So many people visit Las Vegas every year. Some 36 Million last year. Most come for a weekend, some stay for 4 days, but not that many stay a week or so.
In such a congested time frame it is not really surprising that 98% of the visitors do not venture outside the Strip and downtown corridor.
So much to do, so much to see, so much to eat. With most of the world's most famous chefs all having set up shop in one of the hotels, there really is no need to leave your resort area, unless you are mobile and want to see what Vegas can be. And if you are curios where locals eat.
With about a million residents, it's similar in size to Calgary. No matter what the politicians try to tell anyone, Las Vegas is a one horse town when it comes to industry. Again, very similar to the oil & gas industry in Calgary.
Diversification may have happened over the years, most of it is still related to the gaming industry. One way or another.
Anyway. Being a service industry town, you need sufficient staff to make that place run smooth every day. I think currently Las Vegas has hundred twenty thousand hotel rooms, with another 15K slated to open by end of this year and in 2010. Hard to fathom those numbers really. The corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Blvd (MGM, New York, New York, Excalibur and Tropicana hotel) has more hotel rooms than the total of San Francisco.
Which in a very roundabout way brings me to food off the Strip. Many thousands of those great people who work in the service industry, are from Latin America. And those folks are known to eat well and bring their culture with them, no matter where they end up. So if you are mobile and venture north of the strip, say to Cheyenne, Lake Mead, or Nellis area, you are bound to find some real different, authentic food from south of the border.
During my last week's visit I did just that and went to La Bonita Market. Located on Lake Mead Blvd, it's your typical mixture of a grocery store, Tortilla factory, money wire place and of course, a great Cafeteria.
The more animal parts a national cuisine uses to make food, the more I like it. Taco with Cow Tongue? Check. Pig Skin or stomach? Check. Brilliant. Pig's ears? Maybe. Once.
I ordered a set of three Tacos, Chorizo, Carnitas and Buche (Tongue). Lots of Cilantro and all the condiments you want from a separate salsa bar.
Very tasty, very authentic and each one with a distinct different flavor. In the store itself I could have bought some of those Chorizos by the yard, as well as all the other ingredients, but who wants to go back and make Tacos at home if they are are already made and so good. And inexpensive at.99 each.
So the next time you visit Vegas, rent a car for a day, venture outside the tourist area and you will discover a city that is as vibrant as any other place you have been to.