White Castle sliders resemble burgers about as much as a Velveeta-Rotel dip resembles Mexican food. Which is to say: There’s very little in common, but who cares when it tastes this awesome?
White Castle—the holy grail of late-night food—is in Las Vegas at last, having just opened this week at Casino Royale. You don’t have to be Harold or Kumar to understand that being stoned or drunk can enhance this experience, but that’s only part of it. When your taste buds are at full capacity, the puffy bread, thin beef patty, salty cheese and onions are a flavor explosion beyond any of Guy Fieri’s orgy fantasies. Here are a few White Castle memories that prove the point.
• It’s 1997, winter, and I have just moved to St. Louis to work for a sports website. I am a bit of a recluse, working from 4 p.m. until midnight, waiting for baseball games to end so I can edit pithy roundups about 4-6-3 double plays. A routine quickly develops: I stop at White Castle after my shift for some sliders and sometimes a fish sandwich if I am feeling crazy. I go home and enhance my haul with Pace Picante sauce or Tabasco. It doesn’t matter that it’s freezing outside and I am alone. I am warm and happy and not at all lonely, and I sleep the sleep of the good and the just.
• It’s 2007, summer, and I live in New York City, where I spend every Monday night at a poker game with a couple dozen pals. It turns out to be a game run by nightlife and restaurant moguls, with frequent appearances from NFL players, hip-hop impresarios, and sitcom stars who made millions in syndication. Often, we order food from a Chinese restaurant across town, offering to pay for the cab and add a hefty tip. But one night, we walk to a nearby White Castle and get a crate of 100 sliders. I’ve never seen the dudes at this game—guys who ran restaurants that served $18 burgers and Creekstone Farms porterhouses—eat so quickly. There were maybe 25 of us, and the sliders were gone in half an hour.
• It’s 2014, winter, and I’m in LA, where it isn’t cold. I am at my local grocery store buying organic baby food and small-batch ice cream, when I see that frozen boxes of White Castle are on sale. That night, after my twins are asleep, I microwave four sliders and douse them in Tabasco. It’s around 9 p.m., which is late when you have two babies in the house, and you know they’re going to be up at 6 a.m. By 10, I’m blissfully asleep.
White Castle Casino Royale, 702-227-8531. 24/7.