Friday Favorites: Las Vegas

Ok, ok, I know I missed last week’s Friday Favorites, but I have a good excuse…I was yucking it up in Vegas, baby!

Vegas is my favorite place to spend a long weekend. If you can get past the fact that there’s no beach, you can’t beat it — great pools, a huge selection of dining options, spectacular shows/performers, gambling, spas for pampering and of course last, but certainly not least on my list  – shopping. Sure, Vegas doesn’t have a lot of boutiques but if you’re into department stores or designer shopping, you’d be hard pressed to beat Vegas.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been to Vegas. I’ve gone on average twice per year for the last 20 years and stayed at over a dozen different hotels including Treasure Island, Mirage, Bally’s, Stratosphere, Cosmopolitan, The Wynn, Bellagio, Venetian, Aria, Planet Hollywood and Mandalay Bay. So I thought it would be fun today to feature my favorites from Vegas.

Dining

God, there are a ton of awesome restaurants in Vegas. Why Vegas doesn’t rank higher in the list of cities with the best restaurants, I don’t know. I’ve had so many great meals in Vegas.  My favorites for steak and seafood right now are N9NE at the Palms and STK at the Cosmopolitan. If you’re talking fufu cocktails and desserts, my vote is for The Fix at the Bellagio.

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Check out their cotton candy martini (before the martini part) and their yummy donut dessert and créme brulée:

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If you’re looking for fusion, I suggest SushiSamba at the Pallazo. It’s a mix of  Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian foods and spices. The menu is overwhelming, so let the waitress/waiter plan your dinner. It was hard for us to let go of the rein and do this, but the food pairings and suggestions were amazing. Many of the dishes were selections we wouldn’t have chosen on our own, but we were so glad we did. The nice part about this, if they bring a dish you don’t like, you send it back and you don’t pay. Pretty cool, huh? Here are a few dishes we had:

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As much as I love all these different restaurants, if I could have just one meal in Vegas, I’d choose the caviar parfait from Michael Mina.

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I can see you now rolling your eyes over caviar. I’m a farm girl from Wisconsin (something you might not know about me!) and I grew up eating cheese, cheese curds and lots of homegrown meat and potatoes. I never in my life thought I’d first off ever eat caviar and second off enjoy it as much as I do. Now straight up caviar, forget it…don’t like it. It’s salty and fishy and slimy and just weird. But put caviar on top of a hash brown potato layered with shredded hard boiled eggs, herbs, onions, smoked salmon and a horseradish créme fraiche and you’ve got a delicacy and meld of flavors that’s indescribable and unforgettable. Michael Mina serves this creation with a shot of ice cold vodka and I’m telling you, it is out of this world. This little appetizer, which is just big enough to share with one other person, will set you back, but it’s heaven in your mouth and in my mind well worth it, especially to celebrate a special occasion. You’ve got to try it sometime.

Hotel

I get asked a lot where I like to stay in Vegas. As you can see, I’ve experienced many of the hotels over the years. I always say it depends on if you’re going with couples or just with your spouse or significant other. If it’s a couples trip, I love the Cosmopolitan. The Cosmopolitan’s relatively new. It opened in 201o. The reason I like it so much is it’s the perfect mix of hip and trendy and it doesn’t feel too young. My husband and I are in our late 40′s and places overrun with 20-somethings like the Hard Rock don’t do it for us anymore. This place has a great vibe. The rooms feature a little sitting area and some have balconies overlooking the strip or the Bellagio fountains. Here are a couple pictures from our last stay:

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Here’s the view from our balcony:

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The bars are super fun with really cool decor. Here’ s a pict of the Chandelier Bar.

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And the adult only pool is perfect when you’re trying to get a weekend away without kids.

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If the hubby and I are looking for a romatic getaway alone, we always come back to the Bellagio. There’s something about the sophistication and ambience of the Bellagio that makes it a winner. It’s a little more upscale, the rooms are oversized and comfy, the spa and work-out room are top notch and gorgeous Meditteranean/Fresco pool is so relaxing and transforming. It’s a tough combination to beat. And now it’s terrible that we just stayed there last weekend and I didn’t snap any pictures of our room or hotel, but I did get these great pictures of the gardens all dressed up for fall:

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Shopping

Every trip to Vegas, I plan at least one day of solid shopping. There’s so much shopping in such a condensed area on the Vegas strip that you get any big box retail store you could ever want. Of course you can shop the malls at the various the hotels, but if you want everything under one roof, you’ve got to hit the Fashion Show mall. It’s the largest enclosed mall in the WORLD and I once heard it had the most department stores under one roof of any mall in the world. You can barely cover the whole thing in one day.

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If it’s outlet shopping you’re into, I love the Las Vegas Outlets North. They have a great selection of premium designer brands set in an upbeat urban layout. The outlet is about a 20 minute cab ride from the strip and well worth the trip. We’re talking designer names like Gucci, Barney’s, Jimmy Choo, Dolce & Gabbana, BCBG Max Azria and David Yurman just to name a few.

Chocolate

Chocolate? Yes, chocolate! Las Vegas is home to my favorite chocolate truffle – Ethel M’s dark chocolate cinnamon truffle.

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I discovered Ethel M’s dark chocolate cinnamon truffle when they had stores in Chicago. They’ve since closed all the Chicago stores and the only place you get this delectible truffle is in Nevada. You can have them sent to you, but the shipping is crazy expensive, so whenever I’m in Vegas I pick up a box. These things are absolutely heavenly, and I have yet to find another chocolate shop that makes a cinnamon truffle. You must try one next time you’re in Vegas. They sell them at the airport which is super convenient. Don’t blame me when you get hooked!

Happy Friday and have a great weekend!!

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  • Lisa Ryan

    What fun! Loved all the Vegas tips!!!

  • betsy

    Wow, fabulous. I would go just for the caviar parfait + vodka. Love that nail color in the truffle shot!

    • rneats

      Thank you! I love that nail color too. Don’t remember the name…shellac/no chip.

  • betsy

    PS: an no WAY would I share that appetizer with someone!!

    • rneats

      Believe me, it’s tough to share. But if you’re also getting entreé it starts to be too much. We have each gotten our own before, and it was heaven!

  • betsy

    Waaaa! I just googled Michael Mina, and it turns out we have a few of his restaurants here in SF. Hmmmmmmm….drop off Amelia at school, change clothes in the car….sneak off for caviar parfait!

    • rneats

      Sounds like a plan, but you forgot shopping!

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