There was a time when Las Vegas dining was synonymous with free buffets and sauce-laden shrimp cocktails. Those days are well in the past, as celebrity chefs and mixologists have transformed the desert oasis into a foodie haven. Whether you’re looking for a sophisticated sip, an upscale dinner or some late-night grub, this city’s menus are full of innovative dishes and new takes on the classics.
Signature Restaurant Experiences
The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into this restaurant at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is the massive, wood-fired grill designed to cook paella in an authentic Spanish way. Diners are invited to watch as head chef Luis Montesinos adds and removes burning orange wood under the raised pan to control the heat of the Bomba rice—which he prefers because it absorbs three times more water than regular rice—simmering amongst wild mushrooms and pork. “Fire is the soul of the dish,” says Montesinos. “It’s the fire that gives the paella life.” He learned to make paella at Jaleo from famed chef José Andrés, and notes that no other restaurant makes it the way they do—by using real fire. “We are not [just] chefs, we are storytellers,” Montesinos adds as he plays with the embers to build a taste-infused crust on the bottom of the paella. “This is me being able to tell my story.”
Depending on your mood, there are a few seating options at this downtown restaurant. The front patio is the perfect spot to take in the action on Fremont Street while sipping a cocktail served in a mason jar. The walled-off back patio, full of interesting artwork—including an eroded, Cinderella-style carriage—offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Inside, the dining room has a laid-back vibe and is decorated with a mix of macabre art and animal taxidermy. Wherever you settle in, be sure to order the Garbage Fries—topped with melted cheeses and covered in bacon, jalapenos, tomatoes, green scallions, avocado, a fried egg and chipotle ranch sauce.
More Great Restaurants
Located downtown, PublicUs is a coffee shop and restaurant that draws in locals with its farm-to-table ethos. Order the Avo Toast—made with house sourdough—or waffles served with pure maple syrup and lavender vanilla cream.
LUNCH: Pinches Tacos
Pinches Tacos is a California-based restaurant serving authentic and inexpensive fare in the Container Park off Fremont Street. Try the Pollo Mole, chicken with mole sauce, or the Al Pastor taco, made with slow-broiled marinated pork.
DINNER: The Kitchen at Atomic
Housed in a former auto garage built in the 1940s, The Kitchen at Atomic serves rustic American fare with a twist. Sit at one of the tables near the large garage doors and dine on poached whitefish or steak with chimichurri sauce.
Oscar’s Steakhouse is a throwback to the Rat Pack era, when steaks were served with sizzle and swagger. Located in a glass-domed, flying saucer-type structure that juts out above the main entrance of The Plaza Hotel & Casino, the steakhouse is named after former Las Vegas mayor and mob attorney Oscar Goodman. Savour the New York strip with a side of creamed spinach and roasted corn brûlée.
For a neon-infused experience, The Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge—with its electric blue and hot pink lighting—has been feeding locals since 1972. It’s 12-page menu features traditional American fare such as burgers and clubhouse sandwiches.
Beer and Cocktails
Opened in 2016, the extensive cocktail—try the Imperial—and swizzle menu at this Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino spot was created by famed mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim.
This Palazzo Las Vegas retreat offers an innovative cocktail menu. Sit at one of the maroon banquettes and sip on a Negroni, or ask one of the bartenders to mix you an off-menu drink.
Located in the Paris Las Vegas Hotel, this temple to suds includes an extensive draft and bottled beer menu. It also features a 10,000-square-foot deck overlooking the Las Vegas Strip.
Must-have Foodie Experience
If you have ever watched Hell’s Kitchen and wanted to witness the organized chaos of the red and blue teams as they steam, cook and plate in person, then this is your chance. Located in Caesars Palace Las Vegas, the restaurant serves many of the dishes featured on the series, from Beef Wellington to lobster risotto. The open kitchen allows you to watch as the chefs prepare your meal.
[This story appears in the December 2018 issue of WestJet Magazine]