Where to Eat in Las Vegas?!
I just got back from Las Vegas which is a magical, sparkly place full of booze and strange smells. We stayed at the Rio for the infamous DefCon which was a magical, sparkly place full of booze, strange smells, and eye-effing geeky-types who could barely handle the presence of someone from the opposite sex. But hey, i’ll take the ego boost (sorry feminists).
As vegans traveling to a distant land, it can be difficult to find enough healthy stuff. First thing’s first. We had to get to a grocery store because paying $50 at The Rio buffet for french fries and salad every meal just wasn’t gonna cut it. So we took a taxi over to Whole Foods. And holy dairy-free cow! I couldn’t believe the welcoming this Whole Foods gives to their veg customers! (Quick fact: Whole Foods was founded by an oil-free vegan!)After seeing this sign, all I could see was ‘Vegan‘ instead of ‘Vegas‘ for the remaining of the trip which gave me whiplash, a minor heart attack, and severe depression every single time. Besides this welcoming sign, I would like to give a thank you to Whole Foods for supplying some great new yummies which I have never seen before like Beyond Meat’s grilled “chicken” strips which I absolutely fell in love with. They were perfect for grabbing right out of the fridge and I imagine they would work quite well in a salad. I live in the part of upstate NY where you just can’t find this kind of variety so I very much appreciated it at the time. Bring Beyond Meat to my grocery store please!!!
We got a ton (and I mean a shit ton) of fruit along with tabouli, some sweet potato chips, a little Tofurkey, and Ezekiel bread. Yes, we got way off our mostly fruit, mostly raw diet in the past month or so. It’s all about balance and going with the flow of things. We are getting right back on track, though! So if you plan on staying in Vegas for a week or more, definitely plan on hitting up a grocery store and save your money for gambling! There is also a Sprouts store near the Rio, FYI.
So now comes the fun part. Which restaurants should you go to as a Vegas Vegan?
WYNNNNNNN! (That’s actually spelled ‘Wynn’)
The owner of the Wynn and Encore hotels, Steve Wynn, actually became vegan a few years ago! Hurrah! Welcome to the dark side. As a result, EVERY. SINGLE. RESTAURANT. has a vegan menu. No no no, not just vegan ‘friendly’ with vegan ‘options.’ A FULL BLOWN VEGAN ASS MENU. Thank you Mr. Wynn.
We ate at four different locations in the Wynn: the buffet, Botero, Mizumi, and Tableau and they were all delicious in their own way:
1. The Buffet: The buffet is wonderful for a vegan. Most of the food is not plant-based, as they have full meat-cutting and seafood stations, but there are plenty of delicious things to try.
If you go, you HAVE to check out the pasta station. There is a cook just for this station so you know it’s serious biznass. You pick your pasta, pick which toppings you want (I recommend sundried tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, and spinach), then you pick your sauce. The sauce is the best part because they have NON-DAIRY ALFREDO SAUCEEEEE!!!!! OMG!?@#@!? I could eat that shit like a soup. Oh so good! They have a nice salad selection as well as a pizza station. Pizza you say? But vegans can’t have cheesy, meaty pizza. Yes, if you look merely out on the front counter of the pizza station, you’ll see only cheesy, meaty pizzas. But don’t be a fool! There is also a chef for this station and you can ask for a vegan pizza! I did just this and they made me a fresh, large pie with veggies and vegan cheese and they let me take the entire thing back to my peeps at the table! Unfortunately, there aren’t too many options for dessert, but you can get candy apples, sorbet, a soy-milk ice cream (they only had mint chocolate chip, but I wasn’t complaining!), and my very favorite: a rice pudding with a mango topping in these adorable little gourmet plastic cups no bigger than your thumb. So naturally, I took 4 or 5 of these. (Well they were just so tiny!) The only big critique I have about the Wynn Buffet is their breakfast. You can only really get cereal and soy-milk, oatmeal, or fruit. These are all nice, but for a $30 meal, c’mon…just c’mon. There was an omelet station where they offered a tofu scramble, but as a scramble aficionado myself, I was just not impressed. They make it with teeny tiny cubes of tofu, (not a scramble atall!), and absolutely no spices! You need at least a little turmeric to give it that yellowy look. Needless to say, it wasn’t the tastiest scramble but it was the best breakfast option they had.
2. Botero: Oh sweet mother of god this is the motherload of vegan eats.
Botero offers a 5-course gourmet vegan tasting menu. Dare I say more? Just take a look:
Everything was incredible but I think the Chocolate Creme Pie was the best part. It is certainly worth getting the tasting menu but prepare to be uncomfortably stuffed and broke at the end of the meal. We also got a side of “Creamed” Spinach because, why not? Whether or not you are unbelievably full, save a little extra room for this because I’m still craving it weeks later. Oh Botero and your magical tasty spinach.
Side note: I would have totally taken pictures of all the food I ate, but I didn’t want to be that guy at all these fancy schmancy shindigs.
3. Mizumi: If you are craving some beautiful ambiance and sushi, this is the place for you. You can get some classic vegetable rolls, which we did, but you must try some of their main entrees. There is a dish made with Gardein Chik’n with a bunch of vegetables sauteed in a delicious teriyaki sauce. Yum!!! We also tried miso soup (fish free!) and an udon noodle soup which was quite an eating experience. Now I know: take one udon noodle at a time with your chopsticks and place it on to your spoon and don’t be afraid to drink from the bowl itself. This would have saved me some awkwardness.
They also had the most amazing strawberry tart for dessert which I can still taste if I think hard enough. I can’t seem to find the vegan menu on the Wynn site or anywhere else but there are plenty of choices. I would say that if your time is limited and sushi/japanese food is one of your staples, choose another restaurant at the Wynn. The food itself was amazing, but maybe not as unique as some of the other restaurants. But it is certainly worth checking out if you’re feeling the soy joy.
4. Tableau: Thinking that we had a free breakfast our first morning at the Wynn, we went down to the restaurant near the entrance of our suite’s elevators and pool. Since we upgraded our room when we got to the concierge desk and not when we first made our reservations online, we did not qualify for the complimentary breakfast at Tableau. A mimosa, two orange juices, vegan pancakes, vegan eggs benedict, a side of vegan sausage, and $80 later, we were told our room was not approved. Be warned! Don’t make this same mistake. Luckily, The Wynn is run by classy and sophisticated folks who gave us the meal for free anyway, despite this confusion. If you are looking for a great breakfast and lunch place with ‘American’ style vegan food, go to Tableau. We got the breakfasty food mentioned above, but they also had a vegan burger and fries on the menu for lunch.
Like Mizumi, I can’t find the vegan menu on the Wynn website. But trust me! It is there alright and it is a must try! I would definitely go here instead of the buffet for breakfast because you will have many more options and they will all be satisfying.
Wherever you go in Vegas (GO TO THE WYNN/ENCORE), you shouldn’t have too many problems trying to find good food. You may have to venture further than Margaritaville or Coyote Ugly’s, but vegan goodness you will find! I mean ‘Vegas’ is just too darn close to ‘vegan’ for it to be a coincidence, right?