When I was a kid, most of our family vacations were to Las Vegas. My folks loved the downtown area, and it was perfectly safe and acceptable for one teen (my brother) and one pre-teen (me) to stand by the casino entrances while their parents fed nickels, dimes and quarters into slot machines a few feet away inside.
Like so many visiting Californians, we’d arrive on Friday night (following dinner at the Bun Boy in the desert outpost of Baker), and leave on Sunday morning — but not before partaking of one of the casino’s buffet brunches. The typical price: $1.99, all you could eat.
That was Old Vegas, and it has been gone for a long time.
While the downtown area still exists and has been undergoing extensive urban renewal, most of the brunch action has shifted to the Strip and the suburbs. In the New Vegas, brunch isn’t about cheap eats; it’s about gourmet fare, a wide selection and, in several cases, some pretty good wine.
Here are five Las Vegas brunch destinations for oenophiles…
- Bardot Brasserie — Some are saying that this is the best new restaurant in Las Vegas, so it’s no surprise that its brunch is stellar. Picture eggs Benedict made with Swiss chard or smoked salmon, atop a croissant… or a king crab buckwheat crepe bathed in beurre blanc. And for an extra $20, you can drink all the French rosé your heart desires. At the Aria resort. 702-590-8638.
- Fountains Brunch at Jasmine — Most Vegas visitors hit this brunch for the view of the Bellagio fountains. While that view is awesome, so is the food, including seafood flown in fresh, dim sum options and a chocolate fountain. It’s made all the more sublime with a glass of bubbly. 702-693-8865.
- Jazz Brunch at the Country Club — At this Wynn resort restaurant, the views are of the golf course, and the palate-pleasing options include ultra-fresh smoked salmon, an amazing seafood ceviche, and sausages so good they’re served at a carving station. Add in boundless bubbles, and it’s impossible to leave this brunch without a smile on your face. 877-321-9966.
- Marche Bacchus — While tourists jam the Strip hotels to get their brunch fixes, locals head here, part of the lakeside Desert Shores development. Crab and asparagus Benedict is an inspired dish, as is the lobster salad croissant. What locals also know is that when you “do brunch at Bacchus” on Saturdays, free wine tastings are part of the deal. 702-804-8008.
- Sterling Brunch at BLT Steak — Back on the Strip, this is a true Las Vegas classic.
Bally’s Steak House closed last year, then was remodeled and given a new identity: BLT Steak. The old Sterling Brunch was so good that Vegas residents were willing to fight the tourist crowds in order to partake of the lobster, cognac and Boursin omelet, accompanied by “bottomless” (a term that means something else at some other Vegas places of business) Perrier-Jouet Champagne. Well, those old mainstays are back, making the Sterling Brunch a true “destination meal.” 702-967-7999.
As mentioned, crowds can be frustrating at some Las Vegas brunches, but here’s a tasty and fun alternative to that scene: It’s back downtown, in the new Container Park complex, which is home to a wine-focused spot called Bin 702.
There, the specialties of the house, food-wise, are the montaditos — Spanish mini-sandwiches that could be considered tapas, only with no fork necessary. Choices range from a simple turkey and Brie with apricot jam, to triple-crème Saint-Andre cheese and salty bresaola — each served on a 4-inch roll.
A nice selection of wines by the glass means patrons can try lots of flavor combinations. Even better, the montaditos cost just $2.25 each, or six for $12.
I have a feeling my folks would have loved this place — a short stroll from the slots at the El Cortez Casino. 702-826-2702.