EXCLUSIVE | Las Vegas: What to Eat
By Joe Okonkwo | AN OUTTRAVELER.COM EXCLUSIVE
This Travel Guide was last updated 5/08. There may be places that changed since then. Call ahead, and please let us know about any corrections or new places of interest.
Gone are the days when the all-you-can-eat buffet dominated conversations about Las Vegas dining. The town now offers a wide range of options, from world-class gourmet cuisine to themed dining experiences and even some choice local stand-alone restaurants. "Outpost" restaurants became a popular and welcome trend in the mid-1990s, with celeb chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse branding various eateries. Since then, dozens of leading chefs from around the world have opened one or more Las Vegas branches. So far has the bar been raised for Vegas dining that the city's 2007 Michelin guide actually granted its eateries more stars than those in Los Angeles. For most of the restaurants within major hotels, check out menus and photos by visiting the hotel Web sites.
If you have just one meal to eat in the city, make it at Picasso (Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-693-7223 or 866-259-7111; fixed price menus $90/four course, $100/five course). Chef Julian Serrano left Masa's, his San Francisco restaurant, to paint a new canvas at Bellagio. The dining room is sophisticated country elegance, with soft light reflected off high ceilings, brick, tile, wood, and multimillion-dollar Picassos.
Also at Bellagio is the excellent and slightly more casual Sensi (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 866-259-7111 or 702-693-7223, $32-90) with its four melded kitchens (Italian, Asian, American and seafood) on full display just beyond glass walls at center stage.
Unquestionably one of the city's finest restaurants is Jo?l Robuchon (MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-891-7925; 6 course tasting menu $250, 16-course tasting menu $385), the first French restaurant in America by the legendary chef of the same name. Considered by some to offer the best French dining in the U.S., Jo?l Robuchon is refined but delightfully intimate, with limited seating in its gorgeous and deeply-hued Art Deco-inspired setting.
Wynn Las Vegas has helped raise the standard for outstanding, top-dollar dining. There's Bartolotta (Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-248-DINE or 888-352-DINE; $35-54), which is just off the resort's fancy shopping area and serves excellent Italian seafood to a well-dressed bunch; and the French-inspired Alex (Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-248-DINE or 888-352-DINE; $145 prix-fixe), an art-filled dining room reached via a grand staircase that might just be the best place in town for a special-occasion meal.
The Las Vegas outpost of Bobby Flay's acclaimed Mesa Grill (Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 877-346-4642; $24-$46) dishes out divine grilled venison chops with cranberry-cascabel chile sauce, and wild blueberry shortcake with lemon ice cream and blueberry basil syrup, for those craving Mesa's Manhattan marvels. Atop the fab 43-story Hotel at Mandalay Bay, world-renowned French chef Alain Ducasse's Mix (Mandalay Bay; 702-632-9500; $39-$59), earns oohs and ahhs for its incredible overlook of the Strip and its 24-foot chandelier, which has 15,000 hand-blown glass globes. While reviews of the lavish French-American fare are uneven, everybody seems to adore the service, d?cor and views.
Located in a quiet neighborhood off the Strip, the original Andr?'s French Restaurant (401 S. 6th St.; 702-385-5016; $31-$68) serves classic French cuisine in a 1930s building that has been decorated with country antiques. The seasonal menu is excellent, and the wine selection of 1,200 is among the most extensive in town.
Also check out Andr? Rochat's latest creation, Aliz? (Palms Casino Resort, 4321 W. Flamingo Rd.; 702-951-7000; $34-68), which sits atop the fabulous Palms Casino (on the 56th floor), affording unparalleled views through its 16-foot floor-to-ceiling windows of the Vegas skyline. Sublime modern French dishes like Maine lobster Thermidor and shallot-crusted rack of lamb match the memorable ambience, and the wine list offers some 1,800 selections; the restaurant also boasts one of the most distinguished cognac lists in the world.
The Border Grill (Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-7403; $10-$38) is a fabulous spot, run by lesbian chef Susan Feniger with her "Too Hot Tamales" TV show co-presenter, Mary Sue Milliken. Offering Las Vegas visitors a delicious culinary gamble, where every choice is a winner, innovative empanadas and tamales star and Nevada's best margaritas add to the experience. An incredible outdoor patio is the perfect place for delectable desert city dining. Mandalay Bay's Aureole (Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-7401; fixed price menus $75-$105) offers fine dining in a brilliantly high-tech and glamorous dining room with an incredible wine selection housed in a two-story glass tower with elevator.
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