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what to eat & where to stay



DINING IN THE DESERT

By Amy Tarr and Minna Suh

Having traveled the country's major culinary destinations over the years, StarChefs' editors have experienced the peculiar dining cultures of cities like Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Seattle, Miami and, of course, our hometown of New York. Each city has its own dining vibe, as well as a set of challenging parameters that keep chefs on top of their game (and keep them complaining after-hours). For example, in Boston, many chefs struggle with a conservative dining base. In New York, chefs vie to stay in business as they dodge the slings and arrows of piercing reviewers, fickle diners, and angry landlords. Traditionally, few New Orleans chefs have dared to swim against the tide of Creole and Cajun cuisines, although now in the wake of Katrina, the effort to preserve that cultural legacy has grown immeasurably.

RESTAURANTS
FRENCH
Alizé
Daniel Boulud Brasserie
Restaurant Guy Savoy
Fleur de Lys
Mix
Picasso


AMERICAN
NobHill
Bradley Ogden
Aureole
Michael Mina
Commander’s Palace
Simon Kitchen and Bar
Tableau


ECLECTIC
Sensi
Postrio


SEAFOOD
Restaurant rm
Seablue
808


CHINESE
Wing Lei
Joyful House


THAI
Lotus of Siam

ITALIAN
Zeffirino
Olives


STEAKHOUSES
Neros
SW Steakhouse
Prime
Charlie Palmer Steak
CraftSteak


NO FUSS
Table 34
In-N-Out Burger


NIGHT LIFE

Fix
Pure
Tangerine


HOTELS
SPLURGE WORTHY
Mirage

PRICEY BUT SANE
MGM
Caesars Palace
Mandalay Bay


WALLET WATCHING
Treasure Island
Flamingo

Paris

   
 

So what of Las Vegas, the Disneyland for adults, Sin City, the fastest growing city in America? The challenges that chefs face there are manifold. Foremost is the fact that everything about Las Vegas is larger than life. That means that chefs must reckon with 200-plus covers nightly, a daunting endeavor when those 200-odd diners come from all walks of life – from all over the world. The task of cooking for a broad range of clientele is magnified when the restaurant sits right on the casino floor, such as Bradley Ogden at Caesars or Michael Mina in the Bellagio. Everyone from high rollers to bachelor-partiers are likely to stroll in for a look or a bite.

Paris Las Vegas by night on StarChefs.com

Paris Las Vegas by night

The second biggest challenge lies in the fact that Las Vegas is literally a man-made oasis in the desert. Local produce is virtually non-existent, which means that almost all of the produce served there is shipped from around the country and the world. For chefs like Daniel Boulud at his brasserie in the Wynn, and Tom Colicchio at CraftSteak in MGM, sourcing first-rate product is a priority, no matter what the cost. So when you go to Las Vegas, you must expect to pay more for the heirloom tomato salad, or that fruit de mer platter.

While you just can’t please everyone all of the time, Las Vegas chefs and restaurateurs often make the greatest effort to try, and most often the result is a middle-of-the-road approach with familiar ingredients, flavor combinations, as well as tried and true techniques. Those chefs who dare to push the envelope, such as Sven Mede at NobHill, Jacques Van Staden at Alizé, or Bryan Ogden at Bradley Ogden, have found a way to do so in ever so subtle ways, and we applaud their efforts.

Of course it is no wonder that the two most commonly overheard words in Las Vegas are “buffet” and “steakhouse.” While we can’t say much for the buffets, we can highlight a handful of superb steakhouses that are really creative, fine dining restaurants in disguise – SW Steakhouse, Neros, Prime, Charlie Palmer Steak and CraftSteak to be exact. Of course all that red meat deserves a fine Cabernet or Bordeaux, and one utterly brilliant element of the Las Vegas dining circuit is the veritable plethora of master sommeliers and trophy wine cellars that rival San Francisco and New York. As a chef-focused publication, rarely do we approach a meal as a compliment to wine, but in Vegas, it might be worth your while to build dinner around a bottle (high rollers and lucky beginners…) at your perilous expense.

There appears to be no end in sight to the influx of celebrity chef outlets – Guy Savoy at Caesars being the most recent, with Mario Batali and David Burke fast on his heels. This phenomenon begs two questions: 1. Are these celebrity chef outposts as good as the originals? and 2. Can a talented chef who is not a mega-superstar open a restaurant in Las Vegas now and succeed?

The Strip at night on StarChefs.com

The Strip at night

The answer to the first question is an emphatic no – given the afore-mentioned challenges, there is just no way that these copy cats can rival the level of cuisine being produced at their twin restaurants. The better formula that seems to be proving successful is a celebrity chef concept restaurant that doesn’t seek to recreate a New York or San Francisco experience but rather tailors a restaurant concept to the peculiar challenges of the place. Daniel Boulud Brasserie is a perfect example. Mr. Boulud opted not to recreate the opulence of Daniel, or the chic fusion dishes of Café Boulud, or even the bistro moderne dishes of DB Bistro Moderne – three successful restaurants set in New York City. Rather, he embraced the brasserie concept with its classic but limited menu that he knew he could better deliver at a high quality level every night of the week, every week of the year.

The second question is much harder to answer, and as we watch our young and talented Las Vegas Rising Stars blossom, we hope that the city's ever-growing community will support them in their own right, just as other cities embrace these ambitious phenoms when they feel the time is right to spread their wings and step out of the shadows of their more experienced and celebrated mentor chefs.

And now…a somewhat lengthy though still selective rundown of what to eat and where to stay in Las Vegas.

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RESTAURANTS:

French:
Alizé

The Palms Casino Resort
4321 West Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103
(702) 951-7000
Sunday-Thursday 5:30 - 10:00 pm
Friday-Saturday 5:30 - 10:30 pm

The dining room at Alize on StarChefs.com

The dining room at Alizé

Situated at the top of the Palms, local celebrity chef Andre Rochat offers modern French-American cuisine in an elegant setting. Plush burgundy velvet chairs envelope you, as does the panoramic view of Las Vegas, one of the best night time vantages in town. Executive Chef Jacques Van Staden, a Jean-Louis Palladin protégé and Rising Star, has a way with gourmet ingredients, swaying guests to try things by coupling them with very familiar ingredients. A texture fanatic, his dishes incorporate lots of constrast, balancing smooth with “crunchies.” Pastry Chef Tammy Alana, who was also named a Rising Star, more than holds her own with fun modern takes on classic desserts, as in the pandan leaf cheesecake spring rolls. Master Sommelier Steve Geddes’s wine list is off the charts.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Roasted Muscovy Duck Breast with Almond Toast, Spice Roasted Duck Leg with Braised Rhubarb and Brix Duck Sauce
  • Beef Tartare with Crunchy Chor
  • Pan Seared Foie Gras with Vine Ripe Tomato Confiture, Rice Cake and Beef Jus
  • Summer Truffle Risotto with Green Peas, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Crispy Sweetbreads
  • Pandan Leaf Cheesecake Spring Roll with Tapioca
Top of the Page


Daniel Boulud Brasserie
Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(888) 320-7110
Nightly 5:30 - 10:00 pm

Daniel Boulud has had opportunities to open dozens of restaurants beyond New York City’s borders. After the success of Café Boulud Palm Beach, he found an appealing venture in Vegas. One of the few mega celebrity chefs to open in the Wynn, Boulud purposely veered from his Daniel, Café Boulud and DB Bistro models to try his hand at a brasserie, with its casual, formulaic menu. The quality of the ingredients is superb, but the menu is fairly traditional, as in the tarte tatin and braised beef short ribs. Chef Phillipe Rispoli, like Daniel Boulud, is a native of Lyon. This Las Vegas local cut his teeth at Aureole under Charlie Palmer and was recently named a StarChefs Rising Star. Lincoln Carson, one of New York City’s great pastry chefs, has found a new home here as well, and uses his under-the-radar position to play with fashion-forward pastry like passion fruit panna cotta with lemongrass consommé.

Recommended Dishes:
  • Curry Risotto and Lobster
  • Tatin of Tomato with Goat Cheese and Arugula Pistou
  • Raw Bar: Raspberry Oysters
  • Roasted Muscovy Duck with Bing Cherry Jus and Almond-Potato Croquette
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Restaurant Guy Savoy
Caesars Palace
Augustus Tower, 2nd floor
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 346-4642
Wednesday-Sunday 5:30 - 10:30 pm
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays

Milk-fed Poussin, Baby Leeks, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes at Guy Savoy< on StarChefs.com

Milk-fed Poussin, Baby Leeks, Roasted
Fingerling Potatoes at Guy Savoy

Restaurant Guy Savoy, designed by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte and his team of 99 designers, occupies the second floor of the Augustus Tower. The classically-inspired architecture was thought out to the last detail. Even the sexy hostess outfits – palazzo pants slit up the sides and daring midriff tops – match the minimalist scenery, subdued with dark woods, gray stone and leather seats. Executive Chefs Damien Dulas, Laurent Soliveres and Chef de Cuisine Adam Sobel provide a decadent dining experience. Their total commitment to dining pleasure through variety and choice is apparent in their innovative bread pairings. Standouts include a series of amuse bouches served on spoons that allow diners to taste (much the same way that chefs do in their kitchens) and tender milk-fed poussin, from the open kitchen’s rotisserie, sitting on a bed of baby leeks, fingerling potatoes and girolles – baby chanterelle mushrooms. By the time dessert literally rolls around-on a cart loaded with jars (echoing the kitschy serving style from Savoy’s Paris location) filled with choices like rice pudding, chocolate mousse, clafoutis and langues de chat, you’ll probably be too full to savor them, but might make more of an effort if the choices bended tradition a bit more.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Toro and Maguro Tartare, Golden Osetra Caviar, Poached Quail Egg, Shellfish Emulsion
  • Colors of Caviar
  • Milk-fed Poussin, Baby Leeks, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

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Fleur de Lys
Mandalay Bay Resort
3950 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-9400
Nightly 5:30 - 10:30 pm

Foie Gras Cappuccino at Fleur de Lys on StarChefs.com

Foie Gras Cappuccino at Fleur de Lys

With formality exuding from its dining room, Star Chef Hubert Keller’s Fleur de Lys serves traditional French food that defines classically refined fare. Chef de Cuisine Laurent Pillard’s decadent foie gras cappuccino, served in an espresso cup, is whimsical yet simple – a dish not to miss. The dining room is airy and elegant – from warm lighting bouncing off the curving brick walls and the dramatic 30-foot ceiling lending a sense of spaciousness. Designers made use of the small floor space by building upwards – a table at the second floor wine vault provides an entertaining view of the dining scene below. Fleur de Lys is the perfect beginning to a romantic night out.

Recommended Dishes:

  • Roasted Squab Breast filled with Foie Gras and Truffles
  • Foie Gras Cappuccino with Corn Madeleine
  • Braised Beef Ribs with Carrot Confit
Top of the Page

Mix
Mandalay Bay Resort
3950 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-9500
Nightly 6:00 - 10:30 pm
Lounge: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00 pm - 2:00 am Friday - Saturday: 5:00 pm - 4:00 am

The dining room at Mix Las Vegas on StarChefs.com

The dining room at Mix Las Vegas

Alain Ducasse meets George Jetson at this hyper-modern, ultra-sexy restaurant atop The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. Ducasse’s executive chef Bruno Davaillon whips up modern French wonders that balance fussy and fun with a happening bar scene. Pastry Chef Gregory Gourreau delivers a fun finish with desserts like the Mix Candy Bar, a brownie-like dacquoise covered with praline paste and caramel. Black and White Chocolate Pizza comes complete with milk and dark chocolate ‘mushrooms’ on a thin brioche crust. Sommelier JB Balduc is the quintessential wine guide. Let him pair wines for your meal.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Roasted Maine Lobster “au Curry,” Coconut Basmati Rice
  • Lobster Salad with Avocado and Osetra Caviar Cream
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Picasso
The Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South (Flamingo Rd.)
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 234-6358
(702) 693-8105
Wednesday-Monday 6:00 - 9:30 pm
Closed Tuesdays

Foie Gras and Summer Truffles at Picasso on StarChefs.com

Foie Gras and Summer Truffles at Picasso

Julian Serrano, an original Vegas celebrity chef, lives up to the nightly challenge of having his food compete with a world-class Picasso exhibit. In fact, it doesn’t feel like a competition at all, because there’s no better way to experience art than sitting down to a fine meal with first rate wines, care of Master Sommelier Robert Smith. Serrano’s respect for ingredients is so intense he looks to complement meat dishes with the ingredients of the terroir the animals graze on, as in the Fallow Deer with Granny Smith Apples, Asparagus and Beef Bone Reduction. So sit back, take in a painting, and say, “I could get used to this kind of living.”

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Foie Gras and Summer Truffles, Favas, Petit Pois, Zucchini, Tomato Confit
  • Fallow Deer with Granny Smith Apples, Asparagus and Beef Bone Reduction.
Top of the Page


American:
NobHill

MGM Grand Hotel
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 891-7337
5:30 - 10:30 pm

The dining room at NobHill on StarChefs.com

The dining room at NobHill

For a memorable meal, make sure to stop by Michael Mina’s NobHill before the end of your trip. The kitchen caters to a well-traveled clientele with worldly palates and isn’t timid about serving gamey meats and other exotic ingredients, such as quail and sweetbreads, which otherwise don’t sit well with less adventurous diners. German-born Executive Chef Sven Mede, who was named a Rising Star, joined the kitchen in 2004 after working at Bradley Ogden. He deftly executes Mina’s San Francisco cuisine, while putting his own creative spin on the menu.
    Recommended Dishes:

  • Marinated Tuna with Sea Urchin, Sunchoke and Spicy Cucumber
  • Grilled Niman Ranch Veal Chop with Polenta Cake, Fava Beans, Caper-Sage Reduction
  • Duet of Foie Gras with Pineapple, Vanilla Tapioca and Cinnamon Almond Toast
  • Roasted Quail Breast with Kumquats, Purple Peruvian Potato chips
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Bradley Ogden
Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 731-7731
(877) 346-4642
Nightly 5:00 - 11:00 pm

Halibut Sashimi Cured with Soy, Cilantro, Lemon Sorbet at Bradley Ogden on StarChefs.com

Halibut Sashimi Cured with Soy, Cilantro,
Lemon Sorbet at Bradley Ogden

Winner of James Beard Best New Restaurant Award in 2003, Star Chef Bradley Ogden, the consumate San Francisco Bay Area restaurateur, has led his eponymous restaurant at Caesars to great acclaim. Although located just off the casino floor, once you enter, you can barely remember the jingling slot machines and gaming tables lurking just a few feet away. Ogden manages to create an intimate dining experience in this larger-than-life world of Vegas. There’s dark wood trim, scenic images of water, and an adventurous menu you’re more likely to see in New York City or Los Angeles rather than Las Vegas. Ogden’s team, led by his son Bryan, a recently named Rising Star, doubles as wine director and chef and operates an experimental kitchen. They often spend more money on shipping than the actual cost of the exquisite ingredients, a necessary price to pay to transport the season’s best produce from all over the world in the desert.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Halibut Sashimi Cured with Soy, Cilantro, Lemon Sorbet
  • Sweet Corn Soup with Butter Poached Maine Lobster, Popcorn and Smoked Bacon
  • Grilled Ribeye Pavé with Maytag Blue Cheese, Beets, Swiss Chard, Cepes and Red Wine Essence
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Aureole
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino
3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(877) 632-7401
(702) 632-7401
Nightly 6:00 - 10:00 pm

The dining room at Aureole on StarChefs.com

The dining room at Aureole

If Charlie Palmer’s fine dining venue at Mandalay Bay is a temple of food, then the wine collection is clearly its altar at 42 feet high with a capacity for 10,000 bottles. Master Sommelier William Sherer was recently awarded a James Beard Outstanding Wine Service award. Not to be overshadowed by the impressive wine list is the pitch-perfect French-Mediterranean-inflected American cuisine of Chef Vincent Pouessel, a Rising Star, whose obsession with olive oils and sea salts does not escape the notice of the truly observant. Pastry Chef Megan Romano offers a praise-worthy finish with seasonal desserts like citrus-scented cheese cake with huckleberry compote.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Citrus Grilled Escolar with Watercress Emulsion and Balsamic Vinegar
  • Trio of Ahi Tuna “Mediterranean” Flavors
  • Hand Rolled Potato-Truffle Gnocchi
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Michael Mina
The Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-8255
Nightly 5:30 - 10:00 pm

StarChefs’ editorial team came to Michael Mina’s just four weeks after Chef Anthony Amoroso was newly installed in the kitchen, fresh from a tour of duty at Fiamma at MGM. Amoroso’s talent is undeniable as he executed Mina’s signature dishes almost flawlessly, as in the Hamachi Parfait, a delicate balance of textures and flavors. We look forward to our next dining encounter there. Young wine phenom Joshua Lieberman has knowledge and passion beyond belief, a promising protégé of Raj Parr, managing sommelier for the Michael Mina restaurants.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Hamachi Parfait with Crispy Rice Cake, Wasabi Tobiko, Shiitake Vinaigrette
  • Tartare of Ahi Tuna with Sesame Oil, Pine Nuts, Garlic and Chiffonade of Mint
Top of the Page


Simon Kitchen and Bar
Hard Rock Hotel
4455 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-4440
(702) 693-5000
Nightly 6:00 - 11:00 pm

Chef Kerry Simon, a Jean-Georges Vongerichten protégé, cut his chops at Prime in the Bellagio before going solo with his rock-and-roll casual spot in the Hard Rock. Simon offers amped-up West Coast comfort food, as in his “California Roll” Pizza – toppings include celery leaf, shredded cucumber, avocado, tuna, and lump crab. Pastry Chef Justin Nilsson takes comforting nostalgic desserts to the max with snow balls, chocolate chip cookies and milk, and huge tufts of cotton candy. With its totally unpretentious vibe, this restaurant is ideal for families and groups.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • “California Roll” Pizza
  • Hearts of Palm Salad with Watercress, Orange Vinaigrette with Candied Cashew Clusters
  • Warm Chocolate Pudding Cake with Vanilla Bean Milk Shake
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Commander’s Palace
Aladdin Resort and Casino
3663 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 892-8272
Brunch: Monday -Thursday 9am – 11 am, Saturday - Sunday 10:30 am – 2 pm
Lunch: 11:30 - 2:00 pm
Dinner: 5:30 - 10:00 pm daily


The Big Easy’s Vegas offshoot of Commander’s Palace brings refined Creole cuisine to the desert, thanks to Chef Carlos Guia, who came over from the original Commander’s Palace. Guia was nominated for the James Beard Best Chef in the Southwest Award this year. The landmark Brennan family restaurant is reputed for its top-notch service. A lunchtime tradition here is its 25-cent martini service. There is a speakeasy casual elegance mood about the five dining rooms, which are simultaneously romantic and kid-friendly.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Louisiana Alligator “Cordon Bleu” with Spicy Filé Cream
  • Foie Gras Gumbo
  • Bread Pudding Soufflé with Whiskey Cream Sauce
Top of the Page


Tableau
Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 770-3463
Breakfast: 8am-10:30am
Lunch: 11:30am-2:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm-10:00pm

Maine Lobster Salad 
                                          at Tableau on StarChefs.com

Maine Lobster Salad at Tableau


Deep within the sacred area of the Wynn lies Tableau, a for-hotel-guests-only dining room where Chef Mark LoRusso (formerly of Aqua in San Francisco and Las Vegas) tackles breakfast, lunch and dinner service for the Vegas elite. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, LoRusso moved to Los Angeles where he eventually worked alongside Star Chef Thomas Keller. Next, he moved east and worked under Charlie Palmer at Aureole in New York City. At Tableau, LoRusso stays the middle course, but achieves a lovely harmony with clean flavors, derived from seasonal ingredients that are impeccably handled.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Maine Lobster Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes, Sweet Melon and Frisee
  • Alaskan Wild Salmon and Summer Corn Pudding with Chanterelles
  • Peach Shortcake
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Eclectic:

Miso-Glazed Chilean Chilean Seabass at Sensi on StarChefs.com

Miso-Glazed Chilean Seabass at Sensi

Sensi
Bellagio Spa Tower
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard. South (Flamingo Rd.)
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-8800
Lunch: 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
Dinner: 5:00 - 10:30 pm


The four corners of the world collide at the high-design concept, Sensi, where world-traveled chef Martin Heierling, a StarChefs Rising Star, fuses together ingredients and dishes from Asia, the Middle East, India, Mediterranean, the US and beyond. The kitchen is entirely in view at the center of the dining room and makes for entertaining eating. Heierling’s greatest successes are in his sinfully rich comfort food dishes like Mac’ and Cheese with Four Cheeses and Colorado Lamb T-bone Steak.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Miso-Glazed Chilean Seabass topped with Shiso, Shiitake Mushrooms, Radish Salad on a bed of Baby Bok Choy with Ginger Dashi Broth
  • Colorado Spring Lamb T-bone Steak
  • Mac and Cheese: Homemade Pasta and Melted 4 Cheeses: Gruyere, Brie, Fontina, and Parmesan
Top of the Page


Postrio
The Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 796-1110
Lunch: 11:30 am - 5:00 pm
Dinner: 5:00 - 10:00 pm

Chef John Lagrone, a Wolfgang Puck protégé, began his career working at Postrio’s San Fransisco location. In 1992 he moved to Vegas, and helped open Spago. In 1999, Lagrone helped open Postrio, set amidst the Venetian’s elegant Canal Shops. Postrio has the classic white-tablecloth setting, but with a casual undercurrent. It offers patio dining, but the “patio” refers to the space along the indoor canal. While the restaurant bills itself as contemporary American cuisine, Lagrone’s menu reflects the eclectic influences of all of Puck’s restaurants – Italian from Spago, Chinese from Chinois and the Eastern European foods of Puck’s roots, such as Hungarian Spicy Beef Goulash and Pork Wiener Schnitzel. As a 10-year veteran of Puck’s organization, Lagrone has mastered his mentor’s culinary approach but at the same time makes sure his own personality shines through with standout creations like the Roasted Quail with Gnocchi. The perfectly roasted quail sits on a stuffing of sourdough, applewood bacon and mushroom that is the epitomy of comfort food.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Roasted Vermont Farm Quail with Crisp Pecorino-Potato Gnocchi, Wilted Greens and Rosemary Jus
  • Peking Style Duck
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Seafood :

Restaurant rm

Mandalay Place at Mandalay Bay
3730 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-9300
5:00 - 10:00 pm


Restaurant rm, which opened in February of 2005, is Chef Rick Moonen’s Vegas incarnation of his original New York City establishment. Tucked away at the end of the casino at Mandalay Bay, the bi-level restaurant is separated into r bar café, a casual bistro, and Restaurant rm upstairs. Sleek and modern, Restaurant rm is designed to make diners feel as if they are aboard a luxury yacht with wooden tables and sparkling glass panels separating the rooms. For guaranteed intimacy, dine in a half-moon shaped leather booth for two. If you’re into shellfish, indulge in Moonen’s excellent scallop dishes, such as his seared diver scallops served with grilled squid and an herbed clam risotto.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Seared Diver Scallops and Grilled Half-Moon Bay Squid, Clam Fines Herb Risotto with Lemon Olive Oil Emulsion
  • Atlantic Fluke, Braised Leeks, Fava Beans, Potato Gnocchi and Mustard Caviar
  • Mediterranean Mussel Soufflé with Madras Curry Butter
  • Hawaiian Rainbow Runner Ceviche, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Mint, Yuzu and Cilantro
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Seablue
MGM Grand
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 891-3486
Nightly 5:30 – 10:00 pm

Seablue’s casual dining room features an appealing raw bar. The fish is undeniably fresh, caught in the wild and flown in daily. Chef Ben Jenkins is no stranger to Las Vegas dining; the New England Culinary Institute graduate earned his sea legs at nearby NobHill and Acqua. Don’t pass up fantastic wine pairings by Gabriele Whelehan, Seablue’s knowledgeable sommelier.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Fire-Roasted Corn and Lobster Soup
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808
Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 731-7604
Wednesday-Sunday 5:00 - 11:00 pm


Chef Jean-Marie Josselin made a name for himself in Hawaii. The Aloha state’s area code is the inspiration for his restaurant’s name in Caesars Palace, and the Hawaiian influences are undeniable. Servers wear floral print shirts and the menu, executed nightly by Chef de Cuisine Wes Coffel, is seafood-heavy, with standout dishes like miso-charred butterfish and seared ahi tuna. Coffel takes creative license with the menu, pairing the tuna with duck prosciutto, an elegant substitute for Spam, a Hawaiian staple.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Miso-Charred Butterfish with Mochi Rice, Edamame Puree and Crab-Shiitake Broth
  • Seared Ahi with Canellini Beans, Crispy Duck Prosciutto and a Zinfandel Reduction
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Chinese

Wing Lei
Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(888) 320-7110
5:30 - 10:30 pm

Peking Duck Salad at Wing Lei on StarChefs.com

Peking Duck Salad at Wing Lei

Wing Lei takes Chinese food to another level with its exquisite presentation of approachable food. Chef Richard Chen, a StarChefs Rising Star, combines traditional cuisine, exotic ingredients and American techniques to create delectable dishes, as in the Short Ribs with Saffron Risotto made with jasmine rice. Chen trained at the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago under renowned chef Sarah Stegner, who taught him to rethink culinary traditions. The impact of Chen’s creative dishes is amplified by the restaurant’s awe-inspiring surroundings – the courtyard in the center of Wynn provides a faux garden that makes guests forget that the space lacks windows.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Peking Duck Salad with Orange and Truffle Vinaigrette
  • Grilled Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, XO Chili Sauces, Baby Bok Choy
  • Braised Short Ribs, Saffron Jasmine Rice (Risotto), Star Anise Reduction
Top of the Page


Joyful House Chinese Cuisine
4601 Spring Mountain Rd.
Las Vegas, NV 89102
(702) 889-8881
Daily 11:00 am - 3:00 am

While it’s easy to stay on The Strip for every meal, after a string of celebrity chef experiences you might begin to wonder what lies beyond. Is there culinary civilization off the strip? Yes, but only to a certain extent, and particularly when you’re struck by a powerful Chinese food craving. You could opt for the high-end modern fare at Wing Lei in the Wynn or you could pop into Joyful House, a perennial chef favorite, especially in the wee hours. The menu has an outstanding list of traditional hot pot dishes. The food is authentic, satisfying many Chinese tourists with native dishes. Assistant Manager Philip Cheng is a hospitable host. Let him order for you and you'll be in for a real treat.
    Recommended Dishes:

  • Stewed Pork Leg
  • Panfried String Beans
  • Fried Chicken
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Thai

Lotus of Siam

Commercial Center Mall
953 East Sahara Avenue
Las Vegas, NV 89104
(702) 735-3033
Lunch: 11:30 am - 2:30 pm Monday-Friday
Dinner: 5:30 pm - 9:30 pm Monday-Thursday, 5:30 pm - 10:00 pm Friday-Sunday

Duck Curry at Lotus of Siam on StarChefs.com

Duck Curry at Lotus of Siam

Lotus of Siam is proof that you can’t judge a book by its cover. Located in a run-down strip mall, the first thing you notice is the aging interior, and you start to wonder what kind of experience you’re in for. Lotus of Siam specializes in Issan-style cuisine from northern Thailand showcasing spice and heat. Owner and host Bill Chutima really knows his wines. Let him take care of your pairings – he bases them on the dish’s lead spice, not on the protein. Right from the first dish you are bound to be pleasantly surprised. Have the appetizer of house-made beef jerky, nua dad deaw – the bold and tangy flavor is addictive. At first, the shrimp with garlic dish seems like any run-of-the-mill Asian shrimp dish, but Chef Saipin Chutima keeps the shrimp’s shell partially attached, lightly coats and deep fries them, resulting in an airy, crisp coat with juicy meat inside. Duck Curry with its grapes and tomatoes provide contrasting flavors that make this dish memorable. Chutima's dishes have been in the family for generations making this a truly authentic experience.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Nua Sao Renu- Sliced Charbroiled Beef on a bed of Sliced Cabbage, topped with Tamarind Sauce and Fried Dried Chilies
  • Crispy Shrimp with Fried Garlic
  • Duck Curry, Grapes, Cherry Tomatoes, Mint and Pineapple
  • Sticky Rice with Mango
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Italian
Zeffirino

The Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 414-3500
Lunch: 11:30 am - 4:00 pm
Dinner: 4:00 pm - 12:00 am

A Dish at Zeffirino on StarChefs.com

A Semifreddo at Zeffirino

Not all of Las Vegas’s Italian restaurants are alike. Some are actually authentic, as in Zeffirino, the sister restaurant to Genova’s renowned eatery. Chef Francesco Schintu is a master pasta maker who delivers that old-world food memory that’s so often impossible to recall this side of the Atlantic. Case in point is his Chocolate Pasta with Pesto – delicate sheets of fresh pasta lightly flavored with unsweetened cocoa and then layered with classic pesto.



    Recommended Dishes:

  • Chocolate Pasta with Pesto
  • Ravioli with Rose Petals, Sherry, Pea Sprouts and Ricotta Lemon Zest
  • Pan-Seared Orata Fillet

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Olives
The Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-7223
(702) 693-8181
(877) 234-6358
Monday-Thursday 11:00 am - 2:30 pm, 5:00 - 10:30 pm
Friday - Sunday 11:00 am - 10:30 pm

Mega celebrity and Star Chef, Todd English, hasn’t cloned himself to make his stable of restaurants around the country perform consistently well. He relies on his talented chefs de cuisine. In the case of Olives Las Vegas, English leans on Rising Star Steven Mannino to deliver Mediterranean inspired plates teeming with rich risottos, handmade pastas and creative variations on classics like grilled Caesar salad. Wines are made accessible by sommelier Tammie Ruesenberg, who has mastered Mannino’s menu and identified pitch-perfect pairings for just about every dish he creates. Make her day and let her guide you with a flight of wine pairings to compliment your meal.

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Steakhouses:

Neros Steak and Seafood

Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 731-7560
(702) 731 7731
Nightly 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Rising Star Chef Sean Griffin’s menu is an updated version of the classic steakhouse lineup. As he explains it, he’s created a fine dining experience in the guise of a steakhouse. His Kobe Flatiron steak is flawless, but the standout component in this dish is the slow-cooked broccoli; bathed in shallots, olive oil and blue cheese for two hours, it retains its crunch and color. The foie gras slider is a decadent mini burger in between brioche toast for buns with fixin’s of toasted walnuts, candied ginger pieces and a sweet, tart rhubarb sauce. The dining room was recently re-designed, and its sleek, modern, understated vibe, perfectly echo Griffin’s food.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Kobe Flatiron Steak with Slow Cooked Broccoli
  • Artichoke Soup with Peekytoe Crab, Pine nuts, Mint and Lemon Crème Fraîche
  • Seared Foie Gras “Slider,” Preserved Ginger, Crushed Walnuts and Port Poached Rhubarb
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SW Steakhouse
Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(888) 320-7110
Nightly 5:30 - 10:00 pm

Foie Gras Terrine at SW Steakhouse on StarChefs.com

Pan Roasted Halibut at SW Steakhouse

Despite its steakhouse theme, SW Steakhouse focuses as much on the produce as on the meat. Rising Star Chef Eric Klein, who recently left the restaurant, had a passion for procuring the best produce he could find, including the most flavorful heirloom tomatoes we’ve ever tasted. The signature Maryland Crab Salad with Avocado was excellent, and we hope that Klein’s successor, Maryland native David Walzog, will keep it on the menu. Walzog, who most recently was executive chef at Wynn’s Country Club Grill, is proficient in traditional steakhouse fare, owing to his former role as Corporate Executive Chef at the Glazier Group in New York City, where he was at the helm of The Steakhouse at Monkey Bar, Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, and Strip House in New York City, New Jersey, and Houston. He will undoubtedly bring this meaty expertise to bear on SW Steakhouse’s menu. While we’ll miss Klein, and we look forward to what Walzog has in store.

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Charlie Palmer Steak
Four Seasons Hotel
3960 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-5120
Nightly 5:30 - 10:15 pm
Lounge 5:30 - 12:00 am

New York Strip Steak at Charlie Palmer Steak on StarChefs.com

New York Strip Steak at Charlie Palmer Steak

Charlie Palmer’s business sense is solid enough to know that steakhouses still rule Vegas. Tucked inside the casino-less Four Seasons Hotel, Charlie Palmer Steak is an attractive option as far as steakhouses go. It doesn’t get that middle-brow casino foot traffic. Wine Director Paul Ellis presides over a noble list and Chef Stephen Blandino’s bold preparations marry well with the meaty wines; we loved his marrow butter on New York strip steak – so rich, it’s almost over the top, especially when paired with sinful sides like Three Cheese Potato Gratin and Yukon Gold Potato Puree.


    Recommended Dishes:

  • New York Strip Steak with Marrow Butter
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Prime Steakhouse
Bellagio
3400 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 793-7111
Nightly 5:30 - 10:00 pm

Just as Daniel Boulud launched a familiar brasserie in Las Vegas, his fellow four-star chef-restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten created Prime in 1998 when the Bellagio opened. The kitchen has been a springboard for talents like Kerry Simon and Wylie Dufresne, and now Chef Jonathan Snyder is at the helm, figuring out creative ways to entice diners to order beyond the standard steakhouse fare – the Seared Scallops with Caramelized Peaches were dynamite. Book in advance and request a table in front of the water show for a guaranteed romantic dinner. You can even take dessert and coffee al fresco for a closer view of the show and to hear the accompanying soundtrack.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Creamed Corn Ravioli, Tomato Salad, Basil Oil
  • Seared Scallops with Caramelized Peaches, Peach Jus and English Peas
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CraftSteak
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 891-5576
(702) 891-7318
Sunday - Friday 5:30 - 10:00 pm
Saturday 5:00 - 10:30 pm

Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio delivered a knockout with CraftSteak at the MGM, thanks in large part to chef de cuisine Chris Albrecht, whose obsessive approach to sourcing ingredients allows him to treat them minimally and let them sing a cappella on the table. The concept has been so successful that Colicchio has opened CraftSteak in New York City’s trendy meatpacking district with Chef Albrecht in tow. Try the phenomenal side dishes that are bursting with flavor, such as the pea medley.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Butter Braised Red King Crab with Saffron and Tarragon
  • Kobe Skirt Steak, Beer Battered Onion Rings, Pan Roasted Corn Kernels
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No Fuss :

Table 34

600 East Warm Springs Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 263-0034
Lunch: Monday – Friday 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Dinner: Tuesday – Saturday 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm

An extended trip to Vegas will eventually drive you insane, at which point you’ll be ready for the comforts of your own home. If you’re still in town, take a trip out to Henderson and experience the casual, homey cooking of Chef Wes Kendrick at Table 34, tucked within a suburban office park. Daily soups, hearty salads and a killer pork chop (braised in everything under the sun, including coffee) are menu staples.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • House Smoked Salmon on Potato Galette
  • Grilled Pork Chop with Chipotle Potatoes, Asparagus and Hard Cider Glaze
  • Brownie Sundae with Vanilla Ice Cream, Hot Fudge and Whipped Cream
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In-N-Out Burger
Multiple Locations throughout NV, CA, AZ
(800) 786-1000
Sunday-Thursday 10:30 am - 1:00 am
Friday-Saturday 10:30 am - 1:30 am

In 'N' Out Burger Las Vegas on StarChefs.com

In 'N' Out Burger Las Vegas

For East Coasters, no trip out West is complete without a visit to In-N-Out, the preferred burger joint of many an acclaimed chef. Said to be one of the models of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack Burger in New York City, In-N-Out boasts burgers made of freshly ground beef and fries that are cut on an old-school mechanical press. The best burger to order off the secret menu that’s not such a secret is the Animal Style, which has mustard cooked into the patty and adds on sautéed onions, pickles and a sauce reminiscent of Thousand Island. The 3x3 and 4x4 are just what they seem – massive burgers stacked with three patties and three slices of cheese, or four and four, respectively.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Animal Style burger
  • Double Double
  • Chocolate Shake
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NIGHT LIFE:
Fix Restaurant and Bar
Bellagio
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 693-8400
Sunday-Thursday 5:00 pm - 12:00 am
Friday-Saturday 5:00 pm - 2:00 am

When you’re weary of gaming at the Bellagio or coming to terms with a losing streak, you know it’s time for a Fix. Chef Brian Massie is your man for a quick late-night bite. Eye-catching presentations of amusing, small plates are made for sharing, as in smoked salmon poppers served on a tray of vertical forks. Bar Chef Jose Zepada concocts lovely seasonal drinks, such as a martini we had with strawberries and fresh basil. Our favorite was a cucumber martini, which paired well with Massie’s entertaining dishes.

    Recommended Dishes:

  • Salmon Poppers
  • Lobster Tacos
  • Kobe Beef Sliders
    Recommended Drinks:

  • Cucumber Martini
  • Seasonal Martini
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Pure Nightclub
Ceasars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 731-7873
Tuesday, Friday-Sunday 10:00 pm – 4:00 am

During our editorial visits to Las Vegas last summer, Pure was considered the hottest club in town by those in the know. Jam-packed with scantily-clad bodies, the place to be was on the roof deck for a glamorous view of the strip. Drinks are pricey, and it always helps if you know someone who can get you in (and skip the line), as with all clubs du jour.

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Tangerine
Treasure Island
3300 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 894-7111
Nightclub and patio nightly 5:00 pm - 4:00 am
Lounge: Monday-Friday 5:00 pm - 4:00 am
Saturday-Sunday 10:00 am - 4:00 am

The High Roller's Lounge at Tangerine on StarChefs.com

The High Roller's Lounge
at Tangerine

Tangerine is a club you can actually enjoy. Chances are, you can get in on your own merits. Chances are, there’s a little corner of the place to dance, and chances are, you can get served at the bar in a timely fashion. The crowd is still young and hip, but somehow, it feels like less of a scene. To us, that’s a good thing.

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HOTELS:

Splurge Worthy:
Mirage Hotel and Casino
3400 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 791-7111

A dish  on StarChefs.com

A Penthouse Suite at The Mirage

With its lush jungle interior, the Mirage is a tropical oasis in the desert. Furnishings in the penthouse suites include rich hues and textured wall coverings, heavy draperies, marble floors, ornate oriental rugs, wet bar, sitting area, and dining/meeting tables. The master suite comes with a generous bathroom and walk-in closet area. The spacious bathroom includes a deep Jacuzzi tub and European bidet. High tech features include a TV that pops up out of the cabinet on command and electronically controlled drapes. Ideal for family trips and extended business visits. Penthouse suites offer panoramic views of the strip and beyond.

Rooms: 66 Penthouse Suites (3044 rooms)
Rates:
1 bedroom $425-$950, 2 bedrooms $625-$1250
What to Do:
Spend an evening watching Cirque du Soleil’s latest show, LOVE, which features music by The Beatles.

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Pricey but Sane:

MGM
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 880-0880

The deluxe room at MGM on StarChefs.com

A Deluxe Room at MGM

In 2005, the MGM opened the West Wing to add modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, Bose products and DVD players to its rooms. The newer rooms are sleek and modern. MGM’s outdoor pool is among one of the largest in Vegas, consisting of five different pools and a long river. While there is enough room for everyone to enjoy the water, the only downside is walking in your swimsuit through the hotel’s massive lobby to get there. It’s also a hike to get to the gym, but the well-equipped facility is worth checking out after indulgent meals at NobHill or Seablue.


Rooms: 5034
Rates:
$69.99-$359.99
What to Do:
Visit the admission-free African Lion Habitat, which is home to the descendants of the original Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lion, Metro. The Studio Walk is ideal for those who enjoy more affordable shopping experiences with themed souvenir and jewelry stores.

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Caesars Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(877) 427-7243
(800) 634-6661

Caesars Augustus Towers at night on StarChefs.com

Caesars Augustus Towers at night

The recently built Augustus Tower at Caesars Palace is fit for a modern-day emperor, whose preference for luxury is more understated elegance than gilded lily. The rooms’ color scheme is chocolate brown and light blue (pleasantly reminiscent of Café Gray’s décor in NY) and furnishings are sexy and sleek. Special touches include huge marble bathrooms, Jacuzzi tubs, cushy beds, fluffy robes, and a view of the Bellagio’s water show next door. A flat-screen television in the bedroom and bathroom should be more than ample for even the most serious TV addicts. The Augustus tower rooms will serve as the model for the redecoration of the other rooms in the hotel, which is great news for everyone planning to stay at Caesars in the coming seasons.

Rooms: 949 suites (600+ square feet)
Rates:
$140-$460
What to Do:
Take a stroll through the luxury-laden halls of the Forum Shops. With stores such as Versace, Tourneau and Louis Vuitton to choose from, chances are you’ll leave with a deep hole in your wallet.

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Mandalay Bay
3950 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
(877) 632-7800

Mandalay Bay Las Vegas on StarChefs.com

Mandalay Bay Las Vegas

As one of the more recent hotels built in the city, Mandalay Bay offers elegant accommodations. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide stellar views of the city, while the neutral décor offers a soothing reprieve from the dizzying excitement of the casino. Ample bathrooms offer luxurious touches, including granite countertops, gold-plated fixtures, and makeup mirrors. The hotel’s vast pool complex offers plenty of options, including a wave pool, mini lagoons and the lazy river, a donut-shaped pool whose current pulls you around and around.


Rooms: 4330
Rates:
$109-$699
What to Do:
Simulate a walk on the ocean floor at the Shark Reef, an aquarium exhibit which is home to over 12,000 species of marine life and 15 species of shark.

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Wallet Watching:
Treasure Island
3300 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 894-7111
(800) 944-7444
(800) 288-7206

The deluxe room at Treasure Island on StarChefs.com

A Deluxe Room at Treasure Island

With the launch of the TI branding campaign, Treasure Island has repositioned itself as a fun, mid-market hotel that appeals to the young, single crowd. Club Tangerine attracts chic revelers at night, and as home of the Cirque du Soleil show, Mystère, it is a center of entertainment for children and adults alike. Rooms are rather nicely appointed. The bathrooms are roomy and have been recently refurbished, with thoughtful amenities like makeup mirrors and fluffy bath mats. The TI gym facility is $20 per day which includes access to the sauna and whirlpool area. The facility is fairly well equipped, although lacking in elliptical machines and cross-trainers.

Rooms: 2679
Rates:
standard deluxe rooms $69-$499, suites $129-$850
What to Do:
Take in TI’s live-action show, Sirens of TI, nightly at 7, 8:30, 10 and 11:30pm. Tangerine Lounge and Nightclub.

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Flamingo
3555 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109-8919
(702) 733-3111
(800) 732-2111

Flamingos at Flamingo on StarChefs.com

The Wildlife Sanctuary at The Flamingo

The Flamingo was originally a Hilton Hotel, but is now part of the Harrah’s Entertainment Group, which includes Caesars, Bally’s, Paris, and Harrah’s. Located directly across from Caesars on The Strip, the hotel is a good value and provides convenient access to both Caesars and the Bellagio, where some of the best restaurants, shops and entertainment on the strip are found. The hotel’s late ‘70s vibe has yet to be updated and retains a bit of that old-school strip charm. Rooms are bare bones and well worn with basic amenities, although high-speed Internet access is available for a fee. The best part of the hotel is a wild-life area with flamingoes, penguins, ducks, pheasants and Japanese koi. There is also a terrific bi-level pool with water slide, tons of shady spots and misting palms. This hotel is very kid friendly.

Rooms: 3565
Rates:
$55-$399
What to Do:
Try the egg breakfast at the diner; then catch some sun poolside.

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Paris
3655 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
(702) 967-4111

The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas on StarChefs.com

The Eiffel Tower at Paris Las Vegas

Paris Las Vegas, which opened in September of 1999, sits undeniably in one of the best spots on The Strip. Located on The Strip’s east side across from the Bellagio, you can get to any destination in 10 minutes. Inside, Paris’s grand concourse was designed to look and feel like you are walking through the charming streets of the City of Lights. You won’t find a single Starbucks here; instead, fuel up on café au lait and crepes for breakfast or a leisurely lunch with wine at one of the cafés.

Rooms:
2916
Rates:
$89-$339
What to do:
Quell mid-afternoon hunger pangs by indulging in delicate pastries and a steaming café au lait from one of the authentic patisseries. Don’t forget to go for a swim – the rooftop pool is spacious and set in a beautifully manicured garden.

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   Published: August 2006
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