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If your looking for a restaurant in Las Vegas there are plenty of options and not all of them are on the strip, Las Vegas offers plenty of “off the beaten” path dining.
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BENIHANA VILLAGE Las Vegas Hilton, 3000 Paradise Road, 732-5821. Japanese tabletop cooking at its finest. The chefs deliver great steaming-hot food, as well as an entertaining show.
GINZA SUSHI 375 N. Stephanie St., 538-7360. Housed in a chrome building that was once a retro-themed diner, the owners have done a great job of converting the space into a Japanese restaurant. The sushi here is fresh, well-prepared and affordable, and the staff is friendly and helpful.
HAMADA OF JAPAN Various locations. A Vegas favorite and hangout for the city’s beautiful people. Traditional Japanese food and sushi bar.
ISLAND SUSHI 9400 S. Eastern Ave., 221-1600. Located in the space that used to house the popular sushi restaurant Koto, quality sushi is still the main draw but the new owners have added a Hawaiian flair. They offer a nice all-you-can-eat special for $24.95.
KAIZEN 10271 Eastern Ave., Suite 109, 492-0216; 4480 Paradise Road, Suite 900, 641-7772. Putting a “fusion” spin on sushi, Kaizen’s choices range from the traditional to the bizarre. Their barbecued rib roll may be one of a kind, which is probably a good thing.
KOI Planet Hollywood, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd., 454-4555. L.A.’s celebrity-owned Koi has long been a hotspot for Hollywood A-listers. Now those who aren’t cool enough to score a reservation there can enjoy the next best thing at Planet Hollywood. The food is Japanese-inspired with California accents; the dining room is large and modern; and the enclosed patio lounge offers one of the Strip’s best views of the Bellagio fountains.
MAKINO 3965 S. Decatur Blvd., 889-4477. Reasonably priced Japanese seafood buffet is consistently fresh and delicious all the way from sushi to dessert.
OSAKA 4205 W. Sahara Ave., 10920 S. Eastern, 616-3788. With well-trained, award-winning chefs and seafood not available elsewhere in town, this Japanese restaurant is the place to go if you want a civilized meal.
RA SUSHI Fashion Show Mall, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 1132, 696-0008. Ra is a great place to eat sushi and have a few drinks — and well worth a trip to the mall.
SEN OF JAPAN 8480 W. Desert Inn Road, 871-7781. Run by former Nobu Las Vegas head chef Hiro Nakano, this off-strip Japanese fusion restaurant offers delicious food at far less than you’d pay in a casino. The menu features sushi, tempura, kushi yai skewered meat, and both hot and cold fusion dishes. Can’t decide on what to order? Try one of their two “omakase” tasting menus, reasonably priced at $50 or $80 a person.
SUSHI MON 9770 S. Maryland Parkway, 617-0241. Fresh and authentic delicacies. Try the all-you-can-eat dinner.
SUSHI ROKU Caesars Palace Forum Shops, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 733-7373. The sushi is fresh and well-prepared, but Sushi Roku goes far beyond the basics. A great view of the strip, cool décor and large selection of creative hot and cold dishes from the land and sea more than justify the steep price tag.
SUSHIWA 790 Coronado Center Drive, 263-5785. This hip modern Henderson newcomer has a New York City feel, and offers innovative spins on sushi and sashimi, taking rolls to a new level.
SWISH 5115 W. Spring Mountain Road, Ste. 121, 522-9345. Swish offers shabu shabu, in which customers cook their own meat, seafood and vegetables in a pot of broth, and sukiyaki, where the same foods are cooked in a flat pan with sauce. Both are easy for newcomers to enjoy, and the restaurant’s staff is more than willing to lend first-timers a hand.
AMLEE GOURMET 3827 E. Sunset Road, 898-3358. A little more expensive than most other Chinese restaurants, but the food lives up to the prices.
BEIJING NOODLE NO. 9 Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 731-7604. Chinatown is no longer the only place in town for great Chinese noodles and dumplings. Caesars Palace’s bright modern restaurant, modeled after Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, feels a little like the interior of a giant fishbowl. Fresh noodles are tossed daily in the kitchen and offered in a variety of preparations. There’s also a small but interesting dim sum selection that makes this a great place for beginners to experiment with the traditional dumplings.
CAFÉ NOODLE 4355 W. Spring Mountain Road, 220-3399. An elaborate bar and extensive menu, including some of those adventurous dishes that many Americans run screaming from, make this a solid Chinese option.
CATHAY HOUSE 5300 W. Spring Mountain Road, 876-3838. Better-than-average Chinese food and great service in an elegant setting. The restaurant’s east wall is made up entirely of plate-glass windows, providing a wonderful view of the Strip’s parade of lights.
CHINA MAMA Mama 3420 S. Jones Blvd., 873-1977. This unassuming little Chinatown restaurant offers one of the most diverse selections of Chinese food in Las Vegas. Their soup dumplings have become legendary – and should be a staple of any visit here. But don’t stop there. The menu is massive and worth exploring – and thankfully written in English. Go with a large group and dine family style and you can easily get out of the place for between $10 and $15 a person.
DIAMOND CHINA 3909 W. Sahara Ave., 873-6977. Our top pick for late-night Chinese food.
HARBOR PALACE 4275 Spring Mountain Road, 253-1688. An open, bright atmosphere surrounds the fresh food and fast service. A wide variety of seafood, chicken and beef selections are supplemented with an interesting fruit drink menu.
HO-HO-HO CHINESE GOURMET EXPRESS 10217 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite D, 838-7628. An extensive menu that busts with bold flavor.
LITTLE BUDDHA Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road, 942-7778. The local version of the famous Buddha Bar in Paris serves French, Japanese and Chinese fusion cuisine in luscious surroundings.
SAM WOO BARBECUE 4215 Spring Mountain Road, 368-7628. Chinese-style barbecue that ranges from rather odd to wonderful.
Long Life Vegetarian Restaurant 4130 S. Sandhill Road, 436-4488. The name of this Chinese restaurant is a little deceiving. It’s actually pescetarian - meaning they serve seafood as well as vegetarian cuisine. Nonetheless, it has plenty to offer true vegetarians, including imitation versions of beef, pork and chicken offered in traditional preparations such as sweet-and-sour, moo shu and kung pao. For those who don’t want to disguise their tofu as animal flesh, there are plenty of straight-up tofu dishes as well. And your carnivore friends can always enjoy the authentic seafood offerings.
TAO Venetian Grand Canal Shops, 3373 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 2025, 388-8338. The nightclub half of this $20 million venture has been getting most of the press. But the beautifully decorated restaurant is worth a visit for a pan-Asian menu that boasts brilliant sauces, large portions and prices that won’t completely break the bank.
BOSA 1 3400 S. Jones Blvd., Suite 2A, 418-1931. Forget the pho. You won’t find it on the menu at this hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant. They specialize in something different: broken rice platters known as com tam. They come topped with a large variety of meats, sausages and rice patties, all at unbelievably reasonable prices. (Even the most massive feast is priced below $9.) If broken rice isn’t your thing, you can also substitute vermicelli.
PHO KIM LONG 4023-4029 Spring Mountain Road, 220-3613. There are 190 traditional Vietnamese dishes on the menu, most of which are under $10. Don’t be intimidated by the gargantuan menu; any Pho is a good bet. Open 24 hours.
PHO SO I 4745 Spring Mountain Road, 252-3934. Everything on this Vietnamese menu comes highly recommended. Specialties are beef noodle soups, spring rolls and beef salad. Try beer with your meal; there is also a wine that is best savored as a dessert.
PHO TI, 3300 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 894-7111. Located inside the Coffee Shop, this Vietnamese eatery offers less than two dozen dishes, none priced above $10.95. It’s open until 11:30 p.m. during the week, and until 2:30 a.m. on weekends, which makes it great for a late-night snack. Less adventurous diners can always order from the basic coffee shop menu.
KING SE JONG 1500 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 384-5264. Good, solid Korean food. It’s hard to experiment here, because the menu is rather obscure. Unless you’re in a hardcore mood to learn, stick with bool ko kee and noodles.
KOREAN GARDEN BARBEQUE HOUSE 4355 Spring Mountain Road, 383-3392. This tasty establishment departs from traditional Korean barbeque in that your server cooks the meat for you at the table instead of allowing you to do it yourself.
KOMOL 953 E. Sahara Ave., 731-6542. One of the longest-lived and most popular Thai restaurants in town. Watch out for the hot stuff, though. Even “medium” is blazingly spicy.
LOTUS OF SIAM 953 E. Sahara Ave., 735-3033. The emphasis is on stellar Thai cusine, rather than the decor. Monstrous menu; reservations recommended.
MARNEE THAI 5600 W. Spring Mountain Road, 873-4831. Damn good Thai food reasonably priced.
PANNA THAI 6015 S. Fort Apache Road, Suite 100, 823-2345. Great food at reasonable prices, offered as takeout or in a nicely-decorated, casually-modern dining room. Like most Thai cuisine, the dishes can be a little spicy — even when you ask for them on the mild side. But once you make it through the heat you’ll discover delicious takes on plenty of traditional recipes.
PING PONG 2955 E. Sunset Road, 228-9988. This small, very basic, slightly modern restaurant offers some of the best Thai food in town. We would offer recommendations, but we’ve never had a dish here that was anything less than excellent. Well worth a trip across town for serious devotees of Thai food.
THAI ROOM 3355 E. Tropicana Ave., 458-8481. Moderately priced classical Thai food in a pleasant room.
CAFE MODA 3400 S. Jones Blvd., 220-4488. Quirky little restaurant that has the feel of a small catering hall and serves primarily as a dance hall for Filipino expatriates. Some of the fare may be a bit exotic, but there’s something for everyone.
GANDHI INDIA’S CUISINE 4080 Paradise Road, 734-0094. The city’s oldest Indian restaurant and also the most expensive. Vegetarian and meat-eater dishes.
GAYLORD INDIA RESTAURANT Rio, 3700 W. Flamingo Road, 777-2277. A high-end Indian restaurant with a great atmosphere, good service and excellent food. The combination of these justifies the somewhat higher price tag. The menu offers a huge selection of vegetarian options.
INDIA OVEN 2218 Paradise Road, 366-0222. Simple décor, classic menu, good service and reasonable prices.
INDIA PALACE 505 E. Twain Ave., 796-4177. Perhaps the best traditional Indian food in town, and a good value compared with its competitors.
MINT INDIAN BISTRO (Formerly Himalayan Cuisine) 730 E. Flamingo Road, 894-9334. This modest restaurant offers food native to India, Nepal and Tibet. You’ll find familiar dishes like vindaloo and tikka masala, as well as more exotic offerings like a broth made of jwanu seeds or a yogurt and herb marinated version of tandoori called kawab.
ORIGIN INDIA 4480 Paradise Road, 734-6342. Raises the entire city’s expectations for an Indian restaurant, while only minimally raising the price.
SAMOSA FACTORY 4604 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 6, 258-9196. A large menu that includes more than 20 large, perfectly spiced entrées, including a vegan and vegetarian menu.
808 HAWAII MIXED PLATE 775 W. Craig Road, 642-5007. This Hawaiian restaurant doesn’t offer a lot in the way of atmosphere. It has counter service. You get your own napkins, plastic cutlery, chopsticks and straws from a station a few feet away. And the food is delivered to your table in Styrofoam takeout containers, regardless of whether you’re dining in or taking it to go. But it has a nice variety of Hawaiian cuisine at reasonable prices. For a real treat, go in on a Friday, when they offer their Aloha Special — $11.50 gets you smoked pork and cabbage, lomi lomi salmon salad, chicken long rice, poi and the coconut custard dessert haupia. For another $3, you can add laulau, which is pork wrapped in taro leaf.
ARTISAN FINE DINING 1501 W. Sahara Ave., 214-4000. The restaurant in this hipster hangout offers primarily Italian choices served in a dining room that’s just as cool as the rest of the building. It may cost a bit more than similar food elsewhere, but the atmosphere is worth it.
BAGEL CAFE 301 N. Buffalo Drive, 255-3444; Red Rock Casino, 11011 W. Charleston Blvd., 797-7979. This combination bakery/cafe is pretty upscale for a bagel place, which suits its patrons just fine.
BAGELMANIA 855 E. Twain Ave., 369-3322. It’s almost like a New York neighborhood diner, especially on weekend mornings. Wonderful.
BALLY’S STERLING BRUNCH Bally’s, 3645 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 964-4111. One of the finer dining experiences of its kind in Las Vegas, fabulous food and tons of it.
THE BEAT COFFEEHOUSE Emergency Arts, 520 Fremont St., 686-3164. Downtown once again has an independent coffeehouse, with a small menu that includes sandwiches, salads and pastries to complement the java offerings.
BJ’S COCKTAIL LOUNGE 6670 S. Tenaya Way, 257-7378; 218 E. Tropicana Ave., 736-9439. Primarily a video poker bar where the bartenders dress in lingerie. Appetizers includes crab cakes with roasted pepper sauce and clams steamed in white wine, garlic and herbs. Their cedar plank-grilled salmon isn’t to be missed, and neither are the delicious thin-crust pizzas.
BIG DOG’S DRAFT HOUSE 4543 N. Rancho Drive, 645-1404. Brats, beer and a warm decor make this Wisconsin-themed bar and restaurant a favorite for Midwesterners and locals. The original property in the Big Dog’s chain.
BLACK MOUNTAIN GRILL 11021 S. Eastern Ave., 990-0990. A sporting lodge in the desert, complete with dead animals on the wall and a relaxing Japanese-style decor. Worth visiting if you are in the southeast area.
BLT BURGER Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd., 792-7888. Yet another entry into the upscale hamburger world, BLT Burger is the brainchild of celebrated chef Laurent Tourondel. The menu isn’t as varied or as high-end as some of its competitors, but it offers innovative, quality hamburgers in a casual-but-classy environment. And their spiked milkshakes aren’t to be missed. Unfortunately they got off to a rough start in the service department, but that may improve with time.
BOB TAYLOR’S ORIGINAL RANCH HOUSE 6250 Rio Vista St., 645-1399. Since 1955, this steakhouse is a reminder that Las Vegas really was part of the wild, wild west. Fare is basic and heavy, but the steaks are big and perfectly prepared over a mesquite wood and charcoal grill. Finish the 32-ounce Diamond Jim Brady New York steak and get a free dessert.
BOSTON PIZZA 1507 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 385-2595. One of the city’s best old-time pizza joints. Don’t order “extra cheese” unless you really mean it.
BRAND STEAKHOUSE Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 730-6700. Light Group’s venture into the steakhouse world is a hip, multi-level dining room set up for people watching. The menu is modern, fun and comfortable, with a focus on steak, of course. Aspiring competitive eaters should try the 120-ounce porterhouse, which is intended to serve six but is free if a single diner can consume the entire thing. Those with more modest appetites have a wide variety of other cuts to choose from.
THE BROILER Palace Station, 2411 W. Sahara Ave., 367-2408; Boulder Station, 4111 Boulder Highway, 432-7743. Belly up to the vast salad bar before diving into tasty entrées like mahi mahi and bouillabaisse.
BURGER BAR Mandalay Bay, 3930 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 121A, 632-9364. Diners create their own burger. Start with a patty — Angus, Kobe, turkey, lamb, salmon, chicken or veggie — pick one of eight cheeses, 12 kinds of vegetables and maybe pickled green tomatoes or a lobster tail. The choices can tempt even the sanest patron to shell out for a once-in-a-lifetime burger.
CATHOUSE Luxor, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 262-4228. Kerry Simon’s new residence is half restaurant, half lounge, and 100 percent bordello-themed. If the idea of eating comfort food in a high-end whorehouse sounds like fun, this is the place for you.
CAVALIER 3850 E. Desert Inn Road, 451-6221. In a city where a new bar and grill opens every day, the Cavalier has a reputation stretching back decades. Standard meat and potatoes fare, with low prices and inventive daily specials.
CHICAGO HOT DOGS 1078 N. Rancho Drive, 647-3647. This is as close as you’re gonna get to a real Chicago hot dog joint.
COFFEE PUB 2800 W. Sahara Ave., 367-1913. Sandwiches, salads, quiches and desserts, all fresh and tasty. One of the best outdoor dining places in the city. A top power-lunch spot, with routine celebrity sightings.
CROWN & ANCHOR 1350 E. Tropicana Ave., 739-8676; 4755 Spring Mountain Road, 876-4733. Great British fare served by English-accented servers in a nautical decor.
DELMONICO STEAKHOUSE Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 414-3737. Straight-ahead and gimmick-free elegance, with excellent service.
Dyer’s Chicago Style Gourmet Popcorn 4075 S. Durango Drive, Suite 105A, 629-2676. Stephanie and Carlton Dyer serve up only one thing at this small west side storefront: Chicago style gourmet popcorn. But they offer an incredible variety, all made fresh daily by Carlton. If you have a sweet tooth, try one of their various chocolate or caramel varieties. Cheese lovers are offered either white or sharp cheddar. And the really adventurous will want to try the cinnamon or jalapeño versions.
THE EGG AND I 4533 W. Sahara Ave., 364-9686. Down-home atmosphere makes this breakfast spot a nice alternative to the national chains.
FIREHOUSE SUBS 9555 S. Eastern Ave., 893-3473. It has the cult-like vibe of Saturn dealerships, but the subs are better than anything at the competing chains. Try the chili, if only for the chance to sample the massive hot sauce collection.
GOLDEN STEER 308 W. Sahara Ave., 384-4470. Old-style men’s club decor, stuffed animal heads and huge portions make this the perfect place for carnivores and one of the last refuges for people nostalgic for old Vegas.
GORDON BIERSCH 3987 Paradise Road, 312-5247; 750 S. Rampart Ave., Suite 16, 487-6463. Great atmosphere and great beer. Meet the yuppie of your dreams.
GRAND LUX CAFÉ Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 414-3888. This upscale café offers a diverse menu providing comfort food. Some tables offer a full view of the decadence of Las Vegas.
GRAPE STREET CAFÉ 7501 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 228-9463. This wine bar and “cellar” has a Napa Valley feel to it, and offers more than 75 varieties of wine — the vast majority of which are available by the glass. The kitchen offers dishes from casual to formal, simple to inspired. Whether you’re in the mood for gourmet sandwiches, delicious pizzas, pastas or full entrees, you’ll find something on the menu to suit your appetite. Call ahead, a dedicated local fan base packs the house on most nights.
HASH HOUSE A GO GO 6800 W. Sahara Ave., 804-4646; 3535 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 254-4646. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Hash House A Go Go promises “twisted farm food,” which means that their chef puts a classy spin on down home favorites. Their real trademark, however, is monstrous portions.
HOME FRIES 4480 S. Paradise Road, 566-0766. Located in the strip mall across the street from The Hard Rock, this 24-hour restaurant offers fairly basic diner cuisine with a few small twists thrown in for fun. Breakfast, which dominates the menu, is served around the clock, making it a perfect stop for peanut-butter topped pancakes after a late night at The Joint. The dining room hasn’t really been renovated since its days as the modern Korean barbecue restaurant San Toki, so the red-and-black booths and metallic exhaust fans may seem a little out of sync with the “down home” food on the menu.
ISLAND FINE BURGERS AND DRINKS 10810 W. Charleston Blvd., 360-3845. This California chain made a cameo in the 1994 landmark Pulp Fiction. There are soup, salad, taco and veggie patty options in addition to the elaborate hamburgers.
KAHUNAVILLE TI, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 894-7390. A roadhouse of the sea, replete with tropically influenced drinks and grub. Choose the noisy front room or the intimate sunken back room.
KONA GRILL 750 S. Rampart Blvd., 547-5552. The name is Hawaiian, but there’s a distinct Asian or Pacific Rim accent to many of the appetizers and entrees. There’s also a full sushi bar. Sit in the casually modern dining room, or outside at the patio bar.
LAHAINA GRILL 4570 Hualapai Way, 309-9911. This large Hawaiian restaurant has a large, diverse menu that ranges from raw bar fare to six varieties of chicken wings to macadamia-crusted mahi mahi. They’ve also got a full sushi bar, so there’s something for just about everyone.
LANDRY’S SEAFOOD HOUSE 2610 W. Sahara Ave., 251-0101. An extensive menu of southern-influenced seafood dishes. Good but overpriced.
LAWRY’S THE PRIME RIB 4043 Howard Hughes Parkway, 893-2223. They may have the simplest menu in the world of sit-down restaurants, but they’re good at what they do: prime rib.
LONE STAR STEAKHOUSE Various locations. Has taken the place that Sizzler once held in providing a high-quality yet affordable steakhouse experience.
LUV IT FROZEN CUSTARD 505 E. Oakey Blvd., 384-6452. A lone remnant of a once common creature: the independent ice cream store. It makes its own delicious custard.
MAPLE TREE COUNTRYSIDE KITCHEN 6000 W. Spring Mountain Road, 362-5151. In keeping with New England’s sugarhouse restaurant tradition, all of the syrup is authentic and fresh. A large country-style breakfast selection is available all day, with lunchtime choices available as well. (close 2 p.m. every day, closed all day Monday.)
MCCORMICK & SCHMICK 335 Hughes Center Drive, 836-9000. Pure Northwest Victoriana: dark wood, leaded glass, rich fabrics and mosaic tiles just like the original in Portland. Amazing array of fresh seafood daily. And reasonably priced to boot.
MERMAID RESTAURANT & LOUNGE Silverton, 3333 Blue Diamond Road, 263-7777. More lounge than restaurant, the menu concentrates on snacks and sandwiches. But its cool, underwater décor, complete with a monstrous fish tank, jellyfish behind the bar and waitresses dressed in mermaid outfits, make it a fun place for a quick bite and a drink.
MICHAEL MINA’S Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 693-8199. Quaint, elegant (and pricey) fish house with origins in San Francisco. Fresh gourmet seafood and lavish desserts are coupled with an excellent wine list and an attentive wait staff.
MICHAEL’S South Point, 9777 Las Vegas Blvd., 796-7111. This intimate, elegant restaurant offers steak, seafood and veal, and boasts some of the highest prices in town. In exchange, you get touches like tableside cooking and Dom Perignon poured over your complimentary sorbet.
MR. LUCKY’S Hard Rock Hotel, 4455 Paradise Road, 693-5592. Awesome diner. Quick, cheap, tasty, friendly and hip. The way Vegas could’ve been.
N9NE Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road, 933-9900. This contemporary steakhouse offers a compelling menu of Chicago-style steaks and chops, combined with an internationally diverse menu for those with something else in mind. Reservations suggested.
NU SANCTUARY Town Square, 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 145, 527-7851. While Town Square is packed with pretty decent chain restaurants, Nu Sanctuary is a Vegas original. Part ultra-lounge, part restaurant, the menu was prepared by Chef Brian Howard, a veteran of numerous Las Vegas restaurants, including Tsunami, Lutece, Alize, Bouchon and, most recently, CatHouse. His offerings span the globe. And while they can often seem a bit overly ambitious, they’re nearly always delicious. And he offers what may be the finest pierogi in town — crispy and delicious and topped with crème fraiche and American caviar.
OCEAN 1 BAR AND GRILL Miracle Mile Shops, Planet Hollywood Resort, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 620, 696-9080. Max’s offers some strange and original creations that range from excellent to awful. But with three-for-one drinks and more than a dozen offerings priced below eight bucks, it’s worth the effort needed to find the good ones.
OMELET HOUSE Various locations. Longtime favorite breakfast spot featuring 38 varieties of six egg omelets. Closes at 3 p.m.
ORIGINAL PANCAKE HOUSE Various locations. An excellent choice for breakfast. You haven’t lived until you’ve ordered an oven-baked German pancake.
OUTSIDE INN 9941 W. Charleston Blvd., 933-1100; 7700 S. Jones Blvd., 617-6124. A stone’s throw from Red Rock Canyon, the tasty drinks and meals make this mountain lodge themed restaurant a fine choice for an after hike stop.
PEPPERMILL INN 2985 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 735-7635. An absolute Vegas treasure. This ’70s-era coffee shop will keep you fed and happy until Dan Tanna returns. Huge portions.
PLANET DAILIES Planet Hollywood, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 732-1222. This 24-hour restaurant bills itself as “the ultimate coffee shop.” The room is a large open space that continues the entire casino’s over-the-top hip, modern décor. The selling point here is three separate massive menus that offer something for any appetite.
RAINBOW’S END 1100 E. Sahara Ave., 737-1338. One of the few good places in the valley catering to vegans and vegetarians. Try the Greek pizza.
RED HAWK TAVERN 2634 W. Horizon Ridge Parkway, 617-8691. The great Northwest provides the mood for this mountain hunting lodge. Try hand-battered walleye fish-n-chips, mountain man sirloin tips or specialties from the BBQ pit. “Over the Limit” martinis rule.
REDWOOD BAR & GRILL California hotel-casino, 12 E. Ogden Ave., 385-1222. Traditional American special-occasion dining in a wonderful room.
R.M. SEAFOOD Mandalay Place, 3930 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 632-9300. This fine seafood restaurant can boast a celebrity chef that actually works there and a wide variety of excellent, if pricey, dishes. Friendly service completes the experience.
ROSEMARY’S RESTAURANT 8125 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 110, 869-2251. One of this city’s best off-strip fine-dining restaurants, open for lunch on weekdays and dinner nightly. If you want to splurge, their tasting menu offers five delicious courses at a fraction of casino prices. Ask for the beer pairing, which matches a microbrew with each course.
SAMMY’S WOODFIRED PIZZA Various locations. This fast-expanding chain serves weird-but-excellent pizzas and salads.
SEDONA 9580 W. Flamingo Road, 320-4700. Beautiful modern décor and an eclectic menu. You’ll find Asian, Italian, French and even Swiss influences in the cooking, but nothing terribly exotic. When the weather’s nice, there’s a patio for outdoor dining.
SENSI Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 693-7223. Martin Heierling’s restaurant boasts both innovative cooking and a stunning décor. The experimental and sometimes challenging menu incorporates Asian, Italian, grilled and raw elements in a way that will thrill more adventurous diners, but might frustrate the more traditional.
SLIDIN’ THRU various locations; www.slidinthru.com. The urban trend of mobile food trucks whose fans track their locations through Facebook and Twitter has finally come to Las Vegas. And the first entry, Slidin’ Thru, offers a wide variety of delicious, inexpensive sliders. Once you taste the seasoning on the kalbi rib version, you’ll understand why tech-savvy fans from all walks of life rabidly follow the location of this truck online in order to chase down chef/owner Ricardo Guerrero’s sandwiches.
SHUCK’S OYSTER BAR 9338 W. Flamingo Road, 255-4890; 7155 N. Durango Drive, 651-6227. In addition to the basic raw-bar staples, Shuck’s offers a full menu of seafood, sandwiches, pasta, Southwestern dishes and the feel of a beachtown seafood joint.
SMITH & WOLLENSKY 3767 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 862-4100. This stand-alone Strip steakhouse is part of the New York chain. Simple and expensive steaks are served snootily, but it’s a good place to impress certain kinds of people.
SONOMA CELLAR Sunset Station, 1301 W. Sunset Road, 547-7898. Its elegant setting and gourmet steakhouse menu put Station Casinos on the fine dining map.
STACK Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 792-7800. Sister restaurant to Fix at the Bellagio, offering a similar look and menu. Chef Brian Massie is at his best when putting a grown-up spin on childhood comfort foods, with dishes like bacon & brie tater tots and kobe chili cheese dogs. Dinner even includes a free pass to the Jet nightclub.
THE STEAK HOUSE Circus Circus, 2880 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 794-3767. This hidden gem offers classic steakhouse décor, huge slabs of meat and great service, for a few bucks less than you’ll pay at comparable places around town. No wonder it’s developed a loyal following among locals and tourists alike.
T-BONES CHOPHOUSE & LOUNGE Red Rock Casino, 1011 W. Charleston Blvd., 797-7595. This high-end steakhouse is as beautifully designed as the rest of the resort, and boasts some of the finest steaks in town. All beef is aged for 42 days in a combination wet and dry aging process, and signature cuts include the bone-in filet mignon. Among the side dishes, don’t miss the tater tots with white truffles.
THE TILLERMAN 2245 E. Flamingo Road, 731-4036. This landmark seafood house is a great choice for a romantic evening.
TINOCO’S KITCHEN Las Vegas Club Hotel & Casino, 18 E. Fremont St., 385-1664. An eclectic menu at reasonable prices. You’ll find plenty of delicious Italian pastas such as lobster ravioli, other highlights include chicken satay and a filet mignon with foie gras in a port reduction.
TODD ENGLISH P.U.B. Crystals at CityCenter, 3720 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 489-8080. With a name like Todd English, creating a takeoff on the traditional English pub is a no-brainer. And a lesser chef might have just phoned in a generic English pub concept and let the pints and fish and chips speak for themselves. But English has actually created something original that caters to a diverse audience. The bar area, complete with darts, beer pong tables and speed-drinking challenges seems geared to former frat boys suffering from post-college withdrawal. But the restaurant is considerably more refined, taking traditional pub fair to loftier heights. Sure there are pot pies, fish and chips and Welsh rarebit. But you’ll also find a raw bar, swordfish enchiladas and bison burgers topped with Maytag blue cheese.
TODD’S UNIQUE DINING 4350 E. Sunset Road, 259-8633. As good as any gourmet restaurant on the strip, at notable lower prices but it’s the service that helps distinguish the place as a great neighborhood restaurant. Unique, casual fine dining.
TRIPLE 7 BREWPUB Main Street Station, 200 N. Main St., 387-1896. One of the better brewpubs in town. Great beer and good food.
TRIPLE GEORGE GRILL 201 N. Third St., 384-2761. Patterned after a classic seafood and steak house, it offers a large selection of steak, chops and seafood as well as numerous more casual choices. There’s even a piano lounge where you can enjoy an after dinner drink.
VINTNER GRILL 10100 W. Charleston Blvd., 214-5590. Contemporary American cuisine with Mediterranean influences in an atmosphere the owners describe as “everyday opulence.” Dine indoors or outside in the winding patio area, which features private cabana tables and trees strung with stained glass lanterns.
VOODOO STEAK Rio, 3700 W. Flamingo Road, 777-7777. The great view and spooky décor haven’t changed since Honorio Mencinas took over the kitchen perched high atop the Rio, but the menu has. The focal point is steak, both wet-aged and in-house dry-aged varieties. There are plenty of other bayou-tinged options if beef isn’t your thing. The food is good, but the prices are high and the service can be spotty.
WILD TRUFFLES GOURMET CAFÉ 7905 W. Sahara Ave. Suite 106, 242-1542. Quaint and casual café offering delicious high-end sandwiches, wraps and salads, as well as gourmet dinner entrees that range from tandoori-crusted chicken to almond-coated pork schnitzel with hollandaise sauce. There’s also a large selection of mouth-watering chocolate truffles and other homemade desserts, a gelato bar, and a small gourmet gift shop.
YUKON GRILLE Arizona Charlie’s West, 740 S. Decatur Blvd., 258-5200; Arizona Charlie’s East, 4575 Boulder Highway, 951-5800. Fine facsimile of an intimate Northwest hunting lodge, without the stuffed heads. If you want a steak in a romantic setting, this is the place.
ZOOZACRACKERS Wynn, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 770-3365. This deli features massive sandwiches made with only top-quality ingredients. It’s a bit pricey, but Steve Wynn isn’t known as a bargain hunter.
AGAVE COMIDA Y TEQUILA 10820 W. Charleston Blvd., 214-3500. If you’re looking for simple authentic basics, look elsewhere. But if dishes like blue corn crab cakes with chipotle-grilled shrimp or potato and portabella mushrooms make your mouth water, Agave has plenty to offer.
DIABLO’S CANTINA Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 730-7979. The Light Group gets down and dirty with this huge Mexican place. A half-naked devil girl overlooking the strip sets the mood and inside, you’ll find a south-of-the-border atmosphere, 75 tequilas and great Mexican grub. If you want to stick to American food, and have a hearty appetite, see if you can handle their 15-ounce hamburger.
FRANK & FINA’S COCINA 4175 S. Grand Canyon Drive, 579-3017. This quaint, homey restaurant manages to make you forget it’s located in a massive strip mall complex. More importantly, they offer great Mexican basics and some incredible house specialties. But call ahead for a reservation, because its reputation has obviously spread through its west side neighborhood, leaving it packed on most nights.
LOS ANTOJOS 2520 S. Eastern Ave., 457-3505. This tiny family-run strip mall establishment offers up the most authentic Mexican cuisine in town. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for; they probably have it here. Matriarch Carmen Ruiz cooks up countless varieties of soups, huaraches, tlacoyos, quesadillas, tortas, sopes, tacos, enchiladas, chilaquiles, flautas, gorditas, tostadas, steaks and burritos. The menu is so huge it could take a year to eat your way through it. But it would be one tasty year.
MESA GRILL Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 650-5965. Inventive, rich Southwestern food in a lively atmosphere. Good, friendly service. High-end but comfortable.
MI CASA GRILL CANTINA Silverton, 3333 Blue Diamond Road, 263-7777. Modern Mexican cantina dropped in the middle of the backwoods-themed casino. Luckily for you, Mi Casa has 65 tequilas delivered by their resident “tequila temptress” to help you work your way though the culture shock. The menu features tapas, Mexican classics and various house specialties: basically something for everyone.
MUNDO World Market Center, 495 Grand Central Parkway, 270-4400. Fans who miss the Mexican avante garde cuisine chef Robert Solano used to cook up at his southwest restaurant La Madonna will be happy to know he’s found a new home in the World Market Center. Mundo offers extremely similar food in an equally similar modern atmosphere. And despite the World Market Center’s outdated reputation of being off-limits to the general public, Mundo’s doors are open to everyone for both lunch and dinner.
PARADISE CANTINA 4480 S. Paradise Road, Suite 1250, 434-0031. The vibe is part surfer hangout, part sports bar and part biker bar, so it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be. The menu combines basic American bar food and Mexican, plus daily happy hour make it worth a visit.
SABOR 594 N. Stephanie St., 473-5377. A new Mexican restaurant with a twist has moved into the space near Sunset Station once occupied by the popular El Jefe’s. San Francisco-trained chef Scott Sousa owned a restaurant in Mexico’s Oaxaca region for several years, where he learned to incorporate local influences into his cooking. The result is something he calls “California cuisine fused with Oaxacan Mexican flavors.” And for the most part, the two styles blend together beautifully.
SILVITA’S MEXICAN GRILL 1236 Western Ave., 294-6100. A small casual establishment, Silvita’s combination of friendly service, huge portions, low prices and good food makes it a perfect place to grab lunch.
SONIO’S CAFE AND ROTISSERIE 3900 W. Charleston Blvd., 307-2177. This simple rotisserie joint offers a surprisingly varied menu, including a large selection of Mexican food. But it’s the basic chicken and delicious side dishes that will keep you coming back. Priced just a few bucks more than most fast food meals, it’s a thousand times better.
VIVA MERCADO’S 3553 S. Rainbow Blvd., 871-8826. This popular west side Mexican place recently reopened in a new, much larger location. The menu is a massive tome packed with both familiar and original Mexican delicacies. But before you begin wading through it, spend some time pondering their ten types of salsas to accompany your chips.
HOT ‘N JUICY CRAWFISH 4810 Spring Mountain Road, 891-8889. Not for anyone who doesn’t want to get dirty. If tearing into crabs (blue or Dungeness), shrimp, oysters and crawfish by hand is your idea of heaven, this is the place for you. Seafood is prepared in four tasty seasonings and delivered in a plastic bag, accompanied by rolls of paper towels. Not fine dining, but delicious.
HOUSE OF BLUES Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 632-7607. One of the funkiest restaurants in the city, featuring walls covered with mind-blowing folk sculptures and artifacts. The cuisine is Delta-inspired contemporary and Sunday’s Gospel Brunch is a great way to get your jambalaya and Jesus in one sitting.
HUSH PUPPY 7185 W. Charleston Blvd., 363-5988; 1820 N. Nellis Blvd., 438-0005. A family-owned restaurant that’s been operating since 1975. The specialty is catfish; they offer filets or fiddlers; either fried, blackened or grilled. You’ll also find other southern specialties, including frogs legs, alligator, oysters, ribs and fried green tomatoes at extremely reasonable prices, as well as daily all-you-can-eat specials.
KATHY’S SOUTHERN COOKING 6407 Mountain Vista St., 433-1005. The décor is simple and the service can be slow at times. But Kathy’s offers incredible Southern food that’s earned it a sterling reputation. If you’re looking for basics like fried chicken or meat loaf, it simply doesn’t get much better.
LOLA’S 241 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 101, 227-5652. The food at this Cajun restaurant in the Holsum Lofts can be hit-and-miss at times. (Their jambalaya still needs some work.) But when chef Lola Pokorny is on her game, her food can’t be beat. Her grilled oysters, brushed with lemon butter and Parmesan, are the best in town. And her unique crawpuppy appetizers are downright addictive. But it’s the weekly crawfish boil, held every Friday, that’s become a downtown institution.
LUCILLE’S SMOKEHOUSE BARBECUE The District, Green Valley Ranch, 2245 Village Walk Drive, 257-RIBS. You can smell the meat smoking throughout the area, which might explain why there’s nearly always a wait for a table. For fans of slow-smoked barbecue, however, it’s worth the wait, and the slow service.
M&M SOUL FOOD CAFE 3923 W. Charleston Blvd., 453-7685. This is the place if you’re in the mood for some excellent-tasting meatloaf, collard greens and mashed potatoes, and the most delicious banana pudding in Vegas.
MEMPHIS CHAMPIONSHIP BARBECUE Various locations. Wonderfully realized, upscale barbecue joint.
CUBAN CAFÉ 2055 E. Tropicana Ave., Suite 11, 795-7070. Buoyant atmosphere with deliciously prepared traditional Cuban cuisine. Serves wine and beer. Try the batidos (Cuban-style fruit shakes).
FLORIDA CAFÉ Howard Johnson’s, 1401 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 385-3013. Real Cuban fare, seafood specialties, and mild and mellow Latin American flavors.
RINCON CRIOLLO 1145 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 388-1906. Cuban mom-and-pop diner serving honest, simple food at reasonable prices.
SAMBA GRILL Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 791-7337. This Brazilian dining spot offers an all-you-can-eat parade of grilled delights. Meat lovers will salivate over skewers loaded up with sirloin steak, teriyaki chicken, Portuguese sausages and much more.
YOLIE’S BRAZILIAN STEAKHOUSE 3900 Paradise Road, 794-0700. Great house specials, including the Famous Grill (an extravaganza featuring excellent meats).
SALVADORENO 720 N. Main St., 385-3600. Comfortable and sophisticated with a distinctly Salvadoran menu.
INKA CHICKEN 845 S. Rainbow Blvd., 731-0826. If you don’t know how much fun Peruvians have, this place will be a revelation. Semi-exotic food that’s beautifully presented.
RINCON DE BUENOS AIRES 5300 Spring Mountain Road, 257-3331. Authentic Argentinean cuisine, with Italian, Spanish, German and Portuguese influences.
COTTAGE CAFE 4647 Paradise Road, 650-3395. Right on the edge of the gay/alternative district sandwiched between the Hard Rock and McCarran International Airport you’ll find this cozy little Ethiopian restaurant, complete with a patio and white picket fence. The menu has all of the basics fans of Ethiopian food would expect, plus a few surprises. There are half a dozen vegetarian options. And for meat eaters, there are more than a dozen choices, including stews, and chopped mounds of beef, lamb, chicken and fish. Everything is served over the traditional teff bread injera, and nothing on the menu is priced above $10.
MERKATO 855 E. Twain Ave., 796-1231. A favorite of expatriate taxi drivers. You may encounter a bit of a language barrier, but if you’re adventurous you’ll be rewarded with incredible food at a very affordable price. Make sure to ask about the traditional Ethiopian coffee.
MESKEREM 252 Convention Center Drive, Ste. 8B, 732-4250. Adventurous diners should look up this hidden gem. The staff is extremely friendly and accepting of neophytes to Ethiopian cuisine.
ANDRE’S RESTAURANT & LOUNGE Monte Carlo, 3770 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 798-7151. Andre’s is what people think of when somebody says “take me to the nicest place in town.” Expect to spend a good part of your evening savoring some of the best food and wine in Vegas.
DRAI’S Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, 3595 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 737-0555. One of the more sophisticated and comfortable rooms in the city, with an old Hollywood flavor. The lounge alone is worth the visit — couches and overstuffed chairs surround a fireplace that crackles in a wall of bookshelves.
L’ATELIER DE JOEL ROBUCHON MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 891-7358. Located adjacent to Joel Robuchon at The Mansion, L’Atelier provides a chance to sample the cuisine of French legend Joel Robuchon in a more casual atmosphere, with a slightly lower price tag. Most of the seats are at the bar, where you can watch the team of chefs prepare each dish to perfection. The nine-course “discovery menu” runs $160 a head, but small a la carte indulgences are available in the $30 to $50 range.
LE PAMPLEMOUSSE 400 E. Sahara Ave., 733-2066. A Las Vegas institution for over 30 years, located in a converted house on East Sahara. The food is French and the service is old-school, with waiters reciting the day’s menu from memory. Yet it’s less expensive and intimidating than most French restaurants on The Strip.
MARCHÉ BACCHUS 2620 Regatta Drive, Ste. 106, 804-8008. New management, same reliable French bistro cuisine in a setting on a man-made lake in the Desert Shores Community. Delicious appetizers, entrees, liberal corkage fees and 950 varieties of wine.
MON AMI GABI Paris hotel-casino, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 944-4224. This Parisian-style steak and shellfish house offers perhaps the best setting in town: 18th century-style dark wood and soaring elegance inside, and a glass-roofed conservatory looking out on Bellagio’s fountains.
RESTAURANT GUY SAVOY Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 731-7731. Tailored to the “money is no object” crowd, a bowl of soup will set you back $68, while the ten-course prestige menu runs $290 per person without wine. But you get what you pay for, and French master Guy Savoy’s sublime cuisine is perfectly prepared by chef Adam Sobel. Yet with hip, modern décor, presided over by a young friendly staff, it’s not as intimidating as you might expect – until the check arrives.
CANA LATIN KITCHEN AND BAR 6599 Las Vegas Blvd. South., 722-6060. Eating your way through Town Square’s large selection of restaurants could take a while. But given the amount of time some Las Vegans spend in our prefabricated downtown shopping experience, a lot of you are probably looking for something new. Caña delivers, with a slightly twisted version of tapas. If you’re looking for authentic Spanish cuisine, look elsewhere. But then again, if authenticity was your thing, you probably wouldn’t be cruising the Disney-esque streets of Town Square.
FIREFLY The Plaza, 1 Main St., 380-1352; 3900 Paradise Road, 369-3971. This upscale bar with a pleasant patio area offers a wide variety of tapas items but a limited selection of entrees. What it lacks in authenticity it makes up for in taste.
JULIAN SERRANO Aria, 3730 Las Vegas Blvd., 590-8520. Gourmet chef Julian Serrano, best known for his award-wining Bellagio restaurant Picasso, takes a more casual approach in his eponymous Aria tapas restaurant. The varied small plates include soups and salads, vegetarian dishes, meat and poultry, seafood, ceviches and their Peruvian cousins tiraditos, cheese and charcuterie. There are also some amazing larger portions of paella, and a hodgepodge of modern concoctions referred to as “new tapas.” If you really want to splurge, however, try the “pata negra” - Iberico’s famed black ham.
BATTISTA’S HOLE IN THE WALL 4041 Audrie St., 732-1424. Old World-style Italian restaurant with an incredible memorabilia collection reflecting the Vegas of yore. Try the massive mound of scampi with linguine.
BOOTLEGGER BISTRO 7700 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 736-4939. This restaurant is one of the last remnants of the city’s “Lounge Era.” It features live entertainment and a menu filled with Italian specialties. A great weekend dining spot.
BUCA DI BEPPO 412 E. Flamingo Road, 866-2867; 7690 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 363-6524. This chain of retro-Italiano joints made its big expansion move just in time for “The Sopranos” mania. Traditional pasta and meat dishes, huge portions and reasonable prices.
CAFÉ CHLOE 4155 S. Buffalo Drive, 248-7048. The staff seems to know half of their customers by name at this popular neighborhood Italian restaurant. The food is delicious, and the portions are huge. The only downside is their $10 charge for splitting the oversized portions. So just order two, and make sure you bring home the leftovers. And call ahead if you want to secure a seat, the place fills up quickly.
CAFE MASTRIONI 3330 S. Hualapai Way, 367-7511. Upscale-but-casual restaurant in a west side strip mall, offers indoor dining, an outdoor patio and a bar area. The traditional menu is large and varied. The prices are a little higher than the norm, but the food and service are worth it.
CANALETTO Venetian, 3377 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Suite 2440, 733-0070. Real northern Italian food with a Venetian flair served either in a woody, dark dining room or “outside” in the Piazza San Marco. (No pigeons!)
CAPO’S ITALIAN CUISINE 5795 W. Tropicana Ave., 436-2276; 5675 W. Sahara Ave., 364-2276. Walking into Capo’s is like walking into an illegal speakeasy, complete with a sliding panel so the bouncer can check you out before unlocking the secret door. Once inside, they offer great Italian food and entertainment in a dining room that’s a tribute to organized crime through the ages.
CARLUCCIO’S TIVOLI GARDENS 1775 E. Tropicana Ave., Suite 29, 795-3236. Good basic Italian cuisine; nothing exceptional but reasonably priced. However, you don’t dine here for the food. You dine here for the gloriously ostentatious chandeliers and the absurd fountains — simply because you know Liberace installed them.
CHICAGO JOE’S 820 S. Fourth St., 382-5637. Joe’s has been serving Italian food based on family recipes for more than 20 years. For folks who enjoy a good meal in a relaxed atmosphere.
GIUSEPPE’S BAR AND GRILL 6065 S. Durango Road, 896-7616. Although it looks like little more than a video poker bar from the outside, Giuseppi’s offers a large selection of great Italian food. House specialties include meat lasagna, lighter-than-air gnocchi, and what CityLife’s restaurant critic considers the best pizza in Las Vegas.
LUCIO RISTORANTE 8615 W. Sahara Road, 233-2859. Offers a large risotto selection, and live music on the weekends. Owner Lucio Picozzi can often be fond waiting tables and chatting with customers.
THE MAC SHACK 8680 W. Warm Springs Road, 463-2433. Las Vegans already know Marcello Mauro from local favorites Nora’s Cuisine and Nora’s Wine Bar. At The Mac Shack, however, he serves up quality, extremely affordable pastas in a super-casual environment. There’s an incredible assortment of macaroni available here, and most dishes aren’t priced more than a typical fast-food meal. Sure, they offer counter service, and the place is usually crawling with families with young children. But it’s a fresh, delicious, and more nutritious alternative to the so-called “value meals” the fast-food chains are offering.
MONTESANO’S Italian Eateria 9905 S. Eastern Ave., 870-3287. In a city filled with Italian eateries, Montesano’s (a classic deli/spaghetti combo) goes the extra step to provide fresh food.
NORA’S CUISINE 6020 W. Flamingo Road, 873-8990. Originally a sub and pizza joint, Nora’s has expanded into a full-service upscale dining room serving traditional southern Italian and Sicilian dishes that you won’t find many other places.
NORA’S WINE BAR AND OSTERIA 1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 940-6672. An “osteria,” as defined on the menu at Nora’s, is “a family-owned establishment where locals gather to mingle and trade stories, a place where wine is the main attraction.” At Nora’s, that means over 350 bottles of wine and 60 by the glass. But you don’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy Nora’s. Their food is good enough on its own to justify a visit. And it’s all served “family style” so guests can share several of the slightly exotic Italian specialties.
OFF THE STRIP 10670 Southern Highlands Parkway, 202-2448; 9837 W. Tropicana Ave., 876-3080. This reasonably priced Southern Highlands institution is the epitome of a great neighborhood restaurant. It’s nice enough that eating here actually feels like a night out, but comfortable enough that you can drop in to throw back a few beers and watch the game at the bar. The primarily Italian food is simple and familiar, but the menu offers variety, and the chef puts his own signature on the dishes. And the owner and staff seem to know most of their customers by name.
PASTA PIRATE California hotel-casino, 12 E. Ogden Ave., 385-1222. The silly name and bizarre decor don’t take away from the quality Italian dishes, steaks and simple seafood churned out.
RAO’S Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 731-RAOS. New York’s most exclusive restaurant has expanded into Caesars Palace, making it possible for regular people to sample their amazing Italian fare. Recipes that have been fine-tuned over the original restaurant’s 110-year history are perfectly prepared using only the finest ingredients. But make sure you call ahead, because reservations are tough to come by.
STRATTA Wynn, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 248-3463. Michelin two-star chef Alessandro Stratta, best-known for Wynn Las Vegas’ palace of French cuisine Alex, tries his hand at more casual, affordable, Italian fare. The food is a lot more adventurous than you’ll find in most Italian restaurants, adding gourmet touches to familiar dishes. But even simple dishes like meatballs are outstanding. For foodies on a budget, it offers a great chance to sample the fare of one of Las Vegas’ finest chefs without taking out a second mortgage.
STRINGS ITALIAN CAFÉ 2222 E. Tropicana Ave., 739-6400. Classic northern Italian food and a pleasant outdoor dining area. Elegant appetizers and affordable prices.
TREVI Caesars Palace Forum Shops, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 735-4663. Formerly Bertolini’s, this Italian restaurant owns the prime piece of Forum Shops real estate adjacent to the central Fountain of the Gods. In addition to a name change, the restaurant got a makeover and a slightly revamped menu. But the focus remains on familiar Italian fair. Prices are a bit high, but the wealthy tourists who drop in after shopping at Fendi and Bvlgari don’t seem to mind.
VALENTINO Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 414-3000. Piero Selvaggio’s award-winning room serves great contemporary Italian dishes.
VINNY’S N.Y. SEAFOOD BAR & CAFE 2950 S. Durango Drive, 233-6556. The homemade sauces are king at this pasta and seafood house run by a family of expatriates from new York’s Little Italy. The otherwise traditional offerings can be topped with any of five different delicious homemade red sauces. Ask your waitress to taste them all before you place your order, and she’ll be happy to serve up some small samples with bread sticks. This is also one of the few Italian places in town where you’ll find scungilli - or sliced conch.
ZEFFIRINO RISTORANTE Venetian, 3377 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 414-3500. Chef Paolo Belloni has created a restaurant lauded by the New York Times as serving “better food than you’d find in Venice, Italy.”
THE FAT GREEK 4001 S. Decatur Blvd., 222-0666. Very probably the city’s best Greek restaurant, the reasonably priced Fat Greek is open for both lunch and dinner. Both menus offer traditional dishes like hummus, baba ganoush, Kalamata olives and rice dolmades. Lunchtime also offers a large selection of gyros and sandwiches, while dinner is heartier fare. Whenever you go, make sure you try their incredible version of the chicken, lemon and rice soup avgolemono . And if you’re there at dinner time, don’t miss the braised lamb shank.
GYRO TIME 5239 W. Charleston Blvd., 878-6393; 7660 W. Cheyenne Ave., 658-9729. Adding a little variety to the fast food world with Greek dishes rather than burgers and tacos. The menu features gyros, souvlaki and falafel as well as side dishes of spinach or cheese pies. Good enough for those times when you’re probably going to eat fast food anyway.
MY BUDDY’S 3650 S. Jones Blvd., Ste. 4, 221-8701. This small Greek deli offers assorted subs alongside Mediterranean-style fast food like falafel, gyros and hummus.
OPA 2550 S. Rainbow Blvd., 876-3737. Opa offers the most extensive Greek menu you’ll find in town. Hellenic delicacies are served in a nice dining room with live music. Make sure you get the flaming saganaki appetizer: a baked slab of kefalograviera cheese flambéed tableside.
CAFÉ HEIDELBERG 610 E. Sahara Ave., 731-5310. One of the only real German eateries in town. It offers all of the traditional dishes, plus good beer and a surprisingly complete deli and store.
J.C. WOOLOUGHAN JW Marriott, 221 N. Rampart Blvd., 869-7777. Even though the hotel it is in has changed hands several times, this finest of real Irish pubs is still doing it right.
SEAN PATRICK’S 8255 W. Flamingo Road, 227-9793. A wonderful mix of Irish pub and family restaurant.
RED SQUARE Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 632-7407. Classically upscale Russian food served in an almost-gothic space especially designed to encourage the consumption of vodka.
MAGURA 1305 Vegas Valley Drive, 693-6699. Offering Bulgarian cuisine in a dining room with Bulgarian artwork and crafts hanging on the walls, and European music videos playing on a large-screen TV, Magura immediately makes you feel as if you’re in Eastern Europe rather than on the East Side of Las Vegas. The cuisine relies heavily on grilled and dried meats, yogurt, eggs, and just various types of cheese. For the unadventurous members of your party, pizza can be ordered form an adjoining restaurant.
ALMAZA 9890 S. Maryland Parkway, Suites 16 & 17, 450-1030. This Lebanese Green Valley hotspot brings in belly dancers and DJs to perform for packed houses every Friday and Saturday night, and has an attached hookah bar. But the star attraction is the Middle Eastern food. Expect all the basics, including falafel, kabobs and shawarma, as well as several varieties of manaish: Lebanese pizza. You’ll also find an impressive selection of beer and wine.
PAYMON’S MEDITERANNEAN CAFE 4147 S. Maryland Parkway, 731-6030; 8380 W. Sahara Ave., 804-0293. Bustling café offering tastes from across the Mediterranean. A happening lunch spot. The exotic hookah lounge is attached to the restaurant.
(Source: vegasgosocial.wordpress.com )
America’s Meanest Airlines
A lot of the time it begins with the airports: dizzying parking garages, overpriced food and a series of long lines have a way of making even the most serene travelers a little bit agitated. And that’s even before the airplane leaves the ground. So it’s easy to see how poor service from an airline can put the finishing touches on a ruined day — long check-in lines, flight delays, lost luggage, baggage fees and general rudeness have a way of doing that. Not to mention the scary food (at least it used to be free scary food).
[caption id=”attachment_80” align=”alignright” width=”300” caption=”Flying the un-friendly skies!”]<a href=”http://vegassocial.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/airplane.jpg”><img class=”size-medium wp-image-80” title=”airplane” src=”http://vegassocial.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/airplane.jpg?w=300” alt=”” width=”300” height=”240” /></a>[/caption]
Based on the Airline Quality Rating (AQR) Report, which covers 18 domestic carriers, here is a list of the airlines that could stand to do the most work on making their customers happy. The report’s conclusions are based on surveys of airline industry experts, with positive and negative values assigned to different elements in airline quality. Several common complaint areas were factored in — including on-time arrival, mishandled baggage, delays and involuntary denied boardings — the scores of which were then calculated to produce an overall quality score. We also took a look at a number of other sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and the Air Travel Consumer Reports by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Regional airlines are ranked separately because of their tendency to score lower.
Worst Major Airlines
5. US Airways
2009 AQR Score: -1.19
While US Airways improved five percent in passenger satisfaction according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, they were one of three airlines cited as having the rudest flight attendants and serving the worst food, in a survey conducted by SeatGuru last year. Additionally, US Airways received a below-average score in the J.D. Power 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Study.
Domestic Baggage Fees:
1st Bag: $25
2nd Bag: $35 3rd Bag: $100
Overweight Bags: $50 Extra (51 - 70 lbs) $100 Extra (71 - 100 lbs)
Oversized Bags: $100 Extra (larger than 62”)
4. American Airlines
2009 AQR Score: -1.25
American Airlines has an Airline Quality Rating (AQR) of -1.25 — which isn’t awful, but where its reputation takes the hardest hit is with its regional airline, American Eagle (more on it later).
This year AA has had frequent incidents of mishandled baggage with an average of 4.07 reports per 1,000 passengers, according to the Air Travel Consumer Reports (this is the worst rating among the major airlines in the study). SeatGuru’s survey named American Airlines as one of the three airlines that have the rudest flight attendants and the worst food.
Domestic Baggage Fees:
1st Bag: $25
2nd Bag: $35
3rd Bag: $100
Overweight Bags: $50 (51 - 70 lbs) $100 (71 - 100 lbs)
Oversized Bags: $150 (larger than 62”)
3. Alaska Airlines
2009 AQR Score: -1.39
Alaska Airlines has an Airline Quality Rating (AQR) of -1.39, which can be partially attributed to the airline’s high number of mishandled baggage reports. According to Air Travel Consumer Reports, the airline averaged 3.98 incidents per 1,000 passengers last year. However, Alaska Airlines did a stellar job when it came to delays, with 88 percent of its flights having on-time arrivals (in the 12-month period ending August 2010).
Domestic Baggage Fees:
1st Bag: $20
2nd Bag: $20
3rd Bag: $20
Overweight Bags: $50 (51 - 100 lbs)
Oversized Bags: $50 (63 - 80”) $75 (81 - 115”)
2. United Airlines
2009 AQR Score: -1.43
Now that the merger with Continental Airlines is official, United can turn its attention to improving customer service. United received a score of “about average” in the J.D. Power 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Study but it placed last in passenger satisfaction in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. According to the SeatGuru survey, United joins American Airlines and US Airways as one of the three worst airlines for meals and rude flight attendants. In addition, the Air Travel Consumer Reports places this airline second in consumer complaints (behind Delta), averaging 1.82 per 100,000 enplanements in 2010.
Domestic Baggage Fees:
v1st Bag: $25
2nd Bag: $35
3rd Bag: $100
Overweight Bags: $100 (51 - 100 lbs)
Oversized Bags: $100 (larger than 62”)
2009 AQR Score: -1.73
Delta had the worst AQR among major airlines with a -1.73, and a couple of its regional airlines did even worse (see Comair and Atlantic Southeast below). It also had the largest drop in passenger satisfaction in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. According to the Air Travel Consumer Reports, Delta was number one in delays for major airlines (78 percent of flights arriving on time in the 12-month period ending August 2010) and first in consumer complaints (averaging 2.23 per 100,000 enplanements in 2010). Also, make sure to note Delta’s baggage fees below, as they can get quite painful for those hauling heavy and/or large cargo.
Domestic Baggage Fees:
1st Bag: $25 ($23 if checked online)
2nd Bag: $35 ($32 if checked online)
3rd Bag: $125
Overweight Bags: $90 (51 - 70 lbs) $175 (71 - 100 lbs)
Oversized Bags: $175 (larger than 63 - 80”) $300 (larger than 81 - 115”)
Worst Regional Airlines
Please note that the regional airlines follow the baggage fee structure of whichever major airline you happen to be flying under.
2009 AQR Score: -1.57
SkyWest Airlines has several hubs throughout the United States, including Chicago and Los Angeles. SkyWest received a -1.57 AQR, which is the fifth worst score overall among the airlines covered in the 2010 Airline Quality Ratings. One area that contributed to this score was mishandled baggage, where they averaged 5.69 incidents per 1,000 passengers last year. It acts as a regional airline for AirTran, Delta Connection and United Express.
2009 AQR Score: -2.22
With a -2.22 AQR, Comair got the third worst score overall among the airlines surveyed in the 2010 Airline Quality Ratings. Mishandled baggage was an issue, with an average of 6.04 incidents per 1,000 passengers last year. Comair was also number one in delays overall, with only 73 percent of flights arriving on time in the 12-month period ending August 2010, according to the Air Travel Consumer Reports. Comair is a regional for Delta Connection, with its main hubs at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky and JFK airports.
2. Atlantic Southeast
2009 AQR Score: -2.49
Atlantic Southeast serves as a regional airline for Delta Connection and United Express with several hubs in the States, including Memphis and Chicago. It has the second most incidents of mishandled baggage (6.67 reports per 1,000 passengers on average in 2010 so far) according to the Air Travel Consumer Reports. Atlantic Southeast received a -2.49 AQR, which is the second worst score overall among the airlines covered in the 2010 Airline Quality Ratings.
1. American Eagle
2009 AQR Score: -2.83
With a -2.83 AQR score, American Eagle has the unwelcome distinction of having the worst score overall among the airlines covered in the 2010 Airline Quality Ratings. According to the Air Travel Consumer Reports, it also had the most incidents of mishandled baggage (7.41 reports per 1,000 passengers on average in 2010 so far) and was number two in delays, with only 76 percent of flights arriving on time in the 12-month period ending August 2010. American Eagle is the main regional for American Airlines. American Eagle operates out of a number of hubs in the United States, including Boston and Dallas.