Town Square, Taste Testing in Vegas

Tori Spelling at the Borders store in Town Square

If travelers don’t have the bucks to go around the word, you can consume scrumptious international cuisine at the upscale, one-stop shopping mall, Town Square in Las Vegas. Tourists may frequent Caesars Palace or Planet Hollywood malls, but locals seem to favor this less-flashy destination. Both old world Mediterranean and contemporary architecture/cuisine attract an eclectic crowd.

Think: The Grove and the Americana in Sin City. Sylvester Stallone, Penn Jilette, Carrot Top, and Wayne Newton are regulars.

A group of writers recently met for a dine-around, hosted by Mike Worthington, general manager of Town Square. Although the temps soared at 100, we still convened al fresco at La Cana Latin Kitchen and Bar. The buzz was about an American Idol runner-up dining at the restaurant, but we were so enamored with our feast, we did not intrude.

Known for Bocadillos (South American version of tapas) and ceviche, Cana translates to “sugar cane.” The first bocadillo we tasted: piggy back dates, wrapped in bacon with a goat cheese and almond center. All diet plans (and bets) were off!

Next stop: A tour of the kitchen at Texas de Brazil. Male chefs, wearing sexy Brazilian gauchos, prepared and juggled flaming beef, chicken, pork, sausage, and lamb, without a beat. We were served Caipirinha, the official Brazilian drink (made from Cachaca Rum and secret ingredients) and a Churrascaria spread.

An exquisite table called our name at Tommy Bahamas, as we spoke with the executive chef, Shane Quinlin. He was so informative (and cute), he could be on the Food Network! We tasted lots, but the angel coconut shrimp and pina colada cake were highlights. Yes, we were living La Dolce Vita. At Brio Tuscan Grille, we continued the Northern Italian “eat-a-thon” in a private room with Italian columns. Memorable eats: ravioli caprese and sweet potato with grilled chicken risotto.

Give me a bookstore, and I’m in heaven. While walking off my food-induced coma, I found Borders, where Tori Spelling appeared recently. When Ozzy Osbourne visited, he arrived on a bus and sent out for a “Brio” dinner. Steven Adler (“Guns and Roses”) and Kat Van D. also made appearances.

The mall houses over 100 stores, including Apple, Sephora, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle Outfitters and Armani Exchange. Included are also 15 restaurants, a Whole Foods and Rage, a movie theatre.

With local color at its best, we saw everyone from a recent bride (in her gown) to a group of cheerleaders, who stopped in with pom poms after a game.

We also checked out the City Center, Vegas’ newest conglomerate, housing The Mandarin Oriental; Vdara, its non-casino sleepovers; and Aria.

If you’re seeking action, The Aria has 7,000 rooms. With mega structures, come varied activities: an 80,000 square foot spa with Ganbanyoku heated stone beds and Shio Salt Room, a variety of top-notch restaurants (we enjoyed Julian Serrano, named after the New York chef). Even, the Aria’s buffet is haute-cuisine.

Elvis may have been in the house (Viva ELVIS, by Cirque du Soleil), but actor Chazz Palminteri walked around. He attended a private party, sponsored by Vegas Magazine and hosted by Jerry O’Connell.

Kristin Cavallari recently appeared at the adult pool, Liquid. Some pool areas in Vegas can be risqué. Not Liquid. (We checked it out, plus it can be seen and heard from the outdoor spa area.)

Sue Facter writes about all things A-list. Her credits include USA Today, People, Los Angeles Times and Women’s Day Australia.