Photos by Sk Delph

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours ‘An Exceptional Experience’

“Breaking bread and sharing food and drink, brings people together.” ~ Donald Contursi President of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, Award Recipient, Best of Las Vegas Gold in 2018 (Las Vegas Review Journal)

“Especially when like-minded individuals spend 2.5 hours together and walk and talk along the way … Through their shared experience, guests have a chance to get to know each other, all while enjoying the pleasures of great food and a fun time. Guests who began as strangers continue the night together as friends.” I can certainly attest to that. At each stop, I sat with a different group of people and got to know twelve people in less than three hours, which is always an uplifting experience. Donald Contursi is passionate about this. “We received a thank you email from a customer saying they enjoyed one of the restaurants on the tour so much, as well as the company they were with, they returned the following day for a full dinner with the couple they met on their tour.” It’s been said, what remains most memorable about our traveling experiences are the people we meet, and the food. Lip Smacking Foodie Tours delivers on both. 

“Lip Smacking Foodie Tours treats patrons like Kings & Queens.” ~ Robin Leach

Let’s get started! Our first stop was Carson Kitchen, located at Carson and 6th Ave. We were greeted by Executive Chef Scott Simon. His take on upscale comfort food is a perfect introduction as the group meets for the first time. The ‘Deviled Eggs’ topped with crispy pancetta and caviar, and my favorite, the ‘Veal Meatballs' in a sherry foie gras cream delight the palate.

The first stretch of the walking tour prepares us for the next stop. Therapy located at 518 Fremont St. offers us ‘In the Gnudi’: baked ricotta, truffled fig jam with roasted almonds, cranberries and walnuts on crostini; and ‘Devils on Horseback’: soft truffled goat cheese and almond stuffed dates wrapped in bacon served over romesco sauce. Their signature cocktail, ‘The Smash,’ my favorite drink of the day, features Four Roses Bourbon, blackberries, fresh limes and mint. Great therapy, my friends!

Our next stop is Inspire, a bar-lounge-nightclub. We tunnel through a secret passage to a hideaway lounge called Mike Morey’s Sip‘n’Tip, a true Vegas speakeasy, known for celebrity sightings and where the tribute to Mike Morey lives on. We are treated to yet another amazing cocktail before we head to our last stop.

We continue our journey and we’re again rewarded with the ‘Carson Cooler’ from 7th & Carson, a refresher made of Absolut Elyx, blood orange, thyme, cucumber, lemon and honey. It’s a perfect end to our walking tour and we’re ready to eat! 

I’d like to take a moment to talk about 7th & Carson, which opened 18 months ago by founding members Head Chef Gregg Fortunato, Marketing Director Jennifer Tramaglino, Mixologist Oscar Takahashi and Owner/Operator Liam Dwyer. Liam talks about the restaurant: “Our team, comprised of 17 years of professional experience in the Las Vegas market, had determined through their competitive ventures on the Vegas Strip that Downtown Las Vegas was an up-and-coming and exciting platform to work with. What makes Downtown different is the riveting work of its establishing creators, Tony Hsieh and Derek Stevens. They created a place where locals and tourists alike could gather for food and beverage, shopping, as well as entertainment and gaming. While Downtown is still seen by many as “off the beaten path,” it presented a unique opportunity for me to bring my prior knowledge of the amazing service on the Las Vegas Strip, within MGM hotels, to a new demographic at an affordable price.” We thank you for that, Liam; 7th & Carson most certainly delivers.

I had the pleasure of trying their Peach and Burrata Salad, which is also seasonally made as Pear and Burrata and was named “Best Salad of Las Vegas” by Forbes Magazine in 2018. Liam describing the dish said, “The base of the salad is our house-made creamy pesto sauce. A handful of fresh arugula is added with sweet grilled peaches. The star of the dish, though, is the milky, buttery flavor of the burrata, and finally, the dish is drizzled with locally-sourced honey.” 

Liam is grateful to Donald Contursi and the Lip Smacking Foodie Tours. “Donald is the key ingredient to our success Downtown. In the first year of operation, we received the “Restaurant of the Year” award by the Nevada Restaurant Association. The love of critics and customers alike allows 7th & Carson to not only stand out, but to flourish in a budding Downtown community.”

There are four tours to choose from ranging from $125 per person to $199 per person, which includes a tour guide, 10 to 12+ signature dishes and all restaurant gratuities. Each tour highlights up to four of Vegas’ best restaurants in one outing, signature dishes by award-winning chefs, VIP seating and service, and always a plus, insider information and tips. 

To book a tour call 888-681-4388 or go to VegasFoodieTour.com.

Hakkasan's Newest Late-Night Venue—All That and Dim Sum

Vegas sizzles, especially when it's summer in the city. Live performances, pool parties and amazing food tours abound. Let's dive right in! 

Hakkasan at the MGM Grand is now hosting All That and Dim Sum, its newest late-night venue. Beginning every Thursday at 10 p.m., you can expect a lavish menu of dim sum tapas, an upscale selection of sake and Asian-inspired cocktails. 

During my visit Hakkasan Restaurant welcomed us with a long ambient blue-lit galley-style bar loaded with top-shelf spirits. I ordered a Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey on the rocks before we were whisked away to a dining area with plush seats and a cozy atmosphere; the lighting makes us all look like rock stars. Hakkasan is killin' it. 

The cocktail offerings include The Chinese Mule, an Espresso Martini, Lychee Martini and Samurai Margarita. I ordered the Saketini, a mixer featuring Bombay Sapphire gin, vodka, sake, cucumber, lime and cane sugar. Let's get this party started!

The sake list is impressive: Ozeki Sparkling Sake, Joto Yuzu Sake, Yoshinogawa ‘Winter Warrior’ Junmai Ginjo and Kamiozumi ‘Summer Snow’ Nigori Ginjo; and if you haven’t tried a sparkling jelly sake, Ikezo Sparkling Jelly Sake is a must try. 

The first course arrives along with a touch of nirvana. The salt and pepper calamari was tender and delectable and the stir-fry mushroom lettuce wrap with pistachio and pine nuts fresh and perfectly executed. The succulent pan-seared Shanghai dumplings rounded out the trio and there were still two more courses to look forward to. Exotic fare graced the table: duck canapes, tuna in tamarind mint sauce, wasabi prawn, scallops shumai and morel mushrooms were all on the menu. The dessert is always Chef’s choice. Tonight, is a creamed shaved ice column filled with little chewy mochi bites, berries and topped with a gorgeous edible flower and the night is still young. Hakkasan nightclub beckons.

Nothing speaks 'Las Vegas Royalty' like being personally escorted into the Hakkasan Nightclub inside the MGM. After a dinner of excellence in both taste and service, you will be personally escorted into the Hakkasan Nightclub featuring top DJ’s and performers, including Tiesto, Zedd and others. My night was during the Memorial Day Weekend on May 23, with Hip Hop star, Lil Jon the headliner making this truly a night to remember. To make your reservations for the All That and Dim Sum package, call 702-891-3838 or visit online at hakkasan.com. Guests must be 21 years or older. At a starting price of $70, you can’t afford not to try this great venue!

Honky Tonk at The Tank with The Rhyolite Sound

On June 7, the Golden Nugget kicked off the local country rock band, 'The Rhyolite Sound,' voted the 2018 Best Vegas Band by the Las Vegas Weekly, at The Tank where you can marvel at the 200,000 gallon shark tank while sipping on Hurricane cocktails and buckets of beer. You'll enjoy sampling the many platters of appetizers and listening to live music that is genuinely good. 

The band plays upfront, close and personal. Lead singer Larry Reha has a sense of humor adding warmth and charm to our night on the town. It's fun! We laughed, danced and sang along to well-known tunes like Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and they introduced original tunes sure to become top hits. Come see the Rhyolite Sound on the first Friday of August and September at 9 p.m., and on the 4th of July on Thursday, when they will host The Golden Nugget’s 4th of July celebration at The Tank. If you're looking for a foot-stompin', down-home rockin' good time, Honky Tonk at The Tank's got you covered!