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Local Eats: 595 Craft and Kitchen

595 Craft and Kitchen

595 Craft and Kitchen

595 Craft and Kitchen opened in Spring Valley in the summer of 2017. I specifically remember that I was watching one of the Star Wars movies when I was asked to join a friend to check it out. You can usually count me in to explore a bar/restaurant with burgers and craft beer.

The first visit was very good. The wings were tasty but a bit pricey for the burbs ($9 for a small order). The Pork Belly Burger ($13) with hoisin sambal glaze, cabbage slaw, seared pork belly, and Gochujang Aioli was fantastic.

LOOK AT THIS JUICY BURGER!

595 Craft and Kitchen Pork Belly Burger

595 Craft and Kitchen Pork Belly Burger

The burger was delicious. The pork belly was delicious. Together there was a bit too much flavor. It was kind of overwhelming my mouth. I added a beer from Deftones singer, Chino Moreno, and left overstuffed with a wallet a bit lighter than expected.

The downside to the visit was that service was below average. The waiter was a bit slow and didn’t seem to know the beer or food menus very well. I guess I just expected more from a local bar/restaurant. I’m happy to say that the service was much better on a return visit.

595 Craft And Kitchen Pork Belly Bahn Mi

595 Craft And Kitchen Pork Belly Bahn Mi

I visited 595 Craft and Kitchen again for lunch just before heading east for Zorkfest. This time I opted for the Pork Belly Banh Mi. I figured the pork belly without the burger would be delicious and filling enough for lunch. I was right.

The sandwich is served on a baguette and is topped with hoisin sambal glaze, cucumber, pickled daikon, carrot, cilantro, and mayo. I opted out of Jalapeños assuming (correctly) that there would be enough flavor.

I love bahn mi but I don’t come across them often at a bar. While the burger is very good, the bahn mi in combination with a local Able Baker beer was unique and perfect for the day.

The waiter on this visit was extremely helpful and offered a beer that’s hoppy but not too hoppy. I understand that this request can make bartenders and waiters crazy. It’s nice when the server doesn’t look at me like I have three heads when I say this. 🙂

I later learned that the bar orders small batches of beer and rotates their taps often so there is almost something new every month or so. I dig that!

595 Craft And Kitchen Beer Cheese

595 Craft And Kitchen Beer Cheese

The beer cheese is good. Seriously, bacon makes everything better. The star of this dish is the pretzel bites that didn’t even need the cheesy love.

In addition to the great service from the waiter, we talked with one of the owners Van-Alan Nguyen for a while. He’s a nice and smart guy from California with burger experience from In N Out Burger.

He’s an accelerated beer nerd and knows about as much as any beer guy I’ve met. He can also go into head-spinning details about how the food is sourced and prepared. It was nice to have a few minutes to learn about what goes into choosing the food and drinks available in a restaurant.

Good food and good beer are usually a recipe for success in my book. I can see myself returning a few times this year even though it’s a little out of the range from my hood.

595 Craft and Kitchen is located at 4950 South Rainbow Blvd.

Visit 595craftandkitchen.com for more information.

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Local Eats: Dirty Fork

Last year Dirty Fork opened in the restaurant space on Durango formerly occupied by Norm’s Diner. I didn’t visit Dirty Fork for a while after they opened as I mourned Norm’s leaving. Later I realized Norm’s was just down the street and moved on.

I was more than happy with the food and service at Dirty Fork after my first visit. That was repeated during my second and third visits. During each visit, I tried a different meal that fit perfectly for the day.

Brunch

Dirty Fork French Toast

YO!

I finally visited Dirty Fork when I was asked to join some friends for brunch. I was told that I need to try the Dirty Fork Breakfast Special. After reading the description this sounded like a meal that was perfect for the day.

The Hawaiian sweet bread French Toast was topped with egg, fried chicken, and syrup. This is the perfect hangover cure. The Hawaiian sweet bread French Toast, with egg in the center, was topped with fried chicken and syrup. This is the perfect hangover cure. This was my first time having chicken for breakfast/first meal and it was great.

I’ve always been turned off by fried chicken and waffles because of the large size of the chicken and waffles. The bite size pieces of chicken was a perfect topper to the light and sweet French Toast. I could eat individual flavors or have a bite with everything. Perfect!

I think I finally understand the sweet and savory thing for breakfast. I was so turned on by this dish that I’ve returned multiple times.

Lunch

Dirty Fork Burger

Dat burger!

My second visit to Dirty Fork was for lunch. The menu is creative and was a bit too confusing for my mood. I’m always up for a burger when a menu confuses me, so I tried the Dirty Fork Burger.

The burger comes with a choice of fries or salad. While the Breakfast Special filled me, this burger STUFFED me. Not only is the burger big but it’s delicious.

My burger was a perfectly cooked medium. The beef was flavorful and juicy but not to the point where it was oozing everywhere. I even enjoyed the super crispy fries, which I’d normally just leave on the plate.

Breakfast

Dirty Fork Breakfast

Simple and delicious!

After two great meals, I met a friend for breakfast at Dirty Fork. I wanted something simple so just ordered bacon, eggs, and coffee. The bacon was nice and crisp, which is how I like my bacon. The eggs were phenomenal. I’ll have to ask if there’s some magic recipe for the eggs the next time I visit. I believe they use Lavazza coffee which is neither amazing or bad.

I believe they use Lavazza coffee which is neither amazing or bad.

The menus (breakfast, lunch) are creative and have a unique assortment of dishes. I was upset when Norm’s moved out but I’m more than happy to have Dirty Fork in the neighborhood. I’ll be back shortly to try something new. Well, maybe something new.

Dirty Fork is at 3655 Durango. Visit DirtyForkLV.com for more information.

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Local Eats: Happy Hour At Hawthorn Grill

Happy Hour At Hawthorn Grill

Happy Hour At Hawthorn Grill

Hawthorn Grill is located inside the J.W. Marriott in Summerlin. The hotel is attached to Rampart Casino through a hallway but technically the buildings are separate. This is a relatively new high-end steakhouse that opened earlier this year.

The restaurant prices are appropriate for fine dining in the area. It’s expensive but not out of line. However, the food and drinks on the bar menu (select bar & lounge) are 50% off for Happy Hour.

The burger was a perfectly cooked medium. It was juicy and flavorful. The fries were surprisingly good although I wouldn’t add the mojito sauce next time. Overall, this meal is probably worth $15.

Forget that, the burger and fries were only $7.50. That wasn’t even the best part of Happy Hour at Hawthorn Grill.

I seriously might use Uber or Lyft the next time I visit Hawthorn Grill. Many of their signature cocktails and beer are 50% off. Paying $3-$4 for a Fat Tire or Stone Pale Ale is good but 50% off a $13 Chimay is a great deal. I love beer from Belgium and this Trappist Ale was perfect on a hot day.

$10 for a Happy Hour dinner of a beer, burger, and fries is an excellent deal. Being able to upgrade the experience with a Chimay for a few more bucks is great. I’ll definitely be back and odds are good that I’ll be drinking a few beers this time.

 

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California Pizza Kitchen At The Park Surprises

California Pizza Kitchen at The Park surprised me in a good way last night. New outlets of chain restaurants aren’t always the most exciting restaurants to explore but I was curious about the new, exclusive menu being offered only at this location. CPK was the final restaurant at The Park (see more from the opening of The Park at Covers) that I wanted to try so I figured that I’d give it a whirl.

California Pizza Kitchen has multiple locations in Las Vegas (The Mirage, Downtown Summerlin, etc.) so there needed to be something to set this one apart. The new menu does that by offering burgers, steaks, unique appetizers like buffalo cauliflower and pizzas you can’t find at other locations.

CPKBurgerBest

We sampled different dishes and I was happy to see that there’s another moderately priced dining option at The Park. The CPK Classic Cheeseburger was only $14 and was made with Wagyu beef and has melted American cheese, Nueske’s Applewood-smoked bacon, caramelized onions, tomato, pickles, lettuce and housemade burger sauce on a toasted brioche bun. The accompanying fingerling potatoes were crisp and tasty.

The CPK Classic Cheeseburger was easily the best thing we had from the 6 or 7 dishes we tried. I wouldn’t call this the best burger in Las Vegas but it’s very good and probably what I would order in the future.

CPK.BuffCauliflower

Everyone we spoke with at the restaurant highly recommended that we try the buffalo cauliflower. Yes, I ate cauliflower. My mom would be proud. Kinda. The veggies were masked very well.

The cauliflower was deep-fried and had an excellent buffalo sauce. I think vegetarians I know would probably love this dish. The sauce was spicy and tangy and I’d eat this all day…if it was chicken.

CPKMeatballs

The turkey meatball appetizer was more up my ally. They’re made with turkey sausage and had a nice kick to them. Note to management if there was a happy hour deal with apps and booze discounts, I would probably destroy these every time I visited The Park.

CPKRibeye

So, a steak at California Pizza Kitchen? Let’s give it a whirl.

This is exactly what you’d expect from a $40 steak on the Vegas Strip. The meat was good but it wasn’t great. If you go in with the understanding that this isn’t a high-end steakhouse steak you’ll probably enjoy it.

An additional note on the steak, the grill temperatures were probably a bit too high as the first rib eye was charred but very undercooked from the medium we ordered. The second steak was closer. I’d give them a minute to figure this out before trying again.

Overall

Like I said, I was pleasantly surprised with the dishes that are only available at The Park location of California Pizza Kitchen. The non-pizza options are tasty and better than pizza I’ve had at any of the locations.

Between  Shake Shack, Bruxie, Beerhaus and California Pizza Kitchen, The Park has a good selection of moderately priced restaurants. You can see more pics from dinner in the slideshow below.

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Burger Lounge To Open At Aria This March

Burger Lounge

California’s Burger Lounge will replace The Roasted Bean near the poker room and sports book at Aria. The restaurant will open in March.

This is another quick-serve burger restaurant that uses fresh ingredients. These kinds of restaurants seem to be opening on a regular basis in Vegas. Regardless, another burger is coming to Vegas. Can’t complain about that.

You can read more information in the press release below:

LAS VEGAS (January 28, 2016) – Beloved fast-casual concept Burger Lounge is coming to the Las Vegas culinary community with the debut of its first-ever Nevada location at ARIA Resort & Casino this March. The Southern California burger chain takes the classic burger and elevates it with clean ingredients and flavors that pack a punch.

“Burger Lounge is a high quality fast-casual concept that adds a fun culinary experience to our resort’s dining portfolio,” said ARIA Vice President of Food and Beverage Josef Wagner. “We appreciate the restaurant’s focus on sustainability and their dedication to creating a stronger food movement through the use of healthy ingredients and produce. We’re proud to introduce the brand to our clientele.”

At the heart of the Burger Lounge brand is the belief a hamburger should not only taste great, but that the guest should feel good about eating it. With that in mind, burgers start with fresh American grass-fed, grass-finished beef, perfectly seared and served on a toasted handmade bun. With the addition of crisp lettuce, tomato, organic aged white cheddar and house-made Thousand Island dressing, the restaurant delivers one seriously good hamburger.

But, lest you think it’s all about the taste, the Burger Lounge team has some serious sustainability cred as well. The chain’s core business model – to start with fresh, non-GMO ingredients and to build mutually beneficial relationships with ethical suppliers – has resonated throughout the brand from day one.

Burger Lounge Co-Founder J. Dean Loring said, “Establishing meaningful partnerships with sustainable ranchers and farmers has been a part of our model from the beginning. Not only does our food taste better, but creating demand for those suppliers ultimately helps change the American food model for the better.”

With roots in La Jolla, California, Burger Lounge has grown into a quirky and beloved West Coast brand, partnering with ranches and farms across the U.S. to source the best quality meats, cheeses and vegetables. The grass-fed beef comes from Grass-Run Farms, a collaboration of family farms that raise cattle without antibiotics, hormones or growth promotants.

In addition to grass-fed beef, the burger line-up includes a free-range turkey burger made with fresh basil, a healthy organic quinoa veggie burger and a long line-caught albacore burger. Never frozen, the patties are topped with creamy organic cheese, hand-chopped vegetables and a variety of house-made dressings. The signature Lounge Bun is baked daily and delivered by local bakeries. For the gluten-free guest, fluffy gluten-free buns and a secret menu item known as the Paleo Burger are available upon request.

Photo: Flickr/Gregg Tomlinson

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Flippin’ Good Burgers? Yup

Flippin' Good Burgers Neon Sign

Flippin’ Good Burgers Neon Sign

I love the neon sign.

I love burgers so it’s surprising that it took me so long to try Flippin’ Good Burgers and Shakes which opened earlier this year. I love a good shake but I think they might need to change the name to Flippin’ Good Burgers and Fries. Perhaps Flippin’ Good Burgers and Dem Fries might be a better name.

The summer was a bit chaotic but I think my schedule has turned the corner to normalcy (as I see it). I’ll be able to find more time to get out of the burbs and try some restaurants again. It feels good to be myself again.

Anyway, let’s get to Flippin’ Good Burgers.

Flippin' Good Burgers and Shakes

No line!

I walked into Flippin’ Good Burgers a few minutes before noon. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised that the people who work in downtown Vegas weren’t at lunch yet but I was. I often forget how people who work in normal jobs operate. There were a few people eating but the restaurant was mostly quiet until noon.

I waited a few minutes past noon for a friend to show up before ordering. In that time packs of people started to show up. Groups of people were 4-8 people kept popping in but they all seemed to disappear after ordering. Maybe they had orders to go. I wasn’t too concerned with the other people since we had a perfectly located booth and a plan on how not to lose it.

The ordering process was simple, efficient and similar to most quick serve burger restaurants. I asked for a recommendation and was told to get the bacon cheeseburger with two patties. It’s as though she was inside of my head because that’s my go to order for my first visit to a burger restaurant.

I ordered at the counter and a few minutes later (5 or 10) my bacon cheeseburger and fries were delivered. I played it cool but I was a little more than excited for the food.

Flippin' Good Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries

Flippin’ Good Bacon Cheeseburger and Fries

Flippin’ Good says all of its ingredients are fresh. While that’s great you can find that in other good burger restaurants today. Knowing that fact gave me confidence to think that the food would at least be good.

The main thing that separates Flippin Good burgers from other quick serve burger restaurants is that their cut of meat is chuck, brisket and short rib. Even though my burgers were a little overcooked I tasted a different burger than other quick serve burger restaurants.

The other thing that stood out with the burger was the delicious fresh potato bun. It was soft but sturdy and held things together perfectly. These differences may seem small but they’re important to making a good burger. This wasn’t the best burger in downtown Vegas but it was really good and possibly a better value (Less than $6 for a double with bacon).

What really moved the needle for my Flippin’ Good lunch were the fries. Growing up I wasn’t a fry guy but I’ve come across some really good fries in the past year (see Shake Shack review).

The Flippin’ Good fries were fantastic. They’re fresh cut, never frozen potatoes that are fried in cholesterol-free oil. The fries aren’t thick but were full of potato flavor almost like a miniature steak fry. I would go back just for the fries. In fact, next time I think I’ll get an order of fries and a shake.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed my Flippin’ Good double bacon cheese burger and fries. Lunch was $11 (and change) and worth every penny.

For comparison I thought the burger was a little better than Shake Shack and on par with In-N-Out Burger. Lunch was priced a little less than Shake Shack and more than In-N-Out.

I don’t know that I’d go out of my way for Flippin’ Good Burgers but I will happily return when I’m looking for a quick bite in downtown Vegas.

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Shake Shack Las Vegas Is What You’d Expect

Shake Shack Las Vegas

Shake Shack Las Vegas Is a bit more than a shack

Shake Shack Las Vegas just opened at New York-New York and the burgers are pretty much what you’d expect. The design and layout of the restaurant are very cool and I’ll get to that another day.

I just want to focus on the food today. Specifically the famous ShackBurger.

Shake Shack Las Vegas menu

Shake Shack Las Vegas menu is quite large

The buzz on Shake Shack opening in Vegas was heard all around the country. People that have visited Shake Shack in other parts of the country compare the burgers to In and Out Burger. A fair comparison as they’re both fast food burgers and use fresh high quality ingredients.

The Vegas Shake Shack Las Vegas location offers a much larger menu than a In and Out Burger or normal fast food or quick serve restaurant. So it’s important just to focus on the burgers (and shakes, the restaurant is called Shake Shack). Okay, on to the food.

Burger, Fries, Lemonade at Shake Shack Las Vegas

Burger, Fries, Lemonade at Shake Shack

Nothing fancy here. I wanted my first meal to cover the basics so I ordered a ShackBurger, fries and their Shack-Made lemonade to drink. Before discussing the ShackBurger I need to talk about the star of my meal – them fries.

The crinkle cut fries are thicker AND crispier than any fast food fries I’ve had before. After a little googling and I found out that these fries were brought back late last year because of customer demand. I also learned that each batch is double fried and that helps with the crispness. Here’s a close up of the light, crispy french fries. I’m not much of a fry guy but they were gone before the burger. That never happens.

Believe it or not, there is a burger hiding under the lettuce in the photo above. Here’s a better picture of the ShackBurger.

[Read more…]

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Shake Shack Las Vegas Opens Today

Shake Shack Las Vegas at New York New York

Shake Shack Las Vegas

It’s been a while since I’ve been excited about having a burger in Las Vegas. That changes today as the first Shake Shack opens on the west coast. Shake Shack Las Vegas opened today at New York-New York.

My expectations are in check. Shake Shack makes a fast food burger that compares to In N Out Burger. Here’s a preview from allsandwich.com that reiterates that thought.

Why get excited about a fast food burger? Because it’s new to me. I’ll check it out in the new year and post a review somewhere. Details of Shake Shack Las Vegas are below in the press release:

The highly anticipated Las Vegas Shack is perfectly situated on The Strip adjacent to The Park at the foot of the renowned New York-New York Hotel & Casino.

Founded by famed restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG), Shake Shack is a critically acclaimed, modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, griddled-crisp flat-top dogs, fresh-made frozen custard, crinkle cut fries, craft beer and wine, and more.  A fun, lively, fine-casual restaurant with widespread appeal, over the past decade Shake Shack has earned a cult-like following around the world.

The Vegas Shack will feature an expansive outdoor patio prominently overlooking The Strip. Capturing the essence and origins of Shake Shack, which was born in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004, the restaurant will also neighbor a future park environment developed by MGM Resorts International. The Park, the first of its kind on the Las Vegas Strip, will feature dining pavilions and performance spaces complemented by areas for quiet relaxation.

“We’re thrilled to be opening on the Las Vegas Strip,” said Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti. “Being located right in front of the New York-New York and next to the future location of The Strip’s first-ever park is an unbelievable opportunity and creates a fun hangout and community-gathering place unlike anywhere else in Vegas.”

“We continue to deliver exclusive, fun and unique choices to our guests on New York-New York’s newly developed plaza. The arrival of Shake Shack is yet another extraordinary moment for our resort,” said New York-New York President and COO Cynthia Kiser Murphey. “The inclusion of Shake Shack will continue to elevate the high-energy activity in this area and will provide our guests with engaging experiences. Danny, Randy and team have created a fun and friendly restaurant with delicious food, great customer service and convenient strip-side accessibility. We cannot wait to see this one-of-a-kind, must-see destination in Las Vegas come to life.”

In addition to all the Shack favorites, the Las Vegas menu will celebrate the glitz and over-the-top energy of the city with exclusive menu items. The Las Vegas Shack’s location-specific frozen custard concretes include: All Shook Up (vanilla frozen custard and chocolate toffee bits blended with a slice of banana peanut butter cheesecake from local bakery Gimme Some Sugar) andJackpot (vanilla frozen custard, Belgian waffles, strawberry purée, marshmallow sauce and rainbow sprinkles). The Shack Attack (chocolate custard, fudge sauce and chocolate truffle cookie dough, Mast Brothers dark chocolate chunks and chocolate sprinkles), a classic Shack fan favorite that originated at Shake Shack’s flagship location in NYC’s Madison Square Park, will be available as well.  Diners can also enjoy the Shackapalooza, a colossal, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink-style frozen custard dessert with premium mix-ins — meant for sharing.

Finally, beginning January 1, 2015 at all US Shacks (with the exception of JFK airport and ballparks) Shake Shack will feature a special off-the-menu item, the ShackMeister Burger™ — a 100% all-natural Angus beef cheeseburger with crispy ShackMeister Ale-marinated shallots and ShackSauce. The ShackMeister Burger will be available for a limited time.

The Vegas Shack will have an expanded beer and wine selection — both on tap. Guests can kick back with a ShackMeister Ale®, a beer designed to complement the ShackBurger that is brewed just for Shake Shack by Brooklyn Brewery. Beers from local breweries will include Bad Beat and Tenaya Creek among others.  All beers are available as a pint, pitcher, or custom Shake Shack “Roadie” (32 oz.). The wine list will feature a range of varietals including house wines Shack Red and Shack White — made exclusively for Shake Shack by Frog’s Leap in Napa Valley, California. For those seeking a non-alcoholic beverage, the menu will feature Shack-made lemonade, bottled Stumptown iced coffee, draught root beer from Abita Brewing Co. in Louisiana, fresh brewed iced tea and more. All beer and wine can be ordered via a special express line at the outdoor walk-up window.

As part of its community outreach efforts and mission to Stand For Something Good®, the Las Vegas Shack is partnering with First Friday Foundation Las Vegas, which advances local artists and inspires civic art in Las Vegas. Five percent of sales from the All Shook Up concrete will benefit First Friday Foundation Las Vegas, and Shake Shack team members will volunteer at the Foundation’s special events.

In keeping with Shake Shack’s commitment to green architecture and eco-friendly construction, the new location incorporates a variety of recycled and sustainable materials and features energy-efficient kitchen equipment and lighting.  Custom chairs and booths are constructed from lumber certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and stools have been upcycled from Pacific NW telephone poles. The Vegas Shack’s interior walls are made from Wyoming Snowfence reclaimed timber, and also clad in reclaimed barn siding from eastern US farming states. As in several Shake Shack locations, tabletops are made from reclaimed bowling alley lanes designed in Brooklyn, New York.

Shake Shack will be open from 11:00 AM until midnight, Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 AM until 2:00 AM Friday and Saturday.

For more information, please visit:
www.shakeshack.com | www.facebook.com/shakeshack | www.twitter.com/shakeshack

Photo: Shake Shack on Facebook

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2nd Umami Burger Was Even Better Than The First

Lunch At Umami Burger At SLS Las Vegas

Lunch At Umami Burger

If you follow me on twitter or facebook you know that I had lunch at Umami Burger at SLS Las Vegas the other day. This was my second visit to Umami Burger. My first visit was on the first day SLS Las Vegas was open. While I really liked the first burger and fries I wasn’t paying close attention to the food. I was busy drinking, chatting, playing video poker and just looking around. This time around I was alone and more focused on my burger than checking out the new restaurant/sportsbook/beer garden.

On my first visit I split half of the Manly Burger and really enjoyed it although I thought it was almost too flavorful. The beef flavor was almost overpowered by the beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardo and smoked salt (fried) onion strips. Not to mention a mustard spread and house ketchup on the side.

A wise man recommended that I try one of the truffle burgers. I went into lunch with this and mind but was in the mood for bacon. None of the truffle burgers on the Umami Burger menu have bacon so I went back to the Manly Burger you see in the picture above. I added the off the menu cheesy tater tots for $5. Before diving into the burger I just want to say that you should ALWAYS ORDER THE TATER TOTS.

This Manly Burger tasted a bit more mellow than my first one. This time the ingredients we much more in balance than the first burger. If we were running this burger through a photo editor the beef flavor was enhanced, the cheese was dialed down and the bacon and onion rings provided a perfect accent. The flavors of the burger and toppings were in perfect harmony. I had a Rogue Dead Guy ale which complimented all of the flavors perfectly.

Looking back at both burgers I think that the sharpness of cheddar cheese is what was a little shocking on the first burger. Keep that in mind if you have a gentle tongue. The burger with less cheese spread really tasted much more like a burger. Call me crazy but when I order a burger I want to taste the burger.

Video Poker at Umami Burger Straight Flush

Thanks for lunch Umami Burger!

I ate at the bar because I wanted to play a little video poker and have a couple of beers. The restaurant side of the bar only had the 3 play machines (the casino side has a few 1 line games). While waiting for my burger to arrive I snagged this sweet straight flush. The straight flush covered my lunch bill which was under $20 ($13 burger, $5 tots) and gave me a couple more dollars to spend on my next visit.

As I mentioned in my full overview of the Umami Burger restaurant/sportsbook at Vegas Chatter playing video poker while you eat allows you complimentary drinks. Not only did I make a few bucks with the straight flush but I had a couple “free” $9 beers.

It’s a nice touch that the bar on the restaurant side has more bar space to eat in front of the video poker machines. It makes eating easier than on the casino side although the video poker is a bit far.

I find it hard to choose a best of any food category but the burgers at Umami Burger are definitely among the best on the Vegas Strip. The service at the bar is great and I really like the sportsbook/sports bar setup. Umami Burger has definitely become one of my new hangouts on Vegas Strip.

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First Impressions Of SLS Las Vegas

SLS Las Vegas Carpet

SLS Las Vegas Carpet

My first impression of SLS Las Vegas is positive but not perfect. Nothing is perfect as far as I’m concerned. I’ve already detailed some of the flaws from the first few days of business in a separate post.

1. The Setup

The pre-opening moniker SLS Las Vegas used to describe the property was “affordable luxury”. That set up for the hotel to be fancy on a budget. For example there’s no way to make Ikea furniture feel luxurious but it can look nice. With that in mind I went in with limited expectations.

2. Casino Layout

SLS Las Vegas Casino

SLS Las Vegas Casino

I care more about the casino than most of SLS Las Vegas. The floor plan is only 60,000 square feet. If you ever visited Sahara this is 20,000 square feet less. The floor plan is small, which is fine but there are choke points that make it almost impossible to go to certain parts of the casino. The high traffic walkway by table area near the players club and The Griddle is tight and will always be busy. There are similar choke points on the slot floor that will be impossible to walk through because machines are packed so closely. Just scope out areas before sitting down at a table or machine.

Layout aside there are ample 3:2 blackjack games for $5 and $10. Craps has $10 minimums. There is decent video poker and all new slot machines. I dig all of this and wouldn’t mind gambling here. US Poker has a breakdown of most of the games.

Parts of the casino floor seem dark and that can make the tight casino feel almost claustrophobic on busy nights. This feels like a casino I’d visit during the day more than at night.

3. Umami Burger – Sportsbook – Beer Garden

Umami Burger Entrance At SLS Las Vegas

Umami Burger Entrance

This is the part of the casino I was most looking forward to. A sportsbook that serves good burgers and good beer? This might be heaven. It is and it isn’t. This isn’t a sportsbook.

Umami Burger a sports bar/restaurant with a patio and a place to bet on sports. Burger prices are between $12 and $15. Not too bad for the Vegas Strip. Draft beers are around $9-10 and bottles start at $5. There are no drink tickets from William Hill for sports bets as of opening but I think that will change. If you drink/eat at the video poker bar your drinks will be comp’d while you have money in play.

Umami Burger Bar At SLS Las Vegas

Umami Burger Bar

I really like this as a restaurant. Like I said in Vegas Chatter this is a good sports bar/restaurant but it’s not a traditional sportsbook. It should be packed with sports fans for big events but expect to see kids and families in the mix on other days. Even thought it’s not a traditional sportsbook this is my favorite spot at SLS Las Vegas.

Note, you can still sit and watch games without spending any money. However, if there are paying customers for Umami Burger you’ll politely be asked to leave if you’re not spending money.

4. Dining and High Priced Drinks

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