Last weekend Jake and I took a little trip to Las Vegas. We took Friday off so we could head up and enjoy a full weekend in Las Vegas. I tried the “$20 Trick” at our hotel, too! More on that later. First… Venezuelan food from a little spot called Viva las Arepas.
Viva las Arepas is located just north of the Stratsophere hotel (can you see it peeking through in the upper left corner?) in a little strip mall. It was about 1PM on Friday afternoon and the place was pretty empty.
A warm and welcoming environment invite you inside with lots of bright colors.
There’s plenty of indoor seating as well as a nice outdoor patio (which is where we sat).
I spied them using a fresh batch of dough in the kitchen! Always a good sign!
Here’s the menu for Viva las Arepas but the prices on this menu are incorrect. I believe this is an older flyer. If you check out the menu on their website, it has the updated pricing available. There are lots of photos of the menu items posted all around the interior walls of the restaurant so you can see what things look like before you order them.
Our Venezuelan lunch that Jake and I shared. The food was brought out to us by the nice guy at the register.
He also brought out two sauces for us: one hot sauce and one cilantro garlic mayo. The cilantro garlic mayo sauce didn’t sound very appealing to us at first since we thought it would be really heavy on the mayo, but it turned out to be incredibly delicious. Like “I’m going to try to remake that at home” delicious!
[cachapas – fresh corn made with cheese / $6]
The cachapa was filled with gooey, stringy cheese that was sort of like mozzarella cheese. There were bits of fresh corn throughout the dough. It’s grilled and served hot and fresh.
Jake took one bite of this and fell in love with it. He gave me a bit and I was in cheesy heaven! I loved the flavor of the fresh corn – it was almost cornbread-like in flavor. We tentatively used the cilantro garlic mayo sauce at first and then once we discovered how GOOD it was we poured it over EVERYTHING. I made a little mix of the mayo sauce with the hot sauce for a flavorful burst to this delicious snack.
[black bean + cheese empanada and shredded chicken empanada / $3 each]
At Viva las Arepas they had empanadas (made with corn flour) and pastelitos (made with wheat flour). We chose two empanadas and one pastelito to try (at first). The empanadas were not quite like other empanadas I’ve seen.
The empanadas are fried and stuffed with different ingredients. On the left is a black bean and cheese filled empanada and on the right is a shredded chicken empanada. Both are fried and come in a half moon shape. The dough/crust is a bit thinner and the outside is crisp but the dough is also a bit chewy. The texture reminded me a little bit of the dim sum treat called “ham sui gok” – the ones that look like meat filled footballs. These were a little less chewy though and packed with different flavors. I preferred the chicken one which was stuffed full of flavorful chicken.
[tequenos pastelito (homemade cheese stick) / $2.50]
Jake knew I’d want this… a homemade cheese stick?! Uhh… yes, please. I was a bit surprised to see that the cheese didn’t seem to melt at all and was still in a solid block shape even though the whole stick had gone for a dip in the fryer. Jake commented it was kind of similar in flavor and style to a corn dog… you know, if the corn dog had been filled with cheese.
[wood fired beef arepa / $5.50]
We also tried one arepa filled with wood fired beef. There are stacks of mesquite wood in a hallway of their restaurant and they use that wood to cook their beef and chicken. They even have pork ribs available!
The arepa looked a bit like a pita pocket split open and stuffed with meat. There are also tomatoes and lettuce under all of that meat. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten this with cheese.
The beef was very flavorful and we also ended up drenching this in that wonderful cilantro garlic mayo. The sauce made it taste a heck of lot better since I felt it needed something a little “saucy” to dress it up. The arepa bread had a crunchy exterior and a fluffy soft interior – I loved it!
[fried pastelitos / $3 each]
We had finished our other food and while Jake was chatting it up with some folks he started talking to (this happens all of the time), I decided to duck back inside and order the other two pastelitos they had on their menu. After a few minutes I got our two fried patelitos that we had for dessert.
[coconut cheese pastelito]
They were both served PIPING HOT and I had to wait a minute to take a bite. The first one was filled with stringy coconut and cheese. It was quite sweet and I personally didn’t enjoy eating hot coconut. Jake liked this one better of the two but I didn’t really dig the texture of it. It was also the greasier one of the two.
[guava and cheese pastelito]
I thought it was a little weird that this just had blocks of guava and cheese stuffed inside but eating them together was pretty pleasant. The outer crunchy crust tasted nice with the hot fruit and cheese. I actually thought these would be served cold and baked – so I was surprised they were also fried! Nice little dessert though I think I’d just stick with the savory items.
Jake and I both agreed at the end of our trip that this was our favorite meal. We loved that cachapas filled with cheese and thought everything was so fresh and flavorful. This will definitely be a “go to” stop for future Vegas trips!
Viva las Arepas
1616 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Suite 130
Las Vegas, NV 89104
The $20 Trick in Las Vegas | SLS Las Vegas
Our lunch spot at Viva las Arepas was the perfect spot since it was only a few blocks from our hotel the SLS Las Vegas. The SLS is located where the Sahara hotel used to be. They used the same structure/skeleton from the old hotel and casino and just redid the entire interior. It felt like a very chic boutique hotel and casino.
I had read about the “$20 Trick” online when doing a little Vegas research. The $20 trick, if it works, is to help you get an upgraded room. Lots of tips and tricks suggest that there’s no harm in trying it as if there are no upgrades available, the clerk will usually give your money back to you. This is supposed to be a “down low” secret and you try to do it away from manager prying eyes. You stick a $20 bill in between your ID and credit card, hand it to the clerk when you check in and ask for any “complimentary upgrades”. The trick is to say “complimentary upgrades” so they know you don’t want to pay for the upgrade.
I got my setup all ready so I wouldn’t lose my nerve and as soon as a front desk clerk was free, I stepped right up, smiled and handed him my ID, card, and the $20 bill and politely asked if any complimentary upgrades were available. He looked at my ID, card, and his eyes lit up at the $20 bill and he quickly smiled and said, “Thank you!” He began to check us in and then checked to see if any upgraded rooms were available and yes, we got an upgraded room! He moved us from the “Story Tower” to the “World Tower” and put us up on the 26th floor. SCORE IT WORKED!
I checked later and found that the World Tower rooms are about $20-$25 more per night that our original Story Tower room. It was a king sized bed and was quite posh and cozy.
Our favorite part was the view! We weren’t on the Strip side but had a view facing the mountains and outer city limits which was totally fine with us. Here’s the view in the day time facing the Westgate casino.
And here’s the view at night which goes way off into the distance. Jake and I spent a lot of time gazing at the twinkling lights and just watching the world go by.
There were these two giant mirrors on both sides of the room that lit up when you pressed a button. Inception photo!
There was a nice large TV and this funky desk that had a skewed collage on top. The skewed thing on top bugged me. I wanted to straighten it out the whole time.
There was a nice shower with a rainhead faucet that I loved. Jake was a little sad there wasn’t a tub, especially when we later found out there was also no jacuzzi (cue sad trumpets).
The “one glove” art work was a little oddball but otherwise I loved the chic feel of everything.
And I loved the products!
I was especially enamored of the bottles of shampoo, condition, and body wash. Nice, fuller sized products and none of that “2-in-1” shampoo crap. We were quite pleased with our room and upgrade and would definitely recommend trying the “$20 trick” the next time you’re in Vegas!
Got a few more Vegas posts up my sleeve for this week so stay tuned to see what other “off-strip” places we tried!
SLS Las Vegas
2535 S Las Vegas Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89109