Whether you’re tired of spaghetti for dinner or you want to spare those precious cans of Progresso minestrone as barter items in case things go all Fury Road, take-out and delivery options for dining abound in Las Vegas during the shutdown. In fact, as restaurants shift to mobile ops to adapt to the new rules and new reality, the menu of choices is almost as big as ever. We grazed a random selection. Here are tasting notes from the front lines of home.
The Scene and Setting: It’s Saturday night! And you know what people like to do on Saturday night during viral lockdown protocol: Order pizza and eat it on the porch while waving to the blithe fizz of socially distant neighborly visitation going on!
Special Handling Note: Before I get into the food, props to Metro for adding a substantive note on their website to highlight their added precautions to ensure cleanliness and sterilization. That’s real-time responsiveness.
On the Menu: The Green Valley veggie pizza, with green peppers, mushrooms, onions, cherry tomatoes, and olives; the Pantheon, a white pizza with garlic cream sauce, mozzarella, chicken, spinach, and feta; and a Caesar salad. Yes, I planned to freeze the leftovers in my cryogenic hoard chamber.
The Handoff: I ordered through ChowNow via Google. Maybe hunger had smeared my personal space-time continuum bubble, but I think the driver actually arrived earlier than the estimate from the app, which added a few extra pixie sparkles of provisional joy in this grimdark survival sim we’ve all been plunged into. I used a clean cloth handkerchief to accept the goods.
Pizza Time! In my view, pizza — durable, reliable, simple, versatile — is just delicious future leftovers that you have the cosmic privilege of also eating now in their neonatal state. The pizzas were perfect: the Pantheon was creamy and hefty; the Green Valley boasted its own middleweight status with its substantial strata of veggies. The Caesar salad was gradually approaching a slaw state from its commute, but was generally crisp and lively. 9/10, def would gorge again.
Info: Multiple locations, metropizza.com
The Comfort: My husband and I got takeout from D.E. Thai, a favorite haunt of ours since it’s near his flower shop, the same weekend he had to temporarily close his doors and let his staff go. After I called in the order and he said, “I’ll go get it,” I didn’t argue, even though it was for my writing assignment. Either he wanted to be alone or he wanted to protect me from the outside world — both noble sentiments, and his right.
The Place: We’ve seen a few proper nouns pass through this Arts District hole-in-the-wall in the last decade, most recently Rock’n’Noodle, whose music-themed menu of pasta dishes didn’t catch on, despite being delicious. Maybe something to do with their lacking a liquor license?
Neener Neener: If you’re one of those Downtowners who think of this as the other, other, other Thai, after Lotus of Siam, Komol, and Le Thai, you’re wrong. But keep on ordering from those other places and waiting an hour or more for your delivery; I’ll just be over here enjoying my fresh, hot food that I got in 15 minutes.
The Experience: Like I said, my husband did all the work while I waited at home watching Netflix. So, from my perspective, it was basically Friday.
Ease of Use: High. Just call (or order online), park, and take the bag home. The parking lot is next to the restaurant, and they came right out with the order (or so I heard).
Soapbox Moment: This isn’t just for you, D.E. Thai, but generally for everyone mentioned in this blog. Figure out biodegradable to-go containers and utensils, already! It’s 2020, for Pete’s sake.
Info: 1108 S. Third St., dethaikitchen.com, 702-979-9121
Topically Appropriate Setup: According to its website, the Pacific Diner’s motto is “Come Gather at Our Table.” Um, we’ll take a raincheck. But also two breakfast burritos for curbside pickup.
The Place: Pacific Diner is a diner on Pacific Avenue in downtown Henderson. Other than Juan’s Flaming Fajitas and Hardway 8, it’s a neighborhood of slim pickings even by Mad Max standards. A mom-and-pop run by good-hearted folks, Pacific Diner occupies a chancy location that, if memory serves, last housed a vegan Mexican joint that opened and closed before its avocados could go bad. This global shutdown won’t help Pacific Diner avoid a similar fate, but maybe we can.
The Food: Notwithstanding its occasional outlier touches — loco moco! — the menu is pretty standard diner fare. My veggie breakfast burrito was fine and hardy, though by the time I drove it home the tortilla was a tad slick. Probably unavoidable.
Ambiance: Nice curb.
Ease of Use: Simple. Call it in, drive over, park in front, call to let them know you’re there, and chuckle when she says, “Saw you drive up!” Then they hustle out your food, and you swipe your card on the hopefully sanitized tablet. The hardest part might be parking: Pacific Diner is next to a gun store, so there may be times you’ll have to contend with 15 or 20 future zombie fighters there to stan the Second Amendment. For our noon visit, though, the coast was clear.
Nice Lady: The woman who brought out our food was businesslike and friendly, though not quite as sassy-waitress chatty as you find yourself wanting during a worldwide germpocalypse. But who can blame her? She doesn’t know where we’ve been.
Info: 18 W. Pacific Ave., Henderson, pacificdiner.org
The Place: Rachel’s is a chain, okay. But for people with dietary restrictions (I’m a vegetarian) it’s the lunch-staple equivalent of Canter’s deli: a reliable selection of salads, sandwiches, and soups — animal product (and gluten and so on) optional.
The Food: Did I mention it’s a chain? The two sandwiches and bags of chips we got were fine, though the bread on the grilled cheese was a little soggy by the time we got it home. (That’s maybe at least partly my bad for ordering grilled cheese to go. Lesson learned.)
Parking? What parking? The most angst-inducing part of this experience was wondering where I’d park, since the curb in front of this Rachel’s Kitchen is literally on Las Vegas Boulevard, and parking anywhere Downtown has become a nightmare under even normal circumstances. But Rachel’s is on it. When they called to let me know my order would be ready soon, they instructed me to pull into the Jackie Gaughan lot off the Boulevard next to their building. “Park in the first spot and call us,” they said. Which I did, prompting them to come right out with the order
Ease of Use: High. You can order online or by phone, and since the payment is done beforehand, there’s nothing to do but take your food and run. Politely, of course.
Small pleasures: I haven’t been inside any manmade structure other than my house for 12 days, so simply being parked in a business district for five minutes was weirdly satisfying.
Info: Six locations in Southern Nevada, rachelskitchen.com, 702-778-8800
There Once Was a Man From Nantucket: What? No, Henderson. I live in Henderson. And not the part with a lot of great restaurants.
Who Liked His Food by the Bucket: Well, this is true, especially now. A big eater in the best of times, I must exert a total act of will not to stress eat everything in the house, and then the house. Luckily for the dogs, I’m trying to stick to a plant-based diet.
He Ordered Some Fish: Okay, every now and then, and particularly in times of global pandemic, I indulge in situational pescatarianism. Today, I really want fish — specifically, the fish and chips from the gourmandish sports bar Hardway 8; with its Johnny Church-influenced menu, it’s the closest foodie-approved joint to my nabe. (“Hidden gem.” — Desert Companion, 2019) And if there’s one thing I learned after working from home for 30 or 40 minutes, it’s that occasionally relaxing your rigid ideologies amounts to necessary self-care. Back me up here, Gwyneth Paltrow?
It Was Such a Great Dish: You should see this ginormous hunk of pescatarian wonder. It’s a fish plank. It might’ve dragged Ahab to his death in a previous life. Thankfully, its breading stayed crisp during the drive home, and the fries did solid work in not going limp and soggy. It was easily my most satisfying quarantine meal since last week’s Asparagus in Purell Reduction. And the curbside handoff was smooth, brief, and as socially distant as possible.
He Can’t Wait ’til He Needn’t Pick Up It: I know — you, either.
Info: 46 S. Water St., Henderson, hardway8henderson.com
The Impulse: Wanted to stage a dramatic reenactment of that American rite, the picnic in the park — but in my own backyard. And sandwiches are the classic picnic staple. A fraught proposition, admittedly, given that packaged sandwiches have been known to devolve into mushy rhomboids after a transit of more than 11 feet. But the picnic — both mine and the larger metaphorical one representing American can-do spirit — must go on.
On the Menu This Evening: Mac N’ Cheese Balls made with beer cheese sauce and Fresno chilies; Crispy Glazed Brussels Sprouts with orange chili glaze, chimichurri, and almonds; Napa Chicken sandwich with pesto, Roma tomato, pancetta, and Havarti cheese; and French fries.
The Handoff: I ordered through Postmates, and delivery was smooth, though the driver, a nice elderly (!) man got lost and required a phone call to guide him to the flavor zone (my house). All good. I used disposable gloves to accept the package over the gate and tipped him a disinfected $20. My order was neatly packaged in plastic snapboxes, stacked into a single big paper bag, which made it easy to handle.
The Eatening: I premodulated my expectations to account for a certain sog level given the delivery factor. But overall, good: the Mac N’ Cheese Balls had a firm crunch and some nice spice kung-fu going on; the fries were crispy; the Brussels Sprouts were firm but soft and hella flavorful; and the sandwich, while a little on the humid side, might have even had a little more marinated meta-flavor goodness from its intrepid journey.
Info: 520 E. Fremont St., eurekarestaurantgroup.com. (Note: As of this writing, Eureka seems to have closed — we’re hoping it doesn’t become a trend.)