Torta de Pierna

Torta de Pierna at Las Cazuelas
Tortas are supposed to be blowing up right now. Maybe they are; in recent weeks in Las Vegas, at least two Mexican eateries have popped open with an emphasis on tortas. But at Las Cazuelas, which has been open for four or five months now and serves spectacularly satisfying Poblano food, there are different kinds of sandwiches to choose from. This porky beauty is a great starting point, a puffy sub-ish roll with soft texture and chew and great flavor, packed with adobo-syle marinated and roasted pork which has been cooked down to shreddy, juicy bliss. There's creamy avocado and a smooth bean spread, too, adding to each wonderful bite. Next time we'll have to munch the sauced up, slider-sized creations known as chanclas, but after finishing off this baby, we're full.


Grilled Brie and Cranberry

Grilled Brie and Cranberry at Lulu's Bread & Breakfast
Another sandwich titan from our beloved Lulu's, another seasonal creation you must feast on before winter departs. Thick slabs of creamy, rich Brie are melted fabulously within even thicker slabs of Lulu's house-made country bread, swirling around tart dried cranberries and strips of crispy bacon. That's it. There are only three things on this sandwich, and yet it's packed with decadent flavor, balanced between smoky, salty, sweet and the mouth-enrapturing glory of all that cheese. Amazing.


Billionaire Dog

Billionaire Dog at Haute Doggery
A grilled, all-Kobe beef dog. Real-deal torchon of foie gras. Port onion marmalade. Truffle mayo. Boom. So this is the only the first dog we've munched at the brand new Haute Doggery on the Vegas Strip, but already it proves something we already knew: Block 16 Hospitality is the hot dog champion of Las Vegas. These guys brought Pink's to Vegas from LA, and now they bust out their own hot dog concept, a menu loaded with regional favorite American dogs with appropriate toppings as well as their own funky creations, like this over-the-top, flavor-packed, decadent masterpiece. The frank is plump, juicy and savory, grilled to a crispness with a snap in each bite that rivals most natural casing dogs. This frank with just ketchup and mustard would kill, and you can order one that way. But come on, foie on a hot dog? You're not gonna order this? You have to. I crumbled it up and spread it all over the dog for rich liver in every bite, a ridiculously perfect running mate to that creamy mayo and the brightly flavored onions. Even the plain, soft bun was really good. New year, new great hot dog shop.


The Royale With Cheese

The Royale With Cheese at B&B Burger & Beer
The whole point of John Travolta uttering "royale with cheese" in Pulp Fiction is how much more delicious it sounds than a quarter pounder. It sounds like the ultimate burger. Mario Batali's brand new burger joint at the Venetian on the Vegas Strip also seems like it should serve the ultimate burger. Our first taste runs right up to greatness but stops just short, although this creation is certainly deserving of its name. A nicely cooked, medium rare beef patty is absolutely coated in melted robiola cheese, the creaminess factor multiplied exponentially by a slathering of parmigiano and mascarpone cream sauce. Wow. Rich. Caramelized onions add to the indulgence, and slightly bitter, grilled treviso can only hope to offset all this sesame seed-bun based decadence. It's not a balanced bite of burger, and the fantastic cheese and sauce overpower the flavor of the beef. But it's definitely tasty, a welcome addition to the growing pantheon of celebrity chef-created burgers spattered up and down the Strip.