Food & Drink

Leave the Strip: The Definitive Guide to Downtown Las Vegas' Best Restaurants

Published On 11/18/2015 Published On 11/18/2015

It’s time to skip the Strip. In addition to being the place to track down that winking neon cowboy, Downtown Vegas is also home to an explosion of new restaurants, that, alongside a few well-worn favorites, are serving up some of the best food in Sin City. Here’s a look at the joints you need to check out in between tipping dollar bills to the oddball performers on Fremont St.

Brian Mannasmith

Therapy

Fremont East District

A former dollar store that was gutted out and renovated, Therapy is one of the best spots to bring a date or group of friends. Most of the plates are designed for sharing, especially the "In the Gnudi" baked ricotta with honey and almonds, which may be the best appetizer you’ll find Downtown. On the weekends, the restaurant turns into a lounge with DJs and live entertainment, but if you just want to chill by the bar, there’s more than 40 craft beers to keep you busy.

Courtesy of Oscar's Steakhouse

Oscar’s Steakhouse

The Plaza

Named after former mayor and mob attorney Oscar Goodman, the restaurant’s full name is “Oscar’s Beef, Booze & Broads,” which shows that once you’re done running for office, you can be as politically incorrect as you want to be. Most people show up for the dry martinis and aged steaks cooked over a 600-degree grill, but don’t overlook Johnny Quinn’s crab cake, made with fresh lump crabmeat and no filler. The iconic glass dome that surrounds the main dining room offers a great view of Fremont St and was featured in the movie Casino.  

Chris Wessling

Carson Kitchen

Carson Ave

The loss of Kerry Simon was felt especially hard in Las Vegas, but his final restaurant is one of the strongest additions to the late chef’s legacy. Carson Kitchen remains the standard by which all other Downtown restaurants are judged and is usually the first dining choice for people who don’t often visit Downtown. Whether you grab a seat indoors or upstairs on the rooftop patio, know that the restaurant is in good hands. Recent additions like the alligator gumbo flatbread, wild boar Sloppy Joe, and bone-in pork belly show that Carson Kitchen isn’t just resting on its reputation, but making a point to stay competitive with the other new dining spots popping up around it.

Courtesy of Perch

The Perch

Downtown Container Park

If you’re showing out-of-towners around Vegas, chances are you’re making a stop at the Container Park. Yes, it’s a tourist trap, but the landscape of renovated shipping containers also features the second-floor Perch as its first sit-down restaurant. The weekend brunch is among the best in the area with a cappuccino brioche French toast, sticky-sweet monkey bread, and your choice of $15 bottomless mimosas, Bloody Marys, or bellinis.

Courtesy of Triple George Grill

Triple George Grill

Downtown 3rd Block

A neighborhood spot that prides itself for being a power-lunch destination for dudes in suits, Triple George Grill features three distinct dining rooms, including high booths around the main bar that are perfect for some privacy for comparing off-white business cards. The menu features everything from pasta to pork chops but your first visit isn’t complete without the porcini-crusted ribeye. And if you need a conversation piece to impress whoever it is across the table from you, the name of the restaurant is an homage to the original three owners.  

La Comida

La Comida

Fremont East District

Walk around the corner from Commonwealth, look for the 9ft neon monkey hanging from the roof, and head down the alley and through a side entrance for a modern twist on traditional Mexican food. With more than 100 selections to choose from, there is more tequila than seats in the restaurant, making it the perfect spot to sip on a margarita while figuring out which of the three salsas goes best with your chips and savoring the puerco ahumado (smoked pork).

Courtesy of Public Us

PublicUs

Fremont East District

It’s on an area of Fremont St that people tend to avoid (and it’s easy to miss while driving by), yet PublicUs is drawing in more and more fans by the day, including a Downtown lunch crowd looking for something new. The adventurous coffee creations are the big draw, along with the grab-and-go sandwiches, pastries, and salads. The tree passing through your table only adds to the fun while the big, beautiful, and bizarre door to the bathroom may leave you scratching your head about exactly how this thing works.

Courtesy of Glutton

Glutton

Carson Avenue

Despite the name, Glutton is more about execution than portion size, with a good chunk of its menu (from locally sourced veggies to fresh fish and meats) fired up in a wood-burning oven. Chefs Bradley Manchester and Joe Kudrak find a way to mix indulgent fare like the turkey and guanciale meatballs with lighter stuff like the shaved Brussels sprouts and kale salad but never sit still for too long, with an evolving menu that changes with the season. Sneak out the side door for some fresh air and check out the comfortable backyard.

Courtesy of Pizza Rock

Pizza Rock

Downtown 3rd Block

Ask around for the best pizza in Vegas these days, and you’ll likely hear Pizza Rock come up more than any other answer. Award-winning pizza mastermind Tony Gemignani has invaded Las Vegas with a menu so diverse, it requires four different ovens to make it all. From a prosciutto & pear gourmet pie with goat cheese and arugula to a margherita carefully prepared with a perfectly charred crust, there’s really something for everyone. Sit down next to the giant big-rig truck inside the dining room or grab a slice on the way home from the late-night to-go window.

Anthony Mair

Itsy Bitsy: Ramen & Whiskey

The Ogden

Located on the ground floor of a condo highrise, Itsy Bitsy is a fun and lively spot to bring your friends, but isn’t as loud and hectic as some of the Fremont East watering holes around the corner. Aside from the house-made ramen, most of the food is Asian-inspired small bites, including robata skewers, pot stickers, and Japanese hand rolls that come wrapped in color-coded rice paper. All great options when sampling more than a dozen whiskeys from around the world.  

May Harris

VegeNation

Carson Ave

After working at a number of restaurants in New York and on the Strip, Chef Donald Lemperle has come up with a strictly vegan restaurant that will appeal to meat lovers as much as hippies and hipsters. The menu is globally inspired with a 100% plant-based take on everything from tacos and pizza to sushi and pho. Even the restaurant itself is eco-friendly with furniture made out of reclaimed wood, a plant-covered wall, and numerous herbs growing on the patio. Get here for breakfast in the AM, when free coffee comes with your meal.

Le Thai

Le Thai

Fremont East District

Just finished up a long night at the bars and have a craving for heavy, delicious Thai food that you can shovel into your mouth? There’s a place for that. Le Thai has been a late-night dining spot for years, with regulars raving about the pad Thai, chicken satay, and three-color curry. And if you’re wondering what those three colors are... they’re red, green, and yellow.

Courtesy of Mundo

Mundo

World Market Center

Mexican food is not just about tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. Mundo emphasizes the flavors of the Yucatan peninsula, featuring fresh citrus, exotic spices, and BBQ-style pit cooking. European and Caribbean influences can also be found in the region, leading to a distinct matching of flavors, including tamales that you won’t find anywhere else in Mexico. The menu offers three versions, with glazed shrimp, short rib, and pulled chicken.

Courtesy of Vic & Anthony’s

Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse

Golden Nugget

The first location was founded in Houston but this steakhouse offers an old-school atmosphere that fits in perfectly with vintage Vegas. Fans stuck around through the tough times of the recession not only for the prime steaks and extensive wine list, but also the maple-glazed quail and jumbo lump crab cake. This place was also offering lobster mac & cheese way before the trend took off.

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Rob Kachelriess will eat Downtown, on the Strip, or wherever parking is free. Follow him on Twitter: @rkachelriess.

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1. Therapy 518 E Fremont St, Las Vegas , NV 89101

This industrial chic restaurant's three word credo "Savor, sip, and share" informs its menu of trendy, New American eats. Located Downtown in a buzzy, bi-level space, Therapy is a great place to bring a group. Plates like chicken and red velvet waffle sliders, crispy fried pig ears, and oxtail empanadas pair well with an extensive cocktail list, and, oh, house-made sangria.

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2. Oscar’s 1 South Main Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (Downtown)

The folks behind Oscar's deliver on their promise of "beef, booze, and broads" with a spicy, flame-charred spilotro steak, a wide range of cocktails, and, indeed, broads who roam the room and check on you during your meal. And while the concept may seem old-fashioned, the digs are contemporary and feature stunning views of the strip, golden chandeliers, and a completely glassed-in space that makes you feel like you're dining inside the world's largest snow globe.

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3. Carson Kitchen 124 S 6th St Ste 100, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (Downtown)

This Downtown rooftop bar has quite possibly the best appetizer menu in Vegas-- shareable plates like veal meatballs, short rib sliders, crispy chicken skins, and deviled eggs topped with caviar are all on order. If that weren't enticing enough, Carson Kitchen offers a well curated selection of cocktails and regularly hosts live bands on their swanky outdoor patio.

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4. The Perch 707 Fremont St #2170, Las Vegas, NV 89101

This may be a tourist trap, but it is totally worth visiting at least once. You'll regret not stopping by.

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5. Triple George Grill 201 N 3rd St, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (Downtown)

Triple George Grill's got private booths that feel like studio apartments, giving their old-school digs a spacious feel. Rocking one of the most distinctive steaks in Vegas -- the Porcini Crusted Ribeye made with a sweet and spicy mushroom rub -- TGG brings classic cuts of meat to the next level.

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6. La Comida 106 S 6th St, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (Off Strip)

Not only does LC have 100 different tequilas, they've also got a $235 flight wtih Gran Patron Bordeaux, Don Julio REAL, and Herradura Seleccion Suprema. Pair that with delicious & authentic eats, and you're golden.

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7. PublicUs 1126 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (Downtown)

This coffee bar, bakery, and restaurant takes its name from the Latin word meaning "for the people" and serves food all day, ending in a happy hour from 9 pm until close. Full of reclaimed wood and industrial settings, this is a modern space that still retains the cozy feel of a coffeehouse. Table service is available, and the family-style seating (long, shared tables) means you may end up making new friends at this local's favorite spot. With unique coffee drinks made from their own special roast and a full list of wine and local beer this Downtown Vegas spot serves up New American cuisine worth detouring off the Strip for.

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8. Glutton 616 E Carson Ave Ste 110, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Showcasing locally-sourced produce, house-made pasta, and seafood from the Pacific Northwest, Glutton reinvents comfort food with adventurous entrees (brown butter gnocchi—braised pork cheeks, soy, sage, pine nut gremolata) and traditional dishes (roasted chicken hash, peaches and cream Belgian waffle, and spicy pork rinds).

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9. Pizza Rock Las Vegas 201 N 3rd Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (Downtown)

This brick-walled pizza joint, Pizza Rock, boasts an extensive menu of gourmet pies, speciality cocktails, plus a plethora of delicious desserts. There are four different kinds of ovens making a wide range of pizzas that include Sicilian, thin-crust Chicago, and New York/New Haven. The casual and hip venue also has arcade games and regular DJ sets.

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10. Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whiskey The Ogden, 150, Las Vegas Blvd N, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Three steps. Endless possibilites. Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whiskey is known for its create-your-own ramen bowls, which allow customers to chose their type of noodle, broth, and toppings. This Japanese-style tavern also supplies tapas, craft beer, and, of course, an assortment of whiskey.

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11. VegeNation 616 E Carson Ave Ste 120, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (Downtown)

Two core values are at the heart of VegeNation: 100% plant-based ingredients, and a big interest in the local community of Las Vegas. This vegan eatery tries to source as much as possible from the surrounding desert environs -- the interior of the restaurant is flush with vibrant fauna, décor which doubles as an actual herb garden used by the kitchen. The menu is influenced by nondenominational street food, boasting standout dishes like the “Save the Tuna” mock sushi and the “Muchos Gracias,” a sweet potato quesadilla with savory chipotle crema. Combined with the list of craft beers from Sin City breweries and a regular line-up of live music, it's a Downtown destination.

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12. Le Thai 523 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101

Nestled in between the bars of the Fremont East district, Le Thai has long been a late night dining destination but if you show up earlier in the day, the lunch special is the way to go: you get a choice of eight popular dishes along with a non-alcoholic drink for just under ten bucks from 11am-3pm.

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13. Mundo 495 S Grand Central Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89106

Head here for some of the best Mexican food that Las Vegas has to offer.

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14. Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse 129 Fremont St, Las Vegas, NV 89101 (Strip)

The prime midwest grain-fed steaks are perfectly cooked, but if you want to take a break from the steak, go with the Fried Lobster Mac & Cheese.

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