ARIA Resort & Casino Finger Licking Foodie Tour

Photo Credit: ARIA Resort & Casino

Since 2015 Don Contursi has been offering the guided Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, in which guests visit multiple restaurants in one outing. The tours have proven to be quite popular, but like many food and beverage businesses, the onset of COVID delivered a real gut punch. Don was not deterred though, and switched gears by adding a new variation: a two-hour, self-guided, socially distanced tour for parties of 2-6 visiting three restaurants dubbed the Finger Licking Foodie Tour. 

After reading and writing about Don’s foodie tours and conversing with him for more than a year, I finally got around to experiencing one of his tours. The one I chose was the new ARIA Resort & Casino Finger Licking Foodie Tour. What appealed to me was the extreme high quality of the three world-renowned restaurants included, all located in the same resort just steps from each other, and that the tour includes 3 dishes at each restaurant.

Our tour began at 5 p.m. at BARDOT Brasserie, where we enjoyed three appetizers, including a wonderful creation of king crab and caper aioli nestled inside Belgian endive. At 5:30 we moseyed across the way to Carbone and dived into three Italian specialties that included a very delicious penne alla vodka. Lastly, at 6:15 we ambled over to Jean Georges Steakhouse and indulged in a perfectly cooked New York Strip and finished with a very unique panna cotta dessert encased in white chocolate made to look like a lemon or lime.

One aspect I found appealing was the element of surprise, as we did not know beforehand what dishes we would be served. However, we were given the opportunity when booking our tour to inform of any dietary restrictions. One of our party did have some limitations and thankfully each of the restaurants provided alternate dishes as needed. 

After finally experiencing one of Don’s tours I have to say all of the great things I had heard about the quality was true and I highly recommend them. And, you certainly will not leave hungry! Several tours are offered with multiple variations and options. Check them out at fingerlickingfoodietours.com.

Americana Is Alive and Well at Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews

Photo Credit: Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews

Sickies Garage Burgers & Brews opened in Town Square over Labor Day weekend in the former space of Claim Jumper, and while it was mentioned briefly in this publication, after my visit last month I feel this unique restaurant deserves further reporting. 

As soon as you walk in you are welcomed by tributes to cars, trucks and motorcycles, which happen to be hanging from the ceiling. There’s also an immense display of Americana and I found myself mesmerized, dazzled and entertained by colorful nostalgic signs, old bottles and license plates from all 50 states (including a collage in the shape of our nation’s flag) filling nearly every inch of the walls. As there is a garage theme, it’s fitting that some of the walls are actual garage doors that can be rolled up when the weather permits and extending to two outdoor patio areas. There’s a definite family-friendly vibe, but the 30 TV screens throughout and the 50 beers offered also qualifies Sickies as a sports lovers’ hangout.

The garage theme, as well as the moniker, is derived from the founders’ practice of calling in sick to work on cars and eventually getting into making creatively insane burgers. The first location opened in Fargo, North Dakota in 2012 and was followed by a handful more in South Dakota, Minnesota and Nebraska, but this Vegas opening marks its first venture out west.

When CEO Ken Harris was asked why open during these difficult times he replied, “Once COVID gets under control, those who have survived will do very well, with less competition and more demand.” As to why open in Las Vegas his response was, “It’s fun and appeals to both tourists and families.”

The massive menu lists every comfort food imaginable, with the likes of fish & chips, chicken tenders, nachos, fried pickles, quesadillas and sandwiches, but the real “meat” of the offerings are the burgers, which feature ½ pound Angus patties and come in 50 creations with a myriad of toppings and bun variations (such as gluten-free, doughnut, pretzel). Patty choices also include chicken, turkey, veggie, American Wagyu and pork sausage. 

Another expansive collection are the chicken wings, with 25 varieties, such as mango habanero, Jamaican jerk, kickin’ bourbon, Carolina chipotle and some unusual choices like PB&J (which surprisingly is quite good). 

As for those 50 brews, I’m glad to see some support for local, with taps pouring CraftHaus Belgard Stout, Hop Nuts Golden Strong and Lovelady Paleo Porter.

The regular prices, with entrées around $15, will keep you coming back, but there are also several other enticements, such as burgers and sandwiches including a side; $9.99 daily lunch specials; military and first responders 20% off; daily happy hour with apps for $5.99, $1 off select beer and wine and Bud & Burger and a side for $10.99; and all day drink specials. Just be careful you don’t become so addicted that you find yourself calling in sick to visit. 

sickiesburgers.com/locations/las-vegas