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MARGARITAVILLE

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Flamingo

3555 Las Vegas Blvd. S.

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702-733-3302

website

$15-$40

Sun-Thu 8am-2am

Fri-Sat 8am-3am

American

B+

AT A GLANCE

What is it?

If you have to go to a theme restaurant, this is one of the best.

Where is it?

At The Flamingo on the Center Strip.

What kind of food is served?

A little bit of something for everyone.

What is the atmosphere like?

Typically over the top as are most theme restaurants.

How is the service?

Very good.

What are the prices like?

Not cheap but not out of line for this neighborhood.

What else do I need to know?

They have a giant margarita volcano.

What's the bottom line?

Worth it for the giant margarita volcano alone!

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FULL REVIEW

I'll admit I don't get the whole Parrothead sub-culture. I mean, I get drinking margaritas and wasting away the day on the beach, but turning it into a lifestyle... wait, maybe I do understand it.

Anyway, even if you're not a devotee of the man, the music, or the zeitgeist, it shouldn't diminish your enjoyment of Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville at the Flamingo Las Vegas.

The main dining room is done in a riot of beach comber décor. There's an island-hopper style airplane, booths in the back of fishing boats, enough foliage and faux stony outcroppings to make you feel like you're on the set of "Gilligan's Island," and just because all the rest of that wasn't over the top enough they threw in a three-story volcano that spews margaritas.

Yeah, subtle is not exactly the word here. Sensory overload is more the speed and while it's fun it can be overwhelming. If you're sensitive to that sort of thing you may want to ask to get seated on the quieter and more sedate second floor dining room or even better on the big, third-floor outdoor patio overlooking The Strip. The latter is a cool place to see a totally different kind of sensory overload.

The food selections were vast and some of it has a vaguely Caribbean Island flair to it, but really only vaguely. It only shows up on certain dishes (Jamaica Wings, Jerk Chicken, Cuban Meatloaf, etc.) and even then it's not so outlandish that you're not going to recognize it as chicken wings, chicken breasts, and a loaf of beef respectively.

There's also lots of seafood on the menu, which may or may not be a good thing depending on your outlook.

Starters include things like chicken wings (with a variety of dipping sauces including a very spicy Jamaican), shrimp, and ahi tuna tostadas. But forget all that and go directly for the quesadillas - tender chunks of chicken or beef, several tangy cheeses, jalapeno salsa, sour cream, and a Chipotle tortilla. It was outstanding, especially since although they seem easy, quesadillas are actually easy to screw up - they didn't here.

There are a few soups and side salads but if you want something meal size look over toward the Entrée Salads, offering several seafood and chicken choices.

From the grille you're going to want to consider the fajitas, marinated chicken or steak served sizzling style with warm flour tortillas, home-made guacamole, and all the fixings. We sampled the steak and were not disappointed.

Other items in this section included barbecue ribs, steaks, seafood, and Caribbean jerk chicken.

Under the heading of Chef Specialties you'll find a few pastas (including jambalaya) plus jerk salmon (fresh Atlantic done with Jamaican style barbecue sauce) and a few other dishes.

Sandwiches and burgers round out the lunchtime menu and is actually the biggest section.

They have several fun desserts and of course their signature margaritas and specialty drinks to keep you amused.

Service was attentive although we hit it on a relatively slow day and we've heard stories about long waits to get seated and served. This is one of those popular, touristy, theme places so expect it to be a bit nuts on weekends and during peak periods.

Prices were on the high side if you're used to drive-through lunches but not at all out of line for the quality and quantity of food you're getting and certainly no more expensive than similar theme restaurants on The Strip. Starters, soups, and side salads were in the $4-13 range, grille items $14-22, specialties $15-20, entrée salads $11-15, and sandwiches and burgers $9-13.

Theme places usually leave me cold, but I actually kind of enjoyed Margaritaville. Now where did I leave that shaker of salt?

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