It is no secret that Las Vegas has taken its place among the world’s finest culinary destinations. Robuchon, Boulud, Savoy, Keller, Batali and Lagasse are just a few of the culinary heavyweights who have brought Michelin stars and acclaim to the famed Las Vegas Strip. That said, the “Strip” is not the only place in Las Vegas where you can enjoy world-class dining. The city's culinary experience extends far beyond the neon, and provides tantalizing dining options of all descriptions.
Lotus of Siam
Located not far off the Strip in an outdoor shopping mall, this local legend was named the "Single Best Thai Restaurant in North America” by Gourmet in 2000. Chef Saipin Chutima, owner and James Beard-nominated executive chef, has been cooking since the age of five. Start with the Nam Kao Tod, crispy rice mixed with minced sour sausage, green onion, fresh chili, ginger, peanuts, and lime juice — it's as authentic as it gets. Another favorite is the Yum Nuah, a Thai beef salad that features sliced charbroiled steak, onion, tomato, fresh chili, and lime juice on bed of greens.
Probably one of the most unique dishes on the menu — Tom Klong Pla-Krob — was first pointed out to us by a Thai friend. The Thai and Cambodian-influenced soup combines pieces of "smoked sheet fish” with a seasoning of tamarind sauce, fresh herbs, spices, and chilies. What's more, the wine list features what many have said is one of the best collections of Rieslings and other varietals from Alsace and the Mosel-Sarr that they have seen. A claim that has been supported by Wine Spectator, who, year after year, gives the restaurant its Award of Excellence.
One must-have signature dish is Hugo’s Texas BBQ shrimp with Matag blue cheese slaw. Of the entrées, the brick chicken with wild mushroom couscous, pea shoots and Dijonaise sauce is sure to please any palate. The restaurant's philosophy and food is best explained by Chef-owner Michael Jordan,"Rosemary’s menu reads like a storybook of our lives. The dishes reflect different moments in time, places and people that Wendy and I have experienced and the great memories of food that helped define those moments in time. Almost every dish has a story behind it that could never completely be told in a cookbook — you have to experience Rosemary’s to get the whole story.” What more is there to add to that?
Mezzo Bistro Italiano
Located in the Northwest section of the Las Vegas Valley is small, family-owned bistro with great food and very personalized service. Mezzo Bistro Italiano was opened in 2008 as a collective effort between two local business families — the Percells and Van Houtens. Executive Chef Alfredo Vargas has worked with some of the biggest names in the culinary world and brings his talent and experience to every dish.
Start the meal off with Mezzo’s Italian antipasto salad with imported meats and cheeses, olives, tomatoes, grilled green onions, fire-roasted peppers, and Italian dressing. You also can’t go wrong with any of their wood fire Neapolitan-style pizzas that are prepared to order with homemade, fresh ingredients. For larger appetites, Chef Alfredo’s breaded veal parmesan with marinara and melted mozzarella cheese is one of the best that we have had. If you want to enjoy a quiet dinner, authentic Italian dishes and unmatched, personalized service, Mezzo is well-worth a visit.
Sen of Japan
In an age where sushi restaurants can be found on almost every corner, it makes you wonder if there are any that really stand out. In Las Vegas, the answer is yes, and it is only about 10 minutes West of the strip (but it does have ties to a major Strip casino resort. Sen of Japan was created by Executive Chef Hiro Nakano from Nobu at the Hard Rock Resort and Casino.
East meets West in this small restaurant that offers everything from tempura to kushiyaki, kobe beef tataki, sashimi and, of course, some of the best sushi we have had anywhere. In addition to the many types of exotic sushi and sashimi, is a great selection of specialty rolls.
A new star has risen just Southeast of the Las Vegas Strip. The name is short for hibachi, which also means “treat others how you would like to be treated in return.” In the short time it has been open, the restaurant has received rave reviews from critics and some pretty big-name “Strip” chefs that frequent this small venue often. Chef Lorin Watada's burgers are inspired from the Hawaiian islands' various Asian influences.
You can’t go wrong with any of their signature burgers, like the BBQ Bachi Burger, but don't miss other menu highlights including the “Lonely Bird“ or “Crusty Crab.” Bachi’s boba drinks and milkshakes, housemade sodas and Asian-style iced teas, milk teas, coffees and wines pair well with their unique burgers and sandwiches.
Herbs & Rye
Do you want to go back in time to the 1920's and 30’s? Enjoy classic cocktails in a speakeasy that has great food? If the answer is yes, then Herbs and Rye just off the Strip is where you should head. A real success story that started as a dream of a group of bartenders and mixologists, Herbs and Rye is in a class of its own.
Enjoy cocktails like the Martinez, made with Italian vermouth, gin, curaçao, and bitters, that was first printed in the O.H Byron’s 1884 book, “The Modern Bartenders Guide.” Another great cocktail with a literary reference is the Aviation, a combination of gin, Maraschino, lemon and crème de violette that was first published in Hugo Ensslin's 1916 "Recipes for Mixed Drinks." In addition to their classic cocktails are wonderful accompanying dishes like beef carpaccio. If you're more in the mood for seafood, try the very tasty mussel, swordfish and calm bowl with garlic sauce.
On any visit to Las Vegas, foodies should explore the great dining choices on the Strip, but also take time to explore dining beyond the neon.