|The Food Channel® descends on Las Vegas from 7 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6, through 7 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, to film ‘Clockless in Vegas’—a 24-hour exploration of Sin City food.|
Food Channel cultural correspondent Andy Ford—in his day job, chief insights officer for “CultureWaves”:http://www.culturewav.es—will roam the streets looking for the hot spots and lesser-known food venues in a city that never sleeps. Along the way, Andy will talk with people about where they eat, why they eat what they eat, and what on earth they are doing up at 3 a.m. to eat it!
Here’s a clip from Andy’s interview with Las Vegas radio station 95.5 KWNR.
A.M. UPDATE FROM ANDY:
Started out the day feeling fresh and eager to go get some breakfast. Saw a guy flipping us the bird. When I approached him, he said, ‘Do you want to go have a beer or not?’ At 8 a.m. Too early for that.
Headed off to find a place where the locals go. Found it in the Hash House a Go Go, about a $20 cab ride from the Strip. Great place. Open and engaging atmosphere, but the unique and hearty food (in huge portions) is what drives the place—fabulous food with a real handmade touch.
In a down economy, this place is thriving—the Hash House is packed to the walls with hungry diners. Co-owner Jim Rees (pictured left) says they’re enjoying double-digit growth this year. Wow. They must be doing something right.
We (Kurt Miller and I) started off with beverages—a spicy Bloody Mary and a Watermelon-Mango & Lime Lemonade. Libations that really wake up your senses. We’re about to chow down now on a Chicken Pot Pie Breakfast with eggs and sausage gravy, and some Hash with Choriso that looks fantastic.
They also serve a ‘Hair of the Dog Breakfast’ that includes a 40-ounce beer and a side of bacon, served in a brown bag. May have to come back for that later tonight.
Next stop: We’re going to try to get a full meal at a Vegas convenience store.
P.M. UPDATE FROM ANDY:
Had a wonderful lunch at the Town Center Lounge, joined by Dave Bryan, president of U.S. Foodservice-Las Vegas. The place was populated with a motley mix of folks enjoying great Italian food—guys who look like they might be bikers, as well as businessmen, housewives, police officers.
It’s another off-the-beaten path that has an ‘everybody knows your name’ kind of vibe—you feel at home even if it’s your first time here. You’re a ‘regular’ almost from the minute you walk in the door. That to me is the benefit of eating where the locals do, rather than the more touristy places.
The Town Center Lounge is open 24 hours—they never close. Owner Nick Montana told us ‘I don’t even know where the keys are. Seriously. We never lock the doors.’
Next stop was The Palms. This is a resort with everything…great rooms, restaurants, gaming, shows, spa, plus a first class recording studio, right on the premises. We took a tour with Zoe Thrall, the director of the studio. Touring musicians come here to lay down some tracks while they’re not performing on a Vegas stage. They can record anytime of day or night, then head out and enjoy the nightlife…or day life…and get a fantastic meal just about anywhere. It’s all part of the Clockless experience.
We also met the executive chef at The Palms, Henry Garcia. Great guy.
NEXT UP: We’re going to try to find ourselves a home-cooked meal somewhere tonight. Two or three people have already tweeted us, offering to fix us something good. Looking forward to that. And we’re still on the prowl for that C-Store meal.
LATE NIGHT UPDATE FROM ANDY
Mission accomplished. Found someone willing to take us home for dinner. But first grocery shopping, then to the house for all sorts of kebabs and good conversation.
It was really, really pleasant to experience a family meal in Vegas. What’s great about getting into someone’s home is that we could have been anywhere, from the Coast to the middle of Kansas.
Thanks to our new Vegas family.
Next stop was First Friday Arts Fest, where we met some super nice people, the proprietors of Sun’s Beef Jerky. They make homemade beef jerky in very cool flavors, exported all over the world. Look for it. Try it. You won’t regret it.
Then we met up with our guide for what turned into a mini-beverage tour of the city. With nightlife guru Xania Woodman leading the way, we started at the Freakin’ Frog. Located in a strip mall, it has the first look of a college hang-out, but once inside we were in for some serious surprises.
First, a secret beer cooler with more than 650 different types of ales. And second, an upstairs whiskey attic that used to be members only. Now you just have to know the right people (and apparently we do—thanks Xania). One whiskey flight later.
We moved on to Frankie’s Tiki Room. Such great history; I won’t do it justice. Wait for the video.
Our next stop, Downtown Cocktail Room, is totally representative of what it means to be ‘local’ here in Vegas. Had the pleasure of sitting down with the owner for 30 minutes or so. One of his philosophies—offer little surprises so that people want to come back.
Next we made our way to Forbes KTV. Another strip mall, and another total surprise. On the one hand, a club. DJ. Dancing. But in the back, private lounges with large-screen TVs and microphones for karaoke.
We were invited to join a private karaoke party and ended up staying for more than two hours. Great fun. And educational. We learned a new bluffing game with dice and cups.
Forbes KTV is designed like the casinos with no windows. No way to tell the time of day. Ok with us as our 24 hours are winding down.
We said goodbye to Xania and headed to Blueberry Hill. Very low-key and classic. Definitely local; a great way to end this crazy experience.
Last thoughts before naptime on the plane ride home. After 24 hours of Vegas food, several themes emerge. In a city of strangers, locals gravitate toward the places that make them feel known. And after dark, expect the unexpected. Everything is not as it seems in Vegas nightlife.
Wish I could have gone into more detail here, but I’m sleep-deprived and not making much sense at the moment. But the sacrifice was totally worth it, and we have the video to prove it.
Keep checking back for the first installments of ‘Clockless in Vegas’ to go live on The Food Channel.
NEXT UP: “Clockless in Vegas” video!
As documented by videographer Kurt Miller, ‘Clockless in Vegas’ debuts as a feature of The Food Channel’s new Raves & Faves program, a collection of interactive, searchable restaurant profiles found at www.iRaves.com. Raves & Faves kicks off in the Vegas market, with stories, videos, photos and recipes from some of Sin City’s locally-owned restaurants and Strip icons. The iRaves.com site will go live on Nov. 15, with a national Raves & Faves program launch planned for early 2010.
‘Clockless in Vegas’ derives its name from a wave of human behavior mapped by Noble’s insights property, CultureWaves. The Clockless Wave monitors how hyper-life consumers find 24-hour solutions—‘I want what I want when I want it.’ In his work with CultureWaves, Andy is a trained observer of the effect that lifestyle choices, demographics, media bombardment, education, and experiences have upon the world’s diverse population. His job is to fit in with—and infiltrate—a variety of groups, giving him a unique perspective on social and brand interaction. For more information, visit www.culturewav.es.
To keep up with Andy and Kurt as they take on Las Vegas, or to suggest your favorite spots in Sin City, follow the team on Twitter at www.twitter.com/foodchannel or www.twitter.com/aford, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FoodChannel.