The Great Monte Cristo Debate, Take 2

Photo by Jon Estrada

Photo by Jon Estrada

Given the response to last week’s column detailing my futile search for a great Monte Cristo sandwich, food clearly rates as a top concern for many readers. The Cristo question generated plenty of email and social media feedback, ranging from nostalgic mental noshing to suggestions of where to taste the elusive treat.

The Peppermill remains a mystery. Readers insist that the Strip’s classic 24-hour café once offered (or still offers) the sandwich, despite denials from employees and my own recent reconnaissance. Others eagerly suggested such restaurants as the Eldorado and Emerald Island casinos in Henderson, The Lodge at Grand Teton, and Sunset Station’s Grand Café—none of which list the Cristo on the menu. Others mentioned Roxy’s Diner (Stratosphere) and Earl of Sandwich (Planet Hollywood). Nope.

Are we all suffering some romantic, deep-fried, powdered-sugar-fueled Vegas delusion?

For nostalgia’s sake, Tami B. noted that old-timers’ fave Jo-Ell’s Diner (Decatur and Alta, now called Lou’s) used to serve one, while Steve K. remembers an “excellent” version at the Pink Pony in Circus Circus “in the early to mid-’70s.” That was around the same time that others enjoyed the sandwich at the Caesars Palace coffee shop. Clay H. fondly recalls one of my go-to spots, the now-closed Carson Street Café (Golden Nugget), which “used to have an amazing one.”

Speaking of Downtown, the Goodwich was name-checked quite a bit. While they do offer to make any of their delicious sandwiches “Monte Cristo style” for an extra buck, let’s be clear: “Monte Cristo style” is not a Monte Cristo. Ditto for the donut-based iteration at PBR Rock Bar and the S’mores Monte Cristo at Guy Fieri’s eponymous restaurant—it might be a tasty dessert version, but it bears little resemblance to the original. Other readers suggested some spots (the Barrymore, Gordon Biersch) offer it only as part of a Sunday brunch menu, but I’d call ahead.

One important note: Pan-fried or grilled versions, while widely touted as Monte Cristos, cannot be counted as such—those are essentially just French toast sandwiches. “If it’s not (deep) fried,” insists reader Gerald V., “it’s not a Monte Cristo.”

Want to decide for yourself? This lighter, faux version can be had at the MGM’s Grand Avenue Café and the Luxor’s Pyramid Café, and off-Strip at Mary’s Hash House, Blueberry Hill and Truffles N Bacon Café. Meanwhile, my search for the real deal rolls on …