Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Steak N’ Shake – Mysteries of the Mid West… SOLVED!

One of the awesome things about Las Vegas is it’s a chance to try restaurants from other parts of the country you can’t find in Southern California. On our latest outing we took the opportunity to try out a burger place often name dropped by gamers who attend a certain mid west convention. Steak ‘n Shake

As it so happens the Vegas Steak ‘n Shake is located at the South Pointe, either on your way in or out of Vegas from all points West and South. Thus it is an easy stop off either to end your Vegas traffic induced fasting or as a preparation for said traffic induced fasting.

What to look for in the casino.

First off, you are warned there may be a line. Go at an off time and you will be spared the wait.

Once you are in, the Steak N’ Shake resembles a 1950’s diner, as mandated by the unofficial All American burger joint code. (See Ruby’s, Johnny Rockets, etc.) Unlike many of our chain diner and Vegas restaurant experiences, however, the service was terrific. The waitress was super friendly and seemed happy to help us navigate the wide array of burgers and shakes available.

Yummy burger! Okay fries.Yes, the “Steak” in Steak N’ Shake does not refer to steak in the traditional sense, as much as it does to burgers made with steak. It also refers to hot dogs made with steak, which we did not try on this go around. However we did try the burgers, and they were very good. I was a little concerned that a steak burger would not be as juicy as I normally like my burgers, but mine was moist and flavorful. There are a ton of toppings to choose from including their own chili, which is also available in little to-go buckets up front, all Tommy’s style. The fries are skinny, which I’m getting more used to, although I still prefer thick cut fries. Still these were tasty and not overly crispy. But the big thing here is the shake.

Side by Side: Chocolate Banana

I was at first dismissive of their shake menu online. It didn’t seem much different than what you could get at Ruby’s or Johnny Rockets. But I was wrong. So wrong. The shakes were thick and tasty, and S&S had a neat “side by side” option where they fill one half of your (GIANT) shake glass with one flavor and the other side with another. The result is you get a much more even blend of flavors than layer usually results in. I had banana and chocolate. It was really really good. I want another one now even as I am thinking about it.

Lastly, it’s important that you know that they aren’t kidding about that 4 meals under $4 pricing on the website. I would take a wild guess keeping their pricing that low has kept them out of California, but the prices at Vegas were insanely cheap compared to the unpleasant surprises we’ve had at Johnny Rockets and Ruby’s. We fed 3 very hungry adults and a growing tween on less than $40 – a meal that included burgers, fries, and huge shakes, plus chili spaghetti (not as good as Big Boy’s, but not bad either). Even by Vegas standards, that’s really good. And it was more than enough to sustain us on our long car ride back to the land of $5 shakes. Sadness!

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Thing to do in Vegas (When you don’t gamble)

We go to Vegas quite a bit, thanks to the generosity of my parents and their timeshare, but we don’t gamble, and we usually take our daughter. So why go so much? There’s a whole lot to Vegas both on and off the famous Strip that is worth checking out.

1. Hit the Buffet of Buffets – We covered this before, but seriously, this is a great deal for families with picky eaters or who want to introduce their kids to new foods without shelling out for a whole dinner they might end up not eating.

In the Fall...

Or summer.

2. Mt. Charleston – You cannot get farther from the neon lights of Vegas than to find yourself surrounded by miles of beautiful wilderness to explore. Although the mountain does have a ski resort, I’d recommend taking a break from the heat of summer to enjoy the trails – the mountain is often about 10 degrees cooler than the valley. Or go in fall and enjoy the snow like we did on our recent trip. At only about an hour drive from the Strip, it’s a great day trip.

3. Hit the fair or a sporting event – There is much more happening in Las Vegas than just what’s playing at the casinos. Take the time to look up local events before you go, and you might find an expected game or event going on that is right up your alley. The last time we went to Vegas we got to visit a Renaissance Faire being held the park across from Sam Boyd. Way more fun and educational than wandering around the Excalibur Hotel.

5. See a show – Although many shows in Vegas are Adult Oriented Content, a little homework can reveal more than a few magic shows or Broadway style musicals that are perfectly kid friendly. Like “V, the Variety Show” at Planet Hollywood. Just remember, never pay full price. “Family friendly” shows tend to be afternoon shows with light attendance, and discount tickets can usually be easily found in one of the many, many Vegas coupons books you are likely to be handed during your trip.

6. Visit a museum – Vegas is actually home to more than a few museums, some of which are on the educational end and some of which are just fun. We visiting the Museum of Natural History a couple of years ago – while small compared to the one in LA, it had plenty of rooms to explore including some cool hands on exhibits. Or you could get in a game or two or two hundred of pinball at the Pinball Museum.

7.  Meet a furry friend – Nevada is much more exotic pet friendly than California, and as such, it also has some pretty awesome pet stores with much more to check out than your usual kittens and puppies. Visit Pet Kingdom and you might find yourself being nuzzled by a piglet, quietly observing sugar gliders while they sleep, or getting ready to write the governor about repealing California’s ban on ferrets after they climb all over you in the most adorably aggressive way possible. Or if you prefer something you won’t be tempted to smuggle over the border, you could just visit the Las Vegas Zoo. Which also has exotic animals, but in a less up close and personal way.

 

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When in Vegas – Buffet of Buffets review

Harrah’s is apparently trying to corner the market on the “All You Can” Vegas experience. Since the last time we were out they appear to have added a deal that includes all the shows you can watch and all the clubs you can handle, but the one we took advantage of was the Buffet of Buffets. After 10 minutes of signing up for Harrah’s rewards program, we were able to get the buffet deal for $44.99 each. Signing up for the card has the added advantage in that the card becomes your buffet pass, instead of having to wear a plastic bracelet for 24 hours.

For our first buffet, we went to the Rio, which in times past was our favorite buffet, where we have at times spent more than $45 just for that buffet alone. Alas, the lowering of the price seems to have taken it’s toll on our beloved buffet. Although Rio still has a multicultural station theme going on, with each section of the buffet representing a different type of cuisine, most of it was not very appetizing looking. The simple food was okay – BBQ, burgers, and shrimp were all passable, but not much better than what you’d expect to get at a Sizzler. The roast beef was downright tough and inedible. Luckily their awesome gelato bar was there to save the day. Was it worth the approximately $10 to $15 we paid to get in the door? Sure, but just barely.

Not bad, but not great either.

Although they do have many flavors of gelato - clockwise from left: vanilla, tiramisu, orange cream

You get what you pay for?

I thought that, but then later that day we hit Lago at Caesar’s Palace for dinner. Thanks to a certain famous comedy, Caesar’s is now the most famous hotel on the strip, so I expect good things from them. Several good reviews of Lago on Yelp pushed the bar up even further. I was not disappointed. Lago was the antithesis of our experience at Rio. Unlike Rio the selection is very small, but what it lacks in variety, it more than makes up in quality. Everything we got was terrific, and the attention to detail was really neat. Salads and fruit came in little glass cups, which, besides being cute, kept the line moving nicely. My plate of prime rib, snow crab legs, and sweet potatoes would have been worth dropping $15 by itself. In fact, we loved the food so much, I didn’t even get any pictures. But that’s okay, because where Lago really shines is its desserts. They are tiny, they are ADORABLE, and they are DIVINE. Seriously, you have to eat them to understand. The Oreos covered in chocolate ganache and dipped in more chocolate? Insane. And the gelato even comes in a waffle cone. The little mini lemon meringue was light and brilliant. It’s completely nuts.I would go to Lago just for the desserts.

So many tiny desserts! And they were all heavenly!

Death by chocolate!

Calories? Diabetes? LALALALALALALALA I can't hear you!

The next day, we hit Le Village at the Paris for an early lunch. I announced the last time we ate here that this was my new favorite buffet in Vegas and despite the sheer nirvana that is Lago’s dessert bar, it still is my overall favorite. BUT you have to like what they are serving. We’re talking a heavy European influence here – French and Greek staples rule here, but if you like things like freshly made pitas, lamb straight off the grill, ratatouille, mac n’ cheese made with brie and bacon, and made to order crepes this is the place for you. Heck, all you can eat freshly made crepes is worth the price alone. It could only be better if they had savory crepes (right now they only seem to have fruit and nutella based ones, but my goodness are they awesome). This is also one of the only buffets that does veggies right. I found myself loading up one plate with asparagus and candied sweet potatoes. Based on some of the reviews I’ve seen, it’s kind of an acquired taste, but if you like French or Greek food, this is a great deal. (And I do.)

Now this is food. Good food. So yum.

Caramel apple crepe with fresh whipped cream. Apple pie has got NOTHING on this.

Other buffets available are the ones at Planet Hollywood (was unimpressed the last time we went, but it has good reviews on Yelp), Imperial Palace, Harrah’s (naturally), and the Flamingo.

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