Other than a small handful of places I probably need to try, I feel like I’ve probably experienced most of the decent burgers in town at this point and am starting to fish for restaurants that serve an ok burger. Such is the case with Citizens Kitchen & Bar that recently opened in Mandalay Bay. No one has suggested I try their burger, but it’s a venue that pushes their comfort food, and what speaks more to that than a burger? Plus, with the rapidly declining quality of Burger Bar, Mandalay is in desperate need of a good burger. So could this be it?
Taking over the giant old space that was once Red, White and Blue, Citizens was designed by a ‘famous’ design firm for the Light group. The space is huge, and comprised of all hard surfaces; hard floors, hard ceilings, and hard walls. What this equates to is an extremely loud dining experience, even if it’s not that full. The vaulted ceilings, light fixtures and finishes are all cool, but this place is just huge. I would also point out that if you want comfort, do not sit on the incorrectly proportioned backless bar chairs at the bar, and instead get yourself a table. More importantly this place is overpriced; you’ll notice that just about everything on the menu is about $2-3 more than you’d be willing to spend. I had this gripe when I ate at Mandalay’s noodle shop a few weeks ago when my lunch special was an astonishing $18 for a soup and lunch-portioned dish. Apparently the property really likes to take advantage of their massive convention crowds. With everything from breakfasts, salads, burgers, entrees and desserts you can certainly find something you’d like, just expect to pay handsomely for it. Also, they use the words ‘specialty’ and ‘signature’ quite a bit on their menu, but looking around at other people’s dishes and based on my meal this definition seems to be based around providing mediocre, high priced sandwiches.
My classic hamburger was placed in front of me and looked as mediocre as it tasted. The bun was dry and a bit too big, but well-proportioned to the patty. Not sure if you have a choice of cheeses, but when I asked for a cheeseburger I wasn’t offered any options and was given American cheese. The presumably frozen patty had ok char flavor, but was of your extremely generic back yard BBQ variety, and very overcooked at that. But I guess one of this quality shouldn’t be ordered any other way. One small slice of not too fresh tomato didn’t provide much coverage, but I had plenty of pickles, lettuce and red onion at my disposal. Overall this had nothing great going on.
My waffle fries sucked as they always do, and considering the menu gives you the option of skinny fries, potato salad or coleslaw I’m not quite sure why I got these stupid fries. They’re clearly never fresh due to how they’re made, so why bother? Plus, $21 for a burger and iced tea is about $9 more than you should pay for this, even in a casino setting capitalizing on desperate conventioneers. After this awful experience, combined with Burger Bar’s drop off, I can probably now claim that there are no decent burger options south of Tropicana along the Strip until you get much more south away from the casinos. If you’re at Mandalay I would still recommend Burger Bar over this as you get far better quality for the money, but I can’t promise anything there anymore.