Carson Kitchen

John Courtney

Simon Hospitality Group

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John Courtney faces high expectations in his current role. As culinary director for the Simon Hospitality Group, he carries on the legacy of late celebrity chef Kerry Simon -- primarily as manager and executive chef for Carson Kitchen. He also helped shape one of the best new restaurants of the year -- Standard & Pour -- from the ground up in a joint venture with Titan Brands -- and there's some consulting work here and there for affiliated restaurants outside Vegas. Amazingly, Courtney got into the culinary business relatively late in the game. He originally planned to be a banker.

Portofino

Michael LaPlaca

Portofino

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This guy is always up for a challenge. A few years ago, Michael LaPlaca was brought in to revive the Onda Italian restaurant at the Mirage. His improvements to the menu were so dramatically good, the casino's management team decided they might as well give the place a whole new name and Portofino was born. Earlier this year, LaPlaca was given the additional task of revamping the Mirage's burger joint into LVB Burgers & Bar. The result is an ultra-creative menu with possibly the best burgers on the Strip and some awesomely boozy milkshakes.

Other Mama

Dan Krohmer

Other Mama

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At one point, Dan Krohmer got burned out on the restaurant grind, so he went on the road and made food for Metallica, Taylor Swift, and other big music acts.

Rob Kachelriess/Thrillist

Khai Vu

District One

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"At District One, we are a lot more Southeast Asian-inspired, where we get to play with different ideas and different types of cuisine and over at Le Pho, we do more authentic food -- but with a modern twist."

Rob Kachelriess/Thrillist

Matthew Piekarski

Hexx

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Hexx is the only single-origin chocolate producer in the state of Nevada. So what does that really mean?

Harvest

Roy Ellamar

Harvest

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You hear the phrase "farm to table" quite a bit these days, but Harvest at the Bellagio takes the philosophy far more seriously than most -- while offering a modern image that is a perfect fit for the Vegas Strip.

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1. Portofino 3400 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (Strip)

An alum of other Strip spots like Bouchon and Alex, Chef Michael LaPlaca brings his coastal Italian cuisine to the Mirage Resort & Casino with romantic Portofino, where he uses ingredients imported from Italy to create modern takes on traditional dishes, such as crab cake arancini and meatballs topped with cheese-stuffed squash blossoms. The Tuscan-influenced restaurant hand-crafts its pasta, too, which you can try in plates like pork-cheek ravioli and ripatelli with wild-boar bolognese. LaPlaca even keeps his gluten-free customers in mind with a separate menu of pasta made from arborio rice flour.

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2. LVB Burgers & Bar 3400 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (Strip)

A veritable Sin City staple, The Mirage is an essential stop for anyone visiting Las Vegas -- especially if you’re craving burgers. The casino is home to LVB Burgers & Bar, a “walk-ins only” spot with craft burgers and beers at an affordable price (which, considering all the money you’ve likely lost on slots at this point, is important). For those who can take the heat, consider trying the K.I.K. Burger (also called the “Kick in the Kisser”). With pickled jalapeño, a fried egg, avocado, melted pepper jack cheese and Sriracha aioli, it’s certainly not for the faint of taste buds -- but then there’s also killer milkshakes of the virgin or boozy variety to wash it down and cool you off (pro tip: get the “Apple Rye À La Mode”. You can thank us later).

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3. Other Mama 3655 S Durango Dr Ste 6, Las Vegas, NV 89147

Other Mama should be all the reason you need to head to Spring Valley, where this homey spot is serving an Asian-inspired menu of seafood specialties like sushi, ceviche, and oysters, plus inventive libations with house-infused spirits. Cool and casual without the frenzy of Downtown, it offers creations like a sashimi salad with thyme and honey, and a scallop carpaccio with blood orange and fennel. While the dishes are fresh and edgy, the cocktails are named after what could be your grandmother's closest group of friends, such as Shelby (bourbon, lemon, maple gastrique, mint), Ingrid (vodka, triple sec, strawberry balsamic shrub, cava), and Bea (cachaca, Drambuie, grapefruit, Aleppo-honey syrup, grapefruit bitters).

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4. District One Kitchen & Bar 3400 S Jones Blvd Ste B, Las Vegas, NV 89146

LV’s District One Kitchen and Bar is named for Ho Chi Minh City’s District One, the city’s epicenter of dining and entertainment. The flavors on the menu are as diverse and vibrant as the district itself; Chef Khai Vu transcends Vietnamese cuisine and incorporates Thai, Chinese, Japanese, and American influences onto a menu of appetizers, rice bowls, seafood, and noodle soup. Spring rolls gently tuck plump shrimp and tender pork into a crispy fried wonton enclosure, while fish tacos combine yellowtail sashimi and avocado with cilantro, cherry tomato, and Serrano pepper for a crowd favorite that would be unexpected at any other Vietnamese restaurant.

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5. Le Pho 353 E Bonneville Ave #115, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Located on the ground floor of the Juhl residential building, Le Pho serves authentic Vietnamese cuisine, including vermicelli bowls, vietnamese crepes, and ginger chicken. In spite of a traditional menu, the space is design-neutral, with hanging lights, a long wooden counter, and plenty of ceramic four-tops parsed around the long, creatively divided room.

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6. Hexx 3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Open 24 hours a day, Hexx Kitchen & Bar in the Paris Hotel is a destination for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late-night snacks, and cocktails. The menu airs on the side of comfort: breakfast comes in varieties of healthy (maple Greek yogurt parfait), savory (bacon and egg pizza with scrambled eggs and mozzarella cheese), and sugary (cinnaroll waffle with cream cheese frosting, cinnamon, and sugar), while dinner globetrots from the Mediterranean to the South, with dishes like tagliatelle shrimp scampi and spicy jambalaya. If you’re feeling particularly indulgent, you’ll want to order the Colossal Bloody Mary, formulated with basil-infused vodka, jumbo shrimp, Alaskan king crab, bacon, beef stick, peppers, and pickled vegetables, all served in a mini pitcher. As if Hexx needed to further impress, it offers a tour of its state of the art chocolate-making exhibition kitchen that churns out small batches of gourmet cocoa.

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7. Beer Park 3655 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109 (Strip)

Budweiser's Beer Park on the Strip at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino offers picturesque views of the city from their 10,000 square foot rooftop beer garden. Come by to catch a game on one of the many flatscreens and shoot some pool, prepare yourself for the beer menu that features 100+ national and international brews (re: Bud Light's not the only option). They also serve up smorgasbord of American ball park delicacies and high-end backyard BBQ-style foods like soft pretzels, Mac & Cheese Egg Rolls, burgers, and even oven roasted salmon. Check the calendar to find out when they host international DJs and bands.

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8. Harvest by Roy Ellamar The Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, NV 89109

Harvest by Roy Ellamar in the Bellagio Hotel offers sustainably minded, upscale American fare. The menu is divided into sections of "Garden," "Ocean," "Ranch," “Stone Oven,” and “Rotisserie,” which feature rustic plates like marinated pole beans from California’s Pommer Farms, flatbread with roast pork, smoked ham, apricots, local goat cheese, and honey mustard, and an 18oz dry-aged bone-in rib eye with béarnaise and red wine sauce. Apart from the grainy wooden walls and floors throughout, Harvest’s décor is strikingly modern, with tall glass windows into the kitchen and granite accents.