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This is the final installment of David Raatz’s (@raatz) Vegan Dinig Guide. You can read Part One of the Gluttonous Vegan Dining Guide here, Part Two here and Part Three here.

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Off-Strip

Whole Foods Market

When I venture off the strip in search of good vegan food in the Valley, I often find myself at a Whole Foods Market. There’s just no place else that has a better variety of vegan food – whether you’re planning to eat on site (healthy fast food! what a concept!) or to pick up some groceries to take back to your hotel room. I’m partial to the Asian section of the deli. You simply can’t go wrong.

My favorite Vegas-area Whole Foods has been the Summerlin/Tenaya location. The outdoor patio seating (with free wi-fi) provides a great opportunity to relax. But I’m also excited about the new store south of the Strip (the fourth Whole Foods in the Las Vegas area).

Trader Joe’s

I visit one or more Trader Joe’s (Summerlin, Henderson, Decatur Blvd.) during every Vegas trip. There’s no better market for affordable, healthy, high-quality specialty foods.

Sushi Zen (North Las Vegas) and Go Raw Café (two Clark County locations) also receive high marks.

Thanks for reading! Putting this little guide together has been a useful exercise for me – and I hope it’s of use to you too. Vegas already features a lot of terrific choices for vegetarians and vegans. And I think the future will only bring phenomenal improvement. I’m hoping that Chrissie Hynde meets her goal of bringing The Vegiterranean restaurant to Las Vegas. A star-powered vegan-friendly eatery would jumpstart the veggie-oriented marketplace.

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Part Two of both this Guest Post series and David Raatz’s (@raatz) Vegan Dining Guide. You can read the Part One of the Gluttonous Vegan Dining Guide here.

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Center Strip

Starbucks:

This might sound a little silly, but I have to suggest a Starbucks – specifically the Starbucks in the West Wing at MGM Grand. This isn’t your hometown’s generic-looking Starbucks. With a quasi-art deco theme, this place embodies style and grace. It doesn’t feel like any other location in Vegas. Though it’s just steps away from the casino floor, it exudes peace and tranquility. A decaf venti soy latte also helps.

P.F. Chang’s at Planet Hollywood:

This is one chain restaurant that goes out of its way to be vegan-friendly, providing several entrees that are either always meat and diary-free or can be easily prepared that way upon request. P.F. Chang’s also has brown rice – a vegan’s delight – unlike many Chinese restaurants. (By the way, P.F. Chang’s is open until at least midnight every day of the week. Don’t mind its website, which says that the restaurant closes at 12 p.m. Sunday through Thursday.)

The Buffet at Bellagio:

Eating at The Buffet at Bellagio ten years ago helped me learn the intense and varied pleasures of vegetarianism. The strength and diversity of tastes in the vegetables, fruits, noodles, grains, pastas, herbs and spices was mind boggling. And if anything, the food at The Buffet has only improved – for breakfast, lunch and dinner – and the assortment of food has certainly multiplied. I think it’s appropriate that the featured photo at The Buffet website features fresh fruit.

Palio:

There’s another coffee place I must praise: Palio at Bellagio. This classy little room offers another casino respite (so important) and beautiful views of the Bellagio pool. For just a few bucks, you can refill your coffee all day long (or at least 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.) while relaxing, enjoying the scenery, reading the newspaper and strategizing for your next triumph at the tables. Vegan-friendly soups and sandwiches are sometimes available too.

Cheesecake Factory:

The Cheesecake Factory at The Forum Shops is one restaurant that shows salads can be (and should be!) about pleasure, not sacrifice. Cheesecake Factory salads are huge, with a plentiful variety of items. There’s also a large assortment of vegan salad dressings (I almost feel like I need advice from a vinaigrette steward before making a choice!). I also recommend the angel hair pasta entrée. Several hearty veggie side orders add a nice touch. One word of warning about the Cheesecake Factory though: some dishes sound like they’re vegetarian or vegan, but are actually not because they use fish sauce or include eggs. Asking your server is important until you get to know what’s right for you (which of course applies at a lot of places).

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Thanks to a suggestion by Jeremiah Owyang, I asked our Twitter followers if anyone would be interested in writing a guest post for this blog.  A few fabulous twitterers responded. This one, by David Raatz (@raatz) is the first in the series.

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Yes, Vegas-style hedonism is even available for Vegans! Las Vegas offers an amazing array of decadent pleasures for everyone – including vegetarians (people who don’t eat meat) and vegans (people who don’t eat any animal products, including dairy).

I’ve been a vegetarian for ten years and a vegan for five years, and I always look forward to my culinary adventures in Las Vegas. The below, brief manual is a tool for my fellow vegetarians or vegans and for others who are interested in enhancing their Vegas food experiences.

The rundown isn’t intended to be comprehensive. I freely admit that it reflects my biases and favors casual, inexpensive dining. But I hope you find it helpful and interesting.

I’ll start with the South Strip because that’s where I always spend a large percentage of my time. Video poker and blackjack are my favorite activities, and Luxor and its next-door neighbor, Mandalay Bay are my favorite casinos for those always entertaining games.

South Strip

Border Grill:

Mexican restaurants often provide excellent vegan meals, and Border Grill at Mandalay Bay is a perfect example. Border Grill ranks among my favorite restaurants in the world. I love the shaded, patio-style seating near the Lazy River. The fresh air is always refreshing. The patio is an especially fun location in the summer. It seems to be one of the coolest places in town – both in temperature and in hipness. As a bonus, from May through September, you can listen to the Mandalay Bay Beach Concerts!

The Portabello Mushroom Mulitas is one of the most consistently satisfying vegan entrees I’ve had anywhere. The Mexican chopped salad (without chicken) is nearly as good, featuring grilled corn, roasted peppers, avocado, tomato, apple, pinto beans, red onion, tortilla chips and romaine lettuce tossed in coriander vinaigrette. Border Grill’s chips, salsa (red and green) and guacamole are also marvelous.

The only negative is that it’s a long walk from the main casino area. But, you’ll have a guaranteed payoff for your investment of time and energy.

Raffles Cafe:

A 24/7 source for comfort food in a beautiful setting right off the Mandalay Bay casino floor is Raffles Café. It sounds a bit silly, but enjoying the simple goodness of oatmeal at Raffles is an outstanding way to start or end a day, especially with fresh fruit on the side. I’ve partaken many times. The bottomless strong coffee can help you regain some clear thinking if it was lost in the casino madness.

T&T (Tacos & Tequila):

Luxor has a new Mexican-themed place with a lot of appeal (although I haven’t been able to try it yet) – T&T. Chef Richard Sandoval has created several interesting options. The creative-sounding Mediterraneo burrito includes falafel, tahini, tomato, green bell pepper, mint and tamarind pico de gallo. Mouth watering!

See you soon at one of my old favorites like Border Grill –  or perhaps a new hangout like T&T!

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Check back later for the Vegan’s Dining Guide to the Center Strip!

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Because Luxor is so diverse, from its staff to its venues, hearing only one “voice” on this blog would be an inaccurate portral of Luxor. So, I plan to work with employees and various departments to get as many different voices and Guest Posts as possible. Below is one from Kussette who works at Liquidity, the center bar at Luxor.
 
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Luxor was known for its Egyptian theme, hieroglyphics on the wall, mummies, pharaoh, sphinx, obelisk, RA, Nile and Nefertiti’s. Now, those were things of the past. The Luxor is reborn. There is a whole new different experience from what was ancient. We’re now more living in the present with a more lively and provocative atmosphere in the center bar, Liquidity and restaurant and nightclubs like LAX and CatHouse. We got the perfect hang out to talk and meet new people in Aurora– lobby bar. Why not try some refreshing cocktails on your first landing to Vegas. I recommend the Liquid Lemonade as one of the most refreshing cocktails invented. How about something different like a Strawberry Caprioskasfor the sweet tooth drinker or the popular signature drink Aurora which is fresh blueberries martini. It would be best to have it on Thurs-Mon from 8pm-6am. Don’t ask why, just take my word on it 😉

Not to mention, Flight, the best hang out while waiting for flights departure in LAS airport or to go to LAX nightclub on Wed, Thurs, Fri or Sat. One should definitely try the flights such as the First Class Whiskey or First Class Tequila. You’ll be paying much less to try ultra premium spirits in this bar than any other bar ever. Such as Patron Platinum and Crown XR plus it comes with the most creative garnishes ever like beef jerky for whiskeys and butterscotch candies for apple martinis. You name it they have the most eclectic menu out there.

In Liquidity, which is the center bar of it all, you can taste the slow dripping Absinthe.

Lastly, Criss Angel or Carrot Top might be the next person you see hanging out in one of the lounge or nightclubs mentioned. There is more to come at Luxor, like escalators, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition and BODIES… The Exhibition and a whole bunch more for the ecstatic, energetic and full spirit crowd.

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Below is a guest post written by Cirque du Soleil with quotes from CRISS ANGEL Believe Co-Writer and Director Serge Denoncourt.

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“I find the links between attraction and rejection, good and evil, and sexual urges extremely interesting. This is the world I investigate in my creations.”
—Serge Denoncourt

Co-Writer and Director of CRISS ANGEL Believe, Serge Denoncourt

Co-Writer and Director of CRISS ANGEL Believe, Serge Denoncourt

Serge Denoncourt is known as a true man of the theatre with more than 80 productions to his credit, but he was planning to study medicine when he decided at the age of 18 to audition for the theatre program at a Montreal college called CEGEP Lionel-Groulx. He was accepted, and when he graduated in 1983 he started his career as an actor. In 1987 he demonstrated his inventiveness as a director for the first time, with the play Grand et Petit, by Botho Strauss.

Serge Denoncourt is steeped in theatre tradition and known for the visual beauty of his shows, which are typically marked by heightened imagery, vivid use of color and a deep examination of subtext. A versatile artist, Serge also stages operas and even delves into the world of variety shows.

With CRISS ANGEL Believe Serge has sought to return a sense of nobility to magic.

“I don’t like magic shows in general,” he says. “They lack emotion and any sense of a storyline. I took on CRISS ANGEL Believe from the position of one who doesn’t like those kinds of shows because they treat magic as an end in itself. My aim here is to take magic – and Cirque du Soleil – in a completely different direction.”

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