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.