The Conquest

The Conquest at the Peppermill
The Peppermill strikes again with this meaty behemoth, sort of a hybrid between cheesesteak indulgence and patty melt satisfaction. A mountain of shockingly high quality, lean roast beef is the centerpiece. This is basically what Arby's would taste like if it was a righteous one-off sandwich shop instead of an evil fast-food empire. The foundation is grilled parmesan sourdough, which has also been plastered with butter during the toasty process and layered with melty cheddar cheese and crispy bacon strips. Attempting to cut through all that richness are sautéed peppers, onions and mushrooms, fresh tomato slices, and a bit of Thousand Island dressing for a creamy zing. It's tough to eat this monster but it's harder to stop eating it. Some of the staff at the Peppermill like to order it with turkey instead of beef, but I say this: Go on this conquest the way it was intended and you won't be sorry.

Peppered Pastrami, Turkey and Swiss Cheese

Peppered Pastrami, Turkey and Swiss Cheese at Port of Subs
I ate sandwiches at Port of Subs and Subway within days of each other and perhaps this goes without saying but Port of Subs is way, way better. It's still totally mediocre in every possible way, but it doesn't screw up easy stuff the way Subway does. Anyway, this is a pretty solid combination … pastrami and turkey get along very well together, and Swiss has enough of its own flavor to hold up against these salty meats. You can actually taste it, unlike the easily overshadowed mass market provolone that shows up on so many of these sandwiches. Wheat roll, lettuce-tomato-onion, mustard, oil and vinegar. I think I had this for breakfast.


Crispy Bao Bun

Crispy Bao Bun at Ku Noodle
A nasty little rumor says that José Andrés' five-month old Ku Noodle, a brilliant noodle shop at SLS, could be shuttering. That would suck, because the food here is outstanding. Take, for example, this sandwichy take on the steamed bun favorite bao. A sweet, puffy roll (not sure if it's steamed or not, but it has an amazing light and almost creamy texture) with a paper-thin outer crisp edge is sliced open and stuffed with luscious braised pork belly lacquered in a zingy hoisin-ish sauce, topped with pickled veggies, cilantro leaves and peanuts. It's got crunch, it's got acid, it's got lots of fatty richness, it's got freshness and it's got a pleasant sweetness. It's a helluva meal, but if you want it, apparently, you better move fast.


The Runnin' Rebel

The Runnin' Rebel at the Sandwich Spot
Just a few weeks old and the Sandwich Spot is already one of the most promising new sandwich spots in Las Vegas. They have a cool, Vegasy decor—despite the fact that it appears to be a California-based franchise—and a menu of simple but well-constructed creations, some of which have Vegasy names. This is one of those, a pile of hot salami with melted pepper jack cheese and bomb sauce, which is a funky combination of a bunch of other sauces. It's a bit spicy, a bit sweet, and it even tastes a bit like … meat? Maybe. It's a lovely complement to any pork or beef product, and the Sandwich Spot does a lot with those. Note all the extras that come on this sucker (lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, peppers, plus mayo, mustard and "secret sauce"), and also pay attention to the dense, slightly sweet Dutch crunch roll. You just don't see this kind of bread in a lot of sandwich shops. It's a nice little detail that proves these folks take their sandwiches very seriously.


Spicy Barbecue Chicken Melt

Spicy Barbecue Chicken Melt
Relatively simple yet highly effective: Cajun spice-dusted, grilled chicken breast, sliced into tender mini-strips and squished into a ciabatta with chipotle pepper-laced white cheddar, made toasty in the oven and then dabbed with Horsetooth Hot Mess porter, bourbon and coffee barbecue sauce. Lots of flavor, a little heat, a little sweet, lots of warm bread crunch. A pretty magnificent combination, as it turns out.


Shack-cago Dog

Shack-cago Dog at Shake Shack
It's back to the Shack to start the new year with the meal that started it all. That's right, Shake Shack was originally a hot dog spot. Didja know? It's true, and once you get a bite of this classic Chicago dog, you'll understand. Shake Shack dogs are just as good as the burgers. An all-natural beef frank is split and griddled, nestled into a toasted bun, and truly "dragged through the garden," as they say—decorated generously with onions, pickle, tomato, Rick's Picks Shack Relish, cucumber and spicy sport peppers. Super-fresh veggies make a big difference. It's finished with celery salt and mustard, and it's every bit as addictive as any burger on the menu at the newest Shake Shack on the Las Vegas Strip.