A friend of mine told me about this gaming bar that had a late night happy hour food special: $5 skirt steaks. I was skeptical because gaming bars usually have fine but usually overpriced food, but that seemed like a great deal, and 3 years later I’m still eating at Sporting Life once a week.
The menu here was designed by a former chef of Bouchon Bistro at the Venetian, a Thomas Keller restaurant. He left a year or two ago to work elsewhere but his menu lingers and it’s extremely well rounded and satisfying. There are not many entrees that disappoint.
Everyone has one of those foods that other people aren’t that into for whatever reason, but dollar for dollar the steak sandwich at Sporting Life is my favorite sandwich of all time. It’s the ultimate comfort food for me. They even started carrying sweet potato fries at my request, and the two go together so well it’s crazy. When it’s cold outside and I’m not feeling especially social, being able to sit down and enjoy this absolutely delicious plate of food is so bizarre when compared to the normal depressing experience at most gaming bars.
This isn’t a place that’s going to win any awards, but PSYCH, OH YES IT IS. It actually won Best New Restaurant AND Best Bar Food by the LV Weekly the year it opened. If you’re looking for classic American comfort food done well and for a good price, you’re home.
(PS, if you tell them Jimmy sent you, they’ll let you order some of my sweet potato fries. And tell Neal hi for me.)
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.
This place makes a bomb-ass pan roast. What is a pan roast you might ask?
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.
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.
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’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…
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.
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
When someone mentioned to me there was a really good restaurant in the strip mall that Lotus of Siam is in, my immediate thought was “Yes. It’s called Lotus of Siam.” I was hesitant to go eat what they told me is food from the UK, something that even people who live in the UK generally pretty much agree is not good. I was very happy to find that the Cornish Pasty Co is not only NOT from the UK (they are based in Phoenix with this being their first location outside of Arizona), but that it instantly jumped in my rotation for awesome cheap eats around town.
A pasty is a kind of pastry (I actually thought it was a typo and they forgot the R) that miners used to eat with a crimped edge so they could eat it and throw away the edge without having to clean their hands. I choose to use a knife and fork but if you want a truly authentic dining experience I suppose you can leave the car garage you work in to come have dinner without washing up first.
Jokes aside, they know their pasties. Check out their menu here. They have a whole section of vegetarian pasties and two sections of meat filled pasties, one traditional english style and another borrowing flavors.
Pasties aside, the place is a very chill pub. I organize a bimonthly food meetup (read more about it here), and this was the spot chosen for this week. It’s a good way to meet people and try good new places around town. One of the meetup crew this week (FOOD BLOG SHOUTOUT TO JOHN S) ordered a huge 34 oz cider which he said was likely the biggest one he’s ever had. They have a huge selection of imported beer, though they seemed to be out of more than a few of them. We also ordered some pretty good oven baked garlic chips, which would be a small portion if they weren’t also insanely inexpensive.
As for the pasties themselves, they were unfortunately also out of the salmon pasty that I’ve come to enjoy so I went for the Philly Cheesesteak. Also ordered was the Chicken Tikka. Each pasty comes with its own sauce ramekin which is actually extremely well done. Everything here tastes homemade, so if they are fooling me it is not easy to puzzle out. Each pasty is only $9 and you can actually buy parbaked ones for $6 to take home with you to finish baking at a later time, which is pretty great for a single dude who hates cooking for just one person. In terms of flavor, the pasties delivered. They tasted exactly as advertised with a nice pastry crust that was just thin enough to hold everything in and not make the dish overly heavy. They’re cut in half so it’s easy to share, and the Tikka Masala one had a nice kick but nothing that the grand majority of people can’t handle. If you were to ask me what a Philly Cheesesteak cooked in a pastry shell would taste like, this is a pretty apt demonstration of that description. For the price, it’s really hard to beat it.
I’m generally not a person who loves his sweets but this place has really amazing desserts. They have a bunch of choices but I absolutely love a well done bread pudding. This one is baked for a little bit to give it a crunchy crust and they serve it with homemade creme anglaise or vanilla ice cream. Spoiler: food coma.
4 people each getting a pasty, a few shared appetizers, several large booze containers, (DON’T FORGET THE OXFORD COMMA) and an incredible dessert came to $83 pretip. Hot damn.
All in all, this is a HUGE hidden gem. It’s open until midnight and the only obstacle to me not going here more is because it’s a little out of the way, being just northeast of the strip in a not so great strip mall. But for price (even double the price), it’s a great local spot I look forward to revisiting often.
JIMMY’S NOTE: Cornish Pasty Co has moved to a new address with later hours. The new place is beautiful and the food is still great!
Address: 10 E Charleston Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89104