Monte Carlo is one of those resorts on the Strip that has an underrated lineup of restaurants, including Yusho, Andre’s and the Pub, each of which comes with its own well-curated beverage program. The property recently announced its Booze & Bites dinner series, featuring five-course menus at its various restaurants, all paired with interesting spirits, wines and cocktails. Last month kicked off with a sake dinner at Yusho, and you can next get in on the action April 22 with a Terlato wine dinner at Brand Steakhouse ($65, 702-730-7010).
Maybe we can thank the popularity of such food halls as New York’s Eataly and Market Hall in Oakland for the upgrade we’re seeing in food courts. The recently renovated Forum Food Court in Caesars Palace already boasts a DiFara Pizza (with its traditional square pizzas, even!) and Earl of Sandwich for fast-casual diners, and just welcomed San Antonio favorite La Gloria (ChefJohnnyHernandez.com) as well as the Oprah-praised Graeter’s Ice Cream (Graeters.com). La Gloria, which means “the heavens,” is kind of a street-food nirvana for Mexican fare from chef Johnny Hernandez, who’s putting out tacos bistec and al pastor, as well as a classic fruteria with aguas frescas and smoothies, such as the healthy-sounding Verde, made with nopal, grapefruit, pineapple, celery, parsley and orange juice. A Cincinnati institution, Graeter’s will be a welcome respite during the hot summer months, but I have to admit I’m most excited for the 1870 Tower, a sundae made with hot fudge-filled chocolate bundt cake, topped with a scoop of black raspberry chip ice cream, then drizzled with more hot fudge and anointed with the standard accoutrement of whipped cream, pecans and a cherry on top.
The area just South of the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop will get a little tastier this summer when Pawn Plaza (725 S. Las Vegas Blvd.) opens, courtesy of Pawn Star Rick Harrison. The reality show star announced the first three tenants going into the 72-cube, 6,000 square-foot retail space. Rick’s Rollin Smoke BBQ & Tavern (702-836-3621, RollinSmokeBarbeque.com) takes over two floors with its Arkansas-style, hickory-smoked meats and 16 beers on tap, while Rita’s Italian Ice (RitasIce.com) cools things down with custom flavors. The second-ever U.S. location of Smoke’s Poutinerie, Poutine Vegas (SmokesPoutinerie.com), offers all the Canadian specialty all the time. Try it traditional (hand-cut fries topped with signature gravy and Squeaky Cheese Curds) or dressed with double bacon, pulled pork or carne asada. I’ll still call it poutine, though.