Michael James Eats at EAT in Downtown Las Vegas…
With the recent closure of the Du-Par’s location inside the Golden Gate, members of many online Vegas groups and forums are still beating their collective breasts, wondering which restaurants in downtown Las Vegas could fill the breakfast void. I’ve been trying to get everybody to eat. At Eat, that is.
Chef Natalie Young opened Eat in conjunction with Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project in 2012. In the almost five years that Eat has been open, I’ve eaten there six times. Not bad for someone who lives 1500 miles away!
Chef Natalie recently told me her secret to the success at Eat (and her nearby companion restaurant, Chow), especially with the recent closures of the nearby Glutton, Itsy Bitsy Ramen, and Zydeco Po-Boys; “I can’t speak as to why other people succeed or don’t succeed as I literally mind my own business. I believe the reason why we are successful is that we aren’t recreating the culinary wheel, but we offer simple, good, consistent food.”
And that self-assessment can’t be more spot-on. How do I know? Because I’ve had the Country Fried Steak six of the six times I’ve eaten there!
My first visit was in May 2013, with my beautiful bride, and my good friends Ken and Glenn. We were on our way to Reno for a bowling tournament, but spent a couple of days in Vegas because, well, despite this, where would YOU prefer to spend a Saturday night?
My wife also had the Country Fried Steak that day. I can’t recall what Ken had, but Glenn had the Banana Fosters French Toast, and unfortunately, he wasn’t impressed. We couldn’t tell if the French toast was undercooked, or if the bananas and goop turned the bread mushy. He had said that it tasted good, but the texture just wasn’t pleasant.
I’ve also taken my poker group to Eat on three separate occasions. The first time, in November 2013, was a gamble; a couple of the guys aren’t foodies and truthfully would have been happier at McDonald’s at The D. As a matter of fact, one guy looked at the menu and scoffed “There isn’t anything on here that I’m going to eat”. The waitress overheard that remark and pointed him to the sides portion of the menu. An order of pancakes and a side of eggs later, Pat was sold and commented “I was wrong, Michael. It was great. You can take me anywhere”. If you know Pat, that’s a hell of a compliment.
At that visit, Romeo was a little more adventurous than the rest of us. But he scarfed it down and raved about it for the rest of the trip.
Our poker group went back to Eat during our 2015 trip.
Once again this past November, I brought the poker group for our third visit to Eat. As we are sitting around the table, discussing which poker tournaments we’d be taking down that day, I spotted Chef Natalie. Displaying my best “Ohmigosh! That’s Her!” poker face; I mustered up the courage to ask her to take a photo with me.
Though he hadn’t said anything previously, Scott mentioned that he hadn’t been impressed with his breakfast at his only previous visit to Eat, so he decided to have a Corned Beef Sandwich this time instead. When his eyes came back to center from the roll around their sockets, he exclaimed: “Oh, yeah!” I think he liked it.
My most recent trip to Eat was over Super Bowl weekend when I introduced my son to the wonders of their Country Fried Steak. Aaron said, “The Country Fried Steak was fantastic, everything it was hyped up to be.” He wasn’t as crazy about the potatoes; however, he did conclude “Overall atmosphere was good.”
Eat is only open for breakfast hours (closing at 2:00 PM each day) while Chow is open from 11:30 AM to 8:00 PM five days a week. I asked Chef Natalie if she had any plans to expand her hours at either restaurant, and she said that she didn’t. However, when asked if she had anything else in the hopper, she offered “I do, but it’s a secret” (Side note; does “It’s a secret” count as Breaking News?)
I hope its pizza. Wait, that’s overdone. No, circle back… Since Giordano’s was recently panned by Vital Vegas, it is clear that downtown needs its own Chicago Deep Dish outlet so Scott immerses himself and can get on board.
Eat is only a short walk (about a third of a mile) from The D, and only a block or two from the El Cortez and the Downtown Container Park. If you are in Las Vegas and have a hankerin’ for some Country Fried Steak (or anything else on the menu for that matter) be sure you stop in. The earlier, the better, as lines out the door, are common. And if you see Chef Natalie, tell her that Michael James says “Hi!”
Here is the Eat menu, as it appeared on February 5, 2017.
[Photos: Michael James, Glenn Schwandt, Pete Garcia]