Playa del Carmen, Mexico's virtual guidebook written by locals

Go Back > Trip Reports > Trip Reports: US and Canada
FAQ Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 10-20-2013   #1 (permalink)
way into it
Matt_Toronto's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Canada
Posts: 100
Las Vegas: A Fish Cost What?

Day 0: The Call

Earlier in the year my best friend, who I've known since the age of 5, called me. He and I don't connect as much as we did when younger - both married, he having joined the family business and become a huge success, me . . . hanging out here at Playa.Info - but at least once or twice a year he calls to tell me of things he's up to.

He starts into a speech about how we're both having milestone birthdays this year - I interject with some crack about he being first, but he wisely ignores what is only amusing to me and carries on.

He says he'd like to celebrate his birthday by going to Las Vegas with a bunch of friends.

"Las Vegas?", I think to myself. Las Vegas has never been on my radar. It could be that I'm no fun. Or that from my perspective a few dollars more gets me to Mexico. But in any event I start thinking "yeah, I can do this. For him I can do this."

He cuts in: "And I'm paying for flight and hotel."

My mind reels. ""Wha??????"

Although in truth this should not surprise me, as throughout the years he has been extremely generous to me, to such an extent that I can't possibly repay him (I hope he's reading that, because really, I can't possibly repay him!).

I put in a few words of protest, that I can pay my own way, and he starts yelling at me in the way that I know means that he's serious and there's to be no arguing.

So, I'm off to Vegas baby! All of of sudden the Vegas noob, me, is making all sorts of "what happens in Vegas" cracks. I joke to everyone that we'll probably be staying at the Bellagio.

Sure enough I get a call at the end of the week: we're staying at the Bellagio.

A few weeks later I get another call. He's booked golf every single day - oh by the way, there's 13 of us in total that he's taking; small detail - do I have clubs etc? Well yes I do but they haven't gotten any use in about 20 years. Besides, I want to go full Japanese tourist while there - arm myself with camera, ugly hat, and ungainly outfit, and see all the sights. He's worried I'm going to be left alone. I couldn't any happier to have that happen.

We're going the day after his birthday, and very quickly that day comes.

Last edited by Matt_Toronto; 10-20-2013 at 08:37 AM..
Matt_Toronto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2013   #2 (permalink)
way into it
Matt_Toronto's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Canada
Posts: 100
Day 1: A Fish Cost What?

Over the Hoover Dam

I meet the guys at the airport. They're primarily his hockey buddies and they're a great group of guys.

We land in Las Vegas and are quickly shuttled off to the Bellagio. Check in is quick, we pass through the casino and up to the room. The guys head off to golf; they are lucky that the 120 plus degree weather broke the day before we arrived. I jump into my full Japanese tourist outfit and hit the street.

The Bellagio

First stop: Walgreens. I need a phone. Because I'm a cheap SOB, because I have no friends, because I don't text or Facebook or whatever, I have a cheap pay-as-you-go phone and, Canada being Canada, as far as I can tell it's tortuous and expensive to get something that'll work in a foreign country. And I need something with which to contact the guys, just in case some show girls or Sammy and Frank and Dean want to take us out to show us a good time. So I buy a $20 AT&T beauty. And I find out that I can use the dang thing in Mexico if I want! In Canada this would not do, it just would not do. Bless you America!

The Strip


Caesar's Palace - fig leaf required

Caesar's Palace

Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood

The Mirage

Cirque Du Soleil - Beatles Love

My friend's wife, after getting over the anger she felt when he explained that he wanted to celebrate his birthday in Vegas with "the guys" and not with her, got right into it and booked all the dinners. First up was Estiatorio Milos next door in the Cosmopolitan. It's the kind of place where fresh fish are laid out on ice and you choose which one you want and how you'd like it prepared.

Estiatorio Milos

So we all sit down at a long table and start gabbing. We're given menus. My friend's brother says to me "notice how the menu is listed in descending price order?" I scan the menu and see that this is true but I don't focus - too much conversation. The waiter comes by and explains the drill. No one's paying full attention, again because of conversation. So the waiter invites us up to the display to show us the fresh fish.

We go up there. It's a small area so we're practically lined up single file, and again we're chatting amongst ourselves and not paying attention. However I do spy out of my eye prices next to the fish. $54, $58, $64, etc. Something's troubling my mind but I ignore it and go back to talking.

The waiter asks us what it'll be. We haven't a clue. Someone finally pipes up and says "what about the big one split 13 ways?" and not having a better alternative, we all agree. We've select a great big fat bass-y looking thing.

The waiter says he'll do it up with lemon and capers. I think "Really? That's it?"

Back to the table we go. Some appetizers come out: interesting Greek country salad, interesting Caesar, but not out of this world. Then the fish arrives and I guess it's divide up table-side; I wasn't paying attention. A plate is placed in front of me, and honestly, it was fairly hacked up. It tasted OK, but nothing special.

So dinner continues, a few guys have drinks but nothing much, and then the waiter brings the bill. One of the guys on the end intercepts it and I see his expression change. He looks over at the guy across from him and says "Do you know how much that fish cost?"


"$940!" he says, laughing.


"Yes! The whole bill is $2,000!"

And so it turns out that we ate a $940 fish. The thing got flown in from the Mediterranean that morning - probably had better seats and service than we did coming down.

Someone does the calculation and decides we are to pony up $165 each. Now that's not the end of the world for me, and I've paid that much before in a restaurant - although it's been for both me AND my wife. And as for the guys, it's not a big deal since they're successful in their careers. But people were handing over cash, and as I had planned to primarily use my credit card, this seriously dented my cash reserve and would have consequences the following day.

The $940 fish

The Bellagio Fountains - L'Estasi Dell'oro (The Ecstacy Of Gold)

Last edited by Matt_Toronto; 10-21-2013 at 10:19 PM..
Matt_Toronto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2013   #3 (permalink)
Resident Moderator

Susie Q Roo's Avatar
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Q Roo
Posts: 17,649
Great pictures and great story!!! But a big OUCH on that fish - eek!
Susie Q Roo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2013   #4 (permalink)
Travel Insurance Tester

Shammy's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: The Joisey Shore
Posts: 18,680
Great report, enjoying it very much! And ditto: that fish! Yipes!
Shammy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2013   #5 (permalink)
Jersey Boy
Route307's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 853
Good Looking Fish! It should have been one of the best things you ever ate, too bad it wasn't . Vegas Baby!

Last edited by Route307; 10-20-2013 at 06:40 PM.. Reason: Added content
Route307 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2013   #6 (permalink)
SharonD's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1,770
Seriously, a so-so fish dinner at 165 per person? Ouch!
SharonD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2013   #7 (permalink)
Travel Insurance Tester

Shammy's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: The Joisey Shore
Posts: 18,680
More please!
Shammy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-20-2013   #8 (permalink)
SharonD's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 1,770
Originally Posted by SharonD View Post
Seriously, a so-so fish dinner at 165 per person? Ouch!
Originally Posted by Shammy View Post
More please!
Silly Shammy, you know what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas...
SharonD is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-21-2013   #9 (permalink)
Doggiemom's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Humble, Texas
Posts: 9,376
Love Vegas and lovin your report!! Yes, more please!
Doggiemom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-21-2013   #10 (permalink)

Uno's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Western Oregon in the rain
Posts: 23,099
Great report. I've paid that much to catch a fish, but never to eat one.

That sounds like a decent price, actually. I saw on a menu at the Mirage once, Abalone for $300. Unless I get to go on a snorkeling trip to catch my own, $300 is a bit on the steep side.

Last edited by Uno; 10-21-2013 at 01:50 PM..
Uno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-21-2013   #11 (permalink)
Canada Dry
Rissask's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Saskatchewan, Canada
Posts: 56,735
First up was Estiatorio Milos next door in the Cosmopolitan.
We ate at STK at the Cosmopolitan, no thousand dollar fish but the bill for about 10 people was about the same, 4 grand- ouch!

we were staying at the Aria- what a beautiful hotel both of those are!
Rissask is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-21-2013   #12 (permalink)
way into it
Matt_Toronto's Avatar
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Canada
Posts: 100
Day 2: Panic in the steak house

Day 2 was another day of exploration. I used Las Vegas’s excellent Deuce and SDX buses to get around.

First up was some travel to the south end of the Strip to check out Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur. Mandalay Bay is beautiful; shame about its location. Luxor is nifty from outside but I’m not so sure I’d stay there. I poked my head in the Excalibur and to my surprise there were kids everywhere – another place I doubt I’d stay. I used the free monorail to travel between them.




New York, New York

I got back on the Deuce and headed downtown. I wanted to experience the “characterful” side of Las Vegas.

Dino's Lounge

Oscar's Beef, Booze, and Broads

Just north of the Encore the Strip’s landscape changes dramatically from over-the-top glitz to low rent. Circus Circus, the Stratosphere and a few others are up there, as well as a few little white wedding chapels.

I got off in front of the Golden Nugget and strolled around Fremont Street. Not much happens there in the daytime, and in hindsight I should have gone inside the Golden Nugget and Binion’s. Oh well, next time.

Viva Vegas

Golden Gate Casino


Vegas Vic

Coming back from downtown I was put in a mild panic when the bus veered off of Las Vegas Blvd and continued on some parallel route. But I needn't have worried: the bus cut back over near the Encore. I jumped off and by dumb luck put myself in the vicinity of Tacos El Gordo.

Tacos El Gordo

When I first learned that I was going to Las Vegas one of the first research tasks was to determine where to eat, and Tacos El Gordo came up high on that list. They do tacos adobados, which I guess is a spicy version of tacos al pastor. Or maybe it's the same thing; I don't know. All I know is that I love tacos al pastor, so I was thrilled that I got off the bus where I did.

I wandered into the restaurant, an establishment bubbling with energy from the staff and many Mexican customers. There are line-ups for more exotic tacos like lengua and cabeza, but I need al pastor/adobado.

Tacos El Gordo menu

"Do I lay on my impressive self-taught Canuckistani Spanglish when I order?" I ask myself. "˜¡Por supuesto que sí!" is the immediate answer. So when it's my turn I order "tres tacos"

(I can hear you saying "Bravo! Brilliant!")

The gent receiving my order, however, looked indifferent, somehow yawning without actually yawning. Turning to his work, he arranged three taco shells on a plate, picked up a scimitar-like knife, and went to work on the trompo. After piling the meat on the tacos, he doused it with some sort of secret sauce.

Tacos El Gordo trompo

Then he turned to me and with a grunt asked me for my order. Not understanding, I once again magnificently pronounced "tres tacos." So once again he laid out three tacos shells and filled them up.; But we're now up to six. Confused, and forced into silence by my stubborn desire to speak only Spanish, I don’t speak up and instead convince myself that three are for someone else. But no, he hands me the tray and it's got all six tacos on it. Not wanting to cause an international incident , I take the tray and pay up. And then I settle in for some taco goodness.

And they're pretty good, all six of them. A little bit of spicy heat coming through, which is very nice.

Tacos adobados at Tacos El Gordo

So while we're on the subject of food, dinner that evening was in the Prime Steakhouse in the Bellagio. It's a sumptuous room.

For some reason that escapes me now, I did not take care of my cash issues during the day and the failure to do so is coming home to roost.

I have it in my mind that this will be a cash transaction. I have no proof of this but my neuroses tell me it is so.

I scan the menu. The cheapest item is a $58 dollar steak. Having depleted my cash reserves even more throughout the day, and given the share I'll have to pay for appetizers and my friend's meal, I clearly do not have enough money to cover dinner.

I sit there sweating it out. What do I do? I can't ask my friend to spot me. I can't ask one of the guys to spot me; I barely know them. I could ask my friend's brother to spot me some cash, but he's spent a lifetime making fun of me and I'm not giving him ammunition for further abuse.

I order the $58 bone-in rib steak. Then I push back my chair, slowly stand up, and leave the room.

I rush up to the casino floor, scanning madly for an ATM. I don't see one. I corner a card dealer. "ATM!", I scream. "I NEED AN ATM, DAMMIT!"

He just shrugs and says "it's that thing you're standing next to."

I shove my card in, I punch in my PIN, but my transaction keeps getting declined. I am dying by now. Absolutely dying. People are lined up behind me, piling on the pressure. I pull out a card that I don't use much anymore. "WORK! WORK! WORK!" I implore. Otherwise I'm dead.

And miracle of miracles, it does work and I get my cash. As I walk away it dawns on me that the first card didn't work because I selected the wrong account. D'oh!

I rush back to the steakhouse. I sit down and join everyone. I don't explain myself and thankfully no one asks. I feel the sweat evaporating, replaced by a feeling of complete calmness.

So I get cocky. I find it pretty tough to eat steak without a nice glass of red, so now flush with cash I motion the waiter over and ask if I might have a glass of Cabernet. But tightwad me asks for the cheapest one he's got.

"Certainly," he says. "The cheapest is $26."

Gulp! That might be "cheap", but I'm far cheaper. So I change my mind about wine, but he talks me into a $15 glass of Merlot.

And the steak isn't really that great. It's OK but it's nothing special. The mashed potatoes, the asparagas, same thing.

And to top it all off, when the bill comes my friend grabs it and pays it. I went through all those moments of irrational neuroses for no reason! I think he felt badly about the fish debacle the previous night and this was his way of making up for it.

What a day.

The Bellagio Fountains: My Heart Will Go On

Warning: contains Celine Dion warbling
Matt_Toronto is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-22-2013   #13 (permalink)
Doggiemom's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Humble, Texas
Posts: 9,376
Love it! Great writing!
Doggiemom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-22-2013   #14 (permalink)
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Colorado
Posts: 745
Awesome report so far, Matt!! Your pics are wonderful.

I'm a huge Vegas addict and being relatively close here in Colorado, I go at least twice a year (but on the cheap; no $940 fish for me, LOL!) I also post at; consider this an invitation to join (if you aren't already a member) and post this trip report there!! They'd love it!
bigdogmom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-22-2013   #15 (permalink)
Loree's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Southern California
Posts: 9,933
Loving your report!!
I haven't had a great meal in Vegas in the 4 times I've been there...everything is just so so...I feel ya!
Loree is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:29 PM.

Powered by: vBulletin
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.