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September 2010

BlogWorld Keynotes Announced: It’s Looking Good!

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Penn Jillette will be participating in the closing talk show at Blogworld.

Who are the BlogWorld keynoters this year? When are they happening and what will everyone be talking about? How will we ever top the rousing success of last year’s closing keynote talk show?

Relax. The answers to these questions and more are about to be revealed.

  • As previously announced, our opening keynote is the unMarketer himself, Scott Stratten.  Scott’s opening the ‘Expo with his talk “Stand Up, Stand Out, Stand Together” where he’ll discusses blogging with passion and emotion, while not necessarily sticking to the rules regarding posting content. Scott’s keynote will take place on Thursday, October 14 at 8:30 a.m. I know it’s early and you’re in Vegas and all, but you’ll want to get out of bed for this one.
  • On Thursday afternoon at 2:45, drop by and spend time with “Engage” author, Brian Solis.
  • Our closing keynote for Thursday will feature founding member of the pioneering 360 Digital Influence team at Ogilvy and the bestselling author of “Personality Not Included,” Rohit Bhargava interviewiing LIVEstrong CEO, Doug Ulman. Stop by the keynote room on Thursday at 5:15 to sit in.
  • On 5:30 Friday, our keynote features a discussion of the future of web videos. In what promises to be a killer panel, CEO of Revision 3,  Jim Louderback and Funny or Die‘s Dick Glover, will chat with Moderator Susan Bratton of Personal Life Media.
  • You’re in for a treat Saturday as members of the Third Tribe open the day with “7 Harsh Realities of Blogging.” ProBlogger Darren Rowse, and CopBlogger‘s Brian Clark and Sonia Simone discuss the pitfalls of making money with your blog and  how to do it right. Join us Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. for your reality check.
  • We set the bar high last year with our closing keynote talk show, and this year we’re raising that bar. Our host for the event is Rob Barnett, Founder and CEO of MyDamnChannel. It will be a packed house as Rob interviews Adam Carolla, host of the Adam Carolla Show (among others!), the talkative half of the comedy/magic team of Penn & Teller, Penn Jillette, “The Mirror Test” author and former Kodak CMO, Jeff Hayzlett, and web TV host, Cali Lewis. The show begins at 5:00, but get here early, you’ll want to land a seat for this one. I can’t promise that we’ll be passing around a bottle of wine this year, but I can guarantee a good time will be had by all.

Tickets are still available for BlogWorld ’10. If our published schedule hasn’t already convinced you to attend, hopefully our keynotes will seal the deal!

Avoiding Event Burnout

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People who know me know that I’m a planner, sometimes to the point of obsession. I love to be spontaneous, but I’m a big believer that you can’t do something unplanned if you don’t have an original plan to start.

I’m well aware that most people don’t have me level of anal retentiveness when it comes to making plans. That’s ok. It’s probably even healthy. If nothing else though, make sure you plan one thing while at BlogWorld: Downtime.

While I haven’t attended BlogWorld in the past, I’m not a complete event newbie. No matter what the conference, show, convention, expo, etc., there will always be more to do than you can possibly fit into the time you have. You want to see everything on the show floor. You want to go to every panel. You want to meet and greet with every speaker. And, of course, you want to blog about it all.

I completely understand. I feel the same way.

Yet trying to do everything will only leave you with two feelings. First, you’ll feel overwhelmed. Then, when you figure out that you can’t do everything, you’ll feel like a failure.

What I’d like to suggest is that you actively plan some downtime for yourself to prevent this kind of burnout. Maybe you order room service one night and relax with a bath before heading out to evening activities. Maybe you wake up a hour early and enjoy the paper and a cup of coffee by yourself. Maybe you book a massage while in Vegas and take the time to enjoy pampering yourself for an hour or two.

The point is this: you need some alone time to chill out.

The result? You’ll be more relaxed, seeming less frazzled as you network. Your mind will calm down, making it easier to remember names, appoint times, and other information. You’ll be able to more quickly write posts, since it will be easier to concentrate.

You can’t do everything while at BlogWorld, and no one expects you to (except maybe you!). The key is to what what you can do exceedingly well. You’ll get more out of any event if you focus on excellent in a few things instead of doing everything you possibly can.

I recommend trying to fit in at least an hour of alone time every day while you’re in Vegas. I know that it might now always be possible, so grab what you can – 15 minutes here, 20 minutes there. Just remind yourself that it is ok to skip some events so you have time to cool down. Burnout will only mean that you don’t take full advantage of your trip.

How will you make sure you get time for yourself while at BlogWorld?

Participate in the BlogWorld Video WalkAbout and Check Out Kodak’s New HD Video Camera!

Author:

Jeffrey Powers

BlogWorld 2010 Speaker
Digital Broadcasting Track
Saturday October 16, 2010
Time: 12:15PM to 1:15PM

We are happy to announce that the learning sessions are not just limited to the session rooms. Sometimes, you just have to get out in the wild and make your content.

In the session “Record Life at BlogWorld & New Media Expo”, we will be meeting at the Kodak booth on Saturday at 12:15 PM. Your guide – Jeffrey Powers from Geekazine.com will be explaining how to use a handheld digital camera to capture life at any event.

Jeffrey will talk about lighting, sound and how to capture the moment. You will then be sent off to do just that – capture the moment.

Don’t have a camera? That’s OK. Kodak’s newest HD video camera – the PlayTouch, will be available to borrow for this session, courtesy of Kodak. (Cameras are limited to 20. To reserve yours, claim a ticket at our Eventbrite for this session. If tickets run out, you can still attend with your own video camera!)

If you do have your own camera, bring it along, too. We will collect all the footage after an hour, then work on putting together a montage of BlogWorld & New Media Expo.

BlogWorld 2010 – Friday Night MashBash at Haze

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Sponsors:


Lexmark

Along with the informative sessions and amazing exhibitions, a big part of BlogWorld is the networking. We all know a lot of that networking happens at night so with help from our fabulous sponsors we host fun-filled parties at some of the coolest venues in Vegas every night!

Our friends at The Light Group @lightgroup are hosting two of our evening events this year. The BlogWorld 2010 MashBash Friday Night Party will be held at the Haze Nightclub at ARIA Resort & Casino at CityCenter. If you have ever been to a MashBash you know they are great and this one could be the best one yet.

The party is open to attendees who purchase a Weekend Pass and Full Access Pass (details here)

Check out this description from the folks at Haze:

    Conceptualized and designed to mirror the success of existing Light Group venues, Haze Nightclub is a dramatic 25,500-square-foot cutting-edge space in where guests are challenged to question their sense of perception and reality. Haze Nightclub features over-sized props in the entryway, drawing guests to a grand central staircase which transports them to the mezzanine level where one can enjoy a birds-eye view of the action down below. The main dance floor, filled with beats from the world’s best DJs, is home to 100 square feet of interactive projection screens on a performance structure where impromptu surprise acts by world-renowned artists take place. Suede walls and plush surfaces speckle the weaving interior of this nightlife destination boasting a unique 20-foot wall of lights that incorporates the latest in technology. Haze’s revolutionizing sound system, designed by Avalon Sound, is the first audio system in the world to utilize the latest in sound technology that will create a music environment unlike anything Las Vegas has seen. Full color laser shows add to the sensory experience, creating a nightlife mecca that raises the standards of nightclubs around the world.


By the way we first learned about @lightgroup last year when their Interactive Marketing Director @ManyaS reached out to Rick on Twitter. A few DM’s later @lightgroup was locked in as the official host of all BlogWorld evening festivities. You can check out pictures from last year’s parties at The Bank and Jet here, here, here, here, here and here.

55+ Ways to Bedazzle Your Blog

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I have a confession to make: I’ve always wanted a Bedazzler.

There’s a reason I hadn’t purchased one. If I did, everything in my life would be bedazzled. My clothing. My blankets. My curtains. My cat.

Let’s just say that it’s a situation that would not end well.

The point is that I’m a huge fan of accessorizing. I love things that sparkle and glitter, and I love showing off my personal style. If you see me at BlogWorld Expo this year, you’ll likely notice that I’m wearing something that I’ve either modified or made myself.

And if you visit any of my blogs, you’ll notice that I like to modify there, too.

Over the past five years, I’ve talked myself to hack WordPress themes through trial and error. It isn’t always pretty, but I’ve learned how to slice together multiple themes to make the exact theme I want. This isn’t just about themes though – I like my sidebars, posts, pages, and more to reflect the exact style I want for whatever blog I’m working on. Just like I like my outfits to be perfectly styled to my taste, I like my blogs to be…well..bedazzled.

I’ve come across a number of tools over the last several year to help make that happen as easily as possible. Sure, you’re still going to have to get up close and personal with your css and php files if you true want to stylize your blog, but these tools, widgets, buttons, and more go a long way in helping you create the perfect blog style.

(Most can be used across a number of platforms, though some are specifically for WordPress)

RSS Buttons

  1. RSS Button Maker
  2. Adam Kalsey’s Button Maker
  3. Online Marketing Blog’s RSS Button Tool

Twitter and Facebook Buttons

  1. Social Media Buttons
  2. Buttons Hut
  3. 100+ Twitter Icons and Buttons (from various designers)
  4. SociableBlog.com
  5. Web2gfx

Other Social Networking Buttons

  1. Digg Button
  2. JPF Add to Reddit
  3. Share This
  4. Sociable
  5. Socializer Plugin

Load Graphics Generators

  1. Ajax Loading Gif Generator
  2. Ajax Load

Music, Pictures, and Video

  1. Flixn – webcam streaming (currently unavailable, projected to be back late 2010)
  2. Flickr Flash Photo Stream Badge
  3. TubePress – create a YouTube gallary
  4. BlinkxIt – embed videos
  5. Scissors – simple image editing
  6. Facebook Photos
  7. ImageShack Uploader
  8. WP Wetfloor – creates a reflection effect for pictures on your blog
  9. iTunes Spy – shows recently played songs

Weather, Clocks, and Maps

  1. iBegin Weather Widget
  2. ClockLink
  3. Google Map Widget
  4. ClustrMaps.com

Graphs and Charts

  1. Create a Graph
  2. XML / SWF Charts

Show Off Your Stats

  1. PageRank Button
  2. del.icio.us Tagometer
  3. WP-UserOnline
  4. Alexa Rank

Communication

  1. 3Jam – receive messages to your cell phone without giving out your number
  2. Skype Button
  3. IM Online – shows you IM status across a number of services
  4. Shout Box

Poll Creation

  1. Poll Daddy
  2. Poll Code
  3. Vizu
  4. WP-Polls

Form Creation

  1. Web Form Factory
  2. PHP FormMail
  3. Wufoo

Favicons

  1. Favicon.cc
  2. 256pixels
  3. Web Script Lab Favicon Generator
  4. HTML-kit Favicon

Make Money

  1. Create an Amazon store
  2. ebay Sales Lister

Other Ways to Bedazzle

  1. LibraryThing – show the latest books you’ve been reading
  2. WP-PostRatings – allows readers to rate your posts
  3. Gravatars – displays gravatars with comments on your blog
  4. Netflix – display your Netflix queue

At the time of publishing, there were 55 ways to bedazzle your blog on this list. Leave a comment with your favorite tools, and I’ll update the list to include even more awesome ways to make your blog shine.

65% Of Marketers Surveyed Say They Do Not Use Twitter

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For five years now I have been saying Social Media (I still prefer to call it New Media) is still in it’s infancy. Here is the latest proof. In SmartBlog’s most recent weekly reader poll they asked:

What do you think of Twitter’s new home page design?

Surprisingly for some more than 65% of their readers said they don’t even use Twitter.

  • I don’t use Twitter, 65.10%
  • Love it, 22.15%
  • Complaining about it now, but I’ll probably get used to it, 10.07%
  • Can’t stand it, 2.68%

Now when you think about this response for a moment its even more significant. This is a reader poll by a site that has a very social media savvy readership. That tells me the real number of marketers who aren’t using Twitter is even greater.

Just keep reminding yourself every time you think New Media has finally really blown up and hit the big time you have not seen anything yet. Am I crazy?

BlogWorld Attendees: Learn How You Can Attend a Cirque Show!

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It’s almost here, my favorite time of year in Las Vegas – BlogWorld! Personally and professionally, BlogWorld has been a wonderful event and I know this year will be even better. For the past two years I’ve loved showing off our Cirque du Soleil shows to attendees, we have seven shows in Las Vegas now! So again this year I would like to invite bloggers to attend one of our shows in exchange for writing a review. Whether you’re experiencing Cirque for the first time or the tenth time, your Vegas trip is not complete without hitting one of our incredible shows.

To coincide with the BlogWorld parties at Aria on October 14 and 15, I’ve set up a block of tickets for Viva ELVIS, our newest show (7 and 9:30 p.m.) so you can check it out either before or after.

Tickets are also available on other dates for CRISS ANGEL Believe, Mystère, KÀ, Zumanity and LOVE.

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. To qualify you have to leave a comment on this post with:
    • The show you want to see
    • A link to where you’ll be posting your review (Your blog, podcast, YouTube, etc)
    • Your email address so we can contact you
  2. There is limited availability so be sure to sign up ASAP
  3. You have to be attending BlogWorld

For more info on Cirque du Soleil, follow us @cirque and experience us at Facebook.

See you at BlogWorld!

Jessica Berlin /@jessberlin
Social Media Manager for Cirque du Soleil

BlogWorld Speakers are Picked But We’re Nowhere Near Done…

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So when Rick Calvert and Dave Cynkin offered me the BlogWorld Conference Director job, they talked it up as being “part time.” What they failed to mention was that the “part time” wouldn’t happen until October 17th, and it would only be part time long enough for me to catch my breath. I have a fantasy that they’ll let me sleep in that day…

But I digress….

Working for BlogWorld is anything but a part time gig, especially when there are so many components that go together. It’s fast paced and there’s never a dull moment. We have drama, action, and lots of nagging.

Choosing Speakers is the Easy Part

So I thought the most difficult part of the gig would be in choosing speakers. I mean, 600 applications and 200 – 300 spots? Saying no is not my favorite part of the job, especially when it comes to people who are my friends, but someone had to do it and it might as well be the new girl. After we selected all our speakers, and notified those who we couldn’t use this year, I learned that the content selection is the easiest part of the job.

After that, we’re in for some serious cat herding.

Once we know who our speakers are we have to create the schedule, and also, coordinate a speaker roster.The problem is, the schedule changes on a daily basis. This speaker can’t make it, that speaker needs a better time, the Track Leader wants to add another panelist and it’s a lot to keep track of.

But even that is the easy part.

The entire BlogWorld team is tasked with creating a speaker roster. This roster is important because it contains all contact details for speakers including special information we need to know for each. It contains their email addresses, lets us know if they filled out the speaker agreement, and has places to check off to tell us if we received their headshots, bios and session descriptions. You see, we have to have all this information by a certain day (like yesterday) because if we don’t, that speaker doesn’t make it into the directory.

Yeah, I’d be a little angry too.

So now, we’re in the process of getting all these details from our speakers. Here’s where I’ll once again make reference to cat herding. Many of our speakers included their contact details when they submitted proposals. However, some of that information didn’t come through. Also, Track Leaders put together sessions and panels, so we didn’t have contact information for any of the speakers who didn’t submit proposals to us in the traditional manner. So now we have to:

  • Contact all Track Leaders for speaker contact details
  • Contact all speakers for their bios, headshots, session descriptions and speaker agreements
  • Contact all Track Leaders with a gentle reminder
  • Contact all speakers with a gentle reminder
  • Lather, rinse, repeat.

Plus? Because the schedule is changing daily, the information the administrative team is putting together for the speaker roster, doesn’t always jibe with the info I have on the schedule, so there’s daily cross checking going on. Lots of spreadsheet requests, and questions about speakers, spellings and more. Some people aren’t responsive to their emails and we have no other way of getting in touch with them short of public callings out on Twitter and Facebook. We try not to do that.

We’re down to the wire now with only about three weeks to go before show time. We don’t want any of our speakers to be left out of the directory. If we don’t already have your headshot, bio, session description, and/or completed speaker agreement, please contact the unflappable Jennifer Holder at jennifer@blogworldexpo.com ASAP so she can make sure you’re included.

With that said, I’m back to my cat herding. October 17th and my late sleep in are looking really good, right about now. Thank goodness I only work part time.

WebDevStudios Talks About Rebranding Your Blog & The Business of Website Design

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As you already know, our blog was recently re-designed by the team at WebDevStudios. We absolutely love the design, and I thought it would be interesting to hear about the process from the designer’s point of view – how they go about doing a blog redesign and perhaps some tips/tricks for those of you reconsidering a new brand for your blog. I chatted with WebDevStudios co-founder Brad Williams, who spearheaded our redesign:

How often do you suggest someone change his/her blog template/theme/layout?
The best time to make changes to your design is when you feel the current theme and layout are no longer meeting your needs. Many people come to us because their blog has grown and their current website is no longer providing them with all the functionality they need or the current setup is confusing to their audience.

Another great time to change your design is when you are looking to rebrand your website. This seems to be more common for company websites, but perhaps your client started as a food blogger but wants to expand to become more of a travel blogger who also talks about food. A redesign is a great time to change your focus and give your website a new look at the same time.

Having a stable website is important for your audience so we don’t recommend making major changes too often.

Is there anything that a blogger/blog owner should do before initiating a blog redesign?
It isn’t always easy to see the finished product. Many people come to us completely overwhelmed because they think they need to tell us exactly what they want the new design to look like, how the website is set up, what features they need, etc. This isn’t necessarily true. One of the most helpful things a client can provide us with is a list of likes and dislikes. This can be as simple as picking features or designs or even color schemes off of already existing websites. Find your favorite websites, the ones you go to almost every day. What is it about that website you like? What brings you back time and time again?

What are the pros/cons of using pre-existing blog templates/themes?
The pros of using a pre-existing template or theme is that the groundwork is already set for you. If you are just starting out with theme design, pre-existing themes are great for learning the structure and requirements of a theme.

However, the downfall with using pre-existing themes is having to learn someone else’s code and then fit it to the new style. There are even times where the code can be old and not utilizing newer methods of coding. Creating your own themes gives you the advantage of having a theme, knowing exactly what everything does and that it include all of the functionality you require. You know the theme inside and out because you are the one who made it.

When you begin working with a client, what steps do you take to give them a preliminary design? Do you try to get a sense of their business, their favorite websites, etc?
The first step is holding a call with the client and one of our designers to understand what the client wants and how they want to get there. We discuss what the website is, who their audience is (intended or current), what their focus is, any features they want included, how they want the menu set up, and what they like or dislike from websites that are already out there. It’s just as important to understand the ideas behind the website and goal of the website as it is to understand just what the client wants it to look like.

How long does it typically take to complete a blog design and implementation?
This can vary significantly based on the specific project. For a basic blog we generally estimate 4-6 weeks of development time depending on the amount of time it takes the client to provide us with content and sign off on each stage of the project.

Do you have any advice for someone interested in getting into the business of designing blogs and blog themes?
I think one of the most important things is to stay current on the technologies you are using. You want to be able to provide your client with the most up-to-date technology. You also don’t want to end up doing more work than necessary because you didn’t know some new feature already exists. There’s always something new being created and it important to keep on top of everything out there.

Anything else you’d like to share about the process or business?
As with any business it’s not always easy to work with clients. This is especially true when you are a designer and may become attached to your designs. My advice to anyone looking to get into the business of designing blogs is to learn how to focus on the needs of the client and always keep that the end goal. Some clients are very specific as to what they want, others will give you complete creative control. You can give advice and suggestions, but at the end of the day it’s the client’s opinion that matters most.

Thanks again to the WebDevStudios team!

The 2010 Tasting Las Vegas 7 & 7 Restaurant Picks

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You won’t find a better city on Earth when it comes to great eating than Las Vegas! I feel that it is my civic duty to ensure everyone involved with the 2010 Blogworld & New Media Expo eats well while they’re here in Our Little Twinkle In The Desert. For your perusal is my 2010 Tasting Las Vegas 7 & 7 Restaurant Picks; 7 restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip and 7 restaurants off the Las Vegas Strip (plus a few bonuses) that represent the excellent and diverse eats that our fair city has to offer. Enjoy and eat well!

On The Las Vegas Strip –

First Food and Bar at the Palazzo
First Food and Bar is one of my favorite places in town. Chef Sam DeMarco and crew present a unique and sophisticated spin on American comfort foods that are wonderfully flavorful and always use the best of ingredients. First is great for lunch, dinner and proper late night hang. For those in the boozing mood, First has one of the best Happy Hour deals in town (3pm-7pm & 11pm-1am) with 2-for-1 Draft Beers, Stoli vodka and Patron tequila. A few dishes I’d recommend are the Walnut Shrimp, Mykonos Gyros Eggrolls and Scotty’s 5-Layer Chicken Fingers. Oh yeah, and get the Philly Cheesesteak Dumplings. And the Dr. Pepper BBQ St. Louis Ribs! Oh! And the…..well….you get the picture. It’s all good at First Food and Bar!

You can follow First Food and Bar on Twitter at @FirstFoodandBar

RM Seafood at Mandalay Bay

Yes folks, you can have seafood in the desert. Good seafood. RM Seafood isn’t just one of the best seafood restaurants in Las Vegas, it’s one of the best seafood restaurants you’ll find anywhere. Chef Rick Moonen isn’t just an accomplished chef, but is also on the forefront of Sustainable Seafood advocacy, so not only will you eat great food, but you’ll eat food that is fished responsibly. RM Seafood has two components; downstairs being a more casual space and upstairs a more intimate space for fine dining. Downstairs is open for lunch and dinner. Keep in mind that the menu is seasonal, so these recommendations might not be there in their current form by the time Blogworld rolls around, but the Alaskan King Salmon with Corn Succotash and Alaskan Halibut with English Peas in a Basil Broth are fabulous. Upstairs, the best way to fly is the (currently) $75 5-course prix fixe tasting menu, which is among the most sophisticated food you will find in Las Vegas and for a bargain of a price!

You can follow Chef Rick Moonen on Twitter at @RickMoonen

Julian Serrano at Aria

The Spanish Tapas tradition is my favorite way to eat; a variety of small plates, packed with flavor and meant to be shared with friends (over many pitchers of sangria, of course!). While Chef Julian Serrano made his name as a French chef with his highly-acclaimed Picasso at the Bellagio, Chef Serrano is a native Spaniard and this is the cuisine nearest to his heart. You MUST get the Pan Manchego. At first glance it’s a simple piece of bread with tomato and aged manchego cheese, but it puts on a clinic how truly magical the best of ingredients will make the best of food if executed properly. I also highly recommend the Tuna-Raspberry Skewers, the Chicken Croquetas and the dish I want to eat everyday of my life, Huevos Estrellados, which is eggs, fried potatoes and chorizo.

N9ne Steakhouse at The Palms

Well, The Palms, which houses N9ne Steakhouse, isn’t actually on Las Vegas Blvd., but it’s close and the powers-that-be usually group The Palms as a “Strip Resort.” Be prepared, N9ne is not your daddy’s steakhouse. It’s loud, hip, trendy and you’ll probably find yourself tripping over celebrities and professional athletes on the way to your table. For my money, it’s the best tasting, most consistently well-prepared steak in town and that’s why I go there. If loud music and beautiful people ain’t your thing, then check out Wolfgang Puck’s CUT at the Palazzo for all of your charred cow needs.

You can follow N9ne Steakhouse on Twitter at @N9neSteakLV

Wazuzu at Encore

Everyone has their favorite sushi joint, everyone has their favorite dim sum joint and everyone has their favorite Thai place, but no one in this town knocks all Asian cuisines out of the park in one place like Chef Jet Tila and his crew do at Wazuzu. Wazuzu is categorized as a pan-Asian restaurant, and while such a title would cause most authenticity sticklers to scurry and flee, everything I’ve eaten at Wazuzu is legit. Great sushi rolls and sashimi, Chinese Shu Mai pork dumplings that are exquisite, Thai Chicken Panang Curry that is of the best I’ve had anywhere and his signature Drunken Noodles (I always get beef) are guaranteed to make you happy.

You can follow Chef Jet Tila on Twitter at @jettila

Silk Road at Vdara

The Best Breakfast in Las Vegas. Without question. Sure, greasy spoon diners have their place in life, but if you are looking for a unique breakfast using only Farmers Market fresh ingredients and the finest spices on the planet, then Silk Road is the place for you to have your morning meal. Influenced by the diverse flavors of the ancient Silk Road, Chef Martin Heierling and crew have created a space for those flavors to shine on breakfast foods. With Crispy French Toast with Cinnamon Custard and Cider Reduction, Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes with Orange Blossom Syrup and Candied Rose Petals and Free Range Turkey Hash with Piquillo Peppers and Kirmizi Butter…this is half a world away from your neighborhood Lumberjack Breakfast. On Sunday, Silk Road hosts a fabulous brunch that is a tasting of much of the menu and runs for $39 which includes a mimosa or bloody mary. Silk Road is only open for breakfast and lunch, but if you miss this and still want to check out Chef Heierling’s cuisine, check out his other concept in town, Sensi at the Bellagio, which is headed up by Chef Roy Ellamar for dinner. Excellent food.

L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand

The legendary Joël Robuchon wasn’t named “Chef of the Century” by some fluke. The guy knows his stuff. He has more Michelin stars than anyone else on the planet and his food deserves it. Food of his caliber obviously doesn’t come cheap; a meal at his neighboring signature restaurant, his only fine dining restaurant in the United States, will run you about $400 a head if you do the 16-course degustation. Fortunately, the more “casual” L’Atelier will allow you to eat some extraordinarily sophisticated food with less of a jolt to the bank account. Don’t get me wrong, you’re still going to pay a few shekels for it, and by “casual” I don’t mean that there’s banjos hung on the wall and a staff wearing Pieces of Flair will sing Happy Birthday to you as they present your complimentary cupcake with flaming sparkler. The “casual” aspect of L’Atelier means that the superfluous ceremony of fine dining (think white tablecloths, 20 different glasses on the table and a different sized fork for each bite) is stripped away and all you’re left with is perfect food. Examples of which are the Langoustine Fritter with Basil, Burger with Foie Gras, or the Steak Tartar with Frites. If you don’t have a cholesterol check anytime soon, Robuchon is probably most famous for his Pommes Puree, which are more butter than actual potato. This ain’t your momma’s mashed potatoes.

You can follow L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon on Twitter at @RobuchonLV

Off The Strip –

Bachi Burger
470 E. Windmill Ln. #100
Las Vegas, NV 89123

Asian inspired hamburgers. Who woulda thunk? I’m certainly glad Chef Lorin Watada, formerly corporate chef of Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Restaurants, did…and in so doing…created one of the biggest local hot spots in all of Las Vegas! Bachi Burger is delicious, unique and very wallet friendly. Hand-formed hamburgers combined with the flavors of Asia including Korea’s Kalbi and Vietnam’s Banh-Mi, be prepared for the explosion of flavor that Bachi Burger is known for. And while the Chili Fried Chicken appetizer is a must get, make sure you save room for dessert! Pastry Chef Keris is of the best pastry chefs in town and you won’t believe sweets of such high quality can be gotten at such a low price!

You can follow Bachi Burger on Twitter at @BachiBurgerLV

Marche Bacchus
2620 Regatta Drive, #106
Las Vegas, NV 89128

Marche Bacchus is a long ways from the Las Vegas Strip, and once you go inside, you feel like you instantly traveled another couple thousand miles away from it. Well done French cuisine in a fabulous setting, especially if you get to enjoy the outdoor dining space with view of the lake and surrounding McMansions. The Cote de Porc (Frenchy way of saying pork chop) and Scallop Risotto are good, and of course don’t forget the Foie Gras as an appetizer. Also, Marche Bacchus has a wine shop component, so you can purchase good wines without the heinous markup and enjoy them with the tasty food and comfortable surroundings.

Origin India
4480 Paradise Road #1200
Las Vegas, NV 89169

Origin India is far from a standard Indian curry joint. The best way I can describe Chef Kuldeep Singh’s cooking is that he combines the flavors of India with French technique and a New American sensitivity to premium ingredients. This is sophisticated Indian cuisine at its finest. Sure, you will find traditional items like Lamb Rogan Josh and Chicken Makhani, but they are done in such a way that you have the essence and the heart of India’s flavors, but the protein will always still be the star of the show. Origin India also has a true mixologist on board, and the cocktails made here are some of the best in the city. If you’re looking for more standard fare Indian food, Namaste Indian Cuisine in the Commercial Center on Sahara Ave (next door to Lotus of Siam) has the best Indian Lunch Buffet in town and is only $9.99, putting it as one of the best deals in town!

You can follow Origin India on Twitter at @OriginIndia

Pasta Shop Ristorante
2525 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy
Henderson, NV 89052

By the time this is published anywhere, the Pasta Shop would have closed its longtime location on Tropicana Ave and have re-opened on Horizon Ridge Pkwy in nearby Henderson. Simply the best noodle you’ll find in town, The Pasta Shop offers some of the best Italian dishes served anywhere. Of all the restaurants in Las Vegas, I’ve been going to the Pasta Shop the longest and it has always been among the best and most consistent plates of food of any cuisine. The Spinach Linguini with Oil and Garlic won’t get you many dates, but it is well worth the…aroma. Another big hit is the Shrimp Fra Diavolo which is one of the better balanced spicy red sauces out there.

Firefly
3900 Paradise Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89169

and

The Plaza Hotel
1 Main Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101

There are few things on Earth that are better for a late night hang than Spanish Tapas, and The Firefly does them quite well and at very reasonable prices. The energy is palpable when you eat at Firefly, as it is one of the hotspots for the young and hip. The Stuffed Dates, a Spanish staple, are fantastic as is both the Camerones a la Diabla (shrimp in a sweet and spicy sauce) and the al Ajillo (lemon-garlic butter sauce). The Manchego Mac & Cheese is also one of Firefly’s most popular picks and my own personal must-get-everytime-I-go dish is actually a dessert; Banana-Nutella Sandwiches. Oh yes.

You can follow Firefly on Twitter at @FireflyLV

Ichiza
4355 Spring Mountain Rd_
Las Vegas, NV 89102

In many ways, Ichiza is the Japanese version of the Firefly in town; a great late night hang full of the young and energetic. Ichiza is what’s known as an izakaya, or Japanese Bar Food joint. Mostly serving small plates, the food is meant to be accompanied with beer, shochu or sake. The menu is scattered on cards posted all over the walls which makes for an interesting adventure in deciding on what to eat. A must have is the Butter Corn, buttery corn love with a crab rangoon type cream cheese on a crisp cracker There’s also a fine assortment of Yakitori (chicken on a stick) and pork belly dishes that you should try. All of them. Oh, and make sure you give the Honey Toast and Coffee Jello a shot!

Naked City Pizza Shop

(inside Moon Doggie’s Bar)_
3240 S. Arville Rd. #E_
Las Vegas, NV 89102

The best Buffalo Wings in Las Vegas. Why? Because Chef / Owner Chris Palmeri is from Buffalo and even went back to Buffalo to work and learn with the best Buffalo-style wings and Buffalo-style pizza makers right before Naked City Pizza Shop opened its doors. That’s what I call dedication to the craft! The first of the Naked City Shops, the Naked City Sandwich Shop, had the best sandwiches in Las Vegas until they closed its doors and folded the sandwich arm into the Pizza Shop. So I guess that means NCPS has the best sandwiches in Las Vegas, too. The NCPS has a unique location, inside Moon Doggie’s Bar on the corner of Desert Inn and Arville. You can eat, drink, smoke, play video poker, and kill virtual exotic animals with the arcade game in the corner. The way good food was meant to be enjoyed.

You can follow Naked City Pizza Shop on Twitter at @NakedCityLV

Mike Dobranski is a professional musician, amateur blogger, eater of good food, poker junkie, master of the inappropriate comment and bad husband to a wonderful wife. He is the founder and writer for http://TastingLasVegas.com, a blog and podcast dedicated to news and reviews of the Las Vegas restaurant scene.

You can join Mike and Tasting Las Vegas on Twitter at @TastingLasVegas

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