How to Eat Your Way Through Las Vegas
I don’t know if everyone goes to Las Vegas for the food. But that’s basically why I go anywhere, and the city’s never let me down in my culinary adventures.
From top-notch buffets and indulgent, decadent celebrity chef-driven restaurants to affordable eats off the strip and secret pizzerias (true story), I have eaten my way through The Entertainment Capital of the World a few times over.
The good news: Great food doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and expensive fare doesn’t mean it will be your best meal ever.
So, I’ve picked my sure-fire favorites for all sorts of prices and occasions. There’s something in here for everyone!
It’s to Thai-for: Lotus of Siam
Step off the strip for a bit and catch the best Thai in Las Vegas (arguably, in the country) at Lotus of Siam. It’s not a fancy place – it’s in a standard strip mall – but the food is second to none. Chef Saipin Chutima won a James Beard award for her recipes, passed down for almost a century in her family. The menu features over 100 items, so get ready to try something new.
If you go: This is Northern-style Thai food, so think lots of herbs and spices and quite a bit of heat. Don’t miss the Issan-Style Beef Jerky or the Thai-Style Pork Jerky.
A Fancy Night Out at Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare
If a celebration is in order, the Wynn’s upscale seafood spot by Chef Paul Bartolotta is well worth the investment. Think: Seafood that’s native to the Italian Mediterranean and gets flown in daily straight to their kitchen. I didn’t know you could get langoustines like these in the U.S.! Take someone special for a truly incredible night out.
If you go: You must try the langoustines as you will never have another one like this quite possibly in your life.
Raise the Bar at Burger Bar
Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay is the ultimate stop for anyone who loves a good burger. The famed French chef from Fleur de Lys in San Francisco does wonders, with options from beef, buffalo and turkey to vegetarian patties. Their generous, customizable burgers are not to be believed. Save some room for something sweet from their milkshake bar – your inner child will say thanks.
If you go: Now, I’m a classic burger fan, but don’t let me stop you from ordering one of the many excellent tasting concoctions chef has put together, like the Rossini Burger pictured above.
Go Where the Chefs Go: Raku
This Japanese robata bar (charcoal grill-style cooking) is where chefs go after they wrap up their own shifts in the kitchen. It’s off the strip and well worth the trip for more adventurous eats (pig ears, anyone?). Pro tip: Raku is open late-night, but it gets crowded quickly.
If you go: Don’t miss the homemade tofu and the crispy asparagus.
Mix it Up at China Poblano
Where else (other than Vegas) can you eat tacos and dim sum at the same time? China Poblano at The Cosmopolitan is one of my top lunch or casual dinner spots. The brilliant Chef José Andrés brings together your favorites from both cuisines – with cocktails featuring Asian yuzu and lychee or Mexican tequila to boot.
If you go: You must try the Lamb Potstickers Stuck on You, as well as the Rou Jia Mo Street Sandwich, pictured above (A food writer in China once told me to ask for the “Roger Moore,” because this name sounds almost exactly like how the sandwich is pronounced). As for the Mexican side of things, pick your favorite taco and don’t miss the Salt Air Margarita.
Tapas + Italian = Herbs & Rye
If you appreciate an excellent mustache and food and drinks with panache, Herbs & Rye does the trick. This speakeasy-inspired spot off the strip is dark, cozy, and features happy hour steak specials – yes! Need I say more?
If you go: I go for the cocktails, so pick what tickles your fancy…brown, white, sweet, bitter, classic, new. It’s all delicious.
A Sea of Choices: The Village Seafood Buffet
I’m obviously a serious seafood lover, and this buffet at The Rio is no joke. It is one of the first food memories I have from my first trip to Vegas, and I’ve been back a few times since. In my memory, it’s the size of a football field, and everything I’ve had there was top-notch. And did I mention the margaritas?
If you go: If you go, take super small portions of what looks good. Then, go back for something new – or take another portion of what you loved on the first round. Look at me, I’m like your personal buffet coach!
A Casual Drink: The Lobby Bar at Caesars Palace
I think the traditional “lobby bar” gets a bad rap, and this stop at Caesars proves that point. It’s open 24-hours and has a relaxed vibe that’s necessary if you need a break from walking or a long day of sightseeing. Tony Abou-Ganim (aka: The Modern Mixologist) created eight of the premium cocktails on the menu, upping the ante for this unassuming spot. This man does genius things with cocktails, I promise you.
If you go: I’d probably order the Casino Cocktail (pictured above), but I know Tony loves a good ol’ classic.
Grub at Todd English’s P.U.B.
Todd English is known for his variety of restaurants around the world, and P.U.B. at ARIA is the next-level bar food every Vegas trip requires. Also, getting to dine at a celebrity chef’s establishment at a reasonable price is a great way to try their food without the fuss and white tablecloths. A bonus on P.U.B.’s menu is that all of Todd’s favorites have beer pairing recommendations, making ordering a breeze for the indecisive patron (such as myself).
If you go: Todd is Boston-based, so I tend to lean toward the chowders and lobster rolls, but I’m also a fan of most chicken wings when I see them on the menu – and sliders!
A Classy, Classic Cocktail: Petrossian Bar
This old-school spot at the Bellagio will have you feeling like you traveled back in time. Live music from their one-of-a-kind Steinway sets the mood, and from an afternoon tea service to caviar in the evening, you’ll love the elegance and sophistication here. Stop by for a drink with someone special!
If you go: Stick with an oldie, but goodie. A Negroni, a Manhattan, or a martini will have you feeling like you’re in a scene from a movie.
Bonus: The Most Secret Pizza
Secret Pizza is literally the name of the hidden pizza spot in The Cosmopolitan. Wander the hotel and follow your nose down a hallway lined with records (that’s the only hint I’ll give you) for giant, New York-style slices that will satisfy your strongest late-night cravings for an affordable snack – or two.
If you go: Yes, get the pizza.
What’s your favorite spot in Vegas for a delish bite or drink? Share your experiences in the comments or chat with us on Facebook!
[Lead image courtesy of Mandalay Bay for Burger Bar]