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Las Vegans Relish Vegan Restuarants

It’s not easy finding really good vegan food hotspots in Las Vegas.  So, here’s seven good ones for your discerning vegan palate:

Rainbow’s End  This market and café is full of natural foods and has a wonderful vegetarian/vegan café. The most popular dish—for more than 30 years—is the Green Goddess pita sandwich ($7.49), which features avocado, cucumber, tomato, grated carrots and beets, onions, Vegenaise and cheese. There are some wickedly tasty desserts, too, including a sinful organic peanut-butter chocolate pie. Café open for breakfast and lunch 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri. and noon to 5 p.m. Sat.; market open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Fri, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sat. and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun.; 1100 E. Sahara Ave., 702-737-1338.

Go Raw Café  Considered by many the only truly vegan kitchen in Las Vegas,  this restaurant lives up to its name by serving cuisine made of raw ingredients, such as the Gimme the Beet “Cheese” Burger ($10.88, with fries), which consists of beets, carrots, sunflower seeds and parsley served on living bread with handmade ketchup, mustard, mayo, onion, tomato, lettuce, sprouts, avocado and almond cheese. 2910 Lake East Dr., 9 a.m-9 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 702-254-5382, and 2381 E. Windmill Lane, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sun., 702-450-9007.

Red Velvet Café  This Las Vegas vegan hot spot is known for its amazing food, stylish décor and friendly atmosphere. The extensive menu, featuring dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs vegan-style ($10.99), will satisfy the pickiest eater. 7875 W. Sahara Ave., 10:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 702-360-1972.

Samosa Factory Indian Cuisine  Samosa claims to serve the best vegan and vegetarian food in Las Vegas, and it certainly offers affordable food with great taste. See for yourself, with dishes such the Baigan Bharta, charbroiled eggplant with onions and tomato, or the Veggie Kofta Curry, which includes opo squash, chickpea flour and garlic. All of these dishes are served with basmati rice and cost $11. Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., dinner 5-9 p.m. Mon.-Thurs. and 5-10 p.m. Fri., noon-10 p.m. Sat.; 4604 W. Sahara Ave., 702-804-0293.

Paymon’s Mediterranean Café & Lounge  This is a vegan-friendly place, but you might call ahead to make arrangements for your meal. Try the lentil soup ($2.95 cup, $6.25 bowl) and the rich hummus for lunch. 4147 S. Maryland Parkway, 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. (lounge open to 1 a.m.), 702-731-6030; and 8380 W. Sahara Ave., 11 a.m. 1 a.m., 702-731-6030.

Panevino Ristorante & Gourmet Deli  This alluring restaurant is very vegan-friendly. They make a delicious wholewheat penne with vegan sauce ($22), and it even has homemade vegan desserts.  The catch? You will need to call at least 24 hours ahead of time to make arrangements for a vegan meal. That may be a pain, but the great part is being able to dine your way while enjoying the company of your non-vegan friends. 5-10 p.m. Mon.-Sat., 246 Via Antonio Ave., 702-222-2400. 

Whole Foods Market.  Yes, it’s a supermarket chain, but true vegans know the value of its offerings and convenience. Whole Foods not only offers a vast array of organic produce, but its deli has great variety for vegan meals, including a salad bar—making this an ideal place to get a quick bite and pick up the groceries. Four locations: www.wholefoodsmarket.com

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Artery-Clogging ‘Retro’ Bacon Sizzles Everywhere in Las Vegas

If you think bacon is merely a breakfast food in Las Vegas, think again.  The traditional artery-clogging breakfast compliment to eggs is being transformed into an anytime food. 

In Las Vegas, you can find milk and dark chocolate bacon bars, bacon chocolate-chip pancake mix, bacon-caramel toffee, a BLT made with a pound of bacon (the NASCAR Cafe) and, to wash it all down, a bacon martini (at the notorious watch-where-you-walk Double Down Saloon). 

But all this is just a starting appetizer for the popular piggy food… 

For example, at Retro Bakery at 7785 N. Durango Drive, bacon isn’t nutty, it’s maple-y — in the form of a maple-bacon cupcake. Owner Kari Haskell said the bacon craze inspired her to create the cupcake about a year ago; it has been on Retro’s daily menu for about six months. 

“I always had a blueberry-pancake cupcake,” she said. “I knew if I could take out the blueberry and add the bacon, I’d get a totally different sweet/salty experience. Think pancakes and bacon.” 

The cupcake is one of her top five sellers, Haskell said. “It’s either totally loved or totally hated,” she said. “It usually takes me giving one away to make people believers. And then they come back and buy six.” 

The Cupcakery, which has stores at 9680 S. Eastern Ave. and 7175 W. Lake Mead Blvd. in Las Vegas, has a cupcake called Trip to Graceland, made with chunky peanut-butter cake with banana-cream frosting, rolled in bacon and drizzled with honey. 

At Vosges Haut-Chocolat at the Forum Shops at Caesars, store manager Hayley Evans said some people have credited company owner Katrina Markoff with starting the craze with her milk-chocolate bar studded with bacon bits. The company has since added a dark-chocolate version, bacon mini-bars, bacon-caramel toffee and bacon-chocolate-chip pancake mix, plus a bacon truffle that’s available as part of a chocolate truffle collection. 

“They’re the top-selling products of our whole entire company” and also sold through retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Whole Foods Market, Evans said of the bacon products. “Every week they’re the top sellers.” 

The store also expects, in April, a new bacon-caramel-toffee ice cream and a bacon-caramel-toffee cookie, Evans said. 

All of which would be music to the ears of members of the Bacon Club at Advanced Technologies Academy. Yes, Bacon Club, which started in November last year with 104 members, according to Mike MacDougall, one of the founding members. 

“It was actually our history teacher who inspired it,” said club President Chad Palmer. Palmer and his friends wanted to start a club, but needed a focus. As they sat in history class one day, teacher Robert Henderson said, “out of nowhere, ‘Thank God for the man who invented bacon,’ ” Palmer remembers. And a club was born. 

“I think it’s cool, actually, that a food item can become so popular,” Palmer said. “There’s so many different things people can do with bacon.” 

At meetings, Palmer talks about bacon, and they hand out bacon and bacon-related foods, maybe get a coupon for a free Baconator from Wendy’s. 

Go online and the celebration of all things bacon really explodes in popularity. Several Web sites devoted to bacon (including www.BaconToday.com  and www.BaconUnwrapped.com ) and things that can be done with it, such as the Bacon Explosion, a woven mat of bacon strips enclosing a log of Italian sausage with a core of crumbled bacon (at www.bbqaddicts.com , which has both the free recipe and pre-made Explosions for sale), or Bacon Cups (at www.NotMartha.org ), which the creator says are ideal for filling with lettuce and tomato for a sort of breadless BLT.

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