Vegas Guide to March Madness (Part 2)
When it comes to dining in Vegas, there’s only one city in the country that gives our incredible options a run for their money and that's New York City. Don’t think you’re getting into a top tier restaurant without a reservation during a busy weekend (aka the first 4 days of the tournament). If you plan to turn your trip into a fly by night operation just be prepared to eat abnormally early or absurdly late assuming trendy high end eateries will even be able to accomodate you. Without sounding cliché, dinners in Las Vegas are experiences and should be treated as such. When you get the entire crew together these are the spots I’d recommend exploring for the quintessential dude’s night out. (Sorry ladies, we left the romantic destinations off although if you’re coming with your man during this time of year it either makes you a bona fide keeper or skeptical the man in your life will piss away way too much money betting his 6 team parlays).
(Wynn Las Vegas) – I fully recommend the Porterhouse for 2 when heading up the street to Wynn Las Vegas. Your dinner won’t come cheap but then again what in life (or Vegas) does? Don’t be fooled by the kick ass view out on the terrace, this is still a perfect location for a group of guys to grab a bite for kicking back and relaxing after bringing the sportsbook to it’s knees.
(Palazzo) – Wolfgang Puck doesn’t put his name on a restaurant that sucks…well besides those stupid little pizzerias in the airport. The bone in rib eye is off the chain and will leave you feeling like you just went 12 rounds with a prize fighter. If you’re a real big shot, step up your game and go the Japanese 100% Waygu route. I’ve heard it’s awesome but I don’t win enough big bets to actually afford it.
(Mandalay Bay) – Michael Mina’s restaurant on the south end of the Strip does not disappoint. The amount of protein options you can order from the wood burning grill will blow your mind. Rather than me recommending something, step it up by going with the chef’s tasting menu. After all, he knows a hell of a lot more about food and his specialties than I ever will.
(MGM Grand) – I’m not really sure where to start with a breakdown of this menu because I’ve never had a bad meal here. Sides, steaks, seafood: all of your options dwarf 90% of the fare you’d consume anywhere else in Vegas. Make sure you carve out a few hours for dinner, you’ll be here for a while if you do things the right way.
Overrated: 9Ine (Palms)
(Aria) – Known for their Carnitas and Seafood Enchiladas, I have a definite soft spot for upscale Mexican food. The venue is conveniently located right in the heart of the casino with easy access to all the table games and a quick walk to the sportsbook so you don’t miss any 2nd half bets. There’s nothing better than some spice and a great margarita to wash down 12 hours worth of college basketball.
(Cosmopolitan) – I’m not here to lie so when I talk about Jaleo I’m relying on the word of some trusted friends who rarely steer me astray. Jose Andres Spanish themed establishment is known for its paella and tapas. Bring your appetite, there are plenty of options for you to do some solid damage.
(Aria) – Pitchers of Sangria go a long way towards making a meal (yes, even for you guys) but the food options here make it all worthwhile. Whether it’s the braised short rib, lobster gazpacho, or crispy artichokes the options are endless and all seem to raise the bar for other Tapas style restaurants.
The Value Play: Pink Taco (Hard Rock)
(Caesars Palace) – Their NYC location is world famous and extremely exclusive. Fortunately it’s easier to get a table inside this location and you're not compromising the integrity of food quality. The location has a look and feel entirely it’s own creating the perfect atmosphere for the boys to polish off a little vino and pasta. There’s even a private room available for larger groups so be sure to call ahead if you're rolling 15 meatheads deep. My perfect meal here consists of the meatballs, baked clams, pork chops, and an awesome peanut butter tart to top it all off.
(Cosmopolitan) – It’s rare I recommend a restaurant where the first thing that comes to mind is desert but that’s exactly the case here with the Nutela & Vanilla Bomboloni. However, you have to get there first and the perfect option to do so are the diver scallops, prime filet, and Mediterranean Orata. I'm pretty sure the crew of Fox Sports Live also would give this spot their stamp of approval.
Overrated: Sinatra (Wynn Las Vegas)
(Aria) - As a guy impartial to seafood, this is one of my favorite restaurants in the entire city. I don't get to eat here nearly as often as I'd like but there hasn't been a single occasion where I left feeling cheated by my choice. Maine Lobster pot pie isn't a meal I'd tell you to choose during the Vegas summer although if you ordered it then I still wouldn't blame you given its position as a signature item on the menu it won't disappoint. My single favorite option on the diverse menu remains the San Francisco Cioppino, a seafood dish that's second to none anywhere on the strip.
Honorable mention: Blue Ribbon Sushi (Cosmopolitan)...just avoid the fried chicken despite them calling it one of their specialties.
It goes without saying no Vegas weekend is complete without a trip to a top tier nightclub. Again, that experience doesn't fit everyone's budget since bottles and a premium table location don't come cheap in this town when demand is high. Don't write off the second tier options as more affordable although going anywhere with a crew of 12 dudes won't get you in the door at a reasonable price point. If money is no object and you're looking for a spot with top shelf talent and music to boot, here are my premium 3 options in order of personal preference. Unlike your restaurant offerings, these night clubs need absolutely no introduction
Hakkasan (MGM Grand)
The Value Plays: 1Oak (Mirage) and Hyde (Bellagio)
One last thing worth mentioning for the guys that need a break from watching basketball for 4 straight days...there's outstanding golf options especially given the weather this time of year.
NCAA Basketball's March Madness and Las Vegas have always been a match made in heaven. Basketball fans from around the world come to town to hang out and watch the games, spend some in the sportsbook, by the pool.. and often mix in a round or two of golf either before or after their big game tips off. From the opening round of 64 to the Final Four Weekend, Las Vegas golf courses experience some of their busiest days of the entire year. There are over 50-golf courses in Las Vegas to choose from and prices range from less than $50 to $500 per round. The best way to find the best experience for one's particular criteria is to use the free service known as BK's Golf Services for assistance. BK's Golf is open every single day from 7am to 9pm Pacific Time. By phone is 702-804-6461 or 866-LV-T-TIME - and they can also be found online at www.LVTeeTimes.com
No matter what you choose to do on your Vegas vacation next time around enjoy it. Besides, you only live once: may as well burn a little money while having the time of your life in our fine city.