Gusting winds ruffle the palm fronds on the Road to Mandalay. Inside, men in madras and women in minis saunter under oversized plastic breasts jutting from the walls toward the casino’s flashing neon lights and beckoning bells. I’ve spent only a combined total of four nights over the last ten years at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Hotel, but each visit – once I adjust to the sensory overload – has been a fabulous and delicious indulgence. Silver platters heaped with shaved ice, lobster tail, crab claws, oysters, and prawns next to the pool. Caviar popping in my mouth, tiny fishy bubbles, before the savory filet tip stroganoff at Red Square. Ahi ceviche tossed with jicama, pineapple, and red onion heaped in a paprika-rimmed martini glass at Border Grill. Salty white anchovies swimming on top of crunchy peppery romaine before the duck fat fries at Strip Steak. Corned beef from Canter’s Deli before a nap in the room.
I see that tonight’s Miss Universe pageant is being held in Bright Light City at the Mandalay Bay. Almost certainly, the contestants are nibbling on celery sticks and grapes in their suites hoping to look perfect and svelte in their bathing suits (is there still a bathing suit competition, anyway?) Perhaps after the festivities the ladies and their stylists will slip into something with a forgiving waistband and take themselves out for a proper celebratory meal – there are certainly a number of places to eat well. Here are a few: