I had the opportunity to have a little fun after the Future of Web Apps conference was over. I’ve never travelled alone, so it was a rare opportunity to go around and explore the city. By the city, I mean a few short blocks of the Strip. Here are some of the places I visited and highly recommend on your next visit:
Jaleo – by Jose Andres
Located in the Cosmopolitan Hotel within the City Center, Jaleo features a menu of Spanish tapas by the world famous chef Jose Andres. Dining by my self, I recommend about three to four dishes and a delicious glass of a Spanish red. The Ajo blanco con cangrejo, a chilled almond and garlic soup with crabmeat and green grapes was my favorite. Complex in flavor and executed perfectly to leave a smile and wanting the next course. A carafe of their sangria also came highly recommended.
Another restaurant by Jose Andres, also in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, China Poblano features Chinese and Mexican cuisine. Not a fusion, but literally Chinese and Mexican food. I tried three of their street tacos, which were delicious and authentic. It’s a great casual dining place, executed perfectly by Jose Andres. You can experience high end flavors while not breaking the bank.
The Cosmopolitan Hotel
A hotel located right in front of the City Center. It features a variety of bars and lounges, as well as amazing dining options. There was something that attracted me to this hotel. I think it’s because of my James Bond obsession. Their bars were aptly named “Bond” and “Vesper”. Any Bond connection there at all? I did see a “Vesper” martini as ordered by 007 in Casino Royal. “The Chandelier” is an expansive lounge, set in all three levels of the property. It’s elegantly decorated and gives you the feeling you’re inside a giant chandelier. You’ll experience a very modern feel throughout the hotel.
Another great place with so many things available to do.
Bellagio Fine Art Gallery
For $15 or less, you can visit this boutique gallery featuring artists such as Monet, Sisley, Christo, and Thierren. The collection changes throughout the year. The current one on exhibit is called “A Sense of Place: Landscapes from Monet to Hockney”. A self guided audio tour takes about 40 minutes to complete.
Olives and Petrossian Bar
Olives by Todd English is located in the shopping row of Bellagio. Besides the food, they’re known for having an amazing view of the Bellagio Dancing Fountains. Its view is only rivaled by two star Michelin restaurant, Picasso. The Petrossian Bar located near the lobby of the hotel is another favorite of mines. You can grab an amazing glass of wine from their extended list by the glass, as well as some “bar” food like smoked salmon with caviar. I highly recommend the Caviar Waffle ($16). It’s one of the places I know of where you can buy Silver Oak, Alexander Valley by the glass. There’s a piano player that will take special requests, and is the best place to people watch in the hotel. Here’s a tip: this place can be expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing. There are actually affordable wines by the glass and great bites. As with anything, you can easily overspend.
Mandalay, Planet Hollywood, and off the Strip
Beer, Beer, Beer
I love beer, period. In a city full of watered down American lagers, it can be a sad and lonely place. Luckily, a craft brewer called Sin City Brewing was located in my hotel at Planet Hollywood. They make some pretty amazing brews such as an Oktoberfest, Czech Pils, Weisse, and a damn good Stout. I also found one of two places that serves Guiness via tap at one of the sports bar located in the casino. Maybe not the best idea during a blazing hot summer, but for some reason I always crave it when in town.
I’ve always had a fascination about this place, since seeing their vodka freezer experience on Travel Channel. It’s hard to miss this place because of the Soviet inspired them and the giant Lenin statue outside the restaurant. Ask one of the hosts where his head is located, and they’ll show you. My friend, who happens to be a former manager at this restaurant, invited me for drinks. Being in the hospitality industry can be awesome, especially because of the perks. We got comped for our cocktails and I got to meet some of the amazing staff members. I would suggest trying one of their vodka flights and talk to the bar tender to learn more about the vodkas you’re sampling.
A Spanish tapas kitchen. Try the bacon wrap dates and Tierra y Mar skewers. They’re located not far from the Strip. The serving size for tapas is actually quite plenty, so be careful not to over order. At about 6pm this place was starting to get packed. I think it’s a local favorite.
So that was a sampling of what I experienced on my Vegas trip. Being at three full days of conferences was quite exhausting, so the extra two days to sample the city helped out. When visiting Vegas, I recommend going to one or two prime place for dinner. Try the local food spots for lunch or snacking.
One more thing…Eames and Airports
We’ve all sat on them, but never noticed anything out of the ordinary. Black leather seats all in rows at major airports. While sifting through a Charles and Ray Eames book by Assouline, I found that the seats were designed by the famous firm. The Eames Tandem Sling Seating was designed for Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in 1962. The design has become iconic. Its modern lines accented by the chrome, and uniformity of the seats give it a cool look. Next time you’re at an airport, take your time and appreciate the seats in the terminal.
*Photo of Jaleo in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, Las Vegas was taken from their official web site.
**Photo of cloud art piece was a screenshot of Bellagio’s official Art Gallery web site.
***Photo of Eames seats was a screenshot from Eames official site.