Eating like a king in the plant kingdom
I recently made the mistake of telling a world-famous chef that I was a vegetarian. And for that I was rewarded with one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten. (Thank you, chef Masaharu Morimoto!) A plant-based diet has long been recognized for its health benefits, but here in Vegas, there’s more to it than that—the vegan dishes are just delicious. Since it is World Vegan Month, let’s explore some of the possibilities.
When you talk about vegan ranch, you’re not talking about some hot new property in the Nevada desert. It’s the dipping sauce for your truffle fries at Slice of Vegas (702.632.6470) in The Shoppes at Mandalay Place. And those fries accompany a meatball sub. Well, since it is Vegan Month—a vegan meatball sub.
That meatball sub was the first I’ve had in more than 20 years. It’s chock full of Gardein meatballs pepped up with Italian sausage-style spices like fennel and covered in marinara and Daiya mozzarella shreds. That’s just a couple of Slice of Vegas’ vegan items, which fill a full page on the menu. You can order whole pizzas and pasta, and customize the lot.
At Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort, Nacho Daddy (702.462.5000) serves up vegan chicken nachos. And these things rock! Gardein chick’n that’s marinated and grilled is layered with gorgeous chips, veggies and an incredible “cheese” sauce. It’s a little spicy, but not too much. And if you didn’t know better, you might think it’s meat—my meat-eating friends needed to be convinced it wasn’t. What else? Chick’n tacos, kale salad, guac, nachos without the “meat,” fajitas and, of course, chips and salsa. Nacho Daddy recently moved into this neat-looking space, which is accessed right off Harmon Avenue, making it easy to get to from the Strip. There’s even a valet nearby.
If you want to experience high-end dining, you have many options, such as the restaurants at Wynn and Encore (all have a vegan menu available) and Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar (702.364.5300) on Paradise Road, which recently introduced fall menu items such as mushroom risotto, chickpea mousse with chickpea fritters and sweet potato and chickpea gnocchi. Gnocchi—it’s just a beautiful thing.
For a really unusual experience, book a Boozy Brunch with Lip Smacking Foodie Tours (888.681.4388) and tell them you are vegan. This VIP tour starts in front of Aria and hits several restaurants inside, such as Herringbone, Bardot Brasserie and Lemongrass. And you get to skip the line, sail right in, and taste numerous dishes and drinks at each place. Lemongrass’ dim sum cart is phenomenal, and dessert is so inventive. Sticky rice with mango and shaved ice with jackfruit are super cool. The shaved ice “lid” flips open for the fruit underneath. I flipped pretty hard for this one!
One of the hardest things a vegan or vegetarian experiences is accompanying a meat-eating friend to a steakhouse. What’s nice about Vegas is that more and more of those places are offering vegan dishes that are far beyond a salad. At T-Bones Chophouse (702.797.7576) in Red Rock Resort, you’ll find a vegan tasting menu, with items like mushroom Rockefeller and cauliflower steak and “scallops.”
It’s true that Las Vegas does have plenty of carnivoristic experiences, but we also have incredibly inventive chefs. My best advice to a vegan visiting Vegas is to let the restaurant know. Amazingly, those chefs can often make a masterpiece on the fly. Who knows what kind of genius you’ll end up with on your plate?