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and Wake up and taste the Vegas breakfast renaissance plus

Big! Hot! Crazy! E xotic!

50 EXTREM EATS for bra E FOODIES ve

Custom pancake stack with fresh blueberries from Du-par’s

American cheese

A (hilarious) immigrant story

They whisk it all

Master chefs dish secret kitchen tricks

DARE!licious meals

We dared them. They ate it.


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editor’s note

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Taste the flipside Goto Pares atbp.

Next Month in Desert Companion

The doctors will see you now — in our Health and Medicine Issue

2 | Desert

What? It looked like someone had come up with the name by accidentally sitting on a computer keyboard. But the colorful sign declaring “Goto Pares atbp” (what?) beckoned amid this otherwise bland and aging strip mall on east Charleston, and the logo — a bowl of soup puffing two playful curls of steam — spoke to my stomach, which was making dubstep hunger noises that no mere computer keyboard could express. (Though “oorgheaaxchchkk!” comes close.) It wasn’t long before I was mouthdeep in culinary adventure, enjoying crispy kwek-kwek (boiled eggs deep-fried in sweet batter), a massive plate of palabok (vermicelli with tofu, fish sauce and fried pork) and, for dessert, halo-halo — a bracing, icy ambrosia of purple yam ice cream, milk, flan, coconut shreds and fresh fruit chunks served in a glass chalice generous enough for two. Goto Pares atbp is a recently opened Filipino restaurant downtown. (“Goto” is rice porridge; “pares” is a nickname for a popular Filipino beef bowl; and “atbp” means “et cetera.”) They specialize in Filipino street food, everything from fish balls to the dreaded balut — that is, duck embryo boiled in the shell, a dish launched into infamy on a million reality TV and extreme-eating shows. It wasn’t long before Goto Pares atbp owner Angelita “Baby” Cariaga was penciling me in for a balut date on my next visit. “Balut is very good!” she said. “As long as you

Companion | July 2012

don’t look at it!” (I asked her what Tagalog for “rain check” was.) You know this dead horse: Everyone in Las Vegas is from somewhere else. It’s a musty truism, but its effects sometimes take novel forms. For instance, I suspect it’s one reason for the dispiriting dominance of chain restaurants; in a transient and rootless realm, your neighborhood Chili’s Outback Taco Garden becomes a culinary shrine of familiarity, a stand-in placard for a real sense of place: If you’re not in authentic Las Vegas, at least you’re in a shared version of some corporation’s idea of America, right? There’s a sunny flipside to that effect. That Vegas is a city of immigrants — from across borders both foreign and domestic — means we also have a surprising diversity hiding in every strip mall and shopping center, whether it’s a bustling Korean market or a sleepy Ethiopian café. And that brings us to our fourth annual DEALicious Meals edition. Certainly, the dining deals that abound in this issue (starting on page 46) will likely lead you to keeping this magazine around for months to come as a sauce-stained foodie micro-bible. It will also serve as a map to the wild side of dining in Vegas, whether you’re a fan of ethnic eats (adjarski khachapuri, anyone?), spicy food (fire breathing dragon roll — yowza!), contest yums (eight pounds of nachos in 55 minutes? Go!) or novelty plates (the huuuge Alaska Donut eats other donuts for breakfast). And, given that

our city is genetically engineered for nightside mischief, breakfast may as well be considered an exotic meal, too. It’s also become very good in recent years, graduating well beyond hangover-banishing grease bombs slung at the dining counter — and we issue the wake-up call on page 64. And after reading our — hic! — expert guide to our favorite happy hours on page 26, we suspect you’ll need just such a breakfast, whether you’re wrapping up at three in the morning or three in the afternoon. Whatever your poison — out-there fare or handcrafted cocktails — this issue is sure to deliver plenty of buzz. Broaden your palate — and get a taste of your own community. Andrew Kiraly Editor


contents desert companion magazine // desertcompanion.com

07.2012

DEPARTMENTS 11

All Things to All People

Delicious by design By Tony Illia

20

Books

American cheese By Oksana Marafioti

26

Drinks

Happier by the hour By Lissa Townsend Rodgers

36

Film

Movie nights By Lissa Townsend Rodgers

71

Guide

80

History lesson Not on bread alone By Andrew Kiraly

FEATURES 46 Dealicious Meals

64 Rise and shine

Brace your mouth. We’ve got 50 great meals for foodies with adventurous appetites

Wake up and smell the comeback: The next wave of Vegas breakfast is here

4 | Desert

Companion | July 2012

on the cover Custom short stack at Du-par’s in the Golden Gate hotel-casino Photography Sabin Orr

D o n u t: C h r i s to p h e r S m i t h ; J a l e o c o u r t e s y o f THE RO C K W ELL G ROUP ; Ok s a n a : C h a s e S t e v e n s

From rock to theater to dance, your guide to culture


UPCOMING SHOWS TI C K ET S STA RTI N G AT $2 4

Chris Botti

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CTA featuring Chicago founding member Danny Seraphine

Friday, July 6 – 8:30pm

k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang

Friday, July 13 – 7:30pm

Friday, July 6 – 8:00pm Saturday, July 7 – 8:00pm

Memphis

Wednesday, July 18 – Sunday, July 22 Wednesday - Sunday - 7:30pm Thursday, Saturday & Sunday - 2:00pm

Diana Krall

Monday, August 13 – 7:30pm

TheSmithCenter.com

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Stephen Sondheim A Life in the Theater: An Evening of Music and Conversation

Saturday, July 14 – 8:00pm

La Cage Aux Folles

Steve Martin and The Steep

Tuesday, August 14 – Sunday, August 19 Canyon Rangers: An Evening Tuesday – Sunday – 7:30pm of Bluegrass and Comedy Saturday & Sunday – 2:00pm Wednesday, August 22 – 7:30pm

UPCOMING SHOWS AT

Clint Holmes

Friday, July 6 – 8:30pm Saturday, July 7 – 8:30pm Sunday, July 8 – 2:00pm

Pia Zadora

Friday, July 27 – 8:00pm Saturday, July 28 – 7:00pm

Barbara Cook

Thursday, August 16 – 8:00pm Friday, August 17 – 8:00pm Saturday, August 18 – 8:00pm Sunday, August 19 – 3:00pm

Visit TheSmithCenter.com to see the full lineup today. 361 Symphony Park Avenue, Las Vegas NV 89106

Ashton Zyer

Saturday, September 22 – 8:00pm


p u blishe D B y nevada p u blic radio

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 elizabeth guernsey 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

Cybele, Jim Begley, Alan Gegax, Michael Green, Amira Hall-Hood, Julie Hession, Tony Illia, Debbie Lee, Danielle McCrea, David McKee, Christie Moeller, Brock Radke, Lissa Townsend Rodgers, Dana Satterwhite, Mark Sedenquist

Contributing Artists

Aaron McKinney, Sabin Orr, Chase Stevens

To submit your organization’s event listings for the Desert Companion events guide, send complete information to guide@desertcompanion.com. Feedback and story ideas are always welcome, too.

Editorial: Andrew Kiraly, (702) 259-7856; andrew@desertcompanion.com Fax: (702) 258-5646 Advertising: Christine Kiely, (702) 259-7813; christine@desertcompanion.com

Subscriptions: Chris Bitonti, (702) 259-7810; subscriptions@desertcompanion.com

Website: www.desertcompanion.com 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 www.desertcompanion.com, 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 written permission of the publisher. The views of Desert Companion contributing writers are not necessarily the views of Desert Companion or Nevada Public Radio. Contact Chris Bitonti for back issues, which are available for purchase for $7.95.

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

6 | Desert

Companion | July 2012


Expect only the highest level of care for your heart. An advanced standard of care is now available in St. Rose Dominican Hospitals’ new state-of-the-art hybrid operating suite. This suite integrates all of the equipment needed to seamlessly diagnose and treat patients requiring multiple procedures - a universal operating room that easily adapts to endovascular, minimally invasive, open surgery and hybrid procedures. St. Rose now also offers Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) - a groundbreaking minimallyinvasive cardiac treatment that provides help and hope for patients who have been diagnosed with severe aortic valve disease. When you expect the best in care, make sure you turn to St. Rose. To learn more about our Cardiology Centers:

strosehospitals.org/Cardiac


Make your neighbors green with envy

p u blishe D B y nevada p u blic radio

Nevada Public Radio Board of Directors

Nevada Public Radio Community Advisory Board

Officers

Mark ricciardi, esq. Chairman Fisher & Phillips, LLP

Elizabeth FRETWELL, Chair City of Las Vegas Susan Brennan, vice chair Brennan Consulting Group, LLC cynthia alexander, Treasurer Snell & Wilmer Florence M.E. Rogers, Secretary Nevada Public Radio

Directors

shamoon ahmad, m.d., mba, facp Cynthia Alexander, Esq. Louis Castle, Director emeritus

A

beautiful garden is the result of the thoughtful and caring combination of plant sciences with art and craftsmanship. That’s what we do in every job. We’re plant people who love to make a difference...and what a difference it is! “No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.”— Thomas Jefferson

Patrick N. Chapin, Esq., Director Emeritus KIRK V. CLAUSEN Wells Fargo

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Companion | July 2012

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John R. Klai II Klai Juba Architects

JENNA MORTON

Lamar Marchese, President Emeritus William mason Taylor International Corporation

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Richard I. Dreitzer Fox Rothschild LLP

edmÉe s. marcek College of Southern Nevada

Jerry Nadal Cirque du Soleil

(702) 452-5272

DENNIS COBB President, DCC Group

jan L. jones Caesars Entertainment Corporation

Chris Murray Director Emeritus Avissa Corporation

Design | Installation | Renovation | Consultation | Maintenance | Tree Care Hardscapes | Small Jobs | Irrigation | Lighting

David Cabral Business Finance Corporation

Peter O’Neill R&R Partners William J. “Bill” Noonan, Director Emeritus Boyd Gaming Corporation kathe nylen PBTK Consulting

Steve Parker UNLV Richard Plaster Signature Homes 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

MARK RICCiARDI, Esq., director emeritus Fisher & Phillips, LLP Mickey Roemer, Director Emeritus Roemer Gaming TIM WONG Arcata Associates

Follow us online: www.facebook.com/desertcompanion www.twitter.com/DesertCompanion


SEXY • FUN • ACROBATIC

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07.2012

NE W S

to all people

PEOP L E C OMM U NIT Y S H OP D ESI G N

e

Community

Design

J a l e o c o u r t e s y o f T H E ROC K W ELL G ROU P

Delicious by design Eating out is always an adventure, and not just for our mouths. We often forget the role design plays in the dining experience. The next time you’re out for a bite on the Strip, look beyond the plate, particularly if you’re at a David Rockwell-designed eatery. Indeed, Rockwell has crafted some of Southern Nevada’s most striking dining experiences — or, as Vanity Fair architecture critic Paul Goldberger called his work, “sophisticated versions of fantasy environments.” His artfully conceived, immersive spaces keep Rockwell crisscrossing the globe for commissions in Madrid and Dubai, London and Hong Kong — oh, and let’s not forget Las Vegas. “Eating out is a social act that comes with expectations about a shared experience,” says Rockwell, who’s received the Smithsonian’s National Design Award. “Restaurants have the potential to create powerful and lasting memories, similar to the experience of live theater. I think you need to tell a complete story in the design of a restaurant, one that embraces the identity of the chef, the nature of the cuisine, and also the context of the restaurant itself.” In a recent interview, Rockwell discussed his design vibe behind some of the Strip’s most acclaimed restaurants. The playpen: Jaleo. Chef José Andrés’ restaurant at The Cosmopolitan incorporates Spanishinspired design elements throughout the interior, including calligraphy, surrealism and traditional mantillas, or lace shawls. A native of Spain’s north coast, Andrés wanted touches that reflected the heritage of his home country, including a wood-burning paella kitchen and hand-carved Iberico ham station. “The design evokes the playfulness of Las Vegas,” Rockwell says. “For example, one table incorporates foosball for a fun and creative dining area that celebrates Spanish cuisine and craft. We wanted to fully immerse guests into the playful act of enjoying food.” The backyard: BLT Burger. BLT isn’t a typical burger joint. Rockwell’s approach focuses on the burger-eating experience by making the grill, milkshakes and beer

HEAR MORE

Soup is on

brewing the central focus. The entrance of this Mirage eatery is a textured wood box made from a butcher’s block, while a glazed red brick wall, golden upholstery and textural materials accent the central grill. It treats diners as though they’re at a backyard barbecue. “As with many of our designs, the mood can transform,” Rockwell says. “The entry is backlit with lighting that changes color and intensity to correspond with the time of day, while the grill hood is surrounded by mesh metal that lets a skylight’s light glimmer and play between the two materials.” The club: Strip House. Rockwell designed the

Jaleo’s design “evokes the playfulness of Las Vegas,” says David Rockwell.

You’ll looove the leek and potato soup — after all, it’s made from fresh vegetables pulled right from the garden just a few feet away. But the real nourishment going on at a Vegas SOUP charity dinner is how the event benefits a choice nonprofit with a fat check at the end of the night. This garden nosh takes place every other month at Vegas Roots, a five-acre community garden in the heart of Las Vegas off Bonanza Road. (The ingredients in SOUP: Support, Organize and Unite People.) “It’s a wonderful way to support some of the smaller, lesser-known

original Strip House, which opened in New York in 2000. Like the original, Planet Hollywood’s incarnation is sexy and Keep up with Desert evocative, complete with silhouettes of Companion events, news burlesque dancers inside storefront exand bonus features at hibits. Bathed in rich reds, Strip House desertcompanion.com. evokes the warmth and decadence of 1930s and ’40s speakeasies, with tufted leather booths, velvet mahogany and antique mirrors. The main dining room’s black and white photographs of celebrities reference Asti’s — a legendary Greenwich Village haunt that has since closed, says Rockwell, but that lives on in this small homage in his multilayered work. — Tony Illia

continued on pg. 12

How about dining in tonight — in a cargo container? Hear how on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at desertcompanion.com/hearmore DesertCompanion.com | 11


nonprofits in town that are doing such great work,” says Vegas Roots Executive Director Rosalind Brooks. “Even if we raise just $300, it helps.” Indeed, these bimonthly bashes — with a featured soup created from veggies culled from the Vegas Roots garden — are a far cry from tux-and-gown galas that power some of the more established nonprofits in town. For a $10 ticket, you get some of the freshest soup around and, at the end of the night, a vote on which of the four organizations will get the ticket money. Reps from the various nonprofits deliver five-minute pitches in hopes of winning the donation. Since Brooks launched the event in November, Vegas SOUP has given money to every kind of organization, from halfway houses for ex-prostitutes to groups supporting grandparents raising grandchildren fulltime. We’ll slurp to that. Vegas SOUP takes place 6:30 p.m. July 22 at the Vegas Roots Community Garden, 715 N. Tonopah Drive. Info: vegasroots.org — Andrew Kiraly

ON THE TOWN

T H E ANS W ERS

Q: Did Elvis bomb in Las Vegas?

k

Choco! Solo! Megan Romano is a former Strip pastry chef who has struck sweetly out on her own. Her new place, Chocolate & Spice Bakery, opens this month at 7293 W. Sahara Ave. #8. Info: chocolatenspice.com

A: Kind of. When we think of Elvis Presley and Las Vegas in the same sentence, three things come to mind. One, “Viva Las Vegas,” the 1964 film co-starring Ann-Margret and featuring what remains the iconic Las Vegas song. Two, Elvis’s wedding to Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin Hotel in 1967. Three, Elvis’s 837 consecutive sold-out shows at The International and the Las Vegas Hilton from 1969 until his death in 1977, with the rhinestone suits and long sideburns. But an earlier incarnation of Elvis performed in Las Vegas, and it didn’t go quite so well as his run on Paradise Road. In April 1956, Presley began a twoweek stint on a bill at the New Frontier. He didn’t exactly drive people away, but the response to him was underwhelming. The hotel billed him as “The Atomic Powered Singer,” a sop to the above-ground tests northwest of town whose mushroom clouds served as a tourist attraction. He appeared along with Shecky Greene, the legendary comic who is

still performing occasionally in town, and Freddy Martin’s big band, whose biggest hit had been “I’ve Got a Loverly Bunch of Coconuts” for one of Martin’s earlier singers, Merv Griffin. The audience pretty much yawned at Elvis when it wasn’t shocked by him. After all, he was 21, and his ideal audience wasn’t a Las Vegas showroom audience, which tended toward the age of the parents of the usual Elvis fans. While Martin’s band played its version of rock music to introduce Presley, it wasn’t quite right. Presley did do well in a special afternoon fundraiser, which teens overran. He also enjoyed clowning with Liberace, who was caught on camera playing the guitar while Elvis tried a few licks at the piano, and liked Las Vegas enough to make it a regular vacation spot for himself. But Elvis’s true success in Las Vegas would come later when, as J. Kell Houssels, Jr., a longtime casino operator here, put it, “He and his audience grew up.” — Michael Green

Got a question? We’ve got the answer. Email it to editor@desertcompanion.com. 12 | Desert

Companion | July 2012

Illustration BY Aaron Mckinney

c h o c o l at e & s pi c e ph oto c o u r t e s y m e g a n r o m a n o

continued from pg. 11

news


7350 Dean Martin at Warm Springs | 10-4 Mon-Sat | 702.891.0000 | californiaclosets.com/las-vegas Š2010 California Closet Company, Inc. All rights reserved. Each franchise independently owned and operated. NV Lic #52850


PROFILE

Mixing it up 14 | Desert

Companion | July 2012

Susan Wolfla

Executive chef, Mandalay Bay Consider some of the marquee names of Strip dining: Todd English, Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay, Rick Moonen … You’d think the Las Vegas Strip dining scene is strictly a man’s world. But look behind that marquee — and meet Susan Wolfla. She’s the first female to hold an executive chef position on the Strip. Since last July, Wolfla has been managing the culinary operations at Mandalay Bay hotel-casino. That includes everything from overseeing the menus of Raffles Café, The Noodle Shop, The Café and The Buffet to crafting room-service menus to creating the grub in the employee canteen. Such breadth requires an almost scientific mind for detail — and fortunately, Wolfla studied cell and developmental biology in college before pursuing a culinary career. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, she later worked in a number of cities — Bahamas, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Las Vegas — that instilled in her a versatility that has become her hallmark. How’d she go from the lab to the kitchen? “I wanted a profession that challenged me on all levels — intellectually, physically and emotionally,” she says. She faced those challenges and more at the recent JCK (Jewelers’ Circular Keystone) convention, during which she and her staff worked from 4 a.m. to 9 p.m. for four days, cooking Indian cuisine for a ravenous convention clientele. Reading collective food moods and gauging the public palate is essential to her work. What does she taste in upcoming food trends? An appetite for performance-enhancing “functional foods,” and a continued love affair with tapas. One thing she’d like to see a more generous serving of: Women in high-powered chef positions. But she understands the unique demands on women at home and in the workplace. “It’s hard to balance both family aspirations and a career,” she says. “Once you leave, it’s harder to get back in.” But for women who want to pursue a culinary career, Wolfla doesn’t mince words: It’s tough — but not impossible. She advises: Get a cooking job before packing off to culinary school. “It’s lots of hours, it’s dirty and, overall, not glamorous,” she says. “Be realistic. Otherwise, you will be miserable and in debt. Don’t think you’ll be a chef out of school.” But a committed simmer may just set your cooking career on fire. Then? “The experience is irreplaceable.” — Amira Hall-Hood

PHOTOGRAPH BY Christopher SMith


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TRAVEL

D e s t i n at i o n k n o w n

A Southwest jaunt in very good taste

Beat the heat and take the family north for a picnic on the shores of Upper Pahranagat Lake outside the sleepy town of Alamo, Nevada. Pahranagat’s (Puh-RANuh-gut) spring-fed lakes are part of a wildlife refuge renowned for bird watching. Settle in for lunch under plentiful shade trees and keep your binoculars handy. For a truly adventurous side trip, a dirt road just south of the lake goes to Tikaboo Peak, where intrepid civilians can spy on Area 51. Difficulty: Easy. — Alan Gegax

food on THE GO Step up to the bar — the energy bar

18 | Desert

j

Whether you’re hitting the trail, the pavement, or even the books, energy bars have become a ubiquitous part of the American diet. Today, there are hundreds of choices, from uber-healthy to incredibly decadent. So how can savvy consumers determine which to buy? First, consider how a bar‘s calories are distributed. If you need quick energy, simple sugars get into the bloodstream fastest, but also leave the bloodstream

Companion | July 2012

stow. Peggy Sue’s ’50s Diner (peggysuesdiner.com) in Yermo was originally built in 1954 out of railroad ties. The restaurant now features a captivating collection of television and movie memorabilia. The menu is packed with all the old diner standards, and summertime is the perfect season for enjoying Peggy Sue’s sundaes, floats and malts. Also in Barstow is the Idle Spurs Steakhouse (idlespurssteakhouse.com), a hangout for wellheeled desert rats since the early 1950s. Originally a sprawling ranch house, the restaurant has several dining areas and a bar around an interior garden. The walls are festooned with photographs and memorabilia. The aged steaks and prime rib on the menu are excellent, and the garlic mashed potatoes alone are worth the drive. Only 90 minutes from Las Vegas, “The Beanery” (252-6165) is a great place for a road trip nosh. This historic railroad lunch counter is inside the beautifully restored Kelso Depot, which is also the official visitor center of the Mojave National Preserve. Farther away in Williams, Ariz., Twisters Soda Fountain (route66place.com) serves up classic hamburgers; a real jukebox and old-time tune selectors on every table help recapture the glory days of Route 66. Step into another time warp at the La Posada Hotel (laposada.org), built in 1929 in Winslow, Arizona. The waitresses at The Turquoise Room sometimes dress in vintage “Harvey Girl” uniforms. Influenced by native American tastes, the dishes on the menu are made from scratch, as much as possible from locally produced ingredients. — Mark Sedenquist

quickly, causing a “crash” later. For endurance, fats slow this process down. For strength, look for proteins. BalanceBar claims to have found the perfect balance of these three ingredients (but in truth, everyone’s needs are different.) For the budgetconscious, a $1 Great Value bar can give you the same portable calories as a $3 Pro Bar. For consumers who put a premium on environmental awareness and social responsibility, many

high-end bars contain all organic and vegan ingredients, such as Macrobar, while others, like Clif Bar, give generously to charity. The Mojave Desert adds another consideration to the mix: heat! The summer sun will turn a chocolate bar into a gooey mess. Same goes for semi-liquids like caramel. When the mercury goes up, stick to fruit and nut bars with sweeteners like honey. Eating a snack is much better than slurping it. — A.G.

pa h r a n a g at: ALAN G E G A X ; t wi s t e r s : p e t e r t h o dy

Pahranagat

Natural wonders, roadside attractions, historical monuments, cultural icons — all great reasons to take a summer road trip. If they’re not enough to get you behind the wheel, consider that other great road trip delight: eating. Whether you stop at a fruit stand, lunch in a greasy spoon, or indulge in a five-star experience, dining is one of best ways to enjoy new locales. For good eats near legendary natural beauty, drive three hours northeast of Las Vegas to Parallel Eighty-Eight (paralleleighty-eightrestaurant.com) in the charming hamlet of Springdale, Utah. The restaurant boasts awesome views of Zion National Park, and Chef Jeff Crosland is widely known for his culinary skill. For more rustic ambience in just as spectacular a setting, head to Rim Rock Restaurant (therimrock.net) near the west entrance to Capital Reef National Park. Enjoy seared trout, smoked ribs and locally grown produce while enjoying views of the surrounding mesas through huge glass windows on the south side of the dining room. “Best-kept secret” is a good description for the nondescript café next to the pool at the 29 Palms Inn (29palmsinn.com) in Twentynine Palms, Calif. The chef here is highly regarded. If you’re lucky, you might see a Hollywood A-lister enjoying the signature fresh vegetables and fish dishes. Much closer to home are the creamy date shakes available at China Ranch (chinaranch.com) near Tecopa, Calif. Wind down a dramatic narrow canyon road to enjoy milkshakes flavored with the local fruit. (Be sure to take a drive through the date palm groves before you leave.) Drive back into time on old Route 66 near Bar-

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An excerpt from Oksana Marafioti’s upcoming book, “American Gypsy: A memoir” By oksana marafioti | Photography chase stevens

Las Vegas is a city of transplants, but Oksana Marafioti’s transplant story is unique. She is a Roma who emigrated from the Soviet Union to America when she was 15. And the part of America she arrived in wasn’t your typical slice of apple pie and baseball: In tow with her family of performers, she landed in Las Vegas. Today, she finds a welcoming home here — particularly valuable to Roma people, who still face entrenched stereotypes that paint them as untrustworthy wanderers, thieves and mystics — summed up in the racial slur, “gypsy.” “I’ve found complete acceptance in Las Vegas,” Marafioti says. Oddly, that acceptance is because of the relative rootlessness of Southern Nevadans, she explains. “The people who move here, I’ve discovered, are gutsy people who want to start a new life. People here have this huge reserve of nerve that few people have. Home really is in the people you meet, not necessarily in the places you go.” Her book, “American Gypsy: A Memoir,” is being published this month by FSG Originals. She reads from and discusses her book 2 p.m. July 14 at the Clark County Library. The event also features dancing and live music. — Andrew Kiraly ***

“I’ve found complete acceptance in Las Vegas,” says Oksana Marafioti, who emigrated from Russia.

20 | Desert

Companion | July 2012

The woman on the other side of the desk scribbled in her files. I studied her with interest: perfectly manicured nails, killer perm, and a beige pantsuit with the American embassy ID clipped to the left breast pocket. She warmed us now and then with one of those smiles that make you want to ask its owner to be your child’s godparent even if you’ve only just met. She didn’t look like someone who held the fate of my family in her hands. Before the interview that morning, Mom had instructed Dad not to speak, for two reasons. First, he couldn’t complete a sentence without swearing. And second, but more important, he always said the wrong thing. The woman looked up from her paperwork. In a version of Russian that made me


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books feel like I was teetering on a balance beam along with her, she said, “Mr. Kopylenko, tell why you want exist in United States?” I stared at Dad’s fedora, thankful that at least he’d given up his earrings for a day. Mom tightened her grip on her purse, and my eight-yearold sister, Roxy, stopped swinging her legs. Dad straightened, cleared his throat, and said in equally precarious English, “I want play with B.B. King. I great Gypsy musician and he like me. When he hear me play, we be rich. Here, I great musician, but nobody know. We live in 1980s, but feel like 1880s. Russian peoples only like factory and tractor. I no drive tractor. I play guitar. Her name Aphroditta. Also.” He lifted his index finger to stress the importance of what was coming next. “I super-good healer. I heal peoples. If you have hemorrhoid, I fix. I take tumor with bare hands. In Russia, I not free. I go to jail, you understand?” I was mortified, my eyes jumping between Dad, the awfully quiet American, and my mom, who’d plastered on a smile like a fresh Band-Aid. “We want our girls to have a better future,” Mom said in Russian, after recouping from the awkward pause.

Years of managing a Roma performing ensemble had taught my mother the schmooze side of business. She closed many impossible deals over black caviar and bottles of Armenian cognac, items she couldn’t bring to our interview, though not for lack of trying. That day, November 18, 1989, Mom had put on a periwinkle wool dress, a fox-fur coat — we had waited in line outside the embassy for three hours — a pair of Swedish-made boots, and not a flicker of jewelry except for her wedding band. She’d made sure none of us looked too rich or too poor; it was important to appear like the average Soviet family. This was tricky, since, as far as Americans knew, the USSR did not have a middle class and was not supposed to have an upper class, which we happened to belong to. Thankfully Dad had kept quiet, and the American asked only Mom questions from that point on. Soon the two women were swapping locations of the best butcher shops in town. “On Wednesdays, go to Komsomolskaya Ploshad. Ask for Borya. Tell him I sent you,” Mom said, voice low as if the room were full of strangers waiting to snatch her secret. It still felt then as if we were bargaining like prisoners caught between an unfair sentence and a pardon, but I could hear that freedom. In my ears, bells were ringing, that huge music they belted out from the towers of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square. The woman flipped the pages of our file and addressed my mother in measured Russian:

“I want play with B.B. King. I great gypsy musician and he like me. When he hear me play, we be rich.”


Music was a large part of Oksana Marafioti’s family. Here is a picture of her Grandpa Andrei’s first gypsy ensemble, 1936. Andrei is seated in the middle row, with Grandma Rose to his left.

“I’d read here that you drink?” She lifted an arm to her lips and curled her fingers around an imaginary bottle. And a needle scratched across my soundtrack, exactly the way you hear it in movies. The four of us halted like toys unwound. Mom drank often. This was after Dad had nearly died of alcohol poisoning and renounced booze as the religion of choice, and before Mom started drinking every day. But

what if Americans didn’t drink? Ever. I hadn’t considered that possibility. With a look of complete mortification the woman said, “Oh goodness. Sometimes my pronunciation is bad. You sing, right? You singer.” All the Kopylenkos in the room showed signs of life for the first time in at least fifteen seconds. “Yes, yes, I do!” Mom laughed and we joined in, somewhat maniacally as I recall. In Russian, “drink” and “sing” are a letter apart.

Once we had our permission my parents didn’t waste time packing. In their desperation to leave they didn’t pause to consider the difficulties they might encounter across the ocean. They just knew that everything would be better in America. The days leading up to our departure seesawed between too much activity and too little sleep. “We’re finally getting out of this hellhole,” Dad told anyone willing to listen. He practiced his guitar with frenzied dedication, for that fantasy meeting with his hero, B.B. King. It never crossed his mind that maybe he couldn’t walk up to any old music legend and dazzle him with killer technique. Mom sold or gave away most of our valuables because Soviet customs employees weren’t shy about confiscating anything that turned a profit on the black market. Even our house had to go. According to Soviet law,

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books we had to surrender all real estate before emigrating. “We’ll buy a mansion in Los Angeles,” Mom assured everyone who called to ask after her mental health. “And for dirt cheap.” Dad left a number of albums with his sister, Laura, for safekeeping. Featuring my grandparents’ beautiful voices, they were produced during the height of Roma popu-

24 | Desert

Companion | July 2012

larity with the Russian public and signified an irreplaceable legacy. He wrapped them with painstaking care in soft towels, laying them inside a small wooden chest. “It’s only for now,” he had told his sister. “I made copies on these tapes in case you want to listen to them. The needle scratches on that damn record player.” My eight-year-old sister bragged to all her friends about the move. She had recently de-

veloped a crush on George Michael and had been making plans of her own, which included locating, ensnaring, and eventually marrying the pop star. I spent most of those last days in an emotional limbo, uncertain of how I felt about the impending metamorphosis. Petrified to part with the comfort of familiarity, I still couldn’t deny my excitement at living in a place most of the world believed to be paradise. A few years back, a drummer from our ensemble had taken a trip to Las Vegas. When he came back, his eyes were as lit up as the fabled Sin City billboards. “You get free soap in all the hotel rooms,” Vova had exclaimed in our kitchen. My parents, along with a few musician friends who came to hear about the States, wrapped their ears around Vova’s stories. Sometimes, like in the case of the free-soap claim, they would burst into a debate. “I don’t believe it,” somebody said. “Why should anyone need free soap in Vegas?” Another added, “To wash their ass with, after they shit all the money away.” Roxy and I had lurked in the corners of the kitchen that night, trying to stay undetected. But when Vova produced a piece of something yellow covered in filmy plastic, we forgot about the threat of bedtime. “What is that?” Roxy asked. “This” — Vova held the delicate sheet between his forefinger and thumb — “is American cheese.” Our cheese came in thick blocks, so heavy they could kill a man. Even when sliced, it never turned out so thin. My father, always the smart-ass, interrupted the momentary glorification of the cheese. “Are the Americans rationing food? I thought the war was over.” “No, man,” Vova said. “It’s like this on purpose. You put it between two slices of bread and cook it on a skillet until the cheese melts.” “What about the plastic?” I asked. “Here.” Vova placed the cheese into my palm. “You pull this edge up and remove the wrapper.” A collective “Oh” went around the kitchen. My father shook his head, still unimpressed. He turned to Mom and said, “See? I told you. Anybody can become rich in America.” But all I thought was, my God — singly wrapped cheese; so exotic, so needlessly luxurious. As Vova continued to list the marvels of everyday American life, I couldn’t help but daydream of what living there would be like.


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Wet your whistle, no matter your taste. Vegas has a happy hour for every kind of drinker. Here are our faves By Lissa Townsend Rodgers

26 | Desert

Companion | july 2012

with martinis and DJs. Rumor has also been known to host the floating One Crazy Happy Hour event, which features live art, fashion and entertainment. 455 E. Harmon Ave., 369-5400. Happy hour Sun.-Thu. 4-8 p.m. B e st f o r o u t- o f -tow n g u e sts How best to introduce someone to all of  Las Vegas  at once? From the top. The Stratosphere’s Level 107 Lounge looks down on the city from almost a quarter-mile up, ideal for getting your bearings, learning the landmarks or just admiring the glitter below. The lounge itself is a narrow, burgundy-upholstered circle where virtually every seat has a view — although there are some bar seats away from the window for the acrophobic.

C o u r t e s y o f L a d y S i lv i a

r

Happier by the hour

Best ou td o o r s Relaxed boutique hotel Rumor features a lively happy hour via its Addiction restaurant. You can sit at the central bar, in the chic dining room or wander further to the chilled-out courtyard. There’s a patio with comfortable chairs, purple tufted chaise lounges to recline upon, hammocks to swing in, a pool to dip your toes …— and, of course, drinks and appetizers for half-price. The menu offers twists on classic comfort food: short ribs with sweet potato purée, caramelbacon popcorn and several varieties of slider, including chili cheese dog. Rumor draws a young, sociable crowd that puts on their sunglasses and lingers a while. The third Thursday of each month is Yappy Hour, when patrons are invited to bring along their dogs — sort of like a puppy play date

Lady Silvia


Welcome to Kids’ Club Las Vegas! Selected specialty cocktails are two-for-one and a number of appetizers and small plates are half-price — the banh mi duck sliders and flash-fried calamari are particularly tasty. The crowd is mostly out-of-towners, but varies greatly in age and origin, along with a sprinkling of celebrating locals. Happy hour runs rather neatly up to dusk — and right at the time the sun begins to dip behind Mount Charleston, a jazz combo kicks in. Lean back, take another sip of your cocktail and admire the lights that look like a giant’s jewelry box dumped out all over the valley. 2000 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 380-7777. Happy hour daily 4-7 p.m. B e st after-work unwin d Feeling overworked, under-appreciated, Dilberted to death? Slip into the secret entrance of The Lady Silvia and leave it all behind. The bar is designed to resemble a blend of Algonquin-era speakeasy and Eastern European library — with modern graffiti-style art on the ceiling. Step up to the marble-topped bar and order one of their half-off house libations, or perhaps a glass of wine. As you’d expect from a bar next to a hair salon, everyone is well-coiffed and there are a fair amount of cashmere sweaters and designer purses. Not feeling the mingle? Retire to one of the luxuriously/ eccentrically upholstered couches and enjoy the black-and-white movies on the flat screen TV wedged between piles of books. Friday evenings are especially soothing, as a live jazz combo swings through Sinatra standards and Count Basie classics. 900 Las Vegas Blvd. S. Happy hour daily 5-8 p.m., Tue-Thu. 11 p.m.-1 a.m. M ost artsy Start out at the Vanguard Lounge or the Downtown Cocktail Room, both of which offer deals on their adroitly mixologized cocktails. But once 7 p.m. hits, it’s time to drift a little further east on Fremont Street to The Beat, where the tourists may not fear to tread, but neither do they linger in Vegas’ own version of a “Portlandia” coffee bar. After 7 p.m., the ubiquitous PBR is only a dollar, and you also get a buck off their trademark peanut butter-and-jelly-andbacon-and-jalapeño Slap & Tickle sandwich. Flip though the vinyl, poke around the vintage posters, perhaps check out the Burlesque Hall of Fame or one of the art galleries. The second Thursday of each month features the “Little Tell,” (an offshoot of Dayvid Figler’s semi-monthly storytelling event)

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Companion | july 2012

Best for happy hour-hopping The abundance of happy hours encourages one to do a little bar-hopping — but how to hit several places within such a narrow time frame and without getting stuck in traffic? At The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, you can find several spots within easy (and airconditioned) walking distance. Italian bistro Trevi kicks off early at 2 p.m. with $6 small plates and extravagant specialty drinks like the tiramisu martini and Lemon Sorbetini. At 3 p.m., P.J. Clarke’s begins serving discounted drafts and cocktails of the day and shucking $1 fresh oysters in an antique barroom setting. Ninety minutes later, the local outpost of steakhouse franchise The Palm begins their happy hour. Snack on $5.50 crab cakes and charcuterie under caricatures of famous Las Vegans. Finally, head up to Sushi Roku where you can feast on sushi, sashimi and other apps for $6 and under. Sip  Sapporo, sake or

FRO Z E N B E L L I N I C OURTESY OF TRE V I

where some of our more interesting Las Vegans share tales of backyard boxing matches or managing a Spice Girls tribute act. There’s also trivia on alternate Thursdays. And, well, once things shut down, you can head to the Vanguard Lounge for reverse happy hour. We may be playing it cool, but we’re still playing in Sin City! 520 Fremont St., 409-5563. Happy hour daily 7-9 p.m.


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champagne while gazing at the massive LED screens that make the Strip seem a little like a slice of Tokyo’s Ginza district. Caesars Palace, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. S. Trevi, 735-4663, happy hour Sun.-Fri. 2-6 p.m.; P.J. Clarke’s, 434-7900, happy hour daily 2:45-6 p.m.; The Palm, 732-7256, happy hour Mon.-Fri., 4:30-6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.-close; Sushi Roku, 733-7373, happy hour Sun.-Thu. 4-7 p.m., Fri-Sat., 4-6 p.m. B e st c hoic es Both New Orleans and Las Vegas have a Decatur Street, and Rhythm Kitchen makes an effort to connect the two. Located in a large building adorned with abundant wrought iron, it serves Cajun and Creole dishes with down-home hospitality and a jazz soundtrack. The happy hour invites one to spend a languid late afternoon picking through their vast menu.

For starters, there are more than a dozen beer/wine/cocktail options between $2 and $6. Hungry? You’ve got more than 20 choices, from $3 for guacamole to $9 for a dozen oysters on the half shell. Want something hearty? A glass of Cabernet and the  Kobe  sliders, perhaps. Feeling casual? Maybe a margarita and barbecue chicken pizza. Desire to dine more authentically Big Easy? How about fried pickle chips, alligator tail and an Abita draft? As folks drift in for post-work meet-ups and pre-dinner drinks while day turns into night, you might have time for more than one option. 6435 S. Decatur Blvd., 767-8438. Happy hour daily 4-6:30 p.m. Best b u zz Sometimes, it’s all about the finest bang for the least buck. That’s the reasoning behind the Double Down’s $2 happy hour — and that’s $2 for every drink in the house, no limits, no

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drinks

Wines at Aureole

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B e st w i n e Tivoli Village is a complex of bars and restaurants styled in an overblown Belle ÉpoqueRenaissance/nouveau riche/Mafioso style. An exception to the extravagance is Bottles & Burgers, where the décor leans more toward industrial minimalism and the menu offers multiple variations on burgers and fries. During happy hour, selected wines are $6, with $2 drafts and specialty cocktails at a discount. Bottles & Burgers also offers options that straddle the wine-cocktail line, including a refreshing frozen take on the Bellini. If you prefer something more elegant, gourmand/oenophile mecca Aureole also has happy hours in its two wine lounges. Two-for-one pricing on wines by the glass makes a flute of Roederer  Champagne  less reckless, but still completely indulgent. Cabernets, Merlots,

DRI N K S : C H RISTO P H ER S M IT H

exceptions. During the earlier hours, the punkrock standby is quieter, less packed, more of a chill hangout for regulars to swap stories and make plans. Of course, if the setting doesn’t quite feel swank (lurid murals, Ramones on the speakers, ’60s Euro-horror movies on the TVs), focus on the taste of that low-price, top-shelf booze. Grey Goose martini? Two dollars. Courvoisier straight up? Two dollars. Pint of Boddingtons with a double shot of Johnnie Walker? 2 + (2 + 2) = six bucks. So, enjoy a dimly lit afternoon drinking the good stuff, where no one will ever find you. Appreciate the depth of the jukebox’s selection and the bartender’s skill as a raconteur. And, once it begins getting crowded, make your escape. 4640 Paradise Rd., 791-5775. Happy hour Mon.-Fri. 12-5 p.m.


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Chardonnays and Rieslings from around the world are also there for the sipping. The restaurant features the eWinebook, those little iPadlike devices that store vast wine lists: Virtually flip through hundreds of bottles as the fabled wine angels whiz by in the dining room, and feel very high-tech and high-living indeed. Bottles & Burgers, 450 S. Rampart Blvd., 431-5453. Happy hour daily 4-7 p.m. and Sun.-Thu. 9 p.m.-closing Aureole, inside Mandalay Bay, 632-7401. Happy hour daily 5:30-7 p.m.

Only 1 in 5 people living in Clark County are eating the recommended number of fruits and vegetables and only half are meeting physical activity guidelines. The truth is, many people in our community don’t have access to healthy options like safe places to be active or even affordable places to shop for healthy food, and it’s hard to make healthy choices if there are no healthy choices to make. Make Clark County a healthier place to live, visit www.changeourcommunityclarkcounty.org

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B e st f o r s p o r ts v i e w i n g Sure, for the finals you might want to be in a roomful of screaming fans, but usually it’s better to watch the game in a slightly more serene atmosphere. Such a place is Henderson’s Urban Grill, a spot with an extensive menu, comfy seating and multiple television screens. However, it’s not your typical overthemed sports pub: While the bar area is set up stadium-style with three levels of seating, there are shining woods and cool tones, with minimal use of autographs and jerseys. The staff is pleasant and quick to change the channel or pour a refill. Drink specials range from $3 beer (if Bud and Sam Adams cost the same, why would you?) to $5 well drinks. The food starts with the usual bar fare, but mixes in Southwestern and Asian influences and adds polish — mini beef tacos with pico de gallo and avocado cream and pork lettuce wraps with creamy yuzu sauce. Sometimes a birthday party might come in or a band might start up, but hey, who can’t use a little diversion at the bottom of the fourth? 9510 S. Eastern Ave., 432-3200. Happy hour daily 4-7 p.m. F o o d i e favo r i t e At AMERICAN FISH, happy hour is rather like “build you own tasting menu” time. Michael Mina’s ARIA outpost is a low-key celebration of American classics. The space is curiously bucolic, with wood-grained walls as well as fake trees and mirrors creating an infinite forest over the bar. If you find that unsettling, you can watch the bustle and flow in the white-tileand-stainless kitchen, where the swift-moving staff assembles exquisite food. All of the dozen-plus dishes on the lounge menu are $5 and every one of them is a winner. The Shrimp & Grits are spicy and creamily cheesy. Truffled Mac & Cheese is dotted with chunks of mushroom and green peas and the scrumptious Maine Lobster Roll is a fresh,


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drinks creamy concoction on just-baked brioche. Unlike many happy hour menus, there are even dessert options. The drinking is worthy of the dining, with cocktails lovingly crafted from fresh, house-made ingredients: Old-school standouts include a well-balanced sidecar and a Moscow Mule served in the classic metal mug. 3730 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 590-8610. Happy hour Sun.-Fri. 5-7 p.m. B e st entertainment At its essence, happy hour is supposed to be happy; to raise one’s spirits from being ground down by toil and stress all week. Sunday happy hour at Drink & Drag is the spot most likely to turn a bad mood into a good (or at least meh) one. The room is spacious and stylish and the “girls” are impeccably turned out, flawlessly made-up and as charming as debutantes. Not enough? Bottle beers, wines and well drinks are all $2, with drafts a mere $1. Feeling peckish? Hot dogs and nachos are two bucks, or flag down one of the transvestites with the cigarette-girl tray of Moon Pies and snack cakes. Still not enough? Pool is free, as are board games (Operation!) and bowling is only a dollar a game. If you’re lucky, they might be showing a double bill of “Serial Mom” and “Mommie Dearest.” Haven’t turned that frown upside down, yet? Just wait until a half-dozen drag queens in Reagan-era MTV realness launch into a vivacious lip-synch of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” 450 Fremont St., 489-3724. Happy hour Sun. 4 p.m.-4 a.m. B e st getaway Simon draws a mix of visitors and locals, with a fair number of regulars. Poshly mid-century, with glittery chandeliers, low banquettes and sleek retro furniture, it looks out through glass doors onto a blue-toned area with pools, lounges, cabanas and shimmering mosaic tile. You could be in  Miami, you could be in Los Angeles, you could even be in certain parts of South America, but at Simon it doesn’t feel like Vegas — and that’s an important part of happy hour in and of itself. The bartenders are quick with a joke and adroit with a cocktail shaker. With most options for $6, the varied happy hour provides selections from far and wide — from wokseared edamame to pizza to sushi to pigs-ina-blanket. Have a fruit-laden sangria or one of their wickedly delicious mojitos and sense yourself drifting even further away. 4381 W. Flamingo Road, 944-3292. Happy hour Mon.–Fri. 4-7 p.m.

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Companion | June 2012

24 very happy hours More of our favorite happy hours — every hour — for an around-the-clock buzz Compiled by Lissa Townsend Rodgers

Noon Le Centrale 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 946-7000 Daily, 12-7 p.m. People-watching and half-priced specialty cocktails in “Paris.”

6 p.m. Blue Martini 6593 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 949-2583 Daily, 4-8 p.m. Half off specialty cocktails, from the Key Lime Pie to the Skinny Bitch.

1 p.m. Hogs & Heifers 201 N. 3rd. St., 676-1457 M-F, 1-6 p.m. Rowdy biker (themed) bar offers $2 off drinks.

7 p.m. Downtown Cocktail Room 111 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 880-3696 M-F, 4-8 p.m. Fremont corridor hipster hangout has deals on drinks and a snack menu.

2 p.m. Nine Fine Irishmen 3790 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 740-6463 Daily, 2-4 p.m. Relax in the madein-Ireland pub with $5 pints and well drinks, along with $6 appetizers

8 p.m. Eyecandy 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 632-7777 Daily, 7-9 p.m. The Mandalay Bay’s clubby bar offers DJs and 2-for-1 martinis.

3 p.m. Firefly 3900 Paradise Rd., 369-3971 M-Th, 3-6 p.m.; F 3-5 p.m. Longtime local favorite has halfpriced beverages and, if you’re lucky, you may catch some free tapas.

9 p.m. Twin Creeks 333 Blue Diamond Rd., 263-7777 Tu.-Th., 8-10 p.m.; F-Sa., 8-11 p.m. Mod Silverton steakhouse offers half-price on small plates, plus beer, wine and specialty drinks.

4 p.m. Society Bar 3121 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 248-3463 M-F, 4-7 p.m. Airy, elegant Wynn resto serves 2-for-1 margaritas, sangria and beer with appetizer specials.

10 p.m. Kona Grill 750 S. Rampart Blvd., 547-5222 Daily 3-7 p.m.; M-Th. 9-11 p.m.; F-Sa., 10-midnight Discounts on cocktails and appetizers at Boca Park mainstay.

5 p.m. RA Sushi 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 696-0008 M-Sa., 3-7 p.m. Lively Japanese joint has specials and snacks from $2 edamame to $7 lobster spring rolls.

11 p.m. Yard House 6953 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 734-9723 11011 W. Charleston Blvd., Su.-W 10 p.m.- close; M-F, 3-6 p.m. Franchise outposts offer about 10

different drink specials, along with half-priced apps and pizzas. 12 a.m. Herbs & Rye 3713 W. Sahara Ave., 982-8036 Daily 5-8 p.m. and midnight-3 a.m. Satisfy late-night steak cravings with half-priced select menu items. 1 a.m. Casa di Amore 2850 E. Tropicana Ave., 433-4967 Daily, midnight-5 a.m. Dig the atmosphere with half-off drinks and pizzas at this retro Italian eatery. 2 a.m. The Martini 1205 S. Fort Apache, 227-8464 Daily, 12-4 a.m. & 3-6 p.m. Low-key/midscale bar for the Summerlin crowd has a discount drink and appetizer menu. 3 a.m. B.A.R. (Born and Raised) 7260 S. Cimarron Rd., 685-0258 M-F, 3-6 a.m. & 4-7 p.m. Along with sports, there are $1-$3 beers, $4 well drinks and deals on appetizers. 4 a.m. Murphy’s Law 1590 E. Flamingo Rd., 697-0529 Daily, 2-5 a.m. & M-F 5-7 p.m Drink specials and $2/$3/$5 dining at pub favored by UNLV students and other locals.

5 a.m. Charlie’s 5012 Arville St., 876-1844 Daily, 3-8 a.m. Country-themed gay bar has $1.75 drafts and well drinks with other happy hours throughout the day. 6 a.m. Steiner’s 8410 W. Cheyenne, 395-8777 1750 N. Buffalo, 304-8084 Daily, 1-7 a.m. Nevada brewpubs have food specials and $2 domestic drafts. 7 a.m. Center Bar at the Hard Rock 4455 Paradise Rd., 693-5000 Daily, 12-8 a.m. Long-running graveyard special offers 2-for-1 drinks for the diehards. 8 a.m. Casino Royale 3411 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 737-3500 Daily, 24 hrs. Small margarita or bottled domestic beer for a buck draws tourist traffic. 9 a.m. Champagne’s Café 3557 S. Maryland Parkway, 737-1699 Daily, 2 a.m.-noon Discounts on already bargain-priced beverages at this classic velvet-wallpaper Vegas dive. 10 a.m. South Point 9777 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 866-796-7111 Daily, 6 a.m.-noon Casino bars help start the day with $1 Bloody Marys and Mimosas or coffee with Bailey’s for $2. 11 a.m. Cheetah’s 2112 Western Ave., 384-0074 Daily, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. Strip club has offprice drinks and a free wings ’n’ pizza buffet.


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Meet the cast of “Stealing Las Vegas,” a film by the UNLV Film Department, on “KNPR’s State of Nevada” at desertcompanion/hearmore

film

Flip the script

Sure, you’ve seen “The Hangover” and “Casino.” Now catch these lesser-known Vegas screen gems

l

By By Lissa Townsend Rodgers Las Vegas’ reputation has always preceded it — largely due to decades of starring roles on film and television. You can barely flip through channels without running across “Diamonds Are Forever,” “Viva Las Vegas,” “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” various “Ocean’s 11s”… But that’s only a fraction of the movies set in Vegas: There are more than 200. Actors from Roy Rogers to Dennis Hopper to Gwyneth Paltrow have starred in Vegas-based flicks, and directors such as Billy Wilder and Tim Burton have been seduced — or horrified — by its glitter. Here are our recommendations for some of Las Vegas’ less-seen films. We’re not promising every one’s a “Casino,” but none of them is a “The Las Vegas Hillbillys” or “Leprechaun 3.” B e st heist You think Sinatra/Clooney pulled together an eccentric crew for a ballsy casino robbery? They have nothing on the protagonists of “Hell’s Angels ’69” (1969). Two wealthy brothers decide to rob Caesars Palace for kicks. And, for even bigger kicks, they decide to infiltrate the Angels and use the gang as cover/patsy for their heist. It all goes off pretty smoothly, gliding through the then-new Caesars from porte-cochère to poolside, from the crystal casino to the kind of ice buckets they had in the suites. But, as you can imagine, the bikers are not pleased about being played for suckers — and since these are the actual Oakland Hell’s Angels playing themselves, there will be comeuppance. There’s also some glorious footage of their Harleys riding in procession down the Strip — when Circus Circus had fountains out front and the Bellagio was still the Dunes. Trivia: Among the Angels playing themselves are “Maximum Leader” Sonny Barger and Terry the Tramp, both of whom already had literary starring turns in Hunter S. Thompson’s first book, “Hell’s Angels.” B e st bender A part of Las Vegas’ nuclear history not in the Atomic Testing Museum is “The Amazing Colossal Man” (1957). While attempting to

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rescue a fellow soldier, Lt. Col. Glenn Manning is caught in an atomic blast. Mutations ensue and our hero becomes, well, colossal. The larger he grows, the less blood his brain gets (or so says the Brylcreem-haired scientist) and the nuttier he becomes. Soon, an incoherent 60-foot bald guy in a diaper is “moving toward the resort hotel section,” as they used to call the Strip. He lets the Dunes alone, respecting the giant genie, but spooks a lady bathing in her seventh-floor room at the Riviera. He pulls off the Royal Nevada’s crown, yanks off the Silver Slipper’s shoe and rips up the Tropicana’s palm trees, finally karate-chopping the sign of the Sands 39 years before Sheldon Adelson did. The Amazing Colossal Man’s Vegas blowout ends with a shot from a three-quart hypodermic needle and a fall from the Hoover Dam. Top that, “Hangover 3”! Trivia: Director Burt I. Gordon liked to go big. He also made “Earth


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film vs. the Spider,” about giant spiders, “Empire of the Ants” about giant ants, “Beginning of the End” about giant grasshoppers and “The Food of the Gods,” among other humongo-centric flicks. B e st lounge ac t Before Howard Hughes bought up Las Vegas, his RKO studios put out his fantasy version in “The Las Vegas Story” (1952). The B-movie features Hughes’ favorite stars, Jane Russell and Victor Mature — two thickhaired, sleepy-eyed, big-chested slabs of cheesecake and beefcake. Mature is a private eye on the trail of shady businessman Vincent Price, who happens to be married to Russell, who happens to be Mature’s former flame. It all centers on the Last Chance Casino, where Hoagy Carmichael heads the house band. While Price gets tangled up with some diamond-necklace shenanigans, his voluptuous wife does what any vintage Hollywood dame does: puts on her sequins and sings in the lounge. Russell’s laid-back, slightly bemused glamour plays well off Carmichael’s deadpan timing and the pair shine when duetting on his “My Resistance is Low,” with smoothly relaxed vocals and subtle chemistry. Runner up: The Tommy Dorsey Band is prominent in “Las Vegas Nights.” Getting less screentime is their singer, Frank Sinatra, in his screen debut, crooning his first hit, “I’ll Never Smile Again.” B e st fi lm noir Biblical figure Charlton Heston is cast against type as a small-time hood in “Dark City” (1950). He helps fleece a rube, the rube commits suicide and, this being the genre it is, he falls in love with the victim’s widow while being pursued by the victim’s murderous brother. He tries to extricate himself from an obviously untenable situation by fleeing to Las Vegas. There, he hangs out in some glorious mid-century casinos, both the stone-walled lodge and sleek, semi-deco varieties, playing the tables and listening to Lizbeth Scott sing torch songs. A guilt-stricken Heston is pursued down a Strip that is mostly rural with the occasional pool of neon; on better nights he dollyshots past the Apache and the Eldorado Club downtown. Although it is a little weird seeing Moses wreathed in a cloud of smoke, clutching a fistful of chips and shouting “Let it ride!”

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Companion | July 2012

Trivia: Also in shady supporting roles are Jack Webb and Harry Morgan, who would go on to co-star on the other side of the law in TV’s “Dragnet.” Best roa d t r i p sto p “Saint John of Las Vegas” (2009) is all about getting to Las Vegas. And staying away from Las Vegas. Loosely based on Dante’s “Inferno,” it follows former degenerate gambler, Steve Buscemi, who has cleaned up his act and gone into insurance. Well, he’s still buying lottery tickets by the fistful, but … Regardless, douchebag boss Peter Dinklage (giving another brilliant supporting performance) sends him to investigate a fraudulent claim and Buscemi is off on a road trip to Sin City, led by recalcitrant co-investigator Virgil. On the way, they run into a wheelchair-bound stripper, an accident-prone carny and a posse of nudist survivalists. Cut throughout the story is an alternately jittery and flamboyant Buscemi delivering an endless monologue on the joys and evils, changes and sameness of Vegas to a bewildered convenience-store clerk. Runner-up: “Roadside Prophets” (1992) follows the unlikely duo of X’s John Doe and the Beastie Boys’ Ad Rock on a motorcycle journey with existential overtones. (Is there any other kind?) The two roll past the Strip

lights and crash at a skanky Naked City motel. On the way to Vegas, there are run-ins with Timothy Leary, David Carradine and an especially deranged John Cusack. B e st d eg e n e rat e g a mbl e r Somewhere between film noir chiaroscuro and Lifetime Movie of the Week is “The Lady Gambles” (1949), one of the first films shot in Las Vegas. We open at rock-bottom, as a peroxided Barbara Stanwyck gets roughed up by guys in fedoras after blowing on a pair of crooked dice in a back-alley craps game. (Literally: in an alley, next to the trash cans.) Hubby Robert Preston tells the doctor his wife’s tale of woe, beginning with “Have you ever been to … Las Vegas?” as the screen gives way to a series of loving close-ups of defunct neon. The trouble began when Stanwyck accompanied Preston on a junket to Vegas and, like so many bored business-trippers’ wives, hit the casinos. Soon she’s dipping into the expense account, then working as a craps shill, going into and out of rehab, piling on and hocking jewelry, fronting for gangsters at the Gaming Commission … like you do. The trademark Barbara Stanwyck imperiousness is submerged in her role as a guilt-ridden housewife, but it’s still a powerful presence and strong performance. Bonus cameo: Look for a young ’n’ handsome Tony Curtis in a tiny bit as a bellhop.


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There’s plenty of authentic footage from the VIP seats, replete with topless death spirals and thonged showgirls in geisha wigs — even Siegfried & Roy in their tight-pants prime. B e st showgirls … e r m , showgirl Oh, they’re all heading for L.A., but they get stuck here. In “The Grasshopper” (1969), a gorgeous and naïve Jacqueline Bisset goes astray in Sin City. The idealistic Canadian teen follows her boyfriend to L.A., but soon gets bored with the square life. With no real skills except looking like Jacqueline Bisset, she hustles her way into a job as a Las Vegas showgirl. Soon she’s parading around topless in a blue wig and feathers, partying with high rollers, dating comics and businessmen and former NFL players. The last is played by Jim Brown, who proposes marriage while they ride the Circus Circus merry-go-round. The plot goes on in a melodramatic “Valley of the Dolls” vein — Bissett changing hairdos and mod outfits every five minutes — culminating in our heroine hiring a plane to skywrite “Fuck you” over the city that brought her down. Runner-up: Veteran of trash epics “The Lonely Lady” and “Santa Claus Versus the Martians,” Pia Zadora stars in “Nevada Heat” (1982) as a lounge entertainer on the run from the mob. The entire film takes place in the Riviera — a no-brainer, since producer and Zadora sugar hubby Meshulam Riklis was majority owner of the casino at the time. B e st high-roller e x p e rien c e One gets the feeling that “Lookin’ to Get Out” (1982) was largely an excuse for a vacation in Vegas. Penniless penny-ante gamblers Jon Voight and Burt Young are on the run from bad gambling debts. They drop the right names and are swept off to the “Dr. Zhivago suite” at the newly rebuilt MGM Grand, complete with chrome-and-crystal chandelier, satin-upholstered conversation pit, sunken marble tub and “a mirror so you could watch yourself sleep!” If this isn’t luxury enough,

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Companion | July 2012

hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold AnnMargret is on the way. Next comes dinner and a show, specifically “Nudes on Ice.” There’s plenty of authentic footage from the VIP seats, replete with topless death spirals and thonged showgirls in geisha wigs, even Siegfried & Roy in their tight-pants prime. Among the other high-roller perks: Signing $10,000 markers without any I.D., just telling the guy in the cage, “I’m with Jerry Feldman, a good friend of Bernie Gold.” It’s all luxury cars and lobster tails until a free-for-all brawl in the poker room but, hey, no one’s a whale forever. Bonus cameo: A very young, very blonde, very awkward Angelina Jolie pops up at the end. Best au to f e t i s h Hey, someone stole Luke Skywalker’s bitchin’ sports car! The one he slaved away in auto shop to build! He even missed the prom! So goes the storyline of “Corvette Summer” (1978). Mark Hamill hears the ‘Vette is in Vegas and goes in search of his beloved ride, learning life lessons along the way, the kind you can only learn in Las Vegas, like how to hustle a luxury suite and fight off a chain-wielding thug. He searches Glitter Gulch and the Riviera parking lot, Industrial Road and the Neon Graveyard, but he cannot capture the elusive vehicle. On the way, he does gigs as a gas station attendant, car washer and valet parker but, more importantly, he meets up with aspiring hooker Annie Potts and moves into her pimped-out custom van. Let’s just say he loses more than his car … Runner up: “Grand Theft Auto” (1977). No, not the notoriously violent video game, but Ron Howard’s “Citizen Kane,” which he wrote, directed and starred in. Opie Cunningham takes off with a millionaire’s daughter (and vintage Rolls) and heads for Vegas. A $25,000 bounty on the fresh-faced couple inspired a legion of

assorted gangsters, mercenaries, housewives and weirdos to chase them all the way to their 24-hour wedding chapel. B e st Fr e m o n t St r e e t fa n tasy An exercise in style over substance — and over budget, Francis Ford Coppola’s “One From the Heart” (1982) follows an estranged Las Vegas couple one Independence Day weekend. Most of the film is set on Fremont Street, where the pair meet up, miss each other, make mistakes and wander brooding below the neon. However, it’s not really Fremont. (Although Harry Dean Stanton may actually live in a bachelor pad across the street from the El Cortez.) Coppola exercised his control-freakdom by rebuilding downtown on a soundstage, the better for fireworks and sunsets and big musical numbers. The visuals flow from meticulous recreation to XX all within the same pan shot, but a haunting all-Tom Waits soundtrack grounds the tale and plays as much a role as any of the actors. Runner-up: Slow is the motion of overblown Bollywood crossover “Kites: The Remix” (2009), from the leading man and leading lady cementing their devotion to each other by dancing the funky chicken in the rain on Fremont to the crashing of dozens of cop cars. The Plaza is central to the plot, so there are plenty of dolly shots through street of light to get there — in slo-mo, of course.


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2012


Chef Casar Herera Executive Chef

Brio Tuscan Grille

The opening of Brio Tuscan Grille in Tivoli Village became the pinnacle of Executive Chef Cesar Herrera’s gastronomic career. After four dedicated years of working with Brio’s world class food, simply prepared, using the finest and freshest ingredients, Cesar left his home at the Brio in Town Square and moved to his new home at Tivoli Village in Summerlin. Cesar’s main focus continues to be an emphasis on high-quality steaks, housemade pasta specialties and flatbreads prepared in an authentic Italian oven, using the finest and freshest ingredients.

What inspired Chef Carlos Fernandez to open his own restaurant? Simply, a passion for creating great food. That passion has fueled his entire culinary career. Over the last 35 years, he has devoted himself to mastering every aspect of his craft in restaurants and hotels across the U.S. and Europe. While the backbone of his menu is American cuisine, his dinner menu and ever-changing daily specials allow him the freedom to explore new flavors and experiment with blending diverse cuisines. A dedicated, hands-on chef, Chef Carlos follows his creations from bare ingredients to preparation to the table, where he greets each guest and welcomes feedback. The quality of his dishes and high standards of service have been highlighted in several local publications. Despite his growing success, Chef Carlos’s number one priority remains the satisfaction of his loyal customers — with excellent food and service to match.

Carlos’ Kitchen Inside Charlie’s Bar 4420 S Durango Dr. Las Vegas, NV 89147 702.207.6556

Brio Tuscan Grill Tivoli Village 420 S. Rampart Suite 180 Las Vegas, NV, 702.433.1233

WES KENDRICK Executive Chef

Table 34

Chef Wes Kendrick’s creative philosophy begins with the freshest seasonal ingredients. As a hands-on 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 Knapp-Rinella. “Las Vegas residents are very discerning and it’s important to be consistently at the top of your game” – Chef Wes

Table 34

600 E. Warm Springs Road 702.263.0034 usmenuguide.com/table34

Town Square 6653 Las Vegas Blvd. So., Las Vegas, NV, 702.914.9145 www.brioitalian.com

Chef Carlos FeRnandez Executive Chef

Carlos’ kitchen S p e c i a l A dv e r t i s i n g S e c t i o n


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.

Chef Terry Lynch

Partner and Executive Chef

Egg & I/Egg works

Mon ami Gabi

4533 W. Saraha Ave. 9355 W. Flamingo Road 2490 E. Sunset Road 6960 S. Rainbow Blvd. theeggworks.com

Brad Burdsall Chief Eggineer

The Egg & I/Egg Works

Terry Danthine Lynch is a partner of the Mon Ami Gabi division of LEYE and is currently the Executive Chef of the Mon Ami Gabi location in the Paris Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip, as well as Executive Chef/Partner of El Segundo Sol and Stripburger. Lynch is a highly respected chef, consultant and restaurateur trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and its sister school in England, the Sabine de Mirbeck Ecole de Cuisine Franciase. He has managed his own restaurant consulting firm, Xystus, for over a decade, successfully overseeing the launches of over 20 start-up’s and openings. Born in Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii, and raised in the Midwest in Chicago and Wisconsin, Terry says he was surrounded by “great food, no matter where we were.” He developed a passion for cooking at an early age when his French grandparents exposed him to their native cuisine, an experience that would forever alter the course of Terry’s life. Throughout his youth, Terry continued to develop a curious palate while living and eating his way throughout Europe. Terry entered the restaurant world first as a sommelier before propitiously landing a Chef position at a very busy restaurant in the Midwest. “I knew I was a natural, and the owners were crazy enough to give me a chance!” remembers Lynch. Recognizing that his skill as a chef was only beginning to show itself, Terry then left for Europe to continue his studies and refine his craft. Upon his return to America, Lynch quickly sought out the famed Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley, a 5-star resort and restaurant that serves very high-end French cuisine. “When I walked in, it was this incredibly beautiful building perched on the side of a hill overlooking a sweeping view of olive trees, vineyards and the valley. I was stunned! I took the job before I even talked to anyone,” he enthuses. Lynch became the Sous Chef for the property. Though Lynch has had projects in locales ranging from China to California over the course of his career, he was honored to be invited to join the LEYE team, particularly because he had been hearing great stories about the company since his days with Real Restaurants, whose partners were mentored by Rich Melman. “I feel as though I’ve come full circle – I had always heard great stories about Rich, and now I am a part of the company that he started. It’s very rewarding.”

Mon Abi Gabi Inside Paris Resort & Casino 3655 Las Vegas Blvd S., Las Vegas, NV 89109 702.944.4224 S p e c i a l A dv e r t i s i n g S e c t i o n


DESERT

COMPANION

Adventures edition

Got a taste for adventure? An appetite for some (literal) spice in your life? A hunger for something different? Hold on to your fork and take a ride on the wild side with our DEALicious Meals Adventures Edition. Whether you’re craving cuisine that’s big in flavor, just plain big, or off the beaten path, you’ll get your fill here. No map necessary. (But a big glass of water might be a good idea.)

our DEALicious Mealers: Jim Begley, Debbie Lee, Danielle McCrea, Andrew Kiraly, Brock Radke photography

Christopher Smith

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big 1 | Alaska donut Real Donut If Homer Simpson had any say in the matter, the Alaska Donut ($7.50) at Real Donuts would be named a national treasure. These scale equivalents of about 10 traditional donuts can be customordered in a selection of flavors, including owner Jose Solares’ yeasty, pillowy, chocolate and classic glazed varieties. If you’re not quite ready to conquer Alaska, take on the Texas ($2.50). At the size of a Frisbee, it’s still a challenge, but it disappears surprisingly fast. (JH)

1811 W. Charleston Blvd., 388-9958

2 | Parilladas

de Carne

La Hacienda Restaurant

Real Donut's Alaska Donut. Big and frosted, like the state.

How’s a serving tray of meat sound? If you’re doing your best Pavlov right now, then La Hacienda is the place for you. This unassuming restaurant en el barrio offers a myriad of meat on an actual catering serving tray lid — easily enough to feed a family of four for less than $40. Since man cannot live on steak, chicken and pork alone, the tray is also adorned with queso fresco, patas

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bravas, fresh avocado and handmade tortillas. Nothing like a little food pyramid balance in a meal. (JB)

5482 E. Lake Mead Blvd., 437-3608

3 | nairobi feast Wine 5 Café I appreciate a meal that must be ordered in advance. It requires a strong commitment to eating that most people don’t possess. If you have that kind of devotion, then Wine 5 Café’s Kenyan feast (requiring 24 hours’ notice) is just the meal for you. The meal combines your choice of meats with traditional Kenyan sides for an introduction to a cuisine you’re not familiar with. Just trust me when I say under no circumstance should you miss their samosas — you’ll thank me for the suggestion. (JB)

3250 N. Tenaya Way, winefivecafe.com

4 | Nachos Carlos’ Kitchen Nachos are standard bar fare, and like much of chef Carlos Fernandez’ offerings, not uncommon on watering-hole menus.

What’s uncommon is the attention to detail he lavishes on them ($6.99) in his cookery inside Charlie’s Bar. His chips are always house-made, as are his salsa and guacamole. Toppings are plentiful and fresh — no bright yellow congealed cheese here — while his carne asada and chicken are exemplary and always moist. If he cares this much about his nachos, shouldn’t you? (JB)

4420 S. Durango Drive,  carloskitchenlv.com

5 | Carne asada

breakfast burrito

Phat Phrank’s What makes a great breakfast burrito? It must be filling but not overly heavy, establishing a hearty base for the day’s activities while not inducing a full-on food coma. Chef Frank Miranda walks this line for less than $5.50 a wonderful tortilla-wrapped bundle. Carne asada, potatoes, egg and cheese intertwine in each bite, providing an irresistible meld of flavor and texture. (JB)

4850 W. Sunset Road, 247-6528

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Norm's Egg Café's $6 lunch specials include classics such as meat loaf and gravy.

6 | La Tetanic Las Famosas de Jose Sixteen ounces of chicken breast, cheese, beans, tomatoes, avocado, jalapeño peppers and lettuce sandwiched between two humongous slices of fried bread make up La Tetanic, una torta gigante or, as I like to call it, A REALLY BIG SANDWICH (techni-

cal specs: 12 inches long by 5 inches wide by 4 inches thick, $15). But the novelty of its size isn’t a mere gimmick; on top of that, the ingredients are fresh, making for a gloriously juicy monster. Add in some of owner Fernando Rojas’ homemade, secret recipe salsa and you, sir, have got yourself

extreme

Scaling Nacho Mountain Range I Can’t Drive $55 Nachos at Cabo Wabo Cantina Sounds cheesy, huh? Bad puns aside, when you become an ’80s rock frontman and start your own brand of tequila and corresponding themed restaurant chain, you can name some nachos after one of your terrible songs. But this is no ordinary platter of nachos — this off-menu challenge dares you and a friend to inhale eight pounds of crunchy tortilla chips slathered in melted cheese and queso sauce, pico de gallo, loads of jalapeños, and pretty much whatever’s loose in the kitchen. Clean the trough in 55 minutes and it’s on the house. I was told a different couple knocked it out earlier in the day when I visited, but I have my doubts. It’s hard to do justice to the scope of eight pounds of nachos. Think of a mountain range, and then drizzle it generously with beef, chicken, salsa, beans. The sad part is that they’re pretty damn good nachos. I just wish I had 10 more people along for the ride. (Brock Radke) Inside Planet Hollywood, cabowabocantina.com

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8 | Gorditas Las Gorditas With three locations around town, it doesn’t get more convenient than Las Gorditas, unless you’re talking about the gorditas themselves — thick, fresh corn tortillas split and stuffed with all kinds of goodies ($2.45). Not Taco Bellish goodies. We’re talking chicken mole, tender cactus in tomato-chile sauce, or addictive pinto beans and salty, melty cheese. More please. (BR)

The Craft

DEALicious chefs dish their kitchen secrets

Chef Brian Howard

Meat the detail man

Comme Ça inside the Cosmopolitan, commecalasvegas.com

multiple locations, lasgorditasrestaurant.com

9 | All you

can eat SUSHI

Sushi Mon

a sandwich (A REALLY BIG SANDWICH). I recommend sharing — with up to 3 people. But if you’re broke and starving, Rojas will buy you and your friends’ meals if you can gobble up the five pound La Paquita ($18) in under 15 minutes. (DM)

2635 E. Tropicana Ave., 450-2444

7 | Lunch specials Norm’s Egg Café Norm is no one-trick pony. He serves more than just eggs from his Eggs Café. Besides brunch standards, most of which do involve eggs, his menu boasts a pretty impressive array of $6 lunch specials. His meatloaf, beef stew and chicken curry are all notable — not only for the quantity of food for the price, but more particularly the quality of it. Norm is quite the Renaissance man. (JB)

3655 S. Durango Drive #29, normseggscafe.com

Let’s be real: Sushi Mon (not the one on West Sahara, the other one) is the only place you should be eating all-you-can-eat sushi. At $21.95 for lunch or $26.95 for dinner, it’s one of the biggest and best deals in town, nigiri, rolls and sides done to the highest standard without excessive, crazy sauces or methods. (BR)

9770 S. Maryland Parkway #3, sushi-mon.com

10 | Barbacoa de chivo Diego They call it a small plate or appetizer at Diego, but in truth, it’s a huge pile of the best meat anywhere, slightly funky or gamey goat marinated in guajillo chile salsa and slow-braised to create a truly unique texture. The powerful flavor will make you forget carne asada forever. I’m not sure if there’s a better taco in town than what you can assemble at your table with warm tortillas and three fresh salsas. (BR)

Bacon, salami, ham, sausages, terrines, patés — everybody

loves charcuterie, even if few of us understand the hours, days and months required to put in the necessary work and affection to create a colorful plate of assorted meaty goodness. Luckily, Vegas has chefs like Brian Howard, who do understand — and care a great deal. “For many people throughout the world, making charcuterie is something they grew up doing, a family thing. For me, it’s getting back to a heritage, touching base with European roots, and just learning how to do it. It’s something that takes a lot of time, anticipation and love to come out with a good product.” There are a lot of variables in making what seems like a simple sausage: humidity, temperature, technique and mixing the right amounts of fat, protein and seasoning. Howard’s charcuterie program at Comme Ça is one of the city’s best, but the chef’s first memorable triumph was making a standard paté at Bouchon years ago. “There was so much detail, how the bacon was sliced that wrapped around the outside, how smooth the texture needed to be on the inside. It was very gratifying to make it well the first time, but now, that’s like the easiest thing to do on the list.” He has expanded into duck salami and prosciutto, and an insane new mega-terrine that contains cured pork belly, hot coppa and garlic sausage in one savory slice. Now he’s experimenting with vegetarian replication. “I would put our charcuterie up against anybody’s,” Howard said. “I try to be humble, but this is something I’m pretty pleased with.” — Brock Radke

Inside MGM Grand, 891-7433

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The Craft

DEALicious chefs dish their kitchen secrets

Chef Phil Holec

Smoke and jazz Las Vegas Grille 7865 W. Sahara Ave. #105, vegasgrille.com Two things catch your attention upon entering Las Vegas Grille: a drum kit to your left, and a glass display case of hard woods to your right. Although neither is edible, together they represent owner Phil Holec’s philosophy on barbecue. “I like to call what I do improv or jazz cooking,” he says. The self-taught chef spent years mixing and matching woods, meats and smoking times and temperatures to compose the eclectic menu you see at his year-old restaurant today. “Before we opened, I was the guy who’d come home from work and stay up until 3 a.m. experimenting with different recipes and techniques.” The results of those culinary jam sessions are a hit. Using an industrial smoker that sits in view of the dining room, Holec serves an extensive and creative list of meats, seafood and house-made sausages. White oak pairs perfectly with sirloin, pecan infuses just enough smoke in an herb-crusted pork loin, and nectarine wood lends flavor to a smoked salmon filet that blows any kosher deli’s lox out of the water. Holec says that barbecue enthusiasts can smoke meat at home for themselves, but warns that the endeavor involves long periods of trial and error. “There is no right or wrong, but you’re going to make certain mistakes in the beginning, like oversmoking or overbrining your meat,” he says. “It’s a project that requires patience. My own recipes are an ongoing, lifelong process, some of which the concepts for began when I was cooking next to my mother as a young child.” Sounds daunting, so why bother when you can just go straight to Holec? The man has clearly already found his groove. — Debbie Lee

11 | Whitefish salad platter

12 | Beef chimichanga

Bagel Café

Mi Tierra

Still the home of the biggest, chewiest, crackliest bagels in town, Bagel Cafe is a lock for great dining deals thanks to its gigantic portions, fresh ingredients and traditional delicatessen wizardry (seriously, is there a better deli in town?). Pair the bagel flavor of your choice with this smoky, creamy, wonderfully moist whitefish salad ($13.50) and decorate with ripe red tomato, red onion, cucumber and cream cheese. (BR)

One of the newest entries into the category of friendly neighborhood Mexican restaurants, Mi Tierra does classic Mexican-American food quick, cheap and cozy. There’s no shortage of favorites on the menu. For $8.25 (and 75 cents as a lunch special) you can attack a mammoth, shredded-beef and bean stuffed chimichanga, crispiness coated in sour cream, cheese and rich red ranchero sauce. Hits the spot every time. (BR)

301 N. Buffalo Drive, thebagelcafelv.com

1780 N. Buffalo Drive #101, mitierravegas.com

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Bagel Café's whitefish salad platter: the perfect bagel pairing


hot 13 | Fire-breathing dragon roll Rice and Company A sushi roll so hot it’s famous? This spicy tuna, shrimp and crab roll, flecked with habañero peppers, earned Rice and Company (the quiet pan-Asian restaurant in Luxor) some TV time on Food Network’s “Heat Seekers” show. It’s a seriously spicy, tasty bite before a generous drizzling of ghost pepper sauce pushes the heat level to beyond volcanic. Sweet sushi rice or a quick dip in soy sauce won’t save you this time. (BR)

Parsley Mediterranean Grill's falafel wrap — spiced up with fire sauce.

Inside the Luxor, 262-4852

14 | Grilled corn on the cob El Elote Loco Broadacres may not appear to be a culinary destination. But tucked away just inside the north entrance to the North Las Vegas swap meet is a stand whose English translation is “the crazy corn.” They essentially serve one dish in multiple ways — think of it as a Bubba Gump restaurant actually worth checking out. The grilled corn-on-the-cob is the best option, grilled crisp and slathered with margarine, mayo, chili flakes and cotija cheese and a steal at $2. You’re welcome. (JB)

Inside Broadacres Swap Meet, 2930 N. Las Vegas Blvd., 642-3777

15 | Fire sauce Parsley Mediterranean Grill The only reason Parsley isn’t legendary for their fat, fresh falafel wraps for $4.95 — brick-thick and bulging at the folds — is because they’ve only been open for about seven months. Just give ’em time. I predict they’ll also be legendary for

their fire sauce. Understatement alert! Oh, you don’t squirt or smear this substance. Rather, you dole it out in judiciously microscopic amounts from the tiny plastic capsule that itself suggests potency, caution and danger. One capsule of this chunky tapenade of serranos, japaleños and habañeros will easily

cover your falafel and all your friends’, but you’ll want to snag an extra dose for experimentation in your home lab. (AK)

6420 S. Pecos Road #B1, parsleyfmg.com

16 | Spicy wontons in red chili oil Beijing Noodle Café Beijing is one of the valley’s rare purveyors

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Sassy Sal's Wicked Hot Link will make you sweat.

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Eats go extreme

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A little pep: Border Grill's bacon and jalapeño PBJ

When fries and kimchi = ’80s movie explosions Angry Kimchi Fries at Buldogis Having the Angry Kimchi Fries delivered to your table at Buldogis, a crazy Korean hot dog joint, equates to that part in ’80s action movies when one guy shoots a machine gun and the other guy pulls out one of those wide-barreled grenade launchers. It makes you smile — because you know something is going to blow up. In this instance, the explosion will be in your face, as your hapless taste buds attempt to understand how vinegary kimchi belongs with a mountain of crisp sweet potato fries. For fun, there’s also spicy-sweet

of hand-pulled Chinese noodles, making their Lan Zhou beef soup a signature dish that attracts urban explorer and suburban pilgrim alike. But I urge adventurous eaters to go off the map: Try the spicy pork won tons in red chili oil ($4.95), a dozen, sausage-like dumplings swimming in rich sauce. For a deeper, duskier heat, follow up with the dan dan Szechuan mein bowl ($6.95); below the crumbled pork and tender noodles hides a thick, creamy, smoky broth that’ll set your tongue to a tingling simmer. (AK)

4130 Sandhill Road, 641-0666

17 | Beef caldereta with pickled green chilies Fiesta Filipina Cuisine Caldereta is beef short rib

stew, a traditional Filipino dish. Slow-cooked to perfect tenderness, Fiesta’s rendition boasts flavorful beef that falls off the bone. Their homemade pickled green chilies are the perfect complement to the dish, giving the savory stew a bit of crunch and kick. This cafeteria-style restaurant is not only easy on the palate but on the wallet; the two-item combo with rice is only $5.99. Try the Okoy, a shrimp and vegetable pancake, for your second. (DM)

multiple locations, fiestafilipinacuisine.com

18 | Wicked hot link Sassy Sal’s BBQ Most barbecue joints don’t focus on sausages, but that’s your best bet at this northwest takeout spot. Sassy Sal’s hot link

($3.99 single, $5.99 sandwich) is dripping with garlicky, peppery juices with every bite, and you can see the grainy, fatty goodness encased inside. And this kitchen doesn’t slather it with coleslaw to douse the heat, just crispy onions, cheddar cheese and Carolina mustard sauce. Get ready to sweat. (BR)

7785 N. Durango Drive #105, 458-7427

grilled pork, diced onions and jalapeños, mounds of melting cheese to glue it all together, and a nice fried egg, because why not? Funky, sweet, spicy and rich, this basket of insane flavor confetti cannot be defeated. And even though you’ll only eat half, it’ll stay with you for days. (BR) 2291 S. Fort Apache Blvd. #102, buldogis.com

19 | Bacon jalapeño PBJ Border Grill What would you pay for crispy bacon, jalapeno, peanut butter and homemade grape jelly on a scratch-made biscuit? Spicy and sweet, creamy and salty, it tastes even better than it sounds. Personally, I’d pay $29.99. But for that price, you

can have as many as you want, plus an unlimited barrage of amazing small plates at Chef Mike Minor brunch at Border Grill, stuff like machaca chilaquiles and Oaxacan chocolate pancakes. (BR)

Inside Mandalay Bay, 632-7200

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20 | Spicy fried chicken Ichiza Ichiza’s spicy fried chicken ($5) is a bowl filled with bite-sized morsels of chicken covered in the sweet-hot “spicy Chinese sauce” — think the grown-up, foodie version of chicken nuggets. The chicken is fried (but surprisingly ungreasy) and coated with a thin glaze of sauce, served with crunchy white sprouts. But don’t look for it on the menu. Like many of Ichiza’s dishes, the spicy fried chicken is one you have to ask for. And while you’re there, be sure to try the magnificently fresh sashimi or the pork udon with a broth so savory you’ll drink it straight from the bowl. (DM)

4355 Spring Mountain Road, 367-3151

21 | Inferno Menu Mint Indian Bistro Mint Bistro’s Inferno Menu promises food so hot you’re required to sign a waiver before they’ll let you eat it. The items on the Inferno Menu will burn your taste buds — but in a delectably tasteful way, so as to trick you into taking bite after bite of fiery

goodness. While I’m only brave enough to nibble the pepper-packed Inferno Naan with Paneer Cheese ($5.99), featuring ghost chilis and spices, the Inferno Curry ($19.99) promises to be the hottest item on the menu. It comes with a perk: a $50 gift certificate if you finish your plate. (DM)

Thai fusion, and the Chili Paste Delight ($9.95 with shrimp) fulfills it. The dish is a plentiful array of veggies, red and green bell peppers, onions and carrots, combined with cashews and your choice of meat glazed with chili paste (get it with the shrimp, catfish or seafood combo). It all swims in a thick, dark-brown sauce, a combination of Thai chili paste and Chinese sauce. The chili paste keeps things hot — even with a vanilla undertaking of 0 level heat — but you can brave up to level 5 if you’ve got the courage. Want to push it further? There are always the bowls of chili sauce at each table. (DM)

730 E. Flamingo Road, mintbistro.com

22 | Roast duck curry Weera Thai Red chili paste runs wild in this Northern Thai curry ($14.85) at one of our city’s great unsung ethnic restaurants. It’s far from one-dimensional, getting sweetness from pineapple chunks and red pepper, and vegetably goodness from tomatoes and tons of basil. Best of all are the huge chunks of juicy duck breast, roasted to perfection, combining with the heat for one satisfying, sublime stew. (BR)

5075 S. Pecos Road, mrchopchop.net

24 | Spicy miso ramen Ramen Sora Vegas’ newest ramen bar focuses on Sapporostyle noodle soup, which is where miso was born. Japanese food is known for being refined, but they spice up this $8.50 dish, adding dollops of scary-red, multiplepepper chili paste into a smooth, clean-tasting broth stacked with chewy noodles and

3839 W. Sahara Ave. #9, 873-8749

23 | Pad prik pao (Chili Paste Delight) Mr. Chop Chop Mr. Chop Chop’s menu promises a Chinese and

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ribbons of succulent roasted pork. The only thing better than a hot bowl of ramen is a HOT! bowl of ramen. (BR)

4490 Spring Mountain Road, 685-1011

25 | salsa Cardenas markets Gringos are slowly venturing into Cardenas as the Mexican market chain expands beyond its east side bloc, with its most recent location opened on the site of the old Mervyn’s on Decatur Boulevard. Go for the cheap produce and humming in-store eatery serving tacos and tortas, but don’t miss out on their veritable rainbow of housemade salsas, for sale by the pound. On the flavorful end, you’ve got guacatillo ($2.99) and tomatillo ($3.29). On the daring end, you’ve got rojas rancheros ($2.99) and molcajete rojas ($3.29). And on the far, fanning-your-handsin-front-of-your-smokingmouth end, you’ve got 100 Fuegos ($4.99), a deep red, soupy salsa with a long finish. Try a sample from the nice sample lady first. But be warned: She really pours it on that chip. (AK)

Multiple locations, cardenasmarkets.com

extreme

Rubber gloves and wing sauce Blazin’ Wings at Buffalo Wild Wings You may not want to believe one of the most incendiary foods in town can be found at a totally typical chain of chicken wing sports bars. I didn’t want to believe it, but years ago I was invited to sample the Blazin’ sauce by the original franchisee that brought Buffalo Wild Wings to Las Vegas. The wings are surprisingly good here, crispy and meaty and spun in your sauce of choice (there are 16 flavors now). ¶ After two bites of this nuclear orange devilspawn, I was reeling. For a few seconds, it’s slightly sweet and cayenne-peppery, like wing sauce usually is. Then, the flames. Icy beer barely helps. If you’re gonna walk this plank, I recommend wearing gloves. Rub your eyes within 12 hours of touching Blazin’ sauce and you’ll be in the emergency room. (BR) Multiple locations, buffalowildwings.com

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crazy

Time to play: RM Seafood challenges you to Rick's Tasting Game.

26 | Quail Public House Public House’s menu is so humble. This is actually a scrumptious version of chicken and waffles, with tender, buttermilkfried quail and a thin, crisp waffle (everything Eggos ought to be), plus bacon-braised Swiss chard and a maple syrup glaze made with Moose Drool Brown Ale. At $26, it’s lovely as an entrée, or perfect as a shared plate, if you’re willing to share. I’d make ’em order their own. (BR)

Inside the Venetian, publichouselv.com

27 | Budae jigae Soyo Budae jigae was born out of necessity; now it’s a novel hangover cure. The spicy stew — made with Spam, chopped hot dogs and melted American cheese — was originally intended to feed starving citizens during the Korean War, but more than 50 years later, the taste for processed food has

endured. At Soyo, you can watch the younger set dig into this communal hot pot ($18) after a long night of drinking — somehow it makes them feel better instead of worse. (DL)

7775 S. Rainbow Blvd. #105, 897-7696

28 | Boardwalk fries Crab Corner Traditional East Coast fare abounds in this hallmark of Maryland seafood. While the crabs are exemplary, they present a timeconsuming endeavor for precious little meat. A timelier and equally delicious option is the $3.50 boardwalk fries. Crab Corner’s are cooked in peanut oil, a medium not used often enough in light of the subtle nuttiness it endows. With ample amounts of J.O. crab seasoning and malt vinegar, you’ll be transported back to Ocean City, minus The Situation and Snooki wannabes. (JB)

4161 S. Eastern Ave., crabcornerlv.com

29 | Turkey tail torta Burritos Juarez Finally, there’s a reason to eat turkey outside of November. Whether you’re a breast or leg man, Burritos Juarez will convert either with its colitas de pavo, or turkey tail. This overlooked cut of meat is minced and flash-fried until crisp, then stuffed in a torta with generous amounts of avocado and other yummy fixings. One bite of the fatty, flavorful sandwich ($4.95) and you’ll agree it’s the best tail in town. (DL)

3655 S. Durango Drive, 242-0055

30 | Rick’s Tasting Game RM Seafood For anyone possessing confidence in the sophistication of their palate, Rick’s Tasting Game ($18) at RM Seafood will serve a huge blow to the ego. Sixteen small scoops of unconventional ice creams and sorbets are served “blind,” accom-

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What the duck?! Balut (boiled duck embryo) at Kapit Bahay Filipino Fastfood Balut is a Filipino delicacy infamous for its fearful qualities. Why fearful? Well, because balut is a hardboiled fertilized duck embryo. Yeah, duck embryo. So you can imagine my joy in having the honor to eat one for you, our loyal readers. Mine was slightly larger than a regular egg — the first sign something was amiss. The second was the shell shading. Only makes sense that since light can’t shine through a duck, it’d be darker than a normal hard-boiled egg. ¶ The white — called bato — was off too. Hard and practically inedible, but not shocking. Neither was the juice. Upon cracking open the shell, a meaty aroma emerged from a soupy liquid infused with duck essence which, while abnormal, wasn’t difficult to stomach either. But then there was the yolk. ¶  The yolk was regular except for the duckling leering up at me. Simply put, balut is difficult to eat due to the baby duck. Thankfully, mine hadn’t progressed to the point of feathers and bones — I understand that’s an even rarer delicacy — but it was a duck nonetheless. And it was unnerving. ¶  With a beer alongside and an ample amount of salt, I managed to down the whole thing. The embryo was actually gelatinous and outside of the visual, not terribly untasty; however, there is always that visual. I’m glad I tried it. Once. (Jim Begley) 4115 Spring Mountain Road #E104, 889-4922

panied by a quiz sheet to populate with flavor guesses. Despite incorrectly identifying cilantro, gin and tonic, vanilla beer, Campari, and carrot (which I swore was sweet potato), my server assured me that my 50 percent score was “very respectable.” Score 100 and dessert is on Rick. (JH)

Not yolking around: Forte's adjarski khachapuri

Inside Mandalay Bay, rmseafood.com

31 | Adjarski Khachapuri Forte Forte’s no longer the hidden but sketchy gem it once was. The eclectic Eastern European tapas joint has undergone a facelift in anticipation of its soon-to-be-aired episode of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” That shouldn’t dissuade you from visiting for their adjarski khachapuri, a strangely named suluginistyle (pickled) cheesestuffed bread baked in a canoe shape, before the crowds arrive. The coup

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de grâce is the raw egg cooks to over easy in the seat, resulting in an undeniable, addictive gooeyness in every bite. Check it out before Fieri ruins it for the rest of us. (JB)

4180 S. Rainbow Blvd. #806, barforte.com

32 | Roasted beef marrow and oxtail Jam Comme Ça Bone marrow is usually consumed in very small amounts, the decadent crown on a dish like osso bucco. At Comme Ça, it’s

the main attraction: two bone canoes filled with rich, gelatinous treasure, sticky and luscious, served with not nearly enough crostini and a bowl of ultra-savory oxtail-tomato jam. This meal ($18) has transformative powers: Eat it all and


you’ll never, ever consider vegetarianism. (BR)

Inside The Cosmopolitan, (877) 893-2003

33 | Very vegan pizza Pizza Fusion Vegan soy cheese? Let’s put the niceties behind us and not pretend it tastes just like real cheese. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a delicious topping. Paired with crimini mushrooms, roasted garlic and freshly made organic tomato sauce, Pizza Fusion’s Very Vegan Pizza ($9$24) is not only a treat for earth-adoring grass-grazers, but even adventurous meatlovers. (DM)

10345 S. Eastern Ave. #110, 896-9669

34 | Kawa kushi Kyara Izakaya Some people eat pretzels with their beer; the Japanese prefer chicken skin. The crispy crackling may be the bane of dieters, but to true gourmands, it’s the only redeeming quality in an otherwise boring bird. At Kyara Izakaya, shards of it ($1.50$10) are skewered and tossed over a flame until all that’s left is a glorious mix of salt and crunch. Don’t worry about what happens to the meat — sometimes beauty really is only skin deep. (DL)

6555 S. Jones Blvd. #120, kyaraizakaya.com

35 | Rambo Burger Rambo’s Kitchen Some updates are good (Heath Ledger’s Joker) while some aren’t so much (New Coke, anyone?). The Rambo Burger ($10.89) is the former. Unless you’re originally from Land of 1,000 Lakes, you may not be aware of the cheesestuffed Jucy (yeah, it’s spelled like that) Lucy. Luckily, one of Rambo’s Kitchen’s owners is, and

has taken the classic and smothered her American and Swiss cheese-stuffed patty with pulled pork. The resulting burger is a carnivore’s dream. Who says tradition can’t be tweaked? (JB)

6085 S. Fort Apache Road,  ramboskitchen.com

The Craft

DEALicious chefs dish their kitchen secrets

Chef Saul Ortiz

Hot salsa steps Tacos & Tequila inside the Luxor, tacosandtequilalv.com

36 | Peanut butter Belgian waffle Roxy’s Strangely, Roxy’s manages to cater to both Baby Boomer tourists and foodlovers, hiding remarkably clever dishes among singing waiters in a faux ’50s diner. My favorite is the peanut butter Belgian waffle ($8.99), unveiling an unholy matrimony of peanut butter, Bananas Foster and white chocolate mousse in one fell swoop. Executive chef Rick Giffen demonstrates remarkable restraint in not adding maple syrup, molasses and honey into the mix, but rest assured the result is still sweet enough without being cloying. (JB)

Inside the Stratosphere, (800) 998-6937

37 | Bulgogi Potato Pizza K Jun Chicken Korean-Mexican fusion has been in Vegas for a while now, with spicy and sour Asian ingredients sneaking into tacos and burritos. But what about Korean pizza? Got that, too. Hit K Jun Chicken in the Greenland Market food court and, for $10, experience the insanity of a hot, crisp, cheesy pizza laced with thinly sliced sweet potatoes and bulgogi, grilled beef marinated in soy, sugar, sesame and chili. It’ll confuse your taste buds in a spectacular way. (BR)

“To really make salsa, you must have fresh ingredients, and it must be something spicy yet enjoyable.” So says chef Saul Ortiz, and you should believe him. He’s obsessed. At his restaurant in Luxor, the kitchen is turning out between 15 and 25 fresh-made varieties every day, some in 10-gallon batches. He’s made rose petal salsa. He’s using every kind of chili pepper out there, guajillo to pasilla, cascabel to chipotle. He’s even got a hydroponic set-up at home so he can grow his own ghost pepper plant, which he can’t wait to make into a roasted salsa. “They say when you eat raw ghost pepper, the feeling you get is that your scalp separates from your head,” Ortiz said. “I don’t know if I want to feel that, but I’m curious about the flavor profile.” Creating great salsa is first a decision as to what type of flavors you like, and then an ongoing experiment in ingredients and technique. Try different peppers, and blend them in raw, roasted or dried form. Use only fresh ingredients — onion, cilantro, citrus — and don’t let it sit too long. “After 24 hours, the acids start eating away at the sodium and you’ll get a pickling effect. When it’s not fresh, you’re losing your original flavors.” And take it easy on the tomatoes. “They are overused. Clean up your tomatoes by removing the seeds, which hold water, otherwise your pico de gallo will turn to soup. And you can use different things instead of tomato as your base, like more citrusy tomatillo or roasted poblano peppers. Once you know how to roast your basic ingredients to add depth of flavor, and then you can incorporate an exotic pepper? Oh man, you’re set.” — B.R.

6850 Spring Mountain Road, 281-9310

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Burrito without borders: KoMex Fusion Express's bulgogi burrito

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exotic 38 | Bulgogi  burrito

40 | Poutine

KoMex Fusion Express

Sure, Vegas is nowhere near Canada, but since chef Chris Palmeri is from Buffalo, I figure he actually may be a Canuck. That’s the only possible explanation for his spoton rendition of the Quebec staple. Palmeri layers his hand-cut fries with cheese curds and savory gravy in an artery-clogging epiphany ($4.25-$6.50). Next time you’re there, get your taste of the Great White North and demand to see his green card. We can’t be too careful, you know. (JB)

633 N. Decatur Blvd. #H, komexexpress.com

39 | Lhamejun

(Armenian pizza) Ron’s Market The “Armenian pizza” at Ron’s Market is a bit of a misnomer, but it’s still the best cheap eat in town. Ninety cents gets you a disc of paper-thin dough spread with a veil of ground beef and chopped bell peppers, baked until the crust is golden. It’s best when reheated at home and treated the traditional way, with a squeeze of fresh lemon over the top. Bet that’s something you’d never do to your slice of Domino’s. (DL)

6085 S. Fort Apache Road #140, 431-6444

Inside Moondoggies Bar, 3240 Arville St., nakedcitylv.com

41 | Lamb kubideh Flame Kabob It’s been a long time since I’ve discovered food as shockingly good and dirt cheap as the Persian cuisine at Flame Kabob. The kubideh ($4.99 rack, $7.99 ground), kabobs made of minced meat and spices, are impossibly moist and flavorful, too big to finish but too good not to. The lamb version packs the biggest punch, rich in flavor yet light in texture. The colorful rice and fresh bread as side dishes are just as delicious. (BR)

multiple locations, 438-7400

42 | #10 pork roll

sandwich

go extreme Eats

DARE!licious Meals |

I’ve espoused my adoration of KoMex’s bulgogi fried rice so often they named the dish after me. Why then include the bulgogi burrito instead? Well, chef Sonny Yi actually threatened bodily harm if I pimped the fried rice any further — apparently all that wok-frying is tough on his arm — so the swirl of smoke and sweet in his fusion burrito is the next best option. Truthfully, their bulgogi is great in any form, and the burrito ($4.99) is just as worthy a vehicle as the fried rice. Now only if he had a fried rice burrito … (JB)

Naked City Pizza Shop

Fred FlinTstone’s choice cut 32-ounce lollipop ribeye at Old Homestead There may be a grand American tradition of feasting on a big ol’ steak, but these days we’re all cutting back on red meat. A two-pound ribeye for one doesn’t make a lot of sense. But this is different; this is Pat LaFrieda beef, prime cow specially chosen by the best butcher in the biz and dry-aged for at least a month. It comes out clinging to a huge, dinosaurish bone and takes up the majority of a massive plate. And breaking through the excellent outer char-crust on an Old Homestead steak for that first juicy bite is pure carnivorous bliss. Ten ounces in, you consider quitting, getting a doggy bag. But tomorrow it will only be leftovers. Tonight it’s perfect, so you keep going. ¶ Before you realize it, there’s one bite left on your twopound ribeye. You're heavier, yes, but so much happier.

Lee’s Sandwiches

(BR) Inside Caesars Palace,

Having conquered Southern California, Lee’s Sandwiches has now infiltrated our Chinatown and, most recently,

theoldhomesteadsteakhouse. com

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DARE!licious Meals |

go

extreme

Organ music … for your tongue Organ menu at B&B Ristorante inside the Palazzo Coming off an ill-timed, self-induced, weeklong meat-free diet, I was ready for something non-leafy. This being Vegas, I went all in with the organ menu at B&B Ristorante. Antipasti? Warm lamb’s tongue with chanterelle mushrooms and three-minute egg. Garnished with microgreens and a neon extra virgin olive oil. Mild. Slightly sweet finish. Runny eggs typically aren’t my thing. But in the context of tongue, it didn’t take much to conquer this fear. Then I proceeded to conquer the whole dish, mopping with bread. No shame. ¶ Secondi? Bone marrow ravioli with osso bucco ragú. A dozen or so petit round, crimped-edge pasta pouches filled with the super subtle marrow and a touch of saffron. Topped with osso bucco so tender, if it were served on the bone, it would surely fall off. ¶ Primi? Crispy polenta sweetbreads with oyster mushrooms, fava beans, and green garlic fonduta. Looks like battered fish. Eats like chicken. Not for the faint of heart, this menu will take your taste buds and perceptions — one well worth the price of admission. (Dana Satterwhite) Inside the Palazzo, 266-9977

out stale dinner buns while Magura serves addictive cheese bread. That’s how Bulgarians roll. (JB)

1305 Vegas Valley Drive #B, 693-6990

46 | Soondae Honey Pig You’ve conquered Korean barbecue and kimchi — now it’s time for something a little more challenging. Consider soondae, or pork blood sausage ($20), your stepping stone. At Honey Pig, this popular street snack is served on a large platter with chewy slivers of steamed pig ears on the side. Sure, it’s an awful lot of offal, but the flavors are mild and serve as a welcome respite from the spicier dishes on the table. (DL)

4725 Spring Mountain Road, 876-0711 Henderson, and domination never tasted so good. Served on fresh baguettes, these banh mi sandwiches ($3.29) are crazy cheap no matter your filling of choice, but I recommend the cured pork and pork roll combo. Two kinds of pig are better than one, and it’s just the right meaty mixture to balance with the standard crisp, pickled vegetables. (BR)

multiple locations, leessandwiches.com

43 | Chip Butty Crown & Anchor We’ve all had French fries and buttered bread, but it would normally take a trip across the pond to see the two combined in a sandwich. To the likely dismay of the late Dr. Atkins, Crown & Anchor serves this iconic British snack — known as the chip butty — to hungry drunks, homesick Englishmen and plain old carb fiends. Douse yours in ketchup or add a side of curry and expats may mistake you for one of their

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own. (DL)

1350 E. Tropicana Ave., crownandanchorlv.com

44 | Nose-to-tail

steam table station Yunnan Garden

Heat-seekers revere Yunnan Garden for its spicy Szechuan dishes, but there’s more to the menu than food doused in crimson oil. For true thrills, visit the steam table — a miniature cafeteria of curiosities — and assemble a custom plate of various odds and ends. On a recent visit, chicken feet, duck heads, and tripe were some of the more easily identifiable selections. Point at and taste the other items at your own risk. (DL)

staples. Amongst these pies lies the genesis of their cheese bread ($2.75). The dish is simple enough — a more-than-ample layer of cheese on housemade dough; however, the coup de grace is the Bulgarian spice mix on the crust — think of it as an Eastern European Krazy Jane’s Seasoned Salt. Best of all, it’s free! Other places dole

3934 Schiff Drive, 869-8885

45 | Cheese bread Magura Magura, the valley’s only true Bulgarian restaurant, serves a surprisingly large local ethnic community. Strangely enough, pizza is amidst the menu

Greek greatness: Milo's $20.12 lunch special with lavraki (grilled Mediterranean sea bass)

47 | Special kitfo Merkato Tartare doesn’t scare people, so why kitfo? Raw meat is raw meat, even if it is Ethiopian. Kitfo is a traditional homeland dish and Merkato serves an interesting variant. Their special kitfo ($9.50) melds lab (Ethiopian cheese) spinach and


ample amounts of mitmita, a traditional spice blend, in an overwhelmingly-sized single dish. Scooped up with injera, a spongy flatbread serving as a utensil for most Ethiopian dishes, it’s more than enough for a meal in itself. (JB)

855 E. Twain Ave., 796-1231

48 | $20.12 Lunch

with lavraki Estiatorio Milos

No DEALicious list could be complete without the inclusion of Estiatorio Milos’ $20.12 lunch. Granted, it is a penny more this year but I think it’s completely worth the additional Lincoln. Amongst the entrée options, I always get the lavraki — a grilled and lightly seasoned Mediterranean sea bass that would cost you a minimum of $35 alone for dinner. With this in mind, your appetizer and dessert are just icing on the cake and completely worth every penny — even the additional one this year. (JB)

Inside The Cosmopolitan,  (877) 893-2003

49 | Arroz con pollo Che Inka Chicken Grill  I’m not a big fan of restau-

rant chicken, as it’s easily overcooked; however, Che Inka has got chicken dialed in. Their menu highlights a variety of Peruvian specialties, one of which showcases their rotisserie chicken — the arroz con pollo ($10.99). A quarter of a rotisserie chicken with perfectly crisped skin is served on cilantro-laden rice for an outrageously oversized meal. The spice mix infused into the skin is a revelation, while the rice could serve

The Craft

as a meal onto itself. And the chicken? Its moistness should be the standard for which all fowl strive. (JB)

845 S. Rainbow Blvd.,  cheinkagrill.com

50 | Brie and grape quesadilla Sushi Freak Quesadillas are the last thing you’d expect to find on an all-you-can-eat sushi menu, but at Sushi Freak, Mexico meets France for a creative

finish to a Japanese meal. Wedges of brie are tossed with grapes and melted between flour tortillas until crisp — an idea that’s not so unusual (think cheese and crackers), except that it’s served alongside a bounty of poke, edamame, and yellowtail. At $8.50, it's a cheap reminder that Vegas is the ultimate melting pot. (DL)

8665 W. Flamingo Road #106, 453-8897

DEALicious chefs dish their kitchen secrets

Chef Murray Young

Healthy hedonism

Greens & Proteins 8975 S. Eastern Ave., greensandproteins.com restaurant cuisine that's healthy and filling? Tough sell. And that actually tastes good? Even tougher. Hitting all three is the goal of Greens & Proteins, a “healthy fast food” spot where vegan yoginis, UFC powerhouses and average Joes can dine in harmony. Strategically located a short sprint from a perpetually crowded gym, Greens & Proteins has managed to achieve the unthinkable: making feel-good food craveable. Chef Murray Young, formerly of China Grill management, credits this first and foremost to seasoning. “Cooking with seasoning takes the place of excess salt and fat, which are typically found in fast food,” he says. “We also use a lot of fresh herbs, citrus and virgin olive oil, which really impact flavor.” Some of the most popular items are lighter riffs on comfort foods. Spiced tofu fries ($5.99) are crisped in heart-healthy grapeseed oil; a cheesesteak wrap contains high-protein bison meat and lowfat mozzarella ($10.99); and a 305-calorie margherita pizza is served on a thin crust dough or vegan lavash ($7.99). Even the deceptively rich Thai ginger soup ($4.99) has a surprise ingredient. “Cashews that have been soaked and pureed are a vegan way to make recipes creamy,” Young says. Another draw is the restaurant’s flexibility. Customers are able to “Build Your Own Custom Meal,” mixing and matching proteins, greens, grains and sauces, which eases the challenge of menu navigation for special dieters, picky eaters or apprehensive first-timers. At the end of the day, “making good food stems from using high-quality, wholesome ingredients,” says Young. Case in point: The fully-loaded chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie ($7.50). Somehow, this combination of 14 seemingly mismatched ingredients, including kale, avocado, cacao powder and chia seeds, blends together to create a refreshing vitamin-packed play on a much more sinful treat. That’s what I call having your shake and eating it too. — Julie Hession

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table 34

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Featuring Chef Wes Kendricks’ contemporary American cuisine including safe harbor certified fresh fish, wild game, duck, lamb, angus beef, and comfort food classics. Conveniently located off the 215 near the Airport. dinner tuesday - saturday 5pm until closing (around 10pm)

At Your service Catering has been serving the Las vegas area with the best in culinary creations and high profile event planning and design since 1991. Our expertise allows us to handle events of all sizes, from simple to extravagant. Fully licensed for both food and liquor service, we are more than caterers we are full-service event planners.

10940 S. eastern Avenue #107 Henderson, nV 89052 (702) 675-3300 Breadandbutterlv.com facebook.com/breadandbutterlv

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Tuesday - Friday 3-6pm

$15 off a $75 check

or 20% off total check

One coupon per visit per table. Must be presented at time of purchase. Not valid with any other offers or discounts. Unauthorized internet distribution or resale is strictly prohibited. Not refundable or redeemable for cash. Excludes tax, gratuity and purchase of gift cards. Not Valid on Mondays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or New Year’s Eve.

$20 off a $100 check

or 20% off total check

One coupon per visit per table. Must be presented at time of purchase. Not valid with any other offers or discounts. Unauthorized internet distribution or resale is strictly prohibited. Not refundable or redeemable for cash. Excludes tax, gratuity and purchase of gift cards. Not Valid on Mondays, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or New Year’s Eve.

7501 West Lake Mead Boulevard, at the corner of Buffalo, 228-9463, www.grapestreetcafe.com


Rise Shine Whether you love classic coffee,

gourmet pastry or old-school eggs and bacon, there’s no better time to wake up to breakfast in Las Vegas

by

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Julie Hession

photography

SABIN ORR


Flat-out good: Waffles with raspberry jam at Bread & Butter

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A buzz with beauty: Sambalatte's Nutella latte

here’s the love for breakfast? In a city known for nightlife culture and ’round the clock schedules, I’ve found that breakfast has long been a culinary afterthought. But not anymore. I’m pleased to discover that the breakfast scene in Las Vegas these days is truly cooking. Whether you’re craving coffee, healthy fare to kick-start your day or a decadent belly bomb to close out an all-nighter, you’re sure to find a reason to wake up on this epic brekkie crawl.

W

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Morning jolt Just coffee, thanks I’m a creature of habit, especially when it comes to coffee. For most of my adult life, Starbucks’ venti-skinny-extra-hot-latte has been my caffeine constant. But not since I began venturing out of my comfort zone to give local baristas some love. I recently headed to Sambalatte Torrefazione (750 S. Rampart Blvd #9, sambalatte.com), a bustling café with European flair, cozy tables, board games, outdoor seating and free Wi-Fi. The signature 16-ounce Nutella Latte ($4.50) has chocolate hazelnut spread swirled into the hot milk, making it sweet enough to require no doctoring, and it’s presented in a large mug with a decorative flower swirl. (And no, I couldn’t resist grabbing a raspberry macaroon for the road.) Fully awake, I headed east to Grouchy John’s (8520 S. Maryland Parkway,


Eat one a day: apple turnover from Patisserie Manon

Holy flavor matrimony: Sunrise Café's My Big Fat Greek Omelet

grouchyjohns.com), where I was the only customer who wasn’t a regular — surely a good sign. I had my eye on “The O.G.” with salted caramel and vanilla, but co-owner J.J. steered me to “The Grouchy John,” a sweet white chocolate and amaretto latte. (For my next visit, I have my eye on the “Evil Monkey”: chai, espresso and banana (12-ounce, $3.25; 16-ounce, $4). At The Beat (520 Fremont St. #101, thebeatlv.com), a downtown java joint with live music and vinyl records, don’t even think about getting your large latte ($3.49) to go. Instead, settle in for a few hours, watch the

mix of business people, politicians, hipsters, yoginis and artists —  and prepare to meet some interesting new friends. Last stop was Sunrise Coffee (3130 E. Sunset Road #A, sunrisecoffeelv.com), a Portland-esque organic and fair-trade shop with a friendly and knowledgeable staff, vegan offerings and freshly roasted, singlesource beans. I would have loved to lounge with a book from the shelves and a French press coffee ($3.85) served in a real mug, but I had to grab a not-too-sweet orange mocha ($3.50 medium, $4.45 large) for the road. Pastries were calling.

Rich and flaky Perfect pastries Whether they’re crafting authentic French croissants or Bavarian specialties, talented pastry chefs are no longer confined to the Strip. The German Bread Bakery (2237 N. Rampart Blvd., germanbreadbakerylasvegas.com) is the kind of place my grandfather would have loved to walk to every morning for a generous slice of poppy seed coffee cake ($1.99) or a blueberry pudding Danish ($2.20). They also bake authentic Bavarian “teilchen” (pastries) and bread daily, and the iced almond coffee cake ($1.99) is worth crossing town for. Former Aureole pastry chef Megan Romano’s new venture, Chocolate & Spice (7293 W. Sahara Ave. #8, chocolatenspice.com), piqued my curiosity after getting its fair share of love from the foodie community. Beautifully displayed cases entice with an abundance of muffins, scones and croissants. On the sweet side, there’s the honey caramel sticky bun brioche. And on the savory, there’s the pinwheel prosciutto brioche bun (both $3). Just make it easy on yourself and get both. Tip: They taste even better heated. Off west Sunset, tucked away in the back of an office park, the tiny Baguette Café (8359 W. Sunset Road, baguettecafe.net) is worth seeking out. Owner Olivier cheerfully juggles phone orders between pulling perfectly golden croissants from the oven and helping customers practice their French. At his recommendation, I selected the pain au chocolat, airy layers of buttery pastry studded with bittersweet chocolate, and the moist fresh strawberry muffin with almond crumble (both $1.95). Three words come to mind when I think about my visit to the spacious Patisserie Manon (8751 W. Charleston Blvd. #110, patisseriemanon.com): croissant aux amandes ($3.25). Of all the pastries I tasted on this epic breakfast crawl, this was most memorable. Owners Jean-Paul and Rachel’s twice-baked treat is filled with frangipane and topped with powdered sugar and almonds, a perfect combination of sweet and buttery.

Smart starts Healthy morning meals At this point, I decided that I would either need to start running from destination to destination or start thinking healthy. I’m not a runner. First up was the Original Sunrise Café (8975 S. Eastern Ave. #5, eatatsunrise.com), with a relaxed atmosphere and a great outdoor patio where your dogs can bask in the sun. Their healthier options include My Big

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Fat Greek Omelet ($8.99), a zesty combo of egg whites, spinach, roasted red peppers, kalamata olives, Greek dressing and feta, or the Power Wrap ($7.99), with grilled chicken, egg whites, salsa and Swiss. You won’t even miss those potatoes you skip. (You’re being good, remember?) A flax seed’s throw from Sunrise Café is the popular Greens & Proteins (8975 S. Eastern Ave, greensandproteins.com; see profile on page 65), whose “healthy fast food can taste good!” approach seems to be working. Those really committed can start the morning with a Wellness Drink ($7.50), containing a produce drawer’s worth of green veggies and fruit. If you’d rather ease into the day, a nicely spiced Apple Pie Smoothie ($7.50) or a refreshing Watermelon Strawberry Cocktail ($5.99) should do the trick. If it’s your first visit to Pure Vida Bakery and Bystro (1236 S. Western Ave., puravidavegas.com), allow yourself some extra time. The enthusiastic and warm Chef Mayra will personally walk you through the lengthy (and somewhat confusing) vegan menu, offering suggestions and samples along the way. My well-seasoned Southwestern Latintude Burrito ($10.99) — stuffed with brown rice, black beans, tofu scramble, vegan cheese, peppers, avocado and potatoes — was large enough to share, and it’s also offered on their gluten-free menu. The Cracked Egg (multiple locations, thecrackedegglv.com) is one of the few places where health nuts and bacon groupies can breakfast in harmony. While your significant other scarfs down a hearty fried skillet, enjoy the satisfyingly flavorful Lowfat Scramble ($8.95): egg whites scrambled with chicken, diced green chilies, tortilla chips and salsa. Choose the seasoned potatoes and toast in lieu of the hash browns and signature coffee cake (take a nibble of your partner’s). They also offer a menu for diners sensitive to gluten.

Flat and flavorful Pancakes and waffles Esquire Magazine named Du-par’s (inside the Golden Gate hotel-casino, dupars.com) Buttermilk Hotcakes “Best pancakes in the USA.” I can’t vouch for the rest of the country, but these pancakes are, hands-down, my pick for the best in Las Vegas. Generously sized, fluffy and porous, the three-cake short stack glazed with melted butter and maple syrup ($5.50) could satisfy a Green Bay Packer. Eat at the counter and chat up the sassy waitresses as they press you a freshly squeezed O.J.

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Stack attack: Du-par's classic pancakes

Can’t decide between waffles or eggs? Chef Chris Herrin at Bread & Butter (10940 S. Eastern Ave. #107, breadandbutterlv.com) has the answer. The brilliant country ham and egg waffle sandwich ($9.50) combines aged white cheddar, smoky ham and scrambled eggs between two soft waffles topped with creamy rosemary béchamel. Prefer your waffles in a more traditional style? Herrin’s crisp sourdough version ($8.50) stands up to the trifecta of toppings: pure maple syrup, honey butter and fresh berry jam. If you have a seriously serious sweet tooth, hightail it to the Black Bear Diner (6180 W Tropicana Ave., blackbeardiner. com) and order the cinnamon roll French toast ($7.99). I prefer the not-quite-sosweet seven-grain granola nut cakes ($6.99), almond-flavored and hearty. Either way, you’ll likely need a nap in the booth afterwards. Arrive early on the weekends or prepare for a wait, which you can spend browsing the collection of teddy bears and the cabin-themed décor. Bar + Bistro at the Arts Factory (107 E. Charleston Blvd. #155, barbistroaf.com) is the new kid on the weekday breakfast block, so I think I took them by surprise when I walked in the door at 7:05 on Monday morning. The huge portion of five cinnamon and vanilla B+B Pancakes ($9) were crisp on the outside and appealingly dense, served with pure maple syrup (skip the whipped cream.) Flan brioche French toast ($10) is coated with a sweet lemon glaze, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.

Take a dive Eggs and bacon If your late night out leaves you craving food with hangover-banishing heft, Vegas has you covered. McMullan’s Irish Pub (4650 W. Tropicana Ave., mcmullansirishpub.com) is the perfect place to soak up whatever ails you from the night before. It’s dark, quiet in the morning and, if you’re so inclined, you can order hair of the dog in the form of a perfectly poured Guinness. The hearty Farmhouse Irish Breakfast ($11), with three eggs, black and white pudding, spiced sausage, Irish bacon, just-sweet-enough baked beans, grilled tomato, outstanding sautéed breakfast potatoes and thick homemade brown bread, is the only way to go. Dining at the Omelet House (2160 W. Charleston Blvd., omelethouse.net) almost feels like having breakfast at your grandparents’ place. Open since 1978, the décor of this locals’ favorite hasn’t changed much, with kitschy knickknacks on the wall and wood paneling. The courteous waitstaff will proudly tell you that their 38 omelets are made with six (yes, six!) eggs, but you can get a “baby” version for $.89 less, or split one for $.95. Try the Rio Grande Surfer ($8.89) with chorizo sausage, onion, and cheddar — and don’t miss the famous pumpkin bread. Occupying one end of what used to be White Cross Drugs (now closed), Tiffany’s Café (1700 Las Vegas Blvd S., tiffanyscafelv. com) is a 24-hour, cash-only classic diner for locals and the post-clubbing crowd. Artery-clogging options abound, such as


Fancy this: breakfast at Bouchon Bistro in the Venetian

the sausage biscuits with country gravy ($6.75) and a moist pork chop with three fried eggs ($8.50). Walk into the Del Mar Café (2950 S. Durango Drive, delmarcafelasvegas.com), and chances are that you’ll get a warm greeting by owners Dee and Jim. Located in a small strip mall, this breakfast joint with a clever racetrack theme serves up “Quarter Mile Pole Wraps,” “Paddock Skillets” and “Starting Gate” build-your-own omelets. The generous Seabiscuit skillet ($8.99) combines eggs, country potatoes, onions, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, Swiss and avocado. The service is exceptional, the surroundings are spotless and, if you want your espresso to go, there’s a drive-thru on the side.

Sunrise (on the) Strip Waking up fancy Up for a mini-staycation? Pony up a little extra cash for these spectacular Strip standouts. Sure, it can be a pain to go to the Strip just for breakfast, but dining at Bouchon Bistro (inside the Venetian, bouchonbakery.com) is well worth the ef-

fort. Service is impeccable — your coffee cup gets refilled as though by magic — and the food? Well, this is a Thomas Keller restaurant. The Breakfast Jardinière ($22) is a fairly good value: two eggs, toasted brioche with creamy salted butter, tropical fruit salad, sautéed spinach, Lyonnaise potatoes, juice and coffee with your choice of pastry. You can’t go wrong with the flaky pain au chocolat, but be sure to ask about special pastries of the day. Oh, and you can also order a side of fries. Tres francais, n’est-ce pas? Breakfast at the breezy Verandah Café (inside the Four Seasons Hotel, 632-5000) feels like you’re dining at … um, at just about anywhere but on the Strip. Attentive (but not overbearing) service and thoughtful, artistically presented dishes make the somewhat hefty price tag (almost) bearable. Keep things light during the week with the vegetarian hash or egg white frittata with tomato relish ($16). Weekends are for splurging via Verandah’s elaborate brunch, where the “make your own donuts” station is a mandatory first stop ($37). If the tables were kind to you last night, treat yourself to the breakfast —  and the

view — at MOzen Bistro (Inside Mandarin Oriental, 888-881-9367). Feeling a bit exotic? Try the Japanese Bento Breakfast ($35): teriyaki-glazed salmon, silken tofu with ginger, poached eggs in dashi soy, sushi rice, miso soup with wakame, and tropical fruits served with green tea and juice. Want to keep things domestic? Go for the Nantucket Eggs ($28): beautifully plated grilled jumbo lump crab cakes, poached eggs, baby spinach and hollandaise sauce, served with asparagus-topped breakfast potatoes. Going to Payard Patisserie and Bistro (inside Caesars Palace, payard.com) and not ordering the chocolate waffles ($14) is akin to going to Peter Luger and ordering the vegetable plate. The master pastry chef does not disappoint. Decadent without being heavy, the crispy waffles are plated with caramelized bananas, whipped cream and a generous drizzle of Nutella. If you must do savory, opt for the Croque Madame ($17): sunny-side up egg, ham, béchamel, Swiss, baked tomato and salad. Feeling a bit drowsy after such a big meal? You can always sleep it off — and wake up tomorrow for another go. De s e rtcom pa n i o n .co m |

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5

take Cameroon native Angu Walters paints portraits of his fellow Africans, but you might not recognize them as people. Rather, his abstract, almost surreal paintings capture something else: their vibrant spirit. “Images from Cameroon” is on exhibit through Sept. 1 at Left of Center Gallery. Info: leftofcenterart.org

There’s so much dance talent behind the Hope 5 Ballet — featuring dancers from “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular” and Nevada Ballet Theatre — you should bring an umbrella. Because it might just start raining leotards from a spontaneously awesomeness-born, sentient dance-cloud. Better yet, all the pirouettes benefit homeless-assistance group Family Promise. Hope 5 Ballet performs 2 p.m. July 14-15 at CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre. Tickets $15-$20. Info: csn.edu/pac

Take a close look at Philip Denker’s intricate, painstakingly detailed wall tapestries. Closer … closer … closeWAIT NOT THAT CLOSE NOW YOU HAVE A PIPE CLEANER IN YOUR TEAR DUCT EWW GROSS CALL 911. Philip Denker’s “Screensaver” show is on exhibit through Aug. 17 at Winchester Cultural Center. Info: 455-7340

All band names should be as rhymey as k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang. Let’s try a few: B.B. King and the Rusty Swing? Carrot Top and the No Don’t Stop? Penn Jillette and Collectible Coin Set? Anyway, lang and her band are coming to Vegas to perform their signature blend of jazz, country and folk. (Randy yolk.) k.d. lang and the Siss Boom Bang perform 7:30 p.m. July 13 at the Smith Center. Tickets $27-$100. Info: thesmithcenter.com

Want your event in our guide? Submit your event with a brief description to guide@desertcompanion.com.

Your tyke will think she’s just enjoying upbeat, high-energy tunes when she’s listening to child-rock supergroup Monkey Monkey Band. But her parents know the songs are a mere delivery system for the molten, white-hot learning poured directly onto her developing cortex. Now THAT IS RÖCK. The Monkey Monkey Band performs 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. July 18 at the Charleston Heights Arts Center. Info: 229-6383

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ART CELEBRATING LIFE! 2012 Through July 11. A 12th annual juried exhibit for artists aged 50 and older with six media categories, each awarded first, second, third and honorable mention awards: Drawing, Painting, Mixed Media, Photography, Sculpture and Ceramics, Watercolor and Gouache, plus a best of show award. Free. Charleston Heights Arts Center Ballroom, artslasvegas.org

RED, WHITE AND BLUE EXHIBITION Through July 19. An artist invitational exploring monochromatic patriotic colors through a variety of subjects. Artists include Erik Beehn, Diane Bush, Shane Cooper, Justin Favela, Stewart Freshwater, Richard Hooker, Sandra Ward and Joseph Watson. Free. Las Vegas City Hall Chamber Gallery, 495 S. Main St., 2nd floor, 229-1012

BITTERSWEET HARVEST: THE BRACERO PROGRAM, 1942-1964

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Through July 27. This bilingual exhibition developed by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History explores the lives and times of Bracero workers and their families with rich insights into the Mexican-American experience, providing a historical bridge to modern guest-worker debates. Free for members or included with general admission. Big Springs Gallery at Springs Preserve.

LIFE ROOM-BLUE SCREEN BY EMILY SCOTT Through July 28; closing reception July 28, 7 p.m.-9 p.m. Iconic traditional nudes by Dublin, Ireland painter Emily Scott set against a discordant backdrop of surreal, imaginary surroundings in an exciting collision of classical and kitsch. Instead of the expected – the typical calm drapery or neutral background of the life room – these placid, passive figures have their context skewed and sexed up, their stories made cinematic, dramatic or odd, like actors against a blue screen. Kleven Contemporary inside Emergency Arts, www.klevencontemporary.tumblr.com

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Through July 28. Local photographer Nathan Douglas portrays a side of Las Vegas where sexy and quirky are inextricably linked. From a clown propositioning a prostitute beside a “Budget Prices” sign to a gentleman in a smoking jacket wearing a plastic lion’s mask, Douglas’ work taps into the bright, funky reality of Sin City. Brett Wesley Gallery, brettwesleygallery.com


SOAR Through July 28. Artist and industrial designer Luis Valera-Rico molds steel into origami, creating flight-like sculptures whose appearance fools the mind to believe that steel could be as light as paper. Brett Wesley Gallery

THE PINPOINT REMAINS Through Aug. 3; First Fridays 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Stephen Hendee’s site-specific sculpture installation references the natural desert landscape while calling attention to the lack of a sense of place in the man-made environment of Las Vegas. His boulder-like forms emit a soft, fluorescent glow that shift with perspective. Free. Clark County Government Center Rotunda Gallery, 455-7030

SCREENSAVER Through Aug. 17. Local artist Philip Denker mystifies the mind with his three-dimensional pen, marker and paper sculptures. What at first glance appear to be computer-generated images actualize themselves as meticulously drawn and hand-crafted. Free. Winchester Cultural Center Gallery, philipdenker.com

LOST VEGAS EXHIBITION Through Aug. 26. Take a peek into the past and challenge yourself to reason why the skyline of Las Vegas is ever changing. The main exhibit hall of Clark Country Museum hosts “Lost Vegas: Bulldozed and Imploded Casinos of the Las Vegas Valley,” exploring the history of long-gone Las Vegas landmark casinos including such greats as the Last Frontier and the Stardust. The Clark County Museum, 455-7955

IMAGES FROM CAMEROON Through Sept. 1. Angu Walters’ bright paintings of life in his native Cameroon depict images of his fellow African people. The paintings, of an abstract and surrealist style, display the subjects in such a way that the vibrant colors and symbols of African culture are homogenous components of their very flesh. Walters tours his work internationally and also houses some pieces locally as a part of the Joseph Watson collection at the Arts Factory. Free. Left of Center Art Gallery, leftofcenterart.org

TRASH TO TREASURE: THE SCULPTURES OF DAVE THOMPSON Through Sept 9. Artist Dave Thompson transforms old metal into magic. His recycledobject sculptures fill the Gardens at the Springs Preserve with wonder and whimsy. Free for members or included with general admission starting at $10. The Gardens at Springs Preserve

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Yarn-bombs away! The yarn-bombed bridge on Maryland Parkway

To celebrate International Yarnstorming Day — that is, a day dedicated to spontaneously beautifying public infrastructure with soft, colorful, knitted yarn art — local senior citizens broke out the knitting needles and added some color to the bridge on Maryland Parkway and Desert Inn Road near Sunrise Hospital. The result: a beautified bridge — that’s nice and soft to the touch, too. Yarnstorming and yarnbombing are more than some wacky pastime for knitting freaks. This trend — catching on fast in Las Vegas — also brings people together to share their artistry with the rest of the town. Catch this colorful display before it fades and tatters — it will be up for the next five months. Knitters interested in joining the local Yarnstormers group can call 455-7742. — Amira Hall-Hood

CLAUDE MONET: IMPRESSIONS OF LIGHT Through Jan. 6, 2013. In partnership with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art showcases works that reflect the height of Monet’s work with painting and light. The exhibit features 20 pieces by Monet and eight paintings by his predecessors and contemporaries. $12. Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art.

FIRST FRIDAY July 6 and Aug. 3, 6 p.m.-midnight. Downtown’s monthly arts and culture event continues to grow bigger and better, featuring art exhibits, open galleries, live music and DJs, food trucks, performances and more. Free. Arts District and Fremont East in the Get Back Alley 6 p.m.-2 a.m., firstfridaylasvegas.com

DANCE ROMEO & JULIET July 8, 12 p.m. London’s Royal Ballet adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet will be broad-

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cast live in Century Theatres for one day only. The ballet has gained international recognition for its score, choreography and dance acting. Century Theatres, cinemark.com

Hope 5 Ballet July 14-15, 2 p.m. A collection of classical ballet presentations directed by Erina Noda, performed by members of “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular,” Nevada Ballet Theatre and various Las Vegas productions. Benefiting CSN’s Performing Arts Center and Family Promise, an organization that assists homeless families in the Las Vegas valley, the $15-$20 tickets include a silent auction and post-show reception. CSN’s Nicholas J. Horn Theatre, csn.edu/pac

PERUVIAN MUSIC AND DANCE FESTIVAL July 27, 7 p.m. Dancers from the Peruvian Association and the Peruvian Cultural Club will be performing traditional dances to the live music of Grupo Nostalgia, with Peruvian valses, polkas and huaynos. Winchester Cultural Center, 455-7340.

LECTURES, READINGS AND PANELS OKSANA MARAFIOTI: AUTHOR TALK July 14, 2 p.m. Local author Oksana Marafioti discusses her debut novel “American Gypsy: A Memoir.” The novel is a comedic rendition of tales from Marafioti’s own lineage of Russian-gypsy performers and her childhood growing up amongst them. Russian pianist and singer Valeria Sokolova, Turkmen pianist Albina Asryan and professional dancer Zarin Standridge of Tajikistan will perform as well. Clark County Library Main Theatre, 505-3400

WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE Aug. 14-15. This two-day conference’s 2012 theme is “Be Inspired,” and will feature speakers, panels, networking receptions, coaching sessions and more, focused on enriching the professional lives of women. This year’s speakers include “CBS This Morning” reporter Lee Woodruff and American Red Cross President and CEO Gail McGovern. $100-$350. MGM Grand hotel-casino, mgmresorts.com/womensleadershipconference

MUSIC CLINT HOLMES First Fridays and Saturdays monthly, 8:30 p.m. The acclaimed singer returns to Las Vegas for an exclusive engagement. He never performs the same show twice, featuring a constantly evolving range of

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

music ranging from contemporary to jazz to Broadway. $35-$45. Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center

CITY OF HENDERSON’S FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION July 4, 6 p.m.-9:15 p.m. The City of Henderson’s Fourth of July Celebration features a

performance by the Henderson Symphony Orchestra on one of the three stages that will be hosting live entertainment throughout the night. Other happenings include 3 on 3 basketball tournaments (youth and adult), a Clark County High School band competition, face-painting, henna and fireworks. Event at Foothill High School;

fireworks at Mission Hills Park, hendersonlive.com

PINK FLOYD LASER SPECTACULAR July 6, 8 p.m. The nationally touring Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular brings its show “The Dark Side of the Rainbow” to Henderson. “Dark Side of the Moon” will play with the film “Wizard of Oz” amid laser lights. $10. The Henderson Pavilion. hendersonlive.com

CHRIS BOTTI July 6, 8:30 p.m. Chris Botti, trumpeter extraordinaire, performs work from his new album “Impressions.” The sounds of “Impressions” feature the works of classical composer Frédéric Chopin, Brazilian songwriter Ivan Lins, Cuban composer Cesar Portillo de la Luz, among songs written by Botti himself. $29$85. The Smith Center

Clint Holmes

CTA FEATURING DANNY SERAPHINE July 6-7, 8 p.m. The CTA (California Transit Authority) featuring drummer Danny Seraphine will fill the Smith Center with the classic rock sounds of Chicago, as well as some CTA originals. Since 1967, Seraphine has played on and helped produce more than 20 gold and platinum albums and 50 Top 40 hits. $38-$51. The Smith Center.

JAZZ ON THE LAKE July 7, 14, 21, 28 and Aug. 4, 11, 18, 25, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Montelago Village’s July event features artists Michael Anthony, Hennegan, Brothers Ali, Anthony James Bake and Marque Woolfolk. Events are held lakeside, so pack a picnic basket and bring a lounging blanket. Montelago Village at Lake Las Vegas, montelagovillage.com

K.D. LANG AND THE SISS BOOM BANG

Perfectly in tune He’s such a quintessentially Vegas entertainer that seeing Clint Holmes should be required for official Sin City citizenship. The iconic Las Vegas performer — and a really, uber-down-to-earth, super-nice guy to boot — has launched a resident gig at Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center, where Holmes will hit everything from jazz classics to Broadway standards to contemporary tunes. Confirm your Vegas cred by catching this local sensation — at our sensational new local venue. Clint Holmes performs 8:30 p.m. on the first Friday and Saturday of every month at Cabaret Jazz in The Smith Center. Tickets $35-$45. Info: thesmithcenter.com — Andrew Kiraly

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July 13, 7:30. Award-winning Canadian singer and songwriter k.d. lang performs her classic hits as well as music from her new album “Watershed,” a collection of entirely original songs played in accompaniment with lang’s band The Siss Boom Bang. The new album converges jazz, country and folk into comforting sounds reminiscent of home. $30-$109. The Smith Center

FROM BEETHOVEN TO BLUEGRASS July 14, 2 p.m. The Firenze String Ensemble takes you on a musical journey through the passages of time. Songs representing the many styles of the ages will be played, including Beethoven’s Viola Quintet Op. 29 and the bluegrass hymn “Lo How a Rose E’er Bloom.” Winchester Cultural Center, 455-7340


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

squeezebox hero July 18, 9:30 p.m. Performing as the Squeezebox Hero, Botielus plays unexpected covers on his accordion, ranging from classic rock to current pop, backed by full tracks he sequenced himself. Free. Freakin’ Frog, squeezeboxhero.com

WILLIE NELSON & FAMILY July 21, 8 p.m. Willie Nelson, renowned Ameri-

can country singer-songwriter, has been revered as an icon and a poet for decades. On this tour, he’ll revisit some of his classic songs. $51.05-$119.50. Sunset Station, sunsetstation.com

AN EVENING WITH YANNI July 27. Yanni and his celebrated orchestra toured the world this year, selling out concert halls in Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle

East. He comes to Las Vegas with a new show and a new album, “Truth of Touch,” which is now platinum in the Middle East. $45-$85. UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center, unlvtickets.com

THEATER STEPHEN SONDHEIM, A LIFE IN THE THEATRE July 14, 8 p.m. Broadway icon Stephen Sondheim presents an evening of music and conversation. Sondheim and a special guest will talk about the accomplishments of Sondheim’s prodigious career as well as his creative process. Artists Christine Ebersole and Brian Stokes Mitchell will also perform. $29-$85. The Smith Center

MEMPHIS

NOW - OCT 19 Dan Domenech as Aladdin, Haley Carlucci as Jasmine

July 18-22. The four time Tony-winning musical is set in Memphis, Tennessee’s underground dance clubs of the 1950s. “Memphis” is rife with heel-tapping tempos and fancy, fun choreography as well as flashes of drama and, of course, a love story. $27-$141. The Smith Center

OLIVER! July 11-14, 18-21, 25-28, 8 p.m. Spring Mountain Ranch hosts another season of Super Summer Theatre. Pack a picnic and enjoy this year’s performance of the classic Oliver! Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, 875-4141

FAMILY & FESTIVALS OUTDOOR PICTURE SHOW

NOW - OCT 20 Joline Mujica as Tracy Turnblad

THE 25TH ANNUAL

PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE Hilarious Tony Award Winning Musical! “Wonderfully Funny” New York Times

Tuacahn Amphitheatre is surrounded by the red cliffs of Southern Utah in Ivins near Snow Canyon State Park.

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Friday and Saturday nights through Oct. 27. The large, grassy rotunda adjacent to Whole Foods Market is home to family-friendly outdoor films as the weather turns up for summer and cools down for fall. This month’s films are “Happy Feet,” “Chicken Run,” “Alice in Wonderland” and the “Adventures of Tintin.” “The Green” at The District at Green Valley Ranch, shopthedistrictgvr.com

VENOM! Through July 15, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. daily. Challenge your curiosity and fears in this live indoor show with some of Nevada’s most toxic and awe-inspiring reptiles. Learn how and why slitherers and crawlers such as Western diamondbacks, Mojave sidewinders, Great Basin rattlesnakes, Speckled rattlesnakes, Desert night snakes, and Gila monsters use their venom. Springs Preserve

FREE FAMILY FILM FESTIVAL Through Aug. 22; Every Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. Rave Motion Pictures will be showing free family-friendly films. Town Square, mytownsquarelasvegas.com


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

LAS VEGAS CHOCOLATE FESTIVAL AND PASTRY SHOW July 7, 8 p.m.-midnight. World-renowned confectioners and chocolatiers display their best efforts, complemented by champagnes, wines and spirits. Net proceeds benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital. The Palazzo, sincitychocolatefestival.com

Las Vegas Natural History Museum’s 21st Anniversary Celebration July 14, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The Las Vegas Natural History Museum celebrates its 21st anniversary with a “21 Bug Salute.” Festivities also include food trucks featuring bug-themed delights, carnival games and 21 live bugs. $2.50-$5. Las Vegas Natural History Museum, lvnhm.org

MONKEY MONKEY BAND July 18, 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. Meredith LeVande, creator of Monkey Monkey Music, plays tunes that feature educational lyrics and upbeat rhythms. Charleston Heights Art Center, 229-6383

a variety of cinema from award-winning films to exclusive world premiers, as well as conversations with filmmakers. The Las Vegas Hotel (formerly the Hilton), lvfilmfest.com

ENVENOMATORS: THE VENOMOUS SNAKES OF NORTH AMERICA Through Sept 16. Slither over to Wonderworks Exhibit Company’s “Envenomators,” which tells the story of four venomous snakes indigenous to North America: copperhead, cottonmouth, coral and rattlesnake. Springs Preserve

SUMMER ADVENTURE CAMPS Through Aug. 24. Nature, archaeology, animals, plants, history, drama, crafts, even swimming at the nearby Y. Ages 6-12. $180 members, $200 non-members per week. Extended care available for an additional $25 per week. Springs Preserve

LAS VEGAS FILM FESTIVAL

THE LAS VEGAS PERFORMING ARTS INTENSIVE

July 19-22. The festival offers showings of

July 2-Aug. 3. Youngsters aged 9-14 can take

acting, voice, dance and drumming lessons from today’s most celebrated performers, choreographers and directors from shows such as Blue Man Group, “O,” “Love,” “Viva Elvis,” “Le Rêve,” “Mystère,” Jabbawockeez, “The Lion King,” “Chicago” and more. Tivoli Village, thelvpai.com

BUGS! July 15-Aug. 31, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. A live show starring creepy crawly pests of the Mojave. The daily show unveils the mysteries of local insects, arachnids and other invertebrates. Springs Preserve

FUNDRAISERS RAINBOWS TO THE SKY July 25, 5:30 p.m. The launch of the Little Miss Hannah Foundation is a summer fair with live music, dance performances, a raffle and more. The Little Miss Hannah Foundation works to gives support to families with young children who have terminal illnesses or other serious medical needs. The District at Green Valley, littlemisshannah.org

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Not on bread alone

t

There are as many types of Vegas buffets as there are Vegas casinos. There are the bargain-priced trough parades; there are the globe-spanning carousels with shrines to Chinese, Japanese, Greek and Indian cuisine; there are the foodie pageants offering neargourmet grub in bulk. But the seminal Las Vegas buffet —  at the El Rancho hotel-casino on the Strip — was simple. And not just culinarily simple, with its cold cuts, salad items, a nod toward ambition with some seafood. It was also simple in purpose, constructed as something of a trap. Hoping to keep gamblers free from distracting stomach-rumblings, the El Rancho conceived of its buffet as a bare-bones restaurant

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that could deploy cheap, fast, plentiful food without heavy overhead. That way, gamblers would stay full — and keep tugging at those slot machines — without the casino having to spend a lot on chefs, cooks and waiters. Today’s more elaborate food fantasias on the Strip are a far burp from this more functional — perhaps even primitive — vision of the buffet. But for all the buffet’s simple efficiency, management realized one weakness of the model might be that it encouraged overindulgence. Thus the gentle reminder you can see on the wall: “Hi Podner … take all you can eat direct to your seat; not all that you see.” — Andrew Kiraly

P h oto c o u r t e s y L a s V e g a s C o n v e n t i o n a n d V i s i to r s A u t h o r i t y

history lesson


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Desert Companion - July 2012