great bao – las vegas, nv

For our final meal in Vegas, I wanted to go somewhere a little off the beaten path – at least, off of the beaten Strip path. After we checked out of the hotel and got everything together, we headed over to this little strip mall just a couple of miles away from the Las Vegas Strip.

To a beauty salon.

[Great Bao Cafe is inside – there’s food beyond these doors, promise!]

My cohorts were pretty skeptical about this one. Food inside of a beauty salon? Is that even healthy?

The fact that it’s in a beauty salon just intrigued me more. I love weird, quirky places and this totally fit the bill! I ignored their weird looks and trusted my gut that this place would be awesome. Luckily my friends trust me as well and I heard no protests.

[Great Bao Cafe]

The owner/chef has got his little corner in the beauty salon, complete with tiled roof and little string of lanterns. I was already in love with this place.

The owner is originally from Los Angeles and made his way out east to Vegas (I think because his wife is from Vegas – but don’t quote me on that). He originally had a food truck, but set up shop here after seeing a place for rent in Craigslist. I swear, you can find just about anything on Craiglist! Used TV’s, free chairs, moving boxes, boyfriends, and apparently, places to rent so you can make and sell your little steamed bun sandwiches.

[Great Bao Menu]

The menu here is pretty simple. All of the sandwiches are made with bao which uses similar ingredients to bread, but the bao is steamed, giving it a soft, chewy consistency. There are five different fillings for the Bao (one of them, the pulled pork, isn’t up on the menu). There are smoothies and salads plus cold and hot drinks. The best deal – the deal that all of us got – was three bao + a drink for $10. For an extra fee, you can upgrade to a smoothie.

All of us got iced tea as our drink of choice. The really nice thing about that was we could have it sweetened how we wanted it. Laura got it unsweetened, I got it slightly sweet, and Jake and Chris both got it sweet.

There was a bit of wait for our sandwiches – but that was totally understandable, seeing as this was a one man job that day. We waited outside for our food since it was about the only place where all four of us could sit together. There are two very small two seater tables inside and two tables outside.

[Bao sandwiches on a cutting board]

Everyone got a little cutting board with their bao sandwiches on it. I choose the duck, chicken and pork belly sandwiches.

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top of the world at stratosphere – las vegas, nv

At the top of the Stratosphere hotel in Las Vegas, there’s a restaurant called “The Top of the World”. It rotates very slowly around the top, giving you a tip-top view of the entire city in just over an hour. We got there right before the sun started to set and were able to see the Strip go from day to night in the span of a couple of hours. It was breathtaking!

We started out on the Strip side when we sat down – this was our view from the table.

There are signs up warning diners about possible skyjumpers – just so you don’t freak out as they jump off the edge while you’re dining. We happened to see a few but I wasn’t able to get a shot of any of them jumping!

The view really is just right there in front of you. It’s hard to tell that you’re even moving since it rotates so slowly. It’s subtle. And awesome!

Jake’s pointing out Fremont street in Downtown Vegas, right after the sunset.

[Bread Basket]

We were given a basket of breads to start off with. There was a large Parmesan crisp, and a variety of bread rolls.

[Flavored butters]

We were also given some flavored butters to go with our breads. The one in the back with the sprinkle of green color in it was an herb and garlic flavored butter. The orange one in the front had a ginger flavor to it and I believe the last one was plain. There were four of us at the table (Jake, Chris, Laura and I) so we got two plates of the butters to share. I honed in on the herb/garlic butter and used as much of that one as possible. I didn’t dig the ginger butter quite as much. It had a bit of a tart flavor, but it was fun to try.

[Corn and Plantain Soup – $11]

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sugar factory american brasserie – las vegas, nv

The Sugar Factory American Brasserie actually wasn’t on my “to-eat” list for Vegas. I had wanted to go to a burger place but I saw an ad and a coupon for the Sugar Factory and my interest instantly peaked at the words “Sugar” and “Factory”. I guess I really do have an insane sweet tooth.

There are multiple locations of the Sugar Factory shop on the Strip, but only one restaurant – which is open 24 hours a day and located inside of Paris Las Vegas.

After looking over the menu, I was convinced enough to convince everyone else that this was where we should go for breakfast the next day.

And we did the “share all of our food” thing again. It worked really well. I always want to get the sweet stuff for breakfast but I usually get quickly overwhelmed by the same sweet flavors. Jake and I usually share a savory dish and a sweet dish to balance out all of the flavors.

[Blueberry Pancakes – blueberry compote, powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla bean sauce – $12]

Laura choose the Blueberry Pancakes, covering us for the “sweet” part of our breakfast. These pancakes are HUGE and you get a stack of three of them. I found that I didn’t even need to add any maple syrup to these babies since they were sufficiently sweet with the rich blueberry compote. The pancakes were very fluffy and delicious.

I wonder how they get that pretty edge to them? Do they have a giant pancake mold?

The vanilla bean sauce that was on the side was also very good and gave another hint of flavor to the pancakes. These are definitely sharing-size pancakes.

[Ham & Cheese Croissant Sandwich – cheddar cheese, black forest ham with home fries – $14]

Chris ordered the ham and cheese croissant and split it into four neat little pieces for all of us. I mostly just ate the croissant because I’m a weird girl who doesn’t like ham that much. The croissant was buttery and flaky though, just the way a good croissant should be. Jake and Chris loved the sandwich, ham lovers that they are.

[Open Face Fried Egg Sandwich – two fried eggs, cheddar cheese, english muffin, canadian bacon, skinny fries and country gravy – $15]

I ordered this. Something about it just sounded terribly intriguing to me. It kind of reminds me of our carne asada fries, but this is like a breakfast version with country gravy instead. I loved it! It helped that I only ate a quarter of it so I didn’t sick of it, too. The Canadian bacon adds a nice bit of saltiness along with the crispy fries and the country gravy helps pull it all together. There could have been more gravy (Jake certainly thought so) but still a unique dish.

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max brenner – las vegas, nv

I went on vacation last week! For the whole week! Man, it was awesome. Getting back to work and reality is kind of a bummer this week. But I get to relive it a little bit with my food recap posts. Score. For our Vegas trip we had four of us tagging along – myself, Jake, Chris and Laura.

I had read a few other blogger’s posts about visiting Max Brenner in Las Vegas – a restaurant that also has a chocolate shop within it and a separate “Chocolate Menu”. I couldn’t resist.

[Really Cheesy-Really Crunchy Mac & Cheese – 5 cheese blend with tomatoes and smoked applewood bacon – $15.25]

I got to pick a couple of dishes because my friends are cool like that and trust my judgement. I got consensus though. We shared all of our dishes so it was like we all shared a mini buffet together – but this way the food was fresh and a bit more interesting that the items you’d get at the buffet.

One of the dishes we started off with was this Mac & Cheese dish – it is true to its name in that it was pretty crunchy. It’s not really a very saucy or creamy mac and cheese but still quite good on it’s own. The top got very crisp and crunchy, lending a nice texture to the dish. I prefer a little creamier mac and cheese, but I still loved the crunch on this one and the blend of cheeses was quite nice.

[Asian Chicken and Soba Noodle Salad – veggies, wontons and sesame peanut dressing – $14.50]

I also picked a salad to lighten up the meal since mac & cheese can be heavy at times. This Asian Chicken and Soba Noodle Salad really hit the spot and surprised all of us at how good it was. It was a nice, light, refreshing salad that had a lot of textures and flavors going on – the mint gave it a good flavor, the soba noodles were delicious and the crunch from the veggies, peanuts and wonton noodles really made this salad come together. We cleaned up that dish pretty quickly and it ended up being one of our favorite items.

[Molly’s White Corn Croquettes – white corn & manchego cheese ball in panko bread crumbs – individual portion – $6.95]

I was intrigued by the description of these white corn croquettes and decided on getting the smaller sized portion. It turned out to be perfect since it came with four little croquettes – one for each of us! These croquettes are lightly fried with a creamy, cheesy inside. The white corn adds a bit of sweetness to the bite while the cheese oozes out. It’s a flavorful, crunchy little bite!

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