7.4 The finest restaurants
We always plan to eat at one very nice restaurant while in Las Vegas. The following are my “Top 20" Las Vegas Restaurants. These restaurants were selected not only because of their food quality, service and atmosphere, but also because they are conveniently located on the strip and easy to get to. The cost (including a glass of wine) will run from $40 to $75 per person ...and it can be more. Expensive? Yes. But this is Las Vegas and you need to sample the best.
The Triple-A Diamond and Mobil Travel Guide Awards are the travel industry's most coveted and prestigious honors. The 2006 Ratings are based on personal visits by AAA and Mobil Travel Guide field inspectors. No restaurant pays for a AAA or Mobil Travel Guide listing. They are selected on the basis of merit alone.
According to the Zagat Survey, the average Las Vegas restaurant meal costs around $35. (The national average is now a little more than $31.) Expect to pay double that, however, at a fine high-end restaurant. In Las Vegas, the average tab at an expensive restaurant is about $70. Italian cuisine is by far the favorite (named by 35% of respondents) followed by French, Japanese, American and Chinese (11 to 13 percent each.) The Zagat Survey is the world's leading provider of consumer opinion-based leisure content.
(This list is subject to change.)
AUREOLE - Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino (3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S, Las Vegas, NV 89119) - Tel. (702) 632-7401 - Dinner: 6:00 to 10:30 p.m. Entree: $50+. Aureole is famous for its four-story acrylic wine tower - the first of its kind in the world - that holds 10,000 bottles of wine priced from $10 to $5,000 per bottle. Chef Charlie Palmer, whose flagship restaurant is in New York City, features award winning gourmet food paired with select wines. Aureole is continually rated top for food, service, décor, and wine selection ...one of the few Four Diamond restaurants in Las Vegas. Wine list is stored on an electronic notebook computer. Reserve a table close to the wine tower so you can see your wine being retrieved by an acrobatic harness-clad female wine steward from the 42-foot tower. Mobi Four-Star restaurant.
COMMANDER'S PALACE in the Desert Passage at the Aladdin Hotel/Casino (3667 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV, 89109) Reservations suggested. Tel. (702) 892-8272 - Dinner: 5:30 to 9 p.m. (Fri.-Sat. to 10 p.m.) This is a branch of the famous New Orleans restaurant with the same name. Award-winning Cajun and Creole cuisine and impeccable service. Entrees: $25 to $39. Executive Chef Carlos Guia moved from New Orleans to bring the Brennan family-style cuisine and hospitality to Las Vegas. Very highly rated by Fodors, Frommers and Gayot. Only downside is that it does not have the fine atmosphere ...landscaping, patio terrace, design and decor of Vegas' best restaurants. (Located inside a rather low end shopping mall.) Trivia: Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse got his big start after formal training (he holds a Doctoral Degree in Culinary Arts and trained in Paris) as executive chef at the New Orleans Commanders Palace restaurant.
POSTRIO in the Grand Canal Shoppes - The Venetian (3377 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas , NV 89109) Reservations suggested. Telephone: 702-796-1110 - Open: 11:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m. (Fri. & Sat. until midnight) - Entrees $20-$35. An elegant Wolfgang Puck restaurant complete with festive patio seating ...a great place to people watch. Located in a corner of St. Mark’s Square. Combines the style of Wolfgang Puck’s San Francisco Postrio restaurant with the cozy, romantic atmosphere of Venice, Italy. Outstanding service, good food ...steak, seafood, Italian pastas/pizzas and more.
SPAGO in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace (3500 S Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) Reservatons suggested: Tel. (702) 369-6300. This offshoot of the famous Beverly Hills Spago features California Cuisine. Wolfgang Puck restaurant is credited with starting the trend in 1992 to fine food and celebrity chefs in Las Vegas. Dining room open: Mon.-Thu. 6-10 p.m., Sat. 5:30-10:30 p.m., Sun. 5:30-10 p.m. Great restaurant for people watching. Entrees: $15 to $35. Has an outside patio café section (great for people watching) and an inside dining room.
OKADA at the Wynn Las Vegas (3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) Reservations suggested. Tel. (702) 770-3463. Named for Steve Wynn’s business partner and investor, Kazuu Okada. Features a circular sushi bar, a sake bar ...and landscaping that recalls Kyoto. The dining room overlooks an authentic Japanese garden with waterfalls and a fish pond. Okada at the Wynn Executive Chef Takashi Yagahashi (a winner of the James Beard Foundation's Best American Chef - Midwest award) creates a modern Japanese dining experience. Open: 5:30-10:30 p.m. (Fri.-Sat until 11:30 p.m.) Entrees: More than $30
CHINA GRILL (across from Aureole) inside Mandalay Bay Resort/Casino (3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89119) Tel. (702) 632-7777 - Dinner: 5:30-11 p.m. daily - Entrees: $20-$30 - Las Vegas version of its New York, Miami and Beverly Hills counterpart. Breathtaking architecture. Entering the restaurant, you walk over a drawbridge, which is directly above lighted waterfalls. Southeast Asian cuisine, but food is not the main event here. (You are paying for the trendy atmosphere.)
Late every Wednesday night, this 'swinging' Asian restaurant is transformed into the hot after-hours Red Dragon lounge ...complete with unisex bathrooms. You can wait in line with your opposite sex date. The bathrooms are actually translucent glass stalls, (they call them "pods") separated from the main dining room by only a metal beaded curtain. There is full privacy, but visible shadows of the person inside the pod is outlined on the frosted glass stalls make this experience "interesting." Each stall has its own personal mini-TV. Cover: $20., $10 for locals. (Only in Vegas!)
NOBU at the Hard Rock Hotel (4455 Paradise Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89109) Tel. (702) 693-5090 - This one is not on the strip but it is close by. We are compelled to list it since the food is so good! - Robert DeNiro is one of the owners. - Famed Chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s fine restaurants stretches across the globe (including Milan, Italy, Tokyo, London and Paris.) The world’s best Japanese cuisine with a Peruvian touch. - Dinner: Nightly 6:00-11:00 p.m. Entrees: $30-$50. Specializing in Sushi and Kobe beef. (Nobu trained as a sushi chef in Tokyo.)
PICASSO inside the Bellagio Hotel - Casino (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) Reservations required: Tel. (702) 693-7223 - This may be the finest restaurant in Las Vegas ...a Mobil Four Star and AAA Five Diamond Restaurant with French-Mediterranean cuisine. Entrees: $30 and up. (Fixed-price 4-course dinner $85, 5-course $95) - Dinner: Wed.--Mon. 6:00-9:30 p.m. (Closed Tuesdays) Features the beautiful and authentic masterpieces, ceramics, tiles and sculpture of Pablo Picasso ($50 million worth!) The lake view and water-show makes this one of the most romantic spots in town. If you want to splurge - or make an impression, this is the place to go. Unmatched service and atmosphere. Ask for a terrace table.
ALEX at the Wynn Las Vegas (3131 S. Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV, 89109) Reservations required. Tel. (702) 770-9966 - Alex is named after award-winning executive chef Alessandro Stratta who moved across the street from the Mirage’s Renoir (which promptly closed.) Renoir was one of two Las Vegas restaurants to earn a Mobil five-star rating. (Alex is a new AAA Five Diamond Award winner for 2006.) Stratta specializes in Franco-Mediterranean-Italian food ...or “Riviera cuisine” as it is sometimes called. Dining room has a terrace which overlooks the resort's Lake of Dreams. Cost: Very expensive. Undoubtedly the most high-end restaurant in Las Vegas. Entrees: $100-150. (The 4-course “price fixed” menu is $120 per person!) Dinner 5:30-10:00 p.m. Dressy attire (Jackets and ties) required.
BOUCHON in the Venezia Tower of the Venetian Resort & Casino (3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas NV 89109) - Reservation recommended. Tel. (702) 414-6200 or toll-free (888) 283-6423 - Owned by award-winning Chef Thomas A. Keller who was named “America's Best Chef” by Time Magazine in 2001. He trained in Paris and New York City. Bouchon is modeled after the original bistro located in Yountville, (Napa Vally) California. Very classy French bistro ...also has outdoor patio seating area overlooking lush gardens and fountains. Outstanding food, attentive service, ...knowledgeable waitstaff. Dinner: Seating every 30 minutes from 5:00-9:30 p.m. (Closes at 11:00 p.m.) - Price: $25-$35.
EIFFEL TOWER RESTAURANT at the Paris Hotel and Casino (3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas NV 89109) Reservations suggested. Tel. (702) 948-6937, Toll-free: (888) 266-5687 Dinner: Sun-Thurs: 5:30-10 p.m.; Fri & Sat: until 11:00 p.m. Perched 11 stories above the strip in the 50-story Eiffel Tower replica at Paris Las Vegas. One of Las Vegas most intimate and romantic restaurants with a breathtaking view of the strip and the Bellagio dancing water show. Ask to be seated by a window facing the Strip. World-renowned Chef J. Joho provides great French classic cuisine. Very expensive; entrees: $30-$50 ...and higher for the lobster thermidor. (2006 winner of the AAA Four-Diamond Award.)
LE CIRQUE at The Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) - Reservations required Tel. (702) 693 8100. This Mobil Four-Star and AAA Four Diamond restaurant overlooks Bellagio's eight-acre lake and its dancing fountain water show. Circus-themed French gourmet restaurant. Dinner daily 5:30-11:00 p.m. Attire: dressy. Jacket and tie required for the men. Expensive: Entrees more than $40 per person.
MON AMI GABI at Paris Las Vegas - (3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109-4345 - Reservations suggested for indoor seating: Tel. (702) 944-GABI) (4224) - This French bistro is noted for its steak and seafood. The outdoor patio offers a romantic view of Bellagio's watershow and the strip ...a great place to people watch. Get there early since they don’t take reservations for the terrace where it is first come-first served. Dinner: 5:00-11:00 p.m., Fri.-Sat. until midnight. Entrees: (Expensive) $30-$50. Very highly recommended by those who know food: Frommers, Fodors, ...Gayot.
CIRCO at the Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) Reservations suggested. Tel. (702) 693-8150. Upscale circus-themed Italian bistro next door to the Le Cirque French restaurant. Features all sorts of fine pastas, seafood entrees, veal, chicken and tempting desserts. Exceptional food, outstanding service. Romantic: located on the Bellagio lake so request a window seat to watch the fountains. (The whole room lights up during the dancing waters show.) Dinner: 5:30-10:30 p.m. Entrees: $25-$35.
ONDA at the Mirage (3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) - Reservations Tel. (702) 791-7111 - Upscale, classic Italian restaurant in a contemporary setting serves homemade pasta, breads, antipasto, fresh seafood and meats. Voted "Best Italian Restaurant" by the Las Vegas Concierge Association. Tucked away in a corner of the casino. Entrees: $20-$35. (Supposedly a jacket is required, but we ate there in a casual collared sports shirt ...as did many others.) We found service very friendly and attentive and delicious food. Dinner: 5:30-11:00 p.m.
TRATTORIA DEL LUPO in the Mandalay Bay Resort/Casino (3950 Ls Vegas Bvld. S., Las Vegas, NV 89119) Reservations Tel. (702) 740-5522 - Wolfgang Puck’s first (and only) Italian restaurant. Executive Chef Mark Ferguson, a former chef at Spago, trained in Rome to learn authentic Italian cooking. Dinner: Daily 5:00–10:00 p.m. (Fri.- Sat. Until 11:00 p.m.) - Patio dining is great for people watching. - Entrees: average $25 to $30. - Traditional and contemporary Italian cuisine.
VALENTINOS at the Venetian (3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 89109) - Reservations suggested: Tel. (702) 414-3000 - Located on “St. Mark's Square” on the canal at the Venetian. 5-star authentic northern Italian cuisine - Dinner: 5:30-11:30 p.m. - Entrees: $25-$35 - Born and trained in Italy, Executive Chef Luciano Pellegrini has won numerous award for his gourmet food. Perfect service and food to match. Many consider this the “Best Italian Restaurant In Las Vegas.”
OLIVES at the Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) Reservations suggested. Tel. (877) 234-6358 or (702) 693-8181 - Casual Mediterranean café modeled after the original Olives of Boston - Get seated by the window or in the romantic outdoor patio overlooking Bellagio’s lake and dancing water show. “Riviera” steaks, seafood and pasta cuisine by award-winning Executive Chef Todd English. Dinner 5:00-10:30 p.m. - Delicious, imaginative food, friendly staff, excellent service ...great atmosphere - Entrees: (Expensive) $20-$35 and higher. Attire: Dressy (Jacket required.)
EMERIL'S NEW ORLEANS FISH HOUSE - MGM Grand Hotel - (3799 Las Vegas Blvd, S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) - Reservations strongly suggested. Tel. (702) 891-7374 - Recently renovated - Award-winning cajun-creole seafood, exceptional service and Bourbon Street ambiance - One of celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse’s fine restaurants, Resident Chef Jean Paul Labadie - Dinner: Daily 5:30-10:30 p.m. - Entrees: (Expensive) $20-$40. (More for lobster).
MICHAEL MINA (Formerly known as AQUA) - Bellagio Hotel (3600 Las Vegas Blvd, S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) Reservations suggested: Tel. (702) 693-7223 and (877)-234-6358 - Located in the resort’s beautiful Conservatory & Botanical Gardens - Super Star Chef Michael Mina brings his popular San Francisco concept to Vegas. - The restaurant has a new resident Executive Chef Jon Mathieson having lost its longtime Chef, Mark LoRusso to Wynn Las Vegas. - The restaurant name has changed but the innovative California and Mediterranean seafood dishes remain - Dinner: 5:30-10:00 p.m. - Entrees (Expensive) $30 to $70; Five-course tasting menu, $85. - Mobil Four-Star Award (2006) and Epicurean Award (2005) winner for Best Seafood. Attire: Women, dressy. Men, Jacket.
DELMONICO STEAKHOUSE at the Venetian Resort & Casino - (3355 Las Vegas Blvd, S., Las Vegas, NV 89109) - Reservations suggested. Phone: (702) 414-3737 - Another award-winning Emeril Lagasse restaurant ...a classic American steakhouse with a New Orleans Creole influence. The food, service and atmosphere are first-class. - Resident Chef de Cuisine: Dana D'Anzi - Dinner: 5:30-10:30 p.m., Fri.-Sat. until 11:00 p.m. - Entrees: (Expensive) $30-$50. - 2004 Epicurean Award winner for Best Steak House.
ZAGAT SURVEY - Excerpted from USA Today, April 10, 2006 America's Top 100 Hotel Restaurants
At the request of USA TODAY, Zagat Survey found the top 100 hotel restaurants in America, based on food quality, décor and service. Nine of the best gourmet restarants are in Las Vegas. Zagat Survey publishes guidebooks based on reviews by restaurant customers.
Each of the top 100 hotel restaurants offers fine dining and elegant décor at high price. Most provide impeccable service, and many offer breathtaking views. "Almost all have superior décor to what any normal restaurant could afford," CEO Tim Zagat says. Checking in at number ten is:
No.10 - Picasso at the Bellagio Hotel ($102.)
Just like the “beautiful” namesake originals featured in this Survey’s Top Decor, chef Julian Serrano’s “exquisite” Spanish-inflected New French dishes are “meticulously honed” “masterpieces” at Las Vegas’ Most Popular restaurant, a “MoMA-meets-Bacchus” “splurge” in the Bellagio; other enticements include “perfect wines”, “gorgeous flowers”, “a view of the dancing fountains” and a “gracious” staff that “treats you as an honored guest”, garnering the town’s Top Service rating; of course it’s “expensive”, but “it still costs less than 15 minutes at blackjack”, and it’s more “intoxicating.”
No. 41 - Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio Hotel ($83.)
“Sink into the lavish seats” and “begin an evening of delight” at the town’s No. 1 steakhouse where Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s “pampering” staff serves “heaven on a plate (and in a glass)”, as well as rolled in a fine cigar at meal’s end; “if the Rat Pack were still around, they’d congregate here” for “marvelous” meat, “martini-centric drinks”, “theatrical decor” and “fantastic” fountain views, “all of which scream ‘ring-a-ding Vegas’”; just “know that you’ll be spending a ton” and you’ll “want to dress up” to dine among the “famous people.”
No. 42 - Alex at the Wynn Las Vegas ($114.)
One of Sin City’s “very best” chefs, Alex Stratta, has earned the first-name clout to head up this “Wynn top draw” where diners “descend a grand staircase” “Dolly Levi”–style to a “lavish”, European-style room to savor “extraordinarily conceived” French-Med meals served on “gorgeous china”; the staff “goes out of its way to ensure a wonderful evening”, and “perfect touches” like “the seat-side purse ottoman” for a clientele “who actually remembers to dress” guarantee a reprieve from “the shorts-and–flip-flops” “Vegas culture.” No children under five.
No. 69 - SW Steakhouse at the Wynn Las Vegas ($74.)
“Eric Klein is hot” say surveyors savoring “steak you can cut with a fork” and the chef’s native “Alsatian specialties” at this “fabulous” chophouse in the Wynn; the room is as “breathtaking” as the fare, with “chic” decor and a patio overlooking the “lake and forest with a water show at night”; “sensational service” and an “amazing and reasonable wine list” help make this an “excellent addition” to the high-rolling scene.
No. 73 - Le Cirque at the Bellagio Hotel ($88.)
“Turn your frown upside down” when you step from the Bellagio casino into this “elegant” “temple of gastronomy”, where ringmaster Sirio Maccioni’s “synchronized servers” deliver “superb” New French cuisine and “delectable desserts”, albeit at “steep prices”; “lusciously colored”, overstuffed chairs and banquettes make the “intimate” room feel like “sitting inside a jewel box”, and a window table ensures a “great view of the fountains” for an “elegant” evening; P.S. children under 12 are not allowed, so hire a babysitter and savor a “memorable experience.”
No. 75 - Michael Mina at the Bellagio Hotel ($82.)
San Francisco “master chef” Michael Mina feeds fish to the whales (aka “high rollers”) at this Survey’s top seafooder, an “inspired” spot for “exquisite” eating à “la mer” in the Bellagio conservatory; “try the signature” “huge and delicious lobster pot pie” accompanied by a bottle from the “excellent wine list”, and “treat yourself with their caviar service”; the dishes are so “outstanding”, the service so “congenial” and the space (with open kitchen) so “chic, simple and cosseting” (if “noisy”) that the “sky-high prices” are “worth it.”
No. 76 - André's at the Monte Carlo Resort ($69.)
“Go to the original for homey and the hotel for classy”, but enjoy the same “fantastic” French fare at André Rochat’s eponymous eateries in a “rustic, charming” “cottage” Downtown and tucked behind “sound-proof doors” in a “Louis XIV–style” room in the Monte Carlo; “everything is rich, rich, rich”, but diners “basking in the full glory of butter, cream and foie gras” “done to perfection” and presented by a “gracious” staff find it all “magnifique!”
No. 84 - Alizé at the Palms Casino Hotel ($75)
“Against all the out-of-town invaders”, local institution André Rochat “holds his own” at his “magical” New French “splurge” “atop the Palms Hotel” where, “if you can tear your eyes away from the chef’s stunning plates”, you’re treated to “an awesome, infinite view of the lights and sights”; in fact, “it’s hard to decide which is more fabulous: the food, the vista”, the “impeccable service” or “a wine list that would make Bacchus cry” – each is “off the charts.” They prefer if you don’t bring your children under 10.
No. 88 - Okada at the Wynn Las Vegas ($72)
“Another Wynn winner”, this new Japanese by chef Takashi Yagahashi specializes in “excellent teppanyaki” and “must-try robata” cooking, not to mention “fantastic sushi”, served in a “visually stunning” “Zen garden” featuring a “floating pagoda table” and “floor-to-ceiling windows that showcase” the hotel’s “famous mountain”, lake and “lit waterfall”; “first-rate service” goes with the “absolutely gorgeous food and decor.”
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