Las Vegas Weekend Guide for Angelenos, Winter 2019

Tamarind black cod at Best Friend, Las Vegas

A quick hit guide to everything Sin City, all in one monthly article

Going to Vegas this weekend? Planning a trip in the near future? Eater is here for you, with a quick, handy guide to the best in Sin City, from restaurants and bars to nightlife. This article will be updated every week with the newest restaurant openings.

January 4, 2019

The Vegas restaurant news roundup

  • Kogi chef Roy Choi has finally opened Best Friend, his ode to LA’s Koreatown at the Park MGM resort. The menu certainly has a lot of similarities to the excellent but sadly short lived POT at the Line Hotel, with everything from Korean banchan and chicken wings to kimchi fried rice and barbecue. Choi’s even brought over some LA classics like Chego’s pork belly rice bowl and POT’s uni dynamite rice. Since this is Vegas, Best Friend takes Choi’s ambitions a little bit farther than what he was able to do in LA’s Koreatown, and so far it seems like a fine addition the Strip’s ever-changing restaurant scene.
  • Another notable LA restaurant, this time the pasta focused Italian restaurant Factory Kitchen from Valentino vet Angelo Auriana, has opened at the former B&B Ristorante space after Mario Batali’s misconduct scandal resulted in the closure of restaurant he was affiliated with in Vegas. The 152 seat restaurant is yet another chapter from LA opening on the Vegas strip, cementing to the two big dining scenes with another thread.
  • On the Record, a new club and nightlife concept from LA’s Houston Brothers, has also opened at the Park MGM, and they’re starting out their operation with a slew of guest bartenders at its speakeasy, which is called Vinyl Parlor. Notable bartenders include Jillian Vose from NYC’s Dead Rabbit, Alex Day and David Kaplan from Death & Co., and Jim Meehan from PDT. The place clearly has taken cues from Koreatown’s Breakroom 86.
  • The Palazzo has a new Chinese eatery called Mott 32, taken from NYC’s famed Mott Street. Crispy Peking duck, apple roasted duck, and lobster har gow highlight a menu that should appeal to Asian gamers and locals looking for a more upscale Cantonese experience.
  • Eataly, which also opened in Century City last year, has debuted a 24/7 location at the front part of Park MGM with a massive 40,000 square foot space that six different counters, a marketplace, and a cafe that serves food all day and throughout the night.

Restaurant Pick of the Week: Catch

Amelinda B Lee
Catch at Aria

Aria’s new standout restaurant comes by way of New York City, though Catch has certainly developed roots in West Hollywood as a celebrity magnet. The sceney spot boasts a similarly arresting entrance studded with greenery, leading to a wide open dining room that packs in a ton of energy. The menu uses perhaps a bit too much truffle oil, and leans heavily on the Nobu formula of dainty sashimi platters covered in ponzu and other toppings. Still, the service is excellent and professional, while the wine list surprises with some choice bottles. Cocktails veer toward the overly sweet, so stick to something more spirit forward like the Meatpacking Manhattan. The hot dishes are good crowd pleasers though, like the crispy shrimp, herb-roasted branzino, and mushroom spaghetti, the latter of which helps fill the stomach after those slender raw fish courses. 3730 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV

December 7, 2018

The Vegas news roundup

  • It’s Eater Awards season, and Eater Vegas has the latest set of winners from this past year. The big Restaurant of the Year award goes to NoMad Bar, the more casual and every day part of the new NoMad Hotel at the Park MGM resort. Here’s what Eater Vegas editor Susan Stapleton had to say about the the NoMad Bar: “The restaurant’s menu offers a lesson in perfection. From the carrot tartare and black truffle tart to the hot and cold oysters and mixed fry, diners here will find a playful yet carefully executed menu that only exhibits why the sister bar in New York earned a Michelin star.” Kudos. Other winners include Scott Conant for Chef of the Year for his new Masso Osteria at Red Rock Resert; Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen for Design of the Year (the place does look pretty over the top, in a good way); and Scotch 80 Prime for Off Strip restaurant of the year. And Palazzo bar Rosina get Bar of the Year for its Art Deco interior and decadent twists on classic drinks.
  • Steak is king in Vegas because there’s no grander way to dine in America’s playground. Eater Vegas has a super helpful guide this week on what to order at every major steakhouse in town, from the filet mignon and baked potato at the iconic Golden Steer to the peppercorn-crusted New York strip at Prime Steakhouse at the Bellagio.
  • Despite an action-packed fall season, winter looks promising too in the openings department in Vegas. NYC’s Sadelle’s should open by late December inside the Bellagio, Eataly is poised to transform the front of the Park MGM with a 24/7 marketplace and food emporium, and Roy Choi’s Best Friend is just a few weeks from its debut at the Park MGM.

Restaurant Pick of the Week: Nobu Las Vegas at Caesars Palace

Raw sliced scallop at Nobu at Caesar’s Palace
Matthew Kang
Raw sliced scallop at Nobu at Caesar’s Palace

One might argue that Nobu Matsuhisa’s unique brand of understated clubstaurant gets the most respect in its genre, and for good reason. The dishes employ pristine seafood and come prepared with a high level execution. The flavors are innovative, playful, and light enough to power someone through dinner and leave enough in the tank to hit the nightclub after. But more than anything, Nobu is its own kind of club, a place with electro tunes, dim lighting, suave servers, and cold sake. The Nobu brand is a bit of stretch from the Japanese chef’s La Cienega Boulevard restaurant, Matsuhisa, but the food is virtually identical between the chain and the one-off original, which says a lot about the marketability of the fare.

The classics definitely live up to the hype, like the silky, comforting miso black cod, though the delicious but traditionally-minded scallop tobanyaki seemed more grounded in Japanese home cooking than anything (black truffles were probably unnecessary). Even the nigiri is pretty solid, arrayed on a beautiful platter and boasting high quality cuts, though rice would’ve benefited from a bit more seasoning. Nobu does an excellent job of hitting the mark for aspirational diners: ambience, quality, and scene, but it doesn’t fail in the deliciousness department either. 3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S. Caesars Palace Las Vegas. —Matthew Kang

November 21, 2018

The Vegas news roundup

  • The NoMad at Park MGM is now open and it must be one of the most striking new dining rooms on the Strip. With high ceilings, thousands of real vintage books, and luxurious appointments everywhere, it actually manages to one up LA’s own NoMad restaurant in the look department, reflecting a bit more of the New York City establishment’s Manhattan original. Opened just last week on November 14, it’s sure to become one of Vegas’s new hit restaurants.

  • Restaurateur and pizzaiolo Marc Vetri of Philadelphia has debuted an Italian fine dining restaurant called Vetri Cucina at the top of the Palms Resort where Alizé once stood. Occupying the 56th story and boasting pretty incredible views of the Vegas Strip, the menu has a hefty dose of upscaled Italian classics that should please a crowd. And there’s a colorful pop art experience when diners depart the restaurant in a hidden stairwell.
  • Beloved Downtown restaurant Eat, which serves excellent breakfast and lunch, comes from Natalie Young, who will open a second restaurant called Old Soul at the World Market Center. There’s no projected opening date right now, but it goes into the former Mundo, a Latin restaurant that occupied over 5,000 square feet.
  • Off-Strip locations continue to be Vegas’s better dining destinations, and two big culinary heavyweights in Colin Fukunaga (Fukuburger) and Marc Marrone (Tao Group) plan a rooftop restaurant in Downtown. It should be a hit with locals wanting to avoid the tourist-heavy Strip.

Restaurant pick of the week: Spago

MGM Resorts [Official photo]
Spago Las Vegas

Angelenos know Wolfgang Puck’s Spago well, but the Beverly Hills original doesn’t have what the newer Vegas location can boast: pristine views of the Bellagio fountains. With better winter weather allowing for daytime dining on the patio, Spago’s lunch menu is the ideal place to order classic dishes like the truffle-topped spaghettini or the smoked salmon laced with salmon roe (or Kaluga caviar depending on how well one did at the tables). Lunch here is an exercise in nostalgia for anyone pining for Chinois chicken salad or Puck’s classic veal wienerschnizel.

Dinner is a bit more ambitious, reflecting more of the Beverly Hills Spago’s menu of three distinct courses, though selections have a wider appeal with entrees like roasted lamb rack and wagyu beef. Still, Spago’s Bellagio location maintains that minimalist California cool but with the bombast and style of the Vegas Strip. Honestly, it’s a much better location than its former digs at Caesar’s Forum Shops. 3600 Las Vegas Blvd S Las Vegas, NV —Matthew Kang

November 9, 2018

The Vegas news roundup

  • Cipriani’s classy new Vegas location opens at Wynn Plaza this weekend (see the glorious photos on Eater Vegas here) with a rather handy set of Italian classics. Founder Giuseppe Cipriani Sr. first opened the iconic Harry’s Bar in Venice in 1931 where he invented the Bellini. Not a bad pedigree. Anyway, this Vegas location does a nice job of blending the wood-paneled New York locations of the chainlet with ritzy blue hues and an open layout that lends to people-watching. The room feels like a really nice yacht, which feels appropriate for the Wynn. Famous dishes to order include the carpaccio, baked tagliolini with ham, and vanilla meringue dessert. Anyone hankering for those dishes can also find a few Cipriani classics in Beverly Hills’ Mr. C hotel.
  • Need a quick rundown of the biggest upcoming Vegas restaurants? Here’s a list that compiles them nicely, and the highlights this season are Mabel’s BBQ from Food Network personality Michael Simon, NoMad restaurant (which opens November 14), and LA’s own Factory Kitchen (coming in December). Other LA transplants include Roy Choi’s Best Friend and the Houston Brothers’ On the Record, both debuting inside the newish Park MGM resort. Any fans of Philly’s Marc Vetri will have a chance to try his amazing pizza and pasta beginning November 19.
  • The new Eater Vegas heatmap highlights Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal’s Big Chicken, with sliders, chicken strips, and mac & cheese to a Strip-adjacent location next the Hard Rock Hotel along Paradise Road. Remember that Shaq’s also planning to open a restaurant next to Staples Center, his former NBA dunking grounds.

Restaurant pick of the week: Clubhouse at Montecristo by Old Homestead

Oysters and cigars at the Clubhouse at Montecristo by Old Homestead
Matthew Kang
Oysters and cigars at the Clubhouse at Montecristo by Old Homestead

One of the rarest experiences in all of America, the Clubhouse at Montecristo is a private dining room fully served by the next door Old Homstead deep inside Caesar’s Palace, and it’s fully legal to smoke cigars while enjoying an array of steaks, salads, and sides. The place requires a reservation, and most nights they only serve one party, but it’s truly amazing to be able to slurp up oysters, cut into dry-aged steak dinner, sip cocktails or high-end spirits, and dive into chocolate cake while finishing the meal with one of the bar’s numerous cigars. There’s even a television, making it a nice place to spend an evening with buddies watching sports. There is a hefty minimum spend, which means the bigger the crew, the easier it is to try this truly unique restaurant-within-a-bar. Caesar’s Palace, 3570 S. Las Vegas Boulevard.

Bar pick of the week: Jammyland

Jammyland, Las Vegas
Jammyland Instagram
Jammyland, Las Vegas

LA bar veterans Danielle Crouch and Allan Katz, who used to helm Caña Rum Bar in Downtown LA, have brought their talents to Sin City with a fun Jamaican-inspired restaurant called Jammyland in Vegas’s Arts District. The drinks here are as good as they were at Caña: creative, balanced, and truly delicious. Try the Brazilian Necktie, a take on the Gordon’s cup made with chile-infused cachaca, lime, cucumber, and smoked sea salt. The duo also set up the bar menu at Here’s Looking at You, and since that restaurant has about as close a rendition to the historic Mai Tai as one can get in LA, they’ve brought the approach over to Vegas. The price tag isn’t as hefty here, and this one blends Appleton rum, Rhum Clement, curacao, and house-produced orgeat. After imbibing, try the excellent smoked jerk chicken wings or beef patties. 1121 S. Main Street, Las Vegas

September 28, 2018

The Vegas news roundup

  • The big news this week was NoMad Bar’s reveal inside the Park MGM resort (actually it’ll go into the NoMad hotel, which is the top few floors of the Park MGM). The classy drinking establishment from the same team behind LA’s NoMad boasts a dark lounge, grand piano, and bites from Daniel Humm. Barman Leo Robitschek assembles the cocktail menu here, which could become one of the better places to drink in Vegas once it opens.
  • Food Network personality Michael Symon teases some photos of his upcoming Mabel’s BBQ, set to open inside the Palms just off the casino floor later this year. The huge space will have an outdoor patio too, which should come in handy during the cooler fall and winter months.
  • LA nightlife impresarios Jonnie and Mark Houston show off a bit of their upcoming nightclub On the Record, which goes into the Park MGM’s ground floor. There’s elements of many of their LA spots, from Good Times at Davey Wayne’s and Dirty Laundry to K-Town’s Breakroom 86, including three karaoke rooms. The place opens just before the New Year on December 28.
  • MB Steak at the Hard Rock Hotel has a crazy 16-pound Tomahawk steak served tableside that costs $1,200. It should feed up to 12 people and it comes with a ton of shareable sides like lobster mac & cheese. It needs to be ordered 72 hours in advance, so plan this one on an upcoming trip.
  • Vegas is really into secrets, so here’s ten secret restaurants and bars to find in the city, from the speakeasy the Mob Museum to exclusive Paiza Club at the Venetian.

Restaurant pick of the week: Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar

The entrance to Bavette’s
Amelinda B Lee
The entrance to Bavette’s

This Chicago transplant goes into the Park MGM hotel bringing much of its dark Windy City vibe deep inside this newly remodeled resort. It’s been open only a year, but it’s already one of Vegas’s best steakhouses thanks to a fairly straightforward approach of quality and good service. The interior is striking and original, with a meandering hallway that opens up to a lounge area before revealing a huge dining room chock full of details.

The room looks a lot better than its Chicago original, which has more of that Boardwalk Empire vibe. Here in Sin City, it’s more ritzy and plush, with jazzy music, colorful artwork, and sturdy leather chairs. Start with an elegantly stirred Bijou cocktail and share the plump shrimp de longhe, mopping up the tangy garlic herb sauce on the bottom. The steaks are fantastic, broiled dry-aged prime cuts plus fine dining-level side dishes. The dry-aged bone-in ribeye is the way to go, large enough to split.

Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar. 3770 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV.

Source: LA Eater