Andrea Bennett worked as a magazine editor and writer in New York for years before moving to Las Vegas — a city she already loved after many visits. Covering the city for other publications, she became a familiar figure at red-carpet openings and a year ago she took the helm of Vegas magazine. She shares some thoughts on what puts the sizzle in the Sin City’s shopping, dining, and cultural scenes.

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Q: How long have you lived in Las Vegas? How long have you been the editor-in-chief of Vegas magazine?
A: I have lived in Las Vegas for four years, but I’ve loved it since the moment I first set eyes on Circus Circus in the late 70s… and I’ve looked for excuses to be here ever since. When I was asked to be editor-in-chief of Vegas magazine a year ago, how could I say no? With the economy on the rebound, restaurants springing up, hotel development at a brisk pace, and a burgeoning fashion scene, it’s an exciting place to be.

Q: What neighborhoods beyond the Strip interest you?
A: Downtown has been promising a revitalization for years; now it’s on. Stitch Factory is an incubator for emerging designers that has paired with Zappos to produce a Las Vegas Fashion Week runway show in the Downtown Container Park – a cool outdoor mall made completely of shipping containers. I love Coterie, which is as much hangout as it is a mecca for indie and hard-to-find denim brands in a former payday loan shop (just look for the big “Check Cashing” sign).

Q: What has surprised you most about Vegas’s shopping scene?
A: Where only a few years ago, shopping was something people did to pass time while their other halves were at the tables, Vegas has become a major destination for people who come exclusively to shop. We even have major fashion houses bypassing New York for Vegas; Givenchy recently opened its first US flagship in Wynn. Designers love to create capsule collections just for Vegas (expect bling). And this being Vegas, shopping is an experience: there’s a transcendent permanent James Turrell installation in the Louis Vuitton store in The Shops at Crystals; a “secret” museum in the Rolex store at Wynn; and not just one, but two “Trevi Fountains” on the Strip – one in the Fendi store at Crystals and another in the Forum Shops at Caesars.

Q: Can you recommend some favorite restaurants for travelers headed to Vegas?
A: You’ll see just about everyone who’s anyone at Country Club at Wynn, at the end of a long hallway, with an incredible view over the Wynn golf course and its waterfall. I always order the smashed avocado stack with jicama and chile-lime vinaigrette, and a side order of parmesan-truffle potato crisps (I’m not that virtuous!). I love to check out the jewelry at Bellusso at The Shoppes at Palazzo, and my regular Venetian/Palazzo routine has just been shaken up now that Daniel Boulud is back in Vegas, with his brasseries at the adjoining Venetian. My dream shopping day includes his sea bass with fava beans and lobster glace. Some of the best – and most sedate – people-watching on the Strip can be done from the patio at NM Café inside Neiman Marcus at Fashion Show Mall, with their terrific mezze platter and a friend to share it.

Photo: Justin Brown