Saturday, September 23, 2006

All You Can Eat

Dining can be your alibi. Come to Vegas.

Billboards bearing this message can be spotted throughout California. Beyond the funny double-entendre, the idea of selling a destination on eating until your belly explodes sounds gross -- even in a country where "competitive eating" is regarded as a sport [a woman won the latest competition by eating almost ten pounds of fried okra]. The mere concept of going to Vegas to eat seems weird.

After all, gambling and sex are still the prime money earners, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. But things are changing. Local power brokers are engaged in a new form of competition: food. And blitz-advertising it. A Vegas re-focus on more traditional, family values? Could it be that Sin City is attempting to diversify from products that are Conservative no-no's?

The trend is serious enough that it drew the attention of Vogue America's food critic Jeffrey Steingarten. In this month's issue, he reports that "Sin City's most seductive pleasures are those that tempt the palate":
I have traveled to Las Vegas every few years to check out the restaurants, and every time I have gone home hungry. Now things are completely different. I'm pretty sure I've just dined at some of the finest restaurants in America [...] Nearly every notable restaurant in Las Vegas is the work of a [inter]nationally recognized chef whose reputation was made long ago and many miles away.
Steingarten goes on to review the best food fare in town -- from Chinese noodle and dumpling places; burgers and Cal-Mex joints; brasseries and steak houses; to haute-cuisine temples with stars such as Guy Savoy, Joël Robuchon, Paul Bartolotta, and Ducasse-trained Alessandro Stratta.

Quite an appetizing article, actually. Makes you want to check out Vegas again. For the food.
illustration Google Images

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