conscience for eating. Amena nails it: Their falafel is crisp and firm — right up to the point when it yields to warm, crunchewy softness. And they’re just 50 cents apiece. The kibbeh — imagine a lamb-filled Middle Eastern hush puppy — is $1.79, and the savory thyme bread is $1.99. Of course, if you want the friendly faces behind the counter to do the heavy lifting, there’s also a full menu of sandwiches, kabobs, dips, plates and specialties. (AK)


Pho Thanh Huong


1131 E. Tropicana Ave., Suite D (University District), 739-8703

BFG Chicken Strips 873 S. Rainbow Blvd. (Central), 823-2835,

Hail to thee, O diamondheaded chicken god cleverly disguised as the BFG Chicken Strips logo. Praise to your tender, crispy, juicy trinity of baked, fried or grilled chicken strips that are only 85 cents apiece, as well as your dipping sauces, only 35 cents, that are sacramental injections of surprising flavor — we glory in your sweet chili, wasabi cream, spicy buffalo sauces and more. O diamond-headed chicken god, your church may look like a mere bland storefront wedged between a Home Depot and an Albertsons, but we of the faith know what holy deliciousness resides within. (AK)

and then that big, steaming bowl of ramen will arrive. And you know what you’ll do? You’ll find room. (AK)

Ice cream inside, waffle outside, happiness everywhere

Sweet deals The Lunch Box

4632 Maryland Pkwy. #20 (University District), 722-6400, This hip little hangout dishes out tasty, creative hot dogs, but the real steal is dessert. For less than four bucks, you can splurge on the house-made cinnamon and chocolate chip waffle ice cream sandwich. It smells better than it sounds, and it tastes better than it smells. This might be the best thing about going to UNLV. (BR)


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Dealicious meals

Here’s another yourtongue-will-slap-your-brainsout lunch secret for under five clams: Family-owned Pho Thanh Huong, where the banh mi — Vietnamese sandwiches made with scrumptious French rolls — are excruciatingly yummy and each under three bucks. Start with the barbecue pork sandwich, which also boasts shredded daikon, cilantro, carrot and jalapeño peppers and makes for the perfect summer meal with just the right “kick.” (English isn’t the first language spoken here, so be patient and clear when ordering.) We could go on, but we’re too busy eating our way to nirvana right now. (JK)

wheelicious deals! 16


Sloppi Jo’s

Multiple locations


The Vegas food truck scene is expanding into uncharted taste territory, and Sloppi Jo’s is leading the way. The eponymous specialty is spicy, rich, red chili pork, a sunny side-up egg and pickled onions served with a warm flour tortilla. Also, it’s freakin’ six bucks. That’s a dollar more than the beloved green chili cheeseburger. Follow that truck. (BR)

It makes sense that eating from a truck should be affordable. But quality and creativity like this is a surprise. The Fuku crew is adamant that their burgers come out perfect every time, juicy and never overdone, and crowned with unique flavors like avocado cream, pickled ginger, wasabi mayo, and miso-glazed bacon. Fuku means lucky, and that would be you. (BR)



Mariana’s Supermarkets


A single $2.19 tres-leches portion feeds three, but I’ve consumed a fair share of these gargantuan slices on my own when no one is looking (or when my fiancée is looking, and is appalled). Regional variations abound, but what you’ll be eating is sheet cake doused in creamy, sweetened milk. Add a $1.99 horchata or an agua fresca (sugary rice or fruit drinks) and you’re guaranteed deliciousness. And possibly diabetes. (JM)


Macayo’s Various locations, Make a meal out of chips and salsa at Macayo’s. The secret is to order takeout, and stick to the dips. Bean dip ($3.49), spinach con queso ($3.89) or chili con queso ($3.99) are all rich and satisfying. For maximum value, get a big bag of warm, fresh, corn chips and an eight-ounce cup of salsa for $4.50. Take them home and add beer; dinner is served. Balanced nutrition is overrated. (JH)


Papa Geo’s 5597 S. Rainbow Blvd. (Spring Valley), 415-7968

CheeseSteak Truck


A piping hot Philly cheesesteak sandwich may be the perfect mobile eats. It’s portable, it’s satisfying, and if it gets a little messy, you can always hold it out and let the excess Cheez Whiz hit the ground. The crew at Philly’s Famous Italian Ice truck knows this, which is why they expanded to become the first two-inone food truck. (BR)

These Bunz are palm-of-your-handsized, stuffed dough pockets baked to golden perfection, and they’re only $2.50 each. Standouts include the McCheezy and the Hot Pig. Other under-$5 items include the Me Fries: a basket of fries sprinkled with bits of bacon, onion, and cheese, then drizzled with ranch and topped with a fried egg ($4.50). (JW) 

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Panzerottis are a junk food delicacy relatively unknown outside of Southern New Jersey and Chicago’s Little Italy. Thankfully, Papa Geo’s has brought them to Las Vegas. Think of them as inside-out pizzas: dough stuffed with sauce and mozzarella, then dipped in a deep fryer. OK, so it ain’t health food. But it’s delicious! And you can find out for yourself for just $2.95. (AM)

BLT Burger's "Grandma’s Treat": vanilla ice cream, caramel and Maker’s Mark. Guess which part is the “treat.”

Sweet deals BLT Burger

3400 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Mirage) 791-7111, Any true Las Vegan knows that, aside from air conditioning, the two best ways to beat the summer heat are ice cream and cocktails. But why choose between the two? At Laurent Tourendel’s Mirage burger joint, you can get “grown up” milkshakes, spiked with booze, for $11. Most of the recipes stick to sweet liqueurs such as Kahlua, Bailey’s, schnapps or coconut rum. But if you want something a bit more hardcore, try “Grandma’s Treat”: a wonderful combination of vanilla ice cream, caramel and Maker’s Mark. (AM)


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Clockwise from Above: Slices of pepperoni and white pizza from The Pizza Place at the Cosmopolitan; Nova Scotia Florentine at Weiss Deli; Irish egg rolls and Scotch eggs at Quinn's Irish Pub

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Sweet deals

Coo Coo’s Gourmet Coffee and Café 19 W. Pacific Ave. (Henderson), 568-5069 Sip on soda shop treats like banana splits ($4.99), sundaes, root beer floats, blizzards, ($3.99) milkshakes and smoothies ($4.89) in this old-school café in downtown Henderson. Espresso yourself with one of the many specialty blended drinks ($4.49$4.95), like the Funky Monkey, a mocha frappé with fresh banana. Add peanut butter and an extra espresso shot to get the Bouncing Brit — and a sweet buzz. (MA)



The Stake Out 4800 S. Maryland Pkwy., Suite A (University District) 798-8383

The best-kept lunch secret in town is this: Every Tuesday at Stake Out, you can get two of the freshest, tastiest groundbeef-in-crisp-corn-tortilla-shell tacos you’re ever going to wolf down for just $1.49. These tacos are so exceptional they’ll give you mouthwatering dreams and an excuse to hang out with a friendly and varied cast of artists, professors, construction workers and (yikes!) politicians. (Dina Titus loves this joint.) Waitresses here rule, too. You’ll never run for the border again! (JK)


Yayo Taco 4632 Maryland Pkwy. #18 (University District), 262-0201

The desperado hideout décor is particularly apt in light of Yayo’s all-hours “Student Special”; scoring four lovingly crafted, smallish-but-stuffed tacos from their classic menu— featuring ingredients such as Yucatan-style marinated steak, cerveza-citrus roasted pork and grilled pineapple salsa — plus two sides (plantain chips, Aztecan Quinoa salad or one

of seven other choices), plus a soft drink for only $5 does give one the sensation of having committed highway robbery, broad-daylit and brutal. (DS)

third floor of The Cosmopolitan, between Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill and Jaleo, you’ll find an unmarked hallway, the walls of which are plastered with classic vinyl. Follow it down and around a corner, and you’ll suddenly be transported to Greenwich Village as you discover the most authentic New York Style pizza available outside of the five boroughs. Enjoy a slice for just $3 (plus 50 cents a topping), and then stick around for a game of pinball or Galaga. (AM)

is. For an affordable sample of what that means, check out his knishes. For just $8 in the bar and lounge, you get five pillowy bites of potato, caramelized onions and parmigiano. The only problem is that once you know what CUT is all about, you’ll need to start saving up for a full meal. (AM)


Ignore the waiters before they can ignore you and get your Sam Woo to go. Sam Woo’s “express” inside Sam Woo BBQ sells barbecue and Chinese delicacies by the pound. You can find exotic fare like tripe or duck feet, but you and your gwailo pals are here for the flawless barbecue pork ($8.95 per pound). The spare ribs are the same price, but since you’re paying by the pound, go boneless. Add a large rice ($3.50) and you have dinner for four. (JH)



Esmeralda’s Café 1000 E. Charleston Blvd. (Downtown), 388-1404


This killer Salvadoran joint specializes in the pupusa — a thick, handmade, pan-fried tortilla encasing cheese, pork, and refried beans (your choice whether to mix them all together or enjoy them separately) and served with curtido (pickled cabbage relish akin to sauerkraut). Since they’re priced at $1.50 each, you can enjoy three pupusas for under five bucks and return to the office stuffed and happy (and maybe a bit sleepy). Also a great chance to catch up on a telenovela or watch a soccer match. (JK)

Weiss Deli 2744 N. Green Valley Pkwy. (Henderson), 454-0565

God whispered unto his holy people, saying, “Let there be Nova Scotia Florentine, with two eggs perfectly poached, atop baby spinach and lox, with the most delightful hollandaise sauce ($9.95). Also, let there be the best house-made hash in the valley ($8.50), challah bread French toast ($5.75) and other amazing breakfast offerings for less than $10.” He ordered coffee, and saw it, too, was good. (MA) 



The Pizza Place at THE Cosmopolitan


3225 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Palazzo), 607-6300

3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside The Cosmopolitan) 698-7000

Wolfgang Puck doesn’t just broil beef at his Palazzo steakhouse CUT. Instead, he actually deconstructs the idea of what a steakhouse actually

There’s no sign advertising the hippest late-night dining spot on the Strip. But on the

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Sam Woo BBQ Express 4215 Spring Mountain Road #101 (Chinatown), 368-7628


Quinn’s Irish Pub 2300 Paseo Verde Pkwy. (inside Green Valley Ranch) 617-7783

Beer pong in the front, Nickelback on the speakers, and the food emerges, mysteriously, from an Italian restaurant next door. Yeah, Quinn’s Irish Pub is all kinds of mixed up. The grub is, too — but in a good way. Perfect for soaking up a sesh of beer pong, alcohol-absorbent standouts on the menu include Scotch Eggs ($5) — yes, they put an egg inside a sausage and fried it! — crispy Irish egg rolls filled with corned beef and cabbage ($5), and fish and chips ($8). But not just any fish and chips. The cod chunks are big — bigger than Nickelback. (AK)


H&H Barbeque 2245 N. Las Vegas Blvd. (North Las Vegas), 444-4227

Looking for a smokin’ time? Ditch the Strip and head north on the boulevard — past the Golden Nugget, past the Silver Nugget, even past Jerry’s Nugget. There, in a parking lot across from North Las Vegas City Hall, you’ll find the best rack in town. H&H Barbecue dispenses well-endowed ribs and down-home delights out of a drive-up joint barely bigger than the huge smokers that pump a cloud of meaty goodness over the city. If you get lucky, you might spot (and smell) its roving red cooker somewhere around town. (JL)


Well-Being in the Box 2555 S. Jones Blvd. #3 (Central), 253-5222

Well-Being’s kitchen must be tucked away in some extradimensional wormhole, because the all-purpose array of Asian standbys they offer — sushi, sashimi, Korean tray lunches, barbecue bowls and tempuras — is otherwise impossible to account for. Go for the specialties: The house-made mandu (Korean dumplings) and California roll combo ($7.95), or the regulars’ fave, the spicy sashimi bibimbap ($9.95), a bowl of fish and fresh vegetables you stir into the bed of warm rice beneath. (AK)


Rincon de Buenos Aires 5300 W. Spring Mountain Road (Chinatown), 257-3331

Rincon de Buenos Aires’ version of the lomito completo — the classic steak sandwich of Argen-

Sweet deals

tina — is what would happen if you made a regular sandwich angry and it turned into The Hulk. A barely contained riot of filet mignon, ham, fried egg and provolone, this $10.99 monster (and the spill of fries) can easily feed, and possibly house, two hungry people. After you digest that, return for their menu of other iconic Argentine plates such as matambre (steak roll stuffed with veggies and eggs, $7.49) and choripan (sausage sandwich, $6.49). (AK)

Atomic #7

605 Mall Ring Circle (Henderson), 458-4777, Why? Because we can. Also: It’s delicious. Ice cream (neutron, $3.99; super nova $4.99) is frozen instantly with space-age, nitrogenoozing technology, customized with bases and sweeteners (add 40 cents) of your choice, making it easy to create a treat with raw, vegan or organic milks and toppings (37 to 77 cents). Their “out of this world” combos are innovative — try salted butter caramel or spicy chocolate mole — and just 30 to 40 cents extra. (MA)




Nove Italiano 4321 W. Flamingo Road (inside the Palms), 942-6800,

Restaurant Salvadoreno 720 N. Main St. (Downtown) 385-3600

Perched atop the Palms Fantasy Tower, just below the Playboy Club and Moon nightclub, Nove is known for one of the best views in town, as well as some of the city’s best Italian cuisine. And on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m., it’s also known for some of the most amazing bargains available. Ten different appetizers are offered during those hours for just $9 a pop. They include beef carpaccio with Fuji apple & pea shoot salad, rock shrimp polpette with seafood marinara, calamari with banana peppers, and prosciutto di parma sliders. If you’re thirsty, you can get cocktails for just $7 or beer for $5. (AM)

This restaurant in the parking lot of a seedy motel is the place to load up on a tasty selection of pupusas ($1.75; chicken, shrimp and ayote: $2.50), topped with yummy curtido, fermented slaw. It’s so easy to fill up for less than $4 it feels like cheating, so overorder and add a side of platanos ($1.75). Still feeling mingy? The usual imported beers are $3. Cheapskate-guilt assuaged. (MA)


Satay Asian Bistro & Bar 3900 Paradise Road (University District), 360-8788


Las Famosas de Jose 2635 E. Tropicana Ave. (University District), 450-2444

Nightclub meets Asian small plates meets in-my-mouth during happy hour — 4:30-8 p.m. weekdays; noon-6 p.m. weekends — for $3 appetizers, wine and beer and $5 specialty drinks. Try roti canai, a flatbread with curry, or lumpia, a Filipino egg roll filled with minced pork, beef, shrimp and shiitake mushrooms. Not special offers, but still special: the Buddha fresh roll, steamed dumplings and small soups (all $5). (MA)

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Man enough for a meal that weighs more than a baby chihuahua? La Paquita is four pounds of smoky, spicy meat-filled torta that defies translation. Saner small ($6) and large ($7.50) tortas are filled with the same gringabusting flavors — still enormous and shareable. La Paquita is $17.30 with tax, but considering its economy (enough for lunch and dinner — for two days), a must-try. (MA)


Dealicious meals


The Beat Coffeehouse 520 Fremont St. (Downtown), 409-5563

Forget about its hip Emergency Arts environs, or its significant location in the surging East Fremont District. There are outstanding sandwiches here, and they are dirt cheap. The slow roasted brisket is a gem, with its pickled red onions on a baguette, and it’s $7. Last time I grabbed the daily special, it was a peppery turkey pastrami on a perfect ciabatta from Bon Breads. (BR)


Kobe Sushi Bistro 6375 S. Rainbow Blvd. # 102 (Spring Valley), 898-9998

Craving delicious fishes at a bargain price, but not up for the crippling gut distension that cost-effective all-youcan-eat-ism demands? Kobe’s 5 p.m.-midnight Monday-toWednesday happy hour (and all day Saturday and Sunday) means even most of the specialty rolls are half-price, while all beer and hot sake selections are threefor-two. Added bonus: Two of Kobe’s most transcendent menu items are the “Suck My Roll” ($6.50) and the “Me So Horny Roll” ($7), but pencil-and-paper ordering means you don’t have to say them out loud. (DS)

Nove Italiano's prosciutto di parma sliders

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Sweet deals Max Brenner

3500 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Forum Shops at Caesars) 462-8790, If your good sense is easily overcome by romance, prepare for surrender. From chic decor to evocative menus, the bald man’s every move is seduction, calculated to induce nonstop chocolate consumption. The seemingly limitless, elaborate desserts are as uplifting as they are intense — from banana split waffles ($13.95) to the melting chocolate truffle heart cake and shake ($13.25) — and a delicate balance is negotiated, right up to the last, breathless bite. (MA)


Max Brenner’s melting chocolate truffle heart cake. In love yet?

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Mr. Sandwich

Pho So 1


4215 Spring Mountain Road #B108 (Chinatown), 838-2888

4745 Spring Mountain Road (Chinatown), 252-3934

5030 Spring Mountain Road #6 (Chinatown), 367-4600

After serving up our favorite banh mi in town, Hue Thai restaurant in Chinatown expanded recently with Mr. Sandwich, located in the original Chinatown Plaza and focused completely on these crusty, spicy, salty, French-Vietnamese sandwiches. The fresh baguettes are worth the price all by themselves. (BR)


Pho, spicy-savory Vietnamese soup with rice noodles, various cuts of beef and fragrant herbs and vegetables, is typically very inexpensive. So choosing a top pho parlor among the many local options can be tricky. Pho So 1 is huge, quick, and always full of smiling, slurping faces. That’s quite the hint. (BR)


Babycakes Café

Harry O’s Five Star BBQ

2400 N. Buffalo Drive #145 (Summerlin), 541-6708

1616 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (Downtown), 385-0701

This is the newest of several Summerlin area breakfast spots, and one of the most popular. Why? Crazy pancakes. How about honey whole wheat or banana? Maybe you’ve seen those before, so how about carrot cake, lemon ricotta or red velvet? A full stack is probably too sweet and too fluffy for you to finish, but your wallet can handle it. (BR)


Amanacer Salvadoreno 1524 S. Main St. (Downtown),  383-0901

Expect a tiny language barrier as you navigate the limited menu of street food and cafeteria-style hot plates in this corner of an El Salvadoran center. If no habla Español, short of miming, “And this?” at each item, it’s hard to know what you’re getting. Pupusas are $1.65, empanadas less than $2. Some hot foods creep past $5 (chicken and rice, $6.99); it just takes asking — but everyone understands Visa. (MA) 

You can’t find a more artfully prepared, authentic, resoundingly delicious dish for less than ten dollars anywhere in Las Vegas. Tonkotsu ramen — fresh, perfect noodles in a bowl of broth made from cooking pork bones for days — at Monta Noodle House in Chinatown takes the cheap eats prize, chopsticks down. (BR)


Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers Multiple locations

Looking for a snack after some liquor-fueled karaoke at Dino’s Lounge? Drop by Harry O’s. A ten-spot here will buy you four delicious pork ribs, four large pieces of succulent fried catfish or five chicken wings. While the ribs get most of the attention, the cornmeal-breaded fish is the oft-overlooked star of the menu. (AM)

Yes, it’s a chain. True, it’s technically fast food. But this bird has proven to be addictive, and you have to admire how the simplicity of the Cane’s menu leads to consistent tastiness. A plate full of crunchy, tender, well-seasoned fried chicken, crinkle-cut fries and guiltypleasure dipping sauce just hits the spot. Don’t feel bad about it. (BR)



Maui Rose


2600 W. Sahara Ave. #101 (West), 868-9020,

501 S. Decatur Blvd. (Central), 878-6444,

When your hunger sounds like cannon fire and coworkers are ducking for cover, the rut-defying menu at this small Hawaiian shop will bring a speedy end to WWIII. Everything on the large menu is under $10 and combos — like No. 42, with kalbi, chicken katsu and crunch roll ($9.50; smaller portions, $6.50) — come with miso soup, salad, rice and macaroni. Teriyaki bowls are less than $6. So, call a truce already. (MA)

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It’s not Pop’s as in your dad’s, it’s POP’S and it stands for “Pride of Philly ’Steaks.” Obviously, it’s the best cheesesteak in Vegas, and for 10 bucks or under you can customize it your way. It’s always coming on a big, soft Amoroso roll shipped from Philly, and it’s always a pile of ultra-thin sliced marinated sirloin. Choose your cheese and veggies, and munch accordingly. (BR)


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$15 53.

D.O.C.G. 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Cosmopolitan) 698-7000

In the cozy dining room cousin to upscale Scarpetta, half the menu is devoted to tastings and noshes. After cheeses and salume ($5), try light pairings of assaggini ($11 for three), like fennel and orange, or the house-made sausage pizza ($15). But don’t leave without tasting the grilled filone ($7): ciabbata dipped into melted fontina, black truffles, truffle oil and poached duck egg — so heavenly you won’t share. (MA)


Yard House 6593 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (in Town Square), 734-9273; 11011 W. Charleston Blvd. (inside the Red Rock Resort), 363-9273,

In the upscale climes of Town Square or Red Rock Resort, the Yard House Happy Hour is a beery oasis of economy. Weekdays from 3-6 p.m. and Sundays to Wednesdays from 10 p.m. to close, domestic pints are just $3.50. Pair your pint with one of 16 half-priced appetizers like the giant California roll ($5.90) or the heaping Tower of Onion Rings ($4.30). The grilled artichoke ($4.85) comes with home-fried potato chips, in case you were trying to be healthy. Half priced pizzas ($5.65 - $6.35) and sliders ($6.75) round out the selection. (JH)

Sweet deals

Luv-It Frozen Custard 505 E. Oakey Blvd. (Downtown), 384-6452,

lunches under $10 and $13.99 dinner combos. The staff is friendly, and nothing costs more than $15. (JH)

Frozen custard is eggy, wholesome and Midwestern, all of which are categorically opposite to the faded glamour of North Las Vegas Boulevard. This small food stand looks like something from Wisconsin, but with a great view of the Stratosphere and of the pink Vegas sunsets. Custard is made fresh daily with a rotation of flavors. A regular scoop with chocolate jimmies is $3.46 and tastes like summer in a small town. (SK)




Soyo Korean Barstaurant

Pinoy-Pinay Filipino Fastfood

7775 S. Rainbow Blvd. #105 (Southwest), 897-7696

1217 E. Sahara Ave. (Central), 893-6682,

“The fire chicken is very … challenging,” our server told us. “Bring it!” I said — or, rather, the Sapporo said. Fire indeed — but one with character and complexity, judiciously calmed a bit by the melted mozzarella that coated the grilled chunks. It’s just one of the inventive Asian tapas at Soyo, a Korean gastropub with décor that can only be described as minimalist cutesy rustic Lego chic — you drink cold tea from tin cups and eat from stone bowls and eat pretty incredible small plates of grilled squid and garlic and chicken gizzards from unwrapped foil for under $10. Challenging? Maybe. Intriguing? Definitely. (AK)

This California-based chain sells Filipino comfort food, with an emphasis on pig. Served cafeteria-style with no labels, you might need a guide to get past the dinuguan (pig blood stew) and sisig (pig’s head scrapple) to what you really want: lechon (deep fried pork belly) and inihaw (grilled pork belly). Lots of delicious beef, chicken and seafood are available if you don’t dig on swine. The menu rotates daily, combo plates start at $4.50 and $11 buys a ginormous togo container of whatever you like. Big balls of sticky rice on the side are only 50 cents. (JH)


La Piazza


The Black Bear Diner

Best Western Hotel, 1000 N. Main St., (Downtown), 382-6487

6180 W. Tropicana Ave. (Central), 368-1077

I never thought I’d find a cornhole league-hosting sports bar in all of Vegas. It’s a slice of the Midwest as saucy as its 14inch Chicago-style pizza ($10.95). Pile on fresh toppings (50 cents to $1.25, depending on pie size) while you watch or play a game — shuffleboard, anyone? Also try one of the 16-inch specialty pizzas ($14.99) and the house-made family recipe lasagna ($9.95). (MA)

This charmingly decorated franchise out of northern California specializes in heroic portions of home cooking like the Bigfoot: a huge chicken-fried steak with gravy, three eggs, potatoes and two homemade biscuits ($11.99), or the Volcano; a mountain of fluffy pancakes paired with bacon strips, two sausages and two eggs ($8.99). Breakfast is served all day, but there are also

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Ellis Island Casino & Brewery 4178 Koval Lane (University District), 733-8901

The locals line up early for the 4 p.m. barbecue, where $12.99 scores a rack of ribs on a platter full of sides. The 10-ounce sirloin with three sides and a beer is always $7.99. Come early for the $4.99 steak and egg breakfast or show up late for the nightly specials with dessert and a drink for $10.99. The on-site brewery produces assorted quality brews, and 20-ounce. drafts are a mere $1.75. Old school! (JH)


The Hush Puppy 7185 W. Charleston Blvd. (West), 363-5988; 1820 N. Nellis Blvd. (North Las Vegas), 438-0005,

Here are a few reasons The Hush Puppy has lasted for more than 35 years: Tuesdays (all you can eat boiled shrimp, $12.95), Wednesdays (all-you-can-eat barbecue ribs, $14.95) and Thursdays (all-youcan-eat seafood platter, $12.95). Every day features endless fried catfish ($12.50); crispy outside, hot and moist inside. The namesake hush puppies (free with dinner) are perfect torpedoes of corn meal, deep-fried until hot and golden, served with honey butter. You won’t want to leave room for dinner. (JH)


Bachi Burger 470 E. Windmill Lane #100 (Southeast), 242-2244

Bachi quickly defined itself as one of our truly unique


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neighborhood restaurants, a spot to share and sample Asianinspired eats at small plate prices. Don’t miss the homemade pickles, chili fried chicken, banh mi burger, and steamed buns filled with Peking duck, braised short ribs or succulent pork belly. (BR)


Henry’s American Grill 237 N. Stephanie St. (Henderson), 898-5100

The mild pomp of the name refers to the menu, not the ambience, because this deceptively bland video poker bar/restaurant hides some surprising virtues. Among them, an ambitious wine list and plates that reveal a chef’s love and hustle, like a pretty mondo prime rib sandwich swimming in cheese and roasted peppers ($10.80) and an $8.99 custom burger menu that hosts such triumphs of the human spirit as the nacho burger and bourbon barbecue burger. This place deserves the pomp and then some. (AK)


$20 64.

Chicago Brewing Company 2201 S. Fort Apache Ave. (West), 254-3333

Go ahead and feed the animals — feed ’em right into your gnashing mouth, that is. Chicago Brewing Company’s wild game slider menu takes creatures beautiful, untamed and free (awww!) and transforms

Asian inspiration: Bachi Burger's banh mi burger with sweet potato fries

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them into Super Bowl party snacks (hurray!). For $16, you can sample a trio of one style of slider, from alligator (crispy and flaky, and then drenched in the egg yolk you just chomped into) to wild boar (whose jalapeño jelly gives the rich, dark meat some kick). For $30, you can nom on the entire zoo. Look at you, all on top of the food chain. (AK)


Buzz BBQ Multiple locations, At Buzz, $20 gets you three meats, two sides and a roll. It’s a monster of a deal, because the meats are among the best barbecue in Vegas. I especially adore the smoky, thick-sliced brisket and the crispy-skinned, fall-from-thedrumstick chicken. With collard greens, black eyed peas and fried okra, the soulful side dishes are no joke, either. (BR)


Due Forni 3555 S. Town Center Drive #105 (Summerlin), 586-6500

Due Forni means “two ovens,” and the duo here bakes pizzas in Roman or Neapolitan style. Owner Alex Taylor was the food and beverage director at Encore before opening this pizza and wine spot in Summerlin — and his expertise shows. From atmosphere to

food, Due Forni is exceptional. Try the mozzarella bar ($10.95) with the heavenly stracciatella; split a richly decadent Tartufo pizza with black truffle crema, fontina, crimini and a baked egg ($20) and add a glass of wine for just $5. That’s just for starters; you’ll want to come back to try everything on the menu. (JH)


China Poblano 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Cosmopolitan) 698-7900,

There’s a lot going on at Jose Andres’ slightly experimental Chinese-Mexican fusion spot. I say stick to the tacos, which come in pairs and wrapped in fresh house-made mini-tortillas. Try juicy lobster with salsa and arbol chile sauce, Yucatan-style barbecue pork and marinated onions, pork belly with pineapple or exotically awesome duck tongue with rambutan fruit. (BR)


Pin Kaow Multiple locations

Look guys, I don’t wanna fight about it, but for my few dollars this is the best Thai restaurant in the city. No entree is over 20 bucks, and we’re

talking about everything from deep fried whole pompano to crab fried rice. The simple stuff is sublime: supreme curry, spicy basil stir fry and lemongrassladen coconut soups. (BR)




La Cave 3131 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Wynn), 248-3463


Border Grill Wynn chef Billy DeMarco has created an all-fun menu of appetizers and exquisite little bites to match the sexy wine bar atmosphere at La Cave, made even more enticing by the fact that it’s the most affordable grub in the whole resort. Try baked clams with pepperoncini and parmesan, salt-roasted beets with whipped goat cheese or the killer ham, egg and cheese flatbread. (BR)


Sababa 3220 S. Durango Drive (West), 547-5556,

Want a steal? Fifty cents for the best fried falafel ball you’ve ever tasted. Sababa has the best Israeli food in Vegas, and $20 will you get any of a variety of combo plates featuring that fantastic falafel, top notch hummus, tasty shawarma or kabobs with fresh vegetables and pillowy pita bread. (BR)

3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Mandalay Bay), 632-7403,

The $25 brunch at Border Grill is an all-you-can-eat tour of responsible decadence. While dishes such as Yucatan Eggs Benedict (with sweet, peppery roasted pork and pickled onions), coconut French toast (made with a sourdough baguette) and guava empanada (fruity but filling) strut out like showgirls, the small, share-ready plates and organic ingredients make you feel less like a gawky tourist and more like an adventurer. Of course, you can go all tourist, too: For $5 more, you get unlimited mimosas. (AK)


Rosemary’s Restaurant 8125 W. Sahara Ave. (West), 869-2251,

Add to this fine establishment’s deal-icious offerings — happy hours, industry night, half-priced

Sweet deals Sugar Factory

3655 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Paris Las Vegas), 331-5100, Dessert at this celeb-encrusted disco-eatery reads like lunch menus perverted by the enthusiasm of 5-year-olds without supervision. The soda pop cotton candy crepe ($11) — a day at the carnival crammed onto one plate — is a hallucinatory confection of cola gummies, ice cream, cotton candy, cherry sauce, toasted marshmallows and pop rocks. Peanut butter jelly and chocolate pizza ($14) is another tantalizing toe across the line between “too much” and “just enough.” (MA)


Sugar Factory’s soda pop cotton candy crepe is a carnival in your mouth.

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ladies’ night — a three-course, seasonal set menu, served Fridays. This white linen lunch ($25 with a coupon from the website) is rich and generously portioned — with dishes like scrambled local duck egg with artichokes and mushrooms in a Dijon butter sauce, and Meyer lemon cake with apricots and raspberry sorbet — an impressive mid-day meal. Reservations suggested. (MA)

break the bank

Fine-dining deals for when you want to splurge (but not too much)


Estiatorio Milos 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Cosmopolitan), 698-7000

The Cosmopolitan’s Estiatorio Milos is a top-tier seafood house, and undeniably the best Greek restaurant in town. And every Wednesday through Sunday, between noon and 2:30 pm, it’s one of Las Vegas’ best bargains, because the restaurant offers a three-course lunch special for just $20.11. Begin with oysters and mullet roe, shrimp saganaki, a delicious meze plate, or one of four other mouth-watering options. The five entrée choices include pristine seafood, lamb chops and chicken. And don’t miss the yogurt martini on the dessert menu. (AM)


Wazuzu 3121 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Wynn), 248-3463

Allow me to save you some trouble. You can go almost anywhere and drop a few bucks for an utterly unsatisfying dim sum lunch, or you can go to Wazuzu, spend a bit more, and experience the best versions of these Chinese classics Vegas has to offer. Chef Jet Tila’s got all your favorites: pork and shrimp shu mai, prawn-filled har gow and juicy pork stuffed potstickers and cha siu bao. (BR)

Payard's acclaimed roasted chicken. And that's just the first course.

Project Dinner Table

Payard Bistro 3570 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Caesars Palace), 731-7292,

Various locations Project Dinner Table is like a do-gooder foodie flash mob, its signature long white table popping up everywhere from Gilcrease Orchard to Town Square to the World Market Center. The event hits all the high notes of hip philanthropy: Locavore-friendly fine food by top-tier chefs, settings that celebrate a sense of place, good conversation with strangers as awesome as you are, and a portion of the proceeds going to local charity. Tickets are $140, but trust us — that’s less a price than an investment. The next Project Dinner Table takes place Sept. 10 downtown near the El Cortez. (AK)

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I wouldn’t call an amazing three-course French bistro dinner a bank-breaker at $42, especially on the Strip. Incredibly, that’s the deal at Payard, already the home of one of our favorite lunch offers. Dinner’s even better, including an inspiring cheese souffle, roasted chicken with lemon jus, or a lightsout filet au poivre. Of course, dessert’s always the best course at Payard, and it’s part of the deal, so save room. (BR)

Dealicious meals

Bally’s Sterling Brunch 3645 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 862-5138, Every Sunday from 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m., the Steakhouse at Bally’s is transmogrified into a lavish banquet where diners at the Sterling Brunch ($85) nosh buffetstyle on lobster tail, rack of lamb, filet mignon, caviar, fresh sushi, Alaskan king crab and prime rib. Carving and omelet stations are joined by a flambé station where a chef will set fire to anything you like. Mimosas, bloody marys and champagne flow like water. This is classic swank; at 27, the Sterling Brunch is older than most Strip hotels, and Maître d’ Ilario Pesco runs the room with old-world hospitality. Wear your Sunday best and, yes, reservations are required. (JH)

quick guide Central

Amena Bakery and Mediterranean Café (14) 2101 S. Decatur Blvd. #10, 382-1010 The Black Bear Diner (59) 6180 W. Tropicana Ave., 368-1077, BFG Chicken Strips (10) 873 S. Rainbow Blvd., 823-2835, Pinoy-Pinay Filipino Fastfood (58) 1217 E. Sahara Ave., 893-6682, Pop’s (52) 501 S. Decatur Blvd., 878-6444, Nove Italiano (39) 4321 W. Flamingo Road (inside the Palms), 942-6800,

Chicago Brewing Company (64) 2201 S. Fort Apache Ave., 254-3333


Due Forni (66) 3555 S. Town Center Drive #105, 586-6500

Monta (50) 5030 Spring Mountain Road #6, 367-4600 Mr. Sandwich (44) 4215 Spring Mountain Road #B108, 838-2888 Pho So 1 (47) 4745 Spring Mountain Road, 252-3934 Rincon de Buenos Aires (35) 5300 W. Spring Mountain Road, 257-3331 Sam Woo BBQ Express (31) 4215 Spring Mountain Road #101, 368-7628

Ellis Island Casino & Brewery (60) 4178 Koval Lane, 733-8901,


Las Famosas de Jose (40) 2635 E. Tropicana Ave., 450-2444

Amanacer Salvadoreno (46) 1524 S. Main St.,  383-0901

The Lunch Box (12) 4632 Maryland Pkwy. #20, 722-6400,

The Beat Coffeehouse (41) 520 Fremont St., 409-5563, Du-Par’s (3) 1 Fremont St. (inside the Golden Gate), 366-9378 Esmeralda’s Café (27) 1000 E. Charleston Blvd., 388-1404

Pho Thanh Huong (15) 1131 E. Tropicana Ave., Suite D, 739-8703 Satay Asian Bistro & Bar (37) 3900 Paradise Road, 360-8788, The Stake Out (25) 4800 S. Maryland Pkwy., Suite A, 798-8383

Harry O’s Five Star BBQ (48) 1616 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 385-0701 La Piazza (57) 1000 N. Main St. (inside Best Western Hotel), 382-6487 Luv-It Frozen Custard (55) 505 E. Oakey Blvd., 384-6452,

Whazzup Pizza (1) 4440 S. Maryland Pkwy, 836-3516 Yayo Taco (26) 4632 Maryland Pkwy. #18, 262-0201,


Babycakes Café (45) 2400 N. Buffalo Drive #145, 541-6708

Restaurant Salvadoreno (36) 720 N. Main St., 385-3600

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n

Tacos El Gordo (4) 1724 E. Charleston Blvd., 251-8226

University District

Well-Being in the Box (34) 2555 S Jones Blvd. #3, 253-5222


Find a DEALicious Meal near you.

Maui Rose (49) 2600 W. Sahara Ave. #101, 868-9020, Rosemary’s Restaurant (73) 8125 W. Sahara Ave., 869-2251, rosemarysrestaurant. com Sababa (70) 3220 S. Durango Drive, 547-5556, Vintner Grill (6) 10100 W. Charleston Blvd., 214-5590,

North/Northwest H&H Barbeque (33) 2245 N. Las Vegas Blvd., 444-4227

South/ Green Valley/ Henderson

Atomic #7 (38) 605 Mall Ring Circle, 458-4777, Bachi Burger (62) 470 E. Windmill Lane #100, 242-2244 Crepe Shack and Waffles (7) 10345 S. Eastern Ave., 260-0860,

Weiss Deli (29) 2744 N. Green Valley Parkway, 454-0565 Quinn’s Irish Pub (32) 2300 Paseo Verde Pkwy. (inside Green Valley Ranch), 617-7783

The Strip

American Fish (9) 3730 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Aria at CityCenter), 877230-2742, Bally’s Sterling Brunch (Break the Bank, p. 43) 3645 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Bally’s), 862-5138, BLT Burger (23) 3400 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Mirage), 791-7111, Border Grill (71) 3950 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Mandalay Bay), 632-7403, China Poblano (67) 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Cosmopolitan), 698-7900, CUT (30) 3225 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Palazzo), 607-6300 D.O.C.G. (53) 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Cosmopolitan), 698-7000

Coo Coo’s Gourmet Coffee and Café (24) 19 W. Pacific Ave., 568-5069

Estiatorio Milos (74) 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Cosmopolitan), 698-7000

Henry’s American Grill (63) 237 N. Stephanie St., 898-5100

La Cave (69) 3131 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Wynn), 248-3463

Hot Dog Heaven (2) 87 E. Lake Mead Pkwy., 567-5050

Max Brenner (43) 3500 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Forum Shops at Caesars), 462-8790,

Kobe Sushi Bistro (42) 6375 S. Rainbow Blvd. #102, 898-9998 Papa Geo’s (22) 5597 S. Rainbow Blvd., 415-7968 Soyo Korean Barstaurant (56) 7775 S. Rainbow Blvd. #105, 897-7696

Dealicious meals

Payard Bistro (Break the Bank, p. 43) 3570 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Caesars Palace), 731-7292, The Pizza Place at the Cosmopolitan (28) 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 698-7000

Sugar Factory (71) 3655 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Paris Las Vegas), 331-5100, Wazuzu (75) 3121 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside the Wynn), 248-3463

Multiple locations

Aloha Kitchen (5) 1205 W. Sunset Road, 898-0098; 2605 S. Decatur Blvd., 364-0064; 4745 S. Maryland Pkwy., 895-9444; 4466 E. Charleston Blvd., 437-4426, Buzz BBQ (65) 7121 W. Craig Road #101, 294-2899; 9640 W. Tropicana Ave., 294-2899, Fausto’s Mexican Grill (11) 7835 S. Rainbow Blvd., 407-9445; 229 N. Stephanie St., 436-5059; 2654 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy., 617-2246; 595 College Drive, 568-1220 The Hush Puppy (61) 7185 W. Charleston Blvd., 363-5988; 1820 N. Nellis Blvd., 438-0005, Macayo’s (21) 1741 E. Charleston Blvd., 382-5605; 8245 W. Sahara Ave., 360-8210; 4457 W. Charleston Blvd., 878-7347; 375 E. Tropicana Ave., 736-1898, Pin Kaow (68) 1974 N. Rainbow Blvd., 638-2746; 7835 S. Rainbow Blvd., 614-4805; 9530 S. Eastern Ave. #100,

Road, 453-2263; 5660 Centennial Center Blvd., 878-2263; 7135 S. Rainbow Blvd., 233-2263, Mariana’s Supermarkets (20) 574 N. Eastern Ave., 387-5588; 3631 W. Sahara Ave., 222-9322; 4151 S. Eastern Ave., 894-9090; 2325 E. Cheyenne Ave., 642-2662,

Beautiful AND Sustainable!

Osaka Japanese Bistro (13) 4205 W. Sahara Ave., 876-4988; 10920 S. Eastern Ave., 616-3788, Project Dinner Table (Break the Bank, p. 43) Yard House (54) 6593 S. Las Vegas Blvd. (inside Town Square), 734-9273; 11011 W. Charleston Blvd. (inside the Red Rock Resort), 363-9273,

Food trucks

Sloppi Jo’s (16) TastyBunz (19) 768-6541,

They’re not incompatible! As horticulturists, arborists, designers and…well…plant people, we know how to transform and create outdoor living space in ways that are good for the environment, mature well, and are always beautiful. And we do it while meeting the desires and working with the budgets of our clients.

CheeseSteak Truck (18) cheesteakstruck Fukuburger (17)

Got room for more DEALiciousness? Visit our archives at to read last year’s edition of DEALicious Meals.

“It’s amazing how eye-catching some plants, especially desert plants, look when planted together. When thoughtfully combined, variations in texture, form and color of foliage can transform a landscape; such garden spaces are beautiful in every season!” — Norm Schilling, of KNPR’s Desert Bloom

2 2 2 2

0 0 0 0

0 0 0 1

7 8 9 0

“beautiful sustainable landscapes” Design | Installation | Renovation | Consultation | Maintenance | Tree Care Hardscapes | Small Jobs | Irrigation | Lighting

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers (51) 4655 W. Charleston Blvd., 294-2263; 7550 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 434-3644; 1120 E. Flamingo

(702) 452-5272

3433 Losee Road, Suite 4 North Las Vegas, NV 89030 d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n


Dealicious meals

license 0057280

The Steakhouse at Circus Circus (8) 2880 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 734-0410,

Special Advertising Section

Chef Profiles 2011



Brad Burdsall

Mimmo Ferraro

Egg & I/Egg works 4533 W. Saraha Ave. 9355 W. Flamingo Road 2490 E. Sunset Road

Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar 4480 Paradise Road 702.364.5300

Chief Eggineer

executive chef

Brad Burdsall is the admired Chief Eggineer at The Egg & I and The Egg Works restaurants in Las Vegas. ¶ After earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Restaurant Administration from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Brad bought his first restaurant, The Egg & I, in 1998. Since then he has opened Egg Works and Egg Works 2. He is currently in the process of opening his fourth restaurant. Brad’s restaurants have been Zagat-rated since 1999 and have been featured in USA Today and on Food Network’s Rachael’s Vacation. ¶ Brad’s recipe for success and growth in the restaurant industry is a solid business foundation accompanied by a passion for food, excellent service and happy employees.

After graduating from the California Culinary Academy, Chef Mimmo Ferraro went on to study in Tuscany, working under some of the best chefs in Italy. He has a lifetime of knowledge in the business having grown up with his mother and father owning restaurants their whole adult lives. “I love what I do,” Mimmo said. “I enjoy every aspect of the business, from being in the kitchen creating new dishes and doing what comes natural to me. I enjoy walking in the dining room, talking to the regular customers and meeting new people. I always try to make them feel welcome and a part of the family. Working along with my father, mother, sisters and grandmother are by far the greatest rewards of this business.”


Michael Jordan Executive chef/owner

Rosemary’s 8125 West Sahara Ave., Suite 110 702.869.2251

Chef Michael Jordan was raised in the Midwest where food, always cooked from “scratch,” was an important part of any family gathering, large or small. ¶ In May of 1999, Chef Michael & Wendy Jordan fulfilled a lifelong dream, opening the award-winning fine dining restaurant, Rosemary’s Restaurant. Rosemary’s quickly became a not-to-miss dining destination in the Las Vegas Valley. ¶ Chef Jordan draws from a variety of culinary influences to create French-inspired, creative American cuisine with regional twists from New Orleans, the Deep South and the Midwest. Rosemary’s combines great food, great drink and great service with uncommon value and dining diversity. You are welcomed with warm smiles and sincere concern for your total dining experience. Chef Jordan has always wanted an evening at Rosemary’s to be an experience, not just a great meal. ¶ In June 2009, Chef Michael along with his wife Chef Wendy released “FOOD of LOVE,” their first hardbound cookbook featuring recipes from life, travels and their career in the restaurant industry. Now with “FOOD of LOVE,” amateur chefs can bring these flavors home.

Sp e c i a l A d v e r t i s i n g S e c t i o n

RECIPE | Ferraro’s


Insalata Mimmo

Key Largo Crepe

6-8 ounces heirloom tomatoes or ripe tomatoes (cubed) 3 ounces avocado (cubed) 3 ounces fresh Bufala mozzarella or fresh mozzarella (cubed)

1-2 ounces red onion (cubed) 3 basil leaves 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil salt & pepper to taste


Crepe Batter

radicchio leaf for garnish balsamic reduction for garnish

2 large eggs 1 cup of water 1 cup of unbleached flour (can substitute with whole wheat flour )

*p  hoto shown with steak added

Download the full recipe and directions at

Roasted Prosciutto Wrapped Goat Cheese Stuffed Figs With Basil Pesto, Vanilla Bean tossed Arugula and Aged Balsamic Extraction Serves 4

12 each Prosciutto di Parma, sliced paper thin 12 each figs, small black mission 12 Tablespoons Sonoma goat cheese 2 Tablespoons vanilla bean oil*(recipe follows) 2 cups arugula, loosely packed 1 cup basil pesto sauce* (recipe online) 2 Tablespoons balsamic extraction*(recipe online) 4 each basil leaves, whole and chiffonade Method:

Preheat the oven to 375*. Roll each Tablespoon of goat cheese into a ball. Slice each fig in half and place a ball of cheese in the middle. Gently press it into the flesh of the fig and replace the other half of the fig, sandwiching

3-4 ounces of Crepe Batter (the thicker the batter the thicker the crepe) 2 ounces of guacamole 2 ounces of diced honey cured bacon

2 ounces of smoked turkey 1 ounce of fresh diced tomatoes 3 ounces of Cheddar Jack cheese 2 whipped eggs

Download the full recipe and directions at

RECIPE | Rosemary’s


Key Largo Crepe

the cheese in the center. Fold the Prosciutto in half lengthwise and wrap the Prosciutto around the fig with the ends hidden under the figs. Set all figs on an oiled cookie sheet. Place into the oven and bake until Prosciutto begins to turn golden brown. To plate, pool some of the pesto sauce toward the center of 4 warm plates. Sit the figs (3 per plate) in the center of the pesto sauce leaving a small gap in the center for the arugula. Put the balsamic extraction in a squeeze bottle and outline the pesto pool with it to keep oil from separating. Toss the arugula with the vanilla oil and season with salt and white pepper. Pile in the center with the figs. Sprinkle with the basil. Crumble just a tiny bit of the goat cheese around. Serve figs warm.

Download the full recipe and directions at

Sp e c i a l A d v e r t i s i n g S e c t i o n



Eddie Perales


Caesars Palace 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S. 702.731.7266

Table 34 600 E. Warm Springs Road 702.263.0034

Master Mixologist

executive chef

Eddie Perales is the master mixologist at Caesars Palace and an unrivaled liquid culinary mastermind with numerous accolades. ¶ Skillful, charming and enthusiastic, Perales’ energy lights up the Strip. Perales, a consummate showman, one time held a Flair Bartender’ Association world ranking of 13th and opened a bartending academy, earning Most Outstanding Small Business in California. He was selected to be one of three mixologists representing America among 42 international teams at the Cocktail World Cup. ¶ Perales offers an entertaining experience targeting all senses. Well-versed in molecular mixology, Perales’s latest conception is the ice program at Garden of the Gods pool.

Chef Wes Kendrick’s creative philosophy begins with the freshest seasonal ingredients. As a handson chef, Wes oversees every aspect of his cuisine, from receiving and inspecting each product, to production and cooking, and finally chatting with guests to ensure complete satisfaction. This attention to detail has earned him recognition from Zagat, Michelin Guide, a spot on Rachel Ray and high marks from local food critic Heidi KnappRinella. ¶ “Las Vegas residents are very discerning and it’s important to be consistently at the top of your game” – Chef Wes



Matthew Hurley

Gary Leiser

CUT Inside Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S. 702.607.6300

Steiner’s PUB 8410 W. Cheyenne Ave. 1750 N. Buffalo Drive 8168 Las Vegas Blvd.

executive chef

corporate chef/co-owner

Matthew Hurley’s interest and passion for the culinary arts led him to attend the prestigious Culinary Institute of America. ¶ Following graduation, Hurley relocated to Las Vegas and began his more than 15year career with the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group as a prep cook at Spago. Hurley advanced through a variety of roles within the group, ultimately holding the position of Corporate Catering Chef for the Las Vegas-based Private Dining & Catering, before opening CUT. ¶ Hurley’s talent, creativity and dedication serve as the perfect recipe for success in his role as executive chef of CUT Las Vegas, Wolfgang Puck’s AAA Four Diamond steakhouse.

Chef Gary Leiser has for the past thirteen years made his home at Las Vegas’ Steiner’s - “A Nevada Style Pub,” displaying his culinary talents in the service of high-quality, freshly prepared classic and innovative cuisine. ¶ Chef Gary serves up great fare you wouldn’t expect to find in a local pub, such as Wellington lamb chops, H.G.’s Chicken Picatta, and a special Montana Ranch American Kobe Beef Burger, including weekly special chilled salads created as a foil to our desert heat. Chef Gary loves displaying his “culinary chops” gained in his 30 years of culinary experience. ¶ Sample the work of Gary and his staff at any of the three locations in Las Vegas. Reach him at

Sp e c i a l A d v e r t i s i n g S e c t i o n

RECIPE | table 34

RECIPE | Caesars Palace

The Hercules and Monin Syrups Seared Sea Scallops with Orange Glaze 4-6 large Sea Scallops 1 Fresh Shallot (Finely Chopped) Zest of 2 Oranges 2 ounces Triple Sec 1 ounces Brandy 2 cups Fresh Orange Juice

2 tablespoons Brown Sugar 1 tablespoon Unsalted Butter Pinch Red Chili Flakes Corn Starch Water

Download the full recipe and directions at

The Hercules

10 ounces Belvedere Ruby Red Grapefruit vodka; 1/2 craft of fresh water melon juice 1/2 craft of fresh citrus juice to include lemon lime and orange 1/2 craft fresh cantaloupe juice

Monin syrups

1 ounce of each watermelon, rock melon, wild berry 4 ounces Belvedere Ruby red Grapefruit 8-10 large leaves Fresh mint 1/2 cup of water melon balls Small bowl of blended citrus wheels -

Download the full recipe and directions at

RECIPE | Steiner’s Pub


soprano salad


1 Sweet Italian sausage 4 ounces Roasted peppers and onions 6 Heirloom tomatoes 2 cups Romaine leaves

1 ounce Filet, Finely Diced 2 ounces Kobe New York Sirloin, Ground 1/4 teaspoon Mayonnaise 1/2 teaspoon Dijon Mustard

2 ounces Basil Romano dressing (recipe online) 1/2 ounce. Shredded Parmesan 1 Hoagie roll, halved

Download the full recipe and directions at

lemons,limes, oranges, red grapefruit 1/2 cup of each - black berries, blue berries, strawberries, raspberries 1/2 cup of eatable flowers

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce 3 teaspoons Tuscan Olive oil 1 teaspoon Crushed Capers 1/4 teaspoon Chopped Chives 1/4 teaspoon Chopped Parsley

1 tablespoon Diced Red Onion Scratch Nutmeg Pinch Fresh Ground Black Pepper 1/4 teaspoon Fleur De Sel 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt

Download the full recipe and directions at

Sp e c i a l A d v e r t i s i n g S e c t i o n


Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza


Khoury’s Mediterranean

A locals’ favorite for casual chic dining, Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza’s Zagat awardwinning menu includes gourmet woodfired pizzas made from scratch daily, heaping salads, entrees, pastas and the famous giant Messy Sundae®. Extensive glutenfree options also available, plus happy hour daily from 4-6pm at all locations.

Award-winning Smashburger serves 100-percent Certified Angus Beef cooked-to-order Smashburgers, as well as Smashchicken sandwiches, Smashdogs, Smashsalads, Häagen-Dazs shakes, and sides like veggie frites and rosemary and garlic-seasoned Smashfries, daily from 10am-10pm.

Khoury’s prides itself on excellence in the preparation of food, presentation and quality of service. Serving some of the finest Lebanese cuisine available in Las Vegas, Khoury’s restaurant will stimulate and delight your senses. Close your eyes as you savour this fantastic food and drink, and you’ll feel you’ve stepped into the heart of Beirut.

6500 W. Sahara 4300 E. Sunset Rd. 7160 N. Durango Dr. 7345 Arroyo Crossing Pkwy. 9516 W. Flamingo Rd.

227-6000 450-6664 365-7777 263-7171 638-9500

7541 W. Lake Mead Blvd (702) 982-0009 9101 W. Sahara (702) 462-5500 5655 Centennial Center Blvd. (702) 462-5503 4725 S Maryland Pkwy (702) 385-0043

6115 S. Fort Apache #100, Las Vegas, NV (702) 671-0005

Dine IN Style.


d.vino Italian Food & Wine Bar

Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant

Rosemary’s combines great food, drink and service with uncommon value and dining diversity. The Jordans draw from a variety of culinary influences to create a unique American cuisine with regional twists from New Orleans, the Deep South and the Midwest.

MCC Hospitality Group’s d.vino Italian Food & Wine Bar brings to life Italian cuisine in a hip setting. d.vino’s menu boasts pastas, wood-fired pizzas, fish, chicken and steak entrees created by Executive Chef Jose Navarro, along with an iced seafood bar and cheese/charcuterie.  Awarded the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, there’s an enomatic wine system and hundreds of wines by the bottle.

Experience fine Italian dining at its best! Celebrate this summer with the Locals Advantage and receive 50% off dinner menu from June 1st through September 30th, 4pm – 11pm. Locals Advantage is available only to Nevada residents; beverages, tax, and gratuity not included. Maximum party size of 8. Mangi, Bevi, Divertiti – Eat, Drink, Enjoy Yourself!

Located at Monte Carlo Resort & Casino, 3770 S Las Vegas Blvd., (702) 730-7966

4480 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas, NV (702) 364-5300

8125 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, NV (702) 869-2251

How to Repair

a br oken Foster kid Hea ther W ilder ha been th d rough c ounselo rs, ther and cas apists eworke rs. But what m really sa ight ve her? Writing

r che h t i .W mit

.R rS BY T ristophe



52 D e s e rt Co m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

Y by



“This is a story about me and my hurts. Everyone has hurts, even some of the people reading this booklet right now. … If we talk about our hurts, it can sometimes make us feel better.” — Heather’s Hurts

“Kids don’t believe all the stuff I’m doing,” Heather says. Through her foster care advocacy, she’s rubbed elbows with Dakota Fanning and Peyton Manning. She’s danced with Jerry Rice (his hand is as big as her back). She’s shared her story on Dick Gordon’s National Public Radio program, “The Story.” “She’s a powerful spokesperson, considering her horrendous experience,” says First Star Executive Director Elisa Garr, who has shared Heather’s booklets with others who work in the child welfare field. “I think that they’re very helpful because they’re right from her, from her experience, but they’re simplistic enough so that a child can understand them.”

The girl beneath the words

“Memories for me begin about the age of four. I don’t remember things like toys, friends, books or birthday parties. I do remember things like funny smells, piles of clothes, lots of strange acting loud adults, lots of sleeping adults who looked dead, being hurt a lot, watching movies of scary and nasty things, and being locked up in a room that had an alarm.”

Last fall, 17-year-old Heather Wilder gave a presentation at the TEDx Youth Social Entrepreneurship conference at Sidwell Friends School in Washington D.C., the ritzy private school Barack Obama’s daughters attend. She was one of only eight young adults around the world to speak at the event, and the only one from Las Vegas. All of them talked about their projects designed to help other people. Wilder didn’t just talk about her years of helping foster kids in Las Vegas — kids who spend most of their childhood being passed around from house to house, she said, “like a cardboard box.” She also talked about being a foster kid. She talked about suffering years of abuse at the hands of a drugged-out mother. She talked about the social workers and caseworkers who wrote her off as “emotionally disturbed and most likely not going to succeed in anything.” Through it all, she spoke with a grace and maturity that belied her difficult past. To kids at Cimarron High School, here in Las Vegas, Heather Wilder is that strange girl, that “geeky nerd special ed kid who knows nothing,” she says. But to other foster kids, she’s an inspiration and a role model — an author whose numerous booklets and chapbooks about life in the foster system give them hope. “If I had a dream or something came up I was having trouble with, I would write it down and feel better,” Heather explains. “It was kind of therapy for me.” The books have opened up a whole new world of possibility, shaping a vision of her life that is bigger and more generous. She’s since run toy drives and scrapbook workshops. She works with First Star, a national nonprofit agency that fights child abuse. To see her walking the grounds of Lummis Elementary, where her adopted mother Tammy Wilder teaches, is to see a young woman loved by all, from staff to elementary kids.

54 D e s e rt Co m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

— Growing Up with an Addicted Parent

Spokesperson? Not bad for a teenager who, according to the statistics on foster children, should be pregnant or on drugs or in jail. There are about 3,200 kids in foster care in Clark County in any given year. Most cycle in and out of the system. But there are roughly 70 kids a year who “age out” — who turn 18 and are still in the foster system. At that point, they are, of course, legally adults, but many of them are woefully unprepared for life. These kids often don’t have driver’s licenses or high school diplomas. They lack job training and a support network of family or friends. “Unfortunately, many turn to illegal activities to support themselves. Well over half are homeless in the first year they leave care,” says Ellen Lloyd, executive director of Child Focus, a nonprofit childcare agency. “About half the inmate population in Southern Nevada is former foster care.” “On average, they don’t fare very well,” says Mark Courtney, professor of social service administration at the University of Chicago. “They’re much less likely than other young people their age to graduate from high school, go to college, be employed. They’re much more likely to have run-ins with criminal justice, to be arrested, to be incarcerated. Young women are much more likely to become pregnant.” Heather herself still bears the scars of her upbringing, scars visible and invisible. The signs are there, beneath the poise and polish. Heather’s short-term memory is not great; her awareness of dates is a bit fuzzy. But the broad and sad outline is clear enough. For years, her mother and a string of boyfriends abused her. They kept her locked in a room all day. They fed her once a day, a bowl of ramen noodles. She had no toys. No TV. They pulled her out of school. She had one toilet, which overflowed. She was sexually abused. When

Tammy, Heather and Lexie play a game. Sometimes family time can be better than traditional therapy.

she was 7 or 8, her grandmother came to visit, saw the bad conditions and called the authorities. The FBI stormed into the house one night and hauled the parents away. At age 8, Heather was sent to Child Haven, Clark County’s facility for abused and neglected kids. Not long after, Tammy Wilder got the call. Wilder was a big-hearted and tenacious teacher who’d already served as a foster mom, twice, to two boys. The county wanted Heather to live with a single mother, so there wouldn’t be any issues with men. Tammy said yes. “The purpose (of foster care) is to give parents the time to get their lives back together and reset their lives,” Tammy says. “If they make that commitment, they need to have their kids.” But in Heather’s case, Tammy knew Heather wasn’t going back. Facing drug charges, Heather’s biological mom agreed to give up custody of her daughter to avoid jail. When Tammy met her, Heather had her own struggles. She had been restrained at Child Haven. She was acting wildly. She was diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder — a kind of intense, hostile stubbornness, where she would aggressively defy orders from adults. (“It means you can tell her no and she’s [still] going to do it,” says Tammy.) “Teachers are all about interventions,” says Tammy. “As long as you’re committed to the intervention, you know the outcomes are going to outweigh the drama along the way.” By the time Heather was in fifth grade — after a failed, 18-month attempt to live with her biological father in Florida — Tammy had adopted her.

No more pity parties

“Missing your own birthday party is just one of those awful experiences that a child might have when they have a parent who is addicted to something.” — Growing Up with an Addicted Parent

When Heather returned from being with her biological father in Florida, Tammy began a concentrated effort to rescue her newly adopted daughter’s fragile psyche. Her plan was simply to replace bad memories with good ones: Disneyland, dance and karate classes, normal kid stuff. But there was still a lot of residue from her childhood. She could barely read or write, so Tammy and a special ed teacher at Lummis began the long task of catching her up. And there were meetings, many times a week, with counselors and caseworkers, court advocates and therapists, to repair the broken girl. But Heather and Tammy soon hit on another idea. “Sometimes therapy just keeps you in the cycle,” Tammy says. “It’s your pity party every week. She didn’t need to have a pity party every week. It’s done, it’s over. Move on. If you can’t get them to move on, that’s a failing in a sense, too.” Instead, Tammy encouraged her foster daughter to start writing in a journal; it was “my way of not taking her to the counselor or therapy,”

d e s e rt c o m pa n i o n . c o m 55

Heather, Tammy and Lexie share a laugh. “She’s empowering herself,” Tammy says of Heather’s penchant for writing about her experiences.

56 D e s e rt Co m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1

“It feels good. I’m proud of myself for what I’m doing. I always think, ‘Wow, I’m so lucky to have a family, my mom and my sister, and to be able to do this.’ If I wasn’t doing this, I don’t know what I would be doing.” Tammy says. And it was Heather’s way of getting a grip on her own past, of conducting her own therapy. So she began typing her thoughts up. They took form in such titles as, “Why Do I Have to Move Again?,” “All Dressed Up and No Place to Call Home” (about the longing and fear kids have when they’re waiting to be adopted) and “Why Do I Have to Take Medication?” “I wanted to give the foster kids something they didn’t have,” Heather says. As she wrote, she and Tammy would print the stories out and read them together, make corrections and changes. Eventually they printed the stories out on colored paper and folded the pages in half to make booklets of eight, 12 and 16 pages. She wrote eight short books between fifth grade and ninth grade. And like any obsessed writer, she returned to them again and again to revise, to tinker, to make the language more mature, to correct grammar. “Sometimes I would think back and think maybe I need to add something, or something needs to be done with this story,” she says. “Mostly it’s just been … each year I learn something new in English or writing and I would look back.” The Wilders gave copies of the books to social workers and caseworkers in town, who passed them to kids across the city. One request came in from as far away as Virginia, from a little girl who later wrote and told Heather she was her hero. Heather’s altruism had opened a door for her, a door out of the past, out of a world where many thought there was little she could do. The books had fueled it. The books were “just therapy at first. While I was still writing and still thinking about foster care and my life, I started thinking about the different kinds of things the foster kids didn’t have. I felt I was lucky enough to have these things, so I should do something about it.” But the books were just the start. With a close friend she made through foster care, she began a Christmas toy drive — at the age of 9. They wanted to make sure “the other kids at least get something for Christmas and to feel loved and know somebody cares about them.” The first year, they delivered 200 toys. Then 750. The most successful year they collected more than 1,600. To date, they’ve collected more than 8,000 toys. “If she’s mindful she’s not a foster child anymore, she’s empowering herself. … (She understands) she’s not the one who’s going to be stuck having to go back to group homes,” says Tammy. “It feels good. I’m proud of myself for what I’m doing,” Heather adds. “I always think, ‘Wow, I’m so lucky to have a family, my mom and my sister, and to be able to do this.’ If I wasn’t doing this, I don’t know what I would be doing.”

Work in progress But as polished as she is, as stable and loving as her home is, she’s still healing. While her reading proficiency is at grade level, she’s struggling with reading comprehension. Her math scores are still at a fifth or sixth grade level. Her emotional development is at the same level. Girls her age are dating their classmates; Heather is still playing with dollhouses and entertaining crushes on pop stars. (Ten years from now, she says with sweet sincerity, she wants to have a horse farm and marry Nick Jonas.)



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“When she’s on that stage, you’d think she’s 20, 25,” Tammy observes. “When she’s home, she fighting with Lexie (her adopted younger sister) over who gets the three-foot Barbie doll house.” And underneath her very sunny demeanor still lurks the occasional wild child. Tammy notes that Heather has kicked her, bit her, smacked her in the face and left her with many bruises. I look to Heather to see her confirm this. She looks neither shocked nor embarrassed. She keeps an even, matter-of-fact expression on her face. It is what it is. It underscores an important fact about Heather. She’s still a kid. She turns 18 next month and while she still has a year left in high school, Tammy suspects Heather is not ready to be on her own. Even simple hygiene is still an issue — she often won’t brush her teeth, or will go a week without taking a shower. “I’m not ready,” Heather agrees. But she’s also very excited about the prospect of going off to an equestrian college in California. Tammy knows how anxious Heather is to move on, but “she’s also going to get eaten alive at this point.”

The continuing journey

“I hope maybe you can find some time to be a lucky bamboo plant for a child. You do not have to be green and tall. But you do have to have strong roots, need a little bit of sunshine in your life and have a thirst to help others. Because this is what a foster child needs. Strength, sunshine and guidance.” — All Dressed Up and No Place to Call Home

Heather’s unique journey continues. She has less than a year to pass proficiency tests in science (where she’s not too far off the pace) and math (where she lags considerably). Without those, she can’t graduate from high school. She’s been taking extra tutoring. At the same time, in June she received the Congressional Gold Medal for Youth for Service. But she’s got a head start on other foster kids: She has a home. That’s the first step — one that all foster kids deserve, Tammy says. “The community needs to step up too, open their homes. Where are all the citizens saying, ‘I’ll open my home’?” Tammy worries that some foster homes are overburdened. She calls them foster farms, which end up with five or six kids. “Heather’s a huge handful. I couldn’t have moved her in any type of forward direction if I had three or four like her. All I’m doing (then) is housing them. I’m not helping them develop their future. You’re not empowering six kids at a time when they demand 500 percent of your attention.” Tammy is trying to encourage Heather to stay close to home over the next few years, maybe take some classes at CSN to help her ease her way into adulthood. “Am I pushing her out the door at 18? No. But there’s not a whole lot you can do.” Heather took three special ed classes last semester and three regular classes. She aced them all. For her perfect grades, her mom let Heather get her ears pierced.

Learn how groups like Boys Town help foster kids on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at d e s e rt c o m pa n i o n . c o m 57


A rt Music

a r t s + e n t e r ta i n m e n t

T h e at e r Dance FA M I LY



Look at these guys. Now, you’d think Neon Trees’ after-concert back-stage parties would consist of naked, writhing groupies and cocaine dropped from a crop-dusting plane. But would you believe the members of Neon Trees are devout Mormons who are proving that you don’t need drugs, alcohol and nudity to rock? Leaves more for the rest of us, I say! Neon Trees perform 9 p.m. July 15 at the Sandbar pool at Red Rock Resort. Tickets $30. Info:


Trees: They’re the pro wrestlers of the plant world, all thick and brawny and totally wearing eyeliner but not admitting it. Learn more about these gentle giants at “Exploring Trees Inside and Out” through Sept. 5 at the Springs Preserve. Tickets $4-$8. Info:


For most of us, summer in Las Vegas typically means shutting down major metabolic functions and wearing a refrigerator as a hat. Not for the dancing fiends at the Dance in the Desert Festival. In this annual event at CSN, dancers from around the valley — and the world — converge to showcase the state of the moving arts. Dance in the Desert takes place 7 p.m. July 29 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. July 30 at CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre. Tickets $8-$10. Info:

Neon Trees


A lonely guy playing old records in his room all by his sad self is a) my typical Saturday night in 1988 or b) the unlikely premise for a runaway Broadway hit? The answer is b! But don’t worry. “The Drowsy Chaperone” also features saucy dames, bon mots, chaperones and drowsiness. “The Drowsy Chaperone” goes on 8 p.m. July 1316, 20-23, and 27-30 as part of the Super Summer Theatre series at Spring Mountain Ranch state park. Tickets $12$15. Info:

58 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u ly 2 0 1 1


If your kids are slightly depressed, Steve Roslonek will gently buoy their spirits with his uplifting songs. If your kids are already happy, Steve Roslonek will launch their psyches into a manic, careening, cheek-flapping joy overdrive. What? Got a problem with the magic of childhood? WELL DO YOU? He performs 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Historic Fifth Street School. Tickets $3-$10. Info: 229-3515

Steve Roslonek

ART First Friday July 1 and Aug. 5, 6-10 p.m. The Arts District’s monthly cultural event features artists, music and more in a street festival atmosphere. $2 suggested donation. 384-0092,

Great Basin Exteriors: A Photographic Survey Through July 10, by appointment. This exhibit examines loss, change and abandonment in the American West. Historic Fifth Street School Gallery

In and Out of Whack Through Aug. 13.Artists Deborah Karpman and Kimberly Hennessy find balance among separate extremes of protection and invasion, strength and weakness, chaos and order. Contemporary Arts Center

Celebrating Life! 2011 Winners Circle Exhibition July 7-Aug. 25,Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. View the award-winning entries from this year’s fine arts competition sponsored by the Las Vegas Arts Commission and the city of Las Vegas to recognize local artists. Bridge Gallery

Desert Spaces Art Exhibition July 14-Sept. 11,by appointment. Reception July 14, 5:30 p.m. Featured artists have focused in on the beauty, detail and color of the awe-inspiring expanse of our desert environment. Historic Fifth Street School Gallery

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CountyCenter by Justin Favela Through July 22.Emerging artist Justin Favela incorporates humor and art history into this site-specific installation of sculptures. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery

Hot Glass Through Aug. 18.Artist Stacey Neff’s exhibit explores the possibilities of glass as a sculptural medium. Charleston Heights Arts Center

Summer Selections Through Sept. 4. A celebration of contemporary prints, editions and multiples by some of the world’s leading artists. Also features works by several artists from the “Locals Only” series. CENTERpiece Gallery

Springs Preserve Photo Contest Through October 2. View award winners of the Springs Preserve’s annual photo

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Aaron Nigel Smith

Las Vegas Philharmonic WINDS

July 14, 10:30 a.m. Parent’s Choice and National Parenting Publication Award-winning artist, Aaron Nigel Smith performs his lively show. $3-$10. Historic Fifth Street School

July 22, 7:30
p.m. Performance from the Green Valley Presbyterian Church Concert Series. Free. 1798 Wigwam Parkway, Henderson

Natasha Bedingfield

Neon Trees


July 3, 7 p.m. Pop star Natasha Bedingfield performs her uplifting songs. $22.50$26.50. House of Blues

July 15, 9 p.m. The throwback synth-pop band performs their danceable tunes about love, loss and wearing sunglasses all the time. $30. Sandbar pool at the Red Rock Resort

Dance in the Desert Festival

contest and behold the sights from these professional, youth and amateur photographers. $4-$8. Springs Preserve, Big Springs Gallery


New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys July 3, 7:30 p.m. New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys will make you feel like a schoolgirl again. Even if you’re a boy. $86.58$107.58. Mandalay Bay Events Center

Bob Dylan and his Band

Concert Series IV: Celebrate!

Chris Isaak

July 3, 8 p.m. Henderson Symphony Orchestra
performs. $10 suggested donation. Lake Las Vegas

July 16, 9 p.m. Chris Isaak performs live at Mandalay Beach. $40. Mandalay Bay

Fourth of July Fireworks with Mystic Roots

July 22, 1 p.m.CSN’s weeklong Tom Ferguson/Jazz Combo Camp concludes with performances featuring instrumentalists and jazz vocalists. Free. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre

July 4, 8 p.m. Mystic Roots performs immediately after a 9 p.m. fireworks display. $25. Mandalay Bay

July 16, 8 p.m. Legendary singer and songwriter Bob Dylan performs. $125-$200. The Palms

Jazz Combo Camp Finale

July 29, 7 p.m.; July 30, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Choreographers around Las Vegas and the nation offer a wide variety of dance styles and programs, from the traditional to the experimental. $8-$10. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre

THEATER/COMEDY The Anti-Social Network July 3, 8 p.m. Featuring the combination of comedic powerhouses Dave Attell, Jim Breuer, Bill Burr and the show’s host and brainchild, Jim Norton. From $65. The Palms

Killer Joe July 3 and 10, 2 p.m. To collect insurance money, the Smith family hires a hit man to kill their estranged matriarch. $10$12. CSN’s BackStage Theatre

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Leland Faulkner’s “World of Wonder” July 6, 10:30 a.m. The “World of Wonder” is a journey around the world designed for the whole family. $3-$10. Charleston Heights Arts Center

The Drowsy Chaperone July 13-30, 8 p.m. (dark Sun.-Tue.) This storywithin-a-story musical revolves around a Broadway starlet searching for true love. Part of the Super Summer Theatre series. $12-$15. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park,

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels July 15-31, Thu.-Sat. at 8 p.m., Sun. at 2 p.m. Based on the 1988 film of two con men living on the French Riviera. $20-$25. Las Vegas Little Theatre

Fiddler on the Roof Aug. 10-27, 8 p.m. (dark Sun.-Tue.) This classic musical is about the dairyman Tevya’s quest to find happiness for his daughters, and a better life for his people. Part of the Super Summer Theatre series. $12$15. Spring Mountain Ranch State Park,


11572-SG LV Desert Companion.pdf



10:07 AM

Red, White and Tunes July 2, 7 p.m. Kick off Independence Day weekend with live patriotic music and old-fashioned summertime treats. $2$5. Springs Preserve

Fourth of July Celebration July 4, 6 p.m. Celebrate Independence Day in Henderson with great live entertainment and the time-honored traditional fireworks display. Basic High School Football Field, 400 N. Palo Verde Drive

SteveSongs with Steve Roslonek

50% OFF

July 28, 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Steve Roslonek blends smart lyrics, catchy melodies and thoughtful messages into fun participatory songs for any age. $3$10. Historic Fifth Street School

Exploring Trees Inside and Out Through September 5, 10-6 p.m. Walk through an enlarged tree trunk and through the veins of leaves and leave

EVERY DAY 4pm-7pm & 12am-3am


Venom Through July 31 Saturdays and Sundays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Take a bite out of your weekend and witness a venomous cast of characters on stage in the Big Springs Theater and learn how and why they use venom. $4.95-$9.95. Springs Preserve



Expires September 30, 2011

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Warm Springs & Stephanie 215 & S Aliante 702.547.0142


Must be a Beer & Bites member. Must be 21. Management reserves all rights. See bar host for details.

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 61

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the exhibit with a new respect for trees. $4-$8. Springs Preserve

Summer Camps for Kids Through August 22. For 11 weeks, five daylong camps for ages 6-12 will let kids get up close and personal with gila monsters and other desert animals and take part in archaeology digs. $210-$230. Springs Preserve

Alexander, King of Jesters July 20, 10:30 a.m. Alexander reinvents a cultural icon with his period music transporting audiences to another place and time. $3-$10. Charleston Heights Arts Center

Annual Summer Intensive July 11-Aug. 5 Is your child serious about dance? This rigorous, three-week training program, designed for ages

8-19, covers a range of dance styles, techniques and culture, including ballet, ballet history, modern dance, jazz and flamenco, pointe and pre-pointe. For prices and registration, call the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre at 243-2643

Story Ballet Program July 11-29, Aug. 8-12. This series of dance classes for young children ages 3-8 includes basic ballety movement, music exploration and story ballet. It will include selections from “Sleeping Beauty,” “La Sylphide,” “Swan Lake,” “Cinderella” and “Coppelia.” Children don’t need any previous dance experience. For prices and registration, call the Academy of Nevada Ballet Theatre at 243-2643

Handmade in Vegas Arts and Crafts Fair Aug. 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The local arts and



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Summer of seeing

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Works such as David Hockney’s “Gorge d’incre” are on exhibit through Sept. 4 at CENTERpiece gallery at CityCenter.

Poor CityCenter, getting all upstaged by that quirky but undeniably sexy debutante The Cosmopolitan. It seems like mere minutes after CityCenter opened to its own fanfare — Look at us! We’re more than cluster of casinos! We’re urban and kinda edgy! — The Cosmopolitan sauntered out like the love child of Amy Winehouse and David Lynch. Lest we forget, though, CityCenter does host one of the Strip’s — and the valley’s — most interesting art galleries, CENTERpiece. Not only does it quietly host the work of marquee names such as Claes Oldenburg and David Hockney, but it also showcases some of Vegas’ most talented artists such as Sush Machida and Aaron Sheppard. CENTERpiece’s “Summer Selections” exhibit gives you the opportunity to see a mix of just that — big names in art and design as well as sturdy locals — through Sept. 4. Info: 739-3314 or www.

crafts group with more than 300 members is dedicated to promoting locally handmade arts and crafts to both celebrate creativity and support the local economy. Vendors and exhibits will feature jewelry, clothing, toys, bath and body products, pottery, home decor and more. Free. Resort on Mount Charleston, 2275 Kyle Canyon Road. www.

FILM The Man Who Planted Trees Through July 31. Saturdays and Sundays at 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Awardwinning animator Frédéric Back adapts acclaimed author Jean Giono’s inspirational tale of a solitary shepherd who transforms his barren landscape into a thriving forest by planting trees. $4.95$9.95. Springs Preserve

LECTURES, READINGS AND PANELS An Evening with Tess Gerritsen: Rizzoli, Isles and the Monkey King July 6, 7 p.m. Author Tess Gerritsen returns to the stage of the Clark County Library to talk about “The Silent Girl,” in which she weaves together the threads of mythology and folklore with a suspense narrative. Free. Clark County Library

The Life of Tone-Kei July 9, 11 a.m. Join Holly Davis, author of “Tone-Kei: A Storehouse of Memories, Historic Speeches, Indian Folk Tales & Empowerment from a Celebrated Kiowa Elder,” as she speaks on this present day advocate and patriarch for Native Americans. Free. Sahara West Library

The Poets’ Corner July 15, 7:30 p.m. Keith Brantley hosts established poets and open-microphone participants. For mature audiences. Free. West Las Vegas Arts Center

Women of Color Conference Aug. 1-3. Open to all women and men, this three-day conference offers career development seminars, networking opportunities and speakers including Janet Murguia of the National Council of La Raza, motivational speaker Dr. Robin Smith and self-improvement expert Linda Clemons. Proceeds go to benefit organizations serving women and girls. $150. Mandalay Bay hotelcasino.

VENUE GUIDE The Cosmopolitan 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 698-7000, www. CENTERpiece Gallery In CityCenter 3720 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 736-8790, Charleston Heights Arts Center 800 S. Brush St., 229-6383 Clark County Government Center 500 Grand Central Parkway, 455-8239 College of Southern Nevada BackStage Theater, Nicholas J. Horn Theater, Recital Hall, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave., North Las Vegas, 651-5483, Historic Fifth Street School 401 S. Fourth St., 229-6469 House of Blues Inside Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Insurgo’s Bastard Theater 900 E. Karen Ave. #D114, Las Vegas-Clark County Library District Centennial Hills, Clark County, Enterprise, Rainbow, Sahara West, Summerlin, Sunrise, West Charleston and Whitney libraries, 734-READ, MGM Grand Garden Arena In the MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S., The Orleans Showroom Inside The Orleans, 4500 W. Tropicana Ave.,

Valley Cheese & Wine 1770 Horizon Ridge Parkway #110 Henderson, NV 89012 702-341-8191 This gourmet cheese and wine shop in Henderson supplies Las Vegas with the finest artisanal and handcrafted specialty foods, wine, and cheeses available. Hours: Monday - Saturday 10 AM until 8 Pm Sunday 11AM until 5 PM Free Wine Tastings Friday 4 PM until 7PM Sat. noon until 7 PM

Reed Whipple Cultural Center 821 Las Vegas Blvd. N., 229-1012 The Springs Preserve 333 S. Valley View Blvd., 822-7700, www. UNLV Artemus Ham Hall, Judy Bayley Theater, Beam Music Center Recital Hall, Barrick Museum Auditorium, Black Box Theater, Greenspun Hall Auditorium, Paul Harris Theater, Student Union Theatre. 4505 S. Maryland Parkway, 895-2787, Winchester Cultural Center 3130 S. McLeod Dr. 455-7340

d e s e r t c o m pa n i o n . c o m 63

last word

The cheapest eats of all


Love a great bargain? Are you stealthy? Can you run fast? These meal deals are for you! by rick paulas

Listen: The dining deals described in the preceding pages have been amazing. Truly. But they’re lacking in one specific and quantifiable area: money. Meaning, they cost it! How great can a deal really be if you still have to reach into your wallet? Luckily, Las Vegas is full of the cheapest bargains around. And when I say cheapest, it’s not just a cute way of phrasing, it’s a damn dictionary-backed truth, tough guy. You cannot get any cheaper than free. It is an impossibility, like sane people who own more than three cats or clean restrooms in a downtown public library. So let’s take a look at a day’s worth of free eats, or “freats” — see what I did there? I love combining words that previously were not yet combined! — and how to find them. As any health professional will tell you, mainly because it’s their job, you want to start off your meal with a low-fat appetizer. To find one, head to the nearest casino rooftop pool and locate the jug of water that young bathing beauties use to quench their thirst after a long day in the sun. Open that bad boy up. If it’s a classy enough establishment, you’ll see cucumber slices floating inside, giving the aqua an extra dash of flavor. Take out your toothpick — I’m assuming you have multiple toothpicks on you because, you know, they’re free — and stab at your delightful hors d’oeuvre. If pool-folk start giving you the stink-eye, offer them a slice or two. Or don’t! You’re the appetizer boss around here. Next up’s the buffet. Or should I say, “barffet” — see how I did that again? Head to your favorite whistle-wetting liquor joint, pull up a stool and crack open your Ziploc bag. (Oh, now’s a good time to mention: Carry a bunch of Ziploc bags on you at all times to keep leftovers fresh and easy to reach.) Fill it with what they have: peanuts, potato chips, mini-pretzels, cherries, lemons, olives, orange slices, anything will do. Instant Vegas trail mix! Personally, I recommend going to those new throwback Prohibition-era whiskey joints that are all the rage. They have the most delicious garnish caddies!

64 D e s e r t C o m pa n i o n J u LY 2 0 1 1

The key to any great meal is, of course, an entrée full of carbs. Which is why your next stop is an Italian restaurant. Press your suit, iron your pants, take your top hat out of mothballs and spritz on some cologne. Make a night of it! When you get there, just take a seat. In a few moments, they will actually bring you a basket of bread! Free. No questions asked. Now I’m usually not one to critique someone’s business plan, but this seems like such an easily exploitable loophole that it would’ve been fixed by now. But it hasn’t. Sometimes they actually bring you bottles of oil and vinegar. That’s like someone responding to you punching them in the face by offering up their very kickable groin! If the waiter’s really great, they’ll bring you three or four helpings, which would be worth an extra tip if you were actually ordering food. When they ask for your order, stand up, give them your grateful thanks, assure them you’ll be giving a five-star rating on Yelp, and be on your merry (and mostly full) way. But no meal is complete without a tasty

sweet to top it off. Problem is, they’re usually so darn expensive, by which I mean costing any amount of money. Good thing, then, that free after-dinner desserts are readily available in every hotel on the Strip. Pick a random floor, walk through the halls and locate the Magical Cart of Mystery. Make a little game of it! It looks like a push-cart with towels, soaps, sheets and other miscellaneous items on it. But hidden away in a compartment is a box or baggie of sugary sweets. Sometimes it’s mints, sometimes minichocolates. Let the Cart decide for you. Whatever’s in there, eat one now and pile the rest into your Ziploc bag for later. Another day, another perfect meal. All for free. And best of all, now that you’ve found the Magical Cart of Mystery, you can work on furnishing your new apartment. Excuse me, I mean “free-urnish!” Rick Paulas has written for Wired, McSweeney’s, The Awl and other places where he can make up words like “freats.”


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Desert Companion - July 2011