Monday, August 8, 2011

Vegan in Vegas!

I know "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas," but I feel like I should share our sins in hope that this confession helps other vegans to remain more devout than we did.

We went into "quasi-vegan" mode while celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary in Vegas, as we had not found enough restaurants to sustain a completely vegan diet before we arrived. However, by the time our vacation was over, we had discovered some pretty decent options! Hopefully, this will help you plan a little better and be less "quasi-" and more "vegan" while you're living it up in Vegas!

Johnny Rocket's was in the Fashion Show Mall food court and in either the Flamingo or the Harrah's - can't remember which. They serve a Boca burger, so that was good. We had Penne Pomodoro at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Ceasar's Palace Forum Shops. Max Brenner's (also in the Forum Shops) has a pretty amazing veggie burger - a little soft, but quite tasty - plus, it's served with wonderful waffle fries that are dusted with chili and cocoa powders! Maybe you'll be better than me at resisting the temptation of all the (non-vegan) chocolate that surrounds you! We had Starbuck's oatmeal for breakfast on most mornings since it was conveniently located in the lobby of our hotel, the T.I. (that's Treasure Island for all the un-hip, old folks like me!). There is a Chipotle located right on the strip - somewhere between T.I. and the Harrah's. We didn't eat there, but had our eye on it as an option if we needed it. We did eat at the Luxor buffet, MORE, twice (we had dining tickets) - once for breakfast and once for lunch. They had a very nice salad and fruit bar and a few other good options. Just resist the urge to get your money's worth - at $18 a pop, it's never gonna happen!

On our anniversary, for lunch, we were pleased as punch to find the Red Velvet Cafe and Bakery inside The Fashion Show Mall. It was small but offered some really great vegan options (along with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options)! I had the best taco salad I've ever had while Kenny enjoyed a chick'n panini. We grabbed individual cakes to be eaten later since we were so full after this meal. Kenny chose the Peanut Butter Fudge cake and I chose the Raspberry Lemon cake. Very good! I believe there is another location in Vegas, but I don't recall where that one is. Our lunch, including 2 fresh strawberry lemonades, 2 entrees, and 2 individual sized cakes (that, really, were big enough for two to share) plus 20% gratuity was a little over $50.00, so it's not exactly a cheap lunch spot. But, it was good!! The entrees were actually pretty decently priced, it was the drinks and desserts that really got us! We should have shared one lemonade and one cake!

All the fine dining restaurants (12 in Vegas to-date) inside the Wynn and Encore Hotels (owned by vegan, Steve Wynn) have full vegan menus available! I called ahead and they were more than happy to email all the menus to me! They have just about everything you could want: Japanese, country club fare, Italian, Mexican, Chinese...(make reservations online in advance!).

For our anniversary dinner, we chose Sinatra's located in the Encore Hotel/Casino . It was FABULOUS! I just can't say enough about it! The food was so amazing! The service was 10-star; they took so much care in making sure everything from the bread and butter to the dessert was vegan, and going out of their way to get us exactly what we wanted!! Also, they played Frank Sinatra music in the background - what more could you ask for?!

Now, as mentioned, these are "fine dining" establishments, so expect the prices to be in the $$$ range. Our ticket, including 2 drinks, 2 appetizers, and 2 entrees (the dessert was complimentary) plus 20% gratuity, came to over $160.00. We don't splurge often, but we always chose something really nice for our anniversary dinner, and this didn't disappoint - it was worth every penny!

A kind stranger took our picture before dinner.

My handsome husband and his beautiful, delicious salad. I can't remember what it was called and it's not listed on the version of the menu that I was emailed. But, it was a mix of large chunks of two varieties of tomato, slices of avocado, black olives, and cucumber with a balsamic vinaigrette drizzled and coarse sea salt sprinkled over the top. I tasted it and loved it! A surprise since I typically hate to even smell, let alone taste, balsamic vinaigrette! We vow to try and reproduce this dish! I'm thinking the key is to get a superior balsamic vinegar.

I think I look sort of pretty and sort of drunk in this picture. I hadn't had anything to drink yet - see my glass is full! - I think maybe I was just really tired and therefore my posture suffered? Wonder what I looked like AFTER that drink! Sheesh! It was so dee-lish...a Raspberry Limoncello Martini. It was garnished with a dried raspberry floating on top. I let it soak the whole dinner while I nursed this drink, and at the end of the meal, Kenny popped it in his mouth - he says it was amazing!

My chilled tomato soup was surprisingly good! It tasted like raw tomatoes rather than pureed cooked tomatoes - not a traditional tomato soup served cool, but a cold, fresh-tasting tomato soup! It had a swirl of basil-infused olive oil which really took the dish to a whole new level!

Kenny had the Pennette (Gardein Italian sausage, bell pepper, sweet onion, tomato, and fresh basil over penne pasta), and I had the Gardein Parmigiana (two large Gardein Chik'n cutlets, smothered in vegan mozzarella, bathing in pomodoro sauce, and accompanied by a perfectly al dente spaghetti). They were both so great and such huge portions. Sorry, no pics - I guess we were too excited to eat!

When the server found out it was our anniversary, she threw a fit that we didn't tell her earlier. We had already stuffed ourselves silly and passed on dessert (we bought vegan cakes earlier - see above - to be our dessert for the evening). Kenny was actually signing the credit card slip when she insisted on bringing us "something special". Coconut gelato on a bed of fresh berries with a passion fruit consomme - HOLY COW! I was shocked that something so simple could be so delicious! And, of course, it was all vegan!! What a wonderful ending to a wonderful dining experience!

And then we waddled back to our hotel....

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