In yesterday’s post, I documented the first half of my trip to Vegas, and all of the glorious eats that were had.
The morning started innocently enough, with the intention to trek to a vegan restaurant called Pura Vida for brunch. As the only all-vegan restaurant in the vicinity of the strip (and not terribly close, at that), it was my mission to get there no matter what. Which is good, because getting there was an ordeal and a half.
We bused down to the very northern tip of the strip and set off on our journey, surrounded by a fairly unpopulated terrain of pawn shops and the occasional restaurant. There was a problem with the map I had printed off Google – I, uh, failed to include an address – but I hadn’t needed the address of any of the other restaurants, so I figured with a bit of walking we’d find our way.
And then a bit of walking turned into nearly an hour of walking, getting absolutely nowhere under the hot Vegas sun. Finally we decided to stop inside one of the pawn shops and borrow a phone book in hopes that the address would be contained within. It wasn’t, but there was a phone number. Mike’s phone was out of commission and mine was on its last bar of life, so we gave the number a ring – disconnected. Great.
So Mike called his little sister back home and asked her to Google the place and get the address and phone number. Success was had – we now had information! – but when he was telling his sister where we were located and asking her the route to the restaurant, she wasn’t able to help us. Oh well, I thought, I’d just call the restaurant and ask them for directions. But as luck would have it, there was no answer.
By this point my bladder was at bursting capacity so we stopped at a Mexican restaurant. Mike asked one of the workers how to get to the address we had written down, and to our absolute joy, we were given directions. Rejuvenated by problem solving, we happily headed on our way. Only, the way was long. Really long. And part of the trip was down a road with no sidewalks and nothing in the way of buildings or people – not the kind of place you’d want to be wandering at night. And then, about half an hour from the time we were given directions, we arrived at Pura Vida. I could’ve kissed the ground.
I went to open the door of the restaurant but was met with a hurricane of resistance. No, literally. There was a huge wind tunnel that I somehow summoned (magic powers?) and I had to fight my way into the restaurant. A huge gust of wind followed Mike and I inside, and all of the customers and workers turned and stared at us, some cracking jokes about making a big entrance. Did I mention it was a calm, relatively windless day?
So there we were, sweaty and hardened from the harsh elements, but happy as all hell to have actually made it to Pura Vida alive. I should mention that if I’d bothered to study a real map in advance, it would have been a 15 minute walk from the original bus stop. But hey, adventures!
This, my friends, was the breakfast pastry to end all breakfast pastries. Filled with vegan sausage, tofu scramble and veggies and topped in a delicious cheesy sauce with a side of guacamole, my stomach cheered victoriously. It was on special, so it wasn’t a part of the regular menu, which is sad because next time I’m in Vegas I’d like to eat this 1,000 times more. On the plus side, there’s a bunch of other beautiful food items on the menu (like waffles!).
We also got a breakfast burrito called “The Latin ‘Tude”, which was a beautiful assortment of refried beans, soyrizo, tofu scramble, cheese, avocado, veggies, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes, roasted potatoes and poblano peppers. Need I say how glorious this was?
The wild burrito was captured and masticated by the terrifying molars of Allysia.
…Mike chose a gentler approach.
And cookies! I really wanted to go back to this place again, but since it was a bit out of the way, it just didn’t happen. Next time. One of the best parts about this restaurant (aside from how freakin’ incredible the food was) is that everything is made in-house. Meals take about 20 minutes to come to the table, but they don’t use a microwave and everything is fresh. That’s my kind of restaurant!
Oh, and I should probably mention that the dozen or so people who walked in the restaurant after us arrived calmly, with no crazy windstorm following them in. I’m taking that as a sign…of our awesomeness.
In the afternoon, we took a meander through the Wynn hotel, one of the most expensive on the strip. And as some of you may know, Steve Wynn himself is a vegan, so every restaurant in his hotel has a small, separate vegan menu, including the fancy restaurants.
Food choices aside, The Wynn is the perfect hotel for me. Look how bright and colorful it is! The whole hotel is like that. Yup, next time I go to Vegas, I’m going to A) be rich, and B) stay here.
So after Mike got over his whole dying thing (mild heat stroke), we drank champagne and dressed all fancy-like, ready for a night on the town. We made reservations at one of the higher-end Wynn restaurants called La Cave, and didn’t want to show up looking like chumps. Plus, dressing up is fun.
Those are two dapper-looking people right there, let me tell you. Alas, all I have for you is one photo from La Cave, since my flash doesn’t work and it was so dark in there. But I’ll have to tell you about the meal because it was THE BEST FOOD EVER. Yes, it even warranted all caps.
Since this was our last night in Vegas, we wanted to go all out with the fine dining experience, so we started the meal with a wine sampler from Spain – two reds and two whites. Dudes, you should all play the booze sampling game – it’s so much fun trying to identify the little subtleties and nuances in flavor.
The way the food at La Cave works is every dish comes out on a small plate, so you want to order multiple plates. In our case, we decided to order 6 plates and share everything. 6 was a little intense, even for people with large appetites like us – 5 would have been a little more reasonable. But then, the only dish I would have wanted to sacrifice from that meal was the tossed salad, because everything else was so ridiculous.
Okay. It started with a pizza. But not just any pizza – a pizza with a perfect crust (you know, crisp on the outside, tender on the inside), an incredible red sauce, and simple toppings like artichokes and olives. This was my second favorite dish of the night, which sounds strange, I know – because you’re just thinking, “it’s pizza”. But it wasn’t just pizza, I promise you.
Other plates soon started arriving – there was a lovely quinoa dish, one with roasted beets and a cashew feta (amazing), and then the champion of everything – the tortellini. Tortellini in a cheesy, buttery cashew sauce with a generous amount of assorted sauteed mushrooms. The stuffing in the tortellini was to die for, but those mushrooms, tossed in the rich cashew sauce, haunt my dreams. If I can manage to recreate that dish, I’ll die happy. And I know there was a 6th plate, but I have no idea what it was. Which is sad, because everything we ate was over-the-top good. Thanks for being vegan, Mr. Wynn.
We ended the meal with dessert, the only dessert any reasonable person would consume after such a belt-loosening meal – a glass of good port. It was my first time ever trying the stuff but I fell in love – sweeter than wine and a little thicker, with spicy complexity. I’d have that for dessert more often if it wasn’t for the price tag. 🙂
After allowing our stomachs to settle some, we indulged in a night of clubbing. Yup, loud music, huge crowds, and endless dancing. Drinking Grey Goose vodka with soda water didn’t hurt the experience, either. I know it’s probably not everyone’s thing, but I love dancing, and there’s so few good places to do it at home. We had a blast, and ended our Vegas trip with lots of kaboom.
Of course, with a departure time in the early afternoon, we couldn’t in good conscience leave without visiting Red Velvet Cafe one more time.
We both opted for paninis, mine being the Chicken Spinach Artichoke, with vegan substitutions of course. Great pre-flight food!
And who could leave without devouring a tiramisu cake? Red Velvet Cafe, I’m quite sad that I didn’t have a chance to sample all of your many cakes. But there will be a next time.
When we found out that our flight would be delayed at the airport, we stopped to grab a beer, because really, what else do you do when you’re waiting at an airport?
Little did we know, we’d be waiting a long time. A really long time. So long, in fact, that we missed our transfer flight and had to stay overnight in Minneapolis. Though I would have much rather not have spent an extra four hours in an airport whilst in Vegas, we managed to make the most of it, like when we discovered sea salt chocolate:
The intrigue! The suspense! It was actually pretty good, though quite weird. The first taste was salty which almost made the chocolate taste savory, but then the salt flavor faded away, back into normal chocolate. I’m still not sure how I feel about salty chocolate, but it was an experience.
And of course, the 1am greasy food party at our hotel was a big spirit booster (and Futurama was on!):
The next morning, we arrived in the all-too-familiar airport, homogeneous as they are, and found us some breakfast eats. I managed to find the French Meadow Bakery again, and they had a vegan apple-walnut muffin which I pounced on.
We decided to try a pre-made green juice (since I have a juicer, I admit to being a pre-made juice snob), and an iced soy latte, which had become a staple of our Vegas trip. Breakfast of champions, though the green juice was far too sweet for my liking. But I’m well aware that my palate is not average when it comes to sweet things.
And then, we were off. Back home, to real life again.
Ahh, Vegas. I am fond of your glitz and tackiness, your food and drinks, and all of your wacky people. Can’t wait to go back again!