A fraction over three nights is the average length of stay by visitors to Las Vegas. Only cows have four stomachs so how is one possibly going to scratch the savory surface in tasting the sweet treats the Las Vegas culinary scene has to offer? Celebrity chefs, including Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsey, famous chains, elaborate settings, and memorable menus at Mr. Chow, Spago, Le Cirque, and others have, with their forks and knives, sliced into the Strip’s slots, stages, stores, showgirls that previously captured the cash of convention-goers, vacationers, and bachelor partiers pouring into Sin City. So how to, with limited time, to choose between the array of top restaurants…if you can even score a reservation?
You can quadruple-down with a Lip Smacking Foodie Tour that will immediately seat you at four different exclusive eateries for 12 or more signature dishes on a four-hour walking tour that, for $199, is the ultimate strolling buffet and an outstanding comparative value.
“The restaurants are entertainment. Each one is different than the next and they all do something very special. We’ve curated a VIP experience out of the award-winning offerings,” said Donald Contursi, Lip Smacking Foodie Tour’s founder. “You don’t have to narrow down where to dine and what to order. With us you get a variety of famous experiences and ambiances.”
I was solo and the tour guide I drew, Thomas Svoboda, gathered our small group (large ones are welcome, too) at Aria. Like a superb waiter, he entertained and advised as he walked us to the kitchens and courses. “Between Aria and Cosmopolitan there is a $40-million art collection so our guides will describe and explain the history and meaning behind some of the iconic sights and shops you might not have noticed on your own. It’s like a palate-cleaning break between the restaurants,” said Contursi, formerly a Chicagoan.
Lip Smacking’s Foodie Tours are different each night (another reason I will go every time I am in Vegas) but my particular gourmet sashay (which would easily have surpassed $199 if ordered on my own) began at Catch, a flower-filled celebrity wonderland, where it was “sit down and sample” jumbo shrimp cocktail, vegetable rolls, and Japanese Miyazaki Wagyu.
Immediate seating was next at Javiar’s Finest Foods of Mexico in front of an elaborate, artistic Aztec wood-carved mural where we chewed up shrimp, crab and chicken Enchiladas de Mariscos plus fresh tortilla chips with four types of garden salsa.
Another stroll led to Scarpetta, which was ready to serve us creamy polenta with a fricassee of truffled mushrooms; spaghetti; duck and foie gras ravioli with a marsala reduction; and short rib agnolotti with brown butter, horseradish and toasted bread crumbs.
Like most tours ours ended in a gift shop…but not just any trinket store: it was the high-end Crystals Mall in City Center at Mastros Ocean Club, next to the Gucci, for the desert course. Again, why choose? Each diner was presented the chocolate sin cake; New York cheesecake; and the signature warm butter cake with its sweet cream cheese, vanilla bean ice cream, raspberry sauce, orange supremes, sliced strawberries, and house-made whipped cream.
Lip Smacking leads other versions through The Venetian Resort and downtown’s Freemont Street – and the tours can end with an optional helicopter ride over the Strip, if desired, for an extra $100.