Restaurant Sleeper Hit of 2015: Aria Cafe

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Aria Cafe

Aria Cafe

Before my stay at the Aria, I had never eaten at their Cafe, but I had certainly heard a lot about it from friends–none of it good. So it wasn’t exactly high on my list. But as these things sometimes happen, early on in my stay, I had a craving for roast chicken. I had planned on eating at one of the hot new restaurants, Bardot Brasserie, or Lago, that night, but after perusing Bardot’s menu, I just wasn’t feeling it, and Lago was mobbed. I wandered between Monte Carlo, Aria and Bellagio for nearly an hour, looking at over a dozen different menus, and no one had what I was looking for. . .except the Aria Cafe. I finally thought, what the hell? I’ll give it a try.

It was around 9pm, and I was clearly overdressed. Everyone else in the place was wearing shorts. To be fair, I was dressed up because I had planned on eating somewhere a bit fancier. In any case, don’t feel obligated to dress up for this place just because it’s in an expensive hotel.

Aria Cafe from above

Aria Cafe from above

The decor is very contemporary, featuring geometric shapes, and a wall of windows for sunlight (which can be a bit of a problem when it’s shining in your eyes, but I was there after dark that time). It’s a very airy space, with lots of countertop seating for solos in addition to two-tops. There were plenty of other solo diners, so I didn’t feel conspicuous at all.

I had a fantastic dinner that night. The roast chicken was a bit drier than I would have liked, but it was still delicious and satisfied my craving. It came with asparagus (a vegetable I can take or leave, but this being Vegas, I hadn’t had many vegetables or fruits that day, so I ate it). The garlic mashed potatoes were amazingly flavorful. There was a tiny bit of lemon sauce on the plate that was yummy as hell. (Dear Aria: More lemon sauce, please.) Dinner was about $24 before tip. (I only drank water with my meal.)

Roast Chicken Dinner

The Roast Chicken Dinner

Service was also very good. My waitress was a bit “old school,” which I much prefer over the twenty-somethings who don’t really know what they’re doing or don’t seem to give a shit about their jobs. There’s definitely something to be said for experience. Overall, I liked the atmosphere of the place, too. In fact, I enjoyed my first dining experience here so much that I returned to eat here twice more during my trip.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Noodle Soup

After a very filling lunch at Lago, I really just wanted something light to tide me over during my show (Zarkana) on my final night in town. So I had a cup of excellent chicken soup that tasted homemade and fresh hummus with pita triangles, which came with a few celery and carrot sticks for dipping. It was all very tasty. I was really glad to have a healthy dinner; that doesn’t happen all that often in Las Vegas, if you know what I mean! Cost of dinner was just $15.13 before tip. (For those keeping score at home, so far, we’re two for two in terms of reasonably-priced meals.)

Hummus and Pita Chips

Hummus and Pita Triangles

While I was eating that night, I had a chance to look around me at other diners. There were two women sitting at a table, not talking to each other at all. They didn’t look particularly happy. There was an Indian couple sitting next to each other at their table (instead of across from each other), and they weren’t talking to each other, either. This is bizarre, people. Isn’t the whole point of eating with other people so you have someone to talk to? Isn’t that why people hate to eat alone? Hell, I was alone, and I felt like I was probably the happiest person in the room. (Hmm…..)

At a nearby table, two young women sat with a toddler who dumped all the sugar packets onto the table and wanted to play with them. Ah, a child with a healthy imagination! Who needs expensive toys, when you can create things out of sugar packets? The women scrambled to clean it up and asked the waitress for another table, because the sun was beating right on them. (Like I said, you have to be careful about that in this restaurant.) They should really invest in some retractable sun shades for the windows.

Solo Counter

Solo Counter Seating at Aria Cafe

My final meal of the trip at Aria Cafe was the morning of my departure. I wanted to fuel up before heading to the airport. This was the busiest I had ever seen the Cafe. I had to sit at one of the counters with other solos, which was fine, though everybody there was more engrossed in their mobile devices than they were in engaging in conversation. So I engaged in some people-watching instead. The counter provided an interesting vantage point from which to overlook the restaurant and see people passing by outside the windows.

For breakfast, I had the three-egg breakfast with bacon, English muffins, and fruit instead of hash browns. Everything was delicious, but man, was it pricey–$27 or so with tip. How the hell did my breakfast cost more than either of my dinners?

3 Egg Breakfast

The 3 Egg Breakfast at Aria Cafe

But, price aside, the upshot is that I had three terrific meals at the Aria Cafe. I don’t think it was a fluke. They’ve obviously got some good staff working the kitchen these days. Breakfast could certainly be cheaper, but otherwise, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

14 thoughts on “Restaurant Sleeper Hit of 2015: Aria Cafe

  1. Brian

    Good review. Walked by that place a zillion times, never thought it was worth going into (love Bellagio Cafe for breakfast). Will put Aria cafe on my list for next trip.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Not sure I ever would have given it a try if they didn’t have that chicken I wanted so badly, Brian. LOL. I like to call that “serendipity”. I’m generally a fan of the resort cafes. They’re not celebrity chef restaurants, they’re not sexy, but you can usually count on a decent meal for a decent price.

  2. Guy Humpage (@Truckosaurus)

    It makes sense that a casino cafe/coffee shop is busiest for breakfast as that’s when people are looking for a more casual dining option, and it seems Aria are gouging the price a little to take advantage of it.

    You also highlight the other advantage of solo dining, being able to be shamelessly nosey/people-watch instead of feigning interest in your tablemates.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Yeah, I suppose that’s true, Guy. I definitely felt there was a little price-gouging going on there for breakfast. Because it makes absolutely no sense otherwise. And yes, I am shameless in my people-watching. I blame it on being a writer/reader.

  3. B Peters

    I have never eaten there, but will give it a shot next time I’m in Vegas. I know what you mean by people just eating and not talking while sitting together. I’ve been married to my wife for 25 years and we still find plenty to talk about–more her than me probably because she’s more of a talker. I always find it strange when I find people just eating like animals and sharing no conversation. When I eat solo, I do rely on my phone but only if there’s no interesting people-watching. Thanks for the information, Gray!

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      B Peters – I’m so perplexed–and yet so fascinated–by this behavior. I see it all the time with people who would rather text on their smartphones than talk to the people they’re with. Thankfully, my family and friends are not like that. I think if I ever had a meal with someone who ignored me in favor of their smartphone, I’d get up and walk away and never come back. I just think it’s so rude.

      1. Meister Eckhart

        Try dinner with an Italian family… you won’t be disappointed!!! Though, sadly, even here in Italy that “get out of my face – I’m texting” attitude is gaining ground, especially with couples.

        1. Gray Cargill Post author

          LOL, Meister Eckhart. Sad to hear online interaction over face-to-face interaction is spreading to Italy, too. Not surprising, I guess.

  4. Shawn P

    I made the mistake of having breakfast here over Halloween weekend. That wonderful wall of windows in front of the counter seats? It was covered with thick white plastic draped from ceiling to floor to cover construction. The construction tools themselves were on top of a waitress serving station directly in fromt of me. Every time she needed more sugar packets or napkins, she had to move the tools to get to them. I tried the hash browns, which were served hockey-style: black pucks that were cold in the middle. Every thing else was average, at best, except for the long, long wait for my bill. Never again.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Wow, Shawn P, I’m so sorry to hear that. That is so weird how 2 people could have such drastically different experiences at the same restaurant. And you were only there 2 months after I was! I’m shocked that they left the restaurant open during construction. That’s just a bad idea all around, because once somebody has a bad experience like you did (and it’s pretty predictable that somebody’s going to have a bad experience if there’s construction going on in the restaurant while you’re eating), they’ll never give a restaurant a second chance. Not when there are so many in Las Vegas. That was a real misstep on their part.

  5. Julian

    Why does it always seem that breakfast is
    more expensive in Vegas? I find myself eating a lot more sausage egg mcmuffins during my trips. Lol. Thanks for the review, will definitely have to check it out next time I’m in town.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      I don’t know, Julian, but Guy is probably right on that one. Used to be you could get a 2 egg breakfast for under $10 all over the place. The markups on food and beverages in Vegas are ridiculous.

  6. Leslie

    I have a suggestion for a low priced breakfast. It’s nothing fancy but you still get some decent food. You can take a free shuttle from Fashion Show Mall to the Gold Coast ( then from the Gold Coast to the Orleans, then back to the strip). The breakfast buffet is 5.99 with a players card. I’ve eaten their twice. Plus you see a couple of “locals” casinos which are sometimes a little luckier than on the strip. The shuttle leaves about every 20 minutes.

    1. Gray Cargill Post author

      Yes, Leslie, I agree. Gold Coast (and Orleans) are both great choices for good, cheap buffets, if you’re willing to take the shuttle out there (or have access to a car). Breakfast wouldn’t work for me, since I typically like to eat quickly and head out to the pool, but if that weren’t a factor, I’d totally do it.

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