Hungry epicures have been singing 'Viva Las Vegas' for the past decade as the decadent spread of this neon-lit city moved from steakhouses and buffets to celebrity-chef destinations. That trend has continued as a slew of eateries offering adventurous cuisine have opened recently.
Some serve the glitzier side of Las Vegas, while others remain indebted to the informal-yet-gluttonous theme that made Sin City famous. All are flavor-forward with mouthwatering menus tailored to your culinary mood.
Perfect your French at Bardot Brasserie
The grand tradition of Gallic fine dining has been an essential aspect of Las Vegas since its early days as a worldwide travel destination. Michael Mina’s Bardot Brasserie (aria.com/en/restaurants/bardot-brasserie) is the latest inheritor of this gustatory spirit. With a name nod to the voluptuous actress, Bardot brings alive a living slice of classic Parisian appetite and decor in the Aria at CityCenter. In a room of dark-toned paneled walls and incandescent vintage glass fixtures, impeccable French food like tuna tartare Niçoise with quail eggs is served with perfectly paired glasses of wine. The brunch draws fervent crowds.
Get to know the unforgettable Mr. Chow
The arrival of Mr. Chow (caesars.com/caesars-palace/restaurants/mr-chow) in Las Vegas created huge waves of culinary excitement when it opened in the famous Caesars Palace. A star-studded clientele of Hollywood A-listers and business moguls flock to the Chinese-inspired temple of outrageous edibles. Tableside presentation is all part of the show at Mr. Chow, including elegant platters of Peking duck and giant steamed sea bass. The rolling Champagne cart makes bubbly stops at tables, too.
Italian goes to the next level at Carbone
Where do headlining performers go to devour Italian dishes with luxurious gusto when they are not on Las Vegas stages? That would be Carbone (aria.com/en/restaurants/carbone.html), a cavalcade of cuisine in the Aria. In a stunning room of red velvet and golden trim illuminated by glittering chandeliers, gargantuan plates of pasta and more are served. Ravioli are stuffed to the brim with lobster, and tortellini are deluged with robust ragu. The veal chop Parmesan fills a platter like a delectable manhole cover. This is not a restaurant for light eaters in the least.
Cuisine rises to new heights at Rivea
High in the sky, looking out over the glowing Las Vegas skyline and the dramatic mountain peaks beyond, Rivea (delanolasvegas.com/en/restaurants/rivea.html) is like a shimmering modernistic dream. Located on the top floor of the Delano Hotel next to Mandalay Bay, the room is filled with eye-catching blown-glass baubles that hover over plates filled with cuisine by the master French chef Alain Ducasse. Entrées such as duck breast in bigarde sauce and wild Alaskan halibut with morels match the view. The adjacent Skyfall lounge is James Bond cool, too.
Gather for dinner at Harvest by Roy Ellamar
Las Vegas has embraced the farm-to-table movement that’s caught fire in foodie culture across the globe. Nowhere along the thrumming Strip is this more apparent than at the vegetable- and viand-filled Harvest by Roy Ellamar (bellagio.com/en/restaurants/harvest.html). A snug nook in the immense Bellagio, Harvest’s menu ranges from vegetarian-friendly farro porridge with wild mushrooms and truffles to meaty rack of lamb with chimichurri. Many visitors signal for the roaming Snack Wagon filled with munchies like housemade charcuterie and condiments including broccoli raab pesto.
The dining is snazzy at Herringbone
Style and cuisine often go hand-in-hand in Las Vegas, and that’s not just for glitzy dress-up, either. Upscale casual food is in high demand among famished travelers here, and Herringbone (herringboneeats.com/las-vegas/) in the Aria is a fittingly snazzy destination. Taking its design cues from coastal Southern California, it features a welcoming and comfortable dining room plus a breezy patio area under Las Vegas’ dramatic evening skies. Experiment with charred whole Spanish octopus in preserved lemons or dig into grilled branzino with shaved fennel.
It’s time for some gustatory Therapy
The ongoing culinary fermentation of gourmet Las Vegas is not just something that’s happening along the Strip in enormous hotels. Downtown is a hive of edible explorations, too. One of the brightest dining spots in Old Vegas is Therapy (therapylv.com). This charming space along funky East Fremont Street contains a gastropub that’s advanced its mission into new territory. Here, sliders are filled with barramundi with truffle-lemon aioli and arugula. Macaroni and cheese croquettes are sided with bacon-tomato jam and red pepper remoulade slaw. You get the comfort food picture.
The culinary scene sparkles at Beauty & Essex
When it comes to entertaining epicureanism, the Las Vegas dining universe shines at Beauty & Essex (beautyandessexlv.com/). Located in the trendy Cosmopolitan, this eatery is a place to imbibe cutting-edge mixology paired with innovative eats. Match a rum-sweet Melon Mojito with paprika-spiced salmon and sriracha-curry cauliflower. Side a bourbon- and maple-flavored Woodsman highball with savory roasted beef marrow bones with Rioja-braised shallot marmalade. Top off your evening with black-bottomed butterscotch pot de crème with coconut chantilly for good measure. Mix in ever present music, and this is dining with a distinct nocturnal vibe.
Branch off for dinner at Alder & Birch
Another segment of Las Vegas that’s seeing tremendous culinary advances is populated by what’s known as 'locals casinos.' These off-Strip destinations once mostly favored chain restaurants, and were usually only visited by out-of-towners when they were looking for a deal on lodging rather than fine-dining options. That’s changing, however, especially at establishments like Alder & Birch (orleanscasino.com/dine/alder-and-birch) in The Orleans. In a handsome but relaxed dining room defined by ivory-hued leather booths and darkly lacquered walls, impressive dishes like herbed organic Jidori chicken in pan jus and Wagyu coulotte sirloin with grilled portobellini mushrooms are attracting more and more true foodies.
Journey to Chinatown’s Niu-Gu
Many first-time visitors are surprised to learn that this Mojave metropolis has an immense Chinatown district to the west of the Strip filled with scores of Asian restaurants representing the foodways of many nations. And at compact Niu-Gu (facebook.com/NiuGuLasVegas), this means contemporary gourmet flourishes riffing on the oldest cuisine in the world: Chinese. Mixing inspirations from various provinces, the tiny but capable kitchen produces unexpected delights like glistening squid ink fried rice, lobster-studded tropical fruit salad, fiery double-chili prawns and tender Angus beef short rib slices served on a dramatic leg bone. Niu-Gu is also an incredible deal in comparison to pricey Asian restaurants in the Tourist Corridor.