Vegas Shorts

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A random photo for random reviews. How fitting.

You might think that I review in full everything that I see, do and experience in Las Vegas, but you’d be wrong. There are often times when I have every intention of writing a review about something when I return home, but by the time I get around to doing it and look at my notes, I realize I have almost nothing to say about it. Maybe just one thing about the experience really stood out. . .and you can’t exactly write an entire blog post with a couple of sentences, can you?

But then I thought, hey, people write whole books full of nothing but vignettes. Why couldn’t I pull together a collection of my one-off thoughts about some things and create a blog post out of it? It’ll be like an anthology of one-paragraph reviews. So, without further ado, here you go: A small collection of my shortest “reviews” ever:

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HelloTel: Is This Really a Good Idea?

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Do you sometimes wish you could order up a dinner date when you’re solo in Vegas?

Last month, a Vegas friend of mine on Twitter forwarded me a link to an article about a new social media app called HelloTel, which allows solo travelers to connect with other HelloTel users staying at the same hotel “for socializing”. Essentially, it works like this:

You create a profile in the app via Facebook–so you need to have a Facebook profile first. (The purpose for this seems to be to make sure people are being honest about who they say they are, though I’m skeptical that actually works; think about all the people who have created fake Facebook profiles to game the myVegas app.) Then when you check your presumably lonely little solo self into a hotel, you can check to see who else is staying at the same hotel (who is a member of the HelloTel community) and connect with them if you want to meet.

So what do I think about this app?

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Swallow a Cloud at China Poblano

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China Poblano

Lame cell phone photo of China Poblano

China Poblano restaurant at the Cosmopolitan, for those of you who don’t know, is a hybrid that serves both Asian and Mexican food. The first word is pronounced “Cheena” rather than the way we pronounce the country for reasons that escape me. I’ve got to admit, this place confounded me for the first couple of years The Cosmopolitan was open. Was it a Chinese restaurant, or a Mexican restaurant? Was it a restaurant going through an identity crisis? I didn’t know what to think of it. So it wasn’t a priority for me to try until I heard Tim and Michelle rave about it on their Five Hundy By Midnight podcast one day. They made it sound so amazing, I knew it had to go on my list. Continue reading

A Taste of the Local: The Downtown 3rd Farmers Market

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Farmers Market Bldg

The Downtown 3rd Farmers Market building, a lovely piece of architecture

One of my favorite things to do in new cities is visit the local farmers market. It’s a great place to interact with locals and perhaps pick up some locally-made food products as souvenirs. You can also often grab a cheap meal at a farmers market, and see what produce can be grown in that region.

Until my last trip, I had never done this in Vegas, because a) it’s not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a trip to Vegas, and b) to the best of my knowledge, there has never been a farmer’s market in the tourist corridor before. But once I decided I was going to stay Downtown for a couple of nights in June, I started researching things to do during the day.

I was stoked to realize the Downtown 3rd Farmers Market would be open on the Friday of my stay. Even better, it was conveniently located right across the street from the Downtown Grand, next to the Mob Museum. I would have time to pop over there before I checked out of the hotel to head to the Strip. Continue reading

The Burger Bar: It’s a Burgerpalooza!

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Burger Bar

The Burger Bar at Mandalay Place

Normally, I’m opposed to the restaurant trend of charging $12 or more for a simple hamburger. Unfortunately, in a city like Las Vegas it’s unavoidable (unless you’re willing to settle for a pseudo-burger at McDonalds). But if it’s going to cost me $12-20, it damn well better be a great burger and a great experience. Which brings me to the Burger Bar.

I’ve eaten at Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas twice now. The first time, I was with friends, so I was totally focused on our conversation. I couldn’t tell you a thing about the food, service or atmosphere of the restaurant based on that meal. Instead, I went back on my most recent trip–solo this time, so I could really focus on the experience of eating here. Continue reading