Welcome to Bite & Switch, a food blog reviewing everything from food trucks to fine dining restaurants.

Chicken and waffle sandwich ($11.99) - hand battered chicken breast between two waffles, lettuce, tomato, maple aioli sauce, criss-cut fries and coleslaw

Cletus Chicken Shack

By | 2.5 Stars, Universal City | No Comments

Located in Universal Studios, Cletus’ Chicken Shack will give you a glimpse into life in Springfield. And, apparently Springfield is pricey. Like the rest of Universal, you’ll spend a pretty penny on any meal. With no kid-sized meals the youngin’s have to pay full price for meals they’ll eat a fraction of. A chicken and waffle sandwich sounded amazing but pre-made/frozen waffles were it’s downfall. The large, crispy chicken breast covered in a maple aioli sauce was decent, the fried were surprisingly good, and the cole slaw… I didn’t even touch it. My kid enjoyed his chicken tenders, but the portion size was so big he only ate about a quarter of it. Duff beer is available, but I didn’t partake in any adult beverages.

2.5 Stars

Universal Studios
4426 Main Way Universal
Universal City, CA 91602

 

Orange chicken ($7.50)

Ping Pong Chinese Cuisine

By | 3.5 Stars, Encino | No Comments

Hanging out at my brother’s house, we wanted a low-key night and ordered delivery from this Chinese spot found after a quick Yelp search. When compared to similar quickie/take-out/delivery Chinese spots, Ping Pong is pretty good. We got a mix of five different dishes and all were solid renditions with ample portion sizes. They didn’t skimp on the proteins, either. The Mongolian beef and orange chicken were the standouts with bold flavors and the shrimp and snow peas weren’t far behind. For any take out needs, I’d be happy to order from them again.

3.5 Stars

17267 Ventura Blvd
Encino, CA 91316
(818) 501-0088

 

Mediterranean benedict ($12.95) - crispy duck prosciutto, slow roasted tomato bruschette, poached eggs, hollandaise on ciabatta

Leo & Lily

By | 4 Stars, Woodland Hills | No Comments

Looking for a breakfast spot close to our hotel in Woodland Hills, we found this amazing restaurant that serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Parking can be tricky with the limited number of street spots and the small adjacent lot, but the destination is worth it.

The focus on quality ingredients makes up for the relatively small breakfast menu. The dish that instantly caught my eye was the Mediterranean benedict ($12.95) with it’s crispy and salty duck prosciutto resting atop two slices of ciabatta. Perfectly poached eggs with buttery Hollandaise topped it all. Along with a side of roasted potatoes, it was an excellent savory dish to start the day. Equally as good was their omelette special filled  with sausage, mushrooms, onions and gouda with a spicy aioli and crispy spinach covering it.

A kid’s menu is available as well. An order of eggs was accompanied by roasted potatoes and a slice of bread. The kid’s chocolate chip pancakes were the lone disappointment. The chocolate was scarce among the three thin pancakes, although there were a few blueberries surrounding them.

4 Stars

22420 Ventura Blvd
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
(818) 222-6622

 

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Hamachi crudo ($15) - yuzu juice, Calabrian peppers, hazelnuts, chives, Sicilian olive oil, sea salt

Mediterraneo

By | 4 Stars, Westlake Village | No Comments

I knew nothing of this restaurant going in, except for the info I read on Yelp from mostly mediocre reviews. We were in California for a short vacation and my family chose Mediterraneo. I hate not choosing the places I eat. Leaving that decision in the hands of others usually leads to my disappointment. Luckily, on this occasion we walked away happy from our experience. 

Located in the affluent area of Westlake Village, it’s close to a golf course and part of a complex with a hotel and Stonehaus Winery. It’s a beautiful area and the restaurant itself is stunning — stone and dark wood give it a Mediterranean villa look. It overlooks a small pond/lake and has a decent sized patio with plenty of heaters between tables to warm chilly nights.

A light and refreshing summer salad of strawberry, burrata, and arugula started our meal. Although, it was oddly plated on a narrow cutting board, causing ingredients to tumble off. They get points for style but zero for functionality. The hamachi crudo that followed had a balanced amount of heat and acidity from the Calabrian peppers and yuzu.

Both the spaghettini con zucchini aglio olio and tagliatelle bolognese were excellent. The savory blend of meats in the latter dish made the bolognese shine.

Their desserts made for a decent ending to the meal, but lacked the refinement of the appetizers and entrees. The buttery crust and creamy chocolate filling of the chocolate pudding pie was plenty to share between my wife and kid, while the butterscotch pudding contained just enough salt to satisfy my palate. The peanuts on top were a nice touch, too.

Our server was ok, but devoid of the personable service to make the experience outstanding. Still, the restaurant was better than expected. Their French/Italian/Greek menu isn’t adventurous or cutting edge, but it’s executed at a high level. I knew the atmosphere would be nice, but the quality of food was a pleasant surprise.

4 Stars

32037 Agoura Rd
Westlake Village, CA 91361
(818) 889-9105

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Brownies on the moon - chocolate ice cream with chunks of brownies

Springdale Candy Company

By | 3.5 Stars, Springdale, Utah | No Comments

On our way out of town after an amazing camping and hiking trip, we needed a quick bit before hitting the road. So, what’s better than hitting up the local candy store for breakfast?

It’s a cute place that looks like the typical tourist/vacation spot full of candy and other sweet treats. Ice cream comes from the Utah based Farr Better Ice Cream company. Most are fairly standard flavors. My kid always gets mint chocolate chip and he wasn’t disappointed. I had “Brownies on the moon” which was a creamy chocolate ice cream with chunks of fudgey, soft brownies. It was an excellent way to cool down from the heat.

3.5 Stars

855A Zion Park Blvd
Springdale, UT 84767
(435) 772-0485

 

Guiness BBQ ribs, truffle fries ($15) - boneless tender short ribs, spicy Guiness BBQ sauce

The Spotted Dog Cafe

By | 4 Stars, Springdale, Utah | No Comments

Continuing our camping trip in Zion, my son and I decided to go out for dinner on our last night. Looking back, I should have planned better, or at least done more research into places to visit. The Spotted Dog Cafe was a good place to visit, no doubt about that, but the atmosphere turned out to be classier than I thought. 

Dressed in ratty and probably smelly clothes from hiking the Narrows earlier in the day, I felt way underdressed. To my surprise it was a rather upscale spot with white table linens, buttoned up servers and a quiet, elegant atmosphere. 

After hearing good things about this spot, I was too hungry and excited to try the food to turn back. The complimentary flatbread and our entrees didn’t stand a chance. The Guiness BBQ ribs ($15) were tender, boneless short ribs in a tangy sauce with subtle hoppiness. The truffle fries accompanying it were skinny, crispy, and heavy on the truffle flavor. There’s a kid’s menu available with spaghetti, meatloaf, chicken fingers, and hamburgers. Although my son’s buttered spaghetti noodles tasted like boxed pasta as opposed to something made fresh in-house, he still devoured almost all of it. 

Good sized portions and even better prices left us happy and thankful we dined out. Spotted Dog was a surprisingly good spot that was a huge step up from the camping fare we had the previous couple days. With a menu full of modern American dishes, it’s a worthy dining destination for a night out in Springdale.

4 Stars

428 Zion Park Blvd
Springdale, UT 84767
(435) 772-0700

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Traditional breakfast crepe ($8.99) - scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese with choice of ham, bacon or roast turkey topped with hollandaise drizzle

MeMe’s Cafe

By | 4 Stars, Springdale, Utah | No Comments

My son had one wish for when the school year ended — a father-son camping trip to Zion National Park. Never one to let him down, I reserved our camp site months in advance. And, after the two hour drive from Vegas, we were looking for a place to eat before entering the park and setting up camp. A short drive from the entrance to Zion is Meme’s Cafe, positioned just off the main road in a relatively new building. Inside is a modest interior with pics of the Eiffel Tower and other art that reinforces the French motif. A small patio right by the entrance overlooks the road.

With a breakfast menu showcasing a variety of crepes, it only made sense for me to try one. The traditional breakfast crepe ($8.99) was a great choice. The soft, thin crepe was stuffed with an ample amount of scrambled eggs, bacon and cheddar cheese, and topped with a buttery rich Hollandaise. For the kid, he opted for a soft, yet crispy edged Belgian waffle ($6.99) topped with powdered sugar and a mound of whipped cream. 

Both of us were equally stuffed and satisfied and ready to hike off the calories. We didn’t have time for a return visit this trip, but the well executed and refined breakfast fare make Meme’s a go-to spot the next time we’re in town.

4 Stars

975 Zion Park Blvd
Springdale, UT 84767
(435) 772-0114

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Braised beef short rib with fresh English pea, pea tendril salad and California olive oil from Delmonico

Las Vegas Epicurean Affair

By | 3.5 Stars, Las Vegas | No Comments

Back on May 21st I attended the Epicurean Affair at the Palazzo. It’s an annual poolside food festival with local Vegas restaurants. For those willing to deal with the crowds and the heat, it’s a good way to sample bites from many of the cities best spots and catch glimpses of their chefs. Jose Andres was the featured guest this year, with his newest restaurants Bazaar Meat and Ku Noodles represented, along with his other Vegas spots Jaleo and China Poblano. 

There were plenty of great dishes to be had like braised beef from Delmonico, a well composed and savory pork cheek benedict from N9ne Steakhouse, meatball panini from Nove Italiano, a beautiful garlic sausage en route from Bouchon, and a spiced pork sandwich from Bazaar Meat. My two favorite dishes were from the same restaurant — Cleo at the SLS. The depth of flavor from the spice in both the chicken shawarma and mushroom shawarma had me begging for more. 

I’m typically not a fan of food festivals because my lazy ass prefers sitting down for a proper meal at a single restaurant. But, if you want to experience dozens of the the best that Las Vegas has to offer, the Epicurean Affair is the place to do it. And, if you can afford it, the VIP tickets are the way to go. They allow you in an hour before the general admission tickets, giving you enough time to sample many of the better spots before the onslaught of crowds come in.

3.5 Stars

The Palazzo
3325 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109

 

7 and 7 ($19) - potato gnocchi, lobster knuckles, salsa di crostacei

Lago

By | 4 Stars, Las Vegas | No Comments

Lago, Julian Serrano’s third Las Vegas restaurant, occupies the other end of the spectrum from his first — Picasso. While the latter celebrates works from the past in an upscale environment, Lago takes a more casual approach in an often criticized modern setting that is reminiscent of the headquarters of some evil villain from a ‘70s movie.

With two visits under my belt — one a Yelp event and the other on my own (with a voucher handed out at the Yelp event) — I have to say I’m a fan of Serrano’s modern take on Italian.

For those wanting to start out light, the Insalata sarda ($14) is good option with its ripe heirloom tomatoes and subtle salinity from the ricotta or the citrus dominated flavors combined with tuna crudo in their Tonno ($19) dish. The chilled tomato puree with burrito cheese found in the zuppa di pomodoro is a welcomed dish in hot weather.

Plenty of other dishes were a hit. The 7 and 7 ($19) was my favorite, with supple yet seared gnocchi along with little nuggets of lobster meat with a savory and herbaceous salsa di crostacei. A different take on gnocchi can be found with the gnocchi all romana. Its flat semolina dough, with its chewy texture, had some bite thanks to a blue cheese sauce spread on top.

Two types of risotto can be found on the menu. The creamy risotto al vino rosso ($17) was a dish I sampled at the Yelp event, but had to get it again because it was so good. And, if you’re a fan of tripe, you’ll want to try the risotto all trip e fungi ($17).

Less successful was the chalky and grainy chicken liver in the Fegatini di pollo ($8) and under seasoned short ribs in the cannelloni ($16).

For those with smaller appetites they’ve got a 4oz angus beef tenderloin ($20) topped with gorgonzola. It’s pre-sliced, making it easy to share with others. Likewise, the branzino livornese ($16) arrived table side cut into shareable servings. The skin was crispy, the meat was flaky, there was acidity from the tomatoes, and salt from the olives giving it varying degrees of flavor and texture. For a side, we tried the funghi trifoliate ($11) containing a few different types of mushrooms coated in olive oil and parsley.

While I’m not crazy about the futuristic decor, the concept and execution of the dishes are something I can’t fault. Add to that a small patio with a great view and you’ve got a restaurant that should draw in a diverse crowd of young and old looking for an affordable meal, which is almost unheard of in the Bellagio.

4 Stars

Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-7111

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Chicken in a waffle ($13)

MTO Café

By | 4 Stars, Las Vegas | No Comments

If you’re a fan of MTO’s Downtown location, the new Downtown Summerlin spin off won’t disappoint either. Johnny Church and team have expanded the menu with more twists on comfort food. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner it’s a great destination for craving nostalgic dishes in a fast-casual setting.

Their version of Kentucky fried chicken ($13) is similar to the fast food chain in name only. The chicken here has a thick, well seasoned crust that virtually cracks open. With two eggs over easy, mashed browns, and country gravy, this is one of the better breakfast dishes around. Other breakfast dishes crafted with care include the chorizo skillet and the bacon dippers —strips of bacon covered in pancake batter.

If you’re craving a burger, the juicy patty and the salty and sharp blue cheese in the black and bleu burger ($13) make a for a great combo. But, you’ll need plenty of napkins while devouring it. You’ll need to save some of those napkins for the chicken in a waffle ($13) too. Covered in a savory country gravy dotted with bits of bacon, along with maple syrup, it can be messy but delicious. Their version of chicken pot pie ($15) uses biscuits instead of a typical pastry crust topping, but flavors come through, just the same. It’s creamy and packed with pulled chicken, although more vegetables would have enhanced both the flavor and texture.

They’ve also got a kid’s menu with chicken fingers, waffles, and grilled cheese sandwiches. For fast-casual comfort food with a modern twist, they’ve got all the bases covered for the whole family any time of day.

4 Stars

Downtown Summerlin
10970 Rosemary Park Dr
Las Vegas, NV 89135
(702) 982-0770

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Sweet Cheese Us ($12) - shaved NY strip, cherry/banana peppers, caramelized onions, portobello, pepper jack and cheddar sauce on a hoagie

SkinnyFATS

By | 4 Stars, Las Vegas | No Comments

With two locations and more on the way, SkinnyFats has the formula to expand to even  greater heights — healthy and not-so-healthy versions of classics plus some creative dishes thrown into the mix in a fast-casual, affordable, hip setting. 

The larger interior is a welcomed change from their first location and I’m a big fan of their outdoor patio when the weather is nice. After many visits to both locations, the food may not seem as innovative as it once was, but it’s still some of the best for a fast meal.

The sweet cheese us ($12) is always overflowing with shaved NY strip, peppers, onions and mushrooms. It’s one of my favorite steak and cheese sandwiches when I need a fix. For something healthier, the skinny Q flatbread ($7) was decent with it’s crispy crust and moderate amount of grilled chicken, cheddar and red onions covered with an agave BBQ sauce.

They’ve got a kid’s menu too, but my son prefers a side of grilled chicken ($4) over their chicken tenders. Their chocolate chip cookies are pretty good. Served warm, the edges were slightly crispy, with a chewy and moist interior.

This location always seems to be busy during peak hours so it’s best to hit it up at other times. Still, for a quick meal there are few places that are better.

4 Stars

8680 W Warm Springs Rd
Las Vegas, NV 89148
(702) 979-9797

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Carrot cake pancakes ($12.95) - spiced batter, carrot, cream cheese frosting

HEXX kitchen + bar

By | 4 Stars, Las Vegas | No Comments

Any spot overlooking the Bellagio fountains is going to be popular. Luckily, Hexx delivers delicious food that backs up the great location. Created by Matthew Silverman, executive chef of Vintner Grill, Hexx has taken over the Sugar Factory space with a beautifully elegant and modern dining room and patio with an adjacent bar and retail store. It’s a clear upgrade from its predecessor. 

They’re proud to tell you that they’re the only bean-to-bar chocolate shop in town and with a kitchen area with large windows, you can view them harvesting cacao seeds to produce several dark varieties in house.

But, this spot is so much more than chocolate. They have one of the better brunches in town with well crafted classics like a large, flaky croissant overflowing with ham and cheese ($13.95) and a side of potatoes or brioche French toast ($11.95) that looks rather pedestrian compared to their other options. 

If you’re looking for something sweet to start your day, the chocolate pancakes ($12.95) are the way to go. They’re made up of four thick, cakey and dense chocolate pancakes with a caramel sauce. They might be called pancakes, but make no mistake, it’s essentially like eating chocolate cake for breakfast. Even better, in my opinion, were the carrot cake pancakes ($12.95). Fluffy, well spiced, full of shredded carrots, and much lighter than the chocolate pancakes, they can also be very sweet if you consume the entire mound of cream cheese frosting that tops it. Another sweet option is the cinnaroll waffle ($13.95). Just like a regular cinnabun, but cooked in a waffle press, the texture is as dense and chewy as expected and finished with a mound of cream cheese icing on top.

Aside from the ham and cheese croissant, the only other savory dish I tried was a side of their “overcooked bacon ($7.95).” As the name implies, it was a half pound of gloriously crispy bacon strips covered in a maple glaze.

Due to its location expect high prices. My biggest gripe is the outrageous prices of non alcoholic drinks such as milk, orange juice, and apple juice. All run $5.95 with no free refills. My kid had two glasses of milk during one visit, meaning we could have purchased three gallons of it from the local grocery store for the same price.

But, despite the dent a trip to Hexx will leave on your wallet, I can see this place being popular. People may come for the view, but the food is a good enough reason to stay.

4 Stars

Paris Hotel and Casino
3655 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 331-5100

 

HEXX kitchen + bar on Urbanspoon

Chess pie ($10) - sweet cornmeal pie, sorghum Chantilly cream, caramel sauce

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar

By | 5 Stars, Las Vegas | No Comments

I’ve been in love with southern food since a family trip through the south back in 1982. Since then I’ve had my share of southern dishes, but a recent trip to Yardbird in the Palazzo/Venetian for a friend’s birthday has given me an even greater appreciation for the cuisine.

Their version of chicken and waffles — a staple of any southern spot — doesn’t disappoint. With a thick, well seasoned outer crust coating succulent meat beneath, their fried chicken is some of the best in town. Add to that a crispy and airy waffle made from a batter with swiss cheese and finished with cheddar and accompanied by spiced watermelon and bourbon maple syrup and you’ve got a savory dish that can rival any version of this classic.

Other standouts include St. Louis style pork ribs coated with a dry rub giving it hints of sweetness, smokiness, and a restrained level of heat; smoked and roasted bone marrow balanced by the sweetness of its jam; deviled eggs thankfully light on mayo; shrimp and grits as good as you’ll find in the west; and the artfully stacked fried green tomato BLT with pork belly and house-made pimento cheese.

If those options don’t whet your appetite, check out their pot pie or the fall-off-the-bone-tender short ribs atop charred corn grits. Also, the low and slow smoked chicken salad may not catch your eye, but it’s a dish that shouldn’t be overlooked,

Desserts were equally amazing. With the bacon butterscotch cake, I’ve finally found a sweet dish that uses bacon effectively. Devoid of a cold, rubbery texture, the bacon is used perfectly to enhance the cake flavor. For traditional southern-style desserts you won’t want to miss their seasonal cobblers or the chess pie.

There wasn’t a a single bad item on the night and with dish after dish blowing me away, Yardbird has rocketed up my list of favorite restaurants.

5 Stars

The Venetian
3355 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 297-6541

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar on Urbanspoon

Belly buns ($3.99 HH) - braised pork belly, cilantro, peanut

District One Kitchen & Bar

By | 3.5 Stars, Las Vegas | No Comments

Already open for a year and I just stopped by for the first time about a month ago. Named after an affluent and busy urban center in Ho Chi Minh city, the restaurant has become just as popular as its namesake since opening.

Happy hour is the way to go if you’re looking to keep spending to a minimum. A slight fishy taste didn’t stop me from enjoying the bit size fish tacos. The wonton shell added some great crunch to the sashimi yellowtail accompanied by avocado, cilantro and cherry tomatoes. If you’re looking for other sea food, oysters on the menu change regularly based on availability. The sauce with the fanny bay oysters provided a balance of sweetness to the salinity of the oysters and caviar on top, with a touch of heat that trailed at the end.

Turning to more savory options, the beef carpaccio was unfortunately drowning in sauce. Half the amount would have been plenty to make the beef, onions and peanuts shine. My favorite item was the pork belly buns. The deep fried buns were a nice contrast to the standard chewy bao buns. And, of course, pork belly never disappoints. No Vietnamese restaurant is complete without pho. Their pho tai rib eye is plenty big enough for two to share, with a wonderfully aromatic broth covering a large mound of noodles and beef.

With its modern and unique take on Vietnamese cuisine, it’s easy to see why District One has become popular with locals. And, despite being named after a district with a high standard of living, the restaurant thankfully has plenty of bargains to be found.

3.5 Stars

3400 S Jones Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89146
(702) 209-0898

 

District One Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

Drinks

Fizz Las Vegas

By | 3.5 Stars, Las Vegas | No Comments

Located near the Coliseum entrance in Caesars Palace, this small bar and lounge is perfect for those looking for a more relaxed vibe instead of the mind-numbing thumping of a mega club. Bar space can be sparse but there are a couple tables and several booths available in this upscale and ritzy space. Prices aren’t cheap. Expect the typical Vegas Strip mark up. Sparkling wine is the name of the game here, with plenty of options lining the menu and cocktails containing it, too. The Coco Republic — all $19 of it — is great for fans of coconut flavors. Tyku coconut sake, citrus, vanilla syrup, and lime juice is topped off with champagne. Champagne blends are also available, the one we tried, the Moet and Chandon Imperial, wasn’t bad even for it’s decidedly marked up price.

3.5 Stars

Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 776-3200

 

Fizz Las Vegas on Urbanspoon

Belgian ($8.95) - black forest ham, Gouda cheese, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, pickles, tomato, mayonnaise

Nanny’s

By | 3 Stars, Las Vegas | No Comments

The most memorable thing about this little cafe and bakery in Summerlin is the service. The folks here are so friendly it might catch you off guard and leave you wondering why more people aren’t as kind. You can order at the counter but if you’re planning on eating there, you can grab a seat and they’ll be happy to wait on you table side.

Their menu consists of baked goods, sandwiches, and a few hot items. The Belgian ($8.95), filled with black forest ham and gouda cheese, was about a foot long, thin panini accompanied by a small side salad. It may have been a simple sandwich, but it was plenty satisfying. Baked goods were hit or miss. The chocolate croissant was flakey and airy, filled with a touch of semi-sweet chocolate. The mini apple danish was decent as well. On the other hand, a flat, limp mini almond croissant was a disappointment with an interior that was rather doughy with an undercooked quality to it.

I love that some of their pastries come in a mini size — perfect for sampling a variety of items. But, in a town with so many good bakeries it’s unfortunate that their service was the highlight of the visit.

3 Stars

8453 W Lake Mead Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89128
(702) 912-4044

 

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