Las Vegas' 10 Best Restaurants (And Drinks) Off The Strip

Dave Lieberman
Get off the Strip already!
I'm not a big fan of the Vegas Strip. It's always full of people desperately trying to have a good time, whether they're weekenders in Los Angeles' largest, most remote suburb or there for a spectacularly poorly thought-out family vacation. The Strip is where decency goes to die surrounded by fawning club managers wielding $300 bottles of $30 vodka, cocktail waitresses with their breasts hinched up to chin-rest height, and bachelor parties puking all over themselves. It sucks, and it's not my idea of a vacation. The restaurants, too, are sad: semi-franchised outposts of the greatest hits back home, where celebrity chefs consult on the menu and then return once every six months to wave their hands in the kitchen and make ranting noises. It's the kind of place where restaurant reviews pay as much or more attention to the physical beauty of the waitresses than they do the food.

Fortunately, though, there's much more to Vegas than the Strip. Your blackjack dealer, cocktail waitress, outlet mall clerk, buffet line cook and whore escort have to live somewhere, and I guarantee you they're not eating $200 steaks at fancy casino restaurants and drinking in host bars every time they go out. There's a whole city out there, one with a burgeoning eating culture. There's a "Chinatown" two minutes off the Strip that's got just about every Asian cuisine you could want; there are breweries and beer bars and cocktail bars and taco joints, just like any other major city. Bonus: they're almost completely full of locals, so prices are extremely reasonable and quality is high, since they rely on repeat business.

There are dozens of spots, but here are ten spots to get you started and leave some jangle in your pocket for gas money for the long slog home on the 15.

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Judgmental Expat East Coaster Visits California Dunkin' Donuts, Whines About His Experience

Dave Lieberman
Look, ma, no line!

I'll admit it. I was one of those breathless hype monsters who posted with glee about the impending opening of Dunkin' Donuts in California. I grew up in New Jersey; Dunkin' coffee flowed through my veins so early and so often it probably stunted my growth. To this day, the thought of a Dunkin' Donuts French cruller makes me salivate.

I tracked their every move. I even allowed their PR company to rip off my post about how to order coffee. I literally couldn't wait--and then a friend of mine sent me updates about the line at the first location in Santa Monica that included the words "hundreds" and "hours" and "blocks". I couldn't drag myself all the way to the People's Republic of Santa Monica to fight for parking and wait hours and hours for a doughnut and coffee.

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Just in Time for Sunday, 3 Denver and Seattle Food Specialties to Try

Photo by Marshall Astor
Yayyy partyyy

This Sunday, I'll be at my friend's house watching two teams that aren't the San Francisco 49ers play in the big game. It's going to be horrible. Between the fact that I used to live in Seattle (and the Seahawks used to buy ads in my paper) and the fact that they knocked my team out of the running (also, division rivals and everything), who am I supposed to pull for? Bruno Mars? The Red Hot Chili Peppers? The weather?

All I know is, it's going to be a really long day, and all I'm going to have to keep me company is beer and food (and a whole mess of people).

At least I'm in Orange County, because we'll have the barbecue going, and I'm going to have my pick of everything from carne asada, to thit nuong and regular ol' burgers. If I were in Seattle? Or Denver? Well...

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Out-Of-County Experience: Rajdhani in Artesia's Little India

Edwin Goei
This weekend was Diwali, and for Gujaratis, the holiday also represents the new year. A few Gujarati co-workers described it as their Thanksgiving and Christmas all wrapped up in one. The multi-day festival consists of celebration, prayer, and lots and lots of food. When I asked them about the latter, specifically where I could eat without having to barge in on a Gujarati household during one of their most important religious holidays, they pointed me to Rajdhani, one of the few true Gujarati eateries in our area, which exists just a click beyond the Orange County line in Artesia's Little India.

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The Original Ramen Burger Coming To Torrance This Saturday!

Remember the ramen burger? The one that one GoRamen blogger and chef, Keizo Shimamoto, debuted in New York at a a thing called Smorgasburd and then immediately went viral? The one that everyone has been calling the next cronut ever since?

Well, it's coming to Southern California, like, this weekend, like, seriously! Shimamoto is serving it at the Torrance Mitsuwa on Saturday. But he's only making 500 of them.

You might be thinking to yourself right about now that Torrance is quite a schlep from OC. You might be thinking why didn't the dude, who is an OC boy originally, decide on the Costa Mesa Mitsuwa instead. Well, if you're going to wait hours in line for this thing, the drive to Torrance is the least of your worries.

Here's the announcement in Shimamoto's own words:

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BIG Opportunity: Help Make The World's Largest Cup Of Boba Tea

626 Night Market
Add this to the list of things to do before you die: Help make the world's largest cup of boba tea.

The opportunity is here! Folks from 626 Night Market, the massive Los Angeles-based food fest inspired by the epic night markets of Asia, plan to create a record-breaking boba drink to be unveiled at a future event. Why? Because it's boba, the beloved beverage anchored by slimy, chewy tapioca balls that can only slurped through a massive colored straw.

The cup will be big. HUGE. Here are the states, according to the Kickstarter page:

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Dishcrawl Launches Downtown Long Beach Event + Exclusive Chef Leak

For the voracious foodie, indecisive eater and social butterfly alike, Dishcrawl is for the first time spreading its bar-crawl-for-food concept to the eclectic restaurants of downtown Long Beach.

On March 12, Dishcrawl reps will escort ticketholders to four locations across downtown's dining and entertainment district where they will spend three hours sampling specialty dishes, exploring menus and even meeting the chefs themselves. The participating restaurants and chefs are usually kept secret until that day, but Dishcrawl gave us one of the names and told us we could leak it to you early!

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Indonesian Food Festival This Weekend in Hacienda Heights!

Edwin Goei

Now that you've eaten your weight in bánh chưng at Little Saigon's Tet Festival this past weekend, how about the Indonesian equivalent called bacang, or sate or gado gado?

The cuisine of the fourth-most-populous country on Earth--behind China, India and us (it's true; look it up)--will be featured at the annual Bazaar Imlek, a celebration of Chinese New Year hosted by the Indonesian Chinese American Association this Saturday at Wilson High School in Hacienda Heights from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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Bay Area Chow: Around-The-Clock Dining At Cafe Colma

Anne Marie Panoringan
Good morning! Cafe Colma style...

When folks go home to visit family, it might be another city, county, or state. When we head to the Bay Area for the parentals, there's always a neighborhood place we can rely on for a solid meal. Everyone has one. Ours in found in a city where there are more people six feet under than living. It's within a house of cards known as Lucky Chances. We always want to transpose the name, but instead of Colma Cafe it's referred to as Cafe Colma.

The city of Colma is adjacent to Daly City, the Filipino equivalent to Cerritos (Sure, there are restaurants in Anacrime, but we meant mass population). Outside of family get-togethers, we didn't grow up surrounded by the cuisine. Over the years, it populated the area like Asians in Irvine. This food is home to us, and we reserve most of our cravings for those visits home.

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BC Culinary Fest 2012: Gastronomic Desmadre, All Over Baja

This week's Tijuana Sí! is a call to action: get down to Baja California next weekend.

October 11-14 is Baja California Culinary Fest 2012, where all the unbelievably great food we write about here is showcased for the world to come see. Seafood, meat, beer, wine, vegetables, cheese... it's 20,000 calories under the border next weekend.

See also:
- Baja Culinary Fest [2011] to Take Place Oct. 5-9
- Five Products You Didn't Know Came From Baja
- Anthony Bourdain Told Me to Go to Baja. So I'd Be OK There. Right? [
LA Weekly]

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