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Symphony’s Restaurant at The Pahrump Valley Winery is a short drive from the insanity of the Strip, and it is a quaint and quiet day-trip that is worth taking.

The desert of course, isn’t generally thought of as a fertile place to grow grapes and make wine, but that could change very soon if the tourists that flock to our city find out about this place. The owners/vintners of the winery, Bill and Gretchen Loken, are working hard to change that perception. When they took over the property in 2003, the vineyard was overgrown and in need of some upkeep. They believed in the place and began renovating it, installing a brand new wine production cellar, including new stainless steel fermentation tanks, bottling line, grape crushing, and pressing equipment. They also installed a new oak barrel room for aging the wine, and an all-new tasting room with an expanded guest lounge. They didn’t stop there. They continued their upgrades with Symphony’s Restaurant with the addition of a new kitchen and remodeled the dining room. Their love for their property soon resulted in some accolades. In 2005, they harvested the first crop of grapes. It was one and a half tons of Zinfandel grapes. It was Nevada’s first-ever commercial red wine, and it won Gold at the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition. The Loken’s like to brag that they’re: “Bringing ‘Gold’ to the ‘Silver State.’” On the afternoon that my husband and I visited, we first began our leisurely lunch at the tasting room. When you first walk in, the scent of fermentation is very heavy. You get to pick 7 different wines that they produce for free. Our tasting guide was so nice, and she led us through the different selections expertly. Now, I am going to preface this with a quick note. If you are a wine snob, this probably won’t thrill you. But I found the tastings to be pretty good and enjoyed the experience immensely. After tipping our guide, we headed to the restaurant for our lunch. The dining room transports you back to a small town type of restaurant. It’s very tastefully decorated and looks out to the beautifully manicured grounds of the winery. The covered patio looked enticing, but we opted for eating in the main dining room instead. Our server was a charming lady who encouraged us to order a bottle of what we had liked from our tasting. Pinot Grigio ordered, and then an appetizer of their Shrimp Trio: 2 bacon wrapped, 2 coconut, and 2 chilled shrimp to share with different sauces with each. It was a perfect start to our meal. Then we sampled their creamy Lobster Bisque. It was velvety, decadent, and rich—a good execution of the classic we all love so much. We then opted to try the Crab Macaroni and Cheese, starting with a House Salad: a basic mix of greens, tomatoes, and cucumbers, but the house vinaigrette with dots of blue cheese was just killer. As I age, my obsession with blue cheese seems to grow. The Crab Macaroni and Cheese was creamy and full of tons of sweet, tender crabmeat. As our lunch came to an end, I looked around the room and just saw smile after smile, and heard a lot of laughter. All the other patrons seemed as happy as we were. A good meal and fun experience. Consider a day trip soon. I know we will be back.


I’ve seen a lot of friends posting about this place. They keep mailing enticing looking coupons to our house, which mention their “$2 Tuesday” promotion: “Get 1 scoop of their famous flavors for only $2.” Our family decided to try this one afternoon, and we are glad we did. You stand on the corner at this walkup ice cream stand and pick one of their flavors. One bite and we were hooked. Since 1945, this Ohio-based small chain of ice cream stands have a lot of Midwestern touches—like their Buckeye ice cream. They even sparked my Michigan roots with a Boston Cooler (Vernors ice cream blended with vanilla). And that single scoop for only $2? It sure seems like they are giving you a double scoop. I know it’s winter, but hey, we live in Vegas, it’s always ice cream weather here. • Follow me at: @vegasfoodnerd

STRIPLVDINING - Wedgies Sports Bar


By Vegas Food Nerd

About an hour Northeast of Las Vegas, nestled in the rugged Virgin River Valley, sitting on the edge of the Nevada/Arizona border, is the small town of Mesquite—also a warm desert climate with over 300 days of sunshine a year, but with limited dining options. Enter Wedgies Sports Bar—a recently opened locale committed to becoming a beloved part of the small community.

Vegas native, Randy Aleman, convinced family members and friends to purchase a building in the small town in 2013. The group of partners, which also includes General Manager Chris Hennig, have had great success in running restaurants, and with the wisdom they’ve gained over the years, they knew they had to wait for just the right timing to open this new dining spot. They had a vision for creating a restaurant that the residents in Mesquite could enjoy, (without having to walk through a smoky casino floor); a great place to grab a beer, watch the game, share a meal with friends, and just a great place to hang out.  

Recently announced, this December: Wedgies will become one of the first places in Mesquite to offer non-smoking gaming in the city.  

Randy, Chris, and their partners are excited to share the newly opened outpost in Mesquite with the town and its residents. Their goal is to create a space where all types and demographics feel comfortable when they walk through the door. Understanding that the town may be small but its townspeople are loyal, the partners are looking forward to their business contributing to local causes and interests.

The restaurant’s atmosphere is open, modern, and very comfortable. It is divided into two sections: The general dining area and the bar—resulting in a very family-friendly destination, as well as a great place to hang out with friends while cheering for your favorite team, without disturbing the families that might be dining there at the same time. The gaming is of course in the bar side of things, which makes for a great place to go when you just want some cold beer and to play some games, and hopefully leave the joint with a little extra cash in your wallet. Good times and a great staff make for a winning combination in this sports bar and restaurant.

The menu is a mix between American comfort food classics, such as Hamburgers, Sandwiches, Salads, and more. You can also order a big ole plate of Nachos while you watch the latest sporting event. In addition, they feature some really good Italian-American options as well, with their house made Pasta Fagioli, homemade Pizzas, Calzones, and a selection of Pastas with their fresh, made-from-scratch sauces. Their pasta and meatballs will take you right back to your Nonna’s kitchen (if you were lucky enough to have one, that is).  

Wedgies also offers some great specials available all day long, such as their $4.50 Draft Beers—all day, every day. Their Happy Hour truly lives up to its name with $2 Domestic Drafts, $3 Imports, and $2 Well Drinks. It typically runs from 2:00pm to 6:00pm, but this casual and comfortable eatery extends their specials to every major sporting event that may be drawing in the fans at the time. Wings and cold beers while you cheer is an American tradition that they take very seriously at Wedgies, with flavors ranging from BBQ, Teriyaki, Mild, Medium, Habanero, or plain—all served with the classic accompaniments of Celery, Ranch Dressing and their salty, crispy, tummy-pleasing French Fries. Crispy Calamari, and Fried Zucchini are some of their other tasty bites they offer—and while we are at it, who doesn’t love a good and gooey Cheese Stick now and again? One of their more unique offerings is their Steamed Bucket of Clams, which you can enjoy two ways: either with a choice of a red or white broth with garlic and wine.

When I got the chance to visit this new Mesquite hotspot, I tried a couple of their messy, but good, hot sandwiches—like their cheesy, sweet and sour Reuben, and their wet, but deliciously dripping-good, Italian Beef. I kicked it all off with my friend by trying their take on the Italian Classic Pasta Fagioli. It was a garlicky soup creation that satisfied. I highly recommend that on your next visit. Pairing that course with a nice cold beer on draft, we moved onto the hot sandwiches. The Reuben was piled with just the right mix of Sauerkraut, Corned Beef, Swiss and Thousand Island dressing that I was hoping for when it arrived at the table. And that Italian Beef sandwich had just the right amount of juice, that a true Chicago Italian would recognize (my grandpa taught me well). And this was the ‘real deal’ Italian Beef—complete with the right mix of Giardiniera, melted Provolone, and Au Jus to dip the messy creation in. This isn’t about being pretty, it’s about getting down and dirty with a really good sub. Yum.  

This is a fun, family-friendly, girlfriend lunch spot, sports viewing gathering spot with friends, and a great place to just grab a beer while playing a few games on their machines. It is a spot that Mesquite really needed—to fill a void in their restaurant scene. And if you’re ever near the town of Mesquite, I highly suggest you give it a try. My family and I love this place and make a point of stopping on all of our Northern travels.

Wedgies is located at 796 W. Pioneer Blvd., Mesquite, NV 89027 and is open daily from 7am-10pm. (702) 346-0999 • Follow me at: @vegasfoodnerd





This Mexican spot has been in Downtown Summerlin for quite some time now. I have been able to visit on a few occasions—one where they knew that I was going to write about the restaurant, and another time when they didn’t. On both occasions I went for lunch service. One of the coolest parts about this place is its vibe. You feel as if you are being transported to a square in the heart of Mexico City. It’s interior is bright and vibrant, with tropical foliage all around and a big water fountain running in the center of the restaurant.  

I’m an enchilada addict. Admitting it is the first step, right?  

So on my first visit, my friend and I both tried two different kinds of enchiladas, their Chicken Enchilada Suizas, and their Carnitas version. One plate we got with their black beans and queso fresco, and the other with traditional refried beans. The food arrived pretty quickly and was hot, gooey, flavorful—just how you want to get your fix of this Mexican offering. They arrived two enchiladas to a plate, and were topped with sliced avocado, which is something you don’t typically get on enchiladas at other Valley stops. I liked the creamy texture that they added to the overall experience. My friend enjoyed them just as much. We traded each other one enchilada each, just to be sure we could try all the different flavors. The portions were big, so we were too full to sample much of anything else. Our waitress was really fun and upbeat, but she said the following and I knew I had to come back soon: “The Chile Relleno tastes just like the ones my mom used to make for me.”

On my return trip, (the one where they were fully aware that I was writing about them), I knew at least one item that would be on my order. I started with a House Margarita on the rocks. And on our waiter’s recommendation, we ordered a Scallops Ceviche to share with each other. The Ceviche was good. It wasn’t too spicy, but on yet another recommendation of our server, a few drops of hot sauce on each bite made it hit the perfect spice level. For our entrees, my friend opted for the Chicken Enchiladas Suizas, and I ordered that Chile Relleno, and Shredded Beef Enchilada combination plate. All very good takes on the dishes, but yes, that Chile Relleno was pretty killer. My mom didn’t used to make them for me, but if she had, I would imagine she’d want it to turn out like this. I don’t think I will be able to not order this on any repeat visits to this place.  

A lot of the online review sites, such as Yelp, (or as I like to call them: the “digital mafia”) have a few complaints about the pricing at Pancho’s, but they do have many Happy Hour specials, and frequently send out buy one entrée get one free, etc… And while it might not be my all-time favorite Mexican spot in the Valley, after both visits my tummy left very happy. And when you do go out, isn’t that really the point?



I remember when the billboards started cropping up all over town for this other Mexican eatery with locations in Henderson, Summerlin, and now just off the Las Vegas Strip. First I chuckled at the name and then I made a silent Food Nerd vow to eat there. Then I heard about the ‘Scorpion shot,’ and I wanted to go and make someone else do that. When the Strip location opened recently, I was lucky enough to get invited to finally try their food. It was their press opening and it was fun. A giant screen played music video nostalgia, and my husband and I were treated to a sampling of the restaurant’s offerings. We got to try their Triple Dip, a yummy combo of queso dip, salsa, and guacamole. Their Daddy’s Wings were a tasty buffalo wing, cooked well. Then we got to try an assortment of their Nacho combinations. Our favorites were the Thai Chicken Nachos, and the Chicken Enchiladas Nachos (another sign of my addiction probably).  

This is a fun night out on the Strip that I hope the tourists will find. The place is in a bit of an awkward location that I hope tourists don’t miss as they walk and/or stumble down the Strip. I will be checking out their other locations very soon. And soon, very soon, I will probably make my husband the victim of that Scorpion shot. Ha-ha.



I’ve never been to a Hooters. I’ve heard that their wings are just meh. But another “boob”-themed restaurant has invaded our town with a couple of locations, called Twin Peaks. Work at the one on the Strip and you are revealing a lot of boob and quite a bit of ass. Work at the one in Henderson and you don’t have to show quite so much. The main draw of this place though, if you are a beer drinker, is the beer. Order it girl-sized or man-sized. They cool their beer to 29 degrees, making it an icy delight, that trust me, you will crave and be lured back in for more. I know it’s a chain, but icy beer lures me in every time. And the food is pretty good, not mind-blowing, but I don’t really think that is the point. If you are looking for Boobs and Ice Cold Beer, get your eyes and gut over to Twin Peaks. • Follow me at: @vegasfoodnerd

STRIPLVDINING - STK - Sunday Brunch Club



By Vegas Food Nerd

I was invited to visit STK and experience their Sunday Brunch Club. We arrived a few minutes before our reservation and were told we had to wait outside the restaurant while they finished prepping. Ok, that wasn’t so bad. I always enjoy the opportunity to peruse the menus of the other high-end restaurants that circle around the dining level of the Cosmopolitan.  

When we arrived back for Brunch there were about two to three other parties, including ourselves. Then the staff of appropriately casted Vegas “beautiful people” waltzed around all of us for about 10 minutes before any of the parties were finally placed at a table. I was originally told going into this experience that we were going to be served a tasting of the whole menu. Instead were informed that we could pick one appetizer to share, one entrée each, alongside either a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa. A bit of a letdown, but hey, this was on them, so why not take advantage.  

We both opted for Bloody Marys, and our server told us we could go up to the bar and customize them with extra treats, such as pickled veggies, peppered bacon, and my new obsession, blue cheese stuffed olives. That was kind of fun. Every table when service starts gets warm coffee cake bread on a board with a Sweet Crème Anglaise sauce to dip the baked delight in. The bread seemed to be a hit at every table, including ours. We started things off with their Niçoise Salad. The tuna was perfectly cooked and the hard-boiled quail eggs were adorably small and good. The potatoes were presented well, but very underdone. They also seasoned them with sautéed onions, which wasn’t that bad, but we had specifically asked our server to take the onions out of our salad if there were any in the dish.  

For our main entrees, my friend ordered the Steak and Eggs, and I ordered their Pork Belly Eggs Benedict. I had been waffling between ordering their Short Rib Hash, and the Benedict, but my lifelong and not so healthy obsession with hollandaise sauce won me over. Our food came, and while they both looked good, the execution was very disappointing. We were in a restaurant called STK, and the steak was Meh Meh, not very good. It was slightly overcooked and didn’t have very good flavor at all. The eggs and potatoes were just ok, too. My Eggs Benedict was a very similar experience. The hollandaise sauce was good and my eggs were poached well, but the pork belly underneath them was very thick, chewy, and hard to cut. Underneath the pork was a bao bun, which is a light, fluffy bread, that didn’t seem to pair well with the thick chewy meat on top of it. For those that know me, it’s pretty hard to make a Benedict I don’t care for, but STK was the first.  

I know that I am lucky that I was invited to try the place, and for free at that, but as we sat there nursing our Bloody Marys and tallying up the cost for the experience if we had paid for it ($144 breakfast), we did a double-take. The Strip is widely known to price gouge tourists while on vacation, but this was over-the-top. As a rule, The Cosmopolitan is one stop I usually take visiting friends, and have never had a bad meal, until now. It’s pretty sad to leave the place and wish you’d just gone to a Denny’s.  


If you haven’t marked your calendar already, do it now for the upcoming Las Vegas Food and Wine Festival at SLS Las Vegas. Many of the events are already completely sold-out, as we go to print. So if you miss your chance this go-round, I’d suggest you get on their mailing list for next year at The grand master of the whole weekend-long event running from Sept. 15-18 is the highly-esteemed Chef José Andrés. Alongside him, hyping up the foodies into a real frenzy, are Chefs Charlie Palmer, Frank Pellegrino Jr., Francois Payard, Brad Kilgore, and many more. It’s going to be a wine tasting, spirits tasting, food tasting, live chef demonstrations, and dessert tasting experience that you will surely brag about to your friends. Tickets start at $50 each for Regular Admission and $100 for VIP at each event. • Follow me at: @vegasfoodnerd

STRIPLVDINING - Bottiglia Cucina & Enoteca by Vegas Food Nerd


Cucina & Enoteca 

Henderson has been blessed with this new Clique Hospitality Italian restaurant located in Green Valley Ranch Resort Spa and Casino, just steps from the casino floor.  

When you turn the corner and walk into this new dining destination, you hear and feel the word “pretty” when you see the space.  

Tall ceilings, lots of crisp, white touches all over the room, and an adorable scooter that every girl that has seen in the classic film, Roman Holiday, has always wanted to own. There are seats adorned with fairytale-like floral patterns, and a big, airy Hamptons feeling environment in the place. The open kitchen is large and square, and plopped right into the middle of the restaurant, giving diners the chance to view and watch the action right from their seats. They had this fun-looking area with couch seating arrangements on one side of the space, and while they appeared very comfortable, I wouldn’t want to have to try eating pasta sitting in a space like that. I’d recommend grabbing a seat at the bar where you can drool over the beautiful copper pizza oven and watch all of your foods get created. 

Once we were seated at our very pretty high-top table, I secured a spot where I could watch the bartender and all the chefs at work. They brought us out their perfectly plated breads with a really nice, not too sweet, honey butter. Along with our bread, our hosts introduced our table to two of their salad options: a Chopped Salad and their Buratta and Tomato Caprese. The Chopped Salad was very good, but if there is a cheese that can change your life, it would be buratta. It makes fresh mozzarella feel like the wallflower I was in middle school. They accented the life-altering dairy treat with marinated heirloom tomatoes, aged balsamic, and pistachios (insert swoon noise here). Our salads were served with a Sangria Bellini, and a drink called La Bella Vita, made with Prosecco. The cocktails in presentation were gorgeous with fresh flower accents—just a bit on the sweet side for me. My waiter was gracious enough to supply me with a good Pinot Grigio for the rest of the meal.  

Next, our hosts treated us with a sampling of some of their favorite appetizers to share at our table. The Char-Grilled Octopus was in a blood orange vinaigrette with a black garlic yogurt sauce that put off everyone at first, but it was love at first bite for pretty much everyone at the table.
The Beef Carpaccio, with a perfectly round poached egg in the middle with hearts of palm and cherry peppers, just melted on your tongue in a perfect mix of flavors. Their take on Crispy Calamari was a happy, deep fried taste, lightened up with fresh lemon and a light marinara sauce. And finally, they served us a Zucchini Flowers, breaded, lightly fried and filled with a lemon ricotta stuffing—a table favorite, to say the least.

The next round was their pastas and entrées. First up was their Baked Gnocchi Arrabbiata, baked with buffalo mozzarella in a spicy Calabrian Chili and San Marzano tomato sauce all served in blue stoneware, which helped to keep this dish hot the whole time that we shared it. It was a tasty take on one of our Nonna’s favorite treats. My favorite pasta dish that they served us was the Sausage & Rapini, served over a big rigatoni with ricotta and a tomato chili sauce. The flavors all complemented each other so well, and I would highly recommend ordering this plate of pasta. They brought us another signature dish, Lobster Fra Diavolo, and as much as I like my crustaceans, for me, this wasn’t incredible. It was presented with the head of the beast staring straight at you, which for some was too much, but I of course dug in, and just wasn’t knocked out by it. The other entrée that they brought for us to sample was the Pan-Roasted Halibut served with a farro risotto, carrot purée, and peas. The halibut was cooked perfectly and the sides and sauces that adorned it just made me really happy.  

A meal just isn’t complete without dessert, right? Well, at this point most of us were groaning with full bellies, but when they bring you fresh, Lemon Poppy Seed Donuts with a blueberry dipping sauce, you are going to eat it and be glad that you did. They followed it with a Strawberry Limoncello Pannacotta that was a light, refreshing experience that I will either be ordering or trying to recreate at home very soon.  

My family used to drive every summer from Michigan to Florida, and the only restaurant we could generally get our folks to pull over and sit down to a meal at was Cracker Barrel. Not Waffle House, though those dotted the highway just about as frequently as the grit-slinging Barrel did. Nostalgia is big when you are talking about food. When this place finally opens outside of the Silverton Casino, you can bet this Nerd will be there, getting a plate of some sort of gravy-covered, chicken fried, grits on the side, biscuits with it, type of dish. I will have my head down, really conflicted about whether to order the fried apple or the hash brown casserole on the side. Or maybe just both. Yeah, both. All my potentially redneckian friends are welcome to join me.  

Now go eat something. • Follow me at: @vegasfoodnerd
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