Category Archives: Regional

At last, the world famous JimmyEatsVegas restaurant reviews!  If you haven’t already, you should make sure to check out why I don’t write very many negative reviews.

I envision these reviews as a friend talking to another friend about restaurant recommendations.  If someone asks you where to go, you don’t lead off and talk about all the bad places.  You wanna talk about the best places!  So first and foremost, my job is to tell you about all the best places to eat in town and, from time to time, to tell you about why I think the places that everyone else love really aren’t that worthy of praise.

These are some of my favorite restaurants serving regional American food in Las Vegas.

GIORDANO’S: Tastes like home.

It’s not a casserole.

I can hear you snickering through the screen.  Chicago style pizza is NOT a casserole.  It’s not a lasagna, it’s not a joke.  IT’S OURS OKAY STOP MAKING FUN OF IT.  Jon Stewart famously said “it’s not only not better than New York Pizza… it’s not pizza.”

Listen, if I’m gonna grab a quick bite to eat and keep walking on the way to a hipster meetup, New York style pizza is great.  It’s thin, it’s tasty and easy to eat.  Chicago pizza is difficult.  It takes a while to cook, you kinda need a fork to eat it, it’s so filling that one of them can feed a whole family… but these are not necessarily bad things.  Chicago is a much more laid back city, one where sit down meals with your family are common and a 45 minute wait to get your food is a good time to talk and be with loved ones (as well as devour delicious sides).

You can rattle off 5 great pizza places in every city and all of them will be either authentic Italian or New York style pizza.  Very rarely will you find a real Chicago pizza outside of Illinois.  However, a new day has risen, my friends.  In the outdoor mall at Bally’s just off of Flamingo and Las Vegas BLVD, one of the mainstays of Chicago pizza has opened up a newcomer for the crown.

BEHOLD.

giordanos chicago pizza
Err, wait.

Let’s try again.

BEHOLD.

giordanos chicago pizza
Slightly better.

I won’t lie, I was underwhelmed at the outdoor seating offered here.  I was blown away that they’re open 7 days a week from the morning to 2 AM, mostly because I expected a place serving midwest style food to happily close at a reasonable 9-10 PM.  But the seating itself makes no sense in a volatile weather place such as Las Vegas.  The roof over the seating area isn’t solid, so when there’s wind or rain it blows right through.  There’s also dust everywhere, to the point I had to clean off my place when I sat down.  And on a cold night like the one I visited, the considerable 40 minute wait felt twice as long.  I remarked to our server what a bad decision they made to make the only seating outside and he told me everyone was saying the same thing. (MAKE NOTE OF THIS)

We quickly ordered a side of parmesan garlic fries and a small stuffed pizza with sausage and onions (sausage is a must with Chicago style pizza).  The fries were quick to come out, and we were happy to munch down on them to stay warm.

giordanos chicago pizza
The fanciest ranch dressing garnished dish ever.

Solid fries, though I’m sad they came with a side of ranch dressing.  The garlic was pretty well caramelized, to the point of getting stuck in your teeth when you tried to chew it.  If they fix the garlic, they’ll be pretty damn good fries.

After way too much talk about how cold it was and how we wish they had an indoor seating area, our pizza arrived.

BEHOLD AGAIN.

giordanos chicago pizza
CLICK FOR AMBIENT MUSIC

I don’t know how anyone can look at such an item and not be immediately filled with carnal thoughts.  It tasted as good as it looks, obviously.  There are places that sell Chicago style pizza frozen that can get most of it almost perfect, but the one thing that they can’t get right is the crust.  The crust in this pizza was fantastic; crumbly, tender but still tough and thick enough to hold together this huge slice of cheese, sauce and stuffed toppings.  Eaten with a knife and fork for true flair.  Two adult men were stuffed after 2 pieces each with 2 pieces left to take home afterwards.

giordanos chicago pizza
BUT HOW CAN YOU MAKE IT HOME?

The whole meal was less than $20 a person with tip, making it one of the best values on the strip.  With such prime real estate, you would expect this place to be significantly more expensive.  If only they had reasonable seating, I would come here a few times a month!  Alas, I left satisfied but ultimately sad that I would probably not come here too often to dine because of exposure to the elements.

Imagine my surprise a few days later when picking up a few carry out pizzas for a get together.

giordanos chicago pizza
WHAT
giordanos chicago pizza
THE FUCK

There’s an upstairs!  I’m a fucking moron!  There’s a huge bar and an absolutely beautiful interior!  The servers let me go on and on about what a terrible decision not having an indoors was!  It took me about 10 minutes for me to be able to get my foot out of my mouth when I realized this.

After this discovery, I see no reason not to rate this one of the absolute best restaurants for the money on the strip.  Open until 2 AM, I think this is a must visit for anyone who likes Chicago pizza and a good spot for simply anyone who likes food.  I’ll be back a lot.

Giordano’s

Inside Bally’s outdoor mall area.

11AM – 2AM daily

Carryout available.

OYSTER BAR (AT PALACE STATION): No one comes here, it’s too crowded.

“Oh hey Jimmy I love oysters.”

SHUT UP, THIS ISN’T FOR YOU.

Yes, they serve oysters at the Oyster Bar at Palace Station.  They’re fine.  They’re somewhat expensive so if you’re into spending money to gamble on your well being (you’re in a Vegas casino so who isn’t AMIRITE) then you’ve come to the right place.

HOWEVER.

This place makes a bomb-ass pan roast.  What is a pan roast you might ask?

THIS GODDAMMIT

A big bowl of spicy seafood, tomato, and cream stew with a big scoop of rice on top.  It’s really hard to describe how satisfying and comforting a bowl of this can be without having experienced it.  I don’t know why this place makes such a good dish but it does and I’m not going to question their methods.

But I digress.

“Uh, table for two?” “LOL”

This is the Oyster Bar, right next to a couple banks of slot machines.  There are less than 20 seats at the bar and it takes approximately an hour or longer to order, get your food, eat, pay and leave so you can end up waiting quite a long time.  I’ve seen a 30 person line before which took around 2-3 hours to get seated from the very back.  This place is CRAZY popular on the weekends around 1-2 AM.  If you want to experience it, best choose when you’ve been out all night around 8 AM or go for lunch because this shit is seriously crazy.  So crazy, in fact, they actually disconnected their phone because they got tired of answering how long the wait is.

Though the options look numerous, the best stuff is simple and straightforward.  We got a pan roast (also try the gumbo.  VERY good gumbo), white chowder, and my incorrigible colleague got a dozen oysters.  They can make the pan roast or gumbo as spicy as you like and the spice adds a LOT of flavor so feel free to order an 8 or a 9 if you’re feeling brave.  Fair warning, the chefs have different spice levels so some of them have a 6 that’s pretty mild and some have a 4 that can make your lips tingle.

I wanted to say the world’s first steampunk restaurant but I know that isn’t true.

One of the reasons this place takes so long is the way they make the food.  They have 6 steel pots that are heated by super high pressure steam systems.  They only have enough power to heat 3 of them and it takes a bit to clean them, so they can usually only make 3 pan roasts at a time. But damned if it ain’t worth it.  Trust me though, once you’re sitting and waiting on your food, it can feel like an eternity.

I suppose I should say something about the oysters.

They only taste about 60% as good as they look.

*sigh*

They’re fine.  They’re nothing to write home about.  Oysters that are too big get tough and have a really weird texture with the abductor muscle that isn’t readily apparent with smaller ones.  These were pretty big and kind of tough so I can’t really recommend spending $20 on a dozen of them.  But if you love oysters then splitting a dozen with friends before you get some pan roasts isn’t too bad an idea.

However, the chowder…

IT’S CHOWDAH.

This bowl was deceptively big, by the way.  A big bowl of delicious clam chowder full of seafood and made of what I think is probably the best broth I’ve had in a white chowder.  A lot of chowders skimp on the clams and go heavy on potatoes but this place has the ratio pretty perfect.  Great for someone who isn’t too hungry for a pan roast but wants something hot and delicious.  Or you can just get a cup of the chowder anyway.

UN-DIGRESS.

I’M BACK BITCHES

Combo Pan Roast.  Shrimp, Crab and Lobster. $24, but to most humans it’s enough to bring some home with you.  And may I just say that this might be the most reheatable dish I’ve ever had.  Even if you just have a microwave, this tastes just as good if not better the day after you get it here.  Soup is a wonderful thing.

$70 for two people at 4 AM on some random weekday.  Not the cheapest option available, but probably one of the best and you leave stuffed.  I’d say it’s close to a must try.  You get your money’s worth.

Address: Palace Station, 2411 W Sahara Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89102

Hours: 24/7

POP’S CHEESESTEAKS: Hop on Pop.

It’s a little disappointing that there aren’t more local places in town dedicated to good, regional American fare.  There are a lot of great ethnic restaurants in town but any places dabbling in American classics are generally in casinos and charge an arm and a leg.  One favorite, however, has a nice mainstay that very few seem to be aware of and it’s a place that knows its exact clientele: Pop’s Cheesesteaks.

What they lack in walls they make up for in anachronistic murals.

Pop’s is a place open 24/7 that serves cheesesteaks and fried things.  This is a good thing.  You can’t have a place like this that’s only open till 10 PM in a town where most nights out end when the sun is coming up.  In winter.  This place will never earn a Michelin star but for the price you get something freshly made right in front of you with classic ingredients made with love (and grunts) from the men working the grill.  This is a favorite hangout by the media team (SUP BJ) who work at the World Series of Poker and for good reason.  Good food doesn’t mean fine dining or ethnic or whatever.  Good food means it satisfies you and has you excited to come back.  I can’t speak to how this fares against the real Philly steak places but if you want something greasy and delicious at 3 AM, there aren’t many better places.

The only problem with this picture is the handwritten menu looks dangerously close to Comic Sans.

Specifically, I went for the cheesesteak with Whiz, peppers and onions and my compatriot opted for a chicken cheesesteak and some Whiz fries.  The fries are a little thick and nothing crazy but there’s something satisfying and nostalgic about gooey Cheese Whiz.  The chicken is more than just a health nut’s option, it’s actually just as good as the beef and probably a little lighter.

Two 3AM gutbombs coming right up.

All told, this isn’t a place to write home about. However, if you have a car and are coming from a night of partying, staying outside in the brisk desert air and eating some quality cheesesteaks is a good experience and a good one to cap off a night in Vegas.  All the above food and a few drinks were enjoyed for $25.

Address: 501 S Decatur Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89107

Phone: (702) 878-6444

Hours: 24/7

TABLE 10: Table harder.

Busting out of poker tournaments sucks.  Tasting menus make things suck less.  So after I lost some money I decided to go with a friend to dinner at Emeril’s more traditional restaurant Table 10.  The Emeril in front of this one looks fresh out of his hit 90’s tv show instead of the one being threatened beside Delmonico.

Look at that smug immortal bastard.
Look at that smug immortal bastard.

The ambiance of the restaurant is very relaxed, almost like a country club.  It’s a place you could have a business dinner or a place to go after a show.  It’s also a place they might be hiding Emeril’s fountain of youth because you DAMN WELL KNOW HE DOESN’T LOOK THAT GOOD NOW.

This was a true tasting menu where you get a few limited choices on what to order and they bring you small enough portions that you don’t overload by the time the meal is done.  Between the two of us, my friend and I ordered completely different items and shared because if you’re going to taste a menu, taste the whole menu.

First course, I ordered a Caesar and he ordered the Gumbo.  The Caesar was a weird mix between being nontraditional and traditional and I didn’t enjoy how it was mostly just one big piece of lettuce.  A butter knife doesn’t cut this leaf particularly well and the dressing wasn’t well incorporated.  I liked the crouton with the anchovy but probably would’ve preferred it if it were actually incorporated together the way a real Caesar is.

You don’t win friends with salad.
You don’t win friends with salad.

The Gumbo was Emeril’s classic that we had at Delmonico.  It’s very good, probably less chunky than I would like with no real big pieces of meat to speak of.  But the broth is extremely tasty and no complaints on flavor of the roux.

Gumbo is everyone’s friend.
Gumbo is everyone’s friend.

For the second course, I was very excited to order what they call the Mushroom “Vol au Vent” which is generally a pastry stuffed with meat.  The mushroom was very hearty and I didn’t really miss the meat at all (“LIAR!”).  The pastry was seriously unimpressive though and tasted like it had been sitting out for a long time, as if they made them all ahead of time and it had started to grow stale.  Instead of collapsing and being warm in the middle, they were a bit chewy and not in the good way.  Also, if you’re going to put microgreens on something, please actually put it on the food instead of leaving us to guess if we are supposed to eat it or not.

Hahaha no but seriously why aren’t these better.
Hahaha no but seriously why aren’t these better.

My friend Kevin spotted the candied bacon extremely fast and I was excited to see what they did with it.  I’m happy to report they actually just used some extremely high quality ingredients and let it shine.  We got 3 huge pieces of bacon steak, essentially, served with a very high quality maple syrup that makes me wish even more that I was born Canadian.  Definitely one of the best things we tried and I would gladly come back just for this.  Actually, for the price you can order it off the regular menu this might be a new thing for me.

[BACON JOKE #4752] [/BACON JOKE]
[BACON JOKE #4752] [/BACON JOKE]
For the mains, I decided to order the chicken with gnocchi and gravy and Kevin went for the arctic char with polenta.

It might have been the best chicken dish I have ever had in a restaurant.  Most places put 0 effort into their chicken because they know only super boring people order it, but they certainly poured their heart out onto this plate.  The gnocchi were perfectly made (though I am surprised to see it in such a restaurant because I don’t think they’re particularly Cajun) and the gravy was luscious.  The chicken had a super thick piece of crispy skin on top and the meat was surprisingly not overcooked.  I stay away from poultry for the most part because most places overcook it just to be on the safe side but this chicken was very moist and they avoided turning it into that chalky texture you get at grandma’s house during Thanksgiving.  A clear star.

This dish is the comic relief in a buddy cop movie.
This dish is the comic relief in a buddy cop movie.

Arctic char is a cool fish and very similar to salmon.  It’s sustainable which is pretty awesome and something I can give them extra points for, but this is one of the most bizarre dishes I’ve had in recent history.  A tiny piece of fish sitting in a very rich polenta surrounded by olives.  The olive aroma was in pretty much everything which for this particular dish was a complete turnoff.  Granted, I’m not a fan of just popping olives like candy anyway but I don’t see what they were going for here exactly.  The fish was well cooked and had crispy skin and the polenta was rich and tasty but I couldn’t take a single bite without tasting olive.  Also, that fish portion is seriously small.  It was probably 1/6 the amount of meat if not less than the chicken on the other plate and is significantly less satisfying.

They call it sustainable but this is ridiculous.
They call it sustainable but this is ridiculous.

Kevin ordered green beans.  Here’s a picture.

MORE LIKE HAS-BEENS HAHAHA I'LL SHOW MYSELF OUT
MORE LIKE HAS-BEENS HAHAHA I’LL SHOW MYSELF OUT

Emeril is apparently quite known for his Banana Creme Pie and I am a fan of pretentious french spelling of the word ‘cream.’ so I figured we had to pick that one.  I’m also a big fan of carrot cake and was very happy to find that it was the best carrot cake I’ve had in recent memory.  It came with candied pecans that offered a very nice crunch to go with the soft and moist cake which is always a pleasure to find in something that you expect isn’t going to have much texture contrast.  The banana cream pie was very solid but to be honest I think it suffered from having very large banana slices in it which offered a texture contrast that just wasn’t nearly as pleasure to experience.  The caramel on top was great though and I certainly wouldn’t complain about having this served to me at the end of any nice meal.  Both slices were huge though and I didn’t technically finish either one (Don’t believe Kevin, he’s a liar.)

And for dessert: diabetes. May I interest you in some coffee or insulin?
And for dessert: diabetes. May I interest you in some coffee or insulin?

There are a lot of great tasting menus around town that may run you well over $100 but tonight we enjoyed all the above dishes for the very fair price of $65 each after tax/tip.  If you’re ever at the Palazzo and want a meal that isn’t going to break the bank this is likely one of the better options.  I should bust out of poker tournaments more often.

Address: The Grand Canal Shoppes, 3327 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Phone: (702) 607-6363

Hours: Open daily · 11:00 am – 10:00 pm