More than two-thirds of travelers “spend more money on dining/entertainment while on vacation than at home,” according to MMGY Global’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers, and six out of 10 consider dining a desirable vacation attribute. Perhaps that’s why Las Vegas — which, the Portrait indicates, has continued to gain interest over the last three years and is particularly popular among Millennials — always seems to have something new for those in search of the city’s latest dining experiences. Here are some recent developments on that front.
Among the latest openings are two that specialize in Asian cuisines. Mr. Chow at Caesars Palace offers views of the Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis, as well as a family-style dining environment. Notable dishes include chicken satay, green prawns and hand-pulled Mr. Chow noodles.
Then there is The Venetian’s new Hong Kong Café, which serves lunch, dinner and late-night dishes, including Asian cuisine and Western fare. A tasting of the Macau-style roasted pork belly or the fried fish ball with curry is recommended. The café also serves Cantonese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese and Szechuan cuisine.
Clique Hospitality and The Cosmopolitan launched the Clique Bar & Lounge this winter. Savory small bites are served here, including street tacos, sliders and salads.
The Still, a bar which serves beer from an Airstream trailer, opened in March at The Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. All food is served from the Airstream trailer’s kitchen. While The Still has a centrally located full bar offering craft cocktails, the highlight of the beverage program is an extensive selection of domestic and imported beer. For eats, menu offerings include street tacos and sliders, as well as appetizers that range from flounder fish and chips, to fresh oysters and lobster rolls.
Right around Christmastime, Bellagio Resort & Casino introduced Harvest by Roy Ellamar, a restaurant serving New American dishes and seasonal menus inspired by regional farms. Open from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Bellagio’s Spa Tower, guests can expect farm-fresh cuisine, which will be fine tuned on a weekly basis. Popular selections include farmer’s salad, pork belly paired with pickled apple and braised radish and roasted baby beets topped with yogurt and pickled Asian pear.
Harvest also has a stone oven to cook dishes like daily whole fish and Maine lobster. There is also an opportunity to try Ellamar’s innovative quick bites, which are served from the Snack Wagon. The wagon serves guests smoked salmon belly dip, broccoli rabe pesto and more. Jason Smith, director of wine, offers guests a selection of wines from American vineyards, as well as wines for the regions around the world. The mixologist, Ricardo Murcia, also serves a collection of craft beers such as Samuel Adams ‘Utopias.’
In October, Aria opened the Vegas edition of New York’s renowned Carbone restaurant. The celebrated concept from Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick pays homage to the Italian-American restaurants of the mid-20th century — an era of glamour, showmanship and tableside service. The food is inspired by that same time in history, but takes its culinary cues from the talents and techniques of today, showcasing elevated classics such as Lobster Fra Diavolo, Chicken Scarpariello, Veal Parmesan and Octopus Pizzaiolo.
Also in October, Rivea restaurant and Skyfall Lounge made their debuts on the 64th floor of the Delano Las Vegas. These hotspots afford awe-inspiring views of the Strip along with buzz-worthy food and drink. Acclaimed Chef Alain Ducasse is creating the cuisine. Rivea is Mediterranean-inspired with posh pizzas and an octopus salad, while craft beer and handcrafted cocktails are on the menu at Skyfall Lounge. Visitors should take in the view but also admire touches like the lighted “wave wall” made from hundreds of glass squares that mimic the Mediterranean Sea and the hand-blown chandelier made in Italy.
Another autumn unveiling took place at the Hard Rock Hotel, where the new Center Bar now sports a new lounge area, an expanded cocktail menu and panoramic views of the casino floor. The new design, featuring white spring granite and silver paneling, remains raised in the middle of the casino floor. An LED light fixture hangs above a glowing tower bottle display and creates a new focal point in Center Bar’s domed ceiling. The lights stream colors that match the music videos playing on the surrounding high-definition TVs.
A mix of banquettes, stone-top cocktail tables and couches circle the bar. The new lounge area’s ceiling has a series of polished, metal-trimmed, hexagonal-shaped coves with multicolor lights that dance to the music heard throughout the property. The new cocktail menu features martinis, beer, wine and specialty drinks created by employees who worked at the original Center Bar in 1995.
Seafood lovers and Mexican food aficionados may wish to try these two casual, off-the-beaten-path eateries. At Brigg’s Oyster Co., guests have the opportunity to sit along the exhibition kitchen at a bar and order the restaurant’s pan roasts and steamer dishes. For those not looking for oysters, there are daily seafood specials, such as lobster mac and cheese and fish tacos. This is one of several restaurants at the Suncoast Hotel & Casino.
The new Loco Cantina bar and restaurant, which opened in February, overlooks Town Square Park and serves simple, authentic Mexican street food for lunch and dinner daily. Dishes include house made items such as salsas and chorizo. Guests can expect aperitivos (starters) such as Mexican Mac & Cheese (chorizo, jack cheese, jalapeños, tomatoes and cilantro); ensaladas including the Cantina Loco (greens with Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon, Cotija cheese, avocado, pickled red onion, roasted Marcona almonds and cider vinaigrette). Thirsty patrons can choose from more than 40 tequilas. There’s a margarita menu, and other craft cocktails are served.
For sports fans, the newly opened T-Mobile Arena has partnered with Levy Restaurants to introduce new customizable craft cocktails and food experiences, including Ferraro’s Pizza Forte.
The Libertine Social gastropub is preparing to open this summer at Mandalay Bay under the aegis of James Beard Award-winning Chef Shawn McClain. It will specialize in small and large plates inspired by traditional American bar food, complemented by a cocktail program concocted by Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim (who is also curating the bar experiences at the T-Mobile Arena). Occupying a space on the casino level, next to Charlie Palmer’s Aureole, Libertine Social’s menu will include house-made grilled sausages, artisanal flatbreads, a selection of creative toasts and dips, seasonal salads, dry-aged steaks and cocktail-inspired desserts.
Alicante Restaurant Group will open a Vegas branch of the popular New York City eatery Virgil’s Real Barbecue this summer at the LINQ Hotel & Casino. Virgil’s will have nightly live music and three outdoor spaces, including a poolside patio and seating for up to 300 guests. If this location has the same menu as the other two, it is likely to be serving a chicken and ribs combo with a side of the popular cheddar cheese grits.