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GUY FIERI'S VEGAS KITCHEN

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The LINQ

3535 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702-731-3311

website

$20-$40

Daily 10am-2am

Pub Grub

B+

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

A casual big portion restaurant from Food Network star Guy Fieri.

Where is it?

At The LINQ (formerly Imperial Palace) on the Center Strip.

What kind of food is served?

Big helpings of high calorie food from burgers and sandwiches to wings and tacos.

What is the atmosphere like?

Loud both visually and sonically, but not necessarily in a bad way.

How is the service?

Fantastic and down-home friendly.

What are the prices like?

On the high end of the moderate scale.

What else do I need to know?

Leave your concerns about calories at the door.

What's the bottom line?

Come hungry and leave full.

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FULL REVIEW

Food Network star Guy Fieri is enormously popular with pretty much everyone except for food snobs and critics who deride his high-calorie, huge portion dishes as an affront to good taste (in multiple meanings of that phrase). They have blamed him for everything from the obesity epidemic in America to global warming, it seems, and cast his crowd-pleasing restaurants as crimes against cuisine.

I say screw 'em. Eat up!

To be fair, the snobs and critics aren't totally wrong. I mean, there is undoubtedly an argument to be made that a massive, $18 hamburger topped with bacon AND mac and cheese and accompanied by a big pile of multiple types of fries is probably not the healthiest, or most economical, choice one could make for their lunch selection, but that doesn't mean that it isn't good. It is, actually, in exactly the way that a bacon mac and cheese burger should be, all charcoal goodness in the thick beef patty and brimming with flavor from the huge piles of stuff on top of it.

I'd also argue that these same snobs and critics who dismiss Fieri's burger are the same ones who praise the so called "Manly Burger" at the more chic Umami chain, which comes with beer cheddar cheese, onion strings, and bacon lardon. So the criticism is usually less about the food and more about Fieri and I'm sure his primary concern is not what they say but trying to find enough seats in his restaurants for all the people who want to eat there.

This one at The LINQ certainly falls into that category. It's a funky space with Fieri's imprint all over it, from the tattoo inspired artwork to the cow print upholstery on the bar stools and, of course, the shelves full of Fieri branded merchandise. Big windows look out on The Strip or you can eat outside on the patio that is adjacent to Harrah's Carnaval Court (and the valet parking area for The LINQ, so that's a bit of a bummer). Indoors or out, it's loud - you were expecting a quiet afternoon tea, perhaps?

A big bar dominates the main room and they actively encourage drinking as part of your good time. In addition to the standard boozy options they also have more than a dozen craft beers on tap and a "frozen" shot system, wherein you get get various shooters that would normally be made in a shaker with ice (and therefore diluted) dispensed directly from chilled containers. Cool. Literally.

The menu is sort of a mix of American and other cuisines, with appetizers like nachos, sashimi tacos, Asian chicken wraps, and onion rings. We sampled the "Fondue Dippers," long, thin breadsticks wrapped in pepperoni and served with a provolone and sausage cheese dip topped with bruschetta style tomatoes. Do yourself a favor and save any of the spectacular cheese dip that might leftover, if there is any, to use with the fries you'll get later.

The southern smoked chili bowl is topped with a huge chunk of cornbread, sour cream, and scallions and even comes with an extra shot of hot sauce in case you don't think it's hot enough. It is, though.

There are a few salads, but, really?

Instead move on to the wings, which are served "lollipop" style in fireball whiskey, BBQ, Asian, and Italian styles or the tacos, including fish, carne asada, shrimp, and chicken varieties. The carne asada meat was delicious if you are looking for guidance in that particular area.

Burgers, of course, are a mainstay including the previously mentioned bacon mac and cheese signature selection. You can also get one drenched in BBQ sauce, topped with pastrami, or blackened with Creole seasonings. Think the turkey burger will save you a trip to the cardiologist? It comes with pepper jack cheese, gouda, bacon, sweet onion jam, and "donkey" sauce and is served on a pretzel bun, so maybe not.

A few other sandwiches such as a huge, flavorful roast beef dip and BBQ pork round out the main courses. Then you head into dessert with items like a massive pile of cheesecake, churros, pie, or an ice cream sundae.

The staff is unflaggingly friendly and energetic and it wasn't just with me. I watched everyone from the general manager to the bus boys and the way they interacted with all the guests was extra special. Nice job.

If you are still able to move enough at the end of your meal to pull out your wallet and pay for all this, you can expect a tab on the high side of the moderate scale. Nothing on the menu is over $20 but most of it is closer to $20 than it is to $10. Throw in an appetizer for the table, beverages, dessert, tax, and tip and you'll easily break $30 per person. Throw in some of those frozen shots and you'll go even higher. That's certainly not cheap, but it is not unsurprising for this type of restaurant on The Strip.

I have a deep appreciation for fine food and have loved many of the fancy and outrageously expensive meals I have eaten at the city's high-end restaurants. But I also appreciate crazy stuff like a bacon mac and cheese burger, especially when it is done well like the one here is. Sure, it may not be the wisest choice on a variety of levels, but if you are really concerned about things like calories and cholesterol, there are plenty of other places in Vegas for you to eat. That just leaves more room here for the rest of us.

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