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Sambalatte at Monte Carlo, Las Vegas

One thing Kathryn and I struggle to find in Las Vegas is a decent cup of coffee. Yes, you can get the paper-cup sludge from one of the Starbucks you pass every fifty yards or so on the Strip, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a carefully prepared espresso drink, served in a real cup that’s designed for the drink I ordered, and a pleasant atmosphere in which to enjoy it. A city the size of Las Vegas should have dozens of such places. This weekend we finally found one called Sambalatte. They apparently have three locations in Las Vegas; we visited the one at Monte Carlo.

At five bucks for a latte, it was definitely overpriced, but otherwise it was the best latte we’ve had in Las Vegas — if that’s not damning something with faint praise. The café had a comfortable seating area with tables or big padded armchairs, if you’re into that sort of thing. It also had an heated outdoor seating area facing the Strip, which is where we would have sipped our coffees if there hadn’t been gale-force winds yesterday morning.

Still, this is Las Vegas, so we noticed most of our fellow patrons were drinking their coffee from paper cups with plastic lids — à la Starbucks — even though they weren’t going anywhere. It was a reminder to me that a trip to Las Vegas can be whatever you choose to make of it. You can lose yourself in a charming, urban European café, or you can get your routine caffeine fix in an industrial, suburban coffee chain, and you can do it in the same place. All that changes is your perception.