Mark Wahlberg and his brothers are way late to the Vegas burger party. The Strip outpost of their Wahlburgers restaurant arrived last summer, but there was no official grand opening until March, when the most famous Wahlberg (sorry, Donnie) was in town for CinemaCon. Las Vegas Boulevard is absolutely inundated with fancy and fast-food burgers, so we felt the need to give this one a chomp and explain whether it’s worth wading through the Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s.
It is. The signature Our Burger ($10.95) is supposed to represent the meal on which this now-famous family grew up, and it looks, feels and tastes homey. The veggies (lettuce, tomato, onion and house-made pickles) are fresh and crisp, and the third-pound patty is tasty and cooked to a nice medium. The difference-maker is the buttered, toasty potato bun, offering ample chew and a unique flavor. Wahlburgers has a full menu and a full bar, and even serves breakfast. The Breakfast Burger ($12.95) simply adds an egg to the mix, or you can go emergency room with Elvis Is in the Building ($10.95), a French toast sandwich with bacon, banana, peanut butter, Nutella and maple syrup.
I wasn’t expecting much of anything from the food at the Grand Bazaar Shops, but Wahlburgers impressed, if not quite as much as my first taste of Chicago’s Giordano’s pizza. That spot has a second-level bar and restaurant and a ground-level outdoor dining space, bar and nearby takeout window—quite the operation. Giordano’s is known for its hearty deep-dish pizza, so start with the Chicago Classic ($23.75 for a small, which feeds at least four people because who can eat more than one piece?), stuffed with pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and the most cheese you can fit into a pizza and topped with a tangy tomato sauce. The outer crust, if you make it that far, has a slightly buttery taste and a flaky, pastry-like texture, a nice twist. I sampled the hand-stretched thin crust, too, and feel confident recommending you stick to the heavy stuff, even if you’re one of those people that doesn’t think Chicago deep-dish qualifies as pizza. Call it whatever you like; it’s delicious.