Growing up in Michigan, I became accustomed to certain regional food experiences—Coney Island hot dogs, Bavarian-style chicken dinners (in a town called Frankenmuth) and cider mills. When I moved away, I figured these were things I’d simply have to do without. But when the American Coney Island opened at The D a couple of years back, it marked one favorite reacquired. Now there’s another.
About 15 miles north of Downtown at 7800 N. Tenaya Way, there’s a farm called Gilcrease Orchard, where you can pick your own produce and buy a few specialty items, such as apple cider and cider doughnuts. The apple (or pear) cider is sold frozen for $2 a pint. It’s unfermented and contains no preservatives, so you have about a week to drink it after it’s thawed. The doughnuts come six for $2.50 and caramel apples are $3. The cider is sweet and the doughnuts aren’t, just like the cider mills in Michigan—or close enough, anyway.
Gilcrease is a pick-and-pay operation, which means you walk right into the fields, pick your pleasure from the seasonal crops, then pay at checkout. This week, according to its website (TheGilcreaseOrchard.org), the selection includes cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, green tomatoes, carrots and beets.
Since it’s my job to find the deal, I compared some prices with the local Smith’s, hoping that there was a big saving to be had at the farm, but it was a wash. Radishes were $1 per pound at Gilcrease, but only 58 cents at Smith’s. However, string beans that were $2.49 per pound at the grocer were only $1 per pound at the farm. If you know your prices, you’ll be able to zero in on bargains to find the deal. For a citified type like me, bagging fresh produce right off the vine at competitive prices trumps the concern of paying a few cents more.
That goes double for pumpkin hunting. Halloween is just around the corner, and Gilcrease has a huge pumpkin patch where you and your kids can inspect all shapes and sizes until you find the one (at 50 cents per pound). Again, not necessarily the least expensive in town, but add in the value of the open-air experience versus pulling one out of a crate at the market and it’s an easy choice.
As an added bonus, this is a true-blue get-out-of-town play without having to spend much time or effort. When you’re in the fields, there are no views of the city, so except for some surrounding housing you get absolutely no indication that you’re anywhere near Las Vegas.
Through October the farm is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The cider and doughnuts rock, but for the whole Michigan experience, grab a Coney at The D on your way back to town. Now if I can just find a Bavarian-style chicken dinner …
Anthony Curtis is the publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor and LasVegasAdvisor.com.