Brunch has become a weekend ritual across America to the point where people proudly wear “Brunch So Hard” shirts with a mimosa in hand as they prepare for a late morning meal on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s just like that in Las Vegas. Times 10.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours offers the wildly popular Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch (Saturday and Sunday) at the ARIA Hotel & Casino. The rest of the week includes a variety of lunch and dinner tours on the strip as well as a localized food tour in the downtown area called Fremont East. The area, which has been focusing on the revitalization of the historic downtown is credited to Tony Hsieh, CEO of the online shoe and clothing company Zappos, who moved the company out to Vegas. On the Fremont East tour, guests will learn about unique eateries, speakeasies and members-only bars.
Donald Contursi is the brainchild behind the fantastic foodie concept, which he started about three and a half years ago.
“I worked in restaurants and found myself wanting to see and experience the different restaurants and what they’re famous for,” he said, noting that visitors who are here for a couple of days, don’t get a wide selection of dishes to choose from. “We highlight what is the favorite for VIPs, with no waiting and the food comes right out. It’s three to four signature dishes, a tasting menu of sorts (you get a cocktail or mocktail with the Boozy Brunch) of whatever that restaurant is famous for.”
Popular among corporate groups or for those looking for something different, Contursi recommends taking the tour at the beginning of your trip in case you want to revisit any of the restaurants.
During my stay, I enjoyed the Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch tour, which begins at 10:30 a.m. and runs for 2.5 hours at three restaurants within the ARIA Resort and Casino: Herringbone, Bardot Brasserie and Lemongrass.
On this tour, you’ll indulge in three premiere brunches complete with a cocktail or mocktail of your choosing. Your tour guide will also point out various works of art that adorn the lobby of the ARIA on this walking tour. And you’ll be glad to walk off all those delicious calories.
Named “Best Brunch’’ by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, start your morning brunch marathon with a visit to Herringbone, opened by Top Chef’s Brian Malarkey. Stations include “Carved & Scrambled,’’ “Farm Fresh,’’ “Kid-In-You” and more. Enjoy your spoils al fresco and while you may want to eat everything in sight (the selection of fresh salads and pastries were my favorite), you are only allowed one plate and one turn at the buffet so as not to fill up in one place.
At Bardot Brasserie, rev up your sweet tooth with caramelized, custardy canelés, as well as golden brioche French toast gilded with vanilla mascarpone and almond brittle. Sip a chic French 75 (French gin, fresh lemon juice, Champagne) or an elegant non-alcoholic French Mule (velvet falernum, ginger beer, yuzu) at this glamorous French café founded by acclaimed Chef Michael Mina that was a James Beard semi-finalist for Best New Restaurant.
The stunning bar is the highlight here as well as the chartreuse and cognac program, with a spirit that dates back as far as 1811. You can sample some for $1,200 per ounce.
Next, revel in brunch Asian-style, with dim sum at Lemongrass. Known for its dim sum buffets (the Thai restaurant is Chinese on the weekends), the chef drives down from San Diego to specifically cook the dim sum every weekend. Classic steamer-basket delicacies such as sui mai, har gow and barbecue pork buns are not to be missed, especially paired with refreshing Thai iced tea or a breezy Watermelon Caipiroska (Grey Goose Vodka, lime, fresh watermelon juice). End your stop here with the always-popular warm, sweet, coconut sticky rice with fresh mango.
A perfect warm-up for an afternoon of lying by the pool or relaxing at the spa, this brunch extravaganza makes for an ideal couples outing, bachelorette party, friends reunion or birthday celebration. Prices begin at $149 per person.
For more information about Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, visit www.vegasfoodietour.com.
The Boozy Brunch is located in the ARIA Resort Hotel & Casino, 3730 S Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas.
Other Vegas Eateries To Visit
Modeled after a country home, Primrose is a French café that features garden-inspired dishes and cocktails in the drawing room, dining room, or in the outdoor terrace & garden. For breakfast, the charming bistro offers delicious house blend coffee, fresh fruit, buttermilk pancakes, omelettes and a must-try bacon, egg and cheese croissant. For lunch, sample hearty sandwiches, salads and fresh juice blends. View the menu at www.parkmgm.com.
Located at Park MGM, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd.
Richly decorated and deeply luxurious, the design-driven restaurant and entertainment complex that is TAO Las Vegas is a popular city hotspot. Guests can dine on crab cakes, specialty sushi rolls, traditional chicken and beef with broccoli dishes, lo mein, and the eatery’s famous miso-glazed Chilean sea bass with vegetables. Visit www.taolasvegas.com for more information.
Located in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian Hotel & Casino, 3377 S Las Vegas Blvd.
Custom cocktails are the name of the game at Rosina, an elegant and seductively glamorous cocktail retreat with an Art Deco flair that celebrates the classic cocktail, boasting a menu of beloved originals using the highest quality ingredients. Sip on a Manhattan, Dark and Stormy, Sidecar or a Ramos Gin Fizz, which features gin, orange blossom water, egg whites and club soda.
“It’s a bartender’s choice experience where we get to build classic cocktails that have been lost in time,” said mixologist Daniel Yang. “The bar is designed like a trolley from the 1920s and a lot of our drinks are from the Prohibition era with a lot of history behind them.”
Located at The Palazzo, The Venetian Hotel & Casino, 3325 S Las Vegas Blvd.