What’s Las Vegas known for? Well, while gambling, entertainment, debauchery, and neon lights all are acceptable answers, food is also high on the list. Most celebrity chefs have restaurants located in casinos on the Strip, and the town is full of less-celebrated fare that can stack up to any major city in the country. In years past, Life Is Beautiful put this front and center with live cooking displays that featured chefs and musicians together. This has sadly gone away, but there’s still plenty to eat and enjoy within the festival footprint. Here are some of our favorites.
Listen, breakfast at a music festival is already a weird idea. Most people gas up before heading to the festival grounds, particularly at Life Is Beautiful, where the gates don’t open until 2 p.m. and the music doesn’t stop until 1 a.m. That said, for those who don’t hit up a buffet at their hotel, there are always doughnuts to be had at a fest. Taking the cake (or fritter) is Donut Bar, an award-winning San Diego institution that now has a second Las Vegas location. The Homer looks just like the doughnut of Simpsons fame, while the Maple Bacon capitalizes on bacon love with an appealing flavor combination. Hell, they’ve even got a vegan option.
Bling Bling Dumpling
Anyone who’s been to Las Vegas knows that vegetarian cuisine isn’t the city’s strongest suit. And holding to this, many of the vendors at LiB didn’t offer anything for veggie lovers, which made Bling Bling Dumpling such a welcome addition. Serving both veggie and meat-filled dumplings, along with fried chicken and fried tofu, choices were plentiful for both carnivores and non-meat eaters. The Los Angeles-based food company is inspired by Taiwanese street food, giving it a modern take with their inspired sauces. “Bling sauce” may be a gimmicky name, but it still tastes awesome.
Sure, you need a VIP wristband to eat the small-portion cuisine of the acclaimed Cosmopolitan steakhouse, but these are the perks of spending a little more cash. Featuring a Caprese slider, a mini Wagyu burger, and a fried lobster tail, all of STK’s offerings screamed luxury. That’s why it cost more than 10 bucks to have only a couple of bites. But as far as snacks go, STK was all quality over quantity. Fill up in the GA section, and savor the delicacy in VIP.
Want to know a secret of getting a great meal at a music festival? Wait in a long line. Yes, the desire to run from stage to stage might make a short line more appealing, but lines are long for a reason. Such is the case with Nobu, which features a large cluster of attendees waiting for their orders at dinner time. When one order is called, a woman commented that “it was like winning the lottery. That’s because a lot goes into the presentation of Nobu’s sushi and poke. With 32 locations around the world, Nobu is a known commodity for foodies. The opportunity to eat it while watching The Shins should not be missed.
Where’s the fancy ice cream!? We couldn’t find it at Life Is Beautiful. The music festival trend that would be right at home after a hot Las Vegas day was non-existent or, at least, well hidden. That was okay, though, because a pair of spots had us covered for a sweet treat. Coolhaus is well documented as a national treasure, making some of the best ice cream sandwiches around. But it was a Vegas local that stole our heart: The Lab. Most notably, its simple and delicious Dole whip and beautiful Hawaiian shaved ice. Keeping things light and refreshing suited the music festival environment, giving us our sugar fix without slowing us down.
Life Is Beautiful is being held September 23-25 in downtown Las Vegas.