The new heavyweights in Las Vegas
From classic French comfort to California fresh to cutting-edge seafood, the city's latest generation of restaurants is definitely packed with knockouts.
Of the headliner chefs in this city, Bradley Ogden is the only one who actually appears in his show; he's in the kitchen most nights, along with his son, Bryan, who is one of his senior chefs tournants.
Beautiful produce from all over the country populates the kitchen, and there's a California sensibility to the simple, sophisticated combinations that emerge: a warm Maytag blue cheese soufflé with pluots, candied walnuts, and greens in an ice-wine verjus vinaigrette; beautifully crusted striped bass on a green-onion cake, surrounded by a peppery arugula purée. $$$$. Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/731-7410.
At Diego, executive chef Christopher House imports authenticity from Oaxaca, Veracruz, and the Yucatán. Guacamole made tableside and six salsa choices are just a start. While appetizer execution is still developing, crispy empanadas, packed with crab, roasted poblanos, corn, and Chihuahua cheese, are a winner.
As for entrées, the chicken mole might be the best north of the border ― tender, smoky meat in a sauce with the complexity of some 32 ingredients. And real memories of the Yucatán are evoked by the cochinita pibil, pork marinated in achiote paste and orange juice, then slow-cooked in banana leaves and served with roasted green chiles, black beans, mandatory pickled red onions, and a habanero salsa that brings tears to your eyes. $$$. MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; www.mgmgrand.com or 702/891-3200.