Sunday, March 3, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to the Vegas Golden Knights and other sports and entertainment offerings, Las Vegans are spending more time having fun on the Strip than ever before. The Sun’s new Strip for Locals series is designed to highlight different destinations and attractions along Las Vegas Boulevard we think residents will enjoy just as much as tourists do.
After covering dining trends on and off the Strip for more than a decade, I’ve definitely had more than my share of cheeseburgers. I’ve eaten burgers crafted by celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Guy Fieri and been forced to judge In-N-Out against Shake Shack. Yes, it’s a tough job.
As great as Vegas burgers can be, my all-time favorite lives in Chicago. Conde Nast Traveler once wrote: “Your quest for the world’s best cheeseburger ends at Au Cheval: This dimly lit, tightly packed, perfumed-by-beef-fat diner is perpetually jammed by crowds who descend for the gooey, double-patty revelations.” That sums up my Au Cheval experiences and explains why I try to stop in every time I visit the Windy City; its griddled greatness is so popular that its parent company, Hogsalt Hospitality, has created a series of tiny burger joints, Small Cheval, all over Chicago. I’ve happily devoured those burgers, too.
What does this have to do with Las Vegas food and Las Vegas locals? That’s where the Strip comes in. Perhaps you’ve visited Park MGM’s sports bar and book, Moneyline, for a beer and a bite before a VGK game. There’s a little kitchen connected to Moneyline, the Side Betty Grill, serving up a simple menu of burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, nachos, wings, fries and a few other bar food selections.
But that’s no ordinary sports bar burger. Hogsalt opened its first Las Vegas restaurant, Bavette’s Steakhouse, at Park MGM in late 2017. It’s a little known fact that the company also handles the food operations at Side Betty and that $10 griddled cheeseburger, served with dijonnaise, pickles and onions on a soft, slightly sweet bun, is the Vegas version of the Au Cheval/Small Cheval masterpiece. (Bavette’s has a similar burger on its menu but it’s a fine dining destination with higher prices and a more formal atmosphere.)
So there are three questions that need answers. First, is it worth trekking to the Strip for an exemplary cheeseburger at a reasonable price? That’s something every local can decide on an individual basis, but for me, it’s a big yes. Is the Side Betty Grill going to become your go-to pre-game meal? Probably. And lastly, do I need to go to Chicago anymore?
The Side Betty Grill at Moneyline Sports Bar and Book at Park MGM is open Monday to Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from 9 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.