Burgers are everywhere in Vegas these days, but where can I get a great Monte Cristo?
My favorite decadent sandwich adventure was once a staple of casino coffee shops. And why not? Loaded with turkey, ham and Swiss cheese, dipped in egg batter, fried (either in a pan with butter or in a deep fryer), dusted with powdered sugar, and served hot with a tart jam to foil the richness, it’s a meat-stuffed mash-up with the sweetness of French toast. Breakfast, lunch and dessert in every bite—#yumz!
I discovered the Monte Cristo as a kid, and scarfed them down in my teens during summer Saturday jaunts down the Strip. Memories of those times recently led me to UNLV Special Collections, where a database search of old casino restaurant menus left me baffled. I saw the “Pancake Sandwich” on several old menus, including this 55-cent special from the old Silver Slipper: crisp bacon, nestled in egg, between two golden brown pancakes, dripping in melted butter and melted syrup, served with our delicious coffee. But that is neither a Monte Cristo nor a sandwich. Who knew a simple question would spawn a fool’s errand?
I kept looking. UNLV’s collection isn’t comprehensive, and the Sands Garden Room was the only one confirming the existence of the sandwich on the Strip: It was the Monte Cristo Delight, which suffered the unfortunate addition of tomato, but I’ll take what I can get.
Fast-forward to today. With the help of a dialing partner (and fellow native), we phoned about two dozen restaurants—from casino coffee shops to “French café” type places, such as Mon Ami Gabi at Paris—searching for the sandwich. We were certain that at least three of the restaurants offered them: Jerry’s Nugget’s coffee shop, Du-par’s at the Golden Gate and the Peppermill. Jerry’s and Du-par’s list a Monte Cristo on their online menu, but Jerry’s has actually stopped frying them up, while Du-par’s, in a weird twist, serves them only in their non-Vegas locations. What about the Peppermill? An employee there insisted they have never served them.
So, to answer your question—where can I find a great Monte Cristo?—the only place I discovered is the suburban breakfast joint the Cracked Egg, which has five Valley locations. Problem is, this Monte Cristo is merely good, not “great” (my critique: not enough powdered sugar, wrongly served with syrup instead of jam).
Perhaps in the coming weeks, our readers can solve this little mystery. In the meantime, I’ll continue trying to figure out what city I live in, because this sure isn’t the Vegas I remember.