The Mayor of Flavortown Burger

The Mayor of Flavortown Burger at Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen & Bar
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.



Dallas at Bobby's Burger Palace
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.


Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Bruxie
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.


Regular Combo Beef & Sausage

Regular Combo Beef & Sausage at Al's Italian Beef
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
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.


Chick'n Shack

Chick'n Shack at Shake Shack
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.


The French Dip

The French Dip at Therapy
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.


Lahm Bi Ajeen

Lahm Bi Ajeen at Khoury's
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.



Fatburger at Fatburger
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.


Santa Barbara Style Charburger

Santa Barbara Style Charburger at The Habit Burger Grill
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.


Taco Sandwich

Taco Sandwich
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
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.



Hoagie at Herringbone
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.


Macau-Style Crispy Pork Chop Sandwich

Macau-Style Crispy Pork Chop Sandwich at Hong Kong Cafe
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 sauteéd a bit. On the bright side, decent French fries.



Montecristo at Truffles N Bacon Cafe
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
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.


The 1/3 LB Tex Mex Bacon Thickburger

The 1/3 LB Tex Mex Bacon Thickburger at Carl's Jr.
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.

Chicken and Waffle Sliders

Chicken and Waffle Sliders at PKWY Tavern
Syrup. So much sticky syrup. You can't see it here because we moved this slider to a separate plate, but the platter these three mini waffle and chicken sandwiches were served on was absolutely drenched in it. And the stuff wasn't even advertised as syrup; the menu describes it as bourbon glaze. It was tasty, if super-sweet and messy. Just too much of it. And it didn't really complement the other ingredients here, which include perfectly decent waffle wedges, crisp and fluffy, with fried white meat chicken chunks and strips of bacon inside them. This creation qualifies as pretty solid drunken snackery, but it's barely a sandwich.


Ham and Cheese

Ham and Cheese
Go to a French bakery? Take home a baguette. Spread mustard on each side, throw some provolone on there and drop it under the broiler for a couple minutes. Add some Back Forest ham. Crunch it up. Toasty, salty, satisfying. Done deal.

Pâté de Campagne

Pâté de Campagne at La Belle Terre
Pretty sure a classic country terrine on baguette needs some dijon, no? La Belle Terre doesn't serve it, but it doesn't really matter because this baguette is one of the best in the biz, and this pâté is soft, moist, savory and wonderful. Topped only with some sliced cornichons and served with a bit of salad with zingy, creamy balsamic dressing—yep, I used that instead of mustard—and roasted potatoes, this is a simple sandwich worth a return visit. Or several.