I don’t generally review 24-hour restaurants. When a place opts to stay open around the clock, it usually has a little something for everyone—making it a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. Basically, they’re boring as all hell. (Note: A special dispensation is granted to the Peppermill.)
So why then am I dedicating this space to Siegel’s 1941, El Cortez’s recently refreshed coffee shop? First, it’s the long-delayed replacement for the beloved Flame Steakhouse. Second, El Cortez is intriguing as it tries to find a balance between an old-school hotel-casino with loyal octogenarian clients and a hangout in the heart of hipster Downtown. But most importantly, there aren’t a hell of a lot of places to eat when you stumble out of a trendy Downtown watering hole in the wee hours of the morning, so Siegel’s will inevitably look tempting after a bar crawl.
I was looking for a nice variety of food that could satisfy El Cortez’s guests as well as Downtown denizens with off-hour munchies. On those grounds, the place succeeds.
That said, my criteria when judging Siegel’s are a bit different. I wasn’t looking for a destination restaurant, or even a restaurant to compete with Downtown’s top eateries. Rather, I was looking for a nice variety of food that could satisfy El Cortez’s guests as well as Downtown denizens with off-hour munchies. And on those grounds, the place succeeds.
Siegel’s 1941 is a tribute to Bugsy Siegel; “1941” refers to the year El Cortez opened. So you’ll find plenty of mob-themed artwork on the walls. The tiled ceiling features vintage lighting fixtures. And the red booths are traditional mob-era chic. The retro vibe also has a modern twist that’s hard to define, but it’s clearly meant to appeal to the neighborhood’s younger clientele. The most important part of the space’s makeover, however, is the floor-to-ceiling windows that make it feel connected to the rest of the casino, as opposed to the tucked-away vibe of its previous incarnation.
Moving on to the food, there is definitely something for everyone. Some breakfast items are available around the clock. There’s a plethora of hearty sandwiches. And the dinner menu includes Italian staples, five seafood entrées, numerous chicken specialties and a nice steak selection.
Let’s start with the dedicated breakfast menu. It goes beyond traditional expectations, thanks to some mildly intriguing omelets (black forest ham and cheese or pork carnitas, anyone?), four types of corned beef hash and Tuscan sunny-side up eggs made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and basil. The problem here is that these dishes are only available from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. So while they’re nice choices if you’re looking for a real breakfast, hungry night owls won’t get to enjoy them.
But have no fear, my late-night friends. The “breakfast anytime” menu offers such post-drinking staples as Belgian buttermilk waffles and steak and eggs. I’ve found both to be pretty solid, although the home fries with the steak and eggs are sadly under seasoned. Ironically, the best breakfast option is only listed on the Day & Night menu, available 11 a.m.-10 p.m. It’s a Monte Cristo sandwich made with ham and a sharper-than-expected Gruyere cheese that stands in wonderful contrast with the light dusting of powdered sugar on the French toast. (You’ll have to ask for maple syrup for dipping.)
As I moved on to more traditional lunch and dinner dishes, I was a bit less impressed, but never terribly disappointed. The Italian offerings are clearly meant for people who aren’t concerned with authenticity.
The meatballs are good, but the marinara they come in is fairly bland. And while the shrimp scampi is packed with garlic (a very good thing in my eyes), it’s far too creamy to serve to anyone’s Italian grandmother. And the rice and spinach that accompanied them were average at best. Among the sandwiches, the Reuben is great, marred only by being served with yellow mustard rather than brown. I was far more impressed with the prime rib, which was a staple at the Flame Steakhouse. A 22-ounce Queen Cut was tender, juicy and surrounded by its own juices, with more jus and horseradish on the side.
Service at Siegel’s has been above and beyond anything I’ve gotten at a 24-hour restaurant in recent memory. The servers have been friendly and attentive, and the food comes out of the kitchen incredibly quickly.
Siegel’s 1941 will never rival its neighbors for a place on Downtown’s “best of” list (unless it’s in the Late Night category). But for hotel guests and anyone else looking for off-hours dining, it certainly hits the spot.
Al’s Menu Picks
- Monte Cristo ($11),
- Roast prime rib ($22 or $28)
- and Schimmel corned beef Reuben ($10.50)
In El Cortez, 792-385-5200. Open 24 hours. Dinner for two $24-$80.