We’ve driven to Las Vegas more times than I care to remember, but on this trip we had six new DDD places to check out. A real treat.
We first headed to Forte European Tapas Bar & Bistro. We were way too early for dinner and so we didn’t have to wait for a table. The décor inside has to be seen to be believed. It was very colorful yet elegant. Our server, Denitza, took great care of us; and we got to meet the owner, Nina Manchev. If you haven’t seen the DDD segment, I don’t want to spoil it for you. If you have seen it, then you’ll understand all the fun things we had to talk to Nina about, not the least of which is the great food. Nina is talented, sharp, warm and gracious. She posed for a picture with Anna but sadly it did not turn out.
We ordered the mixed grill plate that was made on the show, as well as an order of beef stroganoff. We were first served an irresistible basked of bread called Lepina. The rest of the food came out promptly and it was a delight. All three sausages were great, and our favorite was the Kebabche (the one in the foreground). The salad, slaw, and sauce made for a fun variety of tasting sensations. The stroganoff was the best I can ever remember having in a restaurant (note it was more of a tapas portion than an entrée portion). Between the two dishes, the bread, the great service and lovely atmosphere, Forte was a big hit with us and it gets our highest recommendation. It’s a little off the strip, but well worth the short trip.
Our last stop for the night was at Bachi Burger. They were packed, but it was a very short wait. The place has high ceilings and is decorated elegantly with a minimalist theme. I liked it a lot. The service was great too. I was looking for a great and unique food tasting experience. Unfortunately, the flavors just didn’t quite work for me. We ordered the Kiki Burger, the Bachi Dog, the ox-tail chili, and an order of fries with a spicy garlic aioli. The fries and the Bachi Dog were out of the park home runs. I was trying to fall in love with the chili, but it had beans in it and they seemed undercooked to me. I sent it back.
If I can quote George Michael, the burger was just too funky for me. I can appreciate that it was made to represent the finest of its kind. However, it was oddly sweet and even a bit sticky. I love Asian flavors, but the burger just didn’t work for me. I wasn’t upset, just disappointed. We ate it anyway. The manager was concerned about our satisfaction with the food. Although they were still packed, he wanted to hear all about the food and make sure that we left happy. I made it clear that there wasn’t anything wrong with the burger, I just didn’t care for it. He wanted to take it off the bill, but I wanted to pay for it. He left it on the bill for us, but offered us a peanut butter milk shake (which was dreamy).
Even though we didn’t care for that particular burger, we give Bachi Burger high marks for great service, great décor, customer satisfaction and good food. I’d go back myself and try some of the other fare. I’ve figured out (finally) that I don’t care for brioche buns, sweet or not. I just don’t like the texture or the mouth feel.
We started the next day at John Mull’s Road Kill Grill for lunch. The food was great. Getting the food was not so great. There was a line out the door for a little cafeteria style food station. The choice was like: 1, 2, or 3 meats and 2 sides. Not rocket science. Yet, it seemed to take forever to get people served up and moving through the line; during which time it was uncomfortably crowded and hot. The three or four people there working the line were polite and friendly, but they were acting like it was their first day on the job.
I didn’t see the point in both of us standing in the tight little space, so I suggested that Anna wait outside. Anna wanted macaroni and cheese. I was going to get baked beans for the second side, but the green beans looked irresistible (calling me to my Southern roots). Our three meats were two of my favorites—brisket and hot links, and Anna’s favorite—pulled pork. By the time I got lunch, Anna had secured us a nice table and was deep into conversation with a family at the next table. They were on summer vacation and touring all the way from the mid-west. They were big fans of DDD and we started trading travel stories.
It was a big day for us because we were going to hit our 200th place, and it was a big day for them too because it was the daughter’s birthday (Victoria) who was turning a sweet 15. A great time was had by all, and the food was excellent. Anna and I took turns picking at it while the other carried the conversation and regaled the traveling family with our stories and adventures. There must be thousands and thousands of hard core DDD fans with lots of places under their belts, but we haven’t had much of an opportunity to visit with many yet. We told them we’d like to stay in touch and wished them happy trails.
Anna and I shared a lunch because we needed to save room for Yayo Tacos, which is a casual place right across the street from UNLV. The girl at the front was very friendly and attentive, even though it was her first day on the job. We ordered a sampler platter of four tacos: barbacoa, al pastor, picadillo, and carne asada, which were accompanied with generous portions of two side dishes (sweet potato fries, tortilla chips), as well as pico de gallo, and a soda. I’d say you better hurry over to Yayo Tacos because they will be out of business soon. The tacos were delicious and each taco had enough meat for two or three tacos. It ended up being so much food, we were barely hungry when we headed over to Lola’s. The huge platter of food was at least half price from what it should have been. Maybe they’re selling enchiladas for $100 or something to average out the tacos, but I hope they are still there the next time we want tacos by UNLV.
We called Lola’s before we left home. We picked it in advance to be our 200th place and we wanted to make sure that we’d be able to meet Lola while we were there. We didn’t talk to Lola in advance, but we were told that she is almost always there while they are open. That was good enough for us to take our chances.
We arrived at Lola’s a little before the dinner rush. Lola was available and gave us a hearty welcome. She gave us her undivided attention and chatted with us until the dinner rush started. I’d never seen a restaurant get packed so fast. We were lucky to get a table at all, not having a reservation. Lola herself was very warm and gracious and even posed for a picture with Anna.
We have not been to New Orleans for the food as of yet. I was considering this as my first opportunity to have a fried shrimp po-boy. We also sampled the Jambalaya. I’m happy to report that the food was capital D Delicious. Lola has a real passion for the authentic Louisiana flavors, which is just what we were looking for. The super fresh and perfectly grilled bread complemented the satisfying contrast of the hot GBD fried shrimp with the cold snap of the lettuce, tomatoes and dressing. I was happy to savor every bite. The picture does not begin to do the po-boy justice.
Our server took good care of us, and just about the time we were finished, Lola came back out to our table and treated us to dessert. We ordered the Bananas Foster Bread Pudding. Yes, that’s all wrapped up into one dessert. Bread pudding made with banana bread and fresh bananas topped with caramel sauce. It is so rich and gooey, it has to be cut with a delicious scoop of vanilla bean ice cream to balance out the sweetness. Boy, they like it sweet in the South. This could be the best Louisiana food outside of Nawlins, or at least this side of the Rockies.
Lola’s is very impressive and gets our highest recommendation. I went back to Lola’s a few weeks later and ordered the roast beef po-boy (which is the po-boy that Lola made for Guy on the show). It was succulent and satisfying. I also took some friends to the Four Kegs and got them turned on to the Strombolis (which was my third visit). I finally got my Stromboli fix and decided that on my next visit I will try the Sicilian Pizza (promise). The Stromboli looks deceptively easy to make, but that dough must be made with some kind of magic dust or something. I better change the subject or I will start drooling all over my desk.
201… Our next DDD spot was Naked City Pizza (the next day). It was dark inside and the first thing we noticed was that everyone was dressed, including our waitress. I guess the “Get Naked” tee-shirts are referring to something besides people. So that was a relief (we were ready to strip it down for some great pizza). We had a friend of ours with us and we ordered two pizzas. A combo pizza, and the meatball pizza which was made on the show. We all agreed that the meatball pizza was crazy good.
The meatballs were rich and succulent and combined with the spinach, creamy ricotta cheese and white garlic sauce to make an incredible taste sensation. We would have liked more of the meatballs, but otherwise it was a masterpiece. The second pizza was great too, but paled by comparison to the meatball pizza. They have lots of other great food on the menu and I’ll be surprised if we don’t end up back there soon. The chef and owner, Christopher, was too busy to make it out to our table, but he did thank us for coming in.
So there’s the first 200 plus one. We expect to have a big Texas trip coming soon. Thanks for reading and sharing our stories. I hope that we will be able to keep them coming.