Sunday, December 27, 2009

24 Hours in Las Vegas

(This post was originally going to be called 24 Hours in LV, but I remembered Coolio made that porno ten years ago. It won 37 AVN awards.)

"My flight's in 15 minutes."
"You'll be fine."

I was standing within spitting distance of the security metal detector, watching as five of America's finest TSA officers staried at the X-ray screen, trying to figure out the contents of a bag. Seriously, this was taking minutes.

"Can't you pull the bag aside and open it up?"
"Quiet sir."
"But my flight's in ten minutes."
"You'll be fine."

Through the metal detector, I grab my bags, run to the gate, and: doors closed.

"Can I still get on the plane?"
"No, the doors are closed."
"Don't you page passengers as a courtesy so they can get through security?"
"I didn't hear it."
"You can't hear it in the security area."

Luckily LAX to LAS is a frequent flight so they got me on another one in about an hour. Not so bad--but the lack of efficiency and general myopeia of the GED-wielding TSA team was distressing.

I've never been to Las Vegas before, an assertion that is inevitably followed by an incredulous "You've never been to Vegas?" to which I respond "Nope." Usually that ends it, but sometimes it's followed by "Really?" and capped with "Really."

The shuttle from the airport to the Strip is only $7, which would prove to be the only cheap thing in Las Vegas. My previous gambling foyers having involved Reno and Tahoe, locations almost criminally cheap, the LV sticker shock was intense.

I met up with my traveling team at the Bellagio's Sports Book for a cocktail and a lament that Michael Mina was closed on Wednesday, the only day we were in town. We hopped a cab to the Hard Rock because we thought we were seeing a concert there. Turns out the concert was back at the Mandalay and we're retarded. But at least we got to have lunch at the Pink Taco, a restaurant whose name I found amusingly titillating when it first opened and I was in high school but now it's just wearisome with its faux-scandalous schoolyard snicker-inducing name. Also, three orders of carnitas and a pitcher of margaritas for $80? Christ. The carnitas were really bland. Homemade tortillas were good though.

And here's where we almost made our second fuck up of the trip--apparently the concert (Dethklok and Mastodon)--started at 5PM.

Yup, a death metal show in Las Vegas at 5PM. Back in the cab.

Given that this is a food blog I'll forego many details about the show other than it was epic and we were the only guys in the crowd not wearing black and/or a neck beard. Also, if you tip your bartender well the first time at the House of Blues you quickly get her attention on subsequent bar trips.

In what was another first for the world, after our head-banging death metal-a-thon we went for a late dinner at Aureole. A 5PM concert has its advantages.

Every one of the destination restaurants on the Strip were doing 3-course $50 prix fixe dinners so it was a no brainer, even if all these proxy versions of their NY/LA/SF originals are second-tier facsimiles--like the third or fourth iteration of Michael Keaton in Multiplicity.

Aureole is known for its epic thousand bottle wine list and its vertical wine storage skyscraper from which bottles are retrieved by wire-suspended "wine angels." The list is presented on a tablet PC which allowed for pretty quick searching and sorting by varietal, region, and/or price. When the Pinot Noirs all proved too pricey I quickly found a Beaujolais that was perfect.

The food was good but unmemorable, not really worth the price tag--even as a prix fixe. Clearly this wasn't going to be a showcase of the best they offer but it also shouldn't be an afterthought. This meal leaned toward afterthought.

As we waited at the Mandalay's cab stand, the attendant asked if we wanted to go to a strip club. As much as I appreciated the profiling (three drunk white 20-somethings), we declined and hopped a cab back to the Hard Rock (we were staying across the street). After an attempt at finding a cheaper than $10 blackjack table we gave up on gambling and crashed hard at our hotel.

Our flight out was at mid-day which gave us pretty limited lunch options and we made what would be our third and final mistake of the trip by hitting up the Hofbrauhaus. That's right, Munich's venerable tourist-trap has gone global. The only thing that kept the lunch from being a total mess was our very cute, very world-weary dirndl-sporting waitress who kept trying to get us to buy shots of Jaegermeister. The selling point? The shots come served on a paddle which she then spanks us with as a reward for our drinking, a popular activity amongst the Electors of Bavaria. We passed. My pork schnitzel was giant and greasy and the advertised "vegetable side" consisted of a single carrot slice, a solitary wedge of tomato, and one lone sprig of parsley. Inexplicably our food took 30+ minutes to get to our table, despite being the only three people in the restaurant.

After shelling out another seventy bucks for a mediocre meal, our last cab of the trip awaited. As an aside, every cabbie in Las Vegas is a late middle-aged white guy who speaks English and actually knows his way around the city. I've never experienced this with a taxi before.

We parted ways at the airport (after easily breezing through security--I swear LAS has as many security officers as LAX for a quarter of the traffic) and made the 45-minute journey home.

I'll have to give Vegas another (longer) chance--though I'm not sure how I'd afford it--but my first impression was pretty unfavorable. Since I can eat at the better versions of any Las Vegas restaurant in either SF or LA, I'd rather do my drinking and gambling in Reno where I'd have just as much fun for half the price.

1 comment:

Kenny said...

Pink Taco = stupid name + terrible food