Restaurants & Bars 6

Long weekend off Strip (report)

Ruth Lafler | Jan 11, 201108:50 PM

I spent a long weekend in Las Vegas with a friend. We were staying with one of her friends in Summerlin and were mostly there to visit, so we passed up the tourist areas for the most part.

We stumbled across Las Vegas's Korean taco truck (Las Vegas is catching on to the "gourmet" food truck trend): HanShikTaco (http://hanshiktaco.com). We were on our way to dinner, so we just got the "not so French" fries, with ginger and cayenne -- a little on the salty side, but they rapidly became addictive. We liked them enough to come back the next day and try the tacos -- I had the pork and it was delicious, as was the "crazy's sweet dough." On top of that, the proprietor was charming and it was cheap -- we could have spent as much at McDonalds and it wouldn't have been half as good. If I were a local I'd be a regular.

Our Vietnamese pedicurist recommended Pho Saigon 8, so we dropped there at the end of a day of grazing for a light dinner. I thought the pho was very good, with a flavorful broth that had just a hint of star anise.

Across the parking lot the word "Szechuan" on Chinese restaurant caught my eye. I walked in and took a look at the steam table in front and realized this was the real deal (pigs ears are a dead giveaway). I asked for a take-out menu and verified that they only have one menu with Szechuan dishes and not another one for "white people" (the hostess giggled at that). The menu looks very promising, with all the Szechuan standards present -- anyone checked it out? J & J Chinese Cuisine, 5700 Spring Mountain Rd # A,

We took our hostess to her favorite buffet at the Red Rock Casino for both dinner and brunch. I'm not much of a buffet person, but the price to quality ratio here was pretty good. As a side note: best parking valets ever! The off-strip casinos that cater more to a local crowd really do try harder.

We did have one on-Strip meal: lunch at Burger Bar in the Mandalay Bay. I'm skeptical about burgers that start in the double digits, but I had to admit the "American Classic" (with American cheese and bacon) was a damn good burger: generous-sized patty cooked to the requested medium rare (shading to rare, which was fine with me), good quality bun, good fries, even the dill pickle spear was good. My friend had the turkey burger, which she enjoyed, and a side of onion rings, which were pretty good. In the end, I thought it was a decent value, enough so that I'd be willing to try some of their higher-end offerings.

Finally, I wandered into Dyer's Chicago-style Gourmet Popcorn (http://dyerspopcorn.com) and was seduced by the smell of freshly made caramel corn. Dyer himself mixed me up some jalapeno cheese popcorn to order (after some discussion/teasing about how hot I actually wanted it). The sharp cheddar was also cheesy and delicious. The candied flavors were good as well; the candied flavors hold up pretty well, but the cheesy flavors are fresh made and got soggy after a few hours, so don't wait to eat them!

Burger Bar
3950 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV

Pho Saigon 8
5650 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89146

J & J Szechuan Cuisine
5700 Spring Mountain Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89146

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