The Vegas culinary scene reads like a roster of who’s who in the restaurant world. But when these star chefs aren’t working to satisfy our pleasure-seeking palates, where do they eat? The answers vary, but top-notch taste is always a must.
Fine Dining It comes as no surprise that chefs log many meals seated in front of the open kitchen at the esteemed Joël Robuchon’s L' Atelier de Joël Robuchon, located next to the more formal Joël Robuchon. Named “Chef of the Century,” Robuchon appears to collect Michelin stars for a hobby (holding a record 26). Fellow chefs laud his menu’s creativity and innovation. His friend and colleague Paul Bartolotta suggests ordering the jambon Belloto; Alessandro Stratta unwaveringly recommends anything the chef is cooking. “I especially love the sweets,” he says. Madrid-born Julian Serrano doesn’t mess around, citing the 16-course Menu Dégustation at Joël Robuchon as a favorite Vegas dining experience. The respect is mutual: Robuchon can be found dining at their restaurants, as well as fellow Frenchman Guy Savoy’s namesake place, when visiting. He describes the atmosphere among chefs in Vegas as “great, there’s no competition, no jealousy.”
Off the Strip... While locally based top chefs frequent their colleagues in the marquee hotels, many trade in the glitz of the Strip for nondescript strip malls, preferring establishments tucked away in the outlying neighborhoods. Chinatown is a particular hotbed of chef picks. Open until 3 AM, Japanese Aburiya Raku is a favorite among the restaurant brigade. But late-night service isn’t the only thing that keeps them coming back. “The ever-growing menu with uncommon cooking” and price value for the quality make Bartolotta a frequent diner. (A James Beard award-winner himself, chef Mitsuo Endo can hold his own in this company.) What’s the menu must-have? Agedashi tofu, hands down.
Stratta gives nearby Pho So 1 accolades for its delicious food, good value and friendly, speedy service. He enjoys the chicken and noodle pho so much that he can be found eating here five days a week for lunch and sometimes twice in one day—now that’s a stamp of approval!
Chefs’ top neighborhood pick: Vintner Grill
Located in the same strip is the porcine Honey Pig, touted by Rick Moonen as serving some of the best Korean barbecue in town. Moonen is a maestro of seafood, so take note that he “craves” the mackerel here. But when he wants his dining down and dirty, he heads to Hot N Juicy Crawfish.
And Beyond Moving on to other areas of the city lands us at Hiro Nakano’s Michelin-rated Sen of Japan where visiting chefs rely unconditionally on Hiro for recommendations. Further afield in Summerlin is the American bistro Vintner Grill, which plays host to too many high-profile chefs to list. Serrano counts it as his favorite off-Strip restaurant and goes for the charcuterie and roasted chicken. The outside seating provides a lovely ambience. In fact, Serrano likes it so much that, when a downpour broke and all the other diners fled indoors, he finished his meal in his cabana.