THE PLACE: Rosie’s Cafe at John Ascuaga’s Nugget is your typical, old-school casino coffee shop. It’s on the main level off the casino floor.
THE LOOK: The place looks a little worn out, but there are plenty of booths, tables and a counter for dining solo. There’s a dessert case in front filled with enormous pastries, including a cupcake with an Oreo on top. The cupcake was so big, the Oreo looked small. During the week, the crowd is more retired casino guests than professionals on a lunch break, but it’s nice to get away from the world of work. You won’t have to say hello to the familiar faces you’ll see at trendier lunch spots. If you don’t want people to gossip about some deal you have cooking, you’d be safe here.
THE MEAL: Casino coffee shops usually know how to get it done. Rosie’s Cafe runs well. The servers are efficient and the bus staff is quick with drink refills and extra napkins.
On a recent Wednesday, my sister and I grab lunch. I try the Awful-Awful burger, rationalizing I might as well go big. Served at the Nugget for five decades, the double cheeseburger is a feast just like the menu promises, and tastier than burgers I’ve paid twice as much for at fancier places. At $6.95 and served with a heap of shoestring fries, the burger is big enough for two people to split. I end up leaving more than half even after giving my sister a few bites.
She opts for the basket of English fish and chips, deciding that when in Rome — or, in this case, a casino coffee shop — it seems out of place to order a vegetarian wrap, although they do have a Nugget veggie wrap. The fish and chips come with a side salad, and she leaves full and pleased. The batter on the fish is light and tasty. It is served with steak fries.
KUDOS: Marlene, the hostess, is really pleasant. She gives a compliment to almost everyone who comes in. When my sister and I sit down, she says we are so good looking the Nugget should pay us to eat there. It is a great way to start any meal. The food is solid. It’s not fine dining, but it’s tasty and cheap.
QUIBBLES: It’s not an easy place to get to for a quick meal, so it’s an odd choice for dining unless you’re at the Nugget for something else. If you park in the garage, you have a little hike to get to the restaurant. Also, you have to trek through the casino, which is a bit smoky during a recent visit.
ALTERNATIVES: If you want variety at bargain prices, Rosie’s is a great spot. Almost everything is less than $10, including most of the dinner entrees. Items such as fried chicken, ranch-hand stew and liver and onions are all less than $10. The menu also serves breakfast all day and includes Mexican entrees like chile relleno and fajitas.
RETURN TRIP?: The next time I’m having a tough day, I’m heading to Rosie’s for an Awful-Awful, a chocolate shake and a compliment from Marlene.