It used to be that “food” in Las Vegas translated to “all-you-can-eat buffets” with endless rows of troughs to graze upon. Now “food” is more likely to mean “high-end cuisine,” with meals made by big name chefs with checks mirroring the cost of your hotel room. Or at least that’s the appearance of the food scene based on most of the culinary buzz coming out of Sin City.
But don’t let the food magazines fool you; there are plenty of places on The Strip serving awesome food without having to win big on the craps table just to afford it. Holsteins in Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan Hotel is one of those places.
Holsteins is primarily a burger joint, but they’ve upped the ante with swanky sauces and unique toppings layered in creative combinations. I’m talking toppings like tempura avocados, whiskey barbecue sauce, tomato confit, and foie gras.
However, their reputation is based on their booze-filled shakes, lest you forget that in Las Vegas you should be constantly consuming alcohol at all times (or that’s what it seems). The shakes cover the classic ground, like Oreo with Bailey’s Irish Cream ($13) and Grasshopper with Créme de Menthe ($13), and evolve to elaborate concoctions like Tiramisu (mascarpone ice cream, ladyfinger crumbs, Patron XO Café Dark, chocolate syrup, cocoa powder, espresso beans, $13) and Brown Cow Float (Smirnoff Whipped Cream Vodka, root beer, vanilla ice cream, pop rocks, $12).
If you prefer your alcohol with less calories, they have a huge selection of beers (both bottles, draft, and growlers), a suitable number of wines, and a cocktail list of creative creations. As with most places in the city, it’s not difficult to get a buzz going (or maintain one from earlier).
Back to the burgers: these babies are sizable stacks of meat and goodness, served with fries (substitute onion rings or sweet potato fries for $2). I ordered the classic, called Gold Standard, a dry-aged beef sirloin burger topped with smoked bacon, goat cheese, tomato confit, arugula, and a garlic/chive aioli on a house-made bun ($18.50). It was deliciously juicy, with a slight hint of sweetness from the tomato confit. Paired with sweet potato fries, it was perfect.
The Nom Nom Burger (pictured at top) was the table’s most popular pick, a Kobe beef patty with cheddar cheese, potato chips, and 1000 Island Dressing ($17.50). One friend added a fried egg on hers (+$1), which rounded out the crunchy, sweet/tangy, gooey-melty, juicy meaty flavors.
We also ordered The Rising Sun, another Kobe beef option but with a much sweeter profile, thanks to the teriyaki glaze, nori furikake (a seaweed-flavored seasoning), crispy yams, tempera avocados, and spicy mayonnaise. Normally sweet style burgers aren’t my thing, but the spicy mayo and textured avocado were interesting enough to make me a fan.
For the beef adverse, Holsteins serves a lamb burger in a gyro-like fashion (with tzatziki sauce and feta, called Big Fat Greek, $18), a salmon-based sandwich (with cabbage slaw and Creole mustard, dubbed Blackened Salmon Po’ Boy, $17), a classic chicken club ($16), and a vegan-friendly burger with a house-made vegan patty ($13). Or there’s the Meat Ball Burger with beef, pork, and veal if you want to attack several animals with one sandwich ($15). Needless to say, the menu covers a lot of ground.
Not only were the burgers at Holsteins a hit, the restaurant was casual and comfortable, and the service was unpretentious—always a find in Vegas. They even sat 13 of us during the dinner rush without a reservation, which is no easy feat. Next time I have a burger craving in Las Vegas, I’m heading straight to the Cosmopolitan Hotel for Holsteins.
Go to Holsteins for :: a damn good burger and a boozi-licious shake. Notes :: Located in the Cosmopolitan Hotel on Level 2 near the shopping center. Open seven days a week at 11 am until midnight or 2 am (depending on the day). Reservations are accepted via OpenTable online here.