Wood-Grilled Pizza: Pizza or Flatbread?
Secretive supper club at the Palms with smoked prime rib
Michael Symon has already made a big impression with Mabel's BBQ at the Palms, which opened late last year. But walk through the restaurant now and on the other side of a quiet, unassuming door, you'll find Sara's and its art deco dining room with tall mirrored ceilings. The restaurant-within-a-restaurant is marketed as a "meateasy" -- which is a good way to describe a speakeasy with a full dinner menu, but this place gets by on more than gimmicks alone. The prime rib is borderline famous already, smoked in-house by the Mabel's team. Carved on the spot by staff clad in black bow ties and white jackets, it's one of several tableside presentations that help produce a classic supper club vibe without feeling stale. The best surprise on the menu is the fried chicken, brined in truffle salt with vodka to pack in the moisture while retaining a reliable crispy skin.
A modern take on Thai with a stylish dining room and killer, affordable wine list
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, modern plating that makes full use of flowers and microgreens. All served in a stylish dining room, where contemporary and imported Thai furnishings complement each other to full effect. 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. Of course, knowing that Atcharawan first made his name as the sommelier of Lotus of Siam, the wine list is worth a visit alone and is offered at low markups from compelling small producers. There are slightly more whites than reds on the menu, including sweeter Rieslings, which help counter the spiciness found throughout much of the food.
Neighborhood dining designed to be shared on Instagram
Pull out your cell phones and get ready to post pics. Everything at Blume is designed to be Instagrammable, from the wall of plastic flowers and purple mood lighting in the dining room to the colorful plating of Modern American cuisine. A few dishes are odd, including a "pretzel" that tastes more like a truffle and rosemary croissant. Others are home runs. The Bao Bun Garden puts a new take on a familiar Asian dish with pork jowl (not belly or butt) offering a balance the sweet honey soy glaze and pickled cabbage. Steaks are cooked perfectly in just salt and pepper, including a flavorful bone-in filet and a ribeye smoked tableside. Fun cocktails include the Grandmaster, made with vodka, squid ink and coconut foam, and a Manhattan served with caramelized apples and a lit cinnamon stick. Blume still feels like a work in progress, but shows a ton of potential. To keep things interesting, a separate banquet room is being transformed into a lounge with entertainment three nights a week.
New Mexican restaurant is a mix of two old ones
Meet the new Diablo's. Not quite the same as the old Diablo's. When the Park MGM was renovated from the Monte Carlo, Diablo's Cantina (a large two-story Mexican concept) was closed and moved to the Luxor. However it feels a lot more like the restaurant it "replaced" -- T&T: Tacos & Tequila. So what does that mean? The dining room is open and casual -- no roof -- making it an attractive, energetic spot for casino guests walking by. Chef Saul Ortiz overachieves with much of the menu, including an "OMG" cheese blend of Oaxaca, Manchego, and Gouda in the enchiladas, a filet mignon taco, and by itself as fondue. If hot peppers are your thing, one of three fresh-made guacamoles is given an extra kick with Carolina Reaper.
Restaurant within Eataly delivers on steaks and seafood
Manzo, one of two sit-down restaurants inside Eataly along with La Pizza e La Pasta, opened a few months after the grand opening of the Italian food and retail hybrid, but was very much worth the wait. Under the leadership of Eataly Executive Chef Nicole Brisson (who formerly ran the groundbreaking dry-aging program at the late Carnevino), Manzo is a different kind of steakhouse for the Strip. Casual and rustic, yet sophisticated, the dining room welcomes a three-tiered grill as its centerpiece, cooking prime dry-aged cuts over white oak, applewood, and coal. The latter is used for the restaurant's signature Ribeye Appesa. The 40-ounce steak is hung over flames for a slow 45 minutes, developing a nice crust on the outside, almost like a prime rib. Tableside presentations include filleted-on-the-spot branzino, served with braised artichokes and fennel. More than 200 bottles of Italian wine are on standby, but it's also a good idea to try the Bull's Rye, a cocktail made with pancetta-washed six-year Templeton Rye and chocolate bitters.
Red Rock Resort
The combo of sushi and fried chicken is alive and well in Summerlin
There's so much going on with the Blue Ribbon family of restaurants, it's sometimes hard to keep track of what the brand is all about. Blue Ribbon Sushi, which closed at the Cosmopolitan to make way for the plain-old Blue Ribbon (and its general contemporary menu) has finally relocated and is back open in Summerlin at the Red Rock Resort. The light wood furnishings are still in place and so is its identity as a sushi joint that happens to make fried chicken. The signature dish comes in a wings format or as a full entree; fried in egg white and matzo meal for a light crispy skin. Regulars will be happy to know the oxtail fried rice is also still around, made with sushi rice for a subtle sticky sweetness.
Midwest chain localizes itself with Vegas touches
This emerging midwest chain started as a downtown dive bar in Missouri more than 10 years ago and is now expanding west for its first Las Vegas location at the Town Square outdoor shopping plaza. The menu offers few surprises for casual American fare, although the steaks are butchered in-house and special attention is given to the wings with a wide range of sauces. However, there are some noteworthy Vegas-only touches here. The vegan menu (ask for it) is more ambitious and utilizes the awesome Impossible Burger in not only a vegan pretzel cheeseburger, but also in a corn/rice pasta bolognese. The cocktail menu was designed by local whiskey guru Max Solano. Check out the #VegasBorn Manhattan on tap. If you just want to go straight with spirits, there are more than 150 whiskeys available, including Nevada favorites Two Bitch, Smoke Wagon, and Ambros -- the latter a banana-infused whiskey that's also used in a Bananas Foster-inspired dessert.
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.
Intimate space with Spanish tapas, wine, and a cocktail cart
Here's further proof that Chinatown is an expansive neighborhood with room for cuisine that goes far beyond requisite Asian dining. EDO is pronounced "ee-dee-oh," after the phrase "extra day off" as well as Chef Oscar Amador Edo, who takes his experience working in Spain and on the Strip to carry out his own vision with an incredible menu of Spanish-inspired tapas. Imported ingredients are key. Iberico, seafood, cheeses, and even the bread are imported from Europe. A 10-course tasting menu is a great way to go -- and a steal at $45 -- especially for first-timers. (It can also be modified for vegans or specific allergies.) 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.
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.
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 only two of three dining establishments in the United States by late French chef Joël Robuchon. The eponymous location is a little more fancy and, yes, a little more expensive while L'Atelier is a slightly more casual alternative that proves eating at a counter can actually enhance the dining experience. Either choice provides carefully crafted multicourse seasonal menus and free-flowing Champagne, as well as house-made pastries and desserts. Both restaurants offer deceptively intimate, but very different, dining experiences. With everything in good hands under respective executive chefs Christophe De Lellis and Jimmy Lisnard, guests can celebrate Robuchon's legacy with truffled langoustine ravioli, quail stuffed with foie gras, and other signature dishes. Not to mention the best mashed potatoes in Las Vegas.
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.