This is the craziest thing. We drove into Vegas from LA on a Monday night and didn’t leave until Friday morning. And I took TWO pictures the whole time. Two. Quite unusual for me. The picture above is from some live show on Fremont Street — Pussy Cat Doll wanna-be’s. I took the photo and texted it to my friend DJ — that’s my thing in Vegas. I send him at least one late night text while I’m in Vegas so he can live vicariously through me. He never texts back though … hmmmm … what’s up with that?
[credit: M. Keefer]
So we ate pretty well in Vegas. One of our first off-strip spots was lunch at Rollin Smoke Barbeque
(kinda behind Circus Circus) with a Vegas-based friend. Now, you know I take my grilled meats very seriously. And THIS is some serious barbecue. Some pretty nice brisket and pulled pork, but their Hot Links (made in-house I believe) are To Die For. Me and the CGP split The Pit Special (4 meats 3 sides) and fought over the sausage. We shoulda skipped the chicken and doubled up on that! For me, the southern sides are as important as the meat. Especially ’cause I’m not likely to make 3 or 5 sides at home — so I do want a variety when I’m out (and if the CGP orders stuff I like, I nosh on his too). I have a particular weakness for fried okra and these folks do it well. The corn nuggets are outstanding (and not something I’d make at home). They slipped us a slice of cornbread on the house, to go with the CGP’s greens, and man, that cornbread is more cake than bread. Good stuff all around!
A newcomer to Downtown is Pizza Rock Las Vegas. They have a pizza to suit everyone, from cracker-thin, to New York style, to Neapolitan, to Sicilian, to gluten-free. We went with a classic Margherita — which really showcased the 900-degree wood-fired crust (yeah — you guessed it — I like pizza over flame). A damn fine pizza. So two things happened while we were sitting at the bar. First, we met this really lovely couple who run the Zoe Coffeehouse & Pub in Pullman, WA. They have a BGE like us, so we got to talk about our shared grilling passions. Super nice folks, and if you are ever in Pullman, WA, you need to go buy a coffee or a beer. Second story: the bartender looked really familiar. So I asked her if she had been working in Downtown long, she said no. I tell you, she looked really familiar. So I kept asking, hmmmm, are you from the East Coast, and she says no, local to Vegas area. It was really bugging me, so I pressed a little more, and she says she used to work at the Hard Rock. I’ve walked THRU there, but never really did anything there, and then she says, she used to work Rehab at the pool, and then **ding** I recognize that she was one of the bikini-clad bartenders (Chantel I think). Stupid me, I say something about not recognizing her with her clothes on and she laughs politely. Yes, we tipped well.
Well off the Strip and out of Downtown, on W. Charleston, you’ll find the M & M Soul Food Cafe. Nothing but authentic down-home southern soul cooking. As good as my momma’s. I went for the fried catfish and fried okra with a peach cobbler chaser. Keith had these amazingly tender long-braised short ribs. He couldn’t decide between greens and cabbage, so the server offered to mix them up — outstanding choice. We started a conversation with the man sitting across from us (yeah, happens all the time). He’s from Austin and says he doesn’t get much soul food there, so whenever he’s in Vegas on business, he comes to M&M two or three times to fill up his tank. He highly recommended the chicken and waffles. It’s always a treat to find an unassuming restaurant that serves southern food of this caliber — definitely a stop on our next trip to Vegas.