7.22.2016

O.M.G.

O.M.G. at LVB Burgers & Bar
B-
So we popped into LVB (the burger bar that has replaced BLT Burger at the Mirage hotel-casino on the Vegas Strip) in its very early days to check out the goods. Why make the trip to the Strip just to eat a pricey burg? Because chef Michael LaPlaca (from Mirage's stellar Portofino Italian restaurant) designed this menu, and he's one of our favorites. So of course we had to get the weirdest burger on that menu: the O.M.G. (which apparently stands for Oh My Gosh) is founded on a ground duck patty stuffed with Muenster cheese and topped with heirloom tomato, watercress, smoked ketchup and roasted duck mayo. Note the quality sesame seed bun, too. So can you actually taste all this funky duck flavors? Pretty much. It's really rich and will fill you up faster than the average burger, and there's a lot of cheese. These aren't bad things. The tomato and ketchup bring some fresh flavors into the mix, but they don't really lighten it up. Is this an indicator that we'll be back to LVB? Yes.

Secret Sunday Chicken

Secret Sunday Chicken at Carson Kitchen
B+
Here's a not-so-secret secret: The people behind Carson Kitchen, arguably the best and most cool restaurant in downtown Las Vegas, are opening a new restaurant out in Henderson this summer. We are excited about that. Similarly, this fabulous fried chicken sandwich at Carson Kitchen is not really a secret, despite its name, and it certainly isn't surprising that it's delicious. Puffy brioche with butter lettuce, spicy pickle aoli and a crunchy—not crispy, crunchy—chicken breast makes for quite the bite. Everybody's doing fried chicken sandwiches and it seems the best ones are the simple ones.

7.16.2016

Tuna Melt Sickness

The Tuna Melt of Sickness
homemade
D+
I've made many questionable sandwiches in my time, and many of those unfortunate experiments have occurred during some sort of illness. Why? Because when I'm sick, I'm a huge baby, and while I may have good fresh food to eat in the house, I'm lazy and whiny and much more likely to throw a few ingredients between bread. Hence, this tuna melt, a sad byproduct of my annual week-long summer cold. Two tiles of generic multigrain bread were tossed into a pan with a little olive oil, flipped, layered with thick slices of Muenster cheese and a few forkfuls of Starkist Tuna Creations Sweet & Spicy flavor—I don't recall purchasing that fish envelope, for the record—and then plastered together and griddled 'til toasty. It actually doesn't sound that bad, but it was. Cheese didn't get melted enough. Tuna flavoring was a poor choice for sandwiching. Dryness was inescapable. But hey, on the plus side, I still can't really taste anything. I will survive.


5.17.2016

The Mayor of Flavortown Burger

The Mayor of Flavortown Burger at Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar
B-
The thing I notice most about the food at Guy Fieri's Las Vegas restaurants—there are two now—is the presentation. This burger is not just put together. It's carefully constructed for maximum height and to make sure it looks like you could never get your mouth around it, but it also needs to be a bit sloppy, as if the kitchen crew didn't use any tweezers placing a single strand of the caraway seed coleslaw intentionally out of place. And the fries, even ... they're not in an kind of container. They're just pile-mounted onto a metal frame with a piece of paper holding them up. It's quite scientific. It's pretty tasty, too, especially if you can manage to order this sucker by name without giggling. The burger is good quality meat, smash-grilled for juiciness and nicely textured outside (but mine was just a bit overdone), and piled with pastrami, Swiss cheese, that slaw, pickles, fried onion strings and Dijon mustard, all on top of a garlic-buttered pretzel bun. All those flavors get a little bit muddled; it still tastes like a burger first and foremost. But you do get little tingles of the 'strami and the pickles and the mustard, and the chewy bun makes it even more satisfying. This probably isn't the best burger at Guy's first Vegas spot, but it's pretty close to being on the money.

5.09.2016

Dallas

Dallas at Bobby's Burger Palace
C-
Perhaps it was inevitable. When Bobby Flay expanded his Burger Palace chain to the Las Vegas Strip, we didn't really care, until we went and ate the burgers (and drank the shakes) and goddamnit if we didn't love this place. The fancy burgers were a little less expansive and a little less fancy than the other casino burger shops, and it was glorious. So we kept coming back. But at last, disappointment. We ordered the Dallas, allegedly a spice-crusted patty with coleslaw, jack cheese, barbecue sauce and pickles, and we "crunchified" it by adding potato chips because even though this seems ridiculous, it has worked for us in the past. This was just short of a titanic fail. I don't know what spices were crusted on this burger, but salt was the only thing we could taste. Combine some Lay's and a runny barbecue sauce that was more savory and steak sauce-ish than sweet and tangy, and you have a one-note salt bomb from which there is no escape. Pickles usually make everything better but this just wasn't going to happen. The meat, though cooked medium rare, was bland and mushy on the inside. We'll always have fond memories of Bobby's, but with Shake Shack, Fatburger and Fukuburger within Strip walking distance of this shop, I don't think we'll be able to find a reason to return. It was yum while it lasted.

5.06.2016

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Bruxie
B-
When this thing was brought out to me, I was less than excited. You can't just call something a sandwich if it's not, and the combo of fried chicken and waffles—though unanimously delicious—does not just become a sandwich because you say so. But then I picked this thing up, California chain Bruxie's original and most popular offering of a buttermilk fried chicken breast with cider slaw and chili honey plopped into a light, crisp, Belgian waffle, folded it over, and took a few bites, and it did in fact behave like a sandwich. Mostly. Though Bruxie does manage to mitigate the sweetness of the waffle, the texture is a bit dry and crumbly, and the flavor is muddled. But the airyness of the waffle is a fine complement to the crispy breading of the chicken, creating a nice texture in each bite. The chicken itself is stellar, juicy and tender inside and seasoned well outside. The slaw is a little odd at first, and there's not much of it, but the chili honey goes a long way in bringing everything together. Bruxie, a new addition to the Las Vegas Strip, has potential. My guess is this basic chicken waffle sandwich is only the starting point and tastier options await. To be continued.

4.29.2016

Regular Combo Beef & Sausage

Regular Combo Beef & Sausage at Al's Italian Beef
A
This is a once-a-year kind of sandwich, and by that I mean I'll probably die if I eat it more often than that. But it's so good. Al's classic Italian beef, super tender and savory meat sliced thin enough to melt into your face and saturated in "gravy," is augmented here not only with provolone, hot giardiniera and sweet peppers but also a char-grilled spicy pork sausage. You can't really see the link in this pic but it's there, lurking beneath the meaty, saucy mountain, piled into a soft, delicious roll. It's almost impossible to pick this thing up and eat it like a proper sandwich; you're better off knife and forking your way to glorious gutbomb satisfaction. Worth the effort, and the occasional splurge.


Chili Cheese Grilled Dog

Chili Cheese Grilled Dog at Burger King
F
Pretty genius, actually ... the other fast-food burger chains don't do dogs. Why not throw this mess on the menu for a couple bucks? Some sucker will tack it on to their Whopper meal order. Some sucker indeed.

4.22.2016

Chick'n Shack

Chick'n Shack at Shake Shack
A
This fried chicken sandwich craze isn't going away any time soon, and that's fine by us ... as long as quality chains like Shake Shack are jumping on the bandwagon and churning out delicious as-they-should-be birdwiches. Originally a special limited-time dish before being joyfully added to the full-time Shack menu, the Chick'n Shack is a 100 percent all-natural cage-free chicken breast with a thin but crunchy outer layer of goodness, planted on a cushy potato bun with lettuce, pickles, and buttermilk-herb mayo. The chicken is thick and juicy, the crust packs a proper amount of crisp texture to balance the soft bun in every bite, the good-sized pickle coins provide ample brine support, and the mayo feels more like a ranch-type sauce than a mayo. The sauce pleasantly brings this sandwich together. It's no surprise the Shack does chicken right ... this hip franchise has established itself as one of our most consistent sandwich stops.

4.18.2016

The French Dip

The French Dip at Therapy
B-
It's hard not to order a French dip for lunch when you see it on a menu, even if you're having lunch in a place that probably doesn't specialize in French dips ... say, a hip downtown bar, where you should probably get a charred kale salad or baked ricotta gnudi or a chicken and red velvet waffle slider. But really, don't you just want a French dip? This one is serviceable, bolstered by delectable horseradish cream and high quality roast beef. The jus was savory and fine, as well, but there was something missing. It was the hoagie roll. It wasn't toasted well, as advertised, and you need a little more crisp, toasty goodness on your French dip if it's going to stand up to all that juicy meat and an extra dip. Whatever. Still not going to get the salad.

4.13.2016

Lahm Bi Ajeen

Lahm Bi Ajeen at Khoury's
A
It's compact, simple and sublime. It doesn't look like much—and this terrible photo doesn't help—but the traditional Lebanese sandwich at Las Vegas' foremost Lebanese restaurant is a jewel. A thin, flat disc of Khoury's outstanding pita bread dough is crisped in the oven and folded around a spectacularly spiced combination of ground lamb, tomatoes and onions. You cannot stop eating this thing. Bite after wonderful bite yields familiar pizza/calzone/panini textural association, but the tastebuds get blown by the rich, fresh, diverse and savory notes inside this crispy concoction. This could become an everyday addiction.

4.06.2016

Fatburger

Fatburger at Fatburger
A
How is it possible that in more than five years of allsandwich we've never reviewed one of our all-time favorite burger joints? Crazy, huh? Yet here it is, for the first time, the classic Fatburger. This is the Medium Fatburger, to be precise, since these days they come in five different sizes; it's plenty big, though. It's got the works—mustard, relish, onions, pickles, tomato, lettuce, mayo, plus added cheese—decorating a 5.3-ounce patty of fresh, beef, griddled to near crispyness on the outside. (The Large Fat is a half-pounder, and then it just gets crazy from there.) I've been eating Fatburgers in Las Vegas for more than 20 years and it's always good; its consistency is second only to In-N-Out. It's a messy delicious treat—the combination of condiments and the overwhelmingly beefy flavor are the defining factors here—and combined with a thick milkshake and thick-cut "fat fries," this is pure fast-food bliss. We might not have reviewed it until now, but we've been eating it all along.

3.27.2016

Santa Barbara Style Charburger

Santa Barbara Style Charburger at The Habit Burger Grill
B
Another highly regarded burger chain comes to Las Vegas? Yes, that. The Habit started making its "charburgers" in Santa Barbara, so it only makes sense that our first taste is the menu's Santa Barbara Style Charburger, right? Right. There is significant char on these fresh beef patties, adding some nice flavor—kinda what Burger King should taste like. But it's the dominant flavor; the meat is mostly underseasoned. This mighty, satisfying double burger comes on grilled sourdough with melty American cheese, avocado, juicy tomatoes, shredded lettuce and mayo. The avocado and tomato brought plenty of gardeny goodness to the party, helping distinguish this concoction from all the other signature burgers at the various burger joints we've sampled. Is the Habit habit forming? We're not sure, yet.

3.23.2016

Taco Sandwich

Taco Sandwich
homemade
B+
So I invented this. You've never made this before. No, it's not a torta. It's close, though. I used a traditional torta roll, a fluffier version of a bolillo, one with a really nice, soft chewiness to it. It's a pretty great roll, actually. I toasted it and melted slices of pepper jack cheese on both sides, then layered some ground beef with the traditional gringo taco flavorings. Then on top of the meat, I basically placed a tostada—not tortilla chips but a crunchy taco shell, snapped in half so it'd be flat, then coated with chunky red salsa, fresh cilantro and sour cream. Then, top bun, with top cheese. You bite it and simultaneously get the soft, meaty, spicy goodness of your favorite torta with the crunchy, zesty, cheesy sensation of a taco. Which is why I named it the taco sandwich, and I get to name it, because I invented it.

Ninth Island

Ninth Island at Steamie Weenie
C+
Putting some sort of Hawaiian ingredients on a hot dog and calling it the "ninth island"—a common nickname for Las Vegas due to its high number of islander expats—is kinda cute. Piling a load of fried Spam on top of a tube of also processed meat? Not so cute. It's too much weird meatstuff, even for me. Granted, the soft bun and frank on this dog are nice and tasty, and the pineapple relish and scallions are flavorful additions. I wish there was more of them, and a little less Spam. I mean, I love Spam, but ... not this much.

3.20.2016

Hoagie

Hoagie at Herringbone
B
One of our all-time favorite Vegas chefs, Geno Bernardo, has returned to the city and taken up residency at Herringbone, a casual yet still fancy seafood-oriented restaurant at Aria. What do you get when a great Italian chef runs the show at a Strip seafood spot? Great Italian food in an unexpected venue, of course, including this legit sub. The bread is a bit softer than our favorite versions of this classic sandwich, but all the flavors are on point, from the sharp provolone and thinly sliced red onions to the oregano-laced oil-and-vinegar dressing decorating the shredded lettuce. Pickled cherry peppers bring some extra fun to the party and help cut through the rich, fatty goodness of this neat pile of salami, prosciutto and mortadella. There's plenty of other great dishes on this lunch menu, but this will always be an option.

2.21.2016

Macau-Style Crispy Pork Chop Sandwich

Macau-Style Crispy Pork Chop Sandwich at Hong Kong Cafe
D+
Behold the weirdness that ensues when a mostly Chinese restaurant inside a major Las Vegas Casino decides it needs to diversity its menu to attract Asian tourist families and not just Asian tourist gamblers. If this sandwich is a big deal in Macau, fine. But we think we'd rather have some noodles. This kind of reminds me of that old Eddie Murphy standup bit where he's a little kid and he wants McDonald's but his mom says, no, I can make you a better burger than McD's, and she proceeds to create a very odd, not-quite-right homeburger that is as far from what he wants as could possibly be. This pork sandwich is the same: A kid wants a fried chicken sandwich from a fast-food spot while on vacation in Las Vegas America but gets stuck at Hong Kong Cafe eating this. The pork "chop" (it's boneless) is actually fried quite nicely, with a crispy, medium-thick coating, but the meat was very fatty. There were great globs of mayo, lettuce, tomato and onion on this sesame seed bun, but the lettuce was sogged out and the onions were peppery and perhaps saute├ęd a bit. On the bright side, decent French fries.

2.18.2016

Montecristo

Montecristo at Truffles N Bacon Cafe
B+
This charming southeast valley (Henderson area) cafe continues to evolve into a tasty little jewel. Truffles N Bacon does everything a little bit differently, including the preparation (and one-word spelling) of this bygone-era sandwich. The Monte Cristo is traditionally a thick-breaded, deep-fried, melty-savory sandwich, an indulgence you'll probably regret having for lunch or brunch. TNB's version combines ham, turkey and cheese, with plenty of honey mustard, layered inside a pillowy bread that is battered and griddled, French toast-style. It's a super-soft, lovely bite, with a nice balance of meat and cheese, and perhaps not as guilt-inducing as the original. Another solid sandwich offering from these fine folks.

Shackmeister Dog

Shackmeister Dog at Shake Shack
B
We thought this special Shack dog was a new addition to the menu but it now seems like a limited time item as we can't find it anywhere. But maybe it'll come back sometime. If so, consider eating it: A Vienna beef dog split and grilled on the flat-top in a potato bun with fried onions and lots of that cheese sauce that makes Shake's Shack otherwise pedestrian crinkle fries taste so good. It's a messy treat.

2.10.2016

The 1/3 LB Tex Mex Bacon Thickburger

The 1/3 LB Tex Mex Bacon Thickburger at Carl's Jr.
F
I really don't know what to say here ... For some reason, every so often I feel compelled to try the new Carl's burger creation, and it's always disappointing but this one made me feel bad about myself. Allegedly 100 percent Black Angus beef, roasted peppers and onions, pepper jack cheese, bacon and—sweet lord, no—"Santa Fe sauce." What could that possibly mean? The only joy here is how this burger's name reminds of Will Ferrell doing his Dubya impression and claiming that Tex-Mex is his favorite kind of food. I bet the real Dubya wouldn't eat this thing.