We tasked our resident foodie to test as many restaurants as she could in one night at the SLS Las Vegas Food & Wine Festival. This is her story.
Like many people, I am living every day inside a gut-wrenching paradox where I must choose between eating healthfully and choosing food that makes my heart sing. But then I think, "When in Vegas..." and indulge in all the amazing food options this city has to offer.
I went to the Las Vegas Food & Wine Festival at SLS Las Vegas with the full intent to eat my foodie heart out—and with great success, that's exactly what I did. Here are some of my favorite noms along my culinary journey at the festival.
The first thing my nose takes me to is Bazaar Meat by José Andrés (SLS Las Vegas) where they're serving up sloppy joes, an item on their regular menu as well. This is not your father's sloppy joe, friends—this gourmet version has beef bolognese and fried straw potatoes on a steamed bun. It's simple, but the flavor of the beef bolognese was incredible.
After that I perused the festival until I hit Carnevino (Palazzo) — home of the 90-day, dry-aged porterhouse steak. Carnevino was serving fresh stracciatella di bufala and a selection of salumi. Anyone who's had fresh Italian stracciatella knows what kind of special treat it is since it never keeps for very long, even if refrigerated.
For a little French twist on things, I visited Payard Patisserie & Bistro (Caesars Palace) where they had pastries and cocktails special to the event. Payard was inspired to transform his restaurant's soups into drinks, these were: the warm passion fruit piña colada, rhubarb champagne, and earl grey tea cocktail.
James Beard Award-winning Lotus of Siam is one of our city's best kept secrets. This off-Strip, hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant is a fave among celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, Susan Feniger, and many more. In fact, it's been claimed as one of the best Thai restaurants in America. Chef Saipin Chutima is inspired by many generations of passed-down northern Thai family recipes. This evening she whipped up Khao Mun (Thai street food style chicken over rice) and Som Thum (Thai papaya salad).
Next up was Carmine's Las Vegas (Caesars Palace) where I scored two dishes: their signature meatball and the super cheesy eggplant parmesan. This family-style Italian restaurant aims to make any meal feel like a traditional Italian wedding feast. This idea translated to their not-so-small plates that would have equated to a meal alone. You can't go wrong with delicious, classic Italian.
With a hankering for seafood, I headed over to Katsuya by Starck (SLS Las Vegas) and was immediately happy to see their Rock Shrimp Tempura Roll: rock shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce over a spicy tuna roll. There's something so elegant about culinary minimalism. The simple, high-quality ingredients at Katsuya make it so good.
I was particularly excited to visit celebrity Chef Scott Conant's Scarpetta (The Cosmopolitan) for his earthy, yet sophisticated take on Italian cuisine. They served basil ricotta angolotti and salted caramel budinos—both were delicious. Fun fact: Scarpetta translates to an Italian expression "little shoe", or the shape bread takes when used to soak up a sauce so you savor your meal down to the very last bite.
Overall the SLS Food & Wine Festival gave me a little taste of what Vegas offers in the culinary world, but the reality is that there is so much more than just the few dishes I tried. Vegas continues to up the ante in the restaurant biz. Every year restaurateurs are finding it crucial to make their mark in the Vegas culinary landscape, and I'm certainly not complaining about it.