It’s ironic that nowadays the best thing about Sin City, other than its topless pools (obviously), are its restaurants, but no city in America has so many great chefs working in so small a place, or so many great restaurants. But what separates those places from the kind of eating establishments that leave a mark for years to come? Check out our list of the 17 most important restaurants in Las Vegas to find out...
Applebee's Serving New Dollar Hurricanes to Kick Off Mardi Gras
Downtown Summerlin Andiron has only been open a few months but it’s tough to find a better steakhouse west of the Strip. With a menu that covers a lot of ground, from perfectly cooked, grass-fed filets to an addictive Mac & Cheese Waffle, Andiron instantly makes Downtown Summerlin more than just an outdoor shopping mall, and stands out among an impressive collection of destination food spots like Public School 702, Crave, and Gelato Messina.
MGM Grand The namesake Joël Robuchon restaurant next door may be the “nicer” and more upscale (and yes, more expensive) choice of the two, but L’Atelier is the one that took the more impressive risk. It proved that you can provide a high-end fine-dining experience within a casual atmosphere, with interactive kitchen-side seating at the counter that’s more fun than sitting at a table.
The Cromwell She’s cute, famous, and cooks a mean dish of pasta. So Giada De Laurentiis could open her very first restaurant literally anywhere in the world and get away with it. Not only did she choose Las Vegas, but she also managed to snag possibly the most in-demand real estate in the busiest part of the Strip, and become one of the best reasons to visit The Cromwell hotel and casino.
SLS Las Vegas Let’s be generous: the north end of the Strip is (and will be for a while) a work in progress. So the SLS is holding down the fort as the newest and most contemporary resort in the area. At least until its surroundings catch up to it. That’s why Bazaar Meat by José Andrés is so important, drawing adventurous customers from around the valley who are eager to pull up a seat at the meat bar and order some foie gras cotton candy alongside an oak wood-fired bone-in ribeye.
Off the Strip It’s not in a fancy hotel, it’s not in a casino, and it’s not in a hip part of town. But Lotus of Siam earned a nationwide reputation simply for the quality of its Thai food and a deep, yet affordable wine list. Think of it as the perfect excuse to venture off the Strip... and eat dinner at a strip mall.
The Bellagio Chef Julian Serrano’s French-Spanish cuisine is inspired by the two countries where Pablo Picasso spent much of his life. With a few of his original paintings on the wall, the food has to live up to masterpiece status, while being the flagship fine-dining spot at what many view as the most luxurious hotel in Vegas.
Chinatown There’s a lot to choose from in Chinatown, but Roku has been satisfying crowds for years with its robata charcoal grill and small plate selection. It’s the main draw in a cozy square that includes other impressive restaurants like Monta and Kabuto, as well as the dessert-focused offshoot Sweets Raku.
Mandalay Bay Hubert Keller was a little ahead of the game, opening up this upscale-for-what-it-is joint before the spread of the gourmet burger trend. It’s still one of the best reasons to eat a burger on the Strip, whether it’s made with beef, buffalo, lamb, turkey, or vegetarian ingredients.
Caesars Palace The only US restaurant from Chef Guy Savoy beats out the fine-dining competition with perfectly prepared French cuisine as well as exceptional customer service, without the long waits between courses that you might find at other high-end places. It’s also one of the few restaurants in the world with a Krug Chef's Table, offering an interactive view of the kitchen along with a specialized 13-course seasonal Champagne-pairing menu.
Downtown Kerry Simon’s latest venture came at just the right time to fill a much-neglected void for a contemporary casual spot in the Downtown area. It also instantly expanded the boundaries of the Fremont East District to Carson Ave while continuing to be the the standard by which all new Downtown restaurants (like the recently opened Glutton and Itsy Bitsy) will be judged by.
Mandalay Bay There’s no better advocate for sustainable fishing and ocean conservation than Rick Moonen, who left New York 10 years ago to open RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay. With fish carefully selected and flown in daily, it’s hard to find a more satisfying option for seafood, whether you’re in the middle of the desert or not. A sister restaurant, Rx Boiler Room, can be found upstairs on the second floor.
Wynn Encore A night at the club isn’t complete without a visit to a lively and social warm-up restaurant first. Andrea’s rides the line between fine dining and casual while being just steps away from two prime nightlife destinations, XS and Surrender (which is right off the patio). Try skipping the wine and go with some recently introduced sake-pairing options on the Asian-inspired menu.
Caesars Palace Rao’s in New York has a notoriously long wait for reservations to the point it’s ridiculous. The Las Vegas version is an exact replica of the Harlem original, making it possibly the most valuable import to arrive on the Strip, satisfying a demand that begins on the other side of the country.
Off the Strip Piero’s is more than a signature staple of vintage Las Vegas and a shooting location for the movie Casino. It’s been serving up the perfect plate of scaloppine milanese while drawing everyone from local power brokers to former US presidents and members of the Rat Pack over the past three decades.
MGM Grand Yeah, it’s Emeril, but this was the first of his four Las Vegas restaurants, it has been around for 20 years, and it not only helped set the stage for the onslaught of celebrity chefs to come, but was also one of the first places in town to deliver directly sourced, high-quality seafood, sustainably.
Downtown Sandwiched between Pizza Rock and Hogs & Heifers, the Triple George Grill prides itself on being the go-to spot for a business lunch Downtown, as well as the perfect place to grab a porcini-crusted ribeye. It’s been around for years and serves as the symbolic bridge between the old-school Fremont St area and the more modern Downtown 3rd block.
Downtown PublicUs is “important” in much in the same way a magazine will name next year’s hottest recording artists at the end of this one. PublicUs has a modest menu of breakfast and lunch bites alongside a creative coffee selection, but it’s building a strong word of mouth reputation in an area that most Downtown visitors would usually avoid. It gives you a peek into the future of what’s in store for Fremont St, where a string of restaurants, bars, and shops stretches from Las Vegas Blvd all the way to Maryland Pkwy.
Sign up here for our daily Vegas email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.