My Vegas Vacation – Trip Report, Part 1 – Stays & Eats

The Las Vegas Strip

The Las Vegas Strip from high up in Mandalay Bay.

Most trip reports begin with “Day 1” and takes the reader through the trip from beginning to end.

Let’s try something different.


This trip was not like our usual yearly Vegas Vacation – for one it was July.  I thought it was hot in July, but the average temperature was 117 degrees F.  Oh sure, it’s a dry heat and lowered to around 105 in the evenings, but who cares – who really needs to walk around anyway.

It ended with a monsoon.  Our final night had over 2 inches of rain in 5 hours with winds across the valley up to 69 mph!  The vent in our hotel room at Planet Hollywood had to be taped down because the wind kept popping it from the top of the window sill.


Bomb Tacos – Downtown, suggested by Tim & Michele from “Five Hundy by Midnight” (the original Las Vegas Podcast!).  It was outstanding. We recommend the cartinas, chorizo and crispy brisket tacos. The veggies are extremely fresh, the place is clean, and it’s all freshly prepared. An “NETG Must-Do” when in Downtown Vegas.

The Palms A.Y.C.E Buffet – The Palms is going through a major renovation after Red Rock Corp (formerly Stations Casinos) bought it. The buffet re-do is amazing.  Smaller than the big Strip Property buffets, it is still pretty large.  Salads were great, a wide variety of entrees across 7 stations – The Greenery, The Hearth, The Roastery, World Pan, Smoke & Fire, Revival & Sweet & Light. Centered around a large rotisserie and wood-burning grill, the Roastery station offers dishes like porchetta, French onion sliders and curry cauliflower heads. At the Hearth, a brick oven turns out duck cassoulet and fresh pizza, while Smoke & Fire serves barbecue ribs and smoked brisket.

Palms Buffet, courtesy of

For guests who’d like some lighter fare with their fries and pies, the Greenery provides salads and antipasti, and Revival dishes up health-focused fare like fresh-pressed juices and zucchini noodles. Part of the attraction is price: It’s just $12.99 for breakfast, $15.99 for lunch and $21.99 for dinner.  For more information on the Palms make-over, check-out Andy Wang’s review in Food & Wine called “A.Y.C.E. at Palms Is a Vegas Buffet That Does a Lot of Things Right”


Gordon Ramsay’s Burger – Yes, I know – why highlight ANOTHER burger place, isn’t Vegas saturated with burger joints?  Hold on, this new burger joint is a high end gourmet burger restaurant which we loved. We ordered three burgers, cut them in half and the tried all three. My favorite was the Blue Cheeseburger, which comes with blue cheese fig jam, arugula, cider vinegar reduction and spicy mayo. Mt wife loved the Mediterranean Burger with lamb patty, tandoori baste, feta cheese,tabbouleh salad, lemon vinaigrette, all subtle meshing together in one fantastic burger. We loved the Curry Burger, with chicken patty.  Looking for a great burger mid-Strip? Go to Gordon Ramsay’s Burger at Planet Hollywood.

Honorable Mentions: 

Ellis Island (Koval, off-strip) – I tend to forget how good that $9.99 steak special is.  The price is slightly higher than some of us remember, but is still outstanding and a NETG Vegas Top Value. Della’s Kitchen (Delano at MB) – somewhat pretentious breakfast, but the quality of the food was terrific. Order the chorizo patty’s with your breakfast. Coco’s Bakery Restaurant (behind Hooters, walking distance from MGM Grand, Hooters, Tropicana, some other south Strip properties.) want a good, hearty breakfast, for a decent price with a Las Vegas local Flavor?  Check out Coco’s. It was a nice find for a place outside the mammoth properties of the South Strip.

At Coco’s Bakery Restaurant. You should see their pies! Think Perkins, only homemade and twice as many flavors.


Mandalay Bay 

If you have stayed at Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun, you would find many similarities.  But one is not gambling. The staff is friendly and helpful, very typical of MGM properties. It has an Arena similar in size and usage to Mohegan Sun Arena, where we saw our CT SUN WNBA team play the new Las Vegas Aces (unfortunately lose to the Aces.) It has shoppes like the Sun, but no where near a comparison to the Tanger Shoppes in Foxwoods. The Gambling I will cover tomorrow.

This is the second time I have stayed at MB in three years. The rooms are large, spacious and homey.  This is a good thing – it’s a comfy room. But then there are other considerations:

  • The doors creek, especially in the room, to the toilet. Every time someone opens the toilet door, it sounds like someone opened the Munsters front door – enough to wake someone in the middle of the night.
  • Then there is the gurgling sound from the sinks – think Blue Man Group tubes if you ever saw the show – yes during the night.  The TV didn’t work until day 2.
  • Who was the genius who designed the door to the bathroom opening directly in front of the beds?  What’s wrong with the door opening in the hall inside the room, like everybody else?  Our doors couldn’t even stay closed.

So, a night in a Mandalay Bay room goes like this.  You get up to use the toilet in the middle of the night.  Open the first doors right next to someone sleeping…….gurgle, gurgle, gurgle……. creeeeeeeek……….gurgle, gurgle…………creeeeeeeek………….closed doors next to someone sleeping.


Mid-Strip is a great place to be.  Planet Ho has a fun, partying atmosphere. Our room was one of the Ultra Hip room, two queens.  These rooms used to have the rock memorabilia in each room.  The renovations are nice, in a sort of ho-hum way.  It’s clean, but the amenities are a little lacking. And it feels SMALL! Even the white walls don’t help that aspect. we enjoyed the room, but it was a little claustrophobic.

I would recommend both.  Each have advantages.

Tomorrow we tackle the Gambling aspect of the trip. We will also play NETG Best Three lists and give you our NETG Vegas Not-Shots.

Until tomorrow,




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