In July in Las Vegas, the best times to be outside are first thing in the morning and late at night. Everything in between is so hot you feel like you’re inside an oven. During my stay at the Palazzo last July, I didn’t even have the heat endurance to hang out by the pool. But I wasn’t going to hide indoors the whole time, either. One of the ways I like to treat myself on vacation is dining outside whenever I get a chance—especially at breakfast. There’s just something about dining al fresco for breakfast that makes me feel very self-indulgent.
I had noticed that the steakhouse off the lobby, Morels, served breakfast. So one morning I went down around 9am for The Most Important Meal of the Day (trademark: parents everywhere). I scored a seat on the patio, which turned out to be perfect: It was still in the shade of the building at that time of day, so while it was warm, it wasn’t unbearable at all. It was actually a pleasant relief from the constant air conditioning inside.
Surprisingly, there were few other people eating there at that time. This left me feeling a bit skeptical about the quality of the food. An empty restaurant is usually a bad sign, right? Well, not in this case. I don’t know why there were so few others eating there, but too bad for them, good for me, because Morels serves up breakfast in style, with white tablecloths and everything.
As I mentioned when I first returned from my October trip to Las Vegas, I was pleasantly surprised by my stay at the Luxor. I had heard nothing but negative reviews about the hotel for years, so I expected it to be a dump. It wasn’t. In fact, I would stay here again for a number of reasons.
I think the front desk agent at the Luxor who checked me in and switched me from a Pyramid room to a Tower room did me a huge favor. Most of the negative reviews I’ve heard from people staying at Luxor were from people who stayed in the Pyramid (which is older). I was happy with my Tower room. (Though I would have liked the opportunity to ride the Inclinator at least once.)
When I first assessed the noise situation in my room, I thought I was screwed. I had room 3218 in the Tower, on the Third Floor above one of the entrances (facing Excalibur). There was also a connecting door to the room next to me. (I hate when my room has a connecting door. You might as well force me to share my room with the people next door, because it sounds like they’re in my room anyway.)
I have wanted to write a review of the Buffet of Buffets at Caesars for the past couple of years, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat nothing but buffet food for 24 hours. So I want to thank The Vegas Solo regular guest blogger, Brian Tucker. for taking one for the team to bring you this review!
If you’ve visited Las Vegas within the last few years, you have probably seen ads for Caesars Entertainment’s Buffet of Buffets package. This All-You-Can-Gorge-Yourself-On package allows you entry to the buffets of Harrahs, Flamingo, Planet Hollywood, and the Rio (with an additional upcharge for each entry at Bacchanal at Caesars Palace and the Village Seafood Buffet at the Rio), all within a 24-hour period. I had thought of trying my hand–and stomach–at the offer a couple of years ago, but chickened out when I saw how long the buffet lines were. In fact, the only participating buffet without a long line–there was no line at all, for that matter–was the Emperor’s Buffet at Imperial Palace . . .which is unsurprisingly now shuttered at the rebranded Quad.
Fast-forward to last fall when I applied for the Total Rewards Visa card and received two free Buffet of Buffets passes credited to my Total Rewards account, good for six months. I was actually excited to use the passes, but found it difficult to find a willing friend or family member to take on the gastronomical challenge with me. The excuses ranged from, “I’m not a buffet person” to “You should go with someone who eats more than I do,” to an outright, “That sounds crazy. Thanks, but no thanks.”
I love Las Vegas and all that it offers in its busy, 24/7 environment, but after awhile, the crowds and the sensory stimulation get to be overwhelming. When that happens, I need to find a quiet place, stat. There aren’t very many quiet places on the Strip, except my hotel room. Hiding in my hotel room is not really my idea of a fun vacation.
These days, I find myself looking for ways to escape the Strip (and Downtown) at least once during a trip. Two years ago, I took a small group tour (there were 3 of us) to the Valley of Fire. Last year, I went with my friend Brian to Bonnie Springs Old Nevada on a Monday, when it’s “closed”. (I’ll be writing about that in a future post.)
On my October trip, Brian brought me out to Springs Preserve because he thought I’d like it. He was right! I’d intended to get out there myself for years, but hadn’t gotten around to it. (You know how it is: So much to do in Vegas, so little time.) Well, now that I’ve seen Springs Preserve once, I’d really like to return to explore it further.
This is the first time I’ve written about Julian Serrano for this blog, though I’ve eaten there twice. The first time I ate at this tapas restaurant at Aria, I met my (then) new friend Joe for dinner, and we had a great time getting to know each other while sampling small plates. The company and conversation were good, though the restaurant is a bit loud.
Because I was there with Joe, I wasn’t paying as much attention to the details of the restaurant as I should have as a blogger. I blame my upbringing. I was raised that if you are with someone else, you pay attention to them, not to whatever else is going on around you (and certainly not to your smartphone). So I wasn’t exactly taking notes and only took a couple of (poor) photos of dishes we ate.
But the main reason I didn’t blog about it was that I couldn’t work up the motivation. Other than the ceviche, the food just didn’t wow me. (Though I can say it was the first and only time I’ve ever eaten squid ink.) I couldn’t help but compare the dishes we tried unfavorably to other Vegas tapas restaurants I’ve enjoyed, Firefly and Jaleo.
One thing about Julian Serrano made an impression on me, though, leading me to feel I would have to give it a second chance some day: The restaurant has a very long, curved bar with a lot of seating. This place would be ideal, I thought, for solo dining.