BBQ, Bacon and Cheddar Smashburger

BBQ, Bacon & Cheddar at Smashburger
Let's be real: Smashburger is consistently impressive. Sometimes the greasiness of their burgers, depending on the other toppings that may or may not balance things out, can be too much to handle. On this barbecue burger, there is enough texture and flavor to offset any surplus juicyness, not to mention the formidable soakage ability of the firm egg bun. This sucker has cheddar cheese, sweet barbecue sauce, applewood smoked bacon and a nice pile of fried onion straws. Not too sweet, with a crispy-meaty bite, and plenty of richness from real cheese. Smashburger is staying at or near the top when it comes to fast food in Vegas.


Chef Mike's McGriddle

Chef Mike's McGriddle at Border Grill Brunch
The weekend brunch at Border Grill -- located in Mandalay Bay -- is one of the best meals in Vegas right now, an insane cavalcade of wonderful small plates for an incredible price, and the man who gets the credit is Chef Mike Minor. In addition to killer huevos rancheros, Oaxacan chocolate pancakes, green corn tamales, plantain empanadas, machaca chilaquiles, and way, way more, Chef Mike unleashes an off-the-top-of-the-dome special dish every week. We were lucky enough to visit when he was going all golden arches on that ass, stacking a juicy, spicy sausage patty on a fresh-from-scratch biscuit with bacon, cheese, chipotle aioli and a maple syrup drizzle. That sticky sweetness pushes it way over the edge, duking it out deliciously with the savory meat and rich, buttery biscuit. Can't wait to see what he dreams up next week.


Ultimate Angus Philly

Ultimate Angus Philly at Arby's
The Philly cheesesteak may be an iconic sandwich, but it's certainly not above bastardization. Fast food spots have been doing it for years, and Arby's, as usual, is one guilt culprit. Granted, there does appear to be some textural and flavor difference between this "Ultimate Angus" sliced roast beef and the normal gray-green garbage they use. But the portion of meat is too small to be considered a real Philly, which should be exploding with sliced or chopped meat. Cheese, peppers, onions, blah blah blah. It's still Arby's. Almost a nice try. Not quite.


Red & Green Veggie Burger

Red & Green Veggie Burger
Okay, we've got a honey wheat bun smeared with Sierra Nevada Porter Spicy Brown Porter Mustard, a Dr. Praeger's veggie burger patty, a melted Kraft American cheese single, homemade pickled red onion, roma tomato slices, and hulking green bell pepper slices. This was nearly a hit. What do we know? What have we learned in our quest to make a legitimate veggie burger (or legitimize the veggie burger)? We know we've got some winners here, with thick slabs of bell pepper that provide a fresh, delightful crunch, and the amazing pickled onions. Wherever this mission goes from here, these two ingredients will be along for the ride. The fake cheese is not a good match, but it does create a peculiar, real-burgerish bite. But it's guilt by association; it makes you feel like you're eating some garbage when you're not. Lesson learned. Let's keep moving.