With about 150,000 people descending on Las Vegas for the International CES, it’s time for the savviest attendees to secure restaurant reservations for those all-important power lunches and schmooze dinners. This year’s dining suggestions come courtesy of our new friends at Lonely Planet, who produce the smartest insider travel guides in the world. Presented here, their take on the tables worth seeking out.
Casino hotels make up the backbone of the Vegas economy, so it’s no surprise that most of the city’s restaurants are inside them. Every one has a 24-hour café, a fast-food court, a buffet and at least a couple of restaurants. The Strip’s eateries could be fodder for an entire guidebook; here are some favorites, but there are many, many more.
ON THE CENTER STRIP
3595 Las Vegas Blvd South; mains $25-45;5:30-11 p.m.; monorail Bally’s &Paris
Often overlooked, the Coast nevertheless has two top-flight dining rooms:
A style elevates this subterranean dining space, designed by ex-movie producer Victor Drai, into a paparazzi-worthy place, complete with its own private elevator. Contemporary updates of classic fare — such as seven-hour leg of lamb or a blackened ahi tuna steak — don’t always fulfill the promise of the sexy lounge decor with bordello-red walls and leopard-skin prints. After hours, Drai’s morphs into a DJ haunt.
Lavished with the Barbary Coast’s signature Tiffany-styled stained glass, this petite dining room is old Vegas at its most rococo — and oh, will you ever pay for it (just cast an eye over the wine list). À la carte delicacies include chateaubriand, Maine lobster and rack of lamb. Reservations are essential; jackets are required for men.
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South;5pm-midnight Sun.-Thu.,5 p.m.- 2 a.m.Fri. & Sat.; monorail Bally’s &Paris
A culinary stable of haute cuisine features several James Beard Award winners. Click to www.bellagio.com or call (877)234-6358 for table bookings; reservations are required. Note children aged 5 to 18 are allowed at only some of the Bellagio’s restaurants.
A more casual option for light meals is Jean-Philippe Patisserie or pig out at The Buffet.
(702)693-8150; casino level, lunch mains $12-29, dinner mains $28-50; lunch Wed.-Sun., dinner daily
From the people who brought you Le Cirque, this whimsical, big top–inspired osteria overlooks the dancing fountains of LakeComo. Rustic yet complex handmade pasta and secondi, such as Tuscan stew or honey-glazed duck with semolina gnocchi, perform well alongside an international cellar of 500 wines.
(702)693-8400; www.fixlasvegas.com; casino level
A vibrant and warm — no, make that cutting-edge and hot — space for watching celebs and the casino floor. A three-course Pre ‘O’ Fix menu ($40) might bring forth such goodies as roasted tomato soup with a grilled-cheese sandwich, chicken with smoked mash, and choco-java ‘shake & cake’ for dessert. Or just have a quick cocktail and gourmet Kobe beef sliders topped with aged cheddar and some spicy fries.
(702)693-8100; casino level, three-course prix fixe menu $95; dinner
A legendary name from New York City, Le Cirque pairs artful haute cuisine with world-class wines in a joyous, intimate lakeside setting, all under a silk-tented ceiling. Among the signature dishes are foie gras terrine, roasted truffle-skin chicken and roasted duck with Tasmanian honey. Jacket and tie are preferred for men.
(702)693-8100; near the conservatory; mains $36-72, six-course tasting menu $110 (vegetarian $85); dinner
For impeccably fresh seafood, don’t miss Michael Mina, the new incarnation of Aqua. An adventurous fusion menu whispers of hamachi parfait or Maine lobster pot pie with black truffles. Sadly, nothing could ever measure up to the sky-high prices, and the crowded room is too close to the crushing conservatory crowds. Mina’s Seablue at the MGM Grand is a more value-conscious choice.
(702)693-8181; www.toddenglish.com; Via Bellagio; lunch $16-23, dinner mains $25-46;11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
East Coast chef Todd English dishes up homage to the life-giving fruit. Flatbread pizzas, house-made pastas and flame-licked meats get top billing. The chef’s trademark farm table faces the open kitchen while patio tables overlook the fountains of LakeComo. With a good wine list and flamboyant desserts, it’s always packed — come for lunch, but even then, you’ll need reservations.
(702)693-7223; Via Bellagio, four-course prix fixe $90-100;6-9:30 p.m.Wed.-Mon.
Five-star chef Julian Serrano delivers artistic Franco-Iberian fusion in a museum-like setting. Original masterpieces by Picasso don’t overshadow indulgent entrées like the signature sautéed fallow deer medallions or seafood boudin. Vaulted ceilings and exposed wood beams create an impressive feel. Linger on the patio over a digestif. Reservations are essential but difficult; jacket and tie are suggested for men.
(702)693-7223; Via Bellagio; dishes $25-50; dinner
Downstairs by Picasso (above), this luxurious chop house has a few precious stylistic nods to 1930s speakeasies, with gilt chandeliers and plush velvet curtains. Indulgent dishes reveal ginger sweet potatoes, veal chops with kumquat-pineapple chutney and Maine lobster with braised artichokes. A bold wine list is dominated by Californian and French reds. Jackets for men are preferred.
(702)693-7223; past Via Fiore shops,SpaTower; lunch $16-25, dinner mains $23-40; lunch and dinner
A beautiful spot tucked away back by the Bellagio’s new spa tower, here the minimalist architecture complements a harmonious menu of seafood and pastas with Asian and Italian influences. After dinner, the fantastic sorbets, gelatos and chocolate confections of Jean-Philippe Patisserie are just around the corner.
(702)693-7223; casino level; mains $25-50, teppanyaki $35-85;5:30-10 p.m.
There’s a bit of everything here: premium sake and Japanese beer, sublime sushi, teppanyaki (tabletop live-action BBQ grills) and tea ceremony–influenced kaiseki tasting menus, all artfully presented. Don’t miss the kaleidoscopic jellyfish aquarium banks behind the sushi bar.
CaesarsPalace,3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Reservations at www.caesarspalace.com or by calling(877)346-4642; monorail Flamingo/Caesars Palace
For a quick, tasty bite, swing by Cypress Street Marketplace.
(877)346-4642; mains $27-39, chef’s tasting menu $79;5-11 p.m.
Chef Jean-Marie Josselin dials Hawaii (area code “eight-oh-eight”) daily on the coconut wireless to procure the raw goods that fuel this tropical-island delight. In a creative mingling of French, Mediterranean, Indian and Pacific Rim elements, the new-wave bento box of trademark appetizers is revered, but don’t neglect the “deconstructed” ahi roll with avocado, crab ceviche and white truffle dressing. Tastes of the tropics appear in desserts such as lilikoi (passion fruit) cheesecake and lemongrass ice cream.
(877)346-4642; opposite Colosseum; dinner; mains $41-52;5-11 p.m.
With gourmet farm-fresh fare, this kitchen excels. This San FranciscoBay area chef’s eponymous restaurant is one of the few in Las Vegas where the famous name actually slaves over the stoves, instead of governing his restaurant from afar. Cascading waterfalls and torch lights demarcate a soothing space away from the casino buzz. Almost all of the nouveau takes on classics, like market-fresh salads, blue-cheese soufflés, Florida red snapper and fried frog legs, are available on the more sensibly priced lunch menu. Service is sometimes unpolished.
(702)737-9700; www.wolfgangpuck.com; opposite FAO Schwarz, Forum Shops; lunch $9-15, dinner mains $30-40;11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.Sun-Thu,11:30 a.m.-11p.m.Fri & Sat
Peripatetic chef Wolfgang Puck scores again, this time with signature Eurasian fusion served in a chic Far East setting. Pair the firecracker shrimp with a premium glass of cold sake. It’s a better deal at lunch. Happy hour is 5p.m. to 7p.m. daily, except Saturday.
(877)346-4642; opposite the Colosseum; lunch mains $13-20, dinner mains $25-45; lunch Mon-Fri, brunch10:30 a.m.-3.p.m. Sat & Sun, dinner daily
Bobby Flay’s bold new endeavor lives up to the hype. While the star New York chef doesn’t cook on the premises, his signature menu of Southwestern fusion fare is spicy and satisfying. Whether it’s a sweet potato tamale with crushed pecan butter, blue corn pancakes or spice-rubbed pork tenderloin, this Iron Chef’s Vegas grill is an iron-clad value.
(877)346-4642; mains $20-30; dinner Tue-Sat
Rustic, well-prepared northern Italian fare, such as rigatoni carbonara, wood-fired pizzas and winter-squash ravioli with roasted walnuts, are all served in a delicious poolside setting. The plush lounge usually has live jazz Tuesday to Thursday nights.
3663 Las Vegas Blvd S, monorail Bally’s &Paris
At press time, dining faves still inside the Aladdin casino hotel, now owned by Planet Hollywood, included the Spice Market Buffet. But the hottest culinary action is inside the adjacent shopping mall, Desert Passage.
(702)892-8272; breakfast $6-12, three-course brunch $36, dinner mains $25-40; 9-11 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sat. & Sun., dinner from 5:30 p.m. daily
Not quite the same as the 19th-century N’awlins original, but, knowing that more than three dozen original staff moved across the Mississippi expressly to work here, you can rest assured that the Brennan family, which owns both restaurants, takes food seriously. Turtle soup au sherry, pecan-crusted catfish and shrimp rémoulade are on the divine menu, and a live Dixieland jazz band turns up for Sunday brunch. Breakfast beignets and weekday lunch specials are unbeatable.
Todai Japanese Seafood Buffet
(702)892-0021; enter offHarmon Ave.; lunch $15, dinner $26, discounts for children;11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.,5:30-9:30 p.m.Sun.-Thu.,5:30-10 p.m.Fri.-Sun.
Patronize this all-you-can-gorge 160-foot spread of Japanese, Chinese and Korean fare featuring dozens of sushi selections and Asian salads. Lobster, shellfish and crab legs are added to the mix at dinnertime. The desserts rock.
Fashion Show Mall
3200 Las Vegas Blvd South
At the north end of the Center Strip, the off-the-beaten-path restaurants at this spruced-up shopping mall are sitting pretty now that Wynn has finally opened across the way.
(702)258-1211; street level, tapas $5-8, paella $8-15;11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.Sun.-Thu.,11:30 p.m.-midnightFri. & Sat.
An outpost of the renowned Chicago restaurant, this alluring Spanish tapas bar and bistro has attentive servers who present paellas for two, brochetas (meat and seafood skewers) and a parade of authentic hot and cold tapas like patatas aioli (garlic potatoes), spicy gambas (shrimp) and imported artisan cheeses. Uniquely flavored sangrias and bite-sized dessert tapas tempt you to linger.
Capital Grille Map
(702)932-6631; 3rd level, mains $30-40; lunch Mon.-Fri., dinner daily
What sets this clubby chain steakhouse apart is hand-cut, dry-aged beef, carved chops and succulent seafood. For a kicky power lunch, fork into a tenderloin Caesar salad or lobster-crab burger. Two-dozen wines are available by the glass, with more than 400 new- and old-world vintages stocking the shelves, which garnered a nod from Wine Spectator.
(702)697-7340; 2nd level, Nieman Marcus,dishes $12-16;11 a.m.-6 p.m.Mon.-Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun
This contemporary café at Neiman Marcus department store, which has outdoor terrace tables above the Strip. A menu of light fare tastes bicoastal, with club sandwiches and calamari salad, but the Middle Eastern and Asian fusion appetizers are far tastier.
(702)696-0008; www.rasushi.com; street level, sushi $1.50-14, lunch $6.50-9.50, dinner mains $9-18;11 a.m.-midnight, bar to2 a.m.
A raucous, sceney spot with Strip-side seating and ambient DJ music. Come for the creative taste concoctions, such as wasabi mash or apple-teriyaki salmon; all sound fun, but few are notable. It’s not for raw-fish connoisseurs, though the short sake list hits happy notes. Bento boxed lunches are served until 3 p.m.
3475 Las Vegas Blvd S, monorail Harrah’s/ImperialPalace
Buffalo wings, quesadillas, salads and sandwiches cost $10 or less in the alfresco Carnaval Court, on the south side of the casino.
(702)369-5084,(800)392-9002; 2nd floor, mains $25-55, sides $6; dinner
A standby favorite with an older gamblers crowd, this chophouse has wraparound windows overlooking the sea of humanity on the Strip below. Design your own surf-and-turf specials with seafood surprises including Kumamoto oysters and lobster strudel in ginger-citrus-butter sauce. Live lounge acts croon on weekends.
3400 Las Vegas Blvd S; tram to TI (formerlyTreasure Island)
Make reservations for the Mirage’s top-end restaurants online at www.mirage.com or by calling (866)339-4566. Cravings, a buffet, is noteworthy. Also, look for Stack, a high-concept restaurant by the team behind Fix.
(702)791-7111; casino level, mains $27-48;5:30-11 p.m.
Chef Todd English’s powerhouse dining room shares almost none of the signature items from his more popular Olives over at the Bellagio. Onda emphasizes elegant renditions of Italian American classics, like osso bucco, lasagna and cioppino, which have never tasted quite so fresh before.
Samba Brazilian Steakhouse
(702)791-7111; casino level, mains $28-36, buffet $36; dinner
The spit-roasted meats, poultry and seafood just keep on coming at this tropical- themed rodizio tableside buffet, where a bottomless salad, sweet fried plantains and black beans with rice contribute to the ravenous appeal. À la carte options like chicken and brazil nut soup are also on offer, with wild cocktails like batidas (sugar-cane liquor infused with fruit).
Paris, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd South, monorail Bally’s & Paris
On Le Boulevard shopping arcade, good options also run by the hotel’s top-notch culinary staff of 500 include Le Village Buffet, sweet and savory crepes at La Creperie and pastries at JJ’s Boulangerie and Parisian export Lenôtre. For a divine nosh with a little bubbly, Napoleon’s champagne bar has a complimentary carving station for those imbibing during its happy hour (4-7 p.m.)
Eiffel Tower Restaurant
(702)948-6937; www.eiffeltowerrestaurant.com; 11th floor,EiffelTower, mains $24-51; dinner
The adage about the better the view, the worse the food doesn’t apply here. Views of the Strip and Bellagio’s fountains are as breathtaking as master chef J Joho’s near-perfect contemporary renditions of haute classics like foie gras at this French masterpiece. The tasting menu is recommended, and so is the vast wine list. Reservations are required; dress is business casual.
Mon Ami Gabi
(702)944-4224; www.monamigabilasvegas.com; casino level, dishes $10-29; lunch Sun.-Thu., dinner5-11 p.m.Sun.-Thu.,5 p.m.-midnightFri. & Sat.
Think of a trés charming Champs Élysées bistro. The elevated patio seating in the shadow of the EiffelTower — just about the only Strip-side alfresco dining — is great for people-watching. The steak frites are parfait, or take your pick at the raw seafood bar, grand salads, vegetarian crepes and quiches. A good, reasonable French wine list. No reservations.
3300 Las Vegas Blvd South; tram to Mirage
At the artist formerly known as Treasure Island, even the eating options have had a makeover. When only an endless buffet will sate you, there’s Dishes.
Isla Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar
(702)894-7111; mains $12-30;4-11 p.m., bar11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Modern art enlivens the walls at Isla, invented by Mexican-born chef Richard Sandoval, who serves a fusion of south-of-the-border tastes. You might taste guacamole tweaked with citrus and mint or huitlacoche (corn ‘truffles’) in his mashed potatoes. Be forewarned: the food is apportioned for giants. Calling on Isla’s tequila goddess to help decipher the bounteous menu of agave elixirs is a must.
3355 Las Vegas Blvd South, monorail Harrah’s/ImperialPalace
This mid-Strip bite of Italy is a world-class dining destination. Reservations [(702)414-1000; www.venetian.com] and more formal dress are musts for the fancier places. Casual dining spots include Canyon Ranch Café [(702)414-3600; 4th floor, Grand Canal Shoppes; items $3-18; 7 a.m.-6 p.m.] for healthy spa cuisine and Noodle Asia [(702)414-1000; casino level; mains $10-15; 11 a.m.-3 a.m.] with its steaming late-night bowls of noodles and rice.
(702)414-6200; Venezia Tower, breakfast $8.50-16, lunch & dinner mains $17-32; breakfast 7 a.m.-10:30 a.m. daily, lunch 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sat. & Sun., dinner 5-11 p.m. daily, oyster bar & cocktail lounge 3 p.m.-midnight
From NapaValley’s French Laundry wunderkind, Thomas Keller, comes this rendition of a Lyonnaise bistro, featuring an award-winning menu of seasonal classics. An elegant poolside garden setting complements the oyster bar, the extensive selection of seafood, a super wine list and the classic desserts. It’s the Strip’s most popular breakfast spot du jour.
(702)733-0070; St Mark’s Square,Grand CanalShoppes, mains $12-32;11:30 a.m.-10 p.m., to11 p.m.Fri. & Sat.
A showy exhibition kitchen and sky-high ceilings emphasize the solid northern Italian cooking, especially fresh-baked breads from Il Fornaio bakery. To be safe, stick with signature dishes like porcini risotto and roasted chicken. Aim for a table with a gondola view.
(702)414-3737; www.emerils.com; casino level, mains $30-50; lunch & dinner
Bam! It’s celeb chef Emeril Lagasse’s greatest gourmet hits, as seen on TV. The cuts are ready for prime time and the influences are Creole, as seen in the grilled pork chops with bourbon smashed potatoes. Desserts seem endless, from country peach pie to whiskey crème brûlée and beyond. Big oak doors open into a vault-ceilinged space.
Grand Lux Café
(702)414-3888; casino level, mains $9-30; 24 hours
A sophisticated quick bite for those who are reluctant to stray too far from the gaming tables. Plates of global comfort food (salads, sandwiches, seafood, pastas) are piled high. Even nit-picky eaters will find something toothsome here, and the desserts are fabulous. The ambience is elegant yet casual.
(702)414-2220; mains $28-42;5:30-10:30 p.m., last reservation9:30 p.m.
Impeccable modern renditions of classic gourmet French fare (sautéed foie gras with huckleberry compote) are presented in a sophisticated, austere black-and-white setting. The French and American wine cellar is top-notch, the superb seafood dishes are as sought after as canal-side seats with Strip views. Reservations are required.
(702)414-8888; casino level; lunch $11-18, dinner mains $28-35, tasting menu $65, with wine $90; 7-10 a.m. & 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sat. & Sun., dinner daily
The architectural accents and the kitchen’s copper pots are authentic French imports. Traditionally, a brasserie (derived from the Alsatian word for ‘brewery’) was for beer and the sustenance was cheap. At this star LA eatery, the spotlight shines on gourmet fare. Don’t miss the fresh-shucked shellfish and wine-tasting flights.
(702)796-1110; St Mark’s Square,Grand CanalShoppes, café: lunch & dinner $11-32, dining room: dinner $28-50;11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.
This offshoot of Wolfgang Puck’s San Francisco original features playful original dishes like the lobster club sandwich. Devotees can’t get enough of the creative pizzas and pastas (under $20), rich desserts and a selective, yet reasonable wine list. The umbrella-covered patio tables are designed for people-watching, so skip the interior dining room and sit outside instead.
(702)414-1000;Grand CanalShoppes; most mains $20-45; call for hours
Feng shui principles must have guided the architectural design of this exquisitely appointed Hong Kong–style eatery. Tableside dim sum service utilizes traditional carts, and features Cantonese delicacies like roast duck and “drunken crab.” The full bar stocks sake.
(702)414-3500;Grand CanalShoppes, mains $26-42;11:30 a.m.-midnight
Housemade pasta and seafood specialities prepared with Venetian techniques, such as risotto with lobster and saffron, are highlights. Maestro di cucina Gian Paulo Belloni imports the most authentic ingredients straight from Italy, and his executive chef is Sardinian-born. Handcrafted furnishings accent the dining room. Next door, Tintoretto Bakery (7 a.m.-midnight Mon.-Thu., 7 a.m.-1 a.m. Fri. & Sat.) has rich espresso and biscotti.
3131 Las Vegas Blvd South
For reservations at the Strip’s newest megaresort, click to www.wynnlasvegas.com or call (702) 770-3463 or (888) 320-7110. The elegant Terrace Point Café (mains $8-20; 24 hours) and Sugar and Ice (7 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun.-Thu., 7 a.m.-midnight Fri. & Sat.) are perfect for coffee and pastries, and both are by cool patios.
(702)770-3300; prix fixe menu $110-135, with wine pairings $235; dinner
James Beard Award–winning chef Alessandro Stratta stretches his wings at this haute French restaurant, with high-concept dishes like foie gras ravioli and giant clams with caramelized fennel, sour orange and mint. Some of the most decadent items show Asian influences. No casual attire; jackets are required for men.
Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare
(702)770-3305; mains $30-55; lunch & dinner
Another James Beard Award winner, chef Paul Bartolotta interprets seafood in a Mediterranean style, along with fresh-made pastas, rabbit loin and beef tartar with white truffles. The spiny lobster all’acqua pazza (literally, “crazy water”) is a signature dish.
Daniel Boulud Brasserie
(702)770-3310; mains $27-39; lunch & dinner
From the chef who birthed Manhattan’s Daniel restaurant, all the brasserie classics such as pâté and brochettes are cooked up here, but also some palate-tingling choices like gourmet burgers topped with black truffles and foie gras or pulled pork and jalapeños. At lunch, casual attire is allowed.
(702)770-3320; mains $16-29; dinner
This combination sushi bar, robatayaki and teppanyaki grill overlooks a lagoon. Chicago star chef Takashi Yagahashi has mastered Eurasian twists on Japanese classics, like red miso bouillabaisse or tea-smoked Maine lobster with marinated beets. Go for the daily bento box ($29). Dress is elegant casual.
Red 8 Asian Bistro
(702)770-3380; www.wynnlasvegas.com; mains $13-30;11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
A bustling spot just off the main casino floor where the action never stops. People line up for dishes of roast chicken and pork, bowls of steaming hot noodles or dim sum, all from the vivid mind of Malaysian chef Hisham Johari.
The Monte Carlo is blessed by Andre’s Monte Carlo(702) 798-7151; casino level; mains $24-58; dinner), a branch of the highly esteemed Andre’s. Seek out commoners’ grub at the Monte Carlo Pub & Brewery.
3950 Las Vegas Blvd S; tram to Luxor & Excalibur
For reservations at MandalayBay’s upscale dining rooms (but not at THEhotel, the Four Seasons or in Mandalay Place), click to www.mandalaybay.com/dining or call (877) 632-7800.
The chichi THEhotel puts a SoHo twist on Vegas coffee shops at THEcafé (lobby level; meals $15-30; 24 hours), a chocolate-brown minimalist lounge for people-watching and ravenous night owls.
(702)632-7401; www.charliepalmer.com/aureolelv; near west valet; prix-fixe menu $75-95;6-10:30 p.m., wine tower lounge untilmidnight
Executive chef Charlie Palmer’s inspired seasonal American dishes like oven-roasted pheasant with sweet-potato gnocchi soar to new heights here. The prix-fixe tasting menu is pure art and it’s worth ordering from the extensive wine list (using a handheld electronic sommelier, no less) just to watch catsuit-clad “wine angels” ascend the four-story tower of vintages. Reservations are essential, but just as difficult to get as good service. Dress is formal.
(702)632-9364;Mandalay Place, meals $10-60;10:30 a.m.-11 p.m.Sun.-Thu.,10 a.m.-1 a.m.Fri.& Sat.
Since when can a hamburger claim to be worth $60? When it’s built with Kobe beef, sautéed foie gras, shaved truffles and Madeira sauce (sounds shamefully messy, and it is). Chef Hubert Keller of M-Bay’s Fleur de Lys serves up his signature Rossini burger, or you can select all of your own toppings for a meat- or veggie-burger base. Whimsical desserts and other gourmet comfort food are served daily until late.
Charlie Palmer Steak
(702)632-5120; www.charliepalmer.com/steak _lv; lower level, Four Seasons; mains from $35; dinner, lounge untilmidnight
Artisan-aged beef is grilled to perfection at this classy, Spanish-influenced hideaway with flawless service and a famous name. Starring on the regional American menu are a Kansas City rib eye and HudsonValley foie gras. Peruse the wine list with its 500 choices as you sink into the overstuffed chairs of the cigar-friendly lounge. Reservations are essential.
www.chinagrillmanagement.com/chinaLV; near west valet; mains $29-50;5-11 p.m.Sun.-Thu.,5 p.m.-midnightFri. & Sat.
Ambitious, oversized Marco Polo–inspired takes on traditional themes result in neo-Asian dishes like garlic shrimp with black fettuccine and red coconut curry. The demeanor is too cool for school and the overpriced menu is meant for groups. But at least pop in to have a look at the famously indiscreet unisex “restroom garden” bathrooms designed by Jeffrey Beer.
Fleur de Lys
(702)632-9400; www.fleurdelyssf.com; near west valet; three-/four-/five-course menu $74/$82/$94; 5:30-10 p.m.
French chef Hubert Keller has a Vegas outpost of San Francisco’s famed Fleur de Lys. A soaring, dramatic space accompanied by European linens and flower-patterned china enhances the thoughtful, seasonal tasting menus. Expect selections like roasted sea bass with pine nut–pesto crust and Colorado lamb with rustic potato stew (imaginative vegetarian options are offered, too).
House of Blues
(702)632-7600; casino level, mains $10-20;7:30 a.m.-midnightSun.-Thu.,7:30 a.m.-2 a.m.Fri. & Sat.
This swampy bayou roadhouse serving down-home Southern cuisine such as blackened seafood and barbecue is a good pit stop before a show, especially since a dinner receipt whisks you past the concert line. Skip church for HOB’s uplifting Sunday gospel brunch.
(702)632-9500; www.alain-ducasse.com; 64th floor; mains $37-55;6-10:30 p.m., lounge from5 p.m.
A glorious glass elevator ride sets the stage for Mix’s sophisticated, space-age decor. A haute dining room reproduces classic dishes from star chef Alain Ducasse’s Paris and Monaco restaurants, like the inimitable elbow pasta with black truffle, ham and Gruyere cheese. Service can be spotty, but at these prices, it really shouldn’t be. The sky-high lounge has better views.
(702)632-7407; near west valet; caviar from $35, mains $22-38; dinner
Prices here, next to rumjungle, will keep most comrades away unless they’ve got rubles to spare for chicken Kiev, salmon kulebyaka or clams topped with caviar. Propaganda art hangs on the walls and the velvety Russian tea-room atmosphere is intoxicating. Top-shelf vodka and more than two dozen types of martini are poured at the sensational ice bar.
(702)632-9300; www.rmseafood.com; Mandalay Place; restaurant mains $32-52, café mains $19-32; restaurant 5-10:30 p.m. daily, café 11 a.m.-3 p.m., 5-11 p.m. Sun-Thu, 5 p.m.-midnightFri. & Sat.
Steps away from M-Bay’s casino, New York chef Rick Moonen takes a dual approach to the catch of the day. Upstairs in the restaurant, American seafood dishes, such as Cajun popcorn and Maine lobster, come with suggested beer pairings and comfort-food sides like gourmet mac and cheese. The downstairs café, with rich mahogany tables and shopping promenade tables, offers a stripped-down menu, a raw bar and a “biscuit bar” serving seafood salads.
(702)632-5000; lower level, Four Seasons; breakfast $6-20, dinner mains $27-36, afternoon tea $30-38; 6:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Sat. & Sun., weekend brunch buffet 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sat. & Sun., afternoon tea 2-5 p.m. Mon.-Thu.
This upper-crust oasis is just about as far away from the ding-ding-ding of the slot machines as you can get. Classic and contemporary American breakfasts, afternoon tea and the poolside patio seating justify a detour.
3799 Las Vegas Blvd South; monorailMGMGrand
For reservations, click to www.mgmgrand.com or call (877) 880-0880. Good, quick bites include ‘Wichcraft and Stage Deli (7 a.m.-9 p.m.), near the MGM’s race and sports book.
(702)891-7318; Studio Walk, mains $26-78, three-course tasting menu $80-125; dinner
From James Beard Award–winning chef Tom Colicchio, this contemporary, richly wood-laden space may lack exclusivity, but makes up for that with an intriguing menu of grass- vs. grain-fed strip steaks, braised lamb shanks and bounty from the sea like regional American oysters, Beluga caviar and Australian lobster tail.
(702)891-7374; www.emerils.com; Studio Walk, lunch mains $21-27, dinner mains $25-60; lunch & dinner, seafood bar & café11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Emeril Lagasse cranks the creativity up a notch at his New Orleans–style fish house (you can’t help but smile at the spouting fish sculptures over the entryway), which boasts delicacies such as barbecued shrimp, rosemary biscuits and a sumptuous lobster cheesecake appetizer. The wine list is first class. Reservations are required only for the dining room.
(702)891-3486; Studio Walk, dishes from $5, mains $33-72; dinner
The newest creation of Michael Mina flies in gourmet seafood from around the world, anything from NantucketBay scallops to Kumamoto oysters. Raw, fried, steamed or roasted, nothing that the two exhibition kitchens turn out disappoints. Mix-and-match salads ($13) will fit your every culinary whim. The ambience is elegant, yet laid-back; bar seating is available.
(702)891-7777; Studio Walk; mains $29-50; dinner
Come for the stellar sake cellar, dramatic art behind the spreading sushi bar and tastebud-awakening hot and cold appetizers, like seaweed dressed up in orange ponzu sauce, Kumamoto oysters spiked with green apple tang or snapper ceviche with lemon-lime and white soy. Teppanyaki grill set menus come with a choice of lobster miso or Kyoto mushroom soup, plus a sampling of desserts (gingered mint sorbet, anyone?).
Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill
(702)891-3000; www.wolfgangpuck.com; casino level; mains $9-38;11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.Sun.-Thu.,11:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m.Fri. & Sat.
Californian flair pervades this beach-styled bistro glowing just off the casino floor. Truffled potato chips with blue cheese, skirt steak skewers, wood-fired pizzas and ricotta gnocchi in an ultra-contemporary setting are a thrill, and so is the New World wine list.
New York–New York
3790 Las Vegas Blvd South; monorailMGMGrand
This casino hotel has the best mid-range eats on the South Strip, including at Nine Fine Irishmen. Sports fans head for the ESPN Zone, while penny pinchers hit up the mock-storefront joints in “Greenwich Village.”
(702)740-6451; near lobby; mains $5-23; 24 hours
A fanciful, 18,000-square-foot bas-relief U.S. map hangs over this reliable, patriotic all-hours eatery. Many go red, white and blue in the face trying to pick something from the far-reaching menu, which offers regional fare that ranges from Philly cheesesteaks to San Antonio skillets to Hollywood Cobb salads. There’s an extensive bi-coastal beer and wine selection, too. Look for all-you-can-eat pancake specials from 5 a.m. until 11:30 a.m.
Chin Chin Café
(702)740-6300;Greenwich Village, mains $7-13, breakfast buffet $11;7:30 a.m.-11 p.m.Mon.-Fri.,8 a.m.-11 p.m.Sat. & Sun.
Another import from the City of Angels, this kitchen’s name roughly translates as ‘To your health!’ Shredded chicken salad topped with toasted almonds and red ginger dressing is satisfying, while unusual tofu dishes provide some variety for vegetarians. Groups should go for the handmade dim sum.
(702)740-6450;Greenwich Village; mains $27-38; dinner daily
You can’t ignore the house speciality, dry-aged sirloin, hanging in the stomach-turning meat lockers out front. The rest of the surf-and-turf offerings from this USDA-choice menu are justifiably famous. To whet your appetite, try the baked oysters with crab, baby spinach, smoked bacon and hollandaise sauce.
(702) 740-6403; casino level; breakfast $5-9, dinner mains $12-25; 7:30 a.m.-midnight
At dinner, feast on wood-fired pizzas, seasonal salads and pastas, or make a meal of the antipasto platter with scallops wrapped in pancetta, baked eggplant, truffled cheeses and more (per person $12). Delectable, fresh-baked breakfast goodies like lemon-pecan scones, cinnamon coffee cake and hazelnut pastries are also available at ll Fornaio Paneterria (6 a.m.-7:30 p.m.), near the hotel lobby.
3801 Las Vegas Blvd S; monorailMGMGrand
Avoid the Island Buffet.
(702)891-3166; Studio Walk, sandwiches $4-9, half-sandwich combo with soup or salad $9;10 a.m.-6 p.m.
This airy, bewitching kitchen has belly-warming sandwiches such as grilled cheddar with smoked ham and baked apples, Sicilian tuna with black olives on a baguette, or plain ol’ peanut butter and jelly. Perfect side salads of chick peas, mustard potato salad or fresh fruit are uplifting additions, as are the s’more desserts and wakey-wakey breakfast specialities.
You can get a little south-of-the-border flair along with fajitas, seafood gumbo and fried cheesecake at the Stratosphere’s Crazy Armadillo, where the restaurant and oyster bar stay open till midnight. There’s a 24-hour coffee shop at the Peppermill’s Fireside Lounge (mains $8-23), where you can eavesdrop on Nevada cowboys and old-school politicos over a late-night bite or early (and gigantic!) breakfast.
2880 Las Vegas Blvd S
(702)794-3767; mains $28-38, brunch $39; dinner daily, brunch seatings9:30 a.m.,11:30 a.m.&1:30 p.m.Sun.
In a town filled with meat mongers, the one under the big top is top drawer. All clowning aside, this revered establishment takes itself very seriously, resembling a British hunting lodge with dark wood and an elegant bar. Aged mesquite-grilled steaks are always cooked to perfection and include sides. The Sunday champagne brunch is also well regarded.
2000 Las Vegas Blvd S; monorailSahara
Top of the World
(702)380-7711; www.stratospherehotel.com; 106th floor; lunch $7-21, dinner mains $30-60;10 a.m.-3 p.m.& dinner
While taking in the cloud-level views at this revolving romantic roost perched atop the Stratosphere Tower, patrons dressed to the nines enjoy impeccable service and delicious (if overpriced) Colorado rack of lamb and Cajun prime rib. Dinner reservations are required, or just pop by for a casual lunch or brunch. The award-winning wine list is also available in the gorgeous lounge.
(702)380-7777; www.stratospherehotel.com; casino level; mains $5-12;10 p.m.-noonSun.-Thu.,10 p.m.-1 p.m.Fri. & Sat.
With opening hours made for night owls, this coffee shop reinvents vintage Vegas with tribute photography and art-deco style. Of course, the food isn’t quite so fabulous, but it’s still serviceable. A ‘midnight madness’ menu (served till 5 a.m.) has cheapie meal deals.
(702-380-7777); www.stratospherehotel.com; casino level; most mains $6-10;11 a.m.-10 p.m.Sun.-Thu.,11 a.m.-11 p.m.Fri. & Sat.
Every place in Vegas has a gimmick. At this ’50s-style diner, every 15 minutes servers drop everything to do a song-and-dance number straight out of Grease. It’s hilarious fun, but it sure does slow service down. The copiously apportioned comfort food tastes just about right for the prices; big plates won’t leave you hungry. The super-thick milkshakes with silver sidecars are just like when you were a kid. o
Reprinted with permission form Lonely Planet, © 2006.