Dining at the bar in LV
My boyfriend and I are in the restaurant industry and are very interested in checking out as many restaurants as possible during our 3 night stay in Vegas next week. What we would like to do is pop in unreserved and sit at the bar for a couple appetizers and drinks. We will be in town for Sun- Wed next week and were hoping to check out L'Atelier, Mix, Tao, Bouchon, Olives, DB Brasserie, Spago and Nobhill. Do you think this style of dining will be possible for us in Vegas? Any other recommendations? We are at the Signature at MGM but happy to dine anywhere around the Strip.
Las Vegas is made for your desired style of dining! Of the ones you mention:
1. L'Atelier has most of its seats around a food bar. You may order as little or as much as you want. Reservations are accepted, but unless there's a big convention in town you should probably be able to get seats, given the current economic climate.
2. Bouchon has a food bar, and the couple of times I checked it out there were seats available.
3. DB Brasserie has a bar and a lounge. The lounge usually has seats, and the bar is more likely still to have seats.
I haven't been to the others, so I can't say for sure. However, many, many Vegas restaurants will be able to accomodate you. Even a top place like Guy Savoy has a bar where you can order drinks and some small bites.
Other possibilities: Michael Mina (Bellagio) has a nice bar where you may order from the full menu, but don't have to order anything; Bar Charlie (part of Restaurant Charlie at the Palazzo) has wonderful Japanese inspired meals, but you may also just order snacks and drinks.
They are focused on their 8 & 14 tastings, but they do offer few items ala carte at Bar Charlie.
The options are more limited ala carte, but, the place is so slow I bet if you asked you would get a larger selection. I get the feeling they are bending over backwards to please people right now.
It's totally possible. We've done what we call "dine-arounds" at the MGM two or three times - all-bar dining without reservations, two or three bars per night with food and drinks at each. Restaurants we've included in this are Nobhill, Fiamma, Seablue, Craftsteak and Emeril's (dessert only at Emeril's).
Now, L'Atelier doesn't have a separate bar, at least that I can recall seeing. Most of the restaurant is counter seating, though there are a few tables. And, reservations might be necessary. Give them a call. (oops - posted this before I read Larry's response - what he said!)
Not only should you be able to do this quite easily, it's a fantastic way to check out a lot of restaurants in a short amount of time. Don't commit entire dinner plans to one but have a couple apps or share something at each and you'll be able to experience much more than normal. I do this quite often - easily hitting 4 or 5 spots in one night. Start early and keep rolling!
Couple of suggestions:
1.) Skip Tao and Spago altogether.
-If you're interested in an Asian flair, check out Lotus of Siam. An extraordinarily good Thai spot that is off the Strip ( easily reached via rental car or a small cab fare ). In order to fit it into your preferred dining style, make an early dinner reservation there ( don't do lunch ) and have a couple things to share, then move on to your other spots. Tao is a good spot for clubbing later on in the evening but the restaurant portion isn't really anything to write home about. Stop in and have a look. It's certainly worth poking your head in to take a peek at what it looks like but there is much better food to be had in your short time span. If you absolutely must stay on the Strip and want to do an Asian-style place, try the bar at Shibuya at the MGM. Thomas Keller himself has gone on record saying that it's his favorite restaurant in Las Vegas. That's a pretty resounding compliment!
-Spago Las Vegas doesn't even come close to Spago Beverly Hills ... in food, atmosphere, or execution. It might as well be a different concept altogether. No real reason to go there unless you are looking for a mediocre lunch, albeit with a decent bread basket. There are two distinct areas of Spago; the cafe and the "fine dining". The "fine dining" menu is only served in the evening and they have been known to disallow the dining room menu at the bar. Not always but it certainly has happened.
2.) Make one night an MGM Extravaganza.
-The MGM has, IMO, the best concentration of great restaurants all in one spot. You could do a combo of L'Atelier, Craftsteak ( Kobe Tartare and Foie Gras ), Fiamma ( Short Rib Raviolini ), Nobhill ( the Chicken Tettrazini is CRAZY good and I think they have a great bread service here despite what some others may think), Seablue ( some great tapas-style seafood dishes here ), and finish up with a bit of the famous Banana Cream Pie at Emeril's.
Oh yeah, make sure to have the Carpaccio at Olives ( it's a meal in itself and a good thing to share on your restaurant pilgrimage ) and the Goat Cheese & Tomato Tatin at DB. Those couple dishes are two of my all-time favorites in all of Vegas. Bouchon is loaded with goodies as well: the Oysters ( 5-7 varieties daily ), the Pate, the Foie Gras Torchon ( *huge* portion ), the Salmon Rillettes ... the list goes on and on.
Whatever you decide, I'm sure you'll have a great time. Enjoy.