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Las Vegas and its gastronomic history

When it comes to food gastronomy, Las Vegas has it all: buffets, celebrity restaurants, extravagant eateries, and simple diners. The city bills itself as the Entertainment Capital of the World and is famous for its luxurious and extremely large casino-hotels, with some of the most extraordinary entertainment thrown in. Voted one of the most visited cities in the world and noted for its over-the-top adult entertainment, it fittingly holds up to the name “Sin City.” My visit to this fascinating place was less “Sin City” than more “wedding guest”… and no, there wasn’t an Elvis impersonator in sight.

Las Vegas, capital of the World

Las Vegas was founded as a city in 1905 and incorporated as a city in 1911, but it was Nomadic Paleo-Indians first travelled here over 10,000 years ago. But let’s fast forward to the food history of Las Vegas. Everyone loves a buffet, me included. The first known Las Vegas buffet was believed to be at the El Rancho Vegas Casino in 1946. The Buckaroo buffet (or “chuck waggon”), as it was known, was advertised in flyers distributed as “to appease the howling coyote in your innards,” which I think is such a brilliant summary of being hungry. I might have a plaque made of this quote and hang it in my kitchen for when my grandchildren come to stay!!

As Las Vegas and its hotels and casinos grew, so did the variety of cuisines. Now they have many buffets, including super buffets, gourmet buffets, world buffets, etc. I think you get the picture. As an Englishman, all I want is a cucumber sandwich. I must ask Chef Gordon Ramsey about this. “Today, Las Vegas remains the Buffet Capital of the World.” When I first visited Vegas in 2015, I thought a five-day trip would be enough, especially for my aging, tired body, but as my food and travel writing and hospitality businesses have grown, I wish I could have explored all of the other gastronomic possibilities this city has to offer.

Las Vegas
Las Vegas

Some of the best restaurants in Vegas are located in surrounding neighbourhoods

I mean, in what place other than Vegas can you have a restaurant that sells an entire lobster wrapped in puff pastry, a $40,000 cocktail package that includes a bottle of Case Azul Ultra tequila, a decanter, an actual cocktail, and a Rolex? Or maybe burning bananas, with Krispy Kreme donuts added, or a tomahawk steak covered with gold leaf.  Maybe cabaret performers from adjoining shows, who start out sharing a pizza and then proceed to loudly orgasm in the middle of the dining room… I didn’t even have to add pineapple to make me go that far!! This could be appealing to you.

Not all the best eateries are located on the strip. However, some of the best restaurants in Vegas are located in surrounding neighbourhoods. This is where up and coming talented chefs ply their trade, in less expensive, smaller but well-respected establishments. This is where you get to find the locals and more experienced travellers like to dine. My son and I were due to visit Las Vegas last summer. We had booked The New York-New York Hotel as part of our visit that would have taken in other parts of the states, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and finally Miami, where we were scheduled to do some cooking demonstrations and restaurant reviews. Unfortunately, the global situation with COVID put a stop to that.

The culture of celebrity chefs in Las Vegas

I really wish that I could’ve spent more time here in ‘Sin City’ writing reviews while taking in one of my most favourite pastimes… People are paying attention. Mesmerising Characters from all walks of life assemble in this great city, fun and vibrant, all with a story to tell. The culture of celebrity chefs opening restaurants around the globe has never been more popular. Sometimes I don’t think you have to be a chef.

Anyway, Las Vegas is no different… A new Italian restaurant from celebrity couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic is planned. Two more of Bobby Flay’s Bobby Burgess will open, as will Martha Stewart’s first restaurant, The Bedford by Martha Stewart. Among all the celebrities alike, one name always stands head and shoulders above.. and even though he never chose me for his second series of “Gordon Ramsey’s Future Stars”, yes it’s that man himself, Gordon Ramsey, who owns five restaurants himself in Vegas.

As I mentioned, I visited Las Vegas a few years ago with my youngest son, Jay, for my niece’s wedding… and I’ve got to say the place where I ate every day, maybe twice daily, was Denny’s Diner, just a couple of minutes walk from the MGM Grand Hotel. I mean T-Bone steak for breakfast, with scrambled eggs, which is the only eatery that I have been to that added cheese, just like I do. You can have all the gold-leaf steaks, performing pizza artists, and free Rolex watches with your cocktail… but give me a good old plate of well-made scrambled eggs any day. (And a cucumber sandwich at a buffet.)

Las Vegas skyscrapers
Las Vegas skyscrapers

Conclusion

So just as the song goes, that was playing on our last night here in Las Vegas at the Bellagio Hotel Fountain Show, while my son and I watched from the top of the “Paris Paris” hotel,… It’s “Time to say goodbye.”

In short, if you want to know more about la gastronomia de Las vEgas, click on  Recipes From My Travels.

However, if you want to know more about the cultures of the world, look at our Blog.

Author: Paul James from Recipes From My Travels

Another hour or so passes by while you keep moving and you spot some houses set a little away from the road. The intrepid traveller you think you are, does not want to ask for help but your feet do not care about your pride. Smart feet!
Right, you know now that this would never happen to you because you will be prepared, won’t you?
We were not and as we knocked on the door of this house, we knew we still needed to make it back to Cork that same evening. The homeowner, a very sweet and helpful man gave us a 15-minute lift into Killarney, where we thanked him profusely, and called a taxi to take us back to the parking lot at Kate Kearney’s Cottage.

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