Top chefs, mixologists and restaurateurs know they’ve hit the big time when they open in Las Vegas. This is just a taste of the latest and greatest.
BEST NEW DATE NIGHT RESTAURANT NoMad (Park MGM, 702-730-6785, nomadlasvegas.com)
NoMad restaurant makes for a great date spot on scenery alone with two stories of bookshelves bringing a comfortable and eclectic touch to the dining room. But it’s those large shareable plates that put it over the top: a 32-ounce dry-aged ribeye, roast chicken stuffed with truffles and foie gras, a fresh take on a fruits de mer seafood tower and up to 28 grams of carefully selected caviar.
BEST NEW DINING ROOM PANORAMA Vetri Cucina (Palms Casino Resort, 702-944-5900, palms.com)
One of the best things about the Palms’ multimillion-dollar makeover is the arrival of this Italian dining spot by Philadelphia’s acclaimed Marc Vetri. The 56thfloor location manages to be stunning yet comfortably cozy while soaking in views of the Strip from up high.
BEST NEW GROUP DINING SPOT Catch (Aria, 702-590-5757, aria.com)
Catch is vibrant, photogenic and full of energy. It’s one of the hottest restaurants in town right now and the best place to bring a large group. Sit around the table for shareable portions of sushi, steak and an incredibly crisp stuffed whole branzino. Selfies for social media are a must.
BEST NEW CHEF’S TABLE Eataly Las Vegas (Park MGM, eataly.com)
At the brand-new Eataly at Park MGM, guests can arrange to shop with the chef at the 40,000-square-foot Italian marketplace to select ingredients from more than a dozen purveyors before settling into a coveted reserved table while their feast is made to order. This location is the only one that currently offers the exclusive chef ’s table experience, making it a true “only in Vegas” opportunity
BEST UNEXPECTED FOOD COMBO Momofuku (The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 702-698-2663, vegas.momofuku.com)
Fried chicken and caviar may seem like a mismatched duo, but the combo exceeds expectations by leaps and bounds at Momofuku. Two whole chickens are fried, carved and served with truffle creme, ginger pancakes and Momofuku Reserve 8-ounce golden osetra. A truly decadent meal on all levels with a price tag of $1,488
BEST NEW HIDDEN BAR Ghost Donkey (The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, 702-698-7000, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com)
This discreet speakeasy is tucked away in the back of the Cosmopolitan’s new Block 16 Urban Food Hall, identifiable only by a single unassuming door. A tight but comfortable space, Ghost Donkey specializes in vibrant cocktails, made with an artisanal collection of tequila and mezcal. The drinks are complemented by a menu of inventive nachos destined to become your favorite late-night snack.
BEST OMAKASE Kame Omakase (7331 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 702-771-0122, sushikame.com)
One of the bestkept secrets in Las Vegas is Kame Omakase, an extension of Yummy Grill & Sushi in the northwest valley. Chef Eric Kim guides up to eight guests through an intimate, personalized dining experience that on any given night may include lobster sashimi with gold flakes, foie gras chawanmushi and life-changing fatty tuna. Prices tend to start at $150 per person and reservations are a must, but a new Chinatown location on Spring Mountain is ready to give new hope to eager diners.
MOST OVER-THE-TOP ICE CREAM SUNDAE Lavo (The Palazzo, 702-791-1800, lavolv.com)
Lavo’s famous Party Brunch is a spectacle all by itself, but throw in the Ultimate Belgian Waffle Sundae and things become even more indulgent. The dessert is 18 scoops of ice cream, fresh macarons, housemade waffles, marshmallows, candy, whipped cream, chocolate sauce and sprinkles. The cost is $800 and includes a bottle of Avion Espresso Liqueur, which is also used to top off the sundae.
BEST SPOT FOR IBERICO Pamplona (5781 W. Sahara Ave., 702-659-5781, pamplonalv.com)
Pamplona is all about authentic Spanish-style tapas made with generations-old techniques and imported ingredients. The restaurant is actively expanding its Iberico program, devoting a full page of its menu to the meat from Spanish pigs fed from acorns, grass and herbs. No one else in Vegas has the same variety of cuts
MOST EXCLUSIVE FOOD TOUR Lip Smacking Foodie Tours (888-681-4388, vegasfoodietour.com)
The Savory Bites and Neon Lights package by Lip Smacking Foodie Tours makes an impression by both ground and air. Guests are led on a VIP walking tour to visit four top Strip restaurants while enjoying signature dishes along the way. Afterward, they board a helicopter for a 12- to 15-minute flight above the Strip, taking in the iconic sights. It’s an experience that wraps up a good meal even better than dessert.
BEST SECRET CAVIAR SERVICE Forte Tapas (4180 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-220-3876, barforte.com)
A welcome character-rich oasis in a west valley strip mall, Forte Tapas provides some of the most exquisite caviar service in Las Vegas. It only makes sense since owner Nina Manchev is the caviar supplier to Restaurant Guy Savoy, Joël Robuchon and other top dining destinations on the Strip. “Forte’s caviar service is geared toward the caviar purists,” says Manchev. “It is served with traditional Russian-style blinis and creme fraiche, so the caviar really shines.” The restaurant serves its private-label caviar, which is sustainably sourced from Bulgaria and in-hand within 10 days from the time it is harvested. But you won’t find it on the menu. Top chefs, visiting foodies and savvy locals know to call to reserve this indulgent experience at least three days in advance.
PHOTO COURTESY OF VETRI CUCINA