I originally planned today’s post to discuss the sessions that I attended at the IHRSA Convention. I attended some great classes, which discussed a variety of topics from building your personal training team, to the future of fitness, to a guide to club management, to the importance of strength training for baby boomers, to integrating physical therapy into the health club setting.
Then I realized that I left my notes at work. So instead, I get to write a post about vegan food, which is one of my favorite topics. I don’t get to Las Vegas very often (though somehow I’ve been there three times in the last nine months), but I’ve been there enough to know that as recently as two years ago, there weren’t a lot of plant based options available in Sin City. Then, about the time that Steve Wynn went vegan and decided that all of the restaurants in his hotels would have vegan options, things began to change.
These days it is not uncommon to find at least one vegan option on a Las Vegas hotel menu. Some restaurants offer a whole separate menu of plant based options.
My first meal was at the Welcome Reception for IHRSA 2013 at Mandalay Bay. I was very pleased to see that there were a variety of vegetarian options available, clearly marked (though one had to ask the right questions to insure that the food was vegan). I first tried a pasta dish, but after looking at the sauce thought that it looked a little too creamy. Instead, I chose from a variety of Asian dishes, which were quite tasty. The room was dark and my pictures didn’t come out very good, so you’ll have to use your imagination.
On my way back to my hotel, I stopped at Whole Foods to stock up on a few essentials. I hate to eat breakfast out each morning, so I picked up some soy yogurt, granola, and fresh fruit, plus some coconut creamer for my coffee. I also grabbed the last piece of vegan pizza from the hot food section. And some snacks, most of which I ended up taking home with me because I wasn’t in my room enough to eat them.
That stash got my Wednesday morning off to a great start. Which was a good thing, because between my sessions and walking the floor at the trade show, I didn’t get a chance to eat lunch until pretty late. Fortunately, thanks to a tweet from a fellow vegan at the convention, I knew exactly where I was going.
The Slice of Vegas was in the Mandalay Bay and when I arrived I found they had a full vegan menu! Not only did they serve a variety of pizza and pasta, there were sandwiches, paninis, salads, and appetizers from which to choose. I settled on the Back East Buffalo pizza. It was delicious, with a very thin crust, vegan “chicken,” spicy Buffalo sauce, plus vegan cheese and ranch dressing. There was a little mix up and they tried to serve me a barbecue pizza, but when my pizza arrived it was worth the wait. The beer was good too.
I ate about half (I was pretty hungry) then ended up saving the rest and eating it on my drive home on Friday. Even vegan Buffalo pizza is good cold.
Only a few hours later, I was meeting a group of folks that I work with for dinner. My company, WTS International, hosted a dinner for the staff that were attending the convention at the Yard House. Now the Yard House has a vegetarian menu, but the preparation methods can vary wildly throughout the chain. A couple years ago, when eating at the other Yard House in Vegas, near Red Rock, I was told that the vegetarian food was prepared on the same grill as the meat. Um, sorry, that is not vegetarian, let alone vegan. At this particular Yard House, though, at Town Square, I was assured that the vegetarian food was prepared separately. In fact, our server was very helpful, and made sure that she checked the list of vegan dressings for me. I ordered the Orange Chicken, which was pretty tasty.
On Thursday I was determined not to skip lunch (or have it within two hours of dinner), so I pulled myself away from the trade show in time to head to Border Grill at the Mandalay Bay. While they did not have a vegetarian or vegan menu, after reading the ingredients in the Avocado Tacos (and talking to the server), I was pretty sure that they were a good choice. I know that they tasted pretty good. I did put aside the creamy looking sauce that came with the dish and used salsa instead.
Later that evening, I went to dinner with a co-worker who manages a fitness center in Palm Desert. She and I had traveled together last summer for a meeting in Las Vegas. While we were there we had dinner one night at the Bar+Bistro at the Art Factory. We’d been told that it had a vegan menu, eclectic atmosphere, and great Latin Fusion food. It totally lived up to the reviews, and we were anxious to go again during this trip.
We sat at the bar again. It was early, so it was pretty quiet and as we waited for our food we watched the funny, 50s era videos that they play (instead of SportsCenter). My friend, who is not vegan, had enjoyed her food so much last time that she again ordered the Vega Margherita Pizza. I ordered the Roasted Vega Club, which was definitely not just an imitation club sandwich. It is made with lettuce, tomato, avocado, vegan cheddar cheese, balsamic glaze roasted pequillo pepper hummus, and served with sweet potato fries. It was excellent. We again started our meal by sharing the Vega Tempura Alcachofa, crispy long-stemmed artichoke hearts.
One of the things that I truly enjoy about the Bar+Bistro is that their vegan menu is not just imitation meat. Chef Beni Velaszuez uses an imaginative variety of vegetables, spices, fruits, and sauces to create original, Latin-infused dishes. He jokes that you can’t find any food like it because he makes everything up.
As you can see, I was very well fed while I was in Vegas. The only thing I missed (again) was a visit to Ronald’s Donuts, a vegan must-do, because yes, they have vegan doughnuts. Someday, I guess.
Do you have a favorite restaurant (vegan or not) in Las Vegas?