Rainforest Cafe At MGM Grand
Are you a kid at heart? If so, and you've visited one of the larger tourists cities in the US, you may have eaten at Rainforest Cafe. It's a jungle themed restaurant with around two dozen locations, and they've all got aquariums, waterfalls, and animatronic animals scattered throughout vine covered dining areas. A thunderstorm happens about every thirty minutes, too, but I've never quite understood the reasoning behind it. It scares the little kids, often to the point of crying, and I haven't met an adult who thought it added to the experience either... though the adults didn't cry about it.
At the MGM Grand on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip, you can find a Rainforest Cafe next to Vegas's newest (and the world's largest) nightclub, Hakkasan. It's a testament to the awesomeness of Vegas that two such diverse experiences can exist literally a few feet from one another. And while Rainforest Cafe would be considered a tad on the expensive side for what you get, you'll find nothing on the menu even 1/10,000th as expensive as the party champagne package at Hakkasan. That costs $500,000. Yep, half a million dollars!
After checking-in at a podium at the front of the restaurant, you'll be directed to a host station near a large overhead aquarium. Here, the "safari guide" will confirm how many are in your party then take you through the restaurant to your table. He or she will indubitably ask if you've visited before then proceed to explain how the thunderstorm happens every half hour, regardless of your answer. It's all a bit cheesy, for sure, but I guess it's geared to get you in the mood.
Sitting at your wild animal print covered table, you'll peruse the menu and note that prices are a bit higher than expected but not terribly so. Looking closer, you may notice that many single item dishes are only slightly less expensive than a combination plate containing two or more main entrees. Take for example, the half rotisserie chicken ; it costs around twenty dollars. The combination plate with the half chicken and ribs as well is only a few bucks more. The least expensive main entree item you'll find is around $15 and the most expensive is around $30. Sodas are an incredible $3.79 each.
After placing your order, you can expect to wait for quite a while for your food to arrive, but that'll give you time to notice details like the fiber optic lights simulating stars in the ceiling and that the bar area is under a giant mushroom. I've never been to the Rainforest Cafe when the food was delivered quickly, and the last time I went, it was downright slow. The waitress kept reassuring us that the food was almost ready, but we were at the table for over an hour. If you've got nowhere to be and simply want to talk with friends while glancing at the saltwater aquariums and waterfalls and such, it's a leisurely dining experience : drinks were continually refilled while we waited for the food. If, however, you're pressed for time or on a schedule, look elsewhere.
Like many restaurants that offer an appeal besides the meal, the food itself could best be described as "on the better side of average." The main reason people go to the Rainforest Cafe is because it's a slightly more engaging experience than going to a traditional restaurant, but it's not too involved as to be off putting. In other words, it gives your eyes and ears something to do while your nose and mouth eat, but it doesn't tax your brain or require active participation like at "Tony 'N Tina's Wedding" or at a murder mystery dinner theatre type show.
When lunch was done, the waitress asked us if we wanted dessert, but we decided not. Of course, if you've visited a Rainforest Cafe in the past, you may remember a dessert of chocolate cake and ice cream with a lit sparkler on top called the "volcano." Having a visitor from out of town, we would have ordered it as a fun finale for his first Rainforest Cafe experience, but the sparkler that used to burn atop while it was delivered to your table with the wait staff yelling "volcano!" has been replaced with some shiny silver paper. Some things are apparently too wild, even for Vegas.
At MGM Grand
On The Las Vegas Strip
8AM to 11PM Daily (Closes At Midnight On Fridays & Saturdays)