Las Vegas is heaven for foodies, which should be no surprise considering all the money that flows into the city. People want fantastic meals when they’re on vacation, celebrating a casino win, celebrating their Vegas wedding, or dropping millions at the blackjack table. Celebrities and “whales” (the Vegas name for high rollers) want top-of-the-line celebrity chefs to cook their food. Every trip to Vegas, I discover even more new and amazing restaurants — from hole-in-the-wall diners to first-class sushi restaurants.
For me, eating in Las Vegas isn’t always about eating on a budget. While budget travel and saving money are priorities for me, and I do a lot of things to save money on food, in Vegas I do none of them. I want to eat, and I want to eat well. After all, what fun is life if you can afford a world-class meal once in a while but don’t enjoy it?
So after three visits to Las Vegas, here are my favorite restaurants (so far):
Firefly (3900 Paradise Rd.)
This place is famous among Vegas locals and is a popular after-work dinner/happy hour spot. There are two locations in the city, and the one listed above is about a five-minute cab ride from the Strip. Its signature dish is bacon-wrapped dates with blue cheese, which is as fantastic as it sounds. The white sangria here is also very flavorful and thirst quenching, with just the right mix of wine and fruit.
The Peppermill (2985 Las Vegas Boulevard South)
There’s something about The Peppermill that screams “old, cheesy Vegas.” Maybe it’s the neon décor, the fact that it’s a diner, or the people drinking buckets of booze at noon. Walking into The Peppermill was like walking into 1978, and I loved every second of it. The food isn’t great — typical oversized portions of heart-clogging diner food — but the people-watching opportunity here is the best. There are just so many interesting groups making their way through here that I can see why this place is a Vegas institution.
American Fish (Aria Resort and Casino)
I love seafood. I probably mention it often enough on this blog that you know anything from the sea is good with me. Like all casino restaurants in Vegas, the décor at American Fish is top-notch, and everything here is very classy and beautiful. If you’re looking for a world-class seafood meal, this is the place. I loved the seafood platter, the caviar, and the rainbow trout, which was cooked to tender perfection.
Nobu (Hard Rock Casino)
I’ve been to many Nobu locations around the world, and the one in Vegas is the best. Nobu is an outstanding sushi chain, and the quality of the fish is always top-notch. What I like about Nobu is that they offer a wide selection of fish you don’t normally see on the menu at “normal” sushi restaurants, so there’s always something unique to try. The Vegas location is pretty small, but unlike many other Nobu locations, you don’t need any reservations.
Yellowtail (The Bellagio)
Probably the second-best sushi place in Vegas, Yellowtail is a Japanese fusion restaurant located in the Bellagio. It’s pretty much all sushi here, unlike Nobu, which offers other Japanese dishes. There are a couple of non-sushi appetizers and dishes, but you really come to Yellowtail for the wonderful sushi. The décor is equally amazing, and the open space allows you to watch people wander by.
Aureole (Mandalay Bay)
What I love about Aureole is the four-story glass wine tower, which “wine fairies” on cables ascend and descend to retrieve bottles of wine. Like at all casino restaurants, the food is delicious. They serve modern American food here, but I really visit because I enjoy watching people sail through the air as they get bottles of wine. I wonder how much I need to spend at Mandalay before they’ll let me do that!
Otto (The Palazzo)
Otto is Mario Batali’s pizza place in the Palazzo. It’s not a greasy slice of New York pizza, but this chef really knows his stuff. There’s also a huge selection of antipasti and salads if pizza isn’t your thing. Otto also offers “outdoor” dining, which allows you to see everyone walk past you through the fake city of Venice. I still dream of going there and seeing Mario twirling my pizza in the air, but until then, I’ll drown my disappointment by stuffing my face.
Sirio (Aria Resort and Casino)
The food at this restaurant is some of the best Italian I’ve ever had (outside of Italy, of course). Just thinking about the antipasti plate I had there makes my mouth water. The pasta is homemade, flavorful, and served in huge portions. I found the food here to be very traditional Italian, which is great — you shouldn’t mess with a good thing.
Lemongrass (Aria Resort and Casino)
As someone who’s lived in Thailand, I take Thai food very seriously. There are very few places that come close to meeting my expectations, and I always walk away with varying levels of disappointment. But I liked Lemongrass — probably because the cooks are actually Thai and know what they’re doing. In fact, I was impressed that they could make a good Thai iced tea. While nothing will be as good as eating in Thailand, I walked away from my meal at Lemongrass less disappointed than I normally am.
Bellagio Buffett (The Bellagio)
I’ve been to three buffets in Vegas, and must say that I like the one at the Bellagio the best. The selection is huge, the food delicious, the price right. You can get everything from breakfast to salads to king crab to sushi to sandwiches and everything in between. (I personally love the French toast here.) Really, what else do you need but sushi followed by French toast followed by eggs at 3am? Not much!
Other good buffets in Vegas include Paris, Aria, and Monte Carlo.
Milos (Cosmopolitan Resort and Casino)
This Greek and Mediterranean restaurant has an excellent selection of food and Greek wine. There’s a big focus on fish here, but honestly, there’s a big focus on fish everywhere in Vegas. (Maybe they’re making up for the lack of water?) Besides the fish offerings, there is a limited selection of very traditional Greek food that comes close to what I ate in Greece.
Bouchon (The Venetian)
Bouchon is a French bistro located in the Venetian Casino. The food was unbelievably delicious. I had an amazing roast chicken along with escargot. It was my first time having escargot, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but what I had was tasty. I was nervous, but it turns out escargot is quite good! (I wasn’t brave enough for the frog legs, though.) I also had a delicious salmon pâté. While the food and wine were excellent — as should be expected from a place this swanky — the level of service was what really set this establishment apart for me. My waiter was very attentive, helpful, and responsive. I don’t know much about French food, and after telling him what I didn’t want to try, he just brought out food for me. This place supposedly also has a killer brunch, which I’ll try on my next visit.
Sushi Mon (9770 S. Maryland Pkwy.)
Sushi Mon is far from the Strip, and you’ll need a car to get here. But if you can make it here, you’ll find reasonably priced and delicious sushi and other Japanese food. I know there’s a lot of sushi on this list already, but this place is the local Vegas spot. They have a ton of roll combinations (you can get full or half orders), and they offer all-you-can-eat sushi for lunch and dinner. This restaurant is a gem and has the best value for your money in Vegas.
This is only a handful of the restaurants Las Vegas has to offer. Though I do eat a lot while I’m there, I’ve barely scratched the surface of dining in Vegas, and I’ll be updating this list often. But for now, if you find yourself in Vegas with no idea where to eat, I recommend starting with one of these restaurants.