A Taste of History

New UNLV collection recalls Vegas' dining past

Las Vegas may be one of the country’s top dining destinations today, but it wasn’t always that way.

A new collection at UNLV, Menus: The Art of Dining, takes a close look at the city’s culinary history and traces our gourmet evolution—from buttered-, milk- and French toast at the El Cortez, which were 15, 30 and 60 cents, respectively, in 1957—to the once-legendary $2.75 Sun Brunch at the Sands, which included a “miracle mile of gourmet goodies” and free champagne.

The Art of Dining involves more than 5,000 menus sourced from restaurants all over the world. Library staff spent more than a year digitizing about 1,500 of the menus, which are now included in a special online collection viewable at digital.library.unlv.edu.

The collection affords a taste of the past, thanks to menus from former Las Vegas hot spots such as the Sultan’s Table and Dome of the Sea at the Dunes, the Candlelight Room at the Flamingo, the Bacchanal Room at Caesars Palace and the Regency Room at the Sands.

If you want to delve further back into history, UNLV’s anthology also includes the Bohn-Bettoni Collection, which involves American, European and Canadian menus dating back as far as 1870.

The project was financed through a $50,000 grant from the Nevada State Library and Archives, and the collection can be viewed in person, free of charge, at UNLV’s Lied Library.

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