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 –
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
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.
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.
3900 Paradise Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89169
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
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