Food Friday | My Top Local Las Vegas Restaurants

Yesterday I was chatting with a couple we just met from Toronto, Canada and of course, the subject of food came up! Now, I am no foodie, that's my friend Emily! But, I do love to go out and enjoy a good meal and lots of times, she's my go-to person for food recommendations. Anyhow, I was asked what my top 3 favorite Vegas restaurants were and at first I drew a blank! Maybe it was because I was put on the spot or maybe because I was overthinking it.  My brain started thinking of sub-categories, like on the strip or off the strip? Casual or fine dining? What kind of cuisine? Fusion? Traditional? Seriously, I went into overdrive! I did finally give them some suggestions and I thought I'd share this with you today on the blog too! So many people come to Vegas and never leave the strip! Yes, there are some very good restaurants on the strip, many owned by famous chefs from around the world. However, for this blog post, I want to share some restaurants that are off the strip! When we travel, we always look for where the locals eat. We ask for recommendations on less touristy eateries and most of the time, those are our favorites from our trip.  Next time you come to Vegas or anywhere else on your travels, be sure to try something new and local!

Here are a 4 of my favorite off the strip Las Vegas restaurants:

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Yonaka Modern Japanese  -  They are a modern tapas style restaurant, consisting of traditional Japanese ingredients fused with international flavors and inspirations. Most of their seafood is flown in from Japan. Everything we've ever had here has been amazing! I highly recommend the Omakase Tasting Course because you get to try lots of different dishes from their menu, from seasonal sushi to hot dishes and dessert.  The crispy brussels sprouts are not to be missed!

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Carson Kitchen - Located inside the re-purposed downtown mid-century John E. Carson Motel, this is a great place to enjoy some delicious American comfort food with a creative twist.  The space is small, but modern and quaint.  The bacon jam and bourbon fudge brownie are bomb!

 

Bachi Burger - They are everything you'd want and expect from a good burger, but with an Asian twist.  The portions are huge so come hungry and don't miss the oxtail chili cheese fries! Yumm

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Makers and Finders - This is a Latin cafe in the Arts District of Downtown.  They offer an extensive coffee bar and handcrafted cocktails and the food is modern spin from South/Central America foods including handmade arepas and empanadas.  The arepas benny for brunch is my favorite, with either a lavender infused latte with almond milk or a hibiscus mimosa ;) 

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There are so many other great culinary spots in this town, I had a hard time narrowing it down.  I may have to share some more faves in another post!  You'll have to try one or all of these local favorites next time you visit Las Vegas! Have you visited any of these restaurants yet? What's your favorite off the strip Vegas spot? 

 

Las Vegas Rock N Roll 5K + Half Marathon Race Recap

Another half marathon done! This is my 11th half marathon since I started running!  There are lots of reasons why this year's Las Vegas Rock N Roll Half Marathon was special to me, but the main reason is that this year my running came full circle back to where it all began.  The Las Vegas Rock N Roll was my first half marathon ever in 2013.  I remember how nervous I was about running this event. Everything was so new to me and I am so grateful to my marathon running cousin, Anel, who traveled from Texas to Vegas to run my first half marathon with me.  I will never forget that and how helpful it was to have a pro showing me the ins and outs of race day. 

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My first time running the strip at night, I had all my family and some friends cheering me on from the sidelines.  They held signs and gave me high-fives as I ran past them around mile 5.  It was such a rush! They were there for me at the finish line and we even got a hotel room for the night so we wouldn't have to deal with traffic leaving the race.  We ordered In N Out (fancy!), did some tequila shots, and celebrated together this accomplishment! Well, as you can imagine by the 11th half marathon and countless other races in between, the fanfare has diminished.  Can you blame them? There were no family members giving me high fives along the half marathon course or waiting for me at the finish.  But, no matter what, I know I still have their support and encouragement always.

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This year, I got to run as part of the Rock 'N' Blog team and I couldn't be prouder to be a part of this running community!  I decided to run the Vegas 5K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday, as part of the Remix Challenge.  You can read more about what's a Remix Challenge HERE, on a post I wrote for Rock N Roll Marathon Series Tempo Blog!

For the 5K, my hubby and kiddos came to cheer me on, along with a friend and her 2 daughters who came from California and were also running the half marathon the next day. Parking for the race was pretty easy.  The race started at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds across from the SLS Hotel at 6pm.  The security was tight, which we were definitely expecting, and they were only allowing the clear Rock N Roll swag bags we got with our registration.  I honestly don't remember seeing this posted at all during the registration process or at the expo and of course, my husband had a camera bag they wouldn't let him in with. At least we had enough time and he was able to make it back to the car and drop it off before the race started.  Being a Las Vegas local, I wasn't too excited about the course for the 5K, it was an out and back and ran down Industrial Blvd, a side street that is parallel to the strip but nowhere near as glamorous! Although the course was not amazing, the energy and the participants made it fun! There was plenty of lights and music along the course and lots of runners in costume and neon flashing lights on them! After the race and once I met up with my family and friends, I went to get my finisher beer and we sat together for a bit before heading out to our cab loading dinner at Bucca Di Beppo.  We didn't stay for the concert.  My kiddos have no idea who the Goo Goo Dolls are!!! 

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Sunday morning I had a good brunch and took my time prepping for the race.  I met up with my friend, Emily and her friend, Mike, who drove us to the race (no entourage this time!) We parked at Mandalay Bay and took the monorail to the start line area.  Although it was crowded and busy, everything was still organized and calm.  It was nice to have some friends who were running while we waited for our start time.  Bonus: This was the first race where I didn't have to wait in a long line for the port-a-potty! Total Win!!

Wasn't this announcement for start times just awesome?!? 

Wasn't this announcement for start times just awesome?!? 

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The race went well for me.  I started slow, felt good in the middle, but by mile 10 I lost steam and struggled to keep my pace.  The energy from the crowds along the strip was great and I especially loved the lights and music towards the finish line!! There was even an acrobatic performer hanging from a crane and swinging and twirling at the finish line.  Only in Vegas! Also, only in Vegas do you get to walk openly with your finisher beer and take photos with Elvis!! These are some pretty fun perks for sure!

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Of course, getting to run on the strip is pretty epic! But for locals the traffic due to so many street closures can be pretty bad, so getting picked up after the race was kind of a nightmare.  I think next time I run this race, I'll play tourist and book a room on the strip like we did for my first one.  I'm never one to say no to a staycation! All and all, it was a great time and I'm so happy I got to run this race again!  

Love my race bling!!! 

Love my race bling!!! 

Tuesday Introductions...

I know, I know, 'Tuesday Introductions' is not really a thing. I made it up.  Clever, huh? 

But, now that you're here and I have your attention, I wanted to introduce myself. I realized that I've had this blog for about 4 years already and I've never done an introduction post.  Of course, you can always go to "My Story" page to read about why I started It's a Messy Life and a bit about me, but do you really know someone off their about page? So, here goes! 

5 Random Facts You Probably Didn't Know About Me 

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1. I'm obsessed with La Croix sparkling waters.  I don't drink soda, so when plain water starts to get boring, this is my go-to! I especially love the grapefruit flavor! Have you tried them? What's your favorite? 

2. If I had a pet, I'd want a mini pig!!!  With a husband, 2 kids, running a business, a blog, and everything else in life, there's just no time for a pet. So, for now I just get my mini pig fix on Instagram! Anyone else follow @mybestfriendhank

3. I don't like Starbucks, but I collect their You Are Here coffee mugs! I don't particularly hate Starbucks, I just think there are lots of better coffee options available. Given the choice between Starbucks or a local coffee shop, the local coffee shop wins every time.  But, everywhere we go has a Starbucks, so I always get a mug to commemorate where we've been! Does this make me a hypocrite? 

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3. I'm a professional wedding photographer.  It's the best "job" ever! You can check out my work here: http://www.theemerics.com/ and if you're looking for a wedding photographer, I'm your girl!

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5. I was born in Texas! But, I don't own cowboy boots or listen to country music.  We moved to Maryland when I was 10, so that part didn't get ingrained in me.  I do say Ya'll a lot, though! 


Ok, so there you have it.  A little more info on who I am and what I like to do besides running and blogging! I'd love to hear more about you! Feel free to introduce yourself in the comments and give me a random fact about you. XO