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Suggestions for Las Vegas dining?

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The BF and I will be in LV for 4 days next week, and are looking for some deliciousness. No nightclubs, lounges, or bars, please. We're there for iPOP, and that's all the "look at me!" we can handle.

I've heard wonderful things about Bouchon (perfect, since we're staying at the Venetian), but I hope my fellow CHers can recommend more restaurants for us. I haven't been to the Strip in years, and had so-so food with that group, so am looking for the tastiest this time. Doesn't have to be upscale or beautiful (though that could be fun), just has to be REALLY GREAT.

Please advise...

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Bouchon IS great. The croque madame with frites, salmon rillettes, pate de campagne, shellfish platter, frisee salad with lardons....are my usual orders. Service can be a little clumsy depending on when you go, but the atmosphere is light and airy and the food is usually on point for a casual, french bistro meal. Watch out, the bill can creep up on you when you add some tasty wine!

    If you are really into a "food" experience, but do not want to commit to a "frou frou" meal, head to L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon at the MGM Grand. This restaurant is set up like a sushi bar, sleek in colors of black and red. It is an open kitchen, where the servers stand behind the bar to service you. The menu is very french with definite asian influences, beautiful food, that can be eaten in a degustation menu format, tapas style, or however you choose. Once again, watch out with the bill.

    I recently ate at Batali's new place at the Venetian. I have to say the food was stellar. While we ate a lot, and had an astronomical bill to prove it, the service still has something to improve upon. If you go, take the service in stride and expect to hear this catchy phrase often "Mr. Batali doesn't do things that way," but enjoy the melt in your mouth pastas and you must have bomboloni for dessert. Little cinnamon doughnuts with gianduja dipping sauce.

    Hit up Lotus of Siam if you are even a smidgen of a Thai food lover. Don't let the less than fancy exterior of its home in a creepy, run-down strip mall, scare you. The food is beyond your imagination of yumm! The wine prices here are killer too. If you go in, let the friendly staff take care of you and set you up with wine and food. I always leave full and amazed. The chef/owners used to cook for Thai royalty.

    Everyone goes on about Rosemary's. I personally do not feel it is anything special. If you go, I would hit it up for lunch. They offer beer and wine recommendations for each dish, which is fun, and the servers are great.

    Try Mesa Grill at Caesar's Palace. The Lamb there is out of control! And the ahi nacho appetizer is delicious. I went to this place with very low expectations (being the whole Food Network, star chef hype thing), but left with a whole new respect for Bobby Flay. All of his dishes (while gratuitously doused with infused oils) are well-balanced, perfectly cooked and the place has an amazing, energized atmosphere.

    I hope these recommendations help a little. The Vegas restaurant scene spoils us. I have traveled everywhere, and there are really no other places, with an exception to maybe San Fran and NYC, where you can find the gastronomical underbelly huddling in a one-mile radius. Enjoy....and expect to pay a pretty penny.

    8 Replies
    1. re: ciaobelly

      I second Mesa Grill! went there for Sunday lunch/brunch...yummy! the queso fondido was amazing, as was everything else.

      btw, the Sterling brunch as Bally's is out of this world!

      1. re: coco puff

        Coco Puff, I wish I had seen your post before replying! Thanks for the heads-up about Mesa and Bally's for brunch. We now have three days planned, start to finish, with your suggestions!

      2. re: ciaobelly

        Awesome. We'll definitely go to Bouchon and L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon for dinner. I've been to Batali/Silverton's Mozza here in LA and am unhealthily obsessed with their fennel sausage pizza and butterscotch budino, so his place at the Venetian is a must-try for me. I had completely forgotten about it--thanks for reminding me!

        The Thai place sounds delicious, but I'm wondering if the BF will ask me why we're going for Thai when we live right next to ThaiTown in LA. Anything else I can tell him to persuade him?

        Mesa sounds great--especially since we're both huge fans of lamb.

        Thanks for the great suggestions! Everything sounds WAY better than the awful buffet at Caesar's Palace and the hungover lunch at Margaritaville from last time. Speaking of...do you have any recs for brunch? Or should we just stick with Bouchon in the mornings? (Oh my, how very luxurious that sounds!)

        1. re: riceflour

          if you are there on a Sunday the House of Blues gospel brunch is great (at the Mandalay Bay). it usually sells out before Sunday.

          i would also use the search function, there are hundreds of great Vegas posts that can steer you in the right direction

          incidentally my wife and i will also be out there for 4 days next week. i can't wait

          1. re: jeffbatl

            Thanks for the search reminder. There are so many to wade through--some not all that current--that I figured I'd skip the process and ask directly. After all, things in Vegas change almost as often as in LA.

            We won't be there on Sunday, but I'll have to keep that on my "places to try" list for next time. I wonder, is the HOB brunch at all like the one in LA, OC, or Boston? I've had the one in Boston and it was pretty good.

            Have a great time in Vegas! And watch out for the iPOP performers--the city will be swarming with them...

          2. re: riceflour

            Sure, tell him LOS is considered to be the best Thai restaurant in the US! There are Thai places in my area too, but I never miss a trip to LOS when in Vegas...

            1. re: riceflour

              Gourmet Magazine named Lotus of Siam the best restaurant in America and even the LA Times food critic has said that there's nothing as good in LA. I've been and it's all true.

              Convincing enough??

              1. re: poptisserie

                It would have been, except that we were eating dinner at 11p or later most nights, and brunch/lunch at around 11:30a. And with no time to venture outside of the building (see my update below), all of our "adventures" were limited to establishments in The Venetian.

                Hopefully, our next convention/vacation will allow for more time to explore the rest of the city and NOT be in the middle of the 115F heatwave. Ugh--that was enough incentive for me to stay in the building, for sure : \

          3. Rosemary's, for lunch or Sunday dinner (half price wine night).

            Apparently not for everybody, but then I am thankful. If it were, I couldn't get in there
            for multiple visits every trip to Vegas. I've eaten there at least 40 times. I've only had one dish that didn't WOW. Best overall value and finer dining experience in the state from where I sit.

            1. Can anyone tell me where Anthony Bourdain got his deep-fried Twinkies and Oreos in Vegas? I have a feeling that, after all the cuisine we'll be experiencing, the BF and I might end up with a downhome food craving in the middle of the night...

              9 Replies
              1. re: riceflour

                Mermaids on Fremont st.

                1. re: ciaogal

                  Thanks so much! The BF is slightly grossed out by these fried delights, by the way. Are they really as greasy-gross as the BF believes? Or are they like deep-fried Snickers--WAY better than one might imagine, in fact, darn near addictive?

                  1. re: riceflour

                    I found the deep fried Twinkies and Oreos to be disappointingly bland - not bad enough to be fun, and not good enough to be worth eating.

                    1. re: Larry

                      I just spent four days in Vegas and had the most amazing steaks at both Craftsteak (MGM - Tom Collichio) and Stripsteak (Mandalay Bay - Michael Mina). Stripsteak was amazing! Well worth the expenditure.

                      Also great, Joe's Stone Crab and Spago - both at The Forum Shops at Caesars. I really suggest making reservations in advance!!!

                      Stay away from DB (Daniel Boulud). I had a terrible meal there.

                      1. re: jessicaggh

                        i love both Craftsteak and Stripsteak. We plan on hitting both of those next week.
                        We had a bad experience at the Joe's Stone Crab in Caesars but it was mostly the server. We will give it another chance in the future since we love the original in Miami so much.

                      2. re: Larry

                        Perhaps I'll save them for an at-home adventure then. With my own tempura batter, since I'm assuming from photos and your comment that Mermaids uses a thick batter on theirs?

                        1. re: riceflour

                          Yes, there was a thick layer of batter - a fairly heavy, doughy batter.

                          1. re: Larry

                            That sounds really gross. Thanks for the warning!

                            1. re: riceflour

                              Riceflour-You have some great ones on your list! I'd think about adding Michael Mina at Bellagio to your list. A flawless experience-right off the Bellagio Gardens, so you're already relaxed before you even get there! Very serene atmosphere, and the food was incredible! The tuna tartate is a must if you like that sort of thing, it is by far the best there is, imho.

                2. I always have to recommend the Peppermill. It's a 24 hour coffee shop, but the food is a notch better than your average coffee shop, and the place just screams old-school Vegas. If there's a good sized bunch of you, split the fruit salad. It makes a meal for two or three, and a splittable side dish for about six or more. And their coffee... of, I feel a swoon coming on just thinking about it.

                  1. I think the trick is to stick to the restaurants that are unique to Vegas. The Vegas branches of the known restaurants from around the country (e.g. Spago, Joe's Stone Crabs, Aurole, etc.) all drastically pale when compared to their original counterparts. Everytime I try one of the Vegas versions I am sorely disappointed.

                    That is not to say you cannot get great food in Vegas (thank God those days are over!). Try Bartolotta at the Wynn. Amazing Italian seafood. Also, two very good places for Cantonese food are Noodles at the Bellagio (yes, I know they serve dishes from all over Asia) and the Noodle Shop at the Mandalay Bay.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pinpei

                      Since we live in LA, we have access to Spago and other nationally-recognized restaurant chains, so you make a good point, pinpei.

                      I'll probably end up craving Asian food at some point during the trip, so I'll follow your rec and check our Noodle Shop at Mandalay. We'll be right next to it, so it's a short walk in the 110 degree heat forecasted for next week.

                    2. Tell the BF that Lotus of Siam has a special northern menu that features wonderful dishes that are hard to find (although not impossible) in L.A. If he's adventurous, I'd recommend the green chili dip, the khao soi, the northern pork stew from the northern menu. There is great Thai food to be eaten in Thai town, but no single restaurant that is anywhere as strong as LOS.

                      There is also a burgeoning Chinatown in Las Vegas, that is safer to call Asiatown, as Vietnamese and Malaysian, even Japanese food, is offered. It's fun exploring Spring Mountain Road, and unless you are a high-roller getting free banquets, I'd suggest the Chinese food, in particular, is better and cheaper off the Strip.

                      1. Wow! With all these delicious-sounding suggestions, I wish we could stay in Vegas for a few more days...

                        Thanks, Chowhounders, for all your help! The BF and I are coordinating our timetables (he has a competition to judge; I have an odd spa schedule) and making reservations. You all have been incredibly helpful!

                        I'll report back and let you know where we ate and how it went...

                        1. We always stay at the Wynn when we are in Vegas and we have always had a good meal at Daniel Boulud..Okada for Sushi...we have not been to Alex but hear it is fab.
                          We have been to Bouchon for Mussels & frites with champagne at the bar which was good but breakfast is where Bouchon really does well..Been several times to DelMonico's (Emeril's) and always had a good meal there at the V.
                          I love having breakfast Downtown at Binion's for the famous $4.99 Ham steak with eggs, hash browns and toast..so old school and wonderful...Ham takes up the whole plate!
                          We had lunch at the Le Cordon Bleu school and had a lovely 3 course meal for cheap and good..15 minutes outside the strip.
                          Hugo's Cellar at the Four Queens is really good too.
                          Have Fun in Vegas!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            since you are staying at the venetian i like the cafe part of postrio, the food is good and you get a good view of the square, plus its cheaper then the inside part of the restaurant.

                            1. re: Beach Chick

                              Who do I call or how do I contact someone to learn more about Le Cordon Bleu school, where they are and their dining room hours? Thanks.

                              1. re: citywayne

                                http://www.vegasculinary.com/

                            2. Thank you, everyone, who gave me such great recs for my Vegas adventure! Unfortunately, the boyfriend had to work late on the judging panel nearly every night, so we ended up spending our entire trip in the hotel. It wasn't all bad, though:

                              Venetian casino food court lunch -- veggie pizza slice for me (as far as food court pizzas go, this was better than most--a nice big slice that I had to fold, which was fun), pepperoni slice for him (spicy pepperoni)

                              Tao dinner -- lobster wontons (not bad, swimming in thick, delicious broth), Peking duck (again, not bad; wonderfully crispy skin), pad thai (NEVER, EVER let someone else order for you--that's all I can say), yummy drinks to make it all better

                              Bouchon bakery brunch-ish -- ham and Swiss baguette sandwich and chocolate-filled chocolate eclair for me (I felt like I was back in Paris!), turkey and some cheese on croissant, Napoleon for him (we love a good buttery croissant, so were quite pleased; pastry cream in Napoleon was just sweet enough--perfect)

                              Noodle Asia dinner -- potstickers, fried rice with Chinese sausage and Chinese broccoli (perfectly acceptable when you're dining at 1am)

                              Bouchon breakfast -- quiche for me (creamy and delicious, though the crust was a little softer than I prefer), eggs/bacon/brioche for him (good bacon, nice and crisp; potato croquettes were forgettable)

                              Enoteca San Marco snack -- salted caramel, vanilla, malted chocolate gelato (I LOVE salted caramel gelato, and this one was the best I've had; vanilla was light and creamy; malted chocolate was had the flavor of a gourmet version of Ovaltine, which, IMHO, was just about perfect)

                              Delmonico's dinner -- seared tenderloin and sea scallops for me (everything I had hoped for and more, though the bacon confit was a little salty for me), sirloin a la Oscar for him (sweet blue crab; perfectly seasoned, tender steak)

                              Enoteca San Marco lunch -- pancetta and goat cheese pizza (great chunks of pancetta, nicely tangy goat cheese, I missed Nancy's Mozza crust--bah!)

                              Thanks again, dear CHers, for all of your suggestions. Maybe next time, I'll be able to leave the building (and it won't be 116F outside) and check out the rest of your recs...

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: riceflour

                                Sorry about your geographic confinement, but thanks so much for reporting back.

                                1. re: Dave Feldman

                                  My BF and I will be in Vegas this weekend and this thread was extremely helpful. I'd love to check out both Stripsteak and Craftsteak (esp. since my BF's brother was a souschef at Collichio's Gramercy Tavern in NY and is now at Michael Mina in SF), but I'm wondering if that's too repetitive (high-end steakhouse) in one weekend. Any preferences for one over another? We live in LA and are planning to check out the newly opened Craft at some point and visit his brother up in SF at MM, so....

                                  Would love to hear back from folks who've been to both, and if there are any other places worth checking out. (Guy Savoy's closed until Aug.)

                                  Thanks!

                                  1. re: purediva

                                    Stripsteak does have a good seafood selection, if you don't feel like steak two days in a row

                                    1. re: purediva

                                      I've been to both Craftsteak and Stripsteak - twice each. I think the food is better at Craftsteak, but Stripsteak has a lot more fun vibe/scene. I actually was somewhat disappointed in the food at Stripsteak both times, especially since we are generally Michael Mina fans and have eaten at all of his Vegas restaurants. But we still had fun nights there both times. The first time we ate at Stripsteak we didn't even order a steak, we just had a few appetizers and dessert, so if you want to check out both, it wouldn't necessarily be totally redundant. For combination of food and scene in a steakhouse, we actually like N9NE the most, although I think the food at Craftsteak is probably better. BTW, take the vibe/scene assessment with a grain of salt, as I'm 48 and my husband is 58!

                                      1. re: Debbie W

                                        debbie suggestion is great one. we did the same thing last time, we weren't that hungry so we got apps and drinks and it was great