Where is the best breakfast on the Strip?
I'm visiting in mid-September, staying at the Venetian. Where are the best breakfasts in the area? What are the must-sees for a four-day stay? What is the easiest way to get around?
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Lin, you packed a lot of questions into a single e-mail. Let me take these one at a time and see what kind of insight I have to give:
Best breakfasts on the Las Vegas Strip
When it comes to breakfast in Vegas, most people are looking for a meal that fits in one of three categories: a high-class start to the day, an eye-popping buffet or something that's simply cheap, filling and fast. The Venetian is in a great location for you to enjoy all three types of breakfasts.
Start right in your own hotel. One of the many dining options in the Venetian is a cafe called Bouchon. You can sit outdoors overlooking the pool and enjoy French-style breakfast fare. For a change of scenery, cross the Strip and head south just a bit. Inside Caesars Palace look for the Payard Bistro (part of the larger Payard Patisserie restaurant). Make yourself believe you're eating healthy by ordering a egg-white omelet, then load up on the pastries full of whipped cream and chocolate.
It's hard to beat the Le Village breakfast buffet at Paris. There are tons of selections, and the hotel takes a great deal of pride in the quality of the food they present. The cost is in the neighborhood of $20-$25 and well worth it. In fact, Paris gets my vote for best breakfast buffet in all of Las Vegas, and it's not really a close race.
Of course should you be in the mood for a seriously classy buffet splurge, try the weekly Sterling Brunch at Ballys. This is held each Sunday from 9:30am-2:30pm (1:30pm is the time for the last reservation) and is an exquisite meal of the free-flowing champagne, caviar and lobster sort. The price reflects that, by the way. It costs upwards of $80. Reservations, which can be made online, are very strongly recommended.
Other good breakfast buffet options on the mid- to high-end of the price and quality scale are Buffet Bellagio and The Buffet at the Wynn.
Cheap, filling and fast
If I'm being honest, this is the variety of breakfast I most often have. And in those cases I don't worry about restaurant title or buffet ratings, I just head to Casino Royale and order a Grand Slam meal from the Denny's inside. It's nothing to brag about, but the food comes quickly, the grease and coffee get me ready for the day, and I'm out in 30 minutes.
If Denny's isn't your thing, then consider Hash House A Go Go in The Quad (the hotel that was formerly known as "Imperial Palace") or the restaurant at Ellis Island. Prices at Hash House do creep up slightly over the "cheap" level, but only a little, and the food if perfect for starting the day. Ellis Island is a small casino near the MGM Grand and a little bit off the Strip. Not only are their breakfasts good, but they offer one of the best steak deals in town. Something to keep in mind for other meals.
What are the must-sees?
I'll start by recommending a "must-do" instead of a "must-see": Gamble. Do quite a bit of gambling. Even if you aren't an expert, learn some basics and wager some cash at the tables. That's what Las Vegas is built upon, after all. I have never understood how some people can visit and not place a single bet. That's like going to the prom and not hoping to feel up your date.
Once you've gotten your fill of gambling, here are some of my favorite things to see and do:
- Shark Reef in the Mandalay Bay
- Fine art exhibits in the Bellagio
- The fountain show outside the Bellagio
- The Stratosphere observation deck at night
If you want to enjoy a truly out-of-the-ordinary experience -- the kind of thing you'll love telling friends about -- take a day trip to the Grand Canyon. The full-day bus tour is better than driving yourself, but if you have the budget, the very best way to tour the canyon is in a helicopter
What is the easiest way to get around?
Some brochures recommend taking the city bus up and down the Strip, or from the Strip to Downtown. They say it's reliable and cheap. They're right about that, but it's also slow as all get out and you may have to share seating space with a semi-deranged street-dweller who's not too current with his hygiene regimen. Go ahead and pay a little extra money to ride the monorail if you find your feet too tired for another walk on the Strip or catch a cab. It'll cost more, but the convenience is worth it.
NOTE: Always take a taxi from the Strip to the Stratosphere or Downtown. Downtown is much too far away for walking (and the bus ride is slower than Simple Jack) and the area between the Strip and the Strat is not a good neighborhood.