Once a year, I get to visit Las Vegas to see old friends, learn something new at DEFCON, and most importantly ( 😉 ) – eat some of my favorite dishes that I can’t find anywhere else.
This year’s Vegas trip took place during the first week of August. I was able to take part in some old favorites, and try a few new things that are now firmly on my “must do” list.
We stayed at the Monte Carlo, and this year’s DEFCON was located at Paris and Bally’s. These locations are pretty central on The Strip, and offered easy access to most places we wanted to visit (though we also had a pretty awesome Challenger for a rental car).
Kevin was occupied at Black Hat for much of our first full day, so I had the opportunity to have lunch with my friend Ellen. We decided on eating at the Yard House located in The Linq, which didn’t exist when I lived in Vegas. The area feels decidedly “un-Vegas” to me. It reminds me of Downtown Disney in Anaheim with the layout, architecture, and overall vibe. Yard House is located towards the back, near the High-Roller observation wheel.
Ellen had the Ahi Crunchy Salad, and I went with the Mac + Cheese (because when do I pass up macaroni and cheese?).The sauce on the macaroni was a pretty standard cheddar/Parmesan combo, and the dish was spruced up with chicken, bacon, mushrooms, and truffle oil. I know truffle oil is one of those things people either despise or love – and I definitely love it! The addition of cocktails rounded out the meal for a vacation worthy lunch.
The next day, whole Kevin was again at Black Hat, I was left to my own devices for lunch. I had a craving for pizza, but wanted something I could bring back to my room to get out of the heat. Luckily for me, the recent Monte Carlo renovations included exactly what I needed right in front of the hotel.
800 Degrees Pizza is basically a Chipotle for pizza. You start by choosing the pizza crust you want, and then base flavorings. These include choices like margherita and marinara. I went with the original Neapolitan crust, and the Bianca base, which includes mozzarella, garlic, olive oil, oregano and Parm. If your base includes mozzarella, they use an entire, fresh ball to spread your sauce and then crumble on top. These base pizzas are pretty fairly priced – but when you start adding toppings, you can get yourself in trouble. Other locations are probably cheaper, but the Vegas location will cost you $1.50 per topping.
I didn’t pay attention to this fact until it came time to pay. I added fresh cherry tomatoes, feta (at the staffs’ suggestion, since the ricotta was out), kalamata olives, and a drizzle of chili sauce, and was now faced with a $16 pizza. Whoops.
Once you’ve ordered, the pizza goes into a wood fire oven set at (you guessed it) 800 degrees. You can also add small plates to your meal, including meatballs, anti-pasto plates, and burrata.
I added one of the burrata plates to my order. The plate featured a fresh ball of burrata, cherry tomatoes, arugula, a piece of bread, and pesto.
The pizza was delicious, and the crust was a perfect combination of soft and crispy. However, it was the burrata I spent the rest of the week raving about to anyone who would listen. The cheese is house made, and was absolutely perfect. Creamy, mildly sweet, and topped with olive oil and fresh black pepper. The accompaniments went well together. Some of the other options included prosciutto and melon, but the pesto I had was amazing.
I seriously thought about this burrata for a week after we got home.
Our dinner plans that evening took us to SkinnyFATS, a local eatery I had heard tons about. My friend Sara joined us. The menu had a mix of healthy and more indulgent items including flatbreads, burgers, and salads.
Sara had a flatbread pizza, and Kevin had a gluten-free version of the Berry The Steak, a flatbread with steak, goat cheese, and blackberries. I went with a Nice to Greek You, a flatbread loaded with grilled chicken, cucumber, tomato, red onion, olives, feta, and tzatziki. My flatbread was delicious, and felt a bit more healthy than the pizza I’d had earlier in the day. We also shared an order of the truffle fries, which were pretty basic but yummy.
One treat Kevin and I always look forward to is a milkshake from BLT Burger. We used to get these frequently when we lived in Vegas, and I miss them! You can get standard flavors, or “adult” versions, which come with alcohol.
For this trip, I went with my usual chocolate milkshake. My favorite part of these milkshakes is the chocolate whipped cream – it’s thick enough that you can eat it with a fork. Kevin went with the Grandma’s Treat, which is made more delicious with the addition of Maker’s Mark. He also had a burger, which he said was good, but would have been better if BLT had gluten-free buns available.
To wrap up our trip, we headed to dinner at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris. We’ve eaten at this cute French restaurant before, and love the Bellagio fountains view from the outside seating. They’re also fantastic with food allergies, and make it easy for Kevin to eat there.
For a more upscale restaurant in Las Vegas, Mon Ami Gabi is not badly priced. The meal started with a baguette and butter, which I got all to myself since it’s full of gluten ( 🙂 ). Kevin was given a plate of gluten-free bread and olives along with his French onion soup to start. He chose the Steak Classique for his dinner, that included a perfectly cooked steak and side of fries. I had the Trout Nicoise. The fish was flavorful, and came with green beans and a particularly taste tapenade on the side. We had a great view of several fountain shows while dining.
It was delicious and satisfying trip through Las Vegas. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stop at every single restaurant we wanted to – there’s just so many great places! Still, that leaves plenty of options for our trip next year!