For all you foodies out there you'll like this list of 12 great Las Vegas restaurants for every taste and budget by Larry Olmsted. Published on Forbes.com, January 28, 2014. Enjoy!
Michael’s Gourmet Room, Southpoint Casino Several miles down Las Vegas Boulevard from Mandalay Bay, off the Strip and out of the public eye, this longtime local favorite is simply one of the great restaurants and hidden gems of Las Vegas. With its captains, uniformed staff, velvet banquets, intimate size and exquisite service, you half-expect the Rat Pack to come in and sit down. Michael’s is old Vegas glamour at its best - the signature intermezzo is sorbet with Dom Perignon champagne - with an equally old school menu featuring forgotten gems like veal saltimbocca, escargot, real Dover Sole and chateaubriand for two. Everything works here, the food, the service, the setting and last but not least, the amazing desserts. Amazing!
Marrow bones at a buffet carving station? Wicked Spoon ushered in the new era of the upscale Vegas buffet by ditching the giant bowls of salad and cocktail shrimp for individually plated tapas-style servings, very creatively and artfully done - the fried chicken comes in mini fryer baskets, the fresh made pad Thai in classic white cardboard Chinese take -out boxes. Much of the food is made to order, and the enormous dessert array includes a staffed gelato bar with over a dozen flavors. Wicked Spoon has spawned many competitors but remains atop the nexus of quality and value, redefining “all you can eat.”
In a city mad for steakhouses, Wolfgang’s Puck CUT sits atop the heap, named best by local publications Vegas Eater and Vegas Seven, while Bon Appetit picked it as one of the nation’s top three steakhouses. It starts with an incredible selection of meat, from USDA Prime 35-day dry aged to Australian Wagyu, and continues with creative sides like creamed spinach with fried organic eggs, an array of house-made sauces including chimichurri, and fantastic starters such as caramelized onion, Parmigiano-Reggiano and potato knishes or tempura onion rings with smoked paprika and saffron aioli. The menu is so tempting you’ll have to eat here a dozen times to scratch the surface, but you will have fun trying.
For years Vegas has been known for its Thai cuisine, with one major food magazine naming Lotus of Siam the nation’s best, and the strip mall eatery has remained a foodie pilgrimage spot ever since. But the new kid in town is Le Thai, in suddenly trendy born again Downtown, winning fans and acclaim for its flavorful interpretations of Thai classics, plus some innovative specialties, all at reasonable prices. Le Thai is hot, hot, hot, and while the place knows it is hip, and sometimes reflects this in hit or miss service, the food is consistently good, and favorites include the “Awesome Noodles,” short rib fried rice, and three color curry. PHOTO: Las Vegas News Bureau
Nobu Matsuhisa’s eponymous empire of Peruvian Japanese fusion stretches from New York to Dubai, but this Vegas newcomer is the largest Nobu in the world and has things unique to this location, including special dishes, a lengthy sake menu, Teppanyaki tables, and even breakfast (for hotel guests). But it also has all the oft-imitated but never quite equaled Nobu classics that have made chef Matsuhisa hugely popular, including his addictive rock shrimp tempura and amazing miso black cod (shown). It is the Nobu you already love taken up a notch, and an unbeatable Vegas choice for sushi, sashimi or cooked dishes.
Joel Robuchon, MGM Grand
Joel Robuchon, simply the best fine dining restaurant in the country if not the world, the global flagship of the most Michelin-starred and decorated chef in history is a jewel in every sense: meticulous décor, service, and an ever changing menu that will not fail to wow. You’ll pay handsomely for this once in a lifetime experience, with a the full degustation menu typically running over $1,000 for two, but if you want to truly understand the concept of “fine dining” you cannot do any better. Photo: MGM Resorts International
It is hard to get good Hawaiian fare outside of Hawaii, but a lot of people come to Vegas from the 50th State, and many head straight to Market Street Cafe when they are hungry - and so should you. With zero glitz or atmosphere, this 24-hour coffee shop in an old Downtown Vegas casino hotel serves very generous portions of delicious Hawaiian comfort foods at ridiculously low prices. Revolving specials include the signature oxtail stew, which draws fans from all over the city, chicken long rice, Kalua pig with cabbage, chicken adobo, island-style short ribs, chicken curry, and a seafood catch of the day such as mahi mahi. Daily mainstays are island curry stew pot, saimin noodle soup, and delicious Chinese-style fried chicken. All are tasty bargains.
Kobe beef. That describes SW Steakhouse’s unique appeal and monopoly in two words. Almost all Kobe beef on US restaurant menus, especially common in Las Vegas, is fake, as only miniscule quantities of the real thing are actually imported. But Wynn Las Vegas is the first and only official distributor of Japan’s Kobe Beef Council in the entire United States, and the place to go if you want to finally try real Kobe beef and see what all the fuss is about. Sides are also stunning (Brussels sprouts and Andouille with mustard cream or poblano and smoked bacon mac & cheese), but don’t expect a bargain.
BLT Burger, Mirage
Chef Laurent Tourondel of New York’s acclaimed BLT Steak and BLT Fish took the burger to new heights at BLT Burger, using delicious soft buns and 100% Certified Angus Beef (or ground turkey or Colorado lamb), topped with a wide slate of cheeses and delicious toppings and served with exceptional sides including five types of fries (skinny, curly, waffle, Buffalo, sweet potato) plus onion rings. There are craft sodas and 20 beers on tap but do not miss the insanely good milkshakes, made with everything for marshmallows to Twinkies, plus a menu of spiked adult versions. PHOTO: MGM Resorts International
Everyone has eaten at the Golden Steer, the city’s oldest steakhouse (1958), from Elvis, Sinatra and Muhammad Ali to modern regulars like Mario Andretti. Just a block off the Strip near the Stratosphere, it feels frozen in time, dark with red leather banquettes and Old West art. Come for this wonderful old Vegas atmosphere, and come back for the delicious food, not exactly a bargain, but appreciably more reasonable than the Strip’s many high-end celebrity chef steakhouses. It was voted Best Steakhouse 2013 by Las Vegas Journal Review readers, and features old school touches like Caesar salad prepared tableside from a rolling cart, Dover Sole deboned tableside, classic starters like jumbo shrimp cocktail and crab cakes, and the main event - huge steaks with all the classic sides, from creamed spinach to hash browns.
There is not much in the way of Greek fine dining in this country, but Estiatorio Milos is just that and at the very highest level, famed for bringing in the finest seafood from around the world, so fresh you expect it to jump off your plate. While seafood, like the salt crusted Milokopi, is definitely the signature here, the sides and starters, especially the amazing tower of ultra-thin fried zucchini slices with exquisite tzatziki sauce, are musts as well.
Visitors to Vegas often wonder where the locals eat, and if the locals are eating at a Strip casino, many that I know choose Stack at the Mirage. Obscured by the countless celebrity chefs and brand name restaurants, it is easy to overlook this low key and creative American eatery - but don’t do that. Stack serves rarefied comfort foods like the sinful “Adult Tater Tots,” fried potato logs jazzed up with brie and bacon (shown); short rib meatballs; mini lamb gyros; homemade pigs in blankets, and “lollipop” style Buffalo wings. Sometimes basic is best, and Stack is a go-to choice for standards, from Caesar salad to fusilli carbonara. It is reliable, fun, and hard to go wrong. PHOTO: MGM Resorts International