Fast Casual Vegan Junk Food Is Now a Thing
Upscale Cantonese in a spacious industrial setting
It's easy to complain about skyrocketing menu prices in Las Vegas, but Mott 32 is one of those restaurants that gets everything right -- food, atmosphere, service, and this is an underrated one: comfort. (Space between tables is considered wasteful real estate in Vegas.) Every dollar adds up, but is well spent for an evening of Cantonese fine dining that comes with an ambitious modern edge. Iberico pork is used frequently, most notably in an appetizer marinated in oyster sauce and topped with yellow mountain honey. But the main event is the Peking Duck, cooked for 12 hours, fired up in a brick oven, and requiring an advance notice of two days. The space combines Asian and industrial design elements with surprises around every corner. Even if you only go as far as the bar, you'll want to investigate the house-made syrups and infusions -- on quick display in a modified Old Fashioned with a subtle sesame flavor.
BBQ by Michael Symon with a killer whiskey list and tons of beer
As the Palms continues to reinvent itself, the culinary options are getting a major upgrade. A strong example is Mabel's by Michael Symon, where traditional BBQ favorites are served in a sleek, modern setting. The meats are cooked 24 hours a day, smoked in cherrywood, applewood, and oakwood. Guests are encouraged to build their own family-style platters with the beef brisket pretty much required as the first pick. Other top choices include pork spare ribs, chicken wings with Alabama-style white sauce, and surprisingly tender pork belly. The sides are designed to complement the BBQ rubs and sauces, from the black pepper in the mac & cheese to the horseradish-topped smoked beets and the crisp coleslaw, which goes with a vinegar base in place of heavy mayo. If you skip the platters, check out the pork belly street tacos or the chopped beef brisket burrito, which could be your new favorite grab-and-go lunch in Vegas. But really, take a seat and stay a while -- if only to check out the extensive draft beer selection and whiskey list.
Roy Choi's LA street food finds a new home in a playful space
There's still some cosmetic work being done outside Eataly, but the slow rollout of the Park MGM finally feels complete. The most recent addition is Best Friend, a new restaurant by Roy Choi that doesn't take itself too seriously, but still feels like an event and an experience. Don't get caught off guard by the liquor store design of the bar by the entrance. You're supposed to loosen up here, even if it's sometimes hard to have a conversation over the DJ in the main dining room. Choi, who made his name with a food truck in LA, applies Koreatown inspiration to almost everything on the menu -- banchan, BBQ prawns, savory hot pots, and, of course, his signature short-rib tacos. Heat and spice are almost everywhere, but the flavors still go down easy. As the name of the place suggests, the idea is to let go, have fun, and leave happy.
Fresh-made pasta and a deep wine list
The Factory Kitchen concept was founded in Los Angeles' downtown arts district in 2013, and now arrives in Las Vegas in a more formal setting -- but with the concrete and art deco design still in place. The menu by Angelo Auriana aims to cover not only the chef's native province of Bergamo, near Milan, but serve as a journey through all regions of Italy. Dishes will be modified throughout the year based on the seasonality of ingredients with a focus on fresh pasta -- handmade at a station in the back of the dining room, cooked quickly, and served immediately. Don't think too hard about planning courses in order. Go with casual sharing instead. So start with a pasta dish if you like (we're partial to the Ligurian-style pesto and almond mandilli), but definitely pay attention to the wine list and the sommelier's pairing recommendations.
Jewish deli menu in a spacious poolside dining room
On the surface, Sadelle's doesn't have the flash and sizzle of other recent Las Vegas openings, but it brings much-welcome mid-level price points for those who don't want to choose between fine dining and fast food every time they're on the Strip. The menu is relatively simple, divided between all-day breakfast and Jewish deli favorites on an elevated scale. You could do the house-made "everything" bagel with 48-hour cured salmon (served on a tower with onions, capers, and other toppings) and stop right there. But you'll want to explore the subtle spiciness of the French Onion soup (with the aforementioned bagels doubling as croutons) and crispy edges of the flash-fried French Toast. Another plus -- the dining room is huge, making it easy to score a seat on the fly, and comes with views of the pool deck and the seasonal botanical garden display.
Intimate and elegant cocktail lounge
Mr. Coco isn't for the masses. Rather, it's a place to escape the masses. This cocktail lounge for the one percent, renovated from a luxury suite at the Palms, is an elegant and upscale retreat, mixing small portions with high prices. All by design. You're paying for quality each time something touches your lips, from the small French, Spanish, and Japanese plates by Chef Steve Benjamin (formerly of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon in Vegas, currently of the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills) to the incredible cocktails by Francesco Lafranconi who founded the concept. A noticeable attention-to-detail is felt in the crystal glassware, imported flatware, ice program, and even the Japanese paper that will be used on upcoming printings of the menu. Two bars share an extensive collection of what will grow to be more than a thousand spirits and the walls feature artwork from the Fertitta family's private collection. The exclusive nature of the venue is felt from the front entrance, only distinguishable by the doorman out front, which leads to an elevator and a light aperitif cocktail immediately placed in your hand.
Worthy BBQ comes to North Las Vegas
We don't like to talk about North Las Vegas much, but Station Casinos is making a serious attempt to up its culinary game with the opening of Beaumont's at Texas Station. The kitchen takes care of the dry rubs on the brisket, pork, and chicken. You choose one of four sauces at the table: sweet Pineapple Bourbon, vinegar-based Carolina, rich Memphis, or spicy Texas. The Doobie scores points for mixing southwest flavors in a Mexican-style wrap while the Bacon & Eggs is a crunchy jalapeno spin on deviled eggs. The twinkie-shaped cornbread serves as dessert all by itself, especially when slathered in cinnamon honey butter, but you'll want to save room for the caramel bourbon peach cobbler with ice cream. The dining room itself adds a fresh, contemporary image to a well-worn casino -- and is perhaps a promising sign of more improvements to come.
Northern Italian fare, rustic dining room, crazy views
Philadelphia's Marc Vetri has ventured west, setting up shop in Las Vegas with a new restaurant on the 56th floor of the Palms. The space, formerly home to Alize, was completely remodeled with brick columns, cobblestones, wood plank floors, and other rustic elements providing a cozy contrast to the striking panoramic views of the Strip through floor-to-ceiling windows. Fortunately, the depth of the menu is just as strong as the scenery, with handmade pastas taking inspiration from Italy's northern regions -- like the butternut squash rotolo with blue cheese and ginger or the chicken and beef-filled ravioli with pancetta, sage, and just a drizzle of butter. No pizzas whatsoever and the lone dish with tomato sauce, seems to only be there as an insurance policy for less adventurous tourists. (Yes, it's spaghetti.) Otherwise, everything is fair game. Even the charcuterie plate, which changes by the day, is a welcome change of pace from everybody else's version. The roasted baby goat is a tempting novelty for a main course, but isn't nearly as rewarding as the mesquite grilled seafood platter. A cheese cart, with six rotating choices from all over Italy, is nice alternative for dessert.
Waterside French dining with deep wine selection and killer cocktails
Marche Bacchus was doing just fine until a car crashed into the front of the restaurant in early 2018. The good news: Nobody got hurt. More good news: It was the perfect excuse to not only completely remodel the entrance, but add a big new bar with a killer Scotch and cocktail program. It complements the wine collection of nearly a thousand labels, which can be bought to go, or brought to your the table for just $10 more. We like the second option better, since it gives you a chance to try the escargot, eggplant terrine, pan-roasted duck breast, and other French-focused menu items by Chef Luciano Pellegrini. Throw in the waterside scenery of Lake Jacqueline and an expansive closed-in patio, and you've got a one-stop-shop for the perfect date night dinner.
Prime beef burgers butchered in-house with awesome wings and draft beer
It's hard to find a new restaurant this year that's over-delivered more than bBd's (styled with the fun capitalization). The name stands for "beers, burgers, and desserts" and it's easily the best thing about the still-in-progress renovations at Palace Station. The lineup of 26 rotating drafts is chosen with more care than most beer halls in town with special attention paid to sours and limited releases, although Miller High Life is also playfully on tap if you want to slum it. As for the burgers, only prime beef is used -- from steer shared with Peter Luger in New York. It's all processed on site in a butcher shop visible from the dining room, along with the duck, lamb, and chicken on the menu. But let's stay focused on the burgers. They're steamed, griddled, or cooked on a woodfired grill, custom-designed to retain the flavor of the smoke. Overlooked in all of this are possibly the best wings in town, fries cooked in chicken fat, and shakes made with house-made soft serve.
A revamped old-school menu and the best views in Vegas
Things are looking up at the Stratosphere these days. Under the direction of new Golden Entertainment Corporate Executive Chef (and recent winner of "Chopped" on the Food Network) Johnny Church, the culinary program is getting a makeover -- and the results are on full display at Top of the World. There's a renewed focus on sourcing like the grass-fed ribeye from Tasmania and cold water Indian Ocean prawns that taste perfect in little more than their own natural saltiness. The restaurant isn't straying far from its classic steakhouse image with old-school dishes like Lobster Thermidor, Maryland-style crab cakes, and even a Baked Alaska for dessert, but everything is prepared with incredible attention to detail. Of course, the restaurant still rotates near the top of the 1,149-foot-tall Stratosphere tower, offering stunning 360-degree views to match the effort and motivation behind the menu.
Small bites featuring a bold, international blend of flavors
Khai Vu knows how to stay busy. In addition to District One and Le Pho, the Vietnamese chef now has Mordeo, a wine bar in Chinatown that doesn't worry about any preconceived notions that come with being in Chinatown. More than 30 seats surround the massive bar that anchors the center of the dining room, while a casual chef's table provides an up-close look at the kitchen team in action. The menu is designed to be a mix of global styles, but anything goes -- including off-menu Pat LaFrieda steak specials. The beet salad really does feel straight from the garden, especially with whole wheat "soil" crumbles in place of croutons, and the lightly torched la tur tastes like brie on crack. However, the true highlights are the light slices of red wattle pig served in crispy rice cloud, Nigerian prawns with lobster roe butter, and fresh-cut iberico slices.
Wynn Las Vegas
Scenic waterside dining with fresh fish and jazz brunch on Sundays
There are a few reasons to love Lakeside. The main draw is the outdoor patio overlooking the scenic Lake of Dreams, an open-air body of water that includes periodic music and light shows throughout the evening. But the real reason to come is the attention-to-detail and execution by Executive Chef David Walzog, which includes one of the best seafood programs on the Strip, including fish direct from Hawaii. If that wasn't enough, Lakeside has now picked up the famous Jazz Brunch from the Wynn Country Club, which closed due to some major new renovations at the resort. It may seem pricey at $68 per person, not including drinks, but that covers a raw seafood bar, dessert bar and as many of the full entrees you'd like, from roasted chicken and mushroom crepes to flat iron steak and everything in between. Throw in live jazz musicians playing ragtime, Dixie and Metallica covers and you can't find a better way to spend a Sunday on the Strip.
Everyone's first choice for dinner in the Fremont East district
The last restaurant by the late Kerry Simon has seen a few changes over the past year. The space has doubled to include a new bar area and Simon's brother Scott was brought in as executive chef. Here's the good news -- Carson Kitchen hasn't lost a step, and if anything, it's better than ever. Longtime favorites like the crispy chicken skins, bacon jam, and butter burger now share space on the menu with new additions like the "Everything Bagel" salmon flatbread and Buffalo "wings" that are actually made of pork. (Don't ask. Just eat.) When the weather cools off, reserve a seat on the upstairs patio.
Farm-to-table Italian in the Downtown Arts District
Esther's Kitchen is fast becoming the go-to restaurant for the growing Downtown Arts District. By sourcing ingredients from local farmers markets, Chef James Trees has put together a fresh and dynamic menu that evolves with the season and is elevated by house-made breads and pastas. Despite drawing big crowds and plenty of buzz, Trees insists on keeping prices reasonable while building loyalty that will likely generate repeat business for years to come. Dinner hours recently expanded to seven days a week, giving you more time to check out recent additions like the ricotta-filled agnolotti with pea pesto or the smoked pork and porcini pappardelle.
Off the Strip
Mexican food reinvented with healthier ingredients and modern style
No sombreros or mariachi bands here. This Mexican restaurant combines latin flavors and carefully sourced ingredients within a stylish dining room that features large windows, tall ceilings and DJs during the weekend. Every bite tastes dynamic and fresh -- especially the braised octopus tacos and the enchiladas served "inside-out' to show off the meat on top. Even the house salsa, made from grilled tomatoes, carry a unique savory quality.
French menu balances the line between casual and fine dining
Michael Mina's latest of four distinct and very different Las Vegas restaurants is more than just French cuisine for big American crowds. The menu is diverse, expertly prepared and served in a lively bistro environment with a helpful staff that won't roll their eyes when you mispronounce the selections on the champagne cart in front of your date.
SLS Las Vegas
A steakhouse with rare depth, inventive dishes, and foie gras cotton candy
In addition to being the best reason to visit the SLS, this José Andrés steakhouse offers the most creative take on a format well represented in Las Vegas. There’s something for everybody with a raw bar, caviar flights, and a diverse array of meat, ranging from wild boar sausage and Buffalo-style bison to a ten-pound suckling pig and three choices of Spanish Style bone-in Ribeye steaks. If you want things to get weird, start off with the foie gras cotton candy.
Modern American cuisine with a Vietnamese influence in the Southwest Valley
It's hard to find a new restaurant that made a bigger splash in 2017. The Black Sheep brings a modern edge to neighborhood dining with an efficient menu that mixes common American flavors with the influence of Chef Jamie Tran's Vietnamese heritage. A loyal team of Strip veterans puts it all together, earning plenty of repeat customers eager to check out an evolving menu that changes based on the availability of seasonal ingredients -- including the cocktails.
Cajun-seasoned steaks and the best spirits list on the Strip
Emeril Lagasse has four restaurants on the Strip but Delmonico is the crown jewel of the celebrity chef’s Vegas empire. The steaks come with a New Orleans-inspired cajun kick and the mixology program is among the best in any Vegas resort, especially for whiskey buffs. Whet your appetite for the main course with the wilted spinach and frisée salad. Topped with a fried poached egg and caramelized pecan bacon, it’s the best version of bacon & eggs you’ll ever taste in your life.
An ultra-exclusive tasting experience in an intimate setting
Consisting of just nine seats at a countertop, é by Jose Andres can be found in an intimate dining room off to the side of Jaleo (a damn good restaurant in its own right). With only two seatings a night at 5:30 or 8:30, reservations can be hard to book but worth the advance planning to score what is literally a golden ticket to enter. Guests are guided through a culinary experience that consists of more than 20 small bites in less than two hours. Ingenuity is the theme with many of the dishes based on gastronomic experimentation. The cotton candy empanadas with foie gras are especially fun. Add a wine or cocktail pairing and just roll with it.
The best steakhouse off the Strip keeps prices low and quality high
The best bang for your buck when it comes to red meat in Las Vegas. The in-house butcher shop near the front door offers a preview of what’s to come with hunks of beef hanging in the window -- perfect for dinner or a treat to take home later. The cuts are always changing and generally range from 25 to 35 bucks, although there are a few exceptions and specials. Request a seat on the second floor patio, where you can look down on Tivoli Village shopping and dining plaza.
Cantonese cuisine in a stylish environment next to a nightclub
Yes, it’s right next to Hakkasan nightclub, however, you won’t find loud music and rowdy patrons, but rather dark hallways twisting around intimate table areas separated by Asian-inspired oak latticing. The focus here is on the kind of Cantonese cuisine that’s isn’t easy to find anyway else, including Chinatown. So relax at your table and order a smoky Negroni to go along with your crispy duck salad and dim sum.
Contemporary dining driven by fresh ingredients
Sick of hearing about restaurants that play fast and loose with the worn out "farm-to-table" phrase? Well, Chef Roy Ellamar pulls off the concept better than anyone on the Strip at Harvest, with a wide-open dining room that mixes a casual energy with fine-dining precision. Freshly picked produce is prepared alongside sustainable seafood and choice cuts of meats from some of the country's top ranches. There's also a surprisingly deep beer selection and a snack wagon serving small bites in the lounge area.
A choice of two restaurants to celebrate one of France's greatest chefs
This spot belongs together with sister restaurant L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon... since they sit side-by-side as the only two dining establishments in the United States by acclaimed French chef Joël Robuchon. The namesake location is a little more fancy, and yes, a little more expensive while L'Atelier is a more casual alternative that proves that eating at a counter can actually enhance the dining experience. Either choice provides carefully crafted seasonal menus and free-flowing Champagne, as well as house-made pastries and desserts.
Vibrant dishes with a combination of Latin and Asian flavors
Ricardo Zarate's Las Vegas restaurant mixes Japanese influences with his already acclaimed Peruvian cuisine. It's a powerful combination of flavors that's almost too ambitious and experimental for its Strip location. Located in a quiet corner of the Grand Canal Shoppes, Once (pronounced on-seh) is a vibrant space where walls of greenery surround communal tables and an eight-seat chef's counter with views of the kitchen in action. Highlights include a charcuterie and cheese board with grilled octopus in the center and an oxtail Bibimbap that combines spicy seasoning and the sweetness of plantains into one unique bite.
A few different ovens to make sure every style of pizza is prepared perfectly
Pizza Rock is one of those rare restaurants that not only tries to be -- but thrives being -- all things to all people. Go with Chicago cracker thin from a gas brick oven or for something a little more fancy, the quail egg white rose potato guanciale from the wood fire oven. A second location can be found at the Green Valley Ranch resort in Henderson, although the original downtown spot stays busy late at night with a to-go window for those wandering home after a night at the bars.
Masterfully prepared French dining in a quiet spot overlooking the Strip
The multi-course tasting menus aren't cheap but they are worth every penny at this Michelin-starred restaurant, the only American eatery owned by France's Guy Savoy. Everything here is only perfectly prepared and expertly served by a team that knows exactly how much time you need between courses, and for a great view, request a table near the window overlooking the intersection of Las Vegas Blvd and Flamingo.
Chinatown favorite brings a modern style to classic Asian flavors
Raku has built a strong reputation as one of the best reasons to visit Chinatown. The Asian-inspired cuisine includes sushi and small bites from the robata grill, ranging from fire-roasted eggplant to the portobello-stuffed chicken. And the steamed foie gras egg custard has won over plenty of fans all by itself. If you crave something cool and different for dessert, sister restaurant Raku Sweets is just a few doors away, offering clever creations like the Mt. Exotic mango cream cake.
An evolving menu that makes good use of seasonal ingredients and a wood-fired oven
Chef Brian Howard's ambitious restaurant represents a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines with an evolving menu that tends to change every three weeks or so. Most of the food, from meats to vegetables, emerge from a wood-fired oven, offering a welcome smoky touch to dishes that range from cheek bone marrow dumplings to lamb neck and even lasagna. Everything is perfect for sharing, including three-tier bento boxes.
French and American fusion in a modern fine dining space
The Mandarin Oriental may have transformed into the Waldorf Astoria, but the property's best dinner destination remains in place. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire is the only US restaurant by the French chef and includes sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows that quietly overlook the Las Vegas Strip from the 23rd floor. The menu of French fusion lives up to the restaurant’s name with new takes on familiar ingredients served in a bright and bold dining room with a four-seat bar ready to serve cocktails to accompany special two- or three-course menus.
High-end sushi, true certified wagyu, and a koi pond... what else do you need?
One of the most stylish places to bring a date in Las Vegas, Mizumi has a beautiful view of an outdoor Koi pond and waterfall. (If you want an especially private and intimate meal, snag the table that sits alone on the water.) While the atmosphere is amazing, the food is even better: the Japanese offerings range from hot robata and teppanyaki meats to fresh sushi and sashimi. While dishes like the miso black cod and Peking duck may seem overly familiar, they are prepared with unique care and elegance. Mizumi is also one of the very few restaurants in the United States to serve certified authentic Kobe beef.
Southern comfort food and the best fried chicken in Vegas
Yardbird gives Southern comfort food a gourmet upgrade, with ridiculously good organic fried chicken brined for 27 hours and served with a honey hot sauce along with cheddar cheese waffles and watermelon. Start things off with a BLT salad made with tender smoked pork belly and finish things up with a peach cobbler that requires a 30-minute advance notice to prepare. If that wasn't enough, four choices of buttermilk biscuits are made fresh each day. As for drinks, keep your attention focused on the diverse bourbon selection and Old Fashioned lineup.
Fresh fish and stellar Greek cuisine with views of the Strip
The place where fine dining, Greek cuisine, and fresh seafood all meet in one place. The bright and elegant dining room sits between the latest catch on display and a glowing view of the Strip through floor-to-ceiling windows. Estiatorio Milos is one of those restaurants where even the small dishes are excellent, including the grilled octopus, a Greek Salad loaded with fresh tomatoes, and the Milos Special of fried zucchini and eggplant. The $29 three-course lunch menu is one of the best deals on the Strip.
Neighborhood dining at its finest with sharp cocktails and a heavy Asian influence
A good example that exceptional dining can be found in Las Vegas away from the Strip and Downtown. The eclectic menu has a heavy Asian influence and was designed by chef and owner Dan Krohmer, who mastered his craft working overseas Japan and on the road with Taylor Swift. Call ahead for Other Mama's seven-course dinner of off-menu items for $70 -- offered on a limited basis Fridays and Saturdays.
Creative French cuisine in a comfortable dining room near the Bellagio fountains
Thanks to an inventive and adventurous menu, this outpost of the famed French restaurant not only outpaced but outlasted the original in New York. With a dining room that overlooks the Bellagio fountains, the atmosphere feels more like an old Vegas supper club, comfortably worn in over the years with a staff that's equal parts knowledgeable and friendly. The presentation of the caviar-topped Maryland crabcake or sunchoke soup will catch your attention immediately, but it's the flavors you'll remember long after the meal has ended.