The L.A. cult breakfast joint opens an outpost in Hangover City
Breakfast in Las Vegas is unlike other places. In towns, cities, and hamlets outside of here, everyone having a restaurant breakfast is generally on the same page: Woke up not that long ago, first meal of the day, and then they’re gonna go to work or school, clean the house, take the kids to the zoo, or knock over a jewelry store. But Vegas is a 24-hour town—which means par-tay—but also that no matter what time or day it is, it’s somebody’s Monday morning. We’ve got a breakfast to suit everybody, from the slot worker slurping down post-shift steak and eggs to the Midwestern bridesmaid belting down bloody marys as she enters day three of her bender.
Perhaps Vegas’s most famous breakfast spot is the Peppermill, a pink-and-purple 1970s restaurant/ lounge, where folks fuel up with hubcap-sized omelets and fruit salads as big as a basketball, while foreign tourists often laugh and whip out their cameras. Vickie’s Diner sits amid the neon glow of wedding chapels, serving late-night two-eggs-any-style to Vegas denizens seeking to offset booze before bedtime. Local franchise Blueberry Hill is a place of vinyl finishes and floral prints, with enormous menus (both in dimension and selection) that feed family-reunion breakfasts and post-church brunches. At the Wynn Country Club, swells can sit overlooking the golf course, eating oysters Rockefeller and eggs Benedict while Paul Anka and Steve Wynn himself hold court at the next table. There’s the post-nightclub/pre-dayclub scene at STK, with dim lighting and a live band, for a crowd that’s more inclined toward egg white frittatas, to better slink into the spandex many of them will sport later.
Yet, with all of these options, there is something missing: The egg sandwich. Sure, everyone from Carl’s Jr. to the Four Seasons makes an attempt, but none of their offerings possess the near-magical healing and inspiring properties of a good egg sandwich, the go-to of the weary, the hungry, and the hungover.
But the arrival of Los Angeles’s Eggslut at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas fills that absence in our culinary scene (and my New York expat heart). Chef Alvin Cailan began Eggslut as a food truck in 2011, then expanded to a space in Los Angeles’s Grand Central Market in 2014. The waiting line at Eggslut far outstrips that at Pink’s Hot Dogs on its busiest Saturday night, but no one complains. It’s just too good.
“We focus on the egg for its versatility, the fact that it can shine on its own and it helps other things,” Cailan says, “I love the simplicity of the egg. Everything we do is pretty simple. We try to keep it within five ingredients, but to make it 100 percent, each of those five ingredients has to be perfect.”
And then there’s the technique. “The Slut is our signature dish… it’s an elevated breakfast,” says Cailan. Turning the simple into the schmancy, it’s essentially an egg over pureed potatoes with a scattering of sea salt and chive. “We do potato puree Robuchon style,” he explains, adding that along with the 2-to-1 parts potato-to-butter ratio, legendary French chef Joël Robuchon inspired the sous-vide method of cooking the egg. Swirl the egg and potato, then spread on crostini; the velvety texture and rich taste feel far more luxurious than the simple ingredients should. “It’s my favorite thing in the whole world, not just our menu. I eat it as often as possible,” Cailan says.
The Fairfax (pictured at the top of this story) is Eggslut’s marquee sandwich, with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, Sriracha mayo, and caramelized onion cooked for eight hours over an induction burner blending into a creamy, multi-layered taste experience.
“Fairfax is named after the street we parked our truck on for two years,” explains Cailan, who adds avocado and bacon to his. The sandwich wasn’t listed on the menu, just served for staff meal until it was discovered by customers and made best-of lists both local and national.
The Fairfax may be the most popular item, but Eggslut’s bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich is my platonic ideal. A pillowy brioche bun with an over-medium egg and stacks of bacon—bite in, egg yolk moistens the bun and glazes the bacon, while chipotle ketchup adds a little spice. This is an egg sandwich capable of curing the most vicious hangover, of fueling a fifteen-mile hike (or chaperoning a first-grade field trip), worth rolling out of a comfortable bed with an attractive companion for. (Okay, maybe just get two sandwiches and crawl back to bed.)
While Chef Alvin is excited to be in Las Vegas—“I come to Vegas a lot. I’m not a gambler, I don’t go to clubs. I love food, I love experiencing food.”—it was an opportunity that almost slipped into his junk mail folder. “About a year and a half ago I was getting emails from the Cosmopolitan and I just thought they were deals to stay at the hotel. So I didn’t pay any attention,” he recalls, laughing. “Then I noticed actual names, I started to read it and it was from the CEO of this hotel. He told me his daughter eats at our restaurant every weekend and he had to put me into the Cosmopolitan.”
The email led to a call, which led to a visit, which led to Eggslut Las Vegas. “It felt natural,” Cailan recalls, “They showed us this space and I was like, ‘Dude I can see Grand Central Market here.’”
The legendary lines were already in effect on Eggslut’s second day open, as a few dozen twentysomethings loaded up before heading for the nearby Marquee Dayclub. (There’s something heartwarming about watching a size-two chick in a bikini top tear into a cheese-dripping, carb-loaded egg sandwich.) Alongside them, middle-aged Japanese couples scrutinizing the menu, silver-haired women in Crocs snapping Instagrams, parents watching a gaggle of kids devour buttermilk biscuits, all surrounded by the sounds of old-school hip-hop and the smell of bacon. We haven’t had anything like Eggslut before, but somehow the crowd, the energy, and the food already feel like a part of Vegas, the city where people from all over the world wake up hungry every morning.
“It’s not just waking up with caffeine,” Cailan says, “It’s waking up your taste buds, waking up your brain. Waking up your imagination,” he says. “Breakfast is the bomb.”
Lissa Townsend Rodgers moved from New York City to Las Vegas over a decade ago in search of a place where both bourbon and bacon-egg sandwiches are available 24-7. By day, she is a senior writer for Vegas Seven magazine. By night she can be found fighting injustice and leaping tall neon signs in a single bound or sitting on her couch watching Kojak reruns.