The push of restaurants to appear directly on the Las Vegas Strip continues apace with Denver import Tom’s Urban (866-815-4365), which just opened right under the Brooklyn Bridge at New York-New York. The menu is fun and approachable, yet sophisticated enough to excite even the most jaded food lovers (myself included). Take the pot sticker salad, which founder Tom Ryan created to get his kids to eat vegetables. In order to get to the ginger chicken pot stickers, they had to also dig into the mound of crunchy chopped salad with spicy Sriracha and peanut dressing. The Big Ass Eggroll—essentially a chimichanga with egg roll innards—is more nuanced than it seems, with flavorful grilled chicken, green rice and cabbage tucked into the wrapper topped with peanut sauce and Asian glaze. What you think might be usual suspects will definitely surprise you here.
Proving that even old favorites deserve a facelift every once in a while, the Buffet at Excalibur (702-597-7777) sports a new look by Cleo Design, with an overhaul of the menu to match. International flair now dominates the all-you-can-eat extravaganza, with six food stations dedicated to small-batch Asian, Italian, American and Latin dishes. Brunch sees interesting bites such as vanilla bean adobo tacos, which puts Asian flavors on fresh tortillas, while guests can finish their meals with hand-dipped ice cream bars. On Fridays, every crustacean you could desire is available: crawfish, crab legs, blue crab and peel-and-eat shrimp, not to mention lobster polenta and sushi.
On the more intense seafood front: If you’ve ever wondered why Vikings were so tough, consider the culinary curiosity that is lutefisk. Made from dried cod that is treated with lye, the Scandinavian specialty will be honored at the 17th annual Vegas Viking Lodge Sons of Norway Lutefisk Dinner on January 31 at the Boulder City Elks Lodge Lodge. When reconstituted, the delicacy has a gelatinous texture and a decidedly acquired taste that will definitely put some hair on your chest. Never fear, the intense fish is tempered by being drenched in butter or white sauce, with traditional accompaniments of roasted pork, boiled potatoes, peas, carrots and lefse, the Norwegian crepe-like flatbread. Tickets to the 3 and 6 p.m. seatings must be purchased by January 22 by calling 702-869-5775. Velbekomme!