We recently returned from a (very hot) trip to Las Vegas. It was a nice trip, but we had an unfortunate run in with a stomach bug that stole 2.5 non-travel days. This means we didn't get to go to a lot of the places on our list.
We arrived in Vegas on a Saturday afternoon and immediately picked up the rental car, checked into the Vdara hotel, and headed to the Wicked Spoon buffet in the Cosmopolitan. I had seen this buffet on tv several times in the past couple of years and was super excited to try it out.
The place had a nice vibe and felt clean with attentive staff. They had a nice selection of food that was coming out at a reasonable pace (aka nothing looked questionable or old). We sampled several dishes and our favorites were the wicked mac and the snow crab. We finished up with a trip to the dessert station. They definitely had a dessert for any palate in small bites along with a gelato bar. Jeff and I each got a plate of desserts in addition to a cup of gelato. I had the Thai tea flavor and he had blood orange. All of the desserts were amazing. Overall, the food was normal for a buffet, but the real gem was the dessert station. I'm glad we got to try this, but I'm not sure we'd make a return trip.
We continued to explore the Cosmopolitan and found a lot of eateries we'd like to try. We eventually decided to head back to the room since a massive food coma was headed our way.
We woke up Sunday and headed back to the Cosmopolitan to have Eggslut for breakfast. Jeff had eaten at this place on a previous visit to LA and loved it, so we had to make a stop. The line was fairly long, but we decided the wait was worth it. We had noticed an eatery nearby called Milk Bar the night before, so I held our place in line while Jeff went to acquire a corn cookie. It tasted like a salty cookie version of cornbread. I wish we would've had time and stomach space to make it back for a cereal milk.
We eventually made it to the front of the line at Eggslut and ordered a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich and a Fairfax sandwich with bacon. This place was so busy that it took forever to get our food, but we enjoyed being able to watch the staff pump out freshly made sandwiches. My bacon, egg, and cheese was quite good, but a bit too big for me to finish. Jeff also enjoyed his Fairfax.
Next, we decided to head downtown to check out Container Park. The entire structure is made of recycled shipping containers that house boutique shops and restaurants. It has a really neat giant praying mantis out front as well. We explored for a bit before Jeff came upon Cheffini's hot dogs. We stepped inside to check it out. The inside was small (because it's a shipping container), but it was well designed with beautiful wood decor and nicely laid out tables. Jeff couldn't resist getting the summer special of a chili dog with soda. He said the dog was great and was a great snack to tide him over until our food tour that afternoon.
We sat down in the lounge area and were greeted with fresh chips and three house made salsas. Jeff and I are suckers for fresh chips and salsa, so we dove straight in. It was difficult not to devour the entire basket of chips and leave stomach space for the rest of the tour! Soon after, we received enchiladas de mariscos and chicken enchiladas with gualjillo sauce that Donald divided up for us. Both enchiladas were tasty, but I was surprised that I enjoyed the crab enchilada the most. I didn't realize I'd appreciate seafood in an enchilada! From here, we headed over to the Cosmopolitan to Milo's.
As we walked to Milo's, Donald told us about how the restaurant sources its food and to be aware of the smell of fresh tomatoes as we walked in. I definitely caught a whiff of said tomatoes and they smelled amazing. The staff walked us by a display of fresh vegetables and seafood on the way to our table (similar to how things are displayed at Pike Place Market). We immediately received a tower of fried zucchini with tzatziki sauce and fried cheese called the Milo's Special. Donald served this to the group as two more plates were brought to the table: grilled octopus and a Greek salad (made of the tomatoes we observed on the way in). The grilled zucchini with tzatziki and cheese was probably my favorite dish here because it was light and delicious, but I also appreciated the grilled octopus (a strong like I discovered last year on our Philly trip). The Greek salad tasted fresh, but I'm just not a fan of tomatoes so it wasn't my favorite. Jeff enjoyed it, though. We continued on to Momofuku for our next bites.
This was probably our favorite stop of the tour. The restaurant had a neat vibe with a big mural by David Choe on the wall. We were seated at a large table near the back of the restaurant and Donald gave us an overview of how Momofuku Las Vegas came to be. Our first dish was spicy cucumbers. Jeff enjoyed this more than I did since I'm not a cucumber fan. The next dish was my favorite: pork belly buns! The pork belly was cooked perfectly and the additions complimented it nicely. Finally, we received chicken katsu. I can say with a high degree of certainty that this was the best katsu I've ever eaten. The meat was cooked very well and the breading was amazing. The addition of the sauce, mushrooms, and cabbage took it to a whole new level for me. I could not have been more pleased with this stop.
We needed a bit of time to digest before the next stop, so we headed into RetroSpecs, a shop specializing in restoring eyewear from the 1890s - 1980s. We got to try on all kinds of restored eyewear from famous people and Hollywood movies. The wall in the picture is made of eyewear from the 1990s and on since the quality differs and they still wanted to be able to do something with those frames. After this interesting non-food stop, we headed to the Shops at Crystals for dessert at Cucina by Wolfgang Puck.
We were seated and almost immediately served individual plates of dessert. Before we dove in, the chef came out to go over each item on the plate. He suggested starting with the zeppole which was warm and delicious. I continued around my plate counter clockwise going with the chocolate cremoso next. The praline crunch inside was a tasty surprise! Next, I tried the pistachio budino. I'm not a huge pistachio fan, but this was fabulous: the flavor was not overpowering and the texture was wonderful. I finished dessert off with the tiramisu, which is always a favorite of mine. It had a wonderful flavor and I was very satisfied. Of all the food tours we've been on, none have done up dessert like this. It's no wonder we took a break to digest between Momofuku and Cucina. Donald really knows how to finish a food tour with a bang! With this, our tour concluded and we said goodbye to the rest of our group. We headed back to the hotel for a bit to nurse our food comas.
Later that night, we headed out to Secret Pizza in the Cosmopolitan to grab a slice. We had heard about it on tv a while back and Donald pointed it out earlier in the day on our food tour, so it was easy for us to find. We got there around 8:30 and the line wasn't very long. We each ordered a slice of pepperoni. After consumption, we agreed that the pizza was good, but nothing to write home about. I was ready for something sweet, so we continued on to Holstein's.
We were seated at a table for two in the dining room and ordered onion rings and cookies & cream bamboozled shake minus the booze. We admired the neat cow decor while we waited. There were a ton of onion rings and the shake came out even bigger than I had imagined with the most giant ice cream sandwich I've ever seen. Jeff cut it in half and I tried hard to finish it. Everything was delicious, but way too much for my already fairly full tummy to handle. We left this place stuffed to the gills and happy. Day 2 was quite a success in my opinion.
Monday was the day that everything started going downhill. I woke up at 6:45am with a stomach bug and spent the rest of the day in the hotel room trying to sleep it off. Poor Jeff stayed by my side the entire day and I finally forced him out to find himself some dinner around 8:30pm. He got a burger and fries at In N Out. I wasn't even jealous.
I was well enough on the road to recovery to wake up bright and early Tuesday morning for our helicopter tour. We met our Sundance Helicopters limo at 6am next door at the Aria and were on our way. We arrived, checked in, had a safety briefing, and observed the pilots and other crew prepping the helicopters for our 7am trip. Each helicopter fit six guests and a pilot. We were part of group 15 and the other guests in our party were two couples from the UK. Our pilot later informed us that the majority of their customers are from the UK, which I found interesting.
Our pilot arrived to gather the occupants of helicopter #15 and introduced himself. It turned out he was also named Jeff, so that was fun. We went outside for further safety instructions and get buckled in.
In no time, we were heading off over the strip on our 45 minute ride to the West Rim of the Grand Canyon that included a fly by of the Hoover Dam. It got a bit warm inside the helicopter even with the AC, but the sights on the way over made it all worth it. I was much more comfortable in regards to anxiety and nerves on this trip than on our helicopter tour in Hawaii. Pilot Jeff made the ride very smooth and I also liked the prerecorded narration/music as well as the space they left him to do his own narration.
The helicopters essentially flew over in a group/line and landed in their own area of the West Rim. We disembarked the helicopter and took in the amazing scenery. It was here that Pilot Jeff served double duty: pilot and photographer. I'm so glad we chose the 7am tour since it wasn't too hot (Pilot Jeff mentioned the helicopters do occasionally get grounded for extreme heat like what was going on during the week of our vacation).
After taking it all in and snapping a ton of pictures, we sat down for a snack. Each person received their own little picnic basket containing a bagel with cream cheese, fresh mixed fruit, an orange juice, water, and champagne. I was still scared to eat given the events of the day before, but Jeff enjoyed this snack. We took one more look at the beauty of this place before hopping back in the helicopter and heading back to Las Vegas.
We were returned by limo to our hotel by 9:45am. Jeff and I were thrilled with our experience and felt very accomplished by 10am. We lounged around the hotel for a bit before deciding to go grab a bite to eat at Retro Bleu Cafe. This place was interesting in that it was contained in a building that was sort of like a stand alone food court for a few small restaurants. Jeff walked up to the window and ordered a bbq beef taco and garlic shrimp fries. He deemed them both quite tasty. I was only brave enough to eat a few fries at this point, but they were fried very nicely.
After lunch, we decided to do some exploring. This may not have been our greatest idea since it was 118 degrees outside (not exaggerating). We took the walkway from the Vdara to the Bellagio and saw quite a few neat things there, but the Jean Phillipe chocolate fountain was one of my favorites. I had heard it was really neat, but I didn't expect it to have so many different types of chocolate! We also peeked in at the Conservatory and the Chihuly display in the lobby on our way to the Flamingo to see the flamingos.
Later that night, I was finally ready to have a full meal. We headed to a spot I found on Instagram that had great looking hand pulled noodles and wontons. The spicy wontons, wonton soup, and beef noodle soup were all amazing. We were both glad we found this on Instagram and made it in to try it!
Jeff had a sweet tooth after dinner, so we wandered into Snowflake Shavery. I wasn't ready for sweets, so Jeff ordered himself taro shaved ice with mochi, red bean, and sweetened condensed milk. It was different than anything we've ever had in a good way! We were now both quite full and returned to the hotel to relax as we drifted into our food comas.
Wednesday also took an unfortunate turn as Jeff woke up in the middle of the night with the same stomach bug I had battled. We spent most of the day in the hotel letting him sleep it off. He was feeling a bit better by late afternoon, so he took me to Cafe Summer. The place was adorable with its brightly colored upside down tea cup and saucer lights. The menu had oodles of good looking items on it, but I was here for the one thing I saw on Instagram that I refused to leave Vegas without: a taiyaki ice cream. I ordered it filled with red bean, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and mochi. It was every bit as delicious as it looks. For as little as we accomplished due to bad health luck, this made my food check list complete. We flew back to Seattle the next day and were very happy to be home. Perhaps we'll try Vegas again one day... and stay healthy on that trip!