Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2008 | midnight
Vegas may be known for its mile-long buffets, but if you’re looking for local favorites or just where to find the best hot dogs and hamburgers, then check out our list for your gameday grub. For good, cheap fare check out this compilation of local specials from $1.95 breakfast specials at off-the-Strip’s Ellis Island to $8 8-ounce steak from Excalibur.
Here are some “Best of” selections chosen by locals:
The first true steakhouse from über-Chef Michael Mina (he’s since done a clone of this place in Scottsdale, Arizona), the restaurant soars on the wings of an outré design by the Japanese firm Super Potato (Sensi) and slow-poached meats such as Berkshire pork and American Kobe beef, cooked at low temperatures before completing their journey on a mesquite-burning grill. Inside Mandalay Bay, 632-7414.
Grimaldi’s is American ’za royalty. The offshoot of a Brooklyn classic, this joint fires its pies in a coal-burning brick oven. The result is amazing crispy-crusted goodness. Build a pie with meatballs, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, ricotta and more—you choose. The house salad is great, too. 9595 S. Eastern Ave., 657-9400.
Step up to the Enomatic wine system for micro-pours of numerous vintages. Then enjoy plates of bruschette (dressed-up rustic toast) or chicetti (appetizers such as arancini or Sicilian sweet and sour meatballs). Pastas and meats are top-notch, too. 1031 S. Rampart Blvd., 940-6672.
There’s a new honcho in fine Mexican cuisine in town at the Palazzo. Stroll down a menu featuring exotica such as roasted plantain empanadas and a coconut-infused lobster ceviche. Enchiladas are jazzed up with mole poblano and tomatillo verde sauces. Go Mayan with roast suckling pig pibil with achiote sauce. Inside the Palazzo, 577-9600.
Best Outdoor Dining
It isn’t just the view of the Sirens of TI, but rather the amazing Asian fusion cooking of Chef Joe Elevado that makes this late-night, outdoor scene one of the hottest in Vegas. Get hooked on Elevado’s sliders, handrolls and lumpia egg rolls from his native Philippines. Great cocktails, too. Inside Treasure Island, 894-7777.
It's velvet yummery: Our favorite, beautiful, little cup of culinary joy is surely the Southern Belle, which combines moist red velvet cake with sinful cream-cheese frosting. But don't stop there. Dive into the Cupcakery's signature Tickle Me Pink cupcake (classic white cake with pink vanilla buttercream frosting) or Chocolate Passion (chocolate, made with passion), and you'll understand why this local business has become the mouth-watering favorite for dessert. Or a snack. Or, for the dietarily brave, breakfast. Yum. 9680 S. Eastern Ave., 207-2253; 7155 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 835-0060.
It's wonderful when you live in Vegas, where you can get stone crab claws year-round, unlike in the restaurant's original Miami location, and not have to stand in line to eat them. This restaurant belongs to Richard Melman's Lettuce Entertain You dining group, which also owns Eiffel Tower in the Paris and Café Ba-Ba-Reeba at Fashion Show Mall. The rest of the food here, especially Prime steaks, is terrific. Inside the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, 792-2222.
Still the undisputed king of the West Coast, Vegas included. There's a certain zen to eating a double-double while driving. We hear it's the perfect burger to have before or after bowling, or what have you … Multiple locations.
In a city where the ocean may as well exist only in fiction, Las Vegas has become a sushi heaven. Who could have foreseen that? We love us our fresh seafood, and Ra is a perfect place to sample it. A great location right off the Strip, reasonable prices and lots and lots of spicy tuna. We're there already. 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 696-0008.
It's amazing to us how many Las Vegans still don't know about this phenomenal bakery. After all, it's been in town 48 years. But now there's no excuse. They just opened another location in Henderson, and this place—with its second-floor birthday/wedding cake gallery—has to be seen to be believed. It's pricey, to be sure, but the cheesecake alone will have your eyes rolling up into your skull in no time. 9555 S. Eastern Ave.; 4780 S. Eastern Ave. 456-7762 for both locations.
Best you fast for half a day before dining here, with its gargantuan, Claim Jumper-ish portions of "twisted farm food." While Hash House a Go Go is pretty good across the board, readers prefer breakfast, where Frisbee-sized pancakes and scrambles featuring a mish-mash of ingredients like roasted chicken, fresh corn, roasted red pepper and mozzarella—think a breakfast version of gumbo—are the menu's stars. 6800 W. Sahara Ave., 804-4646.
Best Cheap Eats
Roberto's Taco Shop
Okay, so it's never going to pass for a four-star restaurant, but ask us if we care. When it's lunchtime and we need it quick, cheap and, preferably, delicious, this is the perfect stop. There are way too many locations to list here, but suffice it to say Roberto's is easy to find. Our favorite dish? The Super Nachos. Multiple locations.
Best Place to Buy Wine
Lee's Discount Liquor
What's that? Only 10 bucks in your pocket and a hankering for Cab Sauv? In most cases, you'd have to whip out the plastic and overspend for some bottle with a washed-up filmmaker's name on it. But with nine Lee's in town, you'll stay within your budget and find a vintage you actually want. And here's the best part: You actually save more money by using cash here. Multiple locations.
Best Healthy Eating
Whole Foods Market
Here's stuff that tastes good and is good for you. Whole Foods offers a smorgasbord of such vittles, which is a tough combination to beat. From the immense salad bars to the aisles of organic produce, to the great wine selection and the fine chocolate, this is Vegas' reigning health-food destination for good reasons: variety, reliability, tastiness. 100 S. Green Valley Parkway, 361-8183; 8855 W. Charleston Blvd., 254-8655.
Best Stick-to-Your-Ribs Food
You like your ribs with some sauce and sass. There are plenty of both in Dick's neck of the woods. Have a half-pound bacon cheeseburger with a side of back talk. The "Sampla Platta" is a deep-fried collision of chicken tenders, wings, cheese sticks and shrimp. Belly up, hoss. Inside Excalibur, 597-7991.
Best Asian Restaurant
In a city notorious for its awesome Asian food, Satay Malaysian Grille stays high and mighty against the competition. With superbly delicious dishes spanning the entire continent of Asia, not to mention excellent service and a laid-back yet stylish atmosphere, all while being easy on the wallet, Satay has proven itself a major force in the Chinatown dining experience and totally worthy of this pick. 3755 Spring Mountain Road, 362-2828.
Nothing is as subjective as one's perception of a good cocktail, except perhaps for one's political bent. But you weighed in on that hot-button topic anyway, and Noir Bar reigns supreme for having the finest libations. Putting alcohol, fruit and a whole pantry of sweet and savory items (cream cheese, graham crackers, pumpkin pie filling ...) to good use are the mighty mixologists, who, more like alchemists or wizards than bartenders, divine through brief hypnotic conversation your taste buds' deepest desires and then deliver—to the tune of about $25 per drink. But at what cost gustatory satisfaction? Ken Hall's peanut butter and jelly martini could very well bring about world peace. Inside Luxor, 262-5257.
Best New Restaurant
This lush and cozy dining haven, complete with rustic logs and stacked stone, features a fireside lounge and a beautiful wine wall in the main dining room. It's served up exotic American cooking such as new-age matzo ball soup, and soon will be changing up the culinary format and offering comfort fare such as steak and fried chicken. The prices will be lower, too. How much more American can you get? Inside Luxor, 262-4852.
Best Happy Hour
Dethroning back-to-back champ Paradise Cantina was no easy feat, but if you've ever been to Kona, you'll understand why. Despite the Summerlin location, this happy hour is refreshingly free of yuppie pretension—a great place for drinks, excellent sushi and meeting interesting people. 750 S. Rampart Blvd., 547-5552.