Viva Las Vegas!

So this blog is really about Portland and its surrounding areas. But what actually defines “surrounding?” Well, how about Sin City, as it’s known, which is only a sub-2 hour flight from PDX? Yes, I think this qualifies as, well, there are many reasons to visit the land of desert and gambling that the short hop from our #1 airport makes it oh-so-easy.

A panoramic shot from the east end of Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, NV. So much fun! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

A panoramic shot from the east end of Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, NV. So much fun! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

So why go to Vegas? Well, as an adult, the list of reasons might be long. For me? Heading to Vegas is all about four things: 1) So many amazing restaurants I can even count, 2) Incredible architecture, 3) Historical gambling locations, 4) Small shows. I will expand on all four of these items as I checked each of these boxes just this last weekend. Yep, I went down for 3 days with my wife…and what a great place Vegas is (we were reminded).

 

Amazing Food

To be sure, the price of quality food in Vegas is not cheap. That said, you don’t eat at a high-end Vegas restaurant very often, so, when in Rome, it’s worth plunking down. And after three days there, I want to recommend one very, very special place: Mott 32. This new, Cantonese restaurant simply blew my mind. Found inside and at the east end of the Venetian, your stroll through La Piazza takes you to another world…finally arriving in “China.” Here are a few shots of the journey along the way.

I just love the fake sky inside La Piazza at the Venetian. So faux, so fun. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

I just love the fake sky inside La Piazza at the Venetian. So faux, so fun. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

We ran into this gelato stand near La Piazza. Had to wait until after dinner to partake of course! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

We ran into this gelato stand near La Piazza. Had to wait until after dinner to partake of course! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

So this presentation might look like any old display of Chinese food…but let me tell you, this food alone is worth the airfare down to Vegas!  Mott 32 , a Cantonese restaurant inside the Venetian, is literally mind blowing. The best food of this type I’ve ever had. Yum!!!! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

So this presentation might look like any old display of Chinese food…but let me tell you, this food alone is worth the airfare down to Vegas! Mott 32, a Cantonese restaurant inside the Venetian, is literally mind blowing. The best food of this type I’ve ever had. Yum!!!! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

From the clay pot-prepared shrimp to the Kung Pao Chicken, the sauces and protein quality was off the charts. Heck, the Kung Pao chicken alone is enough to draw me south. Very tasty.

Here are some more pictures of Mott 32. Great ambience, amazing staff/service, and delectible food. Yes, you might be willing to pay $200 for two to eat here. Can’t believe I’m saying it’s worth the price…but it just is.

Read about chef Alan Ji, the mastermind behind Mott 32. Image Courtesy: Mott32.com

Read about chef Alan Ji, the mastermind behind Mott 32. Image Courtesy: Mott32.com

Get the Details on Mott 32: Menus, Website, Cooking Style, Reservations.

 

Incredible Architecture

O.K. Vegas is not old Europe, or historical Japan, but it does contain a number of architectural feats that should be celebrated. Indeed, this city of glitz really knows how to build up facades and bombastic structures. I am stunned each time I go, just by the sheer size of things. Check this picture of the New York New York hotel and casino on the strip there…it still just seems so huge! Of course, compared to the even bigger Caesar’s Palace, NY NY is but a guest house. I’m sure even Caesar himself would be firmly impressed:

The New York New York Hotel and Casino is simply cool inside and out. And soooo big! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

The New York New York Hotel and Casino is simply cool inside and out. And soooo big! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

This remake of the historic Trevi Fountain inside Caesar’s Palace is quite amazing. Having been to Rome myself, well, it looks like a near exact match. Plus, in Vegas, you can get a lot closer without any police shooing you back! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

This remake of the historic Trevi Fountain inside Caesar’s Palace is quite amazing. Having been to Rome myself, well, it looks like a near exact match. Plus, in Vegas, you can get a lot closer without any police shooing you back! Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

This “Indian-themed” display inside the Venetian was also a stunner. Incorporating Fall colors, this exotic twist on Fall was really something. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

This “Indian-themed” display inside the Venetian was also a stunner. Incorporating Fall colors, this exotic twist on Fall was really something. Image Courtesy: Dan Meyers

 

Historic Gambling Locations

So you can gamble all over Las Vegas, even at the airport. Yet nothing compares to heading to “Old Vegas” and “Fremont Street.” In this part of town you can feel the history a lot more than on the Strip. In fact, it’s like stepping back in time. Down here you feel as if you could run into some of the old gangsters that started Vegas in the first place! Plus, the gambling odds are more in your favor. Specifically, there’s only one green zero on several of the roulette tables and many of the blackjack tables are considerably more “friendly” than what you’ll see in the bigger hotels. Definitely worth heading here. Highlight? The Neon Museum. So darn cool.

“Old Vegas,” as it’s known, is my favorite part of town. The number of neon lights is astounding. Image Courtesy: Vegas Wineaux

“Old Vegas,” as it’s known, is my favorite part of town. The number of neon lights is astounding. Image Courtesy: Vegas Wineaux

Here’s just one shot of the Neon Museum in Old Vegas. So much history here. This is a must visit. Image Courtesy:  www.neonmuseum.org

Here’s just one shot of the Neon Museum in Old Vegas. So much history here. This is a must visit. Image Courtesy: www.neonmuseum.org

 

Small Shows

So there are a ton of “big shows” in Vegas that are well worth attending. From Penn and Teller to Michael Jackson’s One, these giant productions are, well, giant, and very well done. However, if you’re a fan of the more intimate, well, some of the smaller options around town are really worth seeking out. My favorite? Every Friday night there is a singer/songwriter performance on the casino floor at Mandalay Bay. We caught a Nashville Unplugged performance this last Friday…and it was so darn good. I mean these folks were responsible for writing hits for the likes of Chris Stapleton and Kelsea Ballerini, yet their own performances of these songs were literally on-par with their superstar liaisons! Titled, “The Story Behind the Song,” these performances rivaled and/or surpassed the talent we saw on much bigger stages. So seek out the smaller stuff…it’s lower cost (or even free) and there is talent x10!

Well, enjoy yourself out there…and maybe, just maybe we’ll cross paths in Vegas!

Dan Meyers