Everyone's heard the saying "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!" But what do you do in Vegas when half of the attractions are shut down and most restaurants operate at 25% capacity? You improvise! I was there the week of New Years Eve and experienced both the rise and fall of peak busy season for this time of year. Since we didn't want to fall prey to constant OpenTable or reservation folly, we wanted to find new ways to enjoy eating out for every meal - without having to compromise hours at a table. I quickly realized that, due to COVID, unless you made a reservation the night before or very early that morning, restaurants where no longer accepting walk-ins. This was mainly due to the issue of the 25% capacity, but also due in part to the lack of staffing and not wanting to overwhelm the kitchens, waitstaff, etc. To fix this, we planned each day ahead, making reservations at the places we had walked by and wanted to eat at or knew would be full in a day. The question arose: what should we do for a casual lunch or what happens if we just want to eat informally, etc? Check out the list below for a list of a few of our quick thinking favorites!
The Place: Sadelle's
The Food: Brunch
Location: The Bellagio
Sadelle's was a true breakfast experience. Honestly. The entire restaurant looks right out of a French cafe du Parisian! From the overstuffed couches, to the pastel coloring, even our waitress was oh-too polite when it came to letting us relax past when we where done... We both ordered the Sadelle's Famous (and classic) Egg's Benedict; however, I substituted mine into a Florentine ala spinach and tomato. I'll be 100% honest, I've had many Benedict's in my life and my current #1 is in New York City at The National on Lexington Ave. However, this came very, VERY close to topping it. Sadelle's is also known for their amazing coffee bar and, when you order their house roast, you get endless refills! Robert quickly jumped on that opportunity. For myself, I ordered a classic cappuccino with soy milk (their only dairy-free milk) and it was very good, but I did indulge and add a bit of rock sugar. A good tip with Sadelle's, ask for a table by the window - you'll have a clear shot of the fountain show which occurs every 30 minutes!
The Place: Luke's Lobster
The Food: Seafood & Rolls
Location: Outside the Fashion Show Mall
This was one of the coolest meals we had in Vegas and we even went to Gordon Ramsey's Hell's Kitchen! There is just something special about a little lobster roll shack in the middle of bustling Vegas, serving custom and freshly made lobster and seafood to the masses. We decided on this little place because we couldn't decide on a reservation, it was booked everywhere and, to be frank, we were HUNGRY! I ordered a classic Maine-style lobster roll, a cup of clam chowder and a cup of their homemade lemonade. We then strolled over a few blocks to the Venetian Gondola Shoppes, found a spare bench, and devoured our food to the sound of the Italian singers! A tip to remember: Luke's Lobster opens later in the afternoon and closes early in the evening so plan ahead if you do plan on grabbing a roll or two! Pre-COVID they typically have cute wooden benches and seating available outside; however, you might have to do as we did and grab your food for a to-go to eat at another location.
The Place: Sloan's Homemade Ice Cream
The Food: Ice Cream & More
Location: Inside the Venetian Gondola Shoppes
Craving a million flavors of ice cream and want to step out of the Baskin Robbins bubble? Sloan's was the place to be! From custom-made waffle cones, their jumbo donuts, and even the freshly-dipped chocolate strawberries, this sweet shoppe was nothing short of sensory overload! Sloan's has been a creating homemade treats since 1999 in Florida and came to Vegas to continue their dedication to all things pink, crazy, and "straight from wonderland!"Coming from me, a lactose-intolerant human, I was worried I would have all of two choices. Not only is all of their ice-cream rBST hormone-free, but they also had over five different vegan and dairy-free options for me to choose from (and don't worry, they weren't just the basic flavors). Keep in mind, Sloan's can have a long line thanks to it's major popularity & super sweet decor! However, they move fast and there's so much to look at, you'll see that time ticks by!
The Place: Nine Fine Irishmen
The Food: Beer & Irish Pub
Location: Inside the New York-New York Hotel Casino
This was my #1 favorite meal while in Las Vegas! We ate here on New Years Eve and what a truly cool pub it was. To find it was a bit of a mystery, so I'll help you out. It's inside the New York New York Hotel Casino, below the Big Apple Roller Coaster - where the 'Brooklyn' streets are located. But the search was worth the meal! I had the classic Bangers and Mash with Cabbage, paired with the Magners Irish Hard Cider. If you want the bar atmosphere, without the craziness of Vegas outside - this is the place to visit. Ever since our visit to that pub, at home we have now adopted more sausage, greens, and potatoes into our dinner menu (believe me - dinner was THAT good)! Robert ordered the same meal as me; however, he had the Guinness Irish Stout which, if you are a fan of darker beers, that should be your first try! Fun fact: why is this bar called 'Nine Fine Irishmen'? In 1848, nine Irish nationalists fought for their independence and lost. They continued to band together as a group to fight as a resistance, until they where all finally caught by the British Monarchy. Six of the men where exiled and the remaining three devoted their lives to become authors in the Unites States, fight in the Civil War and one eventually became Prime Minister.
The Bridge and River tour is a scenic 3-hour bicycle tour will take you from the Upper West Side of New York City up and over the George Washington Bridge for a ride along the river on Route 9W. Get the full touring experience and leave New York City for a few hours. During the ride, we make stops at Grants Tomb Memorial on the Upper West Side.