Desert Companion

Our food critics eat WHAT?!

If you find yourself hungry for more after you've digested our Restaurant Awards (page 42), dig into our panel of critics' other picks for Sin City foodies to swallow. A new book by John Curtas, Max Jacobson and Al Mancini, Eating Las Vegas: The 50 Essential Restaurants (Huntington Press, $12.95), is available Nov. 15. It's the result of a lot of eating - and a little bit of fighting - among some of the city's most prominent critics. But, after reading their best restaurant picks, you might get the impression these guys have never, say, crunched through an entire bag of Late Night All Nighter Cheeseburger Doritos while watching "Cougartown." (There's a confession buried in there somewhere.) However, a little goading reveals that these culinary connoisseurs do indulge the occasional guilty pleasure.

John Curtas loves Oreos. So great is their gravitational pull on his sweet tooth that, he reports, "I purposely refrain (and sometimes have to be restrained) from ever traversing the cookie aisle in any grocery store."

Max Jacobson's Kryptonite is Cheez-Its. "I used to live a few stations away from the Sunshine Biscuit Co. in Boston, and I've been eating them for 50 years," he says. Original Cheez-Its, mind you. "I hate the various flavored Cheez-Its the way a Brazilian probably hates Irish Creme flavored Mini-Moos in his office coffee."

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Al Mancini likes peanut butter - straight off the spoon, the way nature intended. And, he says, "any mac and cheese that comes with the packet cheese (not the powder)." Call it discriminating bad taste. -- Andrew Kiraly

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