YOU’RE GOING TO VEGAS. You’re thinking: fly in for a couple of days, play a few hands of Hold ’em, pop some bottles by the pool, maybe catch a show or two, quote some Swingers while feeling a little old. Notice anything missing from this scenario? We sure do.
Right now, Las Vegas is experiencing a culinary renaissance. Sin City is now home to a pitch perfect mix of low-key local eateries, glitzy celebrity chef-led dining rooms and, yes, all-you-can-eat buffets, serving up just about every kind of food and drink you could desire. For a city built on flash and hyperbole, there’s a surprising wealth of lip-smacking substance to be found.
Tucked in a nondescript strip mall 20 miles off the Strip, Honey Salt is about as far as you can get from the stereotypical larger-than-life Vegas vibe. Instead, the offbeat interiors—exposed brick lines the dining area, while vintage baseball cards serve as wallpaper in the bathroom—and a comfort-food heavy menu combine for a homey, intimate atmosphere that’s decidedly Portlandian. The tweely named My Wife’s Favorite Salad—topped with duck confit and a fried egg—and the astoundingly juicy brick-oven chicken (served with a heap of mac ‘n’ cheese) shouldn’t be missed. 1031 S. Rampart Blvd. honeysalt.com
BLUE RIBBON SUSHI BAR & GRILL
The Vegas outpost of the ever-growing New York restaurant empire is a monument to the splendours and subtleties of Japanese cuisine. The comprehensive array of sushi and sashimi is, predictably enough, exquisitely fresh and delicious, but it’s Blue Ribbon’s signature fried chicken, drizzled with wasabi and honey, that you’ll be raving about. 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. blueribbonrestaurants.com
Even with a newly remodeled dining room, this Palms institution remains a quintessentially old-school Las Vegas experience—in the best way possible. Much of the praise can be laid at the feet of genial executive chef Barry Dakake, who’s quick with a story, or three, about his A-list regulars, and delivers a first-rate rib-eye cooked to perfection. 4321 W. Flamingo Rd. palms.com
GORDON RAMSAY BURGR
You’re probably about as tired of gourmet burgers as you are of Gordon Ramsay’s infantile antics, but this laid-back establishment in the heart of the Strip somehow makes them both seem as relevant as ever. The burgers themselves are succulent and novel—especially “The Hog,” which comes topped with Mangalista pork, sharp cheddar and a slathering of apple butter. Paired with one of the joint’s towering milkshakes and a side of sweet potato fries, it’s the kind of meal you’ll want a clear schedule to enjoy, in order to head straight back to your room afterwards for a much-needed nap. 3667 S. Las Vegas Blvd. planethollywoodresort.com
The concept of pairing Mexican and Chinese foods in a single restaurant might not make a whole lot of sense—despite a lengthy introduction on the menu that attempts to prove otherwise—but when both cuisines are done this well, it’s impossible to complain. The spicy, hand-cut dan dan mian noodles are the standout of the Asian half of the menu, while the Oaxacan-style barbacoa tacos represent the North American portion admirably. 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd. chinapoblano.com
Led by Michelin-starred chef Ho Chee Boon, Hakkasan specializes in innovative tweaks on traditional Cantonese cooking. Set in a sexy, boudoir-esque environment of lattice screens and deep blue lighting, a handful of dim sum favourites are served alongside more contemporary creations like the delicate silver cod, roasted in champagne and Chinese honey. 3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd. hakkasan.com
Named for mogul Steve Wynn’s wife, whose neon-tinted eyes peer down (somewhat un-creepily) from a massive screen behind the bar, this ultra-hip bistro serves up inventive Asian-inflected dishes that are equally impressive in taste and presentation: the Wagyu beef tataki arrives in a smoke-filled glass funnel and an assortment of bite-sized house-made ice cream cones floats in upon a spiral tower of glass. 3131 S. Las Vegas Blvd. wynnlasvegas.com
You’re in Vegas, so you have to go to a buffet. (We’re pretty sure there’s a law on the books to this effect.) And while you’re at it, you might as well pony up for the best of the best, which, for the time being, is The Bacchanal at Caesar’s Palace. With more than 500 dishes at your fingertips—everything from massive king crab legs and prime rib to made-to-order crepes and soufflés, plus a dessert table that seems to stretch on for miles—you’ll likely begin to tear up a little when you first lay eyes on the epic spread. Don’t fight it. Just let it happen, get through it, and then prepare to stuff yourself full of virtually all edible matter known to man. Godspeed, gents. 3570 S. Las Vegas Blvd. caesarspalace.com