Happy Birthday To Us! Gluten Free (and Vegan) in Las Vegas Part II
Bally’s in all its 80’s futuristic glory.
It’s funny how Las Vegas has become such a special place for Karl and I. As a kid I always thought it was supposed to be this dark, scary place full of sketchy people and scantily clad women. But it turns out that’s only if you stumble into Imperial Palace (now known as “The Quad”). 🙂 Every other part of Las Vegas has such wonderful memories for us now. The Bellagio fountains, the street performers, exploring the city… and now all the wonderful places we can eat! Who would’ve thought that our favorite places to eat gluten-free and vegan would be in Las Vegas?
The first time we went to Vegas, we were gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free. However, we had not yet taken the vegan plunge. Since giving up all animal products, the hunt was on for places to eat that were not only familiar with gluten-free food, but animal-free as well. That sounds like a difficult task, but as always Karl came through and found some amazing new places to take me to for my Birthday in December. And we certainly came back to (almost) every single one when we had another Vegas trip for his birthday in March!
So here are our wonderful finds:
We actually found this little gem about a year ago and have had to revisit every trip since! Everything is raw, gluten-free, vegan and amazingly delicious! So far, I’ve had the cheese burger with fries and the California pizza, while Karl has had the Italian sampler and bananas and jam on toast. So ridiculously good! To top it off, our favorite brand of Kombucha is sold here. It’s a little pricey, but so worth it with the amazing flavor and the great feeling you get when you’re done with your meal. I love when my food makes me feel alive and vibrant instead of stuffed and sluggish (but don’t worry, this stuff still easily fills you up).
Ok, so this place is pretty much a dream come true. The first time we came here, we just got some nachos and fell in love. Jalapeño corn chips with Daiya cheese and vegan, gluten-free meat substitute… so good! The next time we came we were sad to hear that they were out of the nachos. So we “settled” for a Panini on gluten-free pita bread with vegan taco meat and Daiya cheese. Ridiculously good! The pita bread was so moist and spongy, and didn’t break apart too easily. But the real amazement was the taco meat. I have no idea how they got such good flavor out of something with no meat and no gluten, but we are hooked.
If that wasn’t enough, they have desserts to die for. Our first trip I grabbed a box of gluten-free vegan sugar cookies. I couldn’t believe how light and fluffy they were! Not super dense or crumbly like some others. And then, on our last visit, we seriously could not believe what we were tasting. Gluten-free, vegan tiramisu. And not just “hey, this kind of looks like tiramisu and has a lot of sugar so just pretend”. Like, seriously… tiramisu. Light, fluffy, and warm from the fresh espresso. We couldn’t believe it. We had a nice talk with the owner, and he said that his wife (the brains behind the food) will only use organic ingredients, and never makes a dessert over 200 calories! I’m not much of a calorie counter, but when it comes to sweets that’s pretty amazing. Rumor has it that they will be opening a location in Santa Monica or Orange County before the year is up… I seriously flipped at the thought of having such amazing food so close to home!
Speaking of incredible desserts, I never thought I’d be able to have a “normal” birthday cake again. Sure, we had fun making our own or eating the wonderful Earth Cafe Cheesecakes and pretending they were birthday cake, but it still just wasn’t the same. Until now. We first found this place back when it was an icecream shop with lots of dairy-free and gluten-free options. They have since converted into a make-to-order bakery where everything is gluten-free, vegan, soy-free and rice-free. Of course, you would think “great, free of allergens… so it probably tastes terrible.” Wrong! Amazing! That’s all I can say. 🙂 Moist, delicious, flavorful, and not overly sweet like a lot of other baked goods trying to mask their lack of gluten and animal products. And just look at how beautiful my cake was!
Now, Karl’s cake deserves an explanation. I could only afford to book the cheapest hotel on the strip which, at the time, happened to be Bally’s. Every time we had walked by that hotel in the past, Karl would get super excited and say how much it reminds him of the movie Blade Runner with all the 80’s futuristic neon lights and decor. We even took the liberty of posing for some “Blade Runner” pictures while we were there. So, I decided to make Karl’s birthday Blade Runner themed so I didn’t feel so bad about getting us the cheapest room on the strip. 🙂 I think Ridley would approve.
Last but not least on the list of our amazing finds, is this incredible little India bistro. The menu is huge with page after page of items labeled gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, nut-free, healthy choice, dairy-free, etc. So many choices, a knowledgable staff, and seriously delicious food! A bit pricey, but a great place to eat some amazing food in celebration of… anything! 🙂
So, now that we’ve shared our favorite finds, here’s a list of our not-so-hard-to-find places that we always have standing by.
Always super kind and understanding about food allergies. Amazing salad with rice and beans… so yummy!
This is a first-stop for us most trips to Las Vegas. It’s a great place right off the strip to grab all the snacks you need for the day when you’re strange eaters like us and can’t just stop at every buffet on the strip. Also, they have an amazing hot bar! Great for lunch or any other meal. I was super excited to see an entire section dedicated to dishes from Kris Carr’s new cookbook Crazy Sexy Kitchen! I had the vegan mashed potatoes and the chickpeas with root veggies. Super yummy and comforting! I’ve been putting off getting this cookbook for a few reasons (we’ve been focusing more on raw food lately). But now I just may have to get my hands on it. 🙂
And now, some almost-great finds.
First let me say, the food was great. Karl had a really delicious vegan, gluten-free grilled cheese sandwich, and I had some sort of bean and Daiya scramble thing. There are gluten-free options on the menu. However… the place was just kind of hectic. Not because there were a lot of people, mainly because the staff was just a bit spacey and eclectic. It took forever to even get our order taken, and then our waitress, forgetting our special dietary needs, kept coming back trying to give us samples of things. We’d ask her if they were gluten-free and she’d get all frazzled and say she’d go find out. We wouldn’t see her for a long time, and then when she did return it was without a definite answer as to whether the samples were safe for us or not. Nice of them to offer samples though! Especially since it took us forever to get our food. Again, great food, I just didn’t feel safe eating there, and it wasn’t the most pleasant experience.
I know I gave a rave review in my last Las Vegas post, but it turns out there was a bit of a misunderstanding. Although the batter they use for their fish and chips is gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free, they do still dip everything in milk before dipping it in the batter. So, it doesn’t really matter that the batter is dairy-free, because dairy is what’s holding it together. What’s funny to me is how many times I asked them for no gluten-free coleslaw because I was dairy-free. They made a big deal to say something like, “Ok! Dairy-free! You got it!” Never thinking that they might need to inform me that everything is soaked in dairy. Ahh well. Still nice people over there, and if you’re gluten-free but dairy’s not a problem, go try their onion rings! They’re incredible!
Whew! That was a long one. 🙂 But hopefully somewhere out there someone is googling “gluten-free Las Vegas” or “vegan Las Vegas” and will find some of these reviews helpful. And as for the rest of you, thanks for following my babbling on about food all the time. I’m sure most of you get enough of that when we’re together in person. 🙂