Monday, April 2, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Recent years have brought a lot of change to the food and beverage offerings at the Mirage, iconically the first modern megaresort to land on the Las Vegas Strip in 1989. But one of the casino’s most popular dining options is standing strong since 2005 and now has the distinct honor of outlasting its original version.
The legendary Jewish delicatessen Carnegie Deli first opened in 1937 on 7th Avenue in Manhattan, serving celebrated corned beef and pastrami sandwiches to celebrities and ordinary folks and eventually becoming known as the most famous deli in the country, according to USA Today. It expanded several times through the years, including in Las Vegas, also growing its reputation as more of a cultural landmark than a restaurant.
Today, 2,500 miles from New York City, the Mirage location is the main attraction. The original location closed in December 2016 when the owners decided to retire. A year later, the Carnegie Deli in the Sands casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, also shuttered. There’s a Carnegie outlet at Madison Square Garden and the company still runs a catering and wholesale operation, but if you want to sit down for an authentic, NYC-style lunch of chicken soup with matzo balls and the Woody Allen sandwich that combines those two famous meats — and don’t forget the pickles — Las Vegas is the place.
“That true Kosher deli restaurant is an experience all its own and it has really stood the test of time at the Mirage,” says Edmund Wong, vice president of food and beverage at the resort. “Everybody thinks of Carnegie when they think of that type of food and that’s why we have a lot of repeat guests and loyal customers who are just fans of the product. They keep coming back for more.”
Since the Vegas shop opened, it’s been operated by the casino in partnership with the Carnegie company, which ships product regularly to keep the Mirage well-stocked. That partnership hasn’t changed since the New York closures.
A few years ago, the Mirage restaurant did make one change, switching from full-service to a more casual and quick format where customers order at the counter, take a seat and wait for their food to be brought to their table. “That’s just true to the times, as we’ve seen that overall change in the restaurant landscape,” Wong says. “But we maintain a lot of opportunities for servers to interact with guests because we know what appeals to a lot of people and has them coming back is that interaction and friendliness and the attention we give them. As a property, we pride ourselves on guest service, and that helps shape that space a lot.”
The sandwiches — there’s beef brisket, ham, egg salad, salami, roast beef, turkey, bologna and more — are still the most popular order, most of them loaded with more than a pound of meat. But Carnegie is a breakfast destination, too, serving lox and eggs, omelets, pastrami or corned beef hash, bagels and breakfast sandwiches.
It may not be exactly the same as the New York City original, but the Vegas visitors from all over the world who keep the restaurant packed don’t seem to mind.