In recent years, the dining scene in Las Vegas has grown exponentially, developing into a haven for high-end venues.
In most upscale eateries on the Strip, it’s safe to say the steaks are high — high-priced, that is. But there are also plenty of great restaurants in the area where you can enjoy excellent food at more reasonable prices. To help find the perfect meal for every budget, we asked industry members to dish on their favorite Las Vegas eateries.
Texas Station, 2101 Texas Star Lane, North Las Vegas, 702.631.1033
Steakhouse; entrees $19-$79
For a casual fine-dining experience that won’t empty your wallet, Ron Mecham, owner of Lifeguard Pools in Las Vegas, recommends Austin’s Steakhouse at Texas Station.
“The service is great, and it’s not overly crowded,” he says of the spot, which is near the North Las Vegas Airport, about 8.5 miles from the Strip.
Austin’s aged USDA prime steaks are seasoned with a signature Cajun-inspired marinade, then cooked over mesquite charcoal. All fish selections, including the wild king salmon, are prepared to your preference: grilled, sautéed, blackened, bronzed or meunière.
Austin’s also is known for excellent service. Mecham and his wife were especially impressed by the great memory of one of their waiters. Not only did this server recall the couple from their previous visit, but he also knew what they had ordered.
“Every time we went there, he remembered us,” Mecham says. “He’d make recommendations that we might like based on what we ate before.”
Mecham highly recommends the aged pan-seared sirloin, the house chopped salad and the filet mignon Oscar — noting that the Texas-style portions often are large enough to share.
“If I have company in town, that’s where I like to take them,” Mecham says. “I’ve never once taken anybody there who hasn’t come out saying, ‘This is the best steak I’ve ever had.’”
Austin’s is open for dinner seven days a week.
Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 702.632.7403
Mexican; entrees $9-$35
For excellent Mexican cuisine, look no farther than the Border Grill at Mandalay Bay. While this recently remodeled cantina is just a short walk from the exhibition hall, Russ Watters, owner of Watters Aquatech Pools & Spas in Las Vegas, says most Expo attendees head to the adjacent food-court-style restaurant instead.
“People don’t realize the Border Grill is down there,” he says, “and it has so much better food than the fast-food-style food courts do.”
This hip, urban cantina is headed up by celebrity chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, known to many as the Food Network’s “Too Hot Tamales.” The menu offers a modern twist on traditional Mexican cuisine. If you’re coming for dinner, try the Pescado Veracruzano pan-seared halibut or the green chicken Poblano enchiladas.
No time for a leisurely meal? Sit up at the bar and order a starter, such as the empanadas made with stuffed roasted plantains. “They have great appetizers, if you want to get a quick lunch or just a quick snack,” Watters says.
“Everything’s just so good and so fresh,” he says. “It’s a great restaurant.”
Border Grill is open for lunch and dinner daily.
|Mon Ami Gabi|
Paris Resort and Casino, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S. 702.944.4224
French; entrees $13-$30
Mon Ami Gabi
French bistro Mon Ami Gabi at the Paris Casino offers a spectacular view of the Bellagio fountains from its street-level terrace, which is one of the reasons Joey Pecoraro has celebrated his past two birthdays there.
“It’s one of my favorite restaurants,” says the designer and owner of Las Vegas-based Architectural Design Concepts . “You have a great view, and the food is fantastic.”
The “Gabi” in the restaurant’s name refers to the owner and executive chef, Gabino Sotellino. When Sotellino opened the Las Vegas location in September 1999, his vision was to return to classic French fare such as crepes, quiches, French onion soup and the bistro’s signature steak frites.
Mon Ami Gabi also offers a selection of fish, including seared sea scallops and trout grenobloise.
“My favorite is the filet mignon in merlot sauce,” Pecoraro says.
The bistro features typical continental décor. In good weather, patrons can dine on the terrace beneath café umbrellas.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Mon Ami Gabi also serves brunch on the weekends.
Palms Resort Casino, 4321 W. Flamingo Rd. 702.933.9900
Steakhouse; entrees $25-$58 (some higher-end seafood dishes are $120)
When you want to go all-out for a high-end Las Vegas dining experience, head to N9NE Steakhouse at the Palms Resort Casino just off the Strip.
For Joe Vassallo Sr., owner/president of Paragon Pools in Las Vegas, part of the draw is the boisterous din created by the patrons — an element missing from most upscale steakhouses, which tend to be quiet and reserved.
“It’s a pretty cool crowd,” Vassallo says. “The noise, the chatter, and the laughter of all the people in the restaurant just having a good time — you don’t hear the clanking of knives and forks hitting the dishes.”
Vassallo first came to N9NE by personal invitation of executive chef Barry Dakake, who had hired Paragon Pools to build his private swimming pool. Though the restaurant is known for its prime aged steaks, from filets to ribeyes, Vassallo’s favorite is the chilled shellfish platter.
“It has the greatest crab meat and shells, such as clams, oysters, shrimp, lobster. It’s just unbelievable,” he says. “It’s the biggest, crispiest shrimp that you’ve ever seen, and it’s just a magnificent thing.”
As in many hip fine-dining establishments in Sin City, there’s always the chance of a celebrity sighting. Vassallo recently spotted actress Jenny McCarthy, and he adds that notable sports figures often are seen in the dining area.
N9NE is open nightly for dinner.
|Origin India Restaurant and Bar|
4480 Paradise Rd., #1200 702.734.6342 Indian; entrees $12-$25
Origin India Restaurant & Bar
Origin India Restaurant and Bar , located across from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino just east of Las Vegas Blvd., has a reputation for serving the best Indian cuisine in town. Recently featured on food guru Rachael Ray’s show, “Vacation with Rachael Ray,” Origin India prides itself on delivering modern, sophisticated dishes to create an enjoyable dining experience.
“Vegas glitzy” doesn’t appeal to everyone. That’s why David Tisherman, president of David Tisherman’s Visuals in Manhattan Beach, Calif., enjoys this tasteful, lower-key restaurant, which is tucked into an unassuming strip mall.
“If you like Indian food, Origin India is phenomenal,” says Tisherman, also co-founder of the Genesis 3 Design Group . “It’s just a real people place.”
Executive chef Kuldeep Singh fuses traditional favorites with modern twists to create a seasonal menu that reflects all areas of India’s multiregional cuisine. The menu includes a variety of savory meat dishes and a creative selection of fish.
“The garlic shrimp is absolutely wonderful,” Tisherman notes.
Examples of entrees include chicken tikka — which is marinated overnight in roasted cumin and chili yogurt, then served with coriander and basil sauce — and a roasted striped bass that’s marinated in coriander, cumin and lime zest, and served on sautéed garlic spinach with coriander vinaigrette and red pepper extract.
Origin India also is celebrated for its signature cocktails, and its extensive wine and beer offerings. During happy hour on weekdays, all appetizers are half-off and drinks from the cocktail menu are two-for-one.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner daily.
The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, 702.732.7256 Classic American Steakhouse; entrees $30-$65.
Scott Burton, owner of Prestige Pools in Las Vegas, first dined at The Palm several years ago, and the restaurant quickly became his favorite stop for a good steak dinner.
“It’s got a nice atmosphere, and it’s not terribly overpriced,” Burton says. “I’ve never had a bad steak there.”
The lobsters also are impressive: They’re flown in fresh daily, so it takes only 35 hours to transfer them from the water to the plate.
Can’t choose between the jumbo lobster and prime aged New York strip steak? You can have both when you order The Palm’s Surf ’n’ Turf specialty.
If you’re in the mood for authentic Italian, the menu still features recipes from the restaurant’s original New York location, which opened in 1926 — dishes such as veal scallopine, chicken parmigiana and veal martini.
The walls of every Palm location are covered with signed caricatures of famous customers. The tradition began in the 1920s when the original owners offered artists free meals in exchange for portraits of patrons.
The Palm in Las Vegas also boasts three private dining rooms that can accommodate parties from 15 to 90 people.
The Palm serves lunch and dinner daily.
8125 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas, 702.869.2251
Contemporary American; entrees $30-$43
When George Kazdin, president of Kazdin Pools & Spas Inc. in Southampton, N.Y., discovered Rosemary’s Restaurant , he was more than 2,500 miles away watching the Food Channel.
Now this “foodie place” is one of Kazdin’s all-time favorites, which is why he never hesitates to make the 35-minute drive from the Strip when he’s in town.
“I wrote it down three years before we went back to Vegas, and now we go there every time,” Kazdin says.
He raves about the cuisine, and critics agree. Since opening in 1999, Rosemary’s has received numerous awards and accolades, including being named the “Best Gourmet Restaurant” by the Las Vegas Review-Journal for nine consecutive years.
Of course, the proof is in the cuisine. Chefs Wendy and Michael Jordan serve up an eclectic American menu featuring crispy-skin Texas striped bass, brick chicken with shoestring potatoes and Creole-grilled prime rib-eye.
Depending on your appetite, you can order separate courses or opt for a prix-fixe menu that includes a starter, an entrée and dessert.
Rosemary’s also showcases works from local artists in its West Wing Gallery. The current exhibit, “Strata: Works on Paper” by visual artist Marylou Evans, will be on display through Nov. 21.
The restaurant is open for dinner nightly, with lunch service available on Fridays.
600 E. Warm Springs 702. 263.0034
Contemporary American; entrees $18-$34 (average $26)
For an intimate restaurant just off the Strip, Renee Gibbs, owner of Spas by Renee in Las Vegas, recommends Table 34 .
This contemporary American restaurant, located right behind McCarren International Airport, features modern décor with blond-wood floors, high ceilings and mirrors of all sizes hanging on the richly colored walls.
The eclectic menu changes seasonally and offers Gibbs, a vegetarian, some of her favorite vegetable and fish dishes. While she enjoys the smoked salmon served on a potato galette with parsley-shallot cream, her husband goes in for more meaty fare, such as the seasonal buffalo dishes.
Gibbs also raves about the butternut squash ravioli, the bruschetta and the wild mushroom pizza.
“There’s something for everybody there,” she says. “The food is really good.”
The reasonable prices also are a draw, which Expo attendees might appreciate as an alternative to pricey eateries on the Strip, Gibbs notes.
Voted “Best of Las Vegas” in 2006, Table 34 is run by siblings Laurie Kendrick and Wes Kendrick, who also serves as executive chef. Laurie Kendrick previously managed Chinois and Spago for Wolfgang Puck at Caesar’s Palace.
In addition to serving lunch and dinner, Table 34 offers happy hour, Tuesday through Friday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.