I was in Las Vegas, Nevada earlier this year for a food and travel writers conference (IFWTWA) and some of the attendees were talking about this fantastic restaurant called First Food & Bar. Sadly, it was not on my rotation schedule of restaurants I was to visit as part of the conference. So, I ducked out one afternoon between sessions and went to check it out myself.
Despite being mid-week, and post-lunch rush, many of the restaurants we passed in The Shoppes at The Palazzo were still packed. I was a bit worried we were not going to get in, but relief set in when they said they could still take a party of two on a walk in.
I did some reading up on the chef and the menu before we went and one main menu item kept popping up…
Doritos Mac N Cheese
Oh yeah! Voted “Best of Vegas” By Las Vegas Weekly, this interesting side dish had made it on nearly every review, blog post, and article I read.
There was only one problem though…pretty much everything on the menu had come highly recommended. I warned Mom to loosen her pants and get ready to chow. Sadly, we didn’t get to sample as much as I would’ve liked, but it was enough to know that I will definitely come back on my next trip back home to Vegas (why oh why did all these great restaurants come after I moved from Sin City!?!)
Here’s a look at what we sampled:
Warm Goat Cheese “Souffle” ($14)
The warm goat cheese was crusted with pistachios and had cranberries, Asian pears, and white balsamic vinegar. My mom has never had goat cheese and is really not an adventurous eater at all so I was shocked that she ended up loving this. And I do mean loving it…to the point that she still talks about it months later!
The goat cheese was soft and just a hint of sweetness. Combine that with the sweetness from the cranberries, the tartness of the balsamic vinegar, and the crunchy saltiness of the pistachios — definite home run for me.
I love goat cheese and the best I ever tried was home made at a winery in Australia. I loved it so much we bought a jar to take back to the hotel with us. I have since searched for goat cheese that rivaled this for three years since, without avail. This goat cheese was the closest in flavor profile so I was nearly moved to tears.
Yes, I almost cried over goat cheese!
BBQ Pulled Pork Eggroll ($15)
This dish I had to try because of the BBQ sauce, which is made with Dr. Pepper. I have a friend in Belize who is literally obsessed with Dr. Pepper and many of his followers swear by BBQ sauce made with it. The eggrolls also had buttermilk slaw and corn slathered on top.
I will probably be chastised for saying this…I did not get a whole lot of Dr. Pepper flavor, but it was extremely good. The pulled pork was moist and juicy and the BBQ sauce was rich and had just a bit of spicy tang.
Dr. Pepper or not, I’d definitely order these again.
Philly Cheesesteak Dumplings ($17)
Asian dumpling, meet Philly Cheesesteak. Enough said!
This is a match made in heaven for the other half of Our Tasty Travels. Brett is a bit of a Philly Cheesesteak connoisseur growing up near Philadelphia, so he would’ve jumped on these no doubt. They are served with a spicy siracha ketchup that was amazing.
These still call out to me in my dreams. I will have you again…one day!
Waldorf Salad ($15)
Moving on to more entree type dishes, my Mom ordered the Waldorf Salad with toasted walnuts and the most interesting croutons — frozen grapes! I only had a bite of her salad as I was pretty much already stuffed after splitting three appetizers.
Doritos Mac N Cheese ($10)
Now, this is listed as a side dish, but was easily an entire entree for me…one I still would’ve had difficulty finishing without devouring three appetizers. It’s made with four different cheeses, including pepper jack and cream cheese, and then finished off with a crust of crumbled Doritos chips. Rumor has it, there is even Doritos seasoning in the mac n cheese itself.
Would you believe this was actually taken off the menu at one point, but after tons of requests, they put it back on. My guess is it will always have a home on the menu now.
I would love to say we sampled some desserts, but alas, the food coma was already taking hold and I had to head straight to a wine tasting seminar (such a rough life, I know!)
I’m dying to get back to Vegas so I can tackle First Food & Bar’s dessert menu, but I probably need about 10 people to help me. Double Down Dirt Cake, Delilah’s Brulee, Matt’s Moochin’ Monkey Bread, and Milk & Cookie Dough Truffles…you will be mine!
About First Food & Bar
First Food & Bar is great because they are open until 2am, making it a perfect late night stop on the Strip. The restaurant has a cool vibe – a bit of modern, industrial grunge and goth style, blended with dark, warm colors so it’s very hip yet casual. There was everyone from tattooed rockers to business men in full suits the afternoon I was there.
Chef Sam DeMarco, better known as Chef Sammy D, is the culinary mastermind behind the menu at First Food & Bar. If you are hip on New York City’s dining scene, you might recognize Sam’s name from ironically, FIRST, the restaurant he opened back in 1993 in the East Village.
First Food & Bar
Open Daily 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 a.m.
We were hosted at The Venetian Resort as part of our travel and food writers’ conference, but all views and opinions expressed are my own.