Las Vegas is certainly known for its over-the-top nightlife, world-class entertainment, and dazzling casino halls. But a vital organ to this breathing adult playground is undoubtedly its restaurant scene – social retreats and culinary havens that live up to the city’s reputation for excess.
Helmed by celebrity chefs, boasting ambiences that are both over-the-top and artfully understated, and serving up some of the best food you’ll taste (with price tags to match), the hundreds of restaurants holding court on the Strip are a foodie’s dream.
If you’re unsure where to go first, the following places are among the best dinner experiences I’ve had in Vegas – see which one catches your eye, snag a reservation on OpenTable, and prepare to be wowed.
For suggestions on where to eat the rest of the day, check out my full Las Vegas dining guide here.
Beauty & Essex
Location: The Cosmopolitan
of Las Vegas
The lowdown: TAO Group hit it out of the ballpark with this one. First of all, the ambience is everything. Think jewel tones, mood lighting, and ornate chandeliers, artfully placed for a sophisticated punch. The experience begins when you walk through the entrance of a pawn shop (in which everything is actually for sale, BTW), behind which you’re ushered through a hidden door into the luscious confines of the restaurant. Beauty & Essex is a place to see and be seen – but you’ll have a hard time resisting distraction via the mouthwatering small plates occupying its menu. Think orange-kissed salmon ceviche, roasted fennel pizzetta (to DIE for), fish & chips tacos, and roasted brussels sprouts, paired with a craft cocktail, and topped off with a spiked root beer float shot or peanut butter pie sundae. Heaven never seemed closer to home.
TAO Las Vegas
The lowdown: One of my favorite restaurants ever, hands-down – I make dinner reservations here pretty much every time I’m town. Not to be confused with its club counterpart, TAO’s swanky dining experience is a destination in and of itself. The ambience of the place is both hip and alluring – with unparalleled service and Asian cuisine to match (a mouthwatering blend of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai tastes). The beautifully-decorated, multi-level space features everything from a dimly-lit walkway flanked by rose-petal-filled baths, to a giant Buddha in the midst of all the action. And can we talk about that food? With options from family-style shared plates to three-course meals, there’s something for everyone. *sigh* Consider this my love letter.
The lowdown: Located in the effervescent St. Mark’s Square, Canaletto is glorious al fresco dining without the desert heat. With the tinkling sounds of live music and the entertaining people-watching possibilities at your fingertips, the ambience is lively and interesting – but the Venetian cuisine is what truly sets this place apart. With a refreshingly affordable wine list, and enough pasta, risotto, and seafood dishes to seemingly last you your entire vacation, Canaletto is atmospheric dining at its most delicious. Try the pesto gnocchi!
Location: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The lowdown: The brainchild of acclaimed chef Jose Andres, Jaleo is nothing short of mod. Located on the third floor of The Cosmopolitan, the trendy dining experience will sweep you up in a rush of colorful energy, while the tapas on tap will leave your taste buds tingling. Tacos, paella, soup, patatas, empanadas, sangria…a couple hours here and you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported straight to the sunny and sizzling calles of Spain. While there aren’t a ton of vegetarian-friendly options, meat-eaters will be more than pleased with Jaleo’s menu – and the energetic atmosphere is sure to sweep you off your feet (or maybe that’s the sangria’s doing.)
Location: Encore at Wynn Las Vegas
The lowdown: An absolutely stellar Asian dining experience, Wazuzu is swanky and hip without being over-the-top. The relatively small space features an open-air layout overlooking the Encore casino, which provides oddly comforting background noise whilst you chow down on pan-Asian fare like orange chicken, drunken noodles, sushi, and fried rice. My favorite part? They offer an entire menu of vegetarian selections. *swoons* When can I go back?! (*Note that they don’t take reservations!)
Holstein’s Burgers and Shakes
Location: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
The lowdown: My very first legal drink was purchased at Holstein’s – so yeah, I guess you could say it holds a special place in my heart. The atmospheric space offers an exceptional array of burgers and boozy shakes, and its location across from Marquee makes you feel like you’re dining in the thick of the action. They can curate your order to fit special dietary needs and their fries will knock your socks off.
Location: The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace
The lowdown: Operated by the same dining company that owns notable scenes like Boa, Sushi Roku is a dimly-lit haven of eclectic appetizers, signature sushi rolls, and standard soup and rice fare. Though its location on the second floor of Caesars Palace’s Forum Shops feels slightly obnoxious, the romantic ambience of the place will quickly sweep you away, and the menu will seal the deal. Try their brussels sprouts chips – they’re unbelievable!
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Where have you dined in Las Vegas? Please send any recommendations my way!