John Curtas is …

Bests and Worsts

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Best Night to Dine Out – Thursday

Worst Night to Dine Out – Saturday

Worst parking – MGM Grand

Worst Valet – MGM Grand

Worst Oversight in Posting This List Yesterday – Yonaka

Best Candidate for Best New Restaurant of 2013 (so far): (toss-up) Yonaka/Hops & Harvest


Best parking – The Cosmopolitan, Mandalay Bay, Wynn

Worst Hotel – The Palms

Worst Hotel Clientele – The Palms, Riviera, Circus Circus, everything and everybody on Fremont Street (under that stupid, stupid awning)

Worst Desserts – Spring Mountain Road

Best Place(s) to Learn About Sake – Yellowtail, Raku, I-Naba, Shibuya, Yonaka

Best Excuse to Drink Coffee - Sambalatte

Worst hotel(s) we’ll be happy never to set foot in again – Where do we begin? Flamingo, Luxor, Harrah’s, Circus Circus, Treasure Island, any place downtown that’s not the El Cortez.

Best Restaurant Rating System (the one buzzing around ELV’s head during any meal):

1) Outstanding, incredible, drop your fork, sell the baby and mortgage-the-house good

2) Very, very good

3) It’s good

4) It’s okay

5) Run away

Best Reception – (toss-up)  Le Cirque or that thing they yell at you in Japanese restaurants

Worst Reception – Any buffet

Best Place to Look at Foreigners - Forte Tapas

Worst Meal(s) of the year (so far) - Simon, Park on Fremont, Due Forni

Worst Fall From Grace (eateries that foodies used to go nuts for that are a shadow of their former selves, because of expansion, losing their chefs, etc.) – Simon, Bread & Butter, Payard Patisserie & Bistro, NOVE, Due Forni

Worst Waste of a Great View – Panevino

Worst Thing About Fine Dining in Vegas – The numbers game it’s been reduced to by F & B executives

Second worst thing about fine dining in Vegas – The up-selling (ELV is thankful he never has to deal with this meretricious shit, but he hears lots of stories.)

Third worst thing about fine dining in Vegas – Dining with slobs or anyone who thinks a collared shirt is the height of fashion

Best Cocktail Surprise – Velveteen Rabbit

Best Cocktail Bar – Herbs & Rye

Worst Place to Drink – Any day or night club

Best Place to Meet Inappropriate Women - Tao or Lavo

Best Downtown Restaurant – La Comida

Best Breakfast Pastries – (toss-up)  LuLu’s Bread & Breakfast/Chocolate & Spice

Worst Downtown Restaurant - (toss up) Park on Fremont/Oscar’s

Worst News of the Year – Losing our Italians (Valentino and Circo)

Best Comeback of the Year – Allegro

Best Unheralded Italian Chef – Enzo Febrarro at Allegro

Worst Continuing News of the Year – Nothing but burgers, burgers and burgers….and f*cking tacos

Even Worse Continuing News of the Year – Since reaching their apex from 2004-2007, the great restaurants of Las Vegas are now in a struggle for survival.

Best Salt Lick – Shaanxi Gourmet

Best Pho – Pho 87

Second Best Pho – Pho Saigon 8

Worst Restaurant in Town – Hush Puppy

Best Neighborhood Restaurant – (toss-up) Ogden’s Hops & Harvest/Forte Tapas

Best Place to Pick Up Cougars - Vintner Grill

Best Restaurant That Needs to Update Its Menu - Vintner Grill

Worst Thing a Waitron Can Say to Me“Isn’t everything delicious?”

Second Worst Thing a Waitron Can Say to Me – “Here’s your check, Mr. Curtas.”

Best Surprise of the Year – The friggin’ awesome, cake-y/milk shake-y desserts at Pub 1842

Best Shopping Center for All Your Asian Eats Needs – (toss-up) The one at Spring Mountain Road and Decatur housing Raku, Korean Delicious, Monta, Zen, Big Wong, Nakamura-Ya and Kabuto, or the one on Jones between Spring Mountain Road and DI housing China MaMa, Shaanxi Gourmet, Chada Thai, Ramen Tatsu and that tiny Chinese barbecue place tucked in the corner. On second thought, the Japanese win this round. On third thought, you can walk right across Jones Blvd. to a shopping center with a great Asian market (168 Market) and Taiwan Deli in it….so perhaps it’s still a dead heat.

Best Reasons to Travel to the Southeast Part of Town to Eat – Penn’s Thai House and Shoku Ramen

Best Teppanyaki Restaurant (probably) in the United States of Amerika – Tetsu (pictured above)

Best Thing a Restaurant Can Remember About ELV – He  can drink enough sparkling mineral water to fill Lake Mead during a meal…or even while imbibing cocktails.

Worst Thing I’ve Ever Done in a Great Restaurant – (toss-up) Sneezing all over a dish c0ming out of Le Cirque‘s pass-through as Executive Chef Marc Poidevin was showing it to me/fighting a pitched battle with the commode at Joël Robuchon (don’t ask)

Best Restaurant Bars - Carnevino, Picasso, Le Cirque

Worst Bar in a Great Restaurant – Michael Mina (Who in the f*ck designs a raised, 5′ bar with a visual barrier to the bartender? Tony Chi (one of our favorite designers in the world), that’s who.)

Best Place to Pick Up Women Looking for the Next Mr. Wrong – Kona Grill

Best Place to Meet Fat, Stupid People - Whatever they end up calling Guy Fieri‘s new joint

Best Restaurant I wish I Went to More Often – Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

Best Surprise of the Year (so far) - Pinot Brasserie

Worst Service of the Year - Poppy Den

Worst Wine Bar Calling Itself a Wine Bar Even Though it has a Poor Selection of Wine - The View Restaurant & Wine Bar

Best Restaurants That Always Bring a Smile to My Face No Matter How Many Times I Eat There – Prime, Picasso, Le Cirque, Circo, Valentino, Kabuto, J & J Szechuan, Guy Savoy, Taiwan Deli, Chada Thai, El Sombrero, L’Atelier, Sirio, Twist, Carnevino, Spago, Milos, China Poblano, Jaleo, Forte Tapas, Marche Bacchus

Best Restaurants That, Despite Being Very Good-to-Great, Do Not (it’s a feng shui thing) - Joël Robuchon, Michael Mina, Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Gordon Ramsay Steak, Old Homestead, Rao’s, CUT, Delmonico, American Fish, Sage, Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, Scarpetta, Lotus of Siam, Fleur

Best Celebrity Chef Restaurant – (toss-up) L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon/Spago

Worst Celebrity Chef Restaurant - Olives; first runner-up: Gordon Ramsay Pub

Best Under-the-Radar Restaurant - Table 10

Worst Waste of Money - Hakkasan

Best Chef That Deserves National Recognition – Devin Hashimoto at Mizumi

Best Vegan in Vegas (by a mile) – Mark LoRusso‘s extraordinarily tasty and healthy eats at Botero (a steakhouse, no less)

Best Celebrity Chef Restaurant That’s a Lot Better than It Has to Be - (toss-up) Gordon Ramsay Steak/Gordon Ramsay BurGR

Best Restaurants Where ELV Will be Dining Today to Celebrate His Jury Trial Victory Yesterday: Michael Mina‘s Pub 1842 for lunch and Allegro for dinner.

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20 Responses to Bests and Worsts

  • The parking at the Palazzo is also very good.

  • what a great list. Well timed for my visit next week.

  • Surprisingly smart choices on the cocktail categories, but feel there is an RM seafood missing there.

  • No Julian Serrano? So Jaleo is the superior tapas choice at this point?

    Thank you for another great list.

  • I stayed at The Palms in April. Very nice refurbished room. Friendly staff. Very easy and close parking in the east side garage. Cocktail service was good. Not far from Spring Mountain Road goodies. What’s not to like?

  • Best Place to Eat a Roasted Beet Salad-Nowhere.

  • ELV responds: The last three times I have been in the Palms (all this year, BTW), it has been filled with low-rent, gang-bangers, third-rate hipsters, and first rate tweakers. Between those and the nearly-dead gamblers staring at the machines, the place has looked like one of Dante’s circles of Hell. I have no idea who runs the restaurants there, but the Morton’s group run by Michael is no longer involved, Simon looks like it’s on life-support, and NOVE will never recover from losing Geno Bernardo, imho. The glory years of “Real World” and Britney fame are far behind it, and the place even smells like failure.

    I will gladly return anytime to grab a steak, apps or dessert at N9NE, but methinks this hotel has downscaled itself to a level that some high-falutin’ persnickety critic like yours truly can no longer relate to.

    Who in the hell is foolish enough to go to Alize is anybody’s guess.

  • I always had good experiences at Jaleo and Yonaka

  • I had a pretty great lunch at Due Forni last week. Que pasa?

  • To be contrarian, I’ll add my 2cents. Hops & Harvest? Surely you received special treatment and attention to your food. We were crammed into a tiny 2-top, they were out of pilsner (huh??), the fries were flaccid and room temp, and the Pan-seared halibut was cold inside. They re-heated it (nope, didn’t fire a new one) and served back to me, still lukewarm inside. This was WITH Bradley Ogden in the restaurant. Bodes poorly for when daddy isn’t home. I won’t go back and resent the $70 we spent on lunch for two.

  • Amber you should give it another try, they are still training new people and it is a small place. Bradley is one of the best Vegas has ever had to wear a chef’s jacket.. The fact they are busy in a place where no one else has made it is a testament .. Try it once more and you will see..

  • I like the Olive Garden in Summerlin

  • Hakkasan is about as Asian as bagpipe music

  • Agree with Simon’s at Palm Place (worst food and on life support) and the Palms with tweekers. Alize, is also on life support.

  • John

    Could you please tell me why in the fuck Olives is so crowded? I agree, that place is such a huge let down every time I go there. My last trip I got a clam pasta and half the clams did not open. The worst part about Olives is that damn fountain that sounds like a bomb went off while you are trying to eat. It really amazes me that Olives and Joe’s Stone Crab are so packed and yet the food sucks. Please enlighten us!!!

  • ELV reponds: Olives is packed for a single reason and one that has nothing to do with Todd (“Am I Still A Celebrity Chef?”) English. And that reason is: It has the single greatest location in all of Vegas. Thousands walk by its hostess stand (in close proximity thereto) everyday…most of whom don’t know or care who English is. They’re hungry, it’s close, and equally important, it’s the only Bellagio restaurant that’s easily accessible for lunch.

    Back in the day, I ate there at least a dozen times trying to like it, but it started out barely mediocre, and has been playing down to its audience ever since.
    It is the only restaurant I’ve ever been in where TWO famous chefs, on different occasions, spit the food out of their mouths.

    Olives is so bad it makes the Sugar Factory look like Joel Robuchon.

  • Interesting listing ELV. Congrats on the barrister win! Bye the Bye, been watching the Zimmerman trial on the net, if the prosecutions “star” witness is the best they got…The Zimm is going to walk. Sad really to watch the caliber of citizen out there in our lesser privileged neighborhoods. Even taking into consideration cultural and educational differences, a really sorry state of affairs surround this whole mess. Ciao!

  • So what’s up with the commode at Joel Robuchon? :-)

  • Due Forni is the most pretentious Italian/Pizza place in town, yet undeserving of such attitude. I’d rather eat at Allegro or Those Guys Pies any day, for better food and service.

  • The best thin crust pizza I had in this town is a little known place called Tap House on West Charlston.

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