Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

Well, not quite as soon as I'd hoped, but whatever. I just got back from beautiful Las Vegas where Andrew and I were on vacation for our one year (!) anniversary. It was a great trip. I always love Vegas, it's just so... much. We had a great time there, as usual, so here's the recap:

Accommodations: We stayed at the Tropicana Hotel. Now, I like the Trop, it's classic old school Vegas. But, it is old. It's definitely starting to fall apart at the seams a little bit. I've heard rumors that it's going to be torn down soon and rebuilt, but who know. No one can seem to confirm that. The rooms aren't fantastic, and ours smelled like BO sometimes, but overall we don't stay in the room that much and they are super cheap, so it doesn't really matter. The best part of the Tropicana is the pool. They have something like 5 acres of gardens and pool. It is quite fantastic.

Shows: We only got to one show on this trip, but we went to see Penn and Teller. We always go down to the Tickets 4 Tonight place next to the MGM to see what kind of discounted tickets we can get. Penn and Teller was great. I really liked that they showed you how some of the tricks were done. It still amazed me, even when they showed us what was happening. The slight of hand was awesome. Very fun show, and not terribly priced.

Food: My favorite part of Vegas. :) I found out about a day in that I am NOT actually allergic to Gluten, so I went a little hog wild. :) Turns out I should probably still avoid it, but whatever. Vacation food doesn't count right? We rarely got up in time for breakfast, but did make it to the Tropicana's Island Buffet for breaky one morning. It was... well... it was okay. The food wasn't fantastic and there wasn't a whole lot of variety, but they kept the champagne flowing and the omelettes were good.
Lunch- We ate at La Salsa, great food and wicked good margaritas (yard margs nonethless). I think there are a few around. We went to the one by the MGM. We got a coupon from the Tickets 4 Tonight place (apparently they do dinner discounts too) but it wasn't super worth it.
Planet Hollywood at Caesars- totally not worth it. We got a coupon for this place too, but there actually wasn't that much memorabilia and the food wasn't anything exciting. The service was only so-so as well. My one tip here... Andrew had a "LA Lasagna" it was pretty darn good. It's basically lasagna that has been wrapped in an egg roll wrapper and deep fried. Just make it at home... it was delicious.
Pizza at the NYNY- I honestly don't remember the name, but it's in the back corner by the roller coaster and is wicked good.
Sherwood Forest Cafe at the Excalibur- decent enough, nice big burgers and waffle cut fries. Seriously... who doesn't love a waffle cut fry. :)

Dinner- the dinners were for the most part great. We got reservations and some discount coupons (50% off entrees for some of them) through Tickets 4 Tonight. They try to get people into the restaurants either early or late (like 6:30 and before or after 9) but it was worth it for the most part.
Buffet at Mandalay Bay- I don't remember the name, but it was pretty good. Not terribly priced and our server was nice.
Carnival World Buffet at the Rio- This was great. It really is the best buffet on the strip. Granted, I'm not a buffet connoisseur, but it's huge. Lots of great food and endless gelato. Again... who doesn't love gelato?
Pampas at Planet Hollywood. This is a Brazillian Steakhouse, which was great. We did the Rodizio where they just bring you endless meats on swords. Quite good. The sides and salads were decent, but the meat was great. Definitely try the filet mignon, ham and pineapple and the lamb. All fantastic.
Enoteca San Marco at the Venetian- so... I have to temper this review with the fact that we didn't entirely know what we were getting into. When we were at the Tickets 4 Tonight place, the guy just told us this is Mario Batali's restaurant. I thought- sweet, Italian Iron Chef's Restaurant, sign me up. Now, we missed our initial reservation and so had to come back at 9:30- no biggie, we went and had some drinks and didn't worry about it. Well, turns out an Enoteca is basically a wine bar where they use argon gas to preserve wines so they can dole out small pours of expensive wines for people to try. Had we know this, we might have saved our money and really focused on the wine. We didn't know and the $15-45 for a 4 ounce glass of the wines was quite steep. We ended up trying a couple of tastes, 2 ounce pours, but those were still about $13 each. A bit much for a taste. The sommelier, actually I think it was just a steward, was quite unhelpful and a little rude when he realized that we weren't' going to be dropping a few hundred dollars on a bottle of wine. Whatever... our regular waitress was quite nice and I was excited for the food. Overall though, disappointing. Andrew had a Carbonara. It really wasn't great. I had some veal and ricotta meatballs, they were quite good, but not what I expected from Batali's restaurant. Overall it was pretty meh.
However... because we missed our reservation we did find a fantastic Mexican place also at the Venetian. The Taqueria Canonita was FANTASTIC! We had great service (ask for Martin if you go there). Martin recommended some great tequila for our margaritas, and a fantastic appetizer (ceviche). The food and drink was excellent. Andrew did a tasting of some tequila and I had some tequila liquor. It was wonderful Martin ever brought us out a sample of the house made pineapple infused tequila, which was amazing and when we inquired about purchasing a bottle, directed us to the website where we can get the recipe for free. He was so nice and the food was wonderful, so it made up for the ridiculousness over at Enoteca.
Our final dinner was for our anniversary and we went to Les Artistes at the Paris. It was another great meal. John Wayne was our server and he was wonderful, helpful, funny and had an amazing singing voice. We got a great bottle of wine, some foie gras (which was meh) fantastic lobster bisque and wonderful steaks. Plus I had the absolute best chocolate souffle I have ever eaten in my life. It might have been the best dessert ever. Period. Really a wonderful time.

Anyway... that's the quick recap. Oh... and we lost money. :) But who doesn't in Vegas. I got just about no knitting and reading done and absolutely no writing... But tomorrow is another day. :)


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