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Las Vegas Weekend Guide for Angelenos, March Madness Edition

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A quick hit guide to everything Sin City, all in one handy place

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Hoops & Hops at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas
Hoops & Hops at Cosmopolitan Las Vegas

Heading to Vegas for the weekend? Planning a trip in the near future? Eater is here for you. This monthly guide covers the very best of Sin City, from the latest restaurant and bar openings to all things nightlife.

February 14, 2020

March Madness is one of the busiest times for Vegas-goers thanks to a multitude of sports betting avenues and food and drink festivities that accompany viewing events. Here’s a special March Madness edition of the Eater LA Vegas weekend guide.

  • Hoops & Hops, a three day March Madness event at Cosmopolitan, takes place from March 19 to 21 with doors open at 7:30 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. The resort is turning the massive 40,000 square foot Belmont Ballroom into one of the most expansive college basketball events in the city, with literally dozens of screens showing games. There are also ten betting stations at the on-site sports book, making it easy to place bets. Passes start at $250 on the first days, and $150 on Saturday for open bar, with first-come, first serve seating. Reserved seating includes an AYCE buffet and unlimited drink service, and can be made here. Those who buy a pass also get complimentary entry into Marquee nightclub later in the evening.
  • Planet Hollywood has a Hoops on the Strip viewing party at the Criss Angel theater that includes sports bar-style food and all-you-can-drink choices.
  • Alto Bar at Caesars Palace has drinks and packages with tables for four starting at $400.
  • Montecristo Cigar Bar has a massive 208-inch screen that will show all the games, with a $600 table for two that will tab into a great selection of spirits and cocktails. The Old Homestead Clubhouse is another option for up to ten people with a morning reservation for $2,000 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.), and $3,000 for an afternoon reservation from 3 to 9 p.m. (plus tax and tip).
  • The Book at Linq has more than 80 TVs, food, and drinks just for March Madness, with the upper deck offering $300 per person packages that includes six drink tickets and an all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Beerhaus at Park MGM has tons of viewing opportunities for college basketball’s big tournament, with reserved seating packages that have a $165 food and drink minimum.
  • Alibi Ultra Lounge at Aria has table reservations starting at $1,200, and includes signature food and drinks.
  • Tap Sports Bar at MGM Grand has 60 televisions for optimum March Madness viewing starting at $175 per person for a reserved bar seat.
  • Electra Cocktail Club at the Venetian will have viewing reservations for March Madness starting at 9 a.m. with packages starting at $500 per table of four for each three hour increment during the tournament. Packages include a bottle of whiskey, vodka, or tequila, red bull, a bucket of beer, and complimentary small bites. Reserve a table here.

January 17, 2020

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • The Mayfair Supper Club debuted at the Bellagio at the top of the year. The new venue combines entertainment and dining with an ever-changing roster of music and dancing meant to entice diners to stick around all night. The view of the Fountains at Bellagio only adds to the setting.
  • David Chang, the chef behind Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, debuted his second restaurant in the city with Majordōmo Meat & Fish at the Palazzo. The restaurant features a smoked prime rib cart, Korean barbecue, and a raw bar.
  • Family Food Fight host Ayesha Curry teams up with chef Michael Mina to open International Smoke at the MGM. The ode to all thing barbecued and smoked features Curry’s favorite dishes, such as cornbread with a red curry butter, Mama Mina’s falafel, and smoked St. Louis ribs with a choice of barbecue sauce.
  • San Francisco-based Dandelion Chocolate opened a cafe at the Venetian featuring a chocolate-focused menu by executive pastry chef Lisa Vega that spans from breakfast to dinner. Exclusive to Las Vegas is a chocolate-covered eclair with passion fruit and a brown butter blondie.
  • The Bellagio’s 24-hour Petrossian Bar & Lounge is back after a remodel. The revamped bar offers hand-made infused cocktails, a vodka sampler, and afternoon tea daily from 1 to 4 p.m. That comes with open-faced sandwiches, English tea sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream, Baxter’s preserves, and assorted miniature pastry treats.

Restaurant pick of the month: Lamaii

Bank Atchawaran, formerly of Chada Thai and sommelier at Lotus of Siam, has a one-year-old restaurant just off The Strip on Spring Mountain called Lamaii that could be the city’s best new Thai destination. Sporting a dimly lit, somewhat garish dining room in a weathered strip mall, Lamaii’s impressive menu ranges from Thai street food to more polished classics, all at reasonable prices. Atchawaran has curated a focused selection with everything from chicken wings and papaya salad to start to a rich duck Penang and crab fried rice. There’s no weak link on the menu. The place offers a full cocktail bar and arguably the best affordable wine list in Vegas. Just the eye-popping riesling section would be enough to draw wine lovers out to Spring Mountain. No wonder it’s already an Eater Vegas Essential 38 restaurant. 4480 Spring Mountain Rd., #700, Las Vegas. —Matthew Kang

October 18, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • Tim Ho Wan, the Michelin-starred dim sum restaurant based in Hong Kong, made its debut in Las Vegas in late September with a 5,055-square-foot restaurant on the west side of the Palms. Co-founders Mak Kwai Pui and Leung Fai Keung created special dishes just for Las Vegas, including a wagyu bundle with apple and mushroom, abalone chicken mantau cup, shrimp toast truffle foie gras, lobster and black bean rice roll, and wagyu beef rice roll.
  • Travelers headed through A and B Gates at Terminal 1 at McCarran International Airport now have their very own Shake Shack for fueling up before or after a flight. A roster of burgers, breakfast sandwiches, chicken, and hot dogs make the menu, along with Shake Shack’s concretes and crinkle-cut fries, wine, beer, and vegetarian options.
  • Tijuana taco kingpins Tacos El Gordo closed one of its four Las Vegas locations at 3049 Las Vegas Blvd. S., which operated from 2011 until 2014, then closing after rumored landlord dispute, and making a surprising return in 2015.
  • Center Cut Steakhouse at the Flamingo closed on Thursday night to make way for a new steakhouse at the 70-plus-year-old resort. Cafe To Go and the Laurel Lounge also closed at the resort to make way for the new restaurant, teased by Caesars Entertainment to open in early 2020. Center Cut opened in 2012 in the former Burger Joint space with a roster of rib-eye steaks and porterhouses that used beef sourced from Aspen Ridge Farms in Colorado.

Restaurant pick of the month: Yui Edomae Sushi

Vegas’s off-Strip dining situation continues to surprise, with Yui Edomae preparing one of the most elegant omakase experiences anywhere. Opened for about three years, Yui boasts a semi-hidden strip mall location with a modest, elegant interior and smooth jazz tunes on the speakers. Step up to the bar where Kabuto veteran Gen Mizoguchi assembles a satisfying array of hot dishes, sashimi, and nigiri with aplomb. Fish quality is as good as what you would find in Los Angeles, with a pristine balance between the rice and fish. The mid-level omakase runs a bit over $100, however, add in a great bottle of sake and dinner will cost close to $200 a person. It’s 100 percent worth it. 3460 Arville St. HS, Las Vegas. —Matthew Kang

September 20, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • Mama Rabbit brings the country’s largest collection of mezcal and tequila, along with a stunning interior, gaming tables, and slot machines, to The Strip. The Oaxaca-inspired bar from Bricia Lopez of LA’s Guelaguetza boasts unusual finds including the the world’s first mezcal-barreled blanco tequila and the world’s first mezcal aged in a Californian brandy cask.
  • A year after opening their first location in Los Angeles, Matteo Ferdinadi and chef Angelo Auriana of Factory Kitchen fame debuted Sixth + Mill Pizzeria & Bar at the Grand Canal Shoppes. The restaurant specializes in dishes from six Southern Italian regions, along with dishes Auriana remembers from his childhood.
  • Located in the MGM Grand, Ambra Italian Kitchen + Bar is an Italian restaurant with a speakeasy serving table-side dishes and pastas galore. Diners can start with a prime beef tartare with truffle vinaigrette, walnuts, and black garlic salsa or meatballs al forno made with Wagyu beef and served on a bed of whipped ricotta.
  • The Sahara Las Vegas is hosting two temporary restaurants while owner Alex Meruelo begins a major revamp of the casino floor dining scene. Bella Bistro opened inside the shuttered former home of Cleo, replacing the Mediterranean focus with a contemporary American menu and Italian favorites.
  • The Crack Shack officially opened in a rustic chic space at the front of the Park MGM with a menu driven by fast-casual chicken fried on-the-fly. French fries with schmaltz, fried chicken oysters, and deviled eggs with a French toast crumble and candied bacon can be ordered on the side.

Restaurant pick of the month: Once

A bowl with fish and large corn kernels.
Ceviche mixto at Once
Matthew Kang

Chef Ricardo Zarate’s restaurant Once is the most underrated restaurant on The Strip, especially when one considers what’s actually on the plate. Zarate hasn’t found a local audience yet, but one genuinely hopes both visitors and locals will uncover the great cooking that’s happening at this difficult-to-find spot. Taking his signature brand of classic Peruvian flavors with a twist, Zarate puts together a fantastic menu that goes against the heavy steak, Italian, and French cooking happening at most resorts. Here’s what to order: the ceviche mixto, scallop and shrimp dumplings, oxtail bibimbap, arroz chaufa, anticucho de corazon, and pork ribs. 3327 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. —Matthew Kang

August 9, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • An ever-changing menu of seafood comes with the new Water Grill, the seafaring restaurant based in the former Spago space at the Forum Shops at Caesars. Twice a day, the restaurant changes its menu to showcase a roster of 16 different oysters, sushi, and fresh catches such as a wild Maryland black sea bass and wild Brittany Dover sole.
  • With little fanfare and just over year after its westside debut, Solo Qui Gelato & Chocolate Bar made a swift expansion to the Strip and is now serving its sweet and savory menu at Fashion Showmall. The Strip spin-off on the third-floor food court replaces the former homes of Häagen-Dazs and Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, splitting itself between a gelato and coffee counter, and one for food and desserts.
  • Despite amazing dining on the Strip, Chinatown might feature Vegas’s best food. Here’s a handy guide to the neighborhood, which mostly runs along Spring Mountain Avenue and features everything from Korean barbecue to pristine sushi to regional Chinese fare. Best part is, most restaurant are just a short Lyft ride from Strip resorts.
  • If you’re stuck on the Strip, a great dining option is always going to be The Cosmopolitan, which features one of the best lineups of restaurants from top to bottom. Start with a donut at District, get a reasonable lunch special at Estiatorio Milos, and finish with an epic meal at Jaleo.

Restaurant pick of the month: Sadelle’s

The interior of Sadelle’s has green velvet seating and sky blue walls.
Sadelle’s at Bellagio Hotel and Casino
[Official Photo]

Brunch may be Las Vegas’s most critical meal. Considerately scheduled at a reasonable hour, the weekend ritual replenishes depleted resources and readies all systems for a busy weekend on the Strip. Sadelle’s is fantastic anytime of day but seems to excel most at brunch, with natural light pouring in from the restaurant’s expansive windows. On the table are bagels stacked tall and a roving cocktail cart that makes a wild and woolly bloody mary. Save room for the blueberry danish and signature sticky bun, which both come from the restaurant’s dedicated lamination room. 3600 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. —Cathy Chaplin

July 12, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • Breakfast and lunch just got a little healthier with some help from Canyon Ranch Spa Club. The massive spa at the Venetian now has Truth & Tonic, serving healthy fare. The restaurant takes its cues from apothecaries of yore, with a food and drink menu that emphasizes the healing benefits of ingredients and prescribed culinary “cures.” Executive chef Pete Ghione created a menu of nutrient-dense superfoods and adaptogens (roots and herbs known for their healing effects on the adrenal system). Every dish on the menu features calorie counts, as well as whether it is gluten-free or vegan.
  • Aviation-themed Flights landed at the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood Resort, bringing a menu of tapas and cocktails and a plane mounted to the ceiling. The California-born restaurant features dishes from former Beauty & Essex chef Kyle Kingrey, now the corporate executive chef for the company.
  • Las Vegas and the Strip land a new brewery serving barbecue fare with the opening of Trustworthy Brewing Co. & BBQ. The restaurant and brewery at the Grand Canal Shoppes focuses on small-batch beers, all brewed on site. Lloyd Bansil, formerly at Momofuku, came on board as the chef, creating a menu of smoked meats and barbecue dishes such as St. Louis-style pork ribs with maple and mustard.
  • Expect long lines at the first semi-permanent Hello Kitty Cafe. Parent company Sanrio brings a mini cafe pop-up over the next six months in front of Beerhaus, between the Park MGM and New York-New York. Customers can order Hello Kitty-themed beverages, including coffee and espresso drinks as well as lemonades, iced teas, and milk teas. Hello Kitty cakes, cookies, croissants, doughnuts, and ice cream round out the food. Additionally, exclusive merchandise will include specially designed Hello Kitty Cafe mugs, T-shirts, baseball caps, key chains, and tote bags.

Restaurant pick of the month: NoMad Bar

NoMad Bar
Milk and honey ice cream sandwich at NoMad Bar.
Dylan + Jeni

Traveling with small children to Las Vegas can be a tricky affair, especially when it comes to fine dining. Less formal than The NoMad Restaurant across the hallway, The NoMad Bar is the kind of place that’s fancy enough for mom and dad, but also lively enough for little ones who can’t sit still. The perfect balance between foodie and foodie-in-training, if you will. Sneak in on the early side for chef Daniel Humm’s take on casual cuisine. Start with an order of cocktails and mocktails and follow it up with the Humm Dog, a bacon-wrapped hot dog topped with black truffle mayo on a griddled brioche, fried chicken with chili lime yogurt, and French fries, obviously. For dessert, don’t pass on the ice cream sandwich, which is the chef’s riff on his favorite sweet combination of milk and honey. 3772 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas. —Cathy Chaplin

June 14, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • The JW Marriott’s new Asian restaurant opens this month with a bevy of Japanese, Chinese, and pan-Asian dishes. Jade Asian Kitchen & Noodles takes over the former Shizen space at the resort with lunch and dinner. The restaurant offers traditional Chinese wok dishes, sushi rolls and sashimi, ramen and noodles, robata dishes grilled over Binchotan-charred coals, and teppanyaki. Jade brought on chef Ayoung Chang, most recently of the pan-Asian fusion restaurant Jia at MGM Resorts International’s Beau Rivage, while the resort’s executive pastry chef Olivier Carlos oversees desserts.
  • SLS Las Vegas debuted Casbar Lounge, taking over the former Katsuya space. The newest lounge on the Strip brings 24-hour service right off the casino floor, complete with two dual-sided fireplaces and sexy art. On the cocktail menu, The Vespear, featuring Bombay Sapphire Gin, Grey Goose la Poire Vodka, St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur, and Angostura bitters; Bombshell Botanga made with Herradura Reposada Tequila, real pineapple puree, lime juice, and Pepsi; and the Deer Bobby featuring Glenfiddich 14-year Scotch Whisky, Giffard Banane Du Bresil, Lustau Oloroso Sherry, and Angostura bitters.
  • After a two-year absence, Smith & Wollensky returns to the Las Vegas Strip with a new two-story location inside the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. USDA Prime dry-aged steaks, shellfish towers, twin stuffed lobster tails, a coffee and cocoa rubbed filet, châteaubriand for two, and a roster of sides such as creamed spinach, buttermilk onion rings, and cremini mushrooms make the menu.

Restaurant pick of the month: Best Friend

Roy Choi’s Best Friend
Roy Choi’s Best Friend brings a taste of LA to Las Vegas
Travis Jensen

What’s an Angeleno doing traveling all the way to Vegas to eat at a Roy Choi restaurant? Two words: slippery shrimp. While it’s fair to consider if there’s anything new, novel, or even necessary about dining at Best Friend, Choi’s Las Vegas debut on the ground floor of the Park MGM, just make a reservation and experience it firsthand. The awesomely loud and thoughtful homage to the City of Angels has enough twists to delight those who grew up on a steady diet of Kogi’s short rib tacos and Chego’s “ooey gooey” fries. There’s a saucy rendition of Yang Chow’s famous shrimp on the menu and a soulful porridge brimming with clams and spice that can cure even the gnarliest of hangovers. Best Friend tastes like LA through the eyes of one of its most beloved sons. 3770 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. —Cathy Chaplin

May 17, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • The Strip has a new Mexican restaurant with margaritas, street tacos, and churros. Uno Más Street Tacos & Tequilas brings a fast-casual restaurant to SLS Las Vegas, marking the first new dining option at the resort since it opened five years ago. It replaces José Andrés’ Ku Noodle. The menu features tacos, queso fundido with chorizo, guacamole and chips, pork chicharrones, and grilled corn.
  • Dagu Rice Noodle, China’s “most popular noodle brand,” launched its first U.S. expansion at Shanghai Plaza on Spring Mountain Road, creating a casual, contemporary, full-service restaurant highlighted by “endless refillable bowls” of noodle soup prepared with a braised, bone-in, pork broth. Dagu Rice Noodle’s house specialty soups are brought to the table and rested on a 200 degree warmer.
  • Scott Conant is sadly closing his restaurant Masso Osteria at Red Rock on May 31 after just one year. One wonders how such a notable and successful place had such a short run despite Conant’s notoreity in the city.
  • Nightclubs are always a huge draw for Angelenos heading to Vegas for the weekend. Here’s a handy guide to the clubs on the Strip, from XS at Encore to Light at Mandalay Bay.

Restaurant pick of the month: Julian Serrano

Restaurant pick of the month: Julian Serrano
Restaurant pick of the month: Julian Serrano
[Official Photo]

It’s easy to forget Vegas’ solid standbys come dinnertime with shiny, new spots opening nearly every week. Tucked on the ground floor of the Aria Resort and Casino is Julian Serrano’s vividly colored dining room, so boldly hued and irresistibly welcoming that even the most cynical tourists cannot resist its charms. On the menu are small and big plates that are Spanish-inspired and whimsically plated. Start with a pitcher of sangria for the table, then pass around the traditional Spanish tortilla, delightfully crisp pan con tomate, and plump chorizo sausages. Save room for one of the larger paellas, the negra with squid and its ink, shrimp, and saffron is as beautiful as it is delicious. 3730 South Las Vegas Boulevard, ARIA Resort & Casino, Las Vegas. —Cathy Chaplin

April 19, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • Television personality Bobby Flay opened his first new restaurant in five years with Shark at the Palms. The seafood- and fish-forward restaurant features sushi and raw bar dishes. Many of the entrees are meant to share, such as a whole grilled lobster with basil, garlic, and red chili butter and The BF steak, a 36-ounce bone-in prime porterhouse with triple chili butter and pan juices.
  • San Diego’s ¡Salud! Tacos!, a self-described “Chicano Food Eatery,” debuted its first out-of-state restaurant at Palace Station complete with tattoo-inspired murals, California and Baja, California-inspired tacos, and daily specials.
  • Brass Fork Kitchen & Bar takes over the former Grand Cafe space at Palace Station. Each section of the menu brings traditional and twisted versions of dishes. At breakfast, that means standard omelets as well as versions with miso crab or chicken enchiladas. Eggs Benedicts, hashes, chicken fried steak, ham chops and eggs, pancakes, waffles, and French toast round out the morning.

Restaurant pick of the month: Mott 32

Mott 32 
One of the private dining rooms at Mott 32
Amelinda B Lee

The Hong Kong import fits right in to its glitzy new home, with stunning design with nods to classic Vegas style. That means neon accents, a vintage roulette table, and feather chandeliers. Lobster takes the place of pork in a gussied-up version of mapo tofu, while numbing spice and umami funk are no less apparent than in classic iterations. Table service is king, with a meticulous Peking duck covered in amber skin and luscious flesh intended to be drizzled in hoisin and wrapped in pancakes. There’s no question that Mott 32 is fitting of any Vegas whale, but luckily the rest of us can benefit from some of the most meticulous Chinese fare the city has to offer. 3325 South Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. —Crystal Coser

March 15, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • DJ’s Clam Shack has expanded to the Strip from Key West, Florida, serving a menu of “northern and southern seafood” specialties. Moving into the counter-service Boulevard Food Court and right next door to Fatburger, DJ’s has made itself easier to spot by parking a hot-rodded truck out on the patio. Launched on the East Coast in 2009, the Las Vegas expansion is open daily for lunch and dinner, featuring a menu highlighted by the $7 New England clam chowder, the $18 Maine lobster roll, a basket of Ipswich fried clams with fries priced at $29, and a $14 plate of garlic steamed middleneck clams. Diners can also order mahi mahi tacos, coconut shrimp, and a Key West favorite, conch fritters paired with fries or coleslaw.
  • 7 Leaves Cafe, dubbed the Asian Starbucks, is now open at the Venetian, next door to the recently opened Halal Guys at the resort. A group of seven, four brothers and three friends, started the chain in Orange County’s Little Saigon in 2012. Now the company has grown to 16 locations in Southern California, along with one in Chinatown in Las Vegas and future locations in Houston. The company uses traditional Vietnamese methods such as stove top cooking and hand drip Vietnamese coffee phins. The compact menu specializes in teas, coffees, and 10 flavors of macarons. Beverage choices include oolong milk or strawberry hibiscus teas, sea cream black coffee or jasmine tea, Vietnamese coffee, and Japanese matcha soy.
  • Fans of raw cookie dough can indulge at Doughp, now open at the Miracle Mile Shops. The San Francisco-based dessert bar from Kelsey Witherow features flavors such as This S’more is Hella Lit with cookie dough with graham cracker pieces, marshmallows, chocolate chips, and a chocolate drizzle; Cinnamood with snickerdoodle cookie dough with white chocolate chips; Cookie Monsta with blue cookie dough with Oreo; and a special Vegas flavor Vegas Blackout with black chocolate chip cookie dough with gold sprinkles, inspired by the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. Diners can choose from one to three scoops of dough and then add chocolate chips, sprinkles, childhood cereals, peanut butter, or even chocolate sauce from a three-tier chocolate fountain.
  • Side Piece Pizza Restaurant lands at The Palms on March 18. The pizza joint will serve New York- and Sicilian-style pies and slices near the casino-facing entrance. Chef Enzo Esposito, who hails from Naples, Italy, heads up the kitchen. The pizzaiolo brings a menu featuring classic cheese, pepperoni, vegetable, sausage, and meatball, as well as a traditional white pizzas. Side Piece will also offer a selection of beer and wine in a can to pair with its pizzas.

Restaurant pick of the month: Brunch at Fleur by Hubert Keller

 Fleur by Hubert Keller
Fleur by Hubert Keller
Fleur by Hubert Keller [Official Photo]

Hubert Keller seems to have dropped off slightly from the limelight after spending a good amount of time in the aughts on TV and the celebrity chef circuit. The affable French chef (and DJ) still maintains a Burger Bar in SF and Vegas, but Fleur inside Mandalay Bay is sort of his last full service place. The menu doesn’t necessarily inspire passion anymore, mostly because anything involving global flavors and small plates is a dime a dozen at this point. But the quality is still very much there, especially at brunch, which features a well-constructed Kobe-Angus blend beef burger (the man does know burgers), and a hangover-curing sampler of brunch classics that includes a short rib Benedict, pancakes, and an omelet. For those without a hangover, pick from a better-than-average selection of craft brews like Sierra Nevada Hazy Lil’ Thing IPA or Firestone Walker Pivo Pils. On the second or third morning of a Vegas trip, nothing is better than a polished brunch that doesn’t break the bank. Fleur by Hubert Keller. 3950 South Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. —Matthew Kang

February 15, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • The Palms has a super-secret supper club with the debut of Michael Symon’s Sara’s. Symon entered the Las Vegas dining scene last December with Mabel’s BBQ, but now he spreads his wings a bit more with a secret “meateasy” supper club tucked inside the restaurant. Sara’s sits inside a room within Mabel’s BBQ that brings back the heyday of old Las Vegas with a menu of French-American dishes, many served table side. The menu features escargot casino, prime beef carpaccio, and smoked beef bones with horseradish. Entrees include a smoked prime rib with au jus and horseradish shaved table side, truffle fried chicken with honey, and Dover sole meunière. For dessert, classics such as bananas Foster and cherries jubilee. Late at night, Symon serves a double cheeseburger with bone marrow, a shot of Dickel Rye, and a Miller High Life.
  • Eataly introduced a sit-down restaurant called Manzo. The ode to all things meat sits on the Park MGM casino side of the 40,000-square-foot Italian marketplace, near Gran Caffè Milano. Eataly executive chef Nicole Brisson and Manzo executive chef Arnold Corpuz created the menu that includes a 42-ounce rib-eye appesa, a signature dish that uses Creekstone Farms beef suspended over a three-tiered grill for 45 minutes, slow-roasted, and reverse-seared.
  • Meet the newest luxury cocktail lounge at the Palms: Mr. Coco, located in the Fantasy Tower of the Palms. Guests who take the elevator up to the third floor can order cocktails and bites while enjoying art and live entertainment. Chef Steve Benjamin, who left L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand in 2017, and currently oversees the food and beverage at the Waldorf Astoria in Los Angeles, created the menu that includes caviar served table side. Bites include gruyere cheese puffs, hamachi and salmon with crispy rice, and smoked salmon on a baguette with dill.
  • Find Vietnamese street food at the Palace Station’s Mumfresh Asian Eats, which serves up healthy spins on a fast-casual menu prepared in “the style of cooking that originates from our Mum’s kitchen.” On the menu, a range of pho soups, vermicelli noodle, and rice bowls, plus teriyaki bowls created with chicken, beef, or tofu.

Restaurant pick of the month: Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen

Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen 
The kitchen at Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen
Amelinda B Lee

It seems that Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen restaurant is the height of Vegas dining right now, with people dressing up to the nines and waiting in line to eat at this real life version of the TV cooking competition show. The food consists mostly of Ramsay’s classics, like a very good, if slightly boring, beef Wellington, as well as some nicely seared scallops with lardons. The cocktails aren’t bad either, especially the Smoke on the Boulevard, a negroni variant that comes with a bit of a show.

Overall the food and experience will appeal to Ramsay fans, but the cuisine won’t be particularly remarkable. Think of Hell’s Kitchen as the perfectly brand-able Ramsay restaurant that could very well show up anywhere in the world, from Orlando to Anaheim to Dubai. Caesars seems to be banking hard on the whole reality show thing, with Vanderpump Cocktail Garden opening soon on the property. Love it or hate it, it’s hard to argue that it is a great marketing strategy. Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen. 3570 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. —Matthew Kang

January 4, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • Kogi chef Roy Choi has finally opened Best Friend, his ode to LA’s Koreatown at the Park MGM resort. The menu certainly has a lot of similarities to the excellent but sadly short lived POT at the Line Hotel, with everything from Korean banchan and chicken wings to kimchi fried rice and barbecue. Choi’s even brought over some LA classics like Chego’s pork belly rice bowl and POT’s uni dynamite rice. Since this is Vegas, Best Friend takes Choi’s ambitions a little bit farther than what he was able to do in LA’s Koreatown, and so far it seems like a fine addition the Strip’s ever-changing restaurant scene.
  • Another notable LA restaurant, this time the pasta focused Italian restaurant Factory Kitchen from Valentino vet Angelo Auriana, has opened at the former B&B Ristorante space after Mario Batali’s misconduct scandal resulted in the closure of restaurant he was affiliated with in Vegas. The 152 seat restaurant is yet another chapter from LA opening on the Vegas strip, cementing to the two big dining scenes with another thread.
  • On the Record, a new club and nightlife concept from LA’s Houston Brothers, has also opened at the Park MGM, and they’re starting out their operation with a slew of guest bartenders at its speakeasy, which is called Vinyl Parlor. Notable bartenders include Jillian Vose from NYC’s Dead Rabbit, Alex Day and David Kaplan from Death & Co., and Jim Meehan from PDT. The place clearly has taken cues from Koreatown’s Breakroom 86.
  • The Palazzo has a new Chinese eatery called Mott 32, taken from NYC’s famed Mott Street. Crispy Peking duck, apple roasted duck, and lobster har gow highlight a menu that should appeal to Asian gamers and locals looking for a more upscale Cantonese experience.
  • Eataly, which also opened in Century City last year, has debuted a 24/7 location at the front part of Park MGM with a massive 40,000 square foot space that six different counters, a marketplace, and a cafe that serves food all day and throughout the night.

Restaurant pick of the month: Catch

Catch at Aria
Amelinda B Lee

Aria’s new standout restaurant comes by way of New York City, though Catch has certainly developed roots in West Hollywood as a celebrity magnet. The sceney spot boasts a similarly arresting entrance studded with greenery, leading to a wide open dining room that packs in a ton of energy. The menu uses perhaps a bit too much truffle oil, and leans heavily on the Nobu formula of dainty sashimi platters covered in ponzu and other toppings. Still, the service is excellent and professional, while the wine list surprises with some choice bottles. Cocktails veer toward the overly sweet, so stick to something more spirit forward like the Meatpacking Manhattan. The hot dishes are good crowd pleasers though, like the crispy shrimp, herb-roasted branzino, and mushroom spaghetti, the latter of which helps fill the stomach after those slender raw fish courses. 3730 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas.

December 7, 2018

The Vegas news roundup

  • It’s Eater Awards season, and Eater Vegas has the latest set of winners from this past year. The big Restaurant of the Year award goes to NoMad Bar, the more casual and every day part of the new NoMad Hotel at the Park MGM resort. Here’s what Eater Vegas editor Susan Stapleton had to say about the the NoMad Bar: “The restaurant’s menu offers a lesson in perfection. From the carrot tartare and black truffle tart to the hot and cold oysters and mixed fry, diners here will find a playful yet carefully executed menu that only exhibits why the sister bar in New York earned a Michelin star.” Kudos. Other winners include Scott Conant for Chef of the Year for his new Masso Osteria at Red Rock Resert; Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen for Design of the Year (the place does look pretty over the top, in a good way); and Scotch 80 Prime for Off Strip restaurant of the year. And Palazzo bar Rosina get Bar of the Year for its Art Deco interior and decadent twists on classic drinks.
  • Steak is king in Vegas because there’s no grander way to dine in America’s playground. Eater Vegas has a super helpful guide this week on what to order at every major steakhouse in town, from the filet mignon and baked potato at the iconic Golden Steer to the peppercorn-crusted New York strip at Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio.
  • Despite an action-packed fall season, winter looks promising too in the openings department in Vegas. NYC’s Sadelle’s should open by late December inside the Bellagio, Eataly is poised to transform the front of the Park MGM with a 24/7 marketplace and food emporium, and Roy Choi’s Best Friend is just a few weeks from its debut at the Park MGM.

Restaurant pick of the month: Nobu

Raw sliced scallop at Nobu at Caesar’s Palace
Raw sliced scallop at Nobu at Caesar’s Palace
Matthew Kang

One might argue that Nobu Matsuhisa’s unique brand of understated clubstaurant gets the most respect in its genre, and for good reason. The dishes employ pristine seafood and come prepared with a high level execution. The flavors are innovative, playful, and light enough to power someone through dinner and leave enough in the tank to hit the nightclub after. But more than anything, Nobu is its own kind of club, a place with electro tunes, dim lighting, suave servers, and cold sake. The Nobu brand is a bit of stretch from the Japanese chef’s La Cienega Boulevard restaurant, Matsuhisa, but the food is virtually identical between the chain and the one-off original, which says a lot about the marketability of the fare.

The classics definitely live up to the hype, like the silky, comforting miso black cod, though the delicious but traditionally-minded scallop tobanyaki seemed more grounded in Japanese home cooking than anything (black truffles were probably unnecessary). Even the nigiri is pretty solid, arrayed on a beautiful platter and boasting high quality cuts, though rice would’ve benefited from a bit more seasoning. Nobu does an excellent job of hitting the mark for aspirational diners: ambience, quality, and scene, but it doesn’t fail in the deliciousness department either. 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S. Caesars Palace Las Vegas.

November 21, 2018

The Vegas news roundup

  • The NoMad at Park MGM is now open and it must be one of the most striking new dining rooms on the Strip. With high ceilings, thousands of real vintage books, and luxurious appointments everywhere, it actually manages to one up LA’s own NoMad restaurant in the look department, reflecting a bit more of the New York City establishment’s Manhattan original. Opened just last week on November 14, it’s sure to become one of Vegas’s new hit restaurants.
  • Restaurateur and pizzaiolo Marc Vetri of Philadelphia has debuted an Italian fine dining restaurant called Vetri Cucina at the top of the Palms Resort where Alizé once stood. Occupying the 56th story and boasting pretty incredible views of the Vegas Strip, the menu has a hefty dose of upscaled Italian classics that should please a crowd. And there’s a colorful pop art experience when diners depart the restaurant in a hidden stairwell.
  • Beloved Downtown restaurant Eat, which serves excellent breakfast and lunch, comes from Natalie Young, who will open a second restaurant called Old Soul at the World Market Center. There’s no projected opening date right now, but it goes into the former Mundo, a Latin restaurant that occupied over 5,000 square feet.
  • Off-Strip locations continue to be Vegas’s better dining destinations, and two big culinary heavyweights in Colin Fukunaga (Fukuburger) and Marc Marrone (Tao Group) plan a rooftop restaurant in Downtown. It should be a hit with locals wanting to avoid the tourist-heavy Strip.

Restaurant pick of the month: Spago

Spago Las Vegas
MGM Resorts [Official photo]

Angelenos know Wolfgang Puck’s Spago well, but the Beverly Hills original doesn’t have what the newer Vegas location can boast: pristine views of the Bellagio fountains. With better winter weather allowing for daytime dining on the patio, Spago’s lunch menu is the ideal place to order classic dishes like the truffle-topped spaghettini or the smoked salmon laced with salmon roe (or Kaluga caviar depending on how well one did at the tables). Lunch here is an exercise in nostalgia for anyone pining for Chinois chicken salad or Puck’s classic veal wienerschnizel.

Dinner is a bit more ambitious, reflecting more of the Beverly Hills Spago’s menu of three distinct courses, though selections have a wider appeal with entrees like roasted lamb rack and wagyu beef. Still, Spago’s Bellagio location maintains that minimalist California cool but with the bombast and style of the Vegas Strip. Honestly, it’s a much better location than its former digs at Caesar’s Forum Shops. 3600 Las Vegas Blvd S Las Vegas.

November 9, 2018

The Vegas news roundup

  • Cipriani’s classy new Vegas location opens at Wynn Plaza this weekend (see the glorious photos on Eater Vegas here) with a rather handy set of Italian classics. Founder Giuseppe Cipriani Sr. first opened the iconic Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1931 where he invented the Bellini. Not a bad pedigree. Anyway, this Vegas location does a nice job of blending the wood-paneled New York locations of the chainlet with ritzy blue hues and an open layout that lends to people-watching. The room feels like a really nice yacht, which feels appropriate for the Wynn. Famous dishes to order include the carpaccio, baked tagliolini with ham, and vanilla meringue dessert. Anyone hankering for those dishes can also find a few Cipriani classics in Beverly Hills’ Mr. C hotel.
  • Need a quick rundown of the biggest upcoming Vegas restaurants? Here’s a list that compiles them nicely, and the highlights this season are Mabel’s BBQ from Food Network personality Michael Simon, NoMad restaurant (which opens November 14), and LA’s own Factory Kitchen (coming in December). Other LA transplants include Roy Choi’s Best Friend and the Houston Brothers’ On the Record, both debuting inside the newish Park MGM resort. Any fans of Philly’s Marc Vetri will have a chance to try his amazing pizza and pasta beginning November 19.
  • The new Eater Vegas heatmap highlights Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Chicken, with sliders, chicken strips, and mac & cheese to a Strip-adjacent location next the Hard Rock Hotel along Paradise Road. Remember that Shaq’s also planning to open a restaurant next to Staples Center, his former NBA dunking grounds.

Restaurant pick of the month: Clubhouse at Montecristo by Old Homestead

Oysters and cigars at the Clubhouse at Montecristo by Old Homestead
Oysters and cigars at the Clubhouse at Montecristo by Old Homestead
Matthew Kang

One of the rarest experiences in all of America, the Clubhouse at Montecristo is a private dining room fully served by the next door Old Homstead deep inside Caesar’s Palace, and it’s fully legal to smoke cigars while enjoying an array of steaks, salads, and sides. The place requires a reservation, and most nights they only serve one party, but it’s truly amazing to be able to slurp up oysters, cut into dry-aged steak dinner, sip cocktails or high-end spirits, and dive into chocolate cake while finishing the meal with one of the bar’s numerous cigars. There’s even a television, making it a nice place to spend an evening with buddies watching sports. There is a hefty minimum spend, which means the bigger the crew, the easier it is to try this truly unique restaurant-within-a-bar. Caesar’s Palace, 3570 S. Las Vegas Boulevard.

Bar pick of the month: Jammyland

Jammyland, Las Vegas
Jammyland, Las Vegas
Jammyland Instagram

LA bar veterans Danielle Crouch and Allan Katz, who used to helm Caña Rum Bar in Downtown LA, have brought their talents to Sin City with a fun Jamaican-inspired restaurant called Jammyland in Vegas’s Arts District. The drinks here are as good as they were at Caña: creative, balanced, and truly delicious. Try the Brazilian Necktie, a take on the Gordon’s cup made with chile-infused cachaca, lime, cucumber, and smoked sea salt. The duo also set up the bar menu at Here’s Looking at You, and since that restaurant has about as close a rendition to the historic Mai Tai as one can get in LA, they’ve brought the approach over to Vegas. The price tag isn’t as hefty here, and this one blends Appleton rum, Rhum Clement, curacao, and house-produced orgeat. After imbibing, try the excellent smoked jerk chicken wings or beef patties. 1121 S. Main Street, Las Vegas.

September 28, 2018

The Vegas news roundup

  • The big news this week was NoMad Bar’s reveal inside the Park MGM resort (actually it’ll go into the NoMad hotel, which is the top few floors of the Park MGM). The classy drinking establishment from the same team behind LA’s NoMad boasts a dark lounge, grand piano, and bites from Daniel Humm. Barman Leo Robitschek assembles the cocktail menu here, which could become one of the better places to drink in Vegas once it opens.
  • Food Network personality Michael Symon teases some photos of his upcoming Mabel’s BBQ, set to open inside the Palms just off the casino floor later this year. The huge space will have an outdoor patio too, which should come in handy during the cooler fall and winter months.
  • LA nightlife impresarios Jonnie and Mark Houston show off a bit of their upcoming nightclub On the Record, which goes into the Park MGM’s ground floor. There’s elements of many of their LA spots, from Good Times at Davey Wayne’s and Dirty Laundry to K-Town’s Breakroom 86, including three karaoke rooms. The place opens just before the New Year on December 28.
  • MB Steak at the Hard Rock Hotel has a crazy 16-pound Tomahawk steak served tableside that costs $1,200. It should feed up to 12 people and it comes with a ton of shareable sides like lobster mac & cheese. It needs to be ordered 72 hours in advance, so plan this one on an upcoming trip.
  • Vegas is really into secrets, so here’s ten secret restaurants and bars to find in the city, from the speakeasy the Mob Museum to exclusive Paiza Club at the Venetian.

Restaurant pick of the month: Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar

The entrance to Bavette’s
The entrance to Bavette’s
Amelinda B Lee

This Chicago transplant goes into the Park MGM hotel bringing much of its dark Windy City vibe deep inside this newly remodeled resort. It’s been open only a year, but it’s already one of Vegas’s best steakhouses thanks to a fairly straightforward approach of quality and good service. The interior is striking and original, with a meandering hallway that opens up to a lounge area before revealing a huge dining room chock full of details.

The room looks a lot better than its Chicago original, which has more of that Boardwalk Empire vibe. Here in Sin City, it’s more ritzy and plush, with jazzy music, colorful artwork, and sturdy leather chairs. Start with an elegantly stirred Bijou cocktail and share the plump shrimp de longhe, mopping up the tangy garlic herb sauce on the bottom. The steaks are fantastic, broiled dry-aged prime cuts plus fine dining-level side dishes. The dry-aged bone-in ribeye is the way to go, large enough to split. 3770 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas.