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heading to vegas for 5 days - what restaurants are not to be missed?

we are heading to Vegas for our 10th anniversary and have a few things planned but I thought you guys might know better than zagat's what meals are not to be missed. We were thinking Rosemary's, Daniel Boulud's place and Mario Batali's. Even tho we are New Yorker's we thought Rao's might be fun. our last trip we ate at Picasso's and thought it was great. any thoughts of great places - from dive's with great food on up. we will have a car so the place does not need to be on or near the strip. we are staying at the Wynn - I've heard Alex is amazing but the price seems to be a major detractor.

any shows that should not be missed either? we;ve seen O and thought it was out of this world. thanks!

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  1. i was just at rao's last weekend. completely unimpressed and i'm an east coaster too. skip it. we also ate at mix which was fantastic. also really like delmonico's.

    shows: "O" , elton john red piano, we just saw penn & teller very fun.

    1. Atelier de Joel Robuchon is excellent and not as pricey as Alex, but Alex rocks
      Wing Lei for haute Chinese
      Lotus of Siam is super and reasonable

      1. Hey Karen, My wife and I got back from our yearly Vegas Visit and we always hit Osteria in the Bellagio for a meal. They have some of the best lamb chops i have eaten. Boulud's place in the Wynn was really great. If you are in the mood for sushi check at Okada in the Wynn as well, excellent sushi. But of all the places we ate this past trip, Michael Mina's in the Bellagio was the best of the group. The Lobster Pot Pie is cant miss.

        Have a great trip and see you back on the Tristate board.


        Edit, we saw Love and 'loved' it. If you like Beatles music youll wish the show was longer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Alex318

          Had the opportunity to dine @ Michael Mina's this week and I have to agree w/ you the Lobster pot pie was a hit! We enjoyed it as a selection on the Cookbook tasting menu.
          Many tables were ordering it for their main entree....
          The tableside presentation is spectacular...
          I think in mini version on the tasting menu it loses something....maybe not enough lobster or sauce. Though it was flavorful and delicious.
          I would have loved it as an entree.

          Everything was wonderful and the service impeccable.


          Michael Mina Restaurant
          3600 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109

        2. Joel Robucon-at the Mansion
          ....amazing if you've got the money and time...the 13 course tasting menu was an amazing event..artistry for the eyes and the mouth.
          L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon
          ....oh my stars!!! I've now been there 4 times and each time was a gem.
          Not as expensive as the Mansion and a bit more relaxed but the food is to die for and to watch the people in the kitchen elegantly creating your meals in a relaxed-rush is very excititng.
          Both places are dead on with their wine pairings so get a little adventurous and put the wine in their hands...they do not try to bring out the most expensive thing, they consider what you'll be eating and your palette preference.
          ...was recommended by one of the guys at L'Atelier and it was great. A little tapas bar with an outstanding wine selection, amazing mojitos, and I saw a lot of people ordering the sangria-they have both red and white.
          Everything was delicious and a very locals-vibe....a lot of servers and chefs from other places eat there.
          Have fun and enjoy!

          3 Replies
          1. re: tatertotsrock


            If you don't mind posting, where is Firefly? I've been to Cafe Ba Ba Reeba a few times, and would like to try a different place. Thanks!

            1. re: Michelle

              Hello Michelle,
              It is in the same mini/strip mall as Ruth Chris...I think Tropicana or Flamingo.
              It's off strip, I was able to find it just by those directions.
              I'll get back if I find the exact address, I know I have the menu somewhere.

              1. re: Michelle

                Firefly is on Paradise between Flamingo and Sands. I'd be interested to hear what you think of Firefly vs. CBBR.

            2. We always stay at the Wynn and the restaurants are wonderful..we really enjoy Daniel Boulud's..great bistro fare and the water show is wild.
              Really enjoy Okada for sushi..some of the best on the strip.
              I like Bouchon for breakfast at the Venetian.
              You are going to have a wonderful time at the Wynn!

              1. From a fellow East Coaster who frequents Vegas, 2 recs that stretch the gamut:

                Sensi @ Bellagio - incredible and very unique. This is probably my favorite restaurant in all the land. I have not seen or been with anyone who has not had a meal that they have not absolutely loved here. Their seafood plates are tremendous and those that Ive gone with that are meat lovers and vegeterians have always left with praise.

                Burger Bar @ Mandalay Bay - great pub type atmosphere where you create your own burger with some tremendous toppings- dont miss out on the burger dessert either.

                Enjoy your trip to vegas, and dont ever leave there without the In n Out Burger experience, best thing about all the west coast.

                2 Replies
                1. re: yankeefan

                  I second sensi. I think this is one of the most underrated places in Vegas. The food is creative and well presented and is all around amazing.

                  Also, its one of the cheaper places in the Bellagio (relatively). I highly highly recommend it.

                  1. re: yankeefan

                    I may be a little late to put in my .02, but I will 'third' the recommendation for Sensi. My wife and I ate there this past labor day weekend at it was the highlight meal of the trip. We also ate at David Burke the same weekend and we were very dissappointed with the food and the service.

                    Sensi is definately one of the best meals we have had in Vegas.

                  2. If the price at ALex bothers you then so will the robuchon recs at MGM.

                    you mention Rosemary's - i highly recommend, someone else mentioned firefly - i like it alot especially for late nite eating since they are open late ( i believe until 2 or 3 ) - LOS ( lotus of siam ) for thai ) - personally, as a n la hound, i tend to avoid the LA transplant or the sister restaurants that are located in vegas - what's the point ? same food ( if you're lucky ) usually at a higher price !
                    There are many places in chinatown - might be a good idea for lunch / dim sum...hue thai is worthwhile for some vietnamese food ( try the banh mi - vietnamese sandiches and/or pho - noodle soup ) - mexican food - there are several michoacan locations worth trying - or if you want to stay on the trip - the border grill at mandalay bay.

                    for breakfast - hash house agogo and you gotta hit the peppermill - a vegas institution !!

                    i'm seeing love at the mirage next week - i have high expectations !

                    finally - wynn and bellagio have great buffets - 5 days in vegas...you gotta hit a buffet !

                    1. If you haven't been to Babbo (or even if you have been to Babbo, and liked it), I would recommend B+B - the food is comparable (I actually had a better dinner at B+B than at Babbo) and the reservations are way, way easier to get. Strongly recommend the pasta tasting menu - I've seen a couple of reviews from disappointed patrons, and the running theme in their dinners is too little pasta, too much other stuff (apps and secondi).

                      My full review (plus a point by point comparison of Lupa/Otto vs. Enoteca San Marco)

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: daveena

                        Had lunch @ Red 8 on Friday and went for the Dim Sum menu....it was fabulous!
                        It's the way to go for a casual quick lunch!
                        I had the Braised Chicken feet, Sui mai, Taro w/ shrinp, Turnip Cakes and the steamed pork ribs.....all flavorful, hot and beautifully pepared.
                        They have a very extensive menu, the presentation is wonderful in bamboo steamers!

                        1. re: ciaogal

                          we are NY'ers and I usually tend to avoid the NY transplants as I can have it here but Babbo is one of my fave's so I was willing to forgo my usual "I can get it at home" comment for that.

                          TOS seems to keep popping up - I'll have to hit it. Is Burger Bar good for lunch? I've heard the breakfast buffet at Wynn is sick and we have to hit it - altho I usually avoid stuff like that.

                          we got tix for LOVE and I'd love to hear what you have to say about it once you've seen it!

                          1. re: KarenNYC

                            If you're at the Wynn, I'd suggest StripBurger over Burger Bar--it's right across the street at fashon Show Mall (Outside of Cafe BabaReeba)--great atmosphere, outstanding food and drink!

                            1. re: EDL

                              Ive never been to Strip Burger so I cant speak to that, but I do think that the Burger Bar @ Mandalay Bay is phenomenal experience between building your own burger as well as the beer variety.

                              1. re: yankeefan

                                I'm from the Boston board (no gloating, Yankeefan), and will be going for a week in early Dec. for a conference. My husband will be joining me just for the weekend. We will be arriving around 5:30 pm Friday, and he is leaving Sunday morning. I will obviously have the opportunity to go to more places, but for the time he is there (we're staying at The Venetian), I'm thinking Burger Bar would be fun and casual for Friday night, breakfast at Bouchon on Saturday, and dinner at Sensi Saturday night. I've never been to In N Out, though I've read a lot about it on the board. Not sure how near it is to where we'll be, or if it's worth trying to fit it in while he's there, or later in the week. Would welcome recommendations. Thanks in advance.

                                1. re: AnnieP

                                  Now that Mariano has closed out this game, I can tell you that your itinerary you mentioned is outstanding. Burger Bar and Sensi are two of my favorite establishments in the country.

                                  You will need to take a short cab ride to In n Out but well worth it. Make sure the cab waits for you though because it is tough to fit for one on the way out.

                                  You really cant go wrong with the list that you have for Vegas- Im jealous Im not doing the same.

                                  1. re: AnnieP

                                    there is an in - n - out burger on tropicana and the 15 fwy ....it's about 1/2 mile - 1 mile from burger bar @ mandalay....it's a fast food joint - great for lunch or late nite urge. enjoy !!

                                    1. re: kjs

                                      In 'n' Out Burger is a must-do for a quick bite. Double-Double Animal-Style with fries and a chocolate shake.

                                      Wow. Now I need a cigarette. Heh.

                                      1. re: azbirdiemaker

                                        pardon my ignorance and lack of full InO knowledge, but I have to know what animal style is. I usually go with the reg double-double.

                                        you have piqued my interest.

                                        1. re: yankeefan

                                          Not at all. People don't really know about the "Secret Menu" until they've experienced it ...

                                          "Animal Style" means that the beef is mustard-cooked with extra pickles, extra spread, and with grilled onions. So disgustingly good it should be illegal. There are several ways to order the various items at In 'n' Out Burger that aren't widely known.

                                          Here's a link that I think you'll find interesting ...


                                          The Animal-Style Fries are killer as well but very messy. Give it a try and let us know what you think.

                                          1. re: yankeefan

                                            Ah, the Yankee fan doesn't know it all! There's a secret menu at In-n-Out. I also recommend getting the fries extra crispy.


                                            1. re: happensatonce

                                              That is absolute pure genius. I am as close as the yanks are to passing the sox in the standings as I am to booking a flight out to vegas for indulging in these things- they sound unreal.

                                              Not much I can imagine better than a couple animal style burgers with some Fat Tire that I also cant get out here.

                                              1. re: yankeefan

                                                Well at least we agree on one thing, two things if you count both the beer and the burgers.

                                                1. re: yankeefan

                                                  I may be crawling on the ledge, but I haven't jumped yet. Anyway, thanks for the great feedback; sounds like I'll fit in Burger Bar, and In N Out. At least I have SOMETHING to look forward to...

                                        2. re: AnnieP

                                          It's been mentioned somewhere in this thread but I would never go to Vegas without a visit to Lotus of Siam (LOS - all over the SW board) if you are a fan of thai food.

                              2. I never miss going to the Tillerman whenever I'm in Vegas. It's far from the Strip, but worth the trip!

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: calabasas_trafalgar

                                  Rosemary's and Delmonico are must visits on every trip.

                                  We really like the Paris and Wynn breakfast buffets.

                                  1. re: Rick

                                    Had a great dinner at SW Steakhouse at the Wynn this past Thursday night. I highly recommend this restaurant!

                                2. The best tasting for the money in town is at Bradley Ogden in Ceasar's Palace. It's roughly $125 for seven courses plus amuse, pre-dessert, etc. It's not advertised so mention it in your reservations.

                                  Lotus of Siam cannot be missed. It is slightly off-strip, quite inexpensive, and truly amazing. The menu riddled with typos so ordering can be challenging the greatest hits are: crispy fried rice with sour sausage, plar dok (whole deep-fried catfish with apples, cashews, and a sweet and tangy chilli sauce), the soft shell crab salad, crispy skin duck, roasted duck curry, garlic shrimp with cabbage, coconut ice cream with mango and sweet sticky rice.

                                  Save some money and go to Enoteca San Marco for a nice lunch instead of B&B--they're both by Batali and have access to the same kitchen and wine list. Be sure to get the fried squash blossoms--skip the pizza. Get the funky aromatic white from the vinyards of ancient grape varietal museum in the Lazio--the staff will know which one you're asking for.

                                  Also in the Venetian Bouchon has some of the best food in the city for very reasonable prices along with a great French wine list--the Scherlet dry Alsatian Muscat is a great value. Don't miss any braised entree on the menu.

                                  Have fun.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Schultsc

                                    If you're going to a Batali restaurant for pasta, I'd still go to B&B. Enoteca San Marco is more dumbed down than B&B is - when I was there, the menu had no fresh pastas (all of the primi that had fresh pasta at Lupa were replaced by dried pasta at ESM). I agree that it does have some good fried things, and good salumi, and is a great place for lunch. However, the main reason I would recommend B&B to someone coming from NYC is that it is way, way easier to get a reservation at B&B than it is at Babbo. The ESM menu is a mashup of Lupa and Otto, both of which are relatively easy to get into.

                                  2. burger bar in Manadaly Bay. It is a Hubert Keller rest. I recommend the fois gras burger or the surf and turf. Seriously.. this place is awesome.

                                    i just did a whole LV review...

                                    just one foodie to another...

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: coconutgoddess

                                      Have to second this one again. Burger Bar is silly good - it is a must for every trip I have out to Vegas

                                      1. re: yankeefan

                                        well - so far we are doing Rosemary's, B&B, Lotus of Siam - we' will try to hit both Burger Places (and of COURSE hit In N Out - DH has yet to experience that joy....) we'll do the Wynn buffett and who knows what else we'll squeeze in, Should we try either ASian at the Wynn or Sensei? also, what to order at LOS???? any specialties?

                                        1. re: KarenNYC

                                          I'll chime in as I am LOS obsessed but definitely not one of the LOS pros here.

                                          Last meal there we had...
                                          -the Nam Kao Tod (would definitely try this as it is a board fave), minced sour sausage mixed with green onion, fresh chili, ginger, peanut, crispy rice, tons of fresh herbs, and lime juice - the sausage is chopped tiny, tiny so don't expect to see chunks of it.
                                          -a softshell crab salad (haven't seem mentioned as it's a special & not on the menu - got it when I asked for it last time though - this is one of my personal faves) with chopped chilis, cilantro, mint, bean sprouts, green apple, peanutes, jullienne carrots, julienne red peppers, cashews. I have been craving this daily for well over a month now.
                                          -excellent shrimp curry with cognac sauce (regular special)
                                          -wonderful drunken noodles with chicken
                                          -out of this world sticky rice with mango and coconut ice cream. (Do NOT pass on the coconut ice cream or sticky rice. I would never ever miss this.)

                                          You can also ask the staff there for help. Last time Tony led us with some recommendations & I would definitely trust him again - told him what like/are looking for.

                                          You can also search the boards for recommendations. Dave Feldman is Mr. LOS - maybe been there 100+ times? Here are some notes I have on his recs that I have on my list to try:

                                          -khao soi (personal fave)
                                          -hoh mok plar (personal fave)
                                          -smoky sheetfish soup
                                          -green chilie dip especially recommended if group likes spicy dishes
                                          -northern pork stew especially for garlic lovers
                                          -northern larb, wetter than southern variety.
                                          -sua rong hai - outstanding charbroiled beef dish - not too spicy

                                        2. re: yankeefan

                                          Last time we were at Burger Bar the service was awful. Took a long time and our food had clearly been sitting out for a while, at least fifteen minutes. Fries and burgers were lukewarm. Should have sent it back. Might give it a try if we stay at Mandalay again. Probably wouldn't go back after that, would try Stripburger.

                                          1. re: elrushbo

                                            It's funny how people can have two extraordinarily different experiences at the same place. Such is the nature of the restaurant biz.

                                            The last time I was there ( just about a month ago - 9/6 ) our food arrived within minutes of it being ordered - literally about 5 minutes. We both remarked at how fast it came out. One might think that the food was already prepared when we ordered but those who have been there know that with all the combination possibilities - that is pretty much impossible. Everything was hot and extremely tasty. Granted the service isn't the tops but it wasn't horrible - they were just really swamped as they always are. But then again I know that going in so I know what to expect.

                                            It's definitely one of my lunch hot spots. Sorry you had a bad time, elrushbo. You should definitely give it at least one more go around.

                                      2. Shows: Le Reve at the Wynn

                                        Jean Philippie Patisserie at the Bellagio for dessert or Olives.

                                        Dont leave without trying the In N Out Burger.

                                        1. Rosemary's and the Tillerman are wonderful.