A Few Of My Favorite Things

It has been difficult for me to write about Las Vegas recently. I promised some more posts about the COVID reopenings and I hope to make progress on that soon. In the meantime, I thought I’d share a few of my Las Vegas favorites (and places I hope we will be able to visit again soon) in an effort to get the writing flowing again.

Favorite Dining:

Bavette’s Steakhouse at Park MGM. When you step inside, you forget that the casino is right outside the door. The food, drinks and service are great (like many of the upscale restaurants), but what makes Bavette’s my favorite is the hidden back bar / back room. It is quieter and makes you feel like you are in a secret, special place.

Catch at Aria and Fleur at Mandalay Bay are both close seconds. The theming at Catch is over the top. Check out the entryway even if you don’t want to go all the way in for some great seafood. I’m big fan of Hubert Keller, so Fleur is a regular stop for me when I’m at that end of the Strip.

The Fulton Street Food Hall at Harrah’s. I really like how they remodeled the area. It is a big improvement from the original cafe that was in that space. The mix of “Grab-n-Go” and custom made options is very convenient. The bar is a nice addition, too.

I stop by Eatwell at the Cromwell for the Barbary Dog almost every trip. It is $5 for 3 mini Coney Dogs and a fountain drink. Shake Shack at NYNY has become a regular stop for me, too. I use their app to order ahead which can save a lot of time.

Barbary dogs at Cromwell

The Paradise Buffet at the Fremont Casino. It is not the fanciest buffet. It is a really good value, though. It always gives me a flashback to Swingers, too, since some of the scenes were filmed in the cafe side. The decor has not changed since then.
The Wicked Spoon at Cosmo should get a mention, too. They tend to have more unique offerings in line with the Cosmopolitan’s food and beverage focus.
I still can’t rationalize paying the price to check out the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars. I know they have more gourmet, high end food options, but I can’t get past that price for a buffet.
Note: I don’t expect buffets will open anytime soon.

Favorite Bar

Casino Bar:
The Chandelier at the Cosmopolitan. I especially like the middle level ambiance , but the real reason to go to Chandelier is to get a Verbena.
Juniper at Park MGM is also a contender. They specialize in gin and their mixologist have managed to create some tasty cocktails including the Carnival which uses cotton candy to mellow out the strong taste of Tanqueray 10.


Restaurant Bar:
Spago at the Bellagio. I have very fond memories of the bar at Olives (in the space where Spago is now). The decor and staff have changed a bit, but the service is still good and I can usually find a seat at the bar. If you sit towards the left end of the bar you can usually see a bit of the Bellagio fountain shows through the windows.
I already mentioned Bavette’s, but that is a contender, too.

Favorite Museum / Exhibit:

The Neon Museum. No contest there. And they have just restarted guided tours. I highly recommend going in the evening and getting a combo ticket for a guided tour and the Brilliant light and sound show. You will want to get your tickets ahead of time.

Favorite Event:

Watching the morning Bellagio Fountain maintenance. It happens mid-morning. The Strip is fairly quiet. And it gives me a sense of normalcy.

This isn’t a favorite event, but it is related. I often find myself at the Bellagio when they are changing over the Botanic Garden display.

Favorite Quiet Place

The Brahma Shrine in front of Caesars Palace. It isn’t as quiet anymore since Hell’s Kitchen opened up next to it, but it is still place I visit each trip for a moment of reflection.
An in-room jacuzzi is my next favorite quiet place. I don’t always have a room with a jacuzzi, but I use it a lot when I do.

Favorite off-Strip destination

Red Rock Canyon. It was the very first place I went on my first trip to Las Vegas. We went directly from the airport to Red Rock for a hike. It is only half an hour from the Strip and offers some nice scenic views and short hikes. The visitors center has a well designed installation where you can learn a lot more about the desert and canyon geography, flora and fauna. The visitors center hasn’t reopened yet, but the 13 mile scenic loop is open.