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VegasEats: Cafe Cortez at El Cortez

By Chuckmonster on Monday, 20th December 2010 2:48am
  » filed under Las Vegas  comments: 9

   

Jackie Burger

Last week, I stopped by El Cortez' Cafe Cortez in search of their world famous "Walleye Special" OR the astonishing array of Chinese food that are also famous in these parts. Because I arrived after 10:30pm, I found none of this but instead a hella abbreviated Late Nite Menu.

Jackie Burger

Options? Thinner than a ballet dancer after tag being piled on by the '76 Jets offensive line - a salad, turkey or roast beef sandwich, chicken wings, chicken fangers or.... (drum roll please) the Jackie Burger. Any burger named after long-time El Cortez owner Jackie Gaughan - who apparently lives here and wanders about the casino greeting customers daily - has got to be good. The waiter comes by, takes my Jackie Burger order and vanishes.

This place is filled with clientele you might find in the last fingers of a whisky bottle. To my right is a well pressed guy wearing a comp club sweatshirt given out by Coushatta Casino Resort in Louisiana. The employees seem to know him, either he's a local regular, he works here or he's a players club junketeer. Through a flower arrangement, I eavesdrop on a woman hen pecking her husband about "responsibility" in between slurps on her Chicken Wings. After he folds like a cheap lawn chair with a pussy sitting on it, she gets up to go pay the bill. Two minutes later, he gets up and walks out, not with the vibe of a cous beaten botard, but strutting like Travolta. At the table behind me, I can hear the slurring sounds of a drunk passing on life lessons to a plate of chicken fingers. They don't talk back.

I've always wondered why people called it "The El Cortez." If I'm not mistaken, "The El Cortez" translates from Spanish as "The The Cortez" which has inspired me to forevermore refer to "THEhotel" as "The THEhotel" or, for those hooked on phonics, "THUH THEEhotel." "El THEhotel" ?? "El ElHotel" ?? Adrift in dreams of updated hotel signage, I'm woken by six words that are guaranteed to raise the temperature of the heart of the world: "Would you like mayo with that?"

"El Yes!"

Jackie Burger

There it is. Perfected every day since Jackie Gaughan took control of this joint sixty something years ago - The Jackie Burger. One charbroiled medium rare, hopefully beef patty, iceberg lettuce, american cheese, dill pickle chips, ripe tomato on a toasted sesame seed bun. In a pile reminiscent of CityCenter's architecture are some skin-on shoestring french fried potaters. Dare I ask for blue cheese?

I load on the Heinz yellow, Heinz red and the mayo, then slice this thing in half just to admire it.

Jackie Burger

I can personally guarantee you that it tasted even better than it looks. This very well may be in the top 25 of burgers I've ever had in my life. No, the patty isn't infused with foie gras, or covered in manchego cheese, or heirloom tomatoes, or wrapped in artisanal bread. This is a great, simple, yet almost perfect hamburger served without gourmet pretense or check inflating foodie nonsense.

After coming up for breath post-chowplow, I was fortunate enough to catch the final pieces of Heineken haiku being shared by the drunk at table two.

I have dined
With dignitaries and politicians
Popes and saints
Pharaohs and kings
And this is the best meal I've ever had

Hyperbole aside, I almost agree.

Jackie Burger



Tagged: vegaseats   dining   el cortez   downtown   





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Comments & Discussion:

I hope that guy in your photo took the Eagles. E-A-G-L-E-S!

Good stuff. I love the downtown diners. The expensive restaurants on the Strip have their own personality, but the downtown diners are the best, especially late at night, just for the clientle alone.

The best thing about that check: You could probably have a great time and several many drinks playing craps or cards for an hour or so and it would have been free (kind of like those bitchin' fried jalapeno slices at Binions). I love La El.

I'll definitely have to try the Jackie Burger when I'm out there next month.

The Benny Burger over at Binion's is a good burger too. It's on a fancier bun than the Jackie Burger and the snack bar has spicy mustard you can put on it.

Downtown does have some nice spots to eat at like the Triple George, Tinoco's Kitchen and Firefly, three spots that would be nice even if they were on The Strip.

Food like this is why I miss the Stardust. I've had wonderful dinners ranging in price from $8.50 to $350 and the classic diner cheeseburger with mayo, mustard, and ketchup, fries and a coke is my favorite. El Cortez, here I come.

I've had the steak & broiled shrimp dinner there a few times and was not disappointed. The Belgium waffles are good there, too, as are the pies. I like the chocolate cream pie.

And they didn't even charge you for the cheese!

Solid, and the pic does do it justice, I can see it's deliciousness just from looking at it.

That does look like one tasty burger.



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