Feedback Friday: Hugo’s Cellar Restaurant Review

Feedback Friday_Please Don't Make Me Eat ThatHugo’s Cellar was fun from the get-go. We walked down a curved staircase in Four Queens Casino into a dark basement restaurant. The host wore a gigantic smile and handed all of us girls a single rose stem.

We were escorted to our table in the back and experienced the entire restaurant along the way. It was a dark atmosphere with large old-school booths against the brick walls and candle-lit tables in the middle.

There are a few things that made Hugo Cellar’s a unique dining experience:

  1. The breadbasket was impeccable.

2. My mom and her friend ordered Martinis and I had a Cosmopolitan. Our drinks came with a crystal jug (it had a handle) that ended up amounting to three full drinks. What a deal!

3. Can you say tableside salads? I was so excited about this, until I realized that they didn’t have French dressing or balsamic vinaigrette (believe it or not, I’m warming up to this dressing because restaurants so seldom carry French anymore. Sometimes I just want to be normal and eat a salad like everyone else, is that so much to ask?). I had a plain lettuce salad with balsamic vinegar and oil (which I learned is entirely different from balsamic vinaigrette) or what the salad man called a “honeymoon salad”.

4. In between the salad and main course, everyone was offered a mini cone of raspberry sorbet to “cleanse the palate”. Yummy!

Hugo's Cellar_Picky Eater Approved

My mom and I each ordered a filet mignon. Other entrées at the table included the Filet and Shrimp Aux Poivre (a five ounce filet and jump shrimp in a green peppercorn sauce); Hugo’s Chicken (a great of chicken stuffed with sun-dried tomato pesto and roasted garlic sauce); and Salmon. Each entrée came with your choice of potato. Consider yourself warned: Hugo’s does not let you leave hungry. Everything. Is. Delicious.

All in all, eating at Hugo’s Cellar guarantees a fun and special evening that you don’t want to miss next time you are in Las Vegas.

Restaurant: Hugo’s Cellar / Four Queens Hotel and Casino / 202 Fremont Street / Las Vegas, NV 89101 / 702.385.4011 / www.hugoscellar.com

Picky Eater Approval: 4/5

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Feedback Friday: Café Zupas Restaurant Review

PrintNo matter the time of day, Café Zupas is always busy. While busy restaurants bother most people, it boosts a picky eater’s confidence – the food must be good, otherwise the whole city of Las Vegas wouldn’t be there!

Café Zupas is a fast casual chain that serves soup, salads, and sandwiches. The restaurant is structured around your interests and your tastes. There are countless options for a fresh and flavorful meal – if I wasn’t so picky my favorite combo would be the California Protein Cobb with Wisconsin Cauliflower soup or the Mangoberry Salad with a Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich. Want your mouth to water even more? Café Zupas also serves a variety of house-made crème brûlées, cakes, and dessert bars. The best part – everything from the salad dressings and soups to the sandwiches and desserts – are freshly made in-house every day. The menu is simple yet innovative, healthy yet appetizing, and overwhelming yet exciting. It’s a perfect place for a filling meal!

When I go to a restaurant that only serves soups, salads, and sandwiches, I look for four different things: chicken noodle or tomato soup, French dressing, and a build-your-own sandwich option. If a restaurant has two of the four, I’m happy. At first glance, the variety of salad ingredients and soup selections behind the glass divider made it appear like Café Zupas had everything. With a closer look, I learned that of the dozens of salad dressings they serve, French dressing is not on the list. It’s disappointing but I wasn’t surprised. The farther I get from Wisconsin, the harder it is to find French dressing at restaurants. Apparently, this delicious tomato-based dressing that Wisconsinites love is not appreciated throughout the country. However, I was surprised that Café Zupas didn’t offer chicken noodle soup because, unlike French dressing, this traditional soup is timeless.

So, what’s a picky eater to do without chicken noodle soup and French dressing? Thankfully, Café Zupas had the only other kind of soup that I eat – tomato basil – and it was delicious. I also ordered a lettuce salad – yes, lettuce in a bowl with balsamic oil on the side (I didn’t want them to think I was literally going to eat a bowl of lettuce without anything else on it…like a rabbit would). The staff members at Café Zupas were not unique to questioning and confused looks when I confirm that my salad doesn’t need any more ingredients; it happens everywhere. However, the three to four different staff members who tried to enhance my salad graciously accepted my ways, which doesn’t always happen when I place such a strange order. Little did they know, I came prepared and had a small Tupperware of French dressing in my purse. When restaurants don’t serve French dressing, I bring my own!

Cafe Zupas_Picky Eating

I felt a little guilty about sneaking dressing into the restaurant so I bought a drink, too. I’m all about delicious liquids but I don’t usually buy soft drinks at restaurants. I was happy I did when I saw the make-your-own Italian soda station. I poured lemonade with a squirt of soda water into my cup and then added a few pumps of raspberry syrup. Delicious and refreshing! The best part of the whole experience was the chocolate covered strawberry included in each meal. It was an unexpected and thoughtful treat to end my meal!

Café Zupas is not the most picky eater friendly restaurant I’ve been to – I had to navigate the menu and bring in my own dressing, after all – but when I did find something to eat, the food was delicious. I definitely recommend this restaurant to any picky eater who has the ability and patience to navigate. On other note, I always seem to want soup and salad on Sunday, and learned the hard way that Cafe Zupas is closed on Sundays.

Restaurant: Café Zupas / 7060 S Rainbow Boulevard / Las Vegas, NV 89118 / 702-936-7200

Picky Eater Approval: 4/5

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Feedback Friday: Café Rio Restaurant Review

PrintWalking into Café Rio is what I imagine walking into an authentic Mexican café to be. The bright yellow walls surround tables and chairs of different colors and styles. A tin roof with hanging dried chili bunches and decorative lanterns run across the front wall. Needless to say, the charming décor releases great energy.

Similar to Chipotle, Café Rio is a Mexican-Style fast casual food chain with delicious food. As a picky eater, I love it when restaurants have an assembly line ordering system. The ability to see the food that I will soon eat is a great luxury that pushes the boundaries of traditional restaurant dining. I love that I can choose how much of each ingredient I want and decide if I want chicken or steak depending on how it looks. The whole experience makes my picky taste buds happy.

The ordering process at Café Rio started with homemade tortillas spinning on a tortilla grill. It was neat to watch and was a great distraction during our wait in line. Next, I chose one of their five meats – grilled steak, grilled chicken, pork barbacoa, roast beef, and pulled chicken – which (for any order besides salads) the server immediately put on the back grill to warm with my fresh tortillas. I stepped outside of my picky eater comfort zone and ordered pork tacos. I can’t tell you how HUGE this is, people?! I love BBQ pulled pork but pork on a taco? That is like a Chicagoan eating ketchup on a hotdog. I don’t know what got into me…

Unfortunately, the fun almost ended there. The salads, sauces, and sides were  messy – overflowing cheese, spilled dressings, and excess meat juice covered the counter tops. There was a dollop of green hot sauce in the cheese bin, which wasn’t the only topping out-of-place. It was a picky eater’s nightmare. Although rushed, the staff members made up for it with good customer service – they allowed me to substitute crunchy tortilla strips for black beans (*gag*), gave me an extra side of cheese, and apologized when my tacos were mysteriously lost in the shuffle.

Cafe Rio Las Vegas

I started having fun again when I tasted the taco. My pork tacos with shredded cheese in a warm tortilla did not disappoint. The flavors erupted in my mouth – the pork had a surprisingly sweet taste which was spectacular. As any picky eater would do when we find a knockout dish, pork tacos are now my permanent meal at Café Rio. The tortilla strips were great and the rice was decent – I avoided the green things mixed in and decided that it was good, but Chipotle rice is better.

Mitch ordered a pork salad so he could try the soft green creamy tomatillo dressing that was the best he’s ever had. He also thinks Café Rio is genius for putting a warm tortilla at the bottom of each salad – a special treat to look forward to after eating leafy greens.

All in all, based on the restaurant decor and food alone, Cafe Rio is most definitely picky eater approved!

Restaurant: Café Rio / 9595 S. Eastern Avenue / Las Vegas, NV 89123 / 702-953-2500

Picky Eater Approval Rating: 4/5

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