It Will Make Your Lips Smack
Needless to say, our expectations were sky high after our first experience with Donald Contursi’s LIPSMACKING Foodie Tours in Las Vegas. How was he possibly going to top his Boozy Brunch Tour (which featured Herringbone, BARDOT Brasserie and Lemongrass)? The obvious answer, of course, is when you constantly deliver excellence, there is no need to top it.
The Afternoon Culinary Adventure is a wonderful way for tourists and locals alike to experience VIP service and gain access to Las Vegas’ hottest restaurants. The tour consisted of stops at Javier’s, Estiatorio Milos, Momofuku and Maestro’s Ocean Club. Mr. Contursi has planned every detail for you. Tour participants are escorted to their prime seating upon arrival and the food from the preset menu is served immediately. Whether you are looking to impress a date, explore new places or just feel like being pampered for a few hours, the Afternoon Culinary Adventure has you covered.
The first stop on our culinary adventure was at Aria Resort & Casino and the high-end Mexican cuisine at Javier’s. SoCal residents are already very familiar with founder Javier Sosa’s gem and visitors to the Aria are no doubt delighted Sosa took his talents to Vegas. We were escorted in to a large, private room and sat family-style around the beautiful wood table. Fresh tortilla chips with a trio of signature salsas kicked off the meal while the large black chandelier set the mood from above. Shrimp, crab and grilled chicken enchiladas finished off the first stop, but not before dependable stalwarts refried beans and Mexican rice made an appearance. We have to admit to feeling a keen sense of déjà vu at this point in the tour. Much like our first experience on LIPSMACKING Foodie Tours, we couldn’t believe this was only the first stop.
A short (but much welcomed) walk to The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas brought us to Estiatorio Milos, Costas Spiliadis’ Greek and Mediterranean-styled restaurant and the first Greek restaurant on the Strip. Walking into Milos, one could be forgiven for thinking they had stepped into an open-air market. Several sections of the restaurant display fresh vegetables and fruits. The bursts of color set forth from these displays contrast beautifully with the lightly textured cement walls and stacked white-brick columns. We are seated immediately and quickly spoiled with a rustic sourdough bread, served with the branded house olive oil (My Sister’s Olive Oil). A Greek Salad is next, complete with feta imported from Greece and impossibly red tomatoes. Grilled to perfection Mediterranean Octopus is next and the meal is completed with one of Milos’ specialties, the appropriately named: Milos Special. This elegantly arranged eggplant and zucchini tower is served with tzatziki sauce and a few crispy bites makes it easy to see why this has become THE signature dish here.
Our third stop kept us at The Cosmopolitan but switched the setting completely. Gone were the large Greek columns, replaced instead with the familiar peach logo of Momofuku. Chef David Chang finally gave the west coast a chance to experience what New York City has been raving about since 2004. The modern industrial interior is a staple at Momofuku locations everywhere but the Strip view is obviously unique to Vegas. One-of-a-kind Pork Buns featuring hoisin, cucumber and scallion created a startling contrast between the softness of the bun and crispiness of the interior products. Not to be outdone though was the Chickpea Ramen, complete with flash-fried chickpeas and bok choy. The ambience and food were wonderful to be sure, but the highlight of the stop was getting to watch the kitchen team preparing a family-style pre-service meal for the entire restaurant staff. Getting an inside look at the team building and camaraderie present at Momofuku was not only one of the highlights of the tour, but something a regular patron at the restaurant would not have gotten to witness.
After experiencing some of the best Mexican, Greek and Asian-American cuisine Las Vegas has to offer we have to admit being a little skeptical to the idea that we had any more room in our stomachs for a 4th and final stop. The short walk through Crystals at CityCenter helped a little and before we knew it, we arrived at Mastro’s Ocean Club. The old axiom “there’s always room for dessert” hovered in the air, quickly replaced with the smell of Mastro’s Signature Warm Butter Cake, Chocolate Sin Cake and Cheesecake. Who said anything about being full? A perfect complement and emphatic finish to a true culinary adventure.
When it comes to Las Vegas restaurant options, there seems like an overwhelming supply. If you don’t plan it right, you might never get to experience the best Las Vegas has to offer. Whether it might be cost, reservation wait times or simply indecision on what type of food you want to enjoy, LIPSMACKING Foodie Tours has you covered. There is no better way to explore the Las Vegas food scene and we can’t emphasize enough how accommodating and knowledgeable Founder Donald Contursi is. His personal relationships with the owners and staff alike, combined with his obvious love of food culture, ensure a simply unbeatable culinary experience.