Friday, January 30, 2015

Burger Stands, Dogs, Fried Chicken, Subs & Wings! American Street Food Off The Las Vegas Strip!

     Just in time for the Las Vegas Super Bowl Weekend!  Visitors of Las Vegas always like to know where the best American style street food can be found Off The Strip.

     Al's Beef
     The real deal Italian Beef in Las Vegas!  This restaurant reeks of Chicago tradition and this shop makes Italian Beef Sandwiches the right way.  Al's Beef has been making Italian Beef since 1938.
     The kitchen crew slow roasts the beef and they deglaze the pan drippings to make the rich beef jus.  Al's Beef even makes their own pickled giardiniera.  Customers have a choice of home made minced red pepper giardiniera or vegetable giardiniera.  Other garnishes, like grilled onions, grilled peppers or cheese is optional.
     Chicago Italian Beef is supposed to be dunked in beef jus and served soggy wet.  Customers that prefer a traditional wet Italian Beef must specify whether the sandwich is dunked in the beef jus once or twice.  A single dunked Italian Beef is a fun messy sandwich that can be eaten with fingers.  A double dunked Italian Beef can be so soggy, that a fork must be used to eat the sandwich.
      As one can imagine, a dunked soggy sandwich is not really a pretty sight.  Just like the old saying goes, "beauty is in the eyes of the beholder."  The beauty of an Italian Beef Sandwich is in the rich satisfying flavor, not the looks!
     I ordered the Big Al Sandwich with no cheese when I visited Al's Beef.  The Big Al is a big Italian Beef that is loaded with all the topping options.  I like a wet Italian Beef, so I ordered the Big Al single dunked.  The dripping wet soggy deluxe Italian Beef was messy like it should be and the flavor was more than just satisfying.  The Big Al really hit the spot!
     Al's Beef offers Italian Beef by the pound to-go with the jus and toppings on the side on the catering menu, just like Italian Beef shops do in Chicago.  Al's Beef also features fresh cut fries, Char Grilled Italian Sausage Sandwiches and the famous Chicago style Polish Sandwich with sport peppers.  There are lighter fare items on the menu, like char grilled chicken sandwiches and salads, but the main attraction is industrial strength big portion heavy duty Chicago style food specialties.  All I can say is forget about the rabbit food and just go with it!  You only live once, so go for the gusto!
     Food I Ordered:
     • The Big Al 
     Al's Italian Beef recently opened at 6840 West Sahara near the intersection of Rainbow in Las Vegas.  The Red Rock Harley Davidson dealership is a landmark business in the same plaza.

     Chicago Hot Dog
     Many of the old 1960's style buildings from the grand old days of Las Vegas still remain on this route.   The building that Chicago Hot Dog is located in is an old fashioned drive in style restaurant building.  The canopy for drive in service still remains, but it now serves as shade for outdoor dining.
     Vienna Hot Dogs are the official hot dog of Chicago and this Las Vegas hot dog shop features all of the Vienna condiments and toppings.  Neon Relish is its own brand and many Chicago hot dog fans say that the Neon Brand is the best.  The Vienna Chicago Style Relish is just as good.  The color is definitely neon blue green and the flavor is just about the same.  A Chicago style hot dog without Chicago style relish is not authentic.  Regular sweet pickle relish is not even close to being Chicago Style Relish!
      A Chicago Hot Dog is a Vienna Hot Dog on a poppy seed hot dog bun with mustard, 2 tomato half slices, a thin dill pickle spear, sport peppers, diced onion, neon green Chicago style relish and a generous sprinkle of celery salt.  The Chicago Dog at Chicago Hot Dog of Las Vegas was perfect!
     Many other Chicago style items were on the menu at Chicago Hot Dog in Las Vegas.  Chicago Italian Beef, Chicago Reuben, Polish, Jordan Dogs and the famous Mobster Burger are on the menu at this hot dog stand!  That is plenty of great Chicago food for thought!
     Food I ordered:
     • Chicago Dog
     Chicago Hot Dog is located at 1078 North Rancho Drive in Las Vegas just north of Washington in the Twin Lakes Shopping Plaza.  This location is just a few blocks north on Rancho from Highway 95.   Rancho Drive is also known as Business Route 95.

     Church's Fried Chicken
     Over the years I have heard people from southern states, big city ghettos and farm country mention that there is one fried chicken restaurant that stands above the rest.  According to the folks that really know good fried chicken, Church's is the best!
     Fried chicken restaurants are right on the borderline of being fast food joints, but they are not really fast food.  Church's Fried Chicken offers a menu full of good country style side dishes and condiments that traditionally go with fried chicken.   
     Church's is in the business of selling great high quality fried chicken that is cooked crisp and it is not greasy.  Maintaining high quality standards, cleanliness and offering good fast service is what makes Church's Fried Chicken customers so satisfied.  Church's Fried Chicken serves up good southern style fried chicken! 
     Items I ordered:  
     • Fried Chicken
     Church's Fried Chicken has several locations in Las Vegas. I visited the site at Rancho Drive near Washington.  

     Fatburger is the ultimate 1950's style classic American burger stand!  The dining room atmosphere in Fatburger is pure burger munching heaven!  Pictures of many great soul and pop entertainers decorate the walls.  Soul music and early 1960's pop music are played.  Chrome plated red vinyl soda fountain stools, chrome trim tables, neon signage and old fashioned pre-fab stainless steel create a nostalgic classic burger stand look that is perfect for an old fashioned hamburger munching experience!  
     There are no heat lamps or microwaves at Fatburger.  Everything is cooked to order!  The big burgers do take a while to cook, just like back in the days of classic burger stands, so patience is a virtue.  Fatburger Onion Rings are breaded and fried fresh to order.  The milkshakes are made the old fashioned way with hand scooped hard packed ice cream in a blender, just like back in the old days.  
     At Fatburger the service is second to none.  Fatburger is always rated as the best burger stand in the west year after year and there is a good reason why.  At Fatburger, size and quality counts!  
     The XXL Double Kingburger weighs 16 ounces and this burger is my fave munch while doing college homework on weekends!  There is only one burger that is bigger on the menu at FATBURGER and that is the XXXL Triple Kingburger, which weighs in at a staggering 24 ounces!  
     I attempted to eat an XXXL Fatburger one time, as a test to see if I could possibly accomplish the Fatburger Challenge, but I failed miserable.  It took nearly two days to finish that XXXL Fatburger off!
     The Fatburger Challenge involves eating the 24 oz XXXL Kingburger with Bacon, Cheese, Fried Egg, Chili and all of the regular burger toppings in 35 minutes or less.  Fatburger Challenge winners receive consolation prizes and their photo is placed on the Fatburger Wall Of Fame.  Extra burger patties can be added to the Challenge in order to increase the level of fame.  The current Fatburger Challenge All Time Record was set by a guy in Hollywood.  He ate a 5 Pound Fatburger in less than 35 minutes!  Wow!  
     If I had to choose one burger stand over all the rest, then I would have to say that Fatburger is the best!  As one can see, Fatburger is my fave old fashioned burger stand in Vegas! 
     Food I ordered:
     • Maui Banana Milkshake 
     • Chili Cheese Fries
     • Fat Fries
     • Onion Rings
     • XL 8 oz Burger with Fried Egg, Chili & Cheese
     • XXL 16 oz Burger
     • XXXL 24 oz Burger with Cheese (oof!)
     • Boca Veggie Burger
     Fatburger has several locations in the Las Vegas Valley, including the Las Vegas Strip.  There are even Fatburger shops inside the Station Casinos.  

     Five Guys Burgers & Fries
     Five Guys is a relatively new burger stand chain that has gained a loyal following.  Five Guys follows the well proven simple old fashioned classic burger stand path for success.  The Five Guys menu prices initially may seem high, but every topping on the board is included in the price.  To get the best dining value, just load that burger or dog up to the hilt!  
     The Five Guys dining room is plain and simple.  Some good hard rock is played on the speakers at a tasteful volume.  The music creates a cool burger munching atmosphere!  This burger stand proudly stores their Idaho Potato Crates and Peanut Crates out front for customers to see.  
     The peanuts are free for customers, so load up a cup and munch away while waiting for the burgers to be cooked to order.  This is what differentiates a good burger stand from a fast food junk shop.  Everything is cooked to order and nothing sits under heat lamps at the best burger stands in Las Vegas.  Las Vegas happens to be the #1 Burger City In The World, so the quality standards are high.  Five Guys fits right in with the top notch local classic burger stand scene!
     Food I Ordered:
     • Cheeseburger
     • Grilled Loaded Hot Dog
     • Lots of Free Peanuts!   
     There are several Five Guys locations in the Las Vegas Valley.  I visited the shop on West Lake Mead between Highway 95 and Tenaya. 

     Hungry for Japanese fusion style gourmet burgers?  This is the Fukuburger specialty!  
     The menu offers a nice variety of fusion burgers, hot dogs, chicken katsu sandwiches and French Fry creations.  Burgers are flavored and topped with some very interesting Japanese specialty items.  Shiitake, furikake, teriyaki, pickled red onions, wasabi mayo, "crack sauce" and habeñero kabayaki are just a few of the ingredients that are listed on the burger menu.  
     Fukuburger is a famous Las Vegas food truck and catering operation that has recently landed a shop on solid ground.  This burger stand has a cool atmosphere.  Anime videos play in the dining room and the music is definitely well suited for an awesome Japanese fusion burger munch!
     Food I tried:
     • Tomago (Egg Burger)
     • Jazz Fries
     Fukuburger is located in Chinatown at 3429 South Jones Boulevard between Spring Mountain and Desert Inn.  This central valley location is close to the Las Vegas Strip.   

     IN-N-OUT Burger
     IN-N-OUT Burger is a popular burger stand franchise in Las Vegas.  IN-N-OUT serves high quality fresh cooked food.  There are no heat lamps or microwave ovens at this burger stand.  All burgers are made with fresh ground chuck and they are cooked to order.  No preservatives or fillers are ever used in their products.  The french fries at IN-N-OUT are made with fresh cut potatoes and they are fried in non-hydrogenated oil.  That is a very healthy basket of fries!  The fresh potatoes are cut into fries in small batches, shortly before the orders are placed.  You won't see fries sitting under heat lamps at IN-N-OUT! 
     Regular customers at IN-N-OUT know about the "Not So Secret Menu" that is offered.  Animal Style Burgers, Animal Style Fries, Protein Style, Grilled Cheese and Neapolitan Milkshakes are just a few of the items on the Not So Secret Menu.  The Protein Style Burger has no burger bun and it is wrapped with lettuce leaves.  The protein burger is a California and Las Vegas favorite of the calorie conscious crowd.  Animal Style Fries are topped with cheese, grilled onions and spread.
     The employees all wear white uniforms and old fashioned paper soda jerk hats.  The whole look is right out of the past, when burger stands were number one.  IN-N-OUT Burger is perfect for those who prefer an old fashioned burger stand experience! 
     Food I ordered:
     • Cheeseburger
     • Protein Style Burger 
     • Animal Style Fries
     • Pink Lemonade 
     There are several IN-N-OUT Burger locations in Las Vegas.  The busiest IN-N-OUT location in the entire country is located at Tropicana by I-15 just a few blocks off of the Las Vegas Strip.  The tall sign is within view of the casinos and it attracts a lot of people from the strip.  Back when I drove taxi for one year, hundreds of passengers requested to stop by IN-N-OUT at the Tropicana location on the way to the airport, just to get a bag of burgers to take with them on the plane flight! 

     Jack In The Box
     Some folks remember the horror stories about the old days when the drive through intercom was located in the mouth of a big fiberglass jack in the box and the loudspeaker never worked, because the extreme heat of the desert burnt it out.  Frustrated customers actually used to get out of the car just to beat the big plastic jack in the box up!  Well, those days are now long gone!  Jack In The Box actually now has a reputation for serving good burgers and the customer service is pretty good too.
     I must admit, I do not like fast food and most of the Jack In The Box menu is fast food.  There is one item on the menu that really is not fast food.  It is the Grilled Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich.  This sandwich is made fresh to order the old fashioned way, just like it was made like a grilled cheese sandwich in a home kitchen.  It is not greasy, like breakfast sandwiches that the competition serves.  When paired with a healthy fruit smoothie, one simply cannot go wrong!
     Food I ordered:
     • Sourdough Egg Sandwich with Bacon, Ham & Cheese
     • Mango Smoothie 
     There are zillions of Jack In The Box locations in the Las Vegas Valley.  

     Jersey Mike's 
     There is not much to say about the Jersey Mike's sub shop chain, other than that the subs are made the real deal east coast style way and the quality is great!  The original Jersey Mike's open in 1956 at Point Pleasant, New Jersey.  Jersey Mike's was in a great location and this business became a great Jersey Shore seasonal business success story.
     In the world of sub sandwiches, there are two ways to achieve success.  The best way is to succeed by offering high quality products with great service.  This is what made Jersey Mike's a success.  When looking at a Jersey Mike's sub, all a person can do is say "Wow!  Now that is a sub sandwich!" 
     The two foot long subs that I saw being made at Jersey Mike's in Las Vegas yesterday looked awesome.  They looked like honest to goodness old fashioned east coast subs!
     I ordered a Big Kahuna Cheesesteak at Jersey Mike's, because I was craving a good cheesesteak.  Kahuna is the Hawaiian word for magician, sorcerer and master expert of a craft.  Kahuna also refers to the leader of surfers.  In the mob lingo scene, Big Kahuna means the big boss.  The Big Kahuna Cheesesteak at Jersey Mike's has peppers, onions, mushrooms, plenty of jalapeno peppers and extra cheese.  The Big Kahuna Cheesesteak is the boss!
     Food I ordered:
     • Big Kahuna Cheesesteak
     Jersey Mike's has several locations in Las Vegas.  I tried the location at 1772 South Rainbow Boulevard that is between Charleston and Sahara. 
     Pop's Philly Steaks
     Pops Philly Steaks was one of the first restaurants that I remember seeing when I first moved to Las Vegas.  Pop's Philly Steaks in Las Vegas opened up for business in 2002.  The name Pop's is short for "Pride Of Philly."  Customers referred to the business name Pride Of Philly Steaks as Pop's so often, that Pop's officially became the public name of this Philly steak shop.  Pop's has been open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, ever since they opened their doors in 2002!
     The A-frame building that Pop's Philly Steaks is located in was actually built in the 1960's as a Weiner Schnitzel hot dog joint.  The building has a street side open air dining area that was a classic restaurant design from the 1950's and 1960's.  Pop's has a cheese steak eating atmosphere that is second to none!
     Customers have a choice of cheese on their cheesesteak at Pop's.  Whiz is an option.  Provolone is an option.  Several other cheeses are options too.  All the traditional Philly steak fixings and toppings are listed on the menu board.  Pop's can custom build a cheesesteak to anybody's liking.  Pop's Philly Steaks has a menu board with many specialty items.  Two menu items that I have not seen in a long time were the Fried Green Beans and Pastrami Chili Cheese Fries.
     If you are from Philly and living in Vegas, then you might just have to make arrangements to turn Pop's into your second home!
     Food I ordered:
     • Cheesesteak with Whiz
     • Philly Pizza Steak
     Pop's is located at 501 South Decatur Boulevard near the Arizona Charlie's Casino.  Pop's is open 24 hours a day all year long.  Parking is limited, but side street parking and a neighboring plaza parking lot helps the cause.

     Popeye's started as a small fried chicken restaurant near New Orleans back in the early 1970's.  The restaurant had a different brand name and it was not quite a successful business venture.  The owner rebranded the restaurant with the Popeye's name and started marketing spicy Louisiana style fried chicken.  Next thing you know, sales went through the roof and the restaurant became a smash hit.  Popeyes Fried Chicken expanded its operations by opening over 500 new restaurant locations in the 1980's and quickly reached a peak in popularity.  It seemed like everybody was doing the Popeye's Fried Chicken thing.  On a Friday or Saturday night, cars were lined up a mile long at nearly every Popeye's drive-thru.  This fried chicken business that started as a small local shop, turned into a real gold mine!
     Popeye's offers a Cajun style fried chicken and side dishes.  Everything from red beans and rice to buttermilk biscuits is offered on the menu.  Some locations even offered New Orleans specialty entrées, like spicy fried shrimp and jambalaya. 
     Food I Ordered:
     • Spicy Fried Chicken
     • Red Beans & Rice 
     Popeye's Fried Chicken?  Highly recommended, especially for those that like Cajun style!  There are several Popeye's locations in the Las Vegas Valley.  

      A new modern gourmet burger chain!  Smashburger offers a burger product and dining experience that is different than what the old fashioned burger stand chains offer in Las Vegas.  Smashburger appeals to the trendy crowd that is no longer impressed with old fashioned burgers.  Smashburger offers great burgers with modern fun gourmet toppings!
     The smash technique of cooking a burger does date back to how the original New York State Fair burgers were cooked in the 1890's.  Smashing burger meat on a grill is a classic burger cooking technique!
     Smashburger offers a variety of artisan crafted fresh baked burger buns.  The side dish offerings are one of the attractions of Smashburger.  Rosemary, garlic and olive oil flavored french fries?  That is something that no fast food style burger joint would ever attempt to cook.  This is because Smashburger is not fast food!  Everything is cooked to order!
     Smashburger creates a gourmet burger that named after whatever city the shop is located in.  For Las Vegas, the burger creation is the Sin City Smash.  The Sin City Smash is a medium size burger with fried egg, applewood smoked bacon, American Cheese, grilled onions, haystack onions and smash sauce on an egg dough bun.  That is a nice combination !
     Food I ordered:
     • Sin City Smash 
     • Fried Dill Pickle Chips
     Smashburger has opened a few locations in Las Vegas.  I visited the Smashburger at 5655 Centennial Center Boulevard, near the intersection of Ann Road and Highway 95 in northwest Las Vegas.  

     The Voodoo Wing Company
     There are chicken wings and then there are Voodoo Wings!  The Voodoo Wing Company recently opened in Las Vegas.  Not much has been mentioned in the newspaper about this new business, but word does travel fast with the locals.  The Voodoo Wing Company already has a large clientele base of dedicated hot wing fanatics.
     This wing shop is simply doing everything right!  There are no gimmicks and there is no huge menu filled with junk food items.  The Voodoo Wing Company is all about hot chicken wings.  Only a few popular fried food accompaniments are offered.  Reading the simple menu is like a sigh of relief!
     The Voodoo Wing Company hails from New Orleans, so obviously the wing sauce flavors are not watered down for the masses.  There are several mild wing sauces on the menu.  Super spicy hot chile pepper fans will be pleased to know that the hottest sauce on the menu is made with ghost peppers.  Yes, I am a hot pepper freak, so I tried the Bomb Wings.  In fact, I ordered Bomb Wings the second time I dined at this wing shop too.  The ghost pepper wing sauce on the Bomb Wings definitely was extra super spicy hot.  The Bomb Wings sure are not for the faint hearted!
     One thing that I noticed was that there were tons of people picking up tons of wings to-go.  I happened to visit this wing shop the first time on a Sunday, so it did not take much time to figure out that the local crowd was picking up huge orders of wings for football game parties.
     The Voodoo Wing Company will certainly be destined to be at the top of the list on Super Bowl Sunday.  By the way, The Voodoo Wing Company does deliver in the local area too.  Awesome!
     Food I ordered:
     • Bomb Wings
     • Fried Dill Pickle Chips
     The Voodoo Wing Company is located at 6728 W Cheyenne Ave in a plaza at the intersection of Rainbow.  This business is one block east of Highway 95, so it is a convenient stop for commuters.

     Which Wich Superior Sandwiches
     Which Wich is a unique new design your own sandwich shop chain.  Which Wich offers brown paper bags with the menu and sandwich options printed on the bag.  Placing an order is as simple as putting a name on the bag, marking the check list of sandwich options and handing the bag to the clerk!
     The sandwich menu offers a nice selection of quality sandwich ingredients.  Specialty sandwiches are on the menu.  Subs, grinders and panini are the primary sandwich styles.
     I was pleasantly surprised to see an Elvis Wich Sub listed on the specialty sandwich menu.  The original Elvis sandwich is grilled bread with peanut butter, bacon, banana and honey.  The Which Wich sub sandwich version of Elvis Presley's favorite sandwich was awesome!
     Food I ordered:
     • Elvis Wich
     Which Wich is located at 2192 North Rainbow Boulevard in a plaza at the intersection of Lake Mead.

     Wienerschnitzel has been around since 1961.  The first Wienerschnitzel shop was located in Wilmington, California.
     Wienerschnitzel offers a menu of classic unique specialty hot dogs.  Specialty hot dogs are what modern hot dog fans and street vendor style food fans are interested in.  The Pretzel Pastrami Dog is a hot dog sausage with swiss cheese, mustard, sliced dill pickle, hot pastrami on a pretzel dough hot dog bun.  The Junkyard Dog is a hot dog sausage topped with chili, cheese, onions, mustard and french fries.  This classic dog creation will satisfy anybody who lives the junkyard dog lifestyle!
     Wienerschnitzel Hot Dog Stands appeal to hot dog fans that seek a variety of classic street vendor style hot dog creations at a fair price.  This hot dog company offers some bargain price specials every week.  Wienerschnitzel also sponsors the Wiener Dog Dachshund Racing events in this region and they post the schedule at their website.
     Food I ordered:
     • Chicago Dog 
     • Corn Dog 
     • Pretzel Pastrami Dog 
     • Chili Dog 
     • Junkyard Dog 
     Wienerschnitzel Hot Dog Stands can be found just about anywhere in the Las Vegas Valley.  

     Windy City Beef-N-Dogs, A Taste Of Chicago
     As soon as I stepped through the doors at Windy City Beef-n-Dogs, I was right back in center city Chicago!  The restaurant decor and atmosphere at this place is pure Chicago heaven.  There is all sorts of Chicago memorabilia and pictures that will certainly make anybody from the Windy City feel right at home.  
     Windy City Beef-n-Dogs is laid out just like a Chicago Italian Beef shop.  There is a long line of dining tables against a wall and there is a dining counter that overlooks the open kitchen.  Customers can listen to the food sizzling on the grill, while soaking up all the big city street food aromas.  This is music to the ears for all those who long for those good old center city Chicago memories!  
     Just like at Chicago Beef & Hot Dog restaurants in Chicago, the menu is simple and easy to negotiate.  Chicago Style Dogs are sold by the pair and burgers are doubles.  Combos like an Italian Beef + A Chicago Sausage Sandwich are offered on the menu for a nice price.  Every street vendor style food item and snack food item that Chicago native would expect is offered on the menu at Windy City Beef-n-Dogs.  Local Chicago brands of chips, Neon Relish and Sport Peppers are also sold at this place. 
     This restaurant offers a bulk food menu for those that pick up food to-go for the office crew or for a Super Bowl party.  Chicago language is spoken at Windy City, so feel free to use plenty of two letter words!  Windy City even offers a Sears Tower Eating Challenge that amounts to eating over 7 pounds of Chicago sandwich food in 30 minutes.  One thing is for sure, eating challenge fanatics will have a tough time handling this awesome belly stretching challenge!  This restaurant is good old Chicago at its best, right here in Las Vegas!  
     Food I Ordered:  
     • Loaded Maxwell Street Polish
     Windy City Beef-n-Dogs is located at 7500 West Lake Mead in a plaza at the intersection of Buffalo.  This restaurant is in the Summerlin neighborhood near Highway 95 North, so it is convenient for commuters.  

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