Where to Eat in Las Vegas Right Now
Let’s get this out of the way -- the Las Vegas dining scene isn’t functioning at full speed right now. Due to COVID-19, restaurants were forced to shut down, rely on takeout and delivery for a few months (if they remained open at all), and then return to in-house dining with restrictions in place and uncertainty in the air. Most places are operating with scaled-down menus and socially distanced seating. All employees are required to wear masks and customers are expected to cover up their faces as well -- at least when walking through the door or using the bathroom. It's not an easy time for anyone.
With this in mind, we want to draw your attention to a few new restaurants doing great things while having the unfortunate luck to start up in the middle of a pandemic and economic downturn. Those picks are followed by other favorites that opened within the last five years. It’s not an all-encompassing list of classic Vegas dining spots, but it will give you a good snapshot of the restaurants stepping up in a new and very different era.
The Legends Oyster Bar & Grill
The gist: If COVID-19 wasn't such a disruption, a lot more people would be talking about this place. Executive Chef Jack Jarukasem, who worked his way up through the ranks with Caesars Entertainment, is carrying out his own vision with a menu that focuses heavily on seafood, served in a cool, aquatic-themed dining room with raw bar.
The food: The original plan to prominently feature oysters, raw scallops, and chilled shellfish had to take a back seat to hot food that traveled well during the shift to takeout orders. Highlights include a crab and lobster pan roast in a creamy tomato sauce, deconstructed gumbo, and a Louisiana-style seafood boil. Jarukasem balances his creativity with flavorful takes on familiar dishes, including lightly fried calamari and New England clam chowder.
The cost: Appetizers are $5-12 and entrees are $15-27.
How to order: Call 702-476-8887 to reserve a table or places a takeout or delivery order
Bugsy & Meyer's Steakhouse
The gist: Remember when everything this year was going to be about the new roaring ’20s? Well, Bugsy & Meyer’s is on theme. As a steakhouse named after mobsters who opened the Flamingo, it includes a bakery “storefront,” allowing guests to sneak in and walk past the kitchen Goodfellas-style to reach the dining room. There's even a speakeasy in the back.
The food: Head Chef Lamar Moore, who won a competition on the Food Network to get the gig, spearheads the retro menu. Bone-in cuts are dry-aged in-house for 60 days, although it's hard to resist the tenderness of the Mishima Ranch Wagyu Rib Cap. A seafood tower is a popular appetizer, but the calories are better spent on The Cadillac (a separated shellfish cocktail of lobster, shrimp, and crab) and the prime beef tartare mixed with a tart foie gras aioli. Tableside Old Fashioneds are on hold, but the bartenders can mix up just about anything.
The cost: Appetizers are $12-28, steaks and entrees range from $34-140, and cocktails are $14-30 and wine is $13-40.
How to order: Make a reservation on OpenTable
Johnny C's Diner
The gist: Imagine a classic American diner with dishes made with the best ingredients and preparation possible. You’ve got Johnny C’s Diner, a new concept by Vegas chef Johnny Church, who’s already built up plenty of goodwill working at top restaurants on and off the Strip.
The food: Familiar breakfast and lunch staples are given a fresh makeover. A good example is the Cuban sandwich, made with hand-carved ham and pork that’s marinated for 24-hours and cooked over white oak. Salads are prepared with ingredients straight from the chef’s personal garden. Ask about Randall’s Biscuits, based on an old recipe said to be so good, Union and Confederate soldiers fought over it during a Civil War battle.
The cost: Soups, salads, and appetizers are $4-14. Burgers and sandwiches are $10-14.
How to order: Open for dine-in service or available for takeout and delivery on ChowNow
The food: Mellinger covers all the bases when it comes to Island cuisine, making sure it’s done right with fresh fish, house-made sauces, and other carefully sourced ingredients (like Hawaiian Sun Noodles). Nosh down on a sweet-and-savory Hui Hui Chicken, tangy pork sliders, or a simple order of spam and eggs. The chef is even ready to blend up protein shakes for those working out at the gym next door.
The cost: Breakfast ranges from $4.95-15.95 and lunch and dinner dishes are $8.95-25.95.
How to order: Open for dine-service or you can order takeout through SpotOn
Mountain West Eatery
The gist: Mountain West Eatery mixes “Chicago-style” BBQ, Southern flavors, and family hospitality. Rick Ruff opened the restaurant with wife Jenilyn on Blue Diamond Road near Mountain’s Edge and Southern Highlands with a menu based on his mother’s personal recipes.
The food: Ruff says Chicago-style BBQ is all about having a firm, moist texture -- not fall off the bone. Some of the other dishes, however, have a clear Southern influence, including the shrimp and grits, traditional gumbo, and a Ghost French Toast sandwich stuffed with fried fish. But it’s the smoked meats that make their way into the sandwiches, salads, and breakfast scrambles. Lunch and dinner plates come with a corn muffin and two sides.
The cost: Appetizers are $7.49-14.99, lunch and dinner plates range from $9.99-15.99.
How to order: Open for dine-in service or call 702-844-8313 to order takeout
The gist: Jimmy Lin had one of our favorite Chinatown restaurants with Niu Gu, but the chef moved on to a brighter, bigger space in Shanghai Taste. The spot stands out as one of the few homegrown concepts in Shanghai Plaza, a new shopping destination heavy on Asian chains.
The food: The signature xiao long bao -- or soup dumplings -- mix pork and crab fillings with a flavorful broth, and quickly became a popular hit with about 2,000 pieces served a day before the pandemic. A wok-seared version -- sheng jian -- has a crispy bottom and mild flavor that pairs well with slippery, translucent bean noodles in a spicy beef curry soup. Try the traditional pork spare ribs served in small nugget-like pieces. Just put down the chopsticks and chew the meat right off the bone.
The cost: Bites range from $3.95-14.85.
How to order: Call 702-570-6363 to make reservations or place a takeout or delivery order
Mayfair Supper Club
The food: Just like the performances, the menu aims to be a people pleaser with chilled shellfish, upscale sushi rolls, caviar, and steaks sharing real estate on the menu. The old-school tableside presentations are fun, especially a slow-roasted Mashima prime rib that pairs well with a glazed honeynut squash side dish topped with pumpkin seeds, mint, and parmesan.
The cost: Cocktails are $21-35, apps push $30, steaks begin at $64, and even the burger is $34.
How to order: Open for dine-in service, make a reservation online
The gist: Inspired by Chef Marc Marone’s visits to Singapore hawker markets and his own affection for the New York-style Chinese takeout he grew up on, Graffiti Bao works equally well as takeout or served in the intimate ’80s pop culture-influenced strip mall dining room.
The food: Graffiti Bao’s prices are so low that it’s easy to mix and match spring rolls, scallion pancakes, and other appetizers. The popular, lightly seared bao buns come in six options, including a seasonal dessert. Wok-tossed entrees allow beef, chicken, pork, prawns, and tofu to be prepared in familiar combinations, including kung pao, mandarin, or spicy Szechuan style. The Singapore ramen is served with the broth on the side, so you can add as you go.
The cost: Small bites range from $3.88-8.88. Entrees are $8.88-23.88.
How to order: Open for dine-in service, call 702-323-6033 for curbside pickup and you’ll receive 10% off your order
The food: No matter how you order, each bite is based on carefully sourced ingredients and delicate preparation -- seen to full effect in fresh seafood rolled into sushi just seconds before entering your mouth, lightly seared certified Kobe beef, and a lobster sashimi served outside its shell with caviar and gold flakes. Even the hotpots feel like something special.
The cost: Individual plates run anywhere from $3-75 with authentic Japanese Wagyu and live seafood at market prices. Omakase is $195 per person, kaiseki is $350 per person.
How to order: Make reservations by calling 702-771-0122 or through OpenTable
The gist: La Strega (Italian for “the witch”) features cuisine inspired by Chef Gina Marinelli’s affection for the varied regions of Italy. The hardest part is choosing between two distinctively different dining rooms: one is dark and seductive and the other bright and open with a full view of the kitchen.
The food: Flavors are front and center, and never overwhelmed by house-made sauces. Welcome touches include the vibrant pop of preserved lemon in the linguini and clams, salty caper berries in the Caesar salad, earthy dandelions in the pesto bucatini, and the subtle sweetness of honey in the flatbread crust.
The cost: Starters are $7-27, pizza and pasta are $7-25, mains are $26-72, cocktails are $12-14, wine is $9-20, and beer is $6.
How to order: Call 702-722-2099 to make a reservation or place a takeout order
The gist: The latest Thai concept by Bank Atcharawan takes the best of his former restaurants -- the traditional dishes of Chada Thai and the street flavors of Chada Street -- and blends them together in Lamaii. The name translates to “delicate,” which carries through in Lamaii's minimalist plating that makes full use of flowers and microgreens.
The food: Dishes are served in a stylish dining room, where contemporary and imported Thai furnishings complement each other. Fans will be eager to see old favorites, like the fried duck and crispy beef salad, but also new creations like a beautiful steak tartare flavored with lime and fish sauce with Isaan-inspired spices. Atcharawan first made his name as the sommelier of Lotus of Siam, so the wine list is worth a visit alone.
The cost: Small plates are $7-22, mains are $14-25, cocktails are $12-16, and wine is $9-12
How to order: Make reservations through Resy
The gist: Don’t let the strip mall location fool you. Partage is something special in Las Vegas. The stylish but casual restaurant makes French fine dining accessible in both price and atmosphere without sacrificing quality or presentation. Ask about the chef’s table, which seats 4-6 people and has front-row views of the kitchen in action.
The food: Dishes are available individually or as five, seven, or nine-course tasting menus, which generally change every two weeks. Signature items include braised oxtail from Chef Yuri Szarzewski’s family recipe, duck breast layered with foie gras, and scallops with a sesame and herb crust. An 18-ounce smoked ribeye and fresh whole fish are both presented tableside while a nori ravioli with cashew cheese leads a surprisingly strong lineup of vegan options.
The cost: Multi-course tasting menus are $50-100 per person with optional wine pairings, cocktails are $14-16, and glasses of wine are $12-25.
How to order: Make reservations on OpenTable
Edo Gastro Tapas And Wine
The gist: EDO is pronounced “ee-dee-oh,” named after the phrase "extra day off” and Chef Oscar Amador Edo, who takes his experience working in Spain and on the Strip to carry out a personal vision with an incredible menu of Spanish-inspired tapas.
The food: Iberico, seafood, cheeses, and even the bread are imported from Europe. A 10-course tasting menu is a great way to go, especially for first-timers. The team has fun with a few of the presentations, including the applewood-smoked reveal of the salmon crostini and the five-minute sand timer that lets you know when the time is right to take that first bite of paella.
The cost: Appetizers are $3.75-17, entrees are $17-29, tasting menu is $60 per person, specialty gin & tonics and other cocktails are $12-16, and wine by the glass is $7-29.
How to order: Make your reservations through Yelp
The gist: Esther’s Kitchen has firmly established itself as the signature restaurant for the fast-growing Downtown Arts District. By sourcing ingredients from local farmers’ markets, Chef James Trees has put together a fresh and dynamic menu of Italian-focused dishes that evolve with the season.
The food: Any meal begins with the fresh-baked sourdough bread, which comes with a full lineup of dips and toppings. (Get the anchovy butter.) Dishes are ideal for sharing, including fresh-made pastas paired with flavorful ingredients instead of heavy sauces and crunchy pizzas prepared with Trees’ own distinctive dough recipe. Even the ice cream is made in house with seasonal influences.
The cost: Pizzas are $14-17, pastas and entrees are anywhere from $11-64, beers are $3-8, and cocktails and glasses of wine are kept to $9-10.
How to order: Make reservations on Esther’s website
The Black Sheep
The gist: The intimate restaurant brings a modern edge to neighborhood dining with dishes that mix common American flavors with the influence of Chef Jamie Tran’s Vietnamese heritage. The menu evolves based on the seasonality of ingredients, including the cocktail list.
The food: Tran has been able to put her stamp on recurring favorites like the salmon skin tacos stuffed with the tender belly of the fish, crunchy and flavorful Vietnamese imperial spring rolls, and spicy bao sliders. Entrees offer more room for experimentation, where herb chicken, short rib, and even a tender lamb belly are given a new spin with Asian flavors.
The cost: Starters are typically $8-15 and entrees run $18-35.
How to order: Make a reservation on OpenTable
Sparrow + Wolf
The gist: Chef Brian Howard’s ambitious restaurant represents a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines with an evolving menu that never quite sits still. The cocktail program is one of the most underrated in town.
The food: From meats to vegetables, most of the food emerges from a wood-fired oven, offering a welcome smoky touch to dishes that range from check bone marrow dumplings to lamb neck and even lasagna. Everything is perfect for sharing, including three-tier bento boxes.
The cost: Appetizers and vegetable dishes are $5-23, entrees are $15-50, cocktails are $12-14, and wine is $12-17.
How to order: Make a reservation through OpenTable
The gist: A reliable social spot with a wide-open dining room and loft in the Fremont East district, Therapy recently upped its game on New American cuisine with the addition of Aaron Thomas as executive chef.
The food: Regulars will be happy to still see old favorites like the red velvet chicken sliders on the menu, but Thomas has been playing around with some fun ideas: a deconstructed Beef Wellington, a crispy and fresh avocado salad topped with lobster, and a firm ravioli stuffed with corn, honey, goat cheese, and toasted cashews. The chef’s background in European pastry is felt in a new cheesecake-stuffed brandy snap cannoli.
The cost: Appetizers are $13-18, entrees are $20-35, cocktails are $12-13, and wine is $7-20.
How to order: Make reservations on Yelp or order takeout and delivery on Therapy’s website
The gist: One of the last restaurants by Kerry Simon continues to thrive in good hands, carrying on the late chef's original vision of what a dinner might be like in his own private loft. The sharp, industrial space includes a rooftop deck and loose atmosphere, reflected in the vintage rock concert t-shirts worn as uniforms by the staff.
The food: The idea is to put ingredients that aren’t common to the general public -- foie gras, caviar, rabbit, oxtail -- in familiar, approachable vehicles like meatballs, mac and cheese, meatloaf, and flatbreads. Simon’s brother Scott now runs the kitchen, mixing in his own inventive menu updates with old favorites like the bacon jam and crispy chicken skins.
The cost: Appetizers are $9-14, entrees are $14-24, cocktails are around $14, and beer and wine is $5-15.
How to order: Make a reservation through Resy or order takeout through ToastTab