Viva Vegas: A new wave of burgers

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Many people make In-N-Out Burger their first stop in Las Vegas, partly because we don’t have it in Hawaii, and partly because it’s so darn good. The menu is simple, the beef is fresh, and the prices are extremely reasonable.

After my last trip, however, people had been raving about other burger places to try. I did try the overpriced Burger Bar at the Mandalay, but it’s so expensive that it’s really a one-time fling. This trip, I got to try two other spots that people had recommended — one that was big value, the other, more upscale — and they were good enough that I’d visit them again, for different reasons, if I’m craving a burger.

The first is Five Guys, which was a surprise. People had talked about it as if it were a new discovery, but it’s a 20-year-old franchise from Washington, D.C. with more than 1,000 locations nationwide. Both Las Vegas locations are off-strip but easy to find, with ample parking.

Five Guys

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If you are an In-N-Out burger fanatic, you may not like Five Guys. It is, in many ways, things that In-N-Out is not. However, if you like good value, this is the spot for you.

Five Guys Burgers
7580 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Ste. 120

The second burger place is Bachi Burger, which I got to try with Hawaii transplant Carrie Azama during my unexpected layover. It’s owned by Lorin Watada, who used to be a chef at Roy’s Restaurants. When I heard that he was Japanese, and from Hawaii to boot, I wondered why he would name his place “Bachi,” which is associated with bad karma. Turns out it’s short for “hibachi,” the grill that is often used for cooking. On his website, he defines “bachi” with a more positive spin, saying it means “to treat others how you would like to be treated in return.”

Watada’s experience at Roy’s is evident in the way he creates burgers and fries with strong Asian influences that taste great without seeming like he’s trying too hard. When you look at the menu, you’ll wonder why no one in Hawaii has ever thought of some of these things. His drinks are all very Asian-y, as well (although I need to say that the sake is a bit too expensive for me!). Once you try the food, you’ll understand why it’s become popular not just with the Asian population in Vegas, but a wide range of clientele.

Bachi Burger

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I'm not sure if there is a best time to visit Bachi Burger, as I hear it is almost always crowded. We went on a Saturday night and it was packed, but the line moved pretty quickly.

Bachi Burger
9410 West Sahara Avenue Suite 150

I would be irresponsible if I didn’t mention that it is owned in part by Ehren Watada, who is known as the first commissioned officer in the U.S. armed forces to refuse to deploy to Iraq in 2006. I got some flaming comments, messages and texts from people pointing this out to me when I posted my meal there, so yes, I’m aware of it now, but I’m not sure that it affects my decision to eat there.

Finally, as a bonus, I thought I’d show you some changes to yet another hotel on the Strip: The Imperial Palace is now The Quad. Carrie took me there during my unexpected layover since it’s a brand-new renovation that many Vegas locals have not explored yet.

Vegas: The Quad

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Remember the Imperial Palace? (And no, Ritsuko, it's not a replica of the one in Japan!) Like many older hotels in Las Vegas, it's undergone massive renovations and rebranding.

And that wraps up my Vegas finds for 2013! To see the rest of my photos from this day, click here.