Vegas is like a series of cruiseships that are marooned in the desert and linked by lengthy pedestrian walkways. Held captive by distance and hunger, you will frequently find yourself wandering around a given casino looking for a reasonable place to eat. Watch your step. There are charlatans everywhere.
Case in point: Terrace Point Cafe (Wynn) should be MISSed if at all possible. Adjacent to the Wynn pool complex, I’m pretty sure this place relies entirely on hungry sunbathers wandering in delirious from the heat and the Pina Coladas. The Sandwich ‘Surf and Turf’ ($23), described on the menu as half a lobster roll and half a steak sandwich, was laughable. The lobster roll was actually mostly crab and shrimp (buffet leftovers?) with a few thumbnail sized pieces of lobster tucked into conspicuous places on top. The steak sandwich was cooked to a perfect medium. Six hours ago. It was barely warm and the juices were congealed. The steak fries (for which I paid an additional $7), were so salty and overspiced with prefab Old Bay seasoning that they would have been inedible if not for the $4 diet Pepsi I had to wash them down with. Oh, also: it took more than 30 minutes after ordering for the meal to come out, and I had to hail the waiter to ask what had happened to my lunch. The Eggs Benedict ($17) was better, with a housemade Benedict sauce and nicely runny yolks, but the Canadian Bacon was so terribly overcooked I couldn’t even cut through it. The hashbrowns were a weird gummy pancake of grated potatoes that tasted of additives. For the terrible food and commensurately ridiculous prices, the Terrace Point Cafe is a severe MISS.
I only ate two sushi rolls at Wazuzu in the Encore, which I washed down with a Club Soda. My bill was almost $60, no joke. The unoriginal Northwest Roll ($30) was egregiously priced considering it was so entirely medicore. (Anyone about to leave a whiny comment about the difficulty of sourcing fresh fish in the middle of the Nevada desert can save the keystrokes: there is sushi of equal if not superior quality for half the price in the middle of the Canadian prairies.) Crunch Roll ($21, shown in photo from Encore website) was encased in unnatural little balls of toasted rice flour which absolutely detracted from the shrimp within. Since the my mother reads this blog, I am going to censor the obvious simile for the taste and texture of the accompanying sauce. Check the picture and see if you can figure it out. But while the sushi rolls were really overpriced, there were a number of menu items like noodle bowls and dumplings which seemed more reasonable. Based on my limited but very expensive experience, I would MISS Wazuzu on my next trip.
Saving the day, though, is the absolutely wonderful Border Grill in Mandalay Bay. HIT this place for a hangover lunch if you ever visit Vegas. The menu is reasonably priced and everything on our three visits has been fresh and fabulous. You start with a big basket of complimentary homemade tortilla chips and three addictive salsas. I have been known to drink the tomatillo salsa. Cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages are seasonal and completely refreshing.
The Border Classics sampler (two panuchos, two empanadas, two tamales – $18) is a great option if you just can’t decide on an appetizer course, but we go back to the Ceviche Duo (Baja and Peruvian – $17) every time. The right balance of acidic dressing and sweet fish makes this a ‘who-gets-dibs-on-the-last-bite’ sort of dish. The Quesa Fundido ($13) and Chicken Adobo Quesadillas ($15) are also worthy selections, but don’t order both at the same time. (Too much cheese). The Carnitas Tacos ($17) are great, but maybe a little humdrum compared to the other menu options like the party-in-your-mouth Fish Tacos ($19) or Chiles Rellenos ($16). A recent special, the Chicken Burrito, was a massive rollup of everything good about Mexican food, embellished with a tart-bitter apple slaw. This is place is a major HIT in Zolli’s books.