Taste the West: Las Vegas
Gone are the days of discount buffets dominating the Las Vegas culinary landscape. See how Sin City has become a foodie's paradise
Joël Robuchon's main restaurant is famous for being the kind of experience doctors and lawyers need to save up for. It’s still not a bargain, but the less lavish L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon offers the master chef’s signature French dishes à la carte.
Chef Natalie Young’s Eat attracts a discerning downtown crowd with breakfast classics like buttery pancakes and steel-cut oats with cinnamon roasted apples and pecans. Stick around for lunch with a Southern accent: soft and pillowy beignets, shrimp and grits, and the best grilled cheese in town.
Chef Mitsuo Endo uses binchotan, a special Japanese charcoal, to grill mountain trout, pork cheek, and a long list of robatayaki at Raku, an elegant izakaya. But the big star is the agedashi tofu, silken housemade tofu topped with salmon roe, a favorite with the local chefs who crowd the counter after their shifts.
Credited for launching Vegas’ ramen revolution, Monta Japanese Noodle House boasts rich and salty broth with a hint of marrow. Choose between the shoyu (soy) and the heartier, thicker miso ramen before piling on the toppings—hard-cooked egg, tender slices of roasted pork.
Downtown Cocktail Room feels exactly like a downtown cocktail room, with a slight speakeasy vibe, harlot-lipstick red walls, and mildly alarming abstract art. Must-drink: The Carciofo Swizzle, which is essentially a full-fledged tour of Italian amaros in a glass.
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Not every leafy morsel of organic goodness comes to LV in the back of a FedEx truck. The Friday morning Downtown3rd Farmers Market takes over a repurposed transit terminal next where local producers sell jerky, jams, honey, mushrooms, and more.
Two blocks from the Fremont Street Experience, The Beat Coffeehouse energizes downtown’s cool crowd with sturdy joe, sandwiches, and a browse space that includes a vintage vinyl store and a warren of three dozen creative businesses, including galleries and artist studios.
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The chintzy metal façade and unadorned tables at Le Thai might be annoying if you didn’t know what was to come: authentic Southeastern fare like pad Thai noodles redolent of green onions and cilantro, with no cloying sweetness. The three-color curry and the beef meatball noodle soup—made from a stock slow-simmered with bones and tendon—make this one of the toughest reservations in town.
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Chocolatier Megan Romano sculpted desserts at Charlie Palmer’s Aureole for more than a decade before decamping to Chocolate & Spice Bakery on the Westside. You’ll find the usual assortment of indulgent creations (like dark chocolate hazelnut bonbons), but also a first-rate lunch menu with surprises like a Black Forest ham and cheddar panini with sun-dried tomato aioli.
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It may be off the Strip, but Vintner Grill is well worth the trip. Order standouts from the always-changing contemporary American bistro menu show off influences from the Mediterranean, like its white bean hummus with spicy pita chips or braised lamb osso bucco.
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