I have a deliciously painful decision to make every time I’m grabbing a pre- or post-show bite at the Cosmopolitan. Will I eat the sweet and sour, crispy and juicy Ike’s Vietnamese Fish Sauce chicken wings from Pok Pok Wing, the quick-serve concept from James Beard Award-winning chef Andy Ricker? There’s no Buffalo-style hot sauce on these tasty morsels of meat, but they might be my favorite wings in town. Or will I nosh on the Bronx Bomber, one of the best cheesesteak sandwiches in Las Vegas, from Portland transplant Lardo? Stacked with shaved beef, house-made provolone cheese “whiz” sauce and pickled peppers, it’s nothing short of addictive.
Honestly, it’s a win-win. Both dishes are amazing no matter how many times I eat them and both cost $15 or less. It’s still hard to find such high-quality “low-brow” food on the Strip these days and that’s what makes Pok Pok, Lardo and their neighbors at Cosmo’s Block 16 Food Hall so special. The fast-casual complex is celebrating its first year on the Strip and its individual vendors (most of which are celebrated restaurant concepts from across the country) have made some new additions to their respective menus.
Block 16 also includes District Donuts, which has created a new breakfast burrito; Nashville’s famed Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, now serving a chicken and Champagne pairing; Tekka Bar, a sushi handroll hot spot; and the speakeasy-style Ghost Donkey, a mezcal and tequila cocktail bar that dishes up innovative nachos as well.
Las Vegans have been enamored with the Cosmopolitan hip style and trendy dining and entertainment offerings since it opened at the end of 2010. I have only anecdotal evidence but I’d bet locals visit this resort more frequently than any other Strip destination, and the casual nature and relatively late hours of the Block 16 outlets have a magnetic pull on locals who might be catching a concert close by. We’re used to snacking on a slice from the “secret” pizzeria upstairs. Now we have to decide if we’d rather have some spicy fried chicken bliss or cool sushi instead.
And Lardo isn’t taking it easy on me: The new addition to its menu is the RickRib, a pile of meat made from smoked St Louis-style spareribs with pickles, onions and barbecue sauce on a soft roll. How can I not eat that?
Block 16 Food Hall is located on the second floor at the Cosmopolitan (3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-698-7000), hours vary by each vendor and more information can be found at cosmopolitanvegas.com.