8.14.2008

Gluten free Vegas trip!

UPDATE: I added the list of gluten free restaurants after contacting the Celiac Support Group in Vegas for permission. Please look at the end of this post for their list. Please post if you ever go to any of the places, I would love to hear about your experience!

So I went with some friends to Vegas a few weekends ago. It was a blast and for someone who hasn’t been to Vegas with friends, a great time was had by all. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and left Sunday afternoon, so our trip was a short, yet sweet one.

This was one of my first real vacations to a completely new place now that I’m gluten free. I was nervous about what to do while I was there, so I went ahead and contacted the Celiac Support Group in Vegas via email to get a list of gluten free places so that way I would have some idea of what my options were. We ended up more just eating at whatever place we were close to at the time (most of us being Vegas rookies, it was hard to really plan ahead). Thankfully, I had just received a set of free Triumph Dining Cards to review on my website (look back later for a full review of them) or else it would have been much more difficult. Here is a break down of the gluten adventures:

Hotel: Paris
We decided that we wanted to stay on the strip, which I recommend if you aren’t used to Vegas much (plus, you can get a more expensive hotel and then cram a lot of people inside). We didn’t end up eating at the hotel, but I did call the main line for their restaurants and the person on the other end had no idea what gluten was. They went and checked and looks like the cooks they talked to had no idea either. So, keep that in mind.

Alcohol (aka the reason most people go to Vegas)
I haven’t been able to drink alcohol (except up until recently) because the acid was too much for my stomach to handle. Now that my body has experienced the healing powers of not killing it with gluten constantly, it’s healed considerably. Unfortunately, this means that I’ve never been able to drink ever since I turned 21. This has resulted in two sad things: 1. I have no idea what drinks to order and 2. I can’t hold my liquor. It’s really funny actually how little I can drink. I have a half of a wine cooler and I’m toasted. One shot and I’m completely gone. Good thing drinking isn’t really my thing. But this has made me realize that I had no idea what drinks I could order that don’t have gluten in them! I have no idea if margarita mixes have gluten in them and I don’t know if flavored liquor does either. I ended up drinking a screwdriver (vodka and orange juice), because that’s the only thing I could think of other than a mimosa (champagne and orange juice) or a rum & coke. So, I’m doing some research on gluten free drinks that I will hopefully be able to post later so that way you can know a small list of gluten free cocktails that you can order at a bar. Because Vegas is just more exciting with a little alcohol thrown into the mix. ;)

Quarks Bar
Located in the Star Trek Experience, this place will close in a few weeks.
So the main reason we went to Vegas is that the Star Trek Experience is closing (yes, we did make a special Vegas trip just for that. Dorks = cool). So we had to eat at the restaurant that was inside the Experience. I handed my Triumph Dining Card to our waiter, asked the normal questions about the menu, and he went off to the back to inquire. I was surprised at the menu, basically everything was breaded, fried, or a sandwich. Not many gluten free options. The chef came out and we discussed my options, and by options I mean she didn’t know what gluten was and I just ended up with grilled chicken and unseasoned veggies. Not a bad meal, since it was cooked wonderfully, just kinda boring. My friends ended getting the legendary Warp Core Breach (aka the quickest way to get wasted in Vegas). I felt a little left out, so I ended going and talking to the bartender to see if he had any suggestions on what I could drink that might be gluten free, but he kinda freaked out at the idea of gluten and said he didn’t feel comfortable serving me any alcohol, so he refused to. Worried about getting sued, I’m sure. Sigh. All in all it was nice, although the company really made the experience, not the food.

Golden Gate Hotel
Located in downtown on the old strip, this is Vegas’ oldest casino and hotel.
We went here for brunch. I ended up ordering steak and eggs. I think it naturally came gluten free since the only seasonings were salt and pepper. I did replace my side item with fruit, just so I wouldn’t have to ask about it. I was great and really hit the spot. It was also the cheapest place we ate at, but it was my favorite. The wait staff was really nice. We were the youngest people there (maybe by 30+ years) but the place had the feel of an old diner were all the people are regulars. I have to admit, I really enjoyed downtown much more than the new Strip. The pace was slower and there weren’t tons of people. Plus, most people weren’t completely wasted (although we did go in the morning) and there weren’t tons of people handing out Girls Girls Girls flyers (does everyone find that as annoying as I do?). I love retro places and this fit my bill. Plus, the whole street is covered so it’s tons cooler than walking around on the strip since it’s all in shade. This seemed to be it’s biggest selling point to all my friends who didn’t grow up in places that could match the 108 degree heat. Plus, they have the old neon signs everywhere. We pondered how the next Strip will look like in 30 years after everyone has gotten tired of the current Vegas while we took pictures.

Hard Rock Café
Located off the Strip.
So, it’s really important to note that there is a difference in the café in the Hard Rock Hotel and the separate standing Hard Rock Café. We went to the Hard Rock Café thinking that they had gluten free menu (based on what I read), but we were confusing it with the Hard Rock Hotel restaurant which apparently does. Mostly we went because we heard that there is a $8 steak that’s not listed on the menu, but you can ask for it (turns out that was the one in the hotel, not the café itself). The service at the Hard Rock Café in Vegas is the second worse service I’ve ever received! It was terrible! We had a bartender as our waitress, which might explain it. I’m not sure why she was waiting on tables, but I do know she wasn’t happy about it. I went through and explained what gluten was and starting asking questions about their menu. She kinda stared at me blankly. I keep thinking to myself, “Is this person high?” She goes off with my Triumph card to the back and comes back saying almost everything has gluten in it, especially the side item that comes with my meal (mash potatoes?). Here is how the conversation went:
I ask, “Ok, what other side items do you have that I could have instead?
Long pause. She stares at me blankly.
I realize that this isn’t going any where. So I say, “Do you have steamed veggies?”
She says, “Yeah, I think so. I would have to check.”
Long pause.
I respond, “Oh, well do you have any other sides? Baked potato, fries, fruit perhaps?”
Long pause.
She says slowly, “Uh, well, we fruit from the bar.”
I look at her confused and say, “You mean bar fruit. Like lemon slices?
She perks up a bit, “Yeah, do you want some of those?”
My table gawks at her.
After this fun time (no, I didn’t end up ordering lemon slices as my side item), she kinda disappeared, never to be heard from again. We ended up having to get other waiters to bring us our food, water, etc. The one good thing that came out of the experience was an inside joke from our group. Anytime something doesn’t work for us, we randomly shout, “Bar fruit!”

So all in all we had bunches of fun. Apparently, I’m terrible at gambling (which I learned the hard way) but so was everyone else in my group so we had a good time. I think if I did this again, I would chat with my group more and plan out the food better. This was kinda a spur of the moment trip, but I would try to plan ahead better next time. Good thing I took snacks with me or else it might have been a bit grim. All in all, I recommend Vegas. :)

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The list below is the one provided to me by Celiac Support Group in Vegas. I took off the places that I found no longer exist. There are tons of gluten free options, so feel free to have fun! Oh, and note that most of the places on this list are super expensive, so if you are trying to keep it under $20 a meal, you should maybe do a little more research on your own. Enjoy!

~+~

Gluten-Free in Las Vegas List

This list is to help people find places to eat safely. The responsibility rests with each individual to inquire and check to be certain they are being served appropriately GF food.

The list is formed by word of mouth from people who have eaten in these places. Remember, menus and ingredients change without notice. Be responsible – ask ask ask ask – then ASK AGAIN.

Aureole – Mandalay Bay – call for reservations and tell them about GF
Baskin Robbins – look online for up to date info
Bellagio - FIX Steakhouse
Bonefish Grill – GF menu on web site
Border Grill at Mandalay Bay – ask for GF menu. Four Seasons has GF bread at their buffet, separated.
Buca Di Beppo – call for GF list
Café Ba Ba Reeba in Fashion Show Mall –chef prepared and delivered personally to table GF stuffed mushrooms! Putting together a GF menu also.
Capitol Grille in Fashion Show Mall (ask for GF menu)
Carrabas – www.carrabas.com
Chili's – email for current info
Chinois – Forum Shops at Caesar's – GF menu
Claim Jumpers
Dairy Queen – look online for up to date info
Denny's - look online for up to date info
El Pollo Loco – email for up to date info
Fellini's at the Stratosphere – talk to chef –call ahead
Fleming's – Call ahead and arrange GF meal
Hamachi - Red Rock Hotel - wrap in soy paper and also wraps in cucumber but take your own soy sauce.
Hugo's - in basement of Four Queens on Fremont St. Downtown – excellent.
In N Out Burger - on Trop and I-15 – GF fries, order burger "Protein style" – comes wrapped in lettuce leaves – OR order "flying Dutchman style" – just meat and cheese. If they seem stumped, ask for manager.
Joel Robuchon – MGM (have concierge help – these places will cater to you) $$$
Joe's Stone Crab and Steakhouse in Caesar's Forum Shops
L'Attlier (Robuchon) – worth every penny
Macaroni Grill – email for current info
Maggiano's in Fashion Show Mall (GF pasta–Talk to chef – will accommodate, call ahead, wonderful!
McFadden's Irish Grill and Pub - Rio - has GF list and will work with you
Mesa Grill in Caesar's (Bobby Flay chef)
Mimi's Café
Mirage – Wolfgang Puck's grill, and Emmett's Fish house $$$$$
Nobhill – MGM.
Outback – north of Harrah's and throughout the valley
P. F. Chang's – Hard Rock Hotel and off the Strip on Paradise/Flamingo.
Paymon's Mediterranean on Maryland Pkwy – check phone book – they have limited items but are great and good.
Pei Wei (P.F.CHang spin-off – fast food-ask for GF menu) in Henderson
Red Robin America's Gourmet Burgers and Spirits – email for info
Shibuya – MGM - they have GF soy sauce and wrap in soy paper
Simon, and AJ's - at Hard Rock $$$$$ (2 different places)
Sir Galahad's – Excalibur
South Point's Silverado Steakhouse – south on the Strip
Stack and Samba - Mirage
The Rainforest Café – MGM - Ask for head chef.
Todd's Unique Dining; 4350 E. Sunset Rd. by Green Valley Pkwy,( Near Trader Joe's Market)
Tony Roma's – email for up to date info – we eat here often – no problems.
Wendy's - look online for up to date info

Markets:
Whole Foods; Trader Joe's; health food section most supermarkets; Great Harvest Bread Company, (702)306-1476, Tina – they bake GF bread;–bring your favorite crackers with you

4 comments:

Derek said...

Let me tell you there is no item of information that is more confusing to express than "The cafe at the Hard Rock."

"Oh, you mean the Hard Rock Cafe?"

Is there even a right way to answer? :P

Jenn said...

Human Spirit!
Maybe next time we should just stick with what we know like PF Changs, or Chili's.

Clara said...

I have tried both Carrabas and Outback. They are both really good.

Carrabas was a favorite of mine and my Hubbys before I went gluten free, so when I found out that they had a gluten free menu, I was so excited. I have been there twice and while their waiters only have a general knowledge of gluten (as in they know pasta and bread is bad), they are really helpful and seemed to really care. They went and asked questions of the cooks when they were unsure and didn't make me feel like it was an inconvenience. Their food is SO yummy!

We've only eaten at Outback once since going gluten free, but with baked potatoes, steamed veggies and plain grilled meat on the menu, it was really easy to order a safe meal. And really tasty, too!

Clara said...

Oops! I also meant to share this link:
http://gfkitchen.server101.com/GFAlcohol.htm

It talks all about gluten free alcohol