Next week I’ll be making my annual trek to Las Vegas for the NAB Conference. Anticipate a whole week’s worth of blog posts about new professional technology in the fields of broadcasting, video editing, audio engineering and more. Of course, it being Las Vegas, it’s quite likely there will be a smattering of stories detailing drunken debauchery with my pals who will also be in town.
Preparing for any Las Vegas getaway is a complicated process. First, I have to starve myself for a week or two to prepare for the self-harm I typically inflict on a week-long bender. The unyielding assault typically includes enough booze to drown a small animal, as well as incredibly unhealthy foodstuffs with which to soak up said alcohol.
Everybody knows when you’re at NAB you hang out near the exhibitors who offer free beer when you sign up for their mailing list. That’s a no-brainer, and a good way to keep your buzz going throughout the day. Otherwise, pretty much the entirety of one’s stay in town revolves around access to mass quantities of cheap (preferably free) alcohol. A flask filled to the brim with fine bourbon should be in your jacket pocket at all times — especially during the long drive from LA to Vegas. If you’re the last guy in town (like I will be) everyone else is going to be pretty hammered by the time you get there. It’s important to celebrate every hundred miles or so with a stop off for a celebratory shot to keep you on pace with those who are awaiting your arrival. Then you hit the gaming floor, rack up the free drinks, fill up the flask, and hit the nearby bars. Disgusting, slushy girly drinks mixed with grain alcohol are acceptable ONLY while walking to your next destination.
Of course, come 6am, 7am, whenever the “night” ends, you’ve gotta fill up on food before you hit the sack. That’s where knowing the best destinations for greasy, disgusting-by-sober-standards grub comes in handy. Here are ten of the spots I’m most likely to patronize while in town next week. If you’re gonna be around, you should hit me up. I like getting drunk and then shoving food into my face when I’m surrounded by good people. Any blog reader of mine is automatically a good person.
A Top Ten Of Drunken Vegas Eats
10. 24/Seven (Palms Casino) – There’s nothing worse than being caught off the strip near the Palms or Rio if you’re not staying there (and, if you are staying there, you’re an idiot). But, you know, sometimes you’ve got an invite to a party at VooDoo and you can’t pass it up, so you suck it up and you cab it. Still, there’s that horrible walk back at the end of the night (or ANOTHER cab if you’re Richie Rich). It helps to power-up beforehand with something tasty. Things I’ve had here that are amazing: The Mexican Skillet (eggs, chorizo, cheese, all kinds of other goodies), Black Angus Sliders (tabasco onions, guys), Red Velvet Pancakes (of course you’re adding the frosting and berries) and the Santa Fe Breakfast Wrap (extra chili sauce, please). You can try to order all of those but I doubt you’ll be able to finish. Remember, when it comes to early morning sober-up breakfasts, sharing is caring.
09. Paradise Cafe (LVH) – Listen, you don’t want to eat late night or early morning at Circus Circus, trust me. Walk to the nearby Hilton and hit up this cafe instead. It’s not revelatory, but it’s probably one of the better options in the area (Paradise Road). To be safe, get the appetizer sampler (wings, onion rings, egg rolls), a French dip (it’s not like LA, but whatever it works), some sliders, maybe some beef and broccoli… or steak and eggs. The portion sizes are pretty good, and you can make all kinds of substitutions and additions to build yourself the perfect antidote for tomorrow morning’s impending hangover.
08. Cafe Bellagio (Bellagio) – Not gonna lie, I don’t often play at Bellagio. I feel like every time I’ve gambled there — from my 21st birthday Vegas trip until the marathon in December — I lose money. There was only ONE time I ever won there, back in ’08, and I took my measly blackjack winnings directly to the cafe. Corned Beef hash and the Bellagio Classic Omelet (lobster, guys) made me feel like a king. It also cost about fifty bucks. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.
07. Sidewalk Cafe (Bally’s) - Don’t laugh. Seriously. One time I walked into Bally’s (which is kind of a piece of shit, by the way) and sat down at a single deck blackjack table only to walk away up about $400 a few –blissfully uninterrupted – hours later. So, yeah, obviously I spent some of my winnings on cafe grub. I was impressed with the menu, which includes your classic build-your-own omelet section. But it was the sides and the apps that won me over. Combo platter with chicken fingers, wings, quesadilla, and potato skins? Yup. Sides of fries, onion rings, garlic potatoes, biscuits and gravy (make sure to ask for extra gravy for the fries, natch), CANADIAN BACON (how often do you find THAT shit out west)…it really surprised me.
06. Le Cafe Ile St. Louis (Paris) – They’re kind of dicks about when breakfast begins at Paris. Both this place and Sugar Factory won’t serve you those items before 6am. Which is a crock of shit, I think, but whatever I don’t own the place. That said, Le Cafe Ile is the cheaper of the two options, so it’s preferable (although Sugar Factory’s fucking breakfast pizza and the house eggs benedict with scalloped potatoes AND canadian bacon kind of kick ass). The breakfast sandos here are solid, especially the one with lardons on it. I usually go with a custom omelet, some roasted potatoes, and maybe a pastry. They’ve got mimosas and breakfast screwdrivers, too. You know, to help you keep that perfect level of drunkenness going just a while longer.
05. Peppermill Inn - Remember what I said about Circus Circus before? Forget the place at the Hilton, GO TO PEPPERMILL. First of all, it’s like eating inside a fucking drug trip. Second of all, the food is better-than-good. They have an omelet that’s covered in Italian meat sauce that’ll make your mouth cum in your mouth. Pair that with some fries (gravy, yes please), and the french toast that’s topped with eggs, bacon and sausage…that’s a fucking MEAL, guys. That’s a powerful, POWERFUL meal. Coffee, too. Duh. You’re eating in a 24-hour coffee shop.
04.Cafe Verdi - Sometimes, you’re like…fuck it. I want a 5am calzone. And not even a regular old calzone, one with “Philly”-style steak, ham, salami and cheese. Or maybe you just want fried mushrooms, jalapeño poppers and an order to tortellini alfredo. If you’re on the cheap side, just stick with appetizers and you can definitely eat yourself full. Fried zucchini, onion rings, mozz sticks, calamari, fresh mushrooms in alfredo sauce, garlic bread, cheesy garlic bread, french fries…there’s nothing on that menu over six or seven bucks. Personally at that time of day after a long night of drinking I’d prefer a variety of breakfast items, but still…Verdi is nothing short of a feast. And, you know, sometimes you want more than breakfast. If you’re craving it, you can’t do much better than this.
03. Carnegie Deli (Mirage) – I’m slightly biased because this is where I’ve gone the past two years after running the marathon. Yelp says it’s only open until 2am but I’m pretty sure that’s a lie. If you’re doing what I normally do, which is walk all the way to Mandalay Bay and then walk all the way to Mirage (where I’ll lay my head to rest sometimes), it makes for a great place to cap your night. Look no further than “The Woody Allen,” which is a TOWERING pile of pastrami and corned beef. Yes, they’ll bring you extra bread so you can make your own mini sandwiches out of the giant behemoth that’s placed on the table in front of you. You’re going to need some side dishes to go with it. I suggest the potato pancake (one is enough), some fries (duh), an order of bacon, and a beer. Eat everything, go to bed (if you can), and you won’t have to eat anything for the next 18-24 hours. Perfect, right?
02. Grand Lux Cafe (Venetian) – If you’re not here for the breakfast buffet you can order a la carte (I’ll vouch for the huevos rancheros and chilaquiles but that’s only on weekends and that’s all I’ve ever ordered) otherwise…I mean, you’re going for the buffalo chicken rolls, the stacked chicken quesadilla, the short rib sliders, the double cheese mini sliders, and the crab cakes — and that’s just off the appetizer menu. Don’t even get me started on the tapas. Duck triangles? Chorizo and cheese croquettes? MAC ‘N CHEESE SKILLET!? POT ROAST CHEESE FRIES!!? Yeah, you’re getting it all. Last time I was here I wanted to stay for hours. Next to maybe the buffet at the Wicked Spoon Buffet in the Cosmopolitan this is one of my favorite places to just pig-out at any time of day. It is amazing. AMAZING. But it’s still not number one.
01. America (New York New York) – This might not have the best food in the world, but the bartenders/servers are some of the nicest people in the world. Last year it go so that the guy…I can’t remember his name, now this is awkward…would recognize us by name, have our order memorized, and provide us with extra cups of water for the walk back to the hotel. Obviously your order here goes as follows (whether you’re alone or with friends, trust me, you’ll want everything): Macaroni And Cheese, Cheese Quesadilla, Cheese Fries with Gravy (they do brown AND white country-style gravy, but I think you can only get one of them before 4am…I don’t remember which), and something with eggs. Whatever your omelet of choice is. Get it all. Pound it all. You’ll be in fine fettle tomorrow afternoon/evening when you wake up. Seriously, this place is amazing. I don’t know what I’ll do if it ever closes.
Klaus Schulze – Opheylissem [MP3]