HOME > Chowhound > Southwest >


Vegas Help: An Exercise in Gastronomic Delights ...

As an avid foodie and daily frequenter of CH's Los Angeles board, I knew that for my wife's and mine first culinary trip to LV, the Southwest board would be an excellent resource to aid in our meal planning.

Boy is that an understatement! I have read through 20+ pages of threads, seeking to learn the culinary Ins & Outs of your wonderful city -- and I certainly have learned and absorbed quite a bit about a great many of your fine dining (not limited to "fine-dining") restaurants.

But I still find myself seeking that little bit extra in terms of opinions and assistance ... so here I am.

As a surprise birthday trip for my wife, I will be taking her to Vegas for a long weekend that also coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday. We will leave LA on Wednesday - whether by air or car remains to be seen - and return on Sunday.

That gives us 12, and possibly even 13 opportunities to indulge ourselves in the culinary delights Vegas has to offer ... but it also presents a bit of a dillema, so here is where I ask for your help.

And I thought it might be a bit of good fun if we made it a sort of gastronomic exercise ...

So, here 'tis: What dining itinerary would YOU plan for Vegas if you KNEW you would never return?

(I know full well I will, but for the sake of fun, if you'll indulge me let's pretend)

There will be a dinner on Wednesday; all 3 meals on Thursday (THANKSGIVING!), Friday, and Saturday; and definitely breakfast and lunch on Sunday, with an outside chance for dinner (so make sure your dinner rec here would be your 5th choice).

I might choose the concensus, I might opt to go with the single poster's itinerary that looks best, or I might take a combination of everyone's ideas. I WILL be eternally grateful!

Remember, this is what YOU would do. If you'd care to, I will give you someparameters and you could outline what you would recommend for us. Kind of like what uhockey wrote in his post.

If you prefer the latter, here are some tidbits to help:

We've dined and travelled all over the world ... from Michelin 3 rosettes to complete holes-in-the-wall. We live in LA, and thus would prefer recommendations for places/cuisines we cannot get in LA (I'm looking directly at you Cut/Spago, as well as Sushi/Japanese). We are comfortable with anything from Grand Tasting menus to a la carte, and we are interested in the good, cheap eats as well as haute cuisine. Also, we enjoy seafood, but on a limited basis ... I find that I am VERY picky about it. Lastly, pricing is not a concern, nor is it mandatory that an establishment be on the Strip (I'm looking at you Lotus of Siam!)

Hope that helps you, and thanks in advance for helping me! I will definitely post back full reports (with pics) on this thread once we return to LA.

Let the "games" begin!

p.s. - I would also love any recs on where to stay ... was thinking a suite at the Wynn or the Bellagio, but am completely open to any and all suggestions.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/560803

    Bouchon, Alex, Le Cirque are musts.
    Skip Sensi and Craftsteak.
    Be sure to grab a dessert at Jean Philippe and pastrys at Bouchon Bakery.

    12 Replies
    1. re: uhockey

      U, you and I seem to be individuals of similar tastes, based on your thread. I obviously had a pretty good idea of where you stood based on your blog and posts in it.

      I'd been roughly thinking breakfast at Payard, Bouchon, Tableau, and ???; lunch at 4 of Lotus, Enoteca, DB Brasserie, Mesa Grill, Burger Bar; and dinner at 4 (or 5) of B&B, Le Cirque, Picasso, Alex, Craftsteak, N9NE, Joel at Mansion, Attelier, MiX, Guy Savoy, Andres, Alize, Charlie Palmer Steak, SW Steak, and probably a few others I forgot.

      You can see dillema.

      1. re: a213b

        Your fourth breakfast should be Verandah at the Four Seasons.

        Four lunches of the ones you list: Lotus, Mesa, Enoteca, Burger Bar

        Four to five dinners: if money truly is no object: Guy Savoy and Alex for sure. Next tier: Le Cirque, Picasso, Joel Robuchon at the Mansion, Mix (apparently, according to Uhockey). Of the steakhouses you list, I would probably choose Craftsteak but I also like N9NE very much. They are very different from each other, in that N9NE is very sceney and Craftsteak isn't. In fact we are going to N9NE again on 10/19. If you've been to Craft in Century City then you should know that Craftsteak is the same format with a more limited menu.

        1. re: Debbie W

          Debbie, I respect your opinion, so do you REALLY think Alex is a Tier above the 3-starred JR at the Mansion? I'll admit that Alex was amongst my fave meals of all time (right behind Gramercy Tavern, actually) and the food was certainly more unique.....just curious.

          Agreed on lunches, though I've not been to Lotus......I just can't deal with Thai, no matter how bland. Burger Bar, Mesa, Table 10, and Delmonico all are solid lunches.

          If you're a sports guy, don't miss checking out the new (former 40/40 club) Sportsbook at the Palazzo.....unbelievable.

          1. re: uhockey

            IMO, Alex is definitely a tier above Joel Robuchon. I posted in December that I had dinner first at Alex, and the next night at Joel Robuchon, as while Joel Robuchon isn't bad, it couldn't hold a candle to Alex. If I had reversed the order of the dinners, I probably would have liked Joel Robuchon, but after Alex, it would have been forgotten.

            1. re: uhockey

              Uhockey, to be honest, I have never eaten at Alex, Guy Savoy or JR at the Mansion. I have eaten at all five of the lunch places that the OP is choosing from, with repeated lunch and dinner visits to all except Enoteca where I've only had lunch once. I do have close friends who are incredibly knowledgeable and sophisticated diners (and hounds) and they have dined twice at Alex and loved it both times and I heard about it in detail. I was basing my opinion that Alex and Guy Savoy are tier 1 on the almost universal extremely high praises for both over time, whereas I recall reading some less than stellar reviews of JR at the Mansion on various occasions. We are celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary in Vegas next weekend and I actually chose Bar Charlie over Alex for the anniversary night itself. I hope I don't regret that choice but the menus just seems so interesting, I like the more casual style, and also who knows how long they will make a go of it, whereas Alex seems esconsed for the long run.

              1. re: Debbie W

                I don't think you will be disappointed Debbie. I just came back from Vegas and a quite mind blowing meal at Bar Charlie. 4 hours of nigh on perfection really.

                I'm going to put up a review here soon enough, but its taking a while to write as its going to be long. Before this meal Picasso was my favourite Vegas splurge, not any longer, Bar Charlie was miles ahead.


              2. re: uhockey

                uhockey - thai is bland ?!?! partner, you need to hit lotus and tell them to wow you ! granted, if you are just eating pad thai when you hit a thai place, well, then i understand your perspective. but based on your reviews, i doubt you limit yourself to the generic. I can assure you that if you hit Lotus, and put your faith in the staff, you will find that thai food is amazing. simple, fresh ingredients, yet complex flavors - thai cuisine envelopes spicy, sweet, savory better than any asian cuisine that i knw of.

                happy eating !

                1. re: kjs

                  kjs, this is EXACTLY why I am hitting LoS.

                  LA has some ridiculously amazing (and cheap!) Thai restaurants, but I have just heard too many good things about LoS to skip it.

                  Mmmmmm ... I am already salivating at the thought.

                  1. re: a213b

                    i am a fan of LOS no doubt about it but my knock, i've visited Thailand several times and the amazing meals i had at "locals only" places at ridiculously low prices set the bar very high / too high !

                  2. re: kjs

                    A future visit, perhaps......its just like Wing Lei for me, I guess.......I'm sure its good, but I'm a bit of a nerd for French/Mediterranean, Italian, Seafood, and Japanese. :-)

                    Next visit will be hard to skip a return to Alex, but I do believe Savoy and Picasso will be next on the list.

                    1. re: kjs

                      I think that uhockey means that he can't tolerate heat, not that he thinks it's bland.

                      I just spent nearly three months in L.A. and had a chance to eat t some of L.A.'s best, including two of my faves, Jitlada and Sapp. There are particular dishes that are standouts (e.g.., the mussels at Jitlada, the boat noodles at Sapp) but I still haven't seen a restaurant in L.A. that has the consistency and breadth of Lotus.

                      I want to assure you that LOS can create dishes without any heat at all. Over the years, I've ordered everything from a one to a ten, and actually asked for a zero a couple of times, for friends who requested no heat at all. I can't say that it is nearly as good, but it's still worth trying. And some of the dishes can be eaten without heat -- the barbecued beef sans sauce, the barbecued whole catfish are two good examples.

                      1. re: Dave Feldman

                        My buddy that I go to the Kings game with does love Thai.....I definitely should've thought of this one over Sensi (blech!)

            2. Breakfast at Tableau was fabulous. The kobe beef short ribs and eggs (we had ours prepared basted vs. the scrambled as described on menu) were amazing. Two perfectly crisp potato cakes top with shredded braised kobe beef, eggs, and bernaise sauce -- absolutely perfect way to start the day. The watermelon juice tasted like the freshest, sweetest watermelon you've ever had in a glass. Bread pastry basket okay, but i preferred the pastries at Bouchon -- the scone at Tableau was a little dry....

              we also enjoyed tableau for dinner: the crab ravioli, foie gras, scallops and corn pudding, oysters with champagne sauce, duck with honey jus and sweet potato/pecan hash, apple sorbet rolled in nuts with caramel sauce, and chocolate souffle werre all standouts as some of the best food we've ever tried.

              And for a little more casual in the Wynn, we enjoyed Stratta for pizza, bread w/ pesto dipping sauce and lobster fra diavlio

              1. I think you got the restaurants down packed. You can't go wrong with any you listed. I would suggest Fleur de lys for a nice romantic one on one dinner if you reserved a private cabana! As far as Hotels...Well it doesn't get any better than the Wynn but check out Venetians Venezia Suites. Very quite, security, freakin BEAUTIFULL and expecially for a special trip like yours and Bouchon is like a couple steps away!

                1. One other point -- you may encounter some special menus and even closings around Thanksgiving. It can't hurt to check in advance, especially on Thanksgiving.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Dave Feldman

                    Dave, excellent point, and one I need to make sure I investigate carefully ... especially as I am NOT a fan of Thanksgiving food. Turkey does not do a thing for me; I always felt somewhat guilty about that until I just read Andrew Knowlton's similar thoughts in the
                    most recent Bon Appetit.

                    Whew! It's nice to know there are other foodies out there who just don't take to turkey, despite trying it in many forms.

                    1. re: a213b

                      You're not alone. I don't really like turkey too much either (though I like most of the other components of Thanksgiving dinner). Plus, my birthday falls on Thanksgiving some years and when I was a child many of my birthday parties were Thanksgiving dinners. Talk about getting ripped off! I'm sure you will have no problem finding Vegas restaurants with non-turkey Thanksgiving options.

                  2. Hi, all. By all means help out a213b with Las Vegas chow tips. Hotel recommendations, though, are off-topic for the board, and we'll delete 'em.

                    1. Just thought I would post our itinerary, seeing as I've finally made all reservations.

                      I've laid it out by day of the week, and then order of restaurants for each meal (i.e. [breakfast], [lunch], [dinner]).

                      Wed: X, X, Joel Robuchon at the Mansion
                      Thu: Bouchon, Mesa Grill, Craftsteak
                      Fri: Tableau, Enoteca San Marco, Le Cirque
                      Sat: Verandah, Burger Bar, Alex
                      Sun: Payard, Lotus of Siam

                      I will say that I am reconsidering Craftsteak, for the following reasons:

                      1) We have Craft here in LA, and while I LOVED the meal we had there with friends, the steaks I tried were by far my least favorite parts. Additionally, a Wagyu tasting doesn't hold this aweinspiring appeal to me, since it is common here in LA (not that it wouldn't be tasty).

                      2) Like I said, we have Craft here, which makes me want to try someplace new.

                      3) uhockey's service issues are of some concern.

                      I'm quite happy with the majority of it, but am a bit sad because I would LOVE to somehow squeeze in Picasso and Guy Savoy.

                      ... sigh ...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: a213b

                        Is your Sunday visit to Lotus of Siam a dinner visit? Because I don't believe they are open for lunch on the weekends.

                        Where are you considering in lieu of Craftsteak? If you want a steakhouse I would normally have suggested CUT, but you specifically precluded it in your OP. I've been to both - B.H. gets the edge, but Vegas was very good too.

                        That's quite an agenda. Good luck.

                        1. re: Debbie W

                          Whoops! Good catch; LOS and Enoteca should be switched.

                          And yes, while I very much love Cut, I would like something new, so if we don't do Craftsteak, I am thinking SW, Charlie Palmers, or any other suggestions people would like to give me.

                          Man, I am so looking forward to this, and with C. Trotter, Frontera/Topolobampo, and Alinea coming up at the beginning of November, that month is shaping up to be quite an indulgent one to say the least!

                      2. Just returned from Las Vegas. Unseasonably cold! Bouchon lived up to its reputation for Sunday brunch. Special Crab gratin was incredible. Salmon rillettes were a treat. Although foie gras was not on the lunch/brunch menu, we were still able to obtain it. Lotus of Siam, as usual, didn't disappoint. The sea bass with papaya salad was a triumph, as was the crispy duck with drunken noodles. Dined at Lawry's House of Prime Rib, as it is sentimental to members of our group. Saturday night dinner at Piero's was incredible! True Dover sole was one of the four seafood specials.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: grantham

                          Finally somebody mentioned PIERO'S. if for nothing else, the atmosphere!

                        2. WAIT WAIT WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          All the recommendations I am seeing here are all pretty much Strip places. Do any of you actually LIVE in Las Vegas? I am sorry to hear you made all your plans already because you are missing some of the best places. At least consider adding these:

                          For breakfast:

                          Anyone that knows what the real Vegas is all about will tell you that the best breakfast is at the Peppermill Restaurant. It's on the Strip but not in a casino. It's directly across from where the Stardust used to be. You must try this place for breakfast. The best in town, bar none!

                          For Italian:

                          I am Italian and was born and raised in an Italian neighborhood in Chicago so I know my Italian food. The best place in Vegas is Bootleggers. It's on Las Vegas Blvd but not on the Strip. It's south of all the casinos and everything. You can do a google on it to find it. All the real Vegas people know this is the place. Most of the people that work in the Italian places in the casinos finish work and go here to eat afterwards.

                          Please try these places and you can thank me later.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Illuminatus

                            What type of Italian is Bootleggers, Illuminatus?

                            1. re: a213b

                              for the record, i live in vegas. bootleggers is a "red sauce" italian place - it's one of my local favs for italian ( i also like nora's, mimmo ferraro's and if in henderson, try ventano ) A major plus for Bootlegger - open 24 hours ( they have gaming machines in the bar, thus required to be open 24 hrs - Ventano might also be open 24/7 )

                              as far as peppermill being the best breakfast spot , well, i think it's worth a visit, at a minimum, for nostalgia, but i put maple tree, hash house a go-go and a few others, to be a cut above.

                              i too ate at Bouchon for weekend brunch and tried the crab gratin, a separate review on the way. i am a fan of bouchon but i feel it's slightly over-hyped . i believe some have raved about the french toast and others question it as even being a brekafast item, i am definitely in the camp of the latter - it's a decent dessert but one needs to balance out the richness and sweetness.

                              btw - as much as i love your list, it might be overload. I'm a big guy / big eater ( mr. feldman can attest to that ) and i would have a heck of a hard time eating three meals at three great restaurants in a day . Bouchon - Mesa Grill - Craftsteeak = Impossible !! Heck, that's 6 hours of time ( from wait - cocktails - meal - belt loosening ) at least 6 hours !! consider that's in about 12 hours of time ( 8 am - 8 pm ) , if you can do it, I TIP MY CAP TO YOU !

                              Bottom line, Happy Eating !

                              1. re: kjs

                                LOL, tis a fair point kjs.

                                And it would be accurate but for a couple points (at least with respect to me) ...

                                1) I am not someone who has a problem, or feels guilty, if I don't clean my plate. In fact, most everytime I try a new restaurant (if I am eating off of an a la carte menu), my wife and I end up ordering more food than we can (or plan) to eat, in an effort to try as many things as possible. Obviously this is not the case when engaging in a tasting menu.

                                2) As neither of us are big gamblers, we will have plenty of time in between meals to work out, relax, enjoy the spa or a show, etc., which will help with the appetite area.

                                3) Most importantly, every one of our dinner reservations is at 8:30 or later, which effectively means we are not starting to eat until 9pm at the earliest.

                                4) Lastly, neither one of us is a huge breakfast eater (in terms of quantity), so I can easily envision a scenario where we order several different items to try, but end up only having a handful of each ... this then allows us to eat (relatively) earlier lunches (around 1 or so), which then gives us a good 6 to 7 hours to digest and regain our appetites.

                                There's always the chance we won't make it to every breakfast and/or lunch, but regardless, I'll be back here to post my thoughts!

                                Oh, and I think we will probably pass on Bootleggers ... not that it's not tasty, but I am not really a huge fan of quintessential red-sauce Italian places.

                                1. re: a213b

                                  a2 - hear ya on bootlegger's. it is a decent place to eat but if i was in vegas for a long weekend, i would pass. I also hear ya on the downtime for the spa, exercise, etc. the weather is perfect for a nice stroll down the Strip, shopping, etc.

                                  don't get me wrong, i ain't discouraging you, to the contrary, eat, drink, spend, spend, spend, you are helping to keep my taxes down ! lol

                                  as to the breakfast, definitely be careful at Bouchon, they've got some very rich foods, tasty, but heavy.

                                  Enjoy !

                                  1. re: kjs

                                    Thanks kjs!

                                    It's a bit before we go, but like I've been saying, I will definitely report back with pics ... Mmmmmmmm, I'm salivating already!

                                  2. re: a213b

                                    Well if you want "high-brow" Italian food where the yuppies like to go eat then it would be a good idea to make a point of mentioning that when you want recommendations. Any of those Strip joints should suffice if that is what you're after. I don't much like the "Red Sauce" label people like to apply to places like Bootleggers. I'm full Italian and an Italian restaurant is just that, an Italian restaurant. These superficial labels people place on things are ridiculous. Please be specific when looking for recommendations.

                                  3. re: kjs

                                    I ate at Bouchon, Sensi, and Craftsteak in a day. I had a banana nut muffin from Bouchon Bakery and a Tiramisu from Jean Phillipe in that same day.

                                    I weigh 160 and am 6'2". Impossible? :-)

                                2. re: Illuminatus

                                  Just because I don't live in Vegas doesn't mean I can't recognize Peppermill for what it is - a coffee shop! The food is just ok - yes, I've eaten there several times. Not to say that it isn't a fun place with a cool vibe - it definitely is. No way is the food better there than it is at Bouchon or Verandah or Payard or, presumably, Tableau.

                                  1. re: Debbie W

                                    Well that all depends on what you're after. If you're after a hearty, but very tasty, breakfast that will fill you up and consists of typical breakfast fare then Peppermill is fantastic. If you're looking for high class, high-brow French food where the plates all are dressed up to look like a piece of art and you barely get any food with it, then the places you mention are a good bet. Not to say that the food they serve isn't good or tasty.

                                    1. re: Debbie W

                                      I second this! The atmosphere of Peppermill is really fun-the sugar in the shaker on the table is multicolored, and the decor is reminiscent of the 70s. I went in with high expectations of the food, especially the fruit salad, and while the portion was enormous and came with an entire loaf of banana bread, the fruit really wasn't that great and nothing on the plate was worth going back for. I tried other menu items on other visits (friends wanted to check out the place) and nothing there comes close to the quality of food you would get at other places, like Bouchon. I'd say it's a good place for a drink, but not much else.

                                  2. I'm looking at going to Las Vegas sometime in November or December- very flexible about dates. But it doesn't seem possible to get a reservation at Bouchon, even for breakfast. Any hope of a walk-in? Is it possible to go to the oyster bar in the afternoons?

                                    6 Replies
                                    1. re: Gypsyfish

                                      They don't take reservations for breakfast and as far as dinner if your booking that far ahead it shouldn't be a problem at all. Don't try to book a dinner reservation online. Call the restaurant itself and you can easily get a reservation. I didn't think the oyster bar was worth the time.

                                      1. re: cgervais45

                                        The two times I have used opentable.com for Bouchon dinner reservations I have never had any issues. Of the many breakfasts I have had there (mainly weekends) walk in has been fine, with a wait no longer than 10-15mins.


                                        1. re: cgervais45

                                          I've used Open Table many times for Bouchon dinner reservations. I think one time we used one of our OT dining cheques there, too. I've never had a problem getting a reservation, but I usually book a few weeks in advance.

                                          1. re: Debbie W

                                            I've been trying on Open Table, even having it check 30 days from my requested date- nothing available. So much for the bad economy! Thanks for the advice on breakfast- maybe I'll try that.

                                            1. re: Gypsyfish

                                              Just call the restaurant and make reservations....I promise you will get one.

                                              1. re: cgervais45

                                                To each there own. I personally love Bouchon and if I had one day left on this wonderful planet I would want to start my day at Bouchon Bistro. Everyone likes something different its just up to you to decide what appeals to you more. For locals I'm sure there are "Local" places that they like more but the fact is for us "Visitors" we want to take in the great restaurants Las Vegas has to offer that we can't get at home. We all have those great "Local" restaurants where we live but not many people can experience the greatness of Thomas Keller!

                                      2. a213b,

                                        just wanted to say i enjoyed reading this whole post. our family is from socal, and our little culinary trip happens nov 9-11. fwiw, here's our itinerary: (no wine, no gambling, but food for 4 will be our splurge for the year.)

                                        sunday brunch: bouchon
                                        sunday dinner: bar charlie, kaiseki
                                        monday lunch: something light...we may not eat! (gelato perhaps...hahahaha)
                                        monday dinner: mansion, joel robuchon, 16-course tasting.
                                        tuesday lunch: lotus of siam

                                        my wife booked us at the bellagio, but she definitely wants to spend an afternoon visiting the wynn. i choose the restaurants, she takes care of everything else. speaking of birthdays, it will be my youngest daughter's that week. my little foodie. wonder where she got that.

                                        had to post as i could not help notice the little similarities. all the best to you both, and report back! my wife would shoot me if i started taking pictures. enjoy your thanksgiving weekend coming up!

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jacknhedy

                                          jack, thanks for the kind words!

                                          Looks like you guys have an awesome itinerary planned as well; and let me just say, I LOVE that your bring your kids with you! How awesome that they get the pleasure of being around high-end cuisine, and are learning the joys of fine-dining and great food.

                                          Enjoy, and please make sure you post a trip report!

                                        2. Update on my Las Vegas trip- I ate lunch at Wolfgang Puck's Chinois in the Shops at the Forum (having headed there to get some good shoes)- lovely baby beet salad. The next day I had both breakfast and dinner at Bouchon. It did turn out that I could get a reservation for dinner easily once I got there. I don't know what was wrong with the online system. Had an oeuf au gratin for breakfast- lovely! For dinner, I had the endive salad and the braised lamb shank (a special) for dinner. 3 bites in, I knew I was in trouble. I rarely have red meat anymore, and just couldn't do it justice. It was a shame because it was really good. And the service was perfect. I don't want fawning service- I want someone to tell me the specials, take my order, and get out of my face. If I'm looking around in distress, they can ask me if everything is ok- if I'm actively eating my dish, they can assume everything is ok But I have to say that the best meal I had in L.V. was at the seafood bar in Harrah's. I had lovely oysters- Blue Point, which I grew up with, and another variety that was fresh that day. Then I had something they described as tuna tartare but which was, thank goodness, not minced. It was cubes of fabulous raw tuna in a light vinaigrette. I don't know how they cook there since I didn't have anything cooked, but someone sure knows how to pick and present seafood. I could eat like that every day.