Vegan Guide to Las Vegas
In the city with undoubtedly the highest electric bill in the world lies several health-oriented restaurants with food that tickles your tastebuds. Being vegan is surprisingly easy in Vegas. I recently went for a week on vacation to hang out, gamble ($60 was my limit) and eat so of course I want to share it with you!
I was lucky enough to have a local friend be my guide and driver. Even though this wasn't my first time in Vegas, it has definitely changed for the better since the last time I visited. I am excited to share with you everywhere you can go and not ask if there's honey in the bread.
Any vegan heading to Vegas knows the Wynn is the place to be- every restaurant in this hotel has a vegan menu. But did you also know the Encore is connected to the Wynn and has just as many options? Whether you stay at the Wynn or Encore or just spend all of your time here you will never go hungry. Restaurants like Botero, Sinatra, Baccarat, and Wazzuzu all have appealing menus.
I knew I wanted to eat at the Wynn but couldn't decide which restaurant. After reading about the "Lake of Dreams" in Lakeside my mind was made up. I included my desire to sit near the "lake" (an artificial lake in the restaurant which is technically outside) in my reservation and prepared for the most exquisite meal of my life. Lakeside, an aptly named seafood restaurant, is super sophisticated despite the hard-to-ignore presence of orange. I would have to correct Elle Woods when she says "Whoever said orange was the new pink was seriously disturbed" and call them talented. Whoever can make orange look classy gets my vote- presidential or otherwise. We got there 15 minutes too early and waited by the bar/lounge area off to the side. We were then taken to our table outside on the deck. It had heaters so we couldn't even tell it was in the 60s and sweater weather. While we waited for our food we munched on vegan bread and butter. I swear I could live here. The bread had raisins in it and was perfectly warm and soft. We were entertained by the 2 minute show that happens on the "lake" every 30 minutes. This is easily the highlight of the restaurant and reason enough to mindlessly pay $17 for Fiji Water. (When the waiter asked me what kind of water I think I was so entranced by the show that I didn't even let him offer tap water) You bet I kept the bottle.
The lake has a statue of a woman on the right who looks like she's standing on the lake and a statue of a man whose head is kind of above the water on the left. A large screen sits in the center where graphics are projected and things like a dancing frog and cut-out heads pop up as music plays. My favorite segment was the one with two flashing balls that dance around the lake in unison. Fun fact: there is a different "show" every 30 minutes from 6pm to midnight. We spent over 3 hours at our table and looked forward to every "show" on the half hour mark because they were all new and exciting. Now, the food!
The bread basket was to die for- we had two. I ordered the Truffle Arancini and Old Bay "Crab" Cakes. The waiter informed me the crab cakes were the most popular item on the vegan menu, and I understood why! I never even liked the taste of seafood when I wasn't vegan so I'm not sure what prompted me to pick that as an entrée but I wasn't disappointed. It was flavorful and uber filling. Honestly nothing like I've ever tasted before, which is exactly what I wanted. The cakes had Toasted Pasta, Confit Tomatoes, and Ancho-Garlic Aïoli. It tasted Italian because of the tomatoes but was a nice change from pizza. The truffles were also full of flavor and just the right texture. They were super accommodating when it came to veganism as well. I inquired if a certain drink was vegan and was told nothing on site wasn't vegan but they couldn't guarantee it 100%. I appreciated the honesty and ordered a fruity berry drink instead. Below are the crab cake and truffles.
All of this food was too much for one meal (I went overboard, teehee) and took two of my crab cakes and bread to go. It ended up serving as a snack and breakfast on two separate occasions. So one dinner= three meals. Not too bad.
I loved the Wynn so much I wanted go back for breakfast because vegan breakfast food is the ultimate luxury. I was drawn to Tableau menu so back we went!
Because I was in Vegas and it was nice out I chose to sit outside. Their outdoor expansive seating overlooks the hotel's pool. Also- very orange. I ended up craving french toast so I asked, even though it wasn't on the menu, if they could make some for me. While they didn't have everything vegan to make french toast they were up to make me pancakes. Since I love nothing more than chocolate chip pancakes I practically jumped from my chair in excitement. Chocolate chip pancakes it was!
I asked for blueberries on top as well and although there weren't as many chocolate chips as I'm used to they were fluffy nonetheless. I devoured all of 1.5 pancakes until my food coma began. Tableau has a very serene environment, very much like your own personal oasis!
Check out the vegan menus for all of the restaurants in the Wynn and Encore here, just keep in mind they haven't been updated in quite some time and Switch Steakhouse is now closed. Lakeside and Tableau were both in the Wynn, but both the Wynn and Encore are ideal destinations for couples or families with mixed eating preferences since all restaurants serve meat or fish but never leave vegans with a sad salad bar.
Also, don't just head straight to the restaurant and back to your room to take a nap. Vegas is known for it's opulence and you don't need to buy a pricey ticket to one if it's shows to see it. Walk around the hotels (even the one you aren't staying at) for a lot of eye candy. Jeff Koons has sculptures at the Encore while the Bellagio has a ceiling full of glass flowers (that you can purchase!) and a flower display all year round. The images below are of the Wynn and Encore. Even the casinos are pretty and if you're 21+ no one cares if you are just chilling on a chair.
Admittedly this famous bakery isn't very vegan-friendly. It's worth visiting though because it has the world's largest chocolate fountain (can you see my drool?) and beautifully crafted sweets. I was informed the dark chocolate covered strawberries were vegan (the only item in the whole bakery) so I unabashedly paid $12 for three strawberries. Hey, when in Vegas right?
Sprinkles Cupcakes is a girl's best pick me up when you're craving something sweet, pretty and decadent. They are known for their cupcake ATMs that let you grab a bite to go when you're on the go! Located on The Linq, a shopping strip directly under the world's largest observation wheel, the Highroller, Sprinkles offers vegans a delicious Red Velvet cupcake with it's very own "V". The Linq is a fun place to hangout with a Kitson boutique, several restaurants, a music venue, and of course, a casino. The Highroller is a no-brainer (just look at the view in the picture above!) but my favorite spot is the Polaroid Store, seen below. Here, you can take pictures with their "Las Vegas" cut-out, print your own polaroids for only $1 and visit the free museum on the second floor.
In the Plaza Hotel and Casino is a small, modern pizza place that offers a vegan slice and vegan ice-cream. Pop-Up Pizza is surely a hit with health-minded individuals who snap up the Soho slice topped with vegan mozzarella, spinach, mushrooms, artichoke, and roasted bell peppers. It was substantial and was the prefect preface to the large vegan chocolate ice cream I proceeded to eat over the course of 3 days.
In the Container Park, a new hip downtown park/outdoor shopping center, is Simply Pure. No guessing here what they serve- all raw and delicious food most suitable for breakfast or lunch. We came here straight from the airport so I could scoop up a super healthy first meal. I ordered the Angel Hair Zucchini Pasta expecting pasta but got literally zucchini. Thinking I wouldn't be full even with the added vegan "beef" bits I started eating it and was beyond pleasantly surprised at it's tastiness, fresh texture and how hearty it was. This was one raw meal that didn't leave me feeling hungry but rather fulfilled and clean. I also sampled their Key Lime Mousse and Raw Chocolate Ganache which was just yum! Sweet but not too sweet and the perfect post-meal dessert. I loved Simply Pure so much that we went back another day and I ordered their Thai Basil Spring Rolls. Because I was hesitant about the chili lime dipping sauce it comes with I asked for an additional cup of mustard sauce for dipping. Both the chili lime and mustard paired well with the spring rolls, which were stuffed to the gills with noodles, vegetables and wrapped in rice paper.
Also in the Container Park is hot dog joint Cheffini's that boasts meat and vegan hot dog options. I chose my toppings that went on the vegan dog and picked avocado and pickles. I swear there is a vegan hot dog underneath all that avocado but at least they don't skimp on the toppings! The only drawback is that it's on the expensive side- around $7 for a hot dog. I devoured it all!
Still, the Container Park is a really cool place to hang out, eat and shop. They have a stage for the daily free entertainment that is scheduled (think music and kid shows) in addition to a kiddie playground that would make any McDonald's PlayPlace jealous. I made it a point to come back a few times and picked up a vintage stamped fork at one of the boutiques.
A vegan haven, Lyfe Kitchen is a fresh and health oriented hot spot for anyone who enjoys the finer, fresh foods in life. Upon looking at their menu online before heading over I was hesitant because they aren't a vegan only establishment and didn't seem to have that many appealing vegan options. The girl behind the counter squashed any doubt as soon as she whipped out a binder full of every single item they made while pointing out the myriad vegan options. I was so overwhelmed with options but finally settled on the ravioli with kale, broccoli and tomatoes and sweet potato garlic fries. I could eat here everyday and never get sick of it because they just have so much! The decor is very modern and airy as well as spacious. They have outdoor seating (Vegas is conducive to that) so we sat outside. It's in a very upscale shopping center that's pet friendly so it's not uncommon to see cute dogs strutting their stuff with as much attitude as their owners.
Good news for me (and anyone visiting NYC soon), a Lyfe Kitchen just opened up on West 55th Street!
I hit up Tivoli Village Saturday afternoon after obsessing over Garden Grill's menu online. Garden Grill is a pop-up vegan vendor with breakfast and lunch offerings that would make any carnivore's mouth water. Tivoli Village is just one shopping center in Las Vegas that hosts weekly markets for local vendors to sell their food and goods. It's true to it's name in that the architecture is honestly village-like and adorable!
The Garden Grill owners were super fun to chat with. They whipped me up two mini tacos with a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich. The tacos are small but they were surprisingly filling. The Philly Cheesesteak was super flavorful as well. I couldn't eat the whole thing in one sitting so naturally I had it as a snack later on. I would highly recommend visiting a market they pop-up at because I don't think you can go wrong with their food. Find their weekly schedule here.
Now to the real fun- shopping! Downtown you can find a less flashy strip of thrift and vintage stores busting with unique and old items calling to your already hurting wallet. There's your standard Buffalo Exchange plus a slew of other privately owned stores.
My favorite shop was Vintage Vegas, a packed to the gills store full of retro clothing, furniture, toys and knick-knacks. Each part of the store is rented out by individual owners who stock their items in their section. Luckily, I found a gorgeous brand new vintage brush and mirror set in a section by a lovely old couple who scours estate sales for their goods. The surrounding vintage shops like Retro Vegas are worth browsing while you're there, and since they are all on the same street with a great view of the Stratosphere (hotel, tower and observation deck) you can keep your tourist cred.
If you stay on the Strip and don't have a car, you would need to rent one or take a cab to the activities Downtown, in Henderson or at any of the farmer's markets. While there are shuttle busses and public transportation, it's worth having the freedom to drive and see parts of Vegas you wouldn't otherwise see. If renting a car isn't in your budget, that's okay too! The Strip has plenty of food to eat, places to lounge and casinos to gamble at.
And now for some images that don't revolve around shopping or food..
Looking for a more comprehensive list of things to do in Vegas? Jen Reviews has a massive list (100 activities!) here.