Eating Las Vegas

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Eating Las Vegas
Las Vegas has become a world-class dining destination. New restaurants are opening all the time, with celebrity chefs and unique concepts to draw in both foodies and the merely curious.

By Abby Tegnelia, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International
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    World-Class Japanese Food
    Sumptuous Japanese dishes crafted with fresh ingredients flown in from all over the world is an indulgence diners won't regret. The MGM Grand's Morimoto Las Vegas offers perhaps the most high-end Japanese experience in town. At Yellowtail, order the bigeye tuna pizza with truffle oil and the Popping Spicy Crab Roll made with Pop Rocks. Nobu’s two Strip locations (at the Hard Rock Hotel and Caesars Palace) offer an incredible array of riches, including the delicious tiradito (a Peruvian raw fish dish similar to sashimi and carpaccio). The Wynn’s red-and-gold Mizumi wins for decor and waterfall views, and its menu features a surf-and-turf roll with Wagyu tenderloin and Maine lobster. In the Cosmopolitan, check out Zuma's sushi offerings.
    Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International
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    The Strip's Best Steaks
    The Strip remains the place for bachelor parties, so it’s no surprise that the steak house is still king here. Beef lovers should head straight to Mario Batali’s Carnevino, where the Riserva steaks have been aged up to eight months. (Call ahead for a reservation.) Patrons can also order any of Carnevino's dry-aged cuts at the restaurant's nearby meat locker. The high-end Gordon Ramsay Steak pairs delicious meats with unique takes on standard side dishes such as a loaded baked potato with smoked-Gouda beĢchamel and sriracha-roasted broccoli. SW Steakhouse at the Wynn, Jean Georges at Aria, Prime at Bellagio, Cut at the Palazzo, and T-Bones at Red Rock Casino Resort & Spa also are great for carnivores. For a different spin on steak, try raw meat at Bazaar Meat by José Andrés.
    Photo courtesy of The Palazzo Las Vegas
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    Italian Indulgence
    Maybe it’s something left over from the mob days. Maybe it just goes well with Las Vegas's reputation for indulgence. Whatever the reason, Vegas loves its Italian food. The new kid on the block is Carbone, an old-school-style restaurant that prides itself on service. Frank Sr. and his son Frankie (Pellegrino) opened an outpost of their popular East Harlem restaurant, Rao's, in Caesars Palace. The menu includes homemade pastas such as pear-and-ricotta "purses" with brown butter and cranberries, seafood salads, and osso buco. Veranda, at the Four Seasons, is known for its just-made-pasta dishes and an alfresco brunch with an Italian focus. Carnevino has an impressive selection of antipasti and pasta; Costa di Mare specializes in the freshest seafood; and Ferraro’s features traditional bites from Calabria and Tuscany.
    Photo courtesy of Rao's Restaurant Group
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    The New Vegas Buffet
    Today’s buffets are a far cry from those of yesteryear, but the idea is the same: To keep guests on-property, hotels try to eliminate the need to leave the building—and more importantly, the casino—in search of food. These days, expect delicious bites such as homemade tortillas and dim sum at Bacchanal in Caesars Palace; shrimp ceviche (and a macaroni-and-cheese station!) at the Cosmopolitan's Wicked Spoon; seafood potpies and vegan bowls at Wynn Buffet; and French specialties like custom-made crepes at the Paris's Le Village. Caesars Entertainment, the parent company of Caesars Palace, Bally's, Flamingo, and Planet Hollywood, offers the Buffet of Buffets, which lets you dine at any of eight buffets in a 24-hour period.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Eat, and Drink in History
    Las Vegas celebrates its mob history at a few beloved restaurants. One of the newest is Oscar’s in the historic Plaza Hotel, which sports an enormous circular dining room that's decorated in Vegas memorabilia and overlooks Fremont Street. Named after the former mob attorney who served as Las Vegas's mayor until 2011, the restaurant is well-known for its signature martinis. Two old-school watering holes still in business are the Italian joint Piero’s, near the Las Vegas Convention Center, and Golden Steer, north of Circus Circus. At Golden Steer, pick your booth when you make your reservation—there are tables named for the celebrated Rat Pack regulars like Sammy Davis, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. Sin City's legendary relationship with nuclear testing is part of the story at Atomic Liquors, a dive bar around since the 1950s, when customers used to reputedly observe mushroom clouds from the roof.
    Photo by Abby Tegnelia
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    Food on the Go
    If you’ve run out of time for a gourmet feast, or sitting down to a three-hour meal isn’t your thing, there's no shortage of great grab-and-go fare in Vegas. Luv-It Frozen Custard lets you take the cold to go (try the Western). Lovers of French food can stroll through the Paris picking up anything from crepes to french fries. Pizza is (of course) available from Secret Pizza in the Cosmopolitan, and New York–New York boasts Nathan’s Famous hot dogs and crinkle-cut fries. Head to the Bellagio for dessert at Café Gelato or the famous Jean Philippe Patisserie. Off the Strip, check out the vegan donuts at Ronald's Donuts in Chinatown.
    Photo courtesy of Darrin Bush/Las Vegas News Bureau
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    Comfort Food for the Body and Soul
    When soaking up last night’s overindulgence becomes a necessity, make a beeline to Culinary Dropout at the Hard Rock Hotel. The star of the menu is the pretzel bites with fondue, which can cure anything from a hangover to a bad mood. Other highlights include grilled-cheese sliders, the turkey pastrami sandwich, crispy fried chicken, and Cap’n Crunch–crusted French toast. Pizza Rock's specialty is clear from its name, and the pies on offer here feature a thick and chewy crust—the very stuff of comfort food. Todd English’s P.U.B. serves English fare such as duck buns and "dirty" fries. Or head to the infamous Peppermill (open 24 hours) and check out the largest portions in town, no matter whether you order breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For health-conscious comfort food, try Della's Kitchen inside the Delano Las Vegas.
    Photo by Abby Tegnelia
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    Happy Hours, Good Times
    Happy hours (and reverse happy hours—ones that start after about 10 p.m.) are one of Vegas’s best-kept secrets. Belly up to the bar at Herbs & Rye, where happy hour brings discounts on hand-crafted cocktails and half-price steaks. Hit up Hearthstone, out in Summerlin, for drink specials and wood-fired pizza, or Fizz, inside Caesars Palace, for bottomless champagne. Try the cocktails at the Dorsey inside the Venetian, or head to Fashion Show Mall and check out El Segundo Sol. If you're inside the Forum Shops in Caesars, both Trevi and Sushi Roku have happy-hour offerings to put a smile on your face.
    Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International
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    Take a Culinary Trip off the Strip
    Foodies spend a lot of time in Vegas on the Strip, but there are some good reasons to wander away from it. The two most popular off-Strip culinary destinations are Raku and Lotus of Siam, both located in nondescript little malls. Raku serves inventive Japanese to Strip chefs who come here after work, and Lotus of Siam is a destination spot for locals. Marché Bacchus is a French bistro out in Summerlin, on a gorgeous man-made lake. Another Summerlin eatery worth visiting (especially for brunch): Honey Salt. A certain type of meat lover swears that Hank’s, on the east side, offers the best steak in all of Vegas, and the martinis there are legendary. Ask for the Sinatra (not on the menu), which uses chocolate and banana flavoring.
    Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International
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    Beloved Mexican Restaurants
    Some of the Strip’s most beloved restaurants are Mexican. Start with Border Grill at Mandalay Bay or at the Forum Shops. Weekend brunch here plays with tapas-style servings, and all the seafood is sustainably harvested. At Aria, Javier’s Restaurant offers some of the highest-quality tequila, plus fresh ceviche and entrées that are a blend of various regional Mexican styles. Pink Taco at the Hard Rock Hotel has a menu full of delicious Mexican fare, including lobster tacos and amazing guacamole. Casual joints such as Chayo, at the Linq Promenade, are popular, too.
    Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts International