Las Vegas is known as The City of Sin, and this moniker was earned by the opulent displays of decadence that can be found around the city every day. This holds true for its dining scene, as Vegas is home to some of the best restaurants in America (Joël Robuchon, Bouchon Bistro, and Guy Savoy, to name a few), and scores of establishments helmed by renowned celebrity chefs (think Michael Mina, Mario Batali, and Masaharu Morimoto). Sometimes, however, you want a more down-to-earth, low-key meal out, so we’ve gathered a list of some of the best casual restaurants in Las Vegas.
If you like to build your own burger, then Hubert Keller’s Burger Bar is a great casual option, which snagged a very respectable #6 spot in our burger compilation. Known as “the other Keller” (besides Thomas, obviously) to fine-dining enthusiasts who have long enjoyed his exquisitely crafted modern French food at Fleur de Lys in San Francisco, and to the Las Vegas dining public for having created a $5,000 hamburger at his Fleur in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, Keller is an accomplished Alsatian-born chef who has lately established a reputation for producing sensibly priced, high-quality burgers at his eatery (with additional locations in San Francisco and Beijing). The basic burger here is certified Angus beef on a plump bun with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and dill pickle, but the menu allows for extravagant customization, offering roughly 50 accoutrements including such diverse choices as black truffles, smoked Gouda, jalapeño bacon, guacamole, and shrimp. There are also chicken wings, an extensive milkshake menu, and a sampler plate of buttermilk zucchini fries, macaroni and cheese croquettes, and more. The restaurant is situated in the mall-like Mandalay Place, and with a décor that includes high top bar tables and a long bar decked out with multiple televisions, we’re sure you will feel right at home.
Fish N Bowl, located off the famed Strip, is easy to miss, but it’s a must-try if you’re looking for great sushi served in a laid-back environment. The space is small but cheerful due to the bright orange interior paint job and light wood tables and floor, and you can order classic rolls like California or Philly rolls, rice-less rolls like the Johnny Roll (shrimp tempura, spicy crab, cucumber skin, and “yum” sauce), or special rolls like the Green Monster (spicy tuna, cucumber, avocado, sriracha, green onion, and tuna poke on the side) and the Cinco de Mayo (shrimp tempura, jalapeño, avocado, tuna, eel sauce, and lime and jalapeño vinaigrette). They also offer rice bowls like the Mushroom Fantasy (assorted mushrooms, eggs, and shredded ginger) and the Kalbi Bowl (marinated short rib and green onion), as well as dishes like chicken or shrimp yakisoba and cucumber noodle salad.
From the creators of the Cheesecake Factory comes a luxurious, but still decidedly casual restaurant. A hybrid of grand European cafés and all-American eateries, the Grand Lux Café, Venetian has an extensive menu for every time of day; there’s the breakfast menu that’s served from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. and features dishes such as caramel banana-nut french toast that’s made with flakey brioche bread and drizzled with house-made caramel sauce, and the DeLux Breakfast Sandwich comprised of scrambled eggs, bacon, ham, grilled tomato, Havarti cheese, and mayo,
all piled high on grilled brioche and served with hash browns. Then there’s the lunch and dinner menu that’s available from 11:00 a.m. until midnight and includes plates of crispy Thai shrimp and chicken spring rolls, seared rare Ahi tuna salad, an impressive variety of specialty burgers, sandwiches, omelettes. For those who like breakfast all day long, they serve pizzas, pastas, “House Favorites,” “Grand Casual Cuisine,” dishes like a Parmesan-crusted pork chop and lemon chicken piccata, wood grilled steaks, and seafood specialties. Finally, for those late-night munchies, the eatery serves a menu of comfort foods like a smoked salmon platter with tomato, onion, cream cheese, and a toasted bagel; double-cheese mini sliders; and much, much more from midnight until 6 a.m. Don’t forget their extensive liquor program that includes many wines available by the glass and by the bottle, bottles of beer as well as a few on tap, margaritas, cognac, and a number of other cocktails and liquors.
Honesty is the best policy, and the Heart Attack Grill, with their Bypass Burgers, lives by that motto. Their double bypass burger is a celebration of carnivorous gluttony, stacked high with cheese, two burger patties, ten slices of bacon, and the option of adding on chili. But the Double Bypass is hardly the greatest abomination against health on the menu - that honor goes to the Octuplet Bypass burger, with its eight patties and forty slices of bacon, which snagged the #83 spot on our 101 Best Burgers in America list. There’s also the deep-fried Twinkie ice cream shake, onion rings, the half-pound Coronary Dog with chili, onions, and cheese, with the option of adding bacon. The atmosphere isn’t just casual, it’s downright kitschy; waitresses are dressed in “sexy” nurse uniforms, and bags of wine are served on IV poles. It’s a maximum serving of tongue-and-cheek amusement, and gut-busting, indulgent food.
Pizza Rock, one of the five pizzerias from California pizza king Tony Gemignani and the home of the #91 best pizza in America according to our compilation, doesn’t skimp on pizza preparation. There are at least four kinds of ovens (a 900-degree wood-fired Cirigliano Forni oven, a Rotoflex gas brick oven, a Marsal gas brick oven, and a Cuppone Italian electric brick oven) the pizza champ uses to send out his signature pies (in Napoletana, classic Italian, classic American, Sicilian, and Romano style) of which there are many impressive iterations in each category. You’re going to want to try to get your hands on one of the only 73 Margherita pies made daily using Gemignani’s award-winning recipe, or the even more exclusive Sausage & Stout pie, made with honey-malted Guinness dough, housemade mozzarella, beer sausage, caramelized onions, Fontina, green onions, crushed red peppers, beer salt, and Sweet Guinness reduction, of which there are only 23 made per day.
America’s best fast-food burger is found at Shake Shack, which is why it was ranked #2 on our burger compilation. Yes, it’s better than In-N-Out, and yes, it has its own secret menu… kind of (it’s called Danny Meyer’s hospitality philosophy), and yes, they have a Las Vegas outpost slated to open in December in the New York-New York Hotel and Casino. In 2004, restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group won the bid to open a permanent kiosk in New York’s Madison Square Park, and massive lines, a cult following, and even a begrudging review from The New York Times followed. Why is it so good? Quality. And one of the juiciest cheeseburgers (100-percent all-natural Angus beef, no hormones, no antibiotics) you’ll ever find on a soft, grilled potato roll (make sure to ask for pickles and onions). Although it hasn’t opened quite yet (expected opening is December 2014), we can expect the laid-back vibe found at all of its other locations, with tables made of wood from reclaimed bowling alley lanes, lots of glass to let in natural light, and rumor has it there will also be a patio.