James Trees helped put the Arts District on the culinary map with Esther's Kitchen, but continues to mix things up with the input of chef de cuisine Stephen Lee. Check out the brunch menu for a juicy chicken-fried steak (plump and tender instead of flattened) with eggs and a hefty chive and fontina biscuit. The pancakes are thick and fluffy with pecans and a bruleed banana, while harissa lamb sausage gives the breakfast pizza a burst of North African flavor. The restaurant recently brought back its backyard dining tents and is getting ready to move into a larger next-door space later this year. Trees is also planning to add cinnamon buns injected with house-made nutella and orange marmalade in the near future.
How to order: Make a reservation online with options to select patio, pods, or the main dining room.
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to call Esther's Kitchen one of the most influential restaurants in Las Vegas. Since opening in early 2018, James Trees' signature concept proved that destination dining could thrive off the Strip with affordable prices and ingredients sourced from local farmers markets. It also helped accelerate the growth of the Arts District. A climate-controlled room is dedicated to hand-making the restaurant's staples: artisan breads and pasta. The former arrives with a serving of addictive anchovy butter. The latter in a series of evolving recipes that change with the season, along with an engaging wine and cocktails list that doesn't break the bank. Esther's Kitchen is named in honor of Trees' late great aunt who financed his way through school.
How to book: Book a reservation on the restaurant's website.
It may not be a “pizza place,” per se, but chef James Trees’ seasonal Italian restaurant in the Downtown Las Vegas Arts District is known for its naturally leavened pizzas as much for its from-scratch pastas and housemade sourdough bread. The approach here is farm-to-table fresh and seasonal, and while there are a LOT of outstanding menu items that will compete for your attention here, it’s worth ordering a pizza for the table to share—the wild mushroom pizza with garlic panna, taleggio, mozzarella, and garlic spinach is a real standout. They also have a brunch pizza with lamb merguez, pomodoro, chorizo, fontina, and quail eggs that is *chef’s kiss.* The pizzas here also fall under the “Neapolitan” category, though Chef James took the pandemic as an opportunity to further tweak their dough so now it’s just a bit crispier than the traditionally doughy Neapolitan crust.
How to order: Dine-in only; reservations available on their website.