Best New Restaurants 2023

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It’s been a banner year for new restaurants, but most of the growth has been confined to the ‘burbs. (Face it: the Strip is now more boring than an Elon Musk boondoggle.)

Whether the engine is a booming economy, pent-up demand or big money finally stepping into the food game (Hello, The Sundry and Lev Group!), the greater Las Vegas area is teeming with worthy newcomers, some done on a shoestring, others well-financed, each seeking a slice of the hunger pie. In years past we might’ve had trouble coming up with half a dozen lip-smacking joints, this year has been a bounty of riches, with more to come in the final four months.

And yes, I know the year is only 66.6% over, but whether it is out of habit (10 years of writing my guidebook, and 25 of doing the Desert Companion/KNPR Restaurant Awards), I seem to be congenitally wired to start writing about the “year’s best” when summertime is on the wane.

So consider this a partial list, which bears updating, but a good start if you’re looking for what is recent and deserving of your dining out dollars:

The Best New Restaurants of 2023 (in no particular order, with commentary):

138 Degrees Craft Chophouse

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Image(…and then this lawyer dude asked for ketchup…)

Henderson has a steakhouse to call its own, aging everything from the sirloins to the salmon.

Basilico Ristorante Italiano

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Image(Surf and turf risotto alla Francesco Di Caudo)

It’s hard to get excited about Italian anymore, but I can almost work up a woody over this one.

1228 Main

You will not find me here most mornings only because my waistline won’t allow it.

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As good as the pastries are, the lunch/dinner options (including the best pasta of the year pictured above) here are every bit as technically perfect as you would expect from a Wolfgang Puck operation.

Azzurra Cucina

Image(Not your father’s Water Street)

If this keeps up, we’re going to have to retire the word Hendertucky and start eating crow….with a proper demi-glace, of course.

Aroma Latin American Cocina

Nueva Latina in Green Valley makes about as much sense as a salsa band at a Mormon social, but here it is, just waiting to be discovered by the mortgage-poor crowd. Full disclosure: we haven’t been, but Eat. Talk. Repeat. co-host Ash the Attorney raves about this place.

Ocean Prime

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Vegas needs another chain steakhouse like I need another ex-wife, but when the payoff is this spectacular, the heart goes where the heart goes.

Kaiseki Yuzu Sushi Bar

ImageJonathon Mau knows his Maguro)

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Strictly for purists; no sushbags allowed.

00 Pie & Pub

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Mike Vakneen is a pizza savant and Chinatown is now his playground.

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The starters — including the roasted Calabrian peppers with anchovies above — are Esther’s Kitchen-worthy.

Mizunara at The Sundry

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Homie don’t order off no QR code. Home boy (who hasn’t been a boy for 50 years) demands old-fashioned service…and cold ramen noodles like these.

Marche Bacchus – Bradley Ogden edition

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MB has been through so many incarnations we’ve stopped counting. So has Bradley Ogden for that matter. But the menu here hasn’t been this good in a decade, and though things might look the same, you’re basically eating in a whole new restaurant.

Naxos Taverna

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Think of it as a slightly cheaper, local’s Estiatorio Milos, with free parking and without the fish displayed like jewelry… and thank me later. (EfcharistĂł, Mark Andelbradt)

Taste of Asia

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Chinatown-level Chinese in Summerlin makes about as much sense as haute Latina in Henderson, but the times they are a-changin’. Karrie Hung is out to raise the Asia steaks in a part of town who finds Panda Express too “foreign”. There’s plenty to placate the sweet and sour pork crowd, but the real gems are in the chef’s specials and seafood, plus the best Peking duck deal ($80) this side of New Asian BBQ.

Daeho Kalbijjim

Years of dining with our Korean komrades has taught us that Korean restaurants are usually known for doing one or two things well, and the rest of the menu is just filler. Daeho does its justifiably famous sweet-spicy beef rib stew, with promiscuous cheese pulls for those infected with Tik Tok brain….like us above, straining to influence the f++k out of this place.

B.S. Taqueria at The Sundry

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The B. S. stands for “Broken Spanish” and it’s the best Mexican food we had this year. Second only to Viva! by Ray Garcia in Resorts World. Same chef, terrific tortillas, serious south of the border stuff.

Lamoon

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Lamoon packs a one-two punch of fiery food and highly-curated wine that will leave you fit to be Thai’d. The decor (in an old Dairy Queen!) is pretty snappy too.

Hola Mexican Cocina + Cantina

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I once made the mistake on KNPR radio of pronouncing “cocina” as co-CHEEN-a instead of saying co-THEEN-a  or co-SEEN-a — which apparently meant I was describing a local restaurant as a prostitute instead of a kitchen. No matter how you pronounce it, the food here tastes great no matter how much Mexican you speak.

Yukon Pizza

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Why a burger and not a pizza pic? Because of all the griddled, frilly smashed cheeseburgers in town, this one meats all expectations…as do all their kick-ass pies.

Yen Viet Kitchen

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Not strictly new this year, but new to us, and best Vietnamese food we have eaten in Las Vegas, ever — and we’ve eaten in all of them, up and down Spring Mountain Road. What this video lacks in dynamism and drama, it makes up for in information. A must-stop on SMR, and the definition of a hidden gem.

Speaking of hidden gems….

Yummy Kitchen

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They don’t get much more tucked away than Yummy Kitchen, tossing its chili crab and other Singaporean-Malaysian delights inside an Asian supermarket, far across a parking lot at Spring Mountain and Decatur. The crabs are still-moving fresh, and the garlic shrimp, roti, Hainanese chicken, and Malay curries will save you plane fare to Disneyland-with-the-death-penalty.

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While we’re at it…..

Worst new restaurants of 2023:

M.Y. Asia (Closed!)

From stunt noodles to chicken so bad it left us yearning for a Panda Express, this tourist trap was D.O.A.

Told. You. So.

Vic’s

Comically < average Italian at the Smith Center, brought to you by folks who’ve never dined at Brezza or Basilico….and wouldn’t understand them if they did.

Bespoke Kitchen

Nothing bespoke except the name.

Cathédrale

By-the-numbers dining for the selfie wall crowd, brought to you by the Tao Group — who haven’t had an original idea since 2005. Soulless decor, jaw-dropping prices, insulting wine list — the symbol of every unimaginative ripoff late-stage Las Vegas has become in one, overdecorated restaurant.

>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Did we miss a few on both sides of these equations? Probably, but this list should get you started, and we have three months to keep eating and augment things.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, and cheers!

THE END

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Late-Stage Las Vegas + The List

Image(Changing the game at 1228 Main)

Writers take their muses wherever they find them. The inspiration for this post came from James Reza — longtime Las Vegan, once my editor; now a thoughtful observer of all things Vegas — in a tweet about the possibility of the Oakland Athletics moving to town:

Which got me to thinking about “late-stage” culinary Las Vegas.

Just where are we now? And what do we have to look forward to?

The Strip — long the economic and creative engine of all things gastronomic in town — has faded into a hangout for Martha Stewart fans and Voltaggio Brothers cash grabs. (For what is a “one-year year culinary residency” but a way to monetize an  unusable space (the two-story vacated Aureole cavern) with the unimaginative (“Retro”) from the unimpressive (who?). We couldn’t be less interested if they were serving spaghetti Os and fake Parmesan, which, of course, they will be.

These places will make money of course, but they won’t leave a mark. Swapping an Old Navy for a Gap in a tired old mall is not the same as bringing Neiman-Marcus and Nordstrom’s to town in the first place.

“I am so done with the Strip,” exclaimed another muse for this article. The speaker of those words wasn’t some local jamoke who hates being charged for parking. He has been a fixture on Las Vegas Boulevard South for decades — opening multiple restaurants in hotels going back to the Nineties. Now he envisions a future for his company opening smaller venues for locals who appreciate them — something unthinkable a decade ago.

Strip-quality food coming to neighborhoods is nothing new: You can trace its roots from Other Mama’s premium seafood to our upscale sushi parlors and to the prime cuts now available at 138 Degrees (Henderson) and Harlo (Summerlin). With this quality comes Strip-level pricing, but from where we’re sitting, no one in the carriage trade seems to be balking at $100/pp check minimums.

Chinatown (where a 75 seat restaurant is considered huge) continues to explode, while the southwest seems to be attracting chefs and concepts like eggs to Bearnaise.

All of which bodes well for locals, and marginalizes whatever is happening on the Strip, at least for those of us who used to be in awe of the restaurant revolution that took place there for twenty years.

Will we trundle up to Caesars to see the new Peter Luger when it opens? Sure, if only to compare it to the New York original. (If things run true to form, the menu will be laughably short, the wine list absurdly brief, and the staff comically rude.)

But Luger and the Voltaggios and even Martha Stewart — the octogenarian queen of brand-whoring — pretty much signal that the celebrity chef restaurant has run its course. And if they weren’t enough to convince me, then septuagenarian Martin Yan’s bad joke of a licensing deal should do the trick…and demonstrates how deeply we are scraping the bottom of the celebrity chef barrel.

Image(Note to self: Yan can’t cook)

You probably have to be over fifty to remember Yan from his  “Yan Can Cook” PBS days. Perhaps once he could, but no longer. Now he’s prostituting his brand like a pint-sized Martha Stewart, keeping accountants happy and his rice bowl full at our expense. I doubt any of the low-rollers in this charm-free dining space even know who Yan was, except in a “this guy used to be famous” kind of way. Regardless, he’s been reduced to going through the motions to cash in on a faded name and the cynicism behind the whole enterprise is palpable.

Here is my Instagram rant on the matter and we’ll leave it at that.

As an official old-timer, it is easy to get depressed about the direction in which Vegas is heading. F1! NFL! Super Bowls and Baseball! Late-stage Vegas has morphed before our eyes from a town of gambling, food, and music into the mega-event capital of America. Las Vegas used to be about wicked fun and excess….then it was food and shopping. Its future will be all about advertising.

The idea of a big hotel opening with a lounge and a showroom and six good restaurants now seems as quaint as a flip phone.  Old time casino table games don’t count anymore, anymore than washed up brands still trying to cash in.

Perhaps the Fountainebleau will kick start a new dawn in Vegas dining. Hope springs eternal. And there are still many, many legacy restaurants occupying a special place in our hearts (Milos, Jaleo, Robuchon, Delmonico, Savoy, Bazaar Meat…) plus a few new ones which rate a return (Balla, Viva!, Brezza….)…but lord help me if I ever step foot in The Horseshoe again. (True fact: You can put lipstick on a pig and it will always be Bally’s.)

Soooo….long story short, after the Yan disaster, I needed a series of superb experiences to inspire me to post yet another promiscuous purview of my palate pursuits….so here it is, for the umpteenth time in a row, THE LIST: the places in Las Vegas you should be eating in and why. Put another way: the places I’ve been eating and why they give me hope for the future of Las Vegas.

As usual, all venues come highly recommended unless otherwise noted:

1228 Main

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Image(One banana-mint blueberry martini comin’ up!)

How can we be so jazzed about a restaurant before it opens? Easy peasy when it has the pedigree of this one. The folks who brought you Spago, CUT, Lupo, et al are about to change the downtown game in ways unimaginable a half-decade ago: three meals a day; an on premise bakery; world-class desserts; Cal-Ital-French menu (like the one that made Wolfgang Puck famous); remarkable coffee; casual lunches and serious dinners — this will be like nothing Main Street has ever seen.

To be clear: This is not a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, but he is an investor, and his major league kitchen talent is behind the project. We expect this rising tide to raise all boats, and finally turn Main Street into the dining destination it was destined to become. (East Fremont must be watching and weeping.)

Opening at the end of the month. Now if we could only remember the address…

Further good news arrived in the form of Bradley Ogden’s ongoing overhaul of MarchĂ© Bacchus‘s kitchen, and a single bite of his steakburger gave me hope for the future:

Image(Obligatory #BeingJohnCurtas burger pic)

Bouchon is still the place to go for vichyssoise, boudin blanc and Le Cirque-worthy crÚme brûlée:

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…not to mention sweetbreads. Bouchon is also the only place we know of in Vegas, with the cojones to serve them. You know these glands gotta be good if we head there directly after spending two weeks in France. In business almost twenty years now, Bouchon has endured because its food is….wait for it…thymus:

Image(Sweet puns are what I was bred for)

Caveat: As much as we love the Big B, its ‘ersters were unimpressive, in size and selection. We’ve always called them best in town, but that crown has been usurped by another slurper — Water Grill — where even late in the season, the bivalves were clearly bigger, better, and fresher:

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Since we’re in a seafood mood, when the hankerin’ for fish and chips arises, the malt-battered ones at 7th & Carson are coronation-worthy:

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And don’t sleep on the incroyable desserts at Osteria Fiorella:

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As long as we’re remembering superior succulence over the past three monts, this “Secreto Pork” at Edo Gastro Tapas & Wine stands out:

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…as do the life-affirming/health-giving properties of Khoury’s Mediterranean practically perfect puffy pita:

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Naxos Taverna restored my faith in off-Strip casino eating …by bringing Milos-quality seafood to the ‘burbs. Gorgeous swimmers, pretty room, beautiful apps, and finally, a restaurant with a chef (Mark Andelbradt) who knows how to cook a f**king artichoke:

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The restorative powers of Szechuan cuisine are well known, but be advised: at Chengdu Taste , they must be sampled with a fire hose in tow:

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When it comes to breakfast, The Daily Bread stands apart. It’s fresh-baked goods are shockingly good, and this banana cream croissant was the definition of scrumptious:

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Did someone say “Conchinita Pibil?”After three weeks in France, the one thing we craved was the spark of good Mexican, and Leticia’s Cocina & Cantina always fills the bill.

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Speaking of sparks, the contrast of rich and sharp is the elemental appeal of good Thai, and Lamoon had us over the moon with its comfy build-out (in an old Dairy Queen!) and a luscious duck khao soi:

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Everything we tried was a head-turner, both in presentation and taste. Just the palate resuscitator we needed after weeks of organ meats and stinky cheeses. Nice wine list, too, as befits the Bank and Bon Atcharawan brand.

In a more traditional vein, we returned to Cipriani for the pasta, but stayed for the gelato:

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One of the ways we keep our girlish figure is by walking to Cipriani for lunch on Fridays. This is not an option at  Hola Mexican Cocina+Cantina  which serves these fabulous blue corn grilled fish tacos at the far reaches of the southwest valley:

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Truth be truth, Hola is so far from the palatial Curtas abode:

(Landscaping is my passion)

…that it took a Sherpa guide, Two Conestoga wagons, and a degree in dead reckoning to find it. But the payoff was in those tortillas and even the spicy fideo — which got our attention more than any Mexican side dish in recent memory.

Closer to home is Patrick Munster’s brilliant steak tartare at Main Street Provisions:

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Anything and everything at Anima by Edo:

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Yes, that’s two mentions of Oscar Amador Edo’s food…which, as our hottest local chef running two of our hottest restaurants, he deserves.

Now, for the home stretch, some old reliables and newcomers which rang our chimes over the past few months:

Yukon Pizza is simply fabulous no matter how you slice it:

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Sea Salt Live Sashimi …is delicious, but not as pristine as Japanese, and definitely not for the squeamish. Pro tip: bring your favorite Korean to help you navigate the menu which is not exactly limited:

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Any pie at Good Pie always floats our boat:

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Nobody fries chicken like the Koreans, and no Korean in Vegas fries it like Ssoju Korean Pub:

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Soulbelly BBQ’s beef brisket taco are life-affirming…for everyone but the steer:

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And let us not forsake the bread and dips at Esther’s Kitchen:

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All of these meals restored my faith in humanity….at least as it relates to my taste buds. They also got me to thinking…

What will late-stage Vegas be? I expect the Strip to get dumber and locals to get smarter. Chef-driven restaurants are so 2010. “Name” chefs are gradually being replaced with corporate restaurant concepts like the ones that brought Tao, RPM, and Mott 32 to our shores(?). Next up will be the LPM Restaurants bringing “music, art, people and bonhomie [and] outrageous harmony in the room” — when it takes over the old Milos space in The Cosmo. More and more, new joints will prioritize a party vibe over the food, and the sports-loving crowds will eat it up. The restaurant-cum-nightclub is here to stay, and will make me long for the days when I thought the music at B&B Ristorante was a little too loud.

The Strip hotels once aimed high and hit their target, and brought world renown to our restaurant scene in the process. But the visionaries who changed that game are long gone, replaced by executives who view Vegas as one gigantic advertising platform masquerading as a sports bar, shoveling $100 steaks into the gaping maws of fanboys and show-offs.

With this change went any hope that the Strip’s restaurant scene will ever again be taken seriously, at least in my lifetime. It’s no coincidence that we have three finalists for James Beard Award this year and each of them — Oscar Amador Edo, Kaoru Azuechi, and Garagiste Wine Bar — plies their trade miles from Las Vegas Boulevard.

And miles from LVBlvd is where, with a few exceptions, you’ll find me these days. Because if there’s one thing I don’t want with my meals, it’s “music, art and outrageous harmony.”

The List – 2022

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We eat out a whole lot less than we used to.

But you’d never know it from this list.

We’re down to 5-6 restaurants a week (barely breaking a sweat compared to the old days), and sadly finding less and less to write about.

The infantilizing of food writing has not escaped our attention. The written word is an endangered species, and if it’s not in video or podcast form, few are interested in reading about restaurants anymore. Twenty years ago, I was considered an oddball for obsessively snapping pictures of my food. Fifteen years ago (when this website was conceived), I was still an outlier. Now, even high school kids take pictures of their tacos and rate them on social media.

With this in mind, for once, I’m not going to bore you with a bunch of words. Gleaning through my meals of these past five months, I discovered a number of tasty snaps (and a few videos) that should make you salivate more than prose ever could (which is, I suppose, the whole point of today’s ubiquitous food photography).

So here are the restaurants where you should be eating, from someone (me) who has actually eaten in them. Some of these recs are accompanied only with a picture (worth a thousand words?) — which, we hope, will supply you with ample reason to give them a go.

But first, a few words about Detroit pizza.

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For the uninitiated, Detroit is the home of a rectangular, reverse-form, pan-baked pie that loads its cheese on the top of the dough (and underneath the other toppings) allowing it to infuse a puffy, foccacia-like crust before a f**ckload of condiments are then applied.

Including pineapple? You betcha by golly.

 

Classic | Pizza Crimes | Know Your Meme(…and then we bake it in a casserole)

Refinement is not exactly its strong suit.

Detroit pizza is nothing new: Northside Nathan’s has been around for over twenty years. But it inexplicably became a “thing” a few years ago and now every foodie worth his fermentation extols the fine points of these belly bombs like they’re parsing the contrapuntal tinklings of Glenn Gould.

I blame the internet…and Instagram…and the legalization of weed. Because if nothing else, DP is perfect stoner food: ideal for dive bars, and temperamentally suited for a crowd that is usually as baked as the crust.

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Scott Weiner — America’s Pizza Geek extraordinaire — knows his pies, and Robby Cunningham’s Detroit rectangles stole a pizza his heart.

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If you insist, and if you’re stoned, Red Dwarf (second pic) and Guerilla Pizza (first pic and above, in the Hard Hat Lounge), are two of the best.

On to real restaurants…

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Anima by EDO

https://twitter.com/i/status/1508882847855046658

Genting Palace

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Gorgeous room. Beautiful food. Bring your wallet. And a friend’s wallet.

Marisco’s El Fresco’s

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Mariscos El Fresco’s is brand new, and only days old as I type these words. But we snuck in early and the Mexican seafood by Chef/owner John Sosa and Chef David Serrano is like nothing else being offered in town.

Image(These tacos shrimply put others to shame)

What Elia Authentic Greek Taverna did for soul-satisfying Greek cooking these guys are trying to do with much-maligned Mexican seafood — most of which (this far north) is unmitigated crap out of a freezer bag. Minimal decor, maximum flavor, in a challenging location (Tropicana and Pecos). Fingers are crossed.

Nusr-Et Steakhouse

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Burger. Of. The. Year. (so far)

Rosa Ristorante

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Just like Stacy’s mom, Rob Moore (above) has got in going on…on St. Rose Parkway (of all places) way out in the wilds of Henderson. If this culinary renaissance keeps up in this former godforsaken restaurant wasteland, yours truly is going to run out of neighborhoods to trash.

Viva! by Ray Garcia

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Best. Mexican. In. Vegas. My pictures didn’t do the spectacular food justice, so you’ll have to go and snap some for yourself.

The Pepper Club

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Todd English’s third act in Vegas has impressed even an old cynic like me. They don’t call The Pepper Club a Japanese restaurant but that’s exactly what it is….with some great Korean fried chicken to boot.

Wally’s

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Pluses: Surrounded by a fabulous wine store and first-class French cooking, cheese, charcuterie, salads (above), sandwiches (below) and steaks, and perhaps the best fries on the planet. Open for lunch. Good service.  Great people watching.

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Minuses:  Rodeo Drive-level expense amidst a sea of bargain-basement fanny packers — who take one look at the potential wallet damage and flee faster than a fat man from a fresh vegetable.  Also, the inside seating (hard stools at bare tables) doesn’t match the cooking or the (seated) crowd  — making the whole place feel like a fast casual concept got lost on its way to the Cordon Bleu.

Bottom line: Wally’s, like The Pepper Club downtown and Harlo in Downtown Summerlin, is pushing the price envelope — seeing just far it can take the familiar-yet-FOMO comfort food thing. Inflation or no inflation, Millennials and GenXrs show no signs of voting with their feet, as it is consistently filled with folks who don’t seem to mind paying $32 for a salad.

TURNING JAPANESE

Izakaya Go

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Busier than a bee on a flower farm. Harder to get into than a nun’s habit. But worth it.

Sushi Hiro

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Hiro-san and his cadre of sushi chefs (above) are the best reason to eat in Henderson. Big plus: it’s open for LUNCH!

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Trattoria Nakamura-Ya

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Japanese-Italian food may cause some con-fusion to some, but the results are always lip-smackingly delicious.

Ichiza

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Twenty years on, our first izakaya has held up well, even if it now has loads of competition for the late-night sake-and-sustenance crowd.

IT’S CHINATOWN, JAKE

…and don’t you forget it.

One of these are not technically in Chinatown, but all are very Chinese and extremely worth their chopsticks.

Xiao Long Dumpling

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The new kid on the dumpling block is one of the best.

Noodlehead

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When China Mama is packed to the rafters, walk across the street and dandan the day away.

ShangHai Taste

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This is what we meant by “….worth a thousand words.”

Big Wong

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If there’s a better bargain in Chinatown than Big Wong’s Hainanese chicken, or its curry beef, we haven’t found them…or two nicer owners than Wei and Connie:

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Rainbow Kitchen

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Dat sum dim sum and dem sum.

AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT…

Salvadoreño

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Because no “best restaurants” list should ever be without a Salvadoran platos tipicos:

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MORE SOUTH OF THE BORDER

La Vecindad

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Our go-to when we’re in the mood for some quick queso fundido fun. After lunch there, we usually traipse around the corner to…

Pasabocas Colombian Bakery

…for a taste of Bogata and buñuelos:

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Letty’s de Leticia’s Cocina

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These deep-fried chicharonnes might be our favorite noontime nosh:

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SEOUL FOOD

Napal Baji

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Unknown to most gringos, there is a mini Korean food boom going on in Chinatown. Some of it is perplexing, and subtle it is not.

Most is flat-out fabulous, even if it represents something like an assault  over the 38th Parallel against your taste buds. Rather than trying to parse all the flavors in these ingredient-heavy recipes, we prefer to let the sensations envelope us like the wisdom of their supreme leader.

If you don’t know Korean food, know your Koreans. We have good friends who know their Jjamppongs from their Gopchang Jeongols, and they always ply us with enough sochu that we don’t care how terrible we sound trying to pronounce these things.

Whatever you do, get the spicy sausage “Army” stew (above) — it’s just the thing to fortify you for your never-ending fight against the Commie menace.

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Q Bistro

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This joint has been around for a while, but is a good place to learn our kimchees and Qs. Our Korean friends swear by it. Beware though: some dishes will blow your head off. Like the Kim Sam Bok (above), that tasted as lethal as it looks.

Moobongri Soondae

Another recent addition to our Korean scene. Short on decor, long on authenticity. But it helps to have someone with you who knows how to cut the kalbi:

https://twitter.com/i/status/1515467243332640768

STEAK YOUR CLAIM

We sliced up this subject a couple of months ago, but here are the bovine beauties with whom we continue to have the best beef these days:

Bazaar Meat

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In a town of terrific tartares, JosĂ© AndrĂ©s still makes one of the best. The only thing holding back this restaurant is its location….which we expect to change soon.

Golden Steer

https://twitter.com/i/status/1502493249612644355

Since the pandemic lifted, this place has been busier than a whisky concession at an Irish wedding. Reservations are now essential….even in the bar! The days of popping in for a quick drink and  grabbing a steak and Caesar on your way home are deader than Dean Martin.

Brezza

Image(“Risotto for one, coming right up, Mr. C.”)

Not exactly a steakhouse and not exactly not one, either. So we’re putting it here, even thought we’ve pretty much sworn off Italian restaurants (until we go to Sardinia in July). No matter what you call it, whenever Nicole Brisson is making risotto inside a ginormous wheel of Parm, we’re on it like a porker at an acorn farm.

Carversteak

We’ve eaten a LOT of beautiful steaks in the past six months, but the best has been the dry-aged Kansas City strip at Carversteak:

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We’re pretty nuts about Daniel Ontiveros’s mayonnaise-y take on tartare, too.

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Capital Grille

We come for the lunch (and the steak salad), but stay for dessert:

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Harlo Steakhouse and Bar

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Gina Marinelli’s pastas are better here than they are at La Strega. There, I said it.

The desserts are worth a special trip all by themselves:

https://twitter.com/i/status/1501736412307095557

SW Steakhouse

Wallet-bending but worth it. The steaks and sides are superb, but Mark LoRusso’s starters and are stars in their own right.

Image(SW recently gave me a boner. Wait, what?)

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

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I’ve never been quite sure what to call this place. In Miami where it was founded it is Joe’s Stone Crab. Here, it is more of a steak house but seafood gets top billing. Not only that but they also do incredible fried chicken. Color me confused, but always satisfied.

Pro tip: this joint is always packed, so go at an off-hour (late lunch is best) or late at night. (You’ll have to wait until fall for your stone crabs, however.)

Sparrow + Wolf

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S+W isn’t a steakhouse per se, but we think this is the best thing on the menu:

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If Carversteak fed us our best steak of the year (so far), this 32 oz. beauty with American banchan isn’t far behind. All of those small dishes of sharply-focused spice, veggies and texture are perfectly calibrated to mitigate the richness of the beef.

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I may occasionally give Howard grief for criticizing the high-wire act he has going on with some of his food, but there’s no denying the pioneering status of his restaurant, and the revitalization of Chinatown it sparked five years ago.

Vic & Anthony’s

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The Golden Nugget does not leap to mind when someone says “first-class beef emporium,” but its steakhouse goes t-bone-to-t-bone with the competition on Fremont Street. The old-school, dark, clubby atmosphere is a big plus, as is the professional service, and a wine list full of bargains if you’re willing to break your Cali cab addiction (see above).

It might also have the best crab cake in Vegas (see below):

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NEVER BEEN TO SPAIN?

Jamon Jamon Tapas

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Traditional Spanish in the burbs. Fun decor. Easy parking. Ignore the surroundings, and dig into tapas to beat the band and the best paella that isn’t made at Jaleo (below).

Jaleo

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There is no better paella in America. The open pit alone cost over $1mil and you can’t duplicate its woodsy subtlety and smokiness without moving outdoors. Also open for lunch (which we tend to forget), and has a killer bar and beverage program (which our aging liver doesn’t need). Around for more than twelve years and still one of our gastronomic gems.

TRIED AND TRUE

Cipriani

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DE Thai Kitchen

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Don’t ask me what this is or how to pronounce it. Just take this picture to the restaurant, point to the not-so “secret menu” on the wall, and dive in. Beware, however, of ordering it or anything here “Bangkok hot.”

Saginaw’s

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The world famous 99 cent Vegas shrimp cocktail lives! But now it costs $11. Still a bargain; still worth every penny.

Life’s a Bagel

Image(Bagels make the heart dough fonder)

The Legends Oyster Bar & Grill

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Your best off-Strip seafood option that doesn’t have a Japanese flag attached to it.

PublicUs

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Our weekend go-to for incredible coffee and fresh-baked pastries. These scones should be illegal:

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Braeswood BBQ

The two best barbecue options in town are within a couple of blocks of each other on Main Street in #DTLV. Both are no-nonsense odes to smoked meat. Don’t even think of arguing with me about Vegas ‘cue until you’ve given each one a test drive.

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Soulbelly BBQ

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Elia Authentic Greek Taverna

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As welcoming as the Greek Isles, blessedly without the unwanted nudity and non-stop bouzouki music.

Bouchon

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I’ll put this $36 chicken up against your $72 steak any day.

Marché Bacchus

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We don’t know for how much longer AndrĂ© Rochat is going to be cooking, but right now, this septuagenarian’s desserts are worth a special trip.

It’s hard for us to carb our enthusiasm for this place. An essential stop on any Italian eating tour of Las Vegas.

Khoury’s

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I have dreams about this mezze platter: visions of endless baskets of nutty-puffy pita bread, stuffed into my eager maw after a slathering of spicy sujuk sauce and a dollop of labne as cool and bracing as a summer salad  — all of it refreshing my spirit as it satisfies my primal appetites. In my dreams, I caress and suckle each bite as if it were my last, kneeling before these treasures, intoxicated by the perfume of garden greens given lusciousness by oils, seeds, fruits and plants squeezed gently, then rapidly from the earth by pulsating soft-yet-turgid fingers, until, after stroke after stoke, then lick upon lick from my avaricious mouth, the cornucopia of sweet, herbaceous and milky tastes ooze forth in an explosion of happy, dribbled satisfaction.

Thanks, I needed that.

Anyone got a cigarette?

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D’Agostino’s

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Just order this linguine with clams and thank me later.

Cafe Breizh

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JUST DESSERTS
How inexcusable of us to end without featuring a few sweets that have sated our cravings for something sugared and syrupy after a surfeit of savory sustenance. Good, house-made desserts (like good bread) are now as common in Las Vegas restaurants (on and off the Strip) as hamachi crudo. Here are a few concupiscent confections of which we are quite fondant (sorry, couldn’t resist one last pun).
Just as we can’t resist this picture of Cipriani’s luscious, multi-layered, insanely rich chocolate cake — here being attacked by a Proper Lunch Bunch attendee who we try to keep away from sharp objects and anything that has to be shared:
Image(Matt Brooks can resist anything but temptation)
Honey toast at Sparrow + Wolf (modeled by Sherri Mirejovsky, who graciously took her modeling fee in sweets):
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Vanilla Panna Cotta with Vanilla Sorbet at Wally’s:
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And finally, all the Catalan creams at Jamon Jamon Tapas:
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That’s all for now folks. These should keep you busy for a while. They aren’t every restaurant I’ve been to since Jan. 1, 2022, but they are the ones that left the deepest impression….and where I think your hard-earned dollars will be best spent.
In the meantime, should you want to follow me on a podcast, tune into the What’s Right with Sam & Ash show every Friday to hear my masticatory musings about the Las Vegas food scene.
Or follow me on Twitter (@eatinglasvegas), where I try to post real-time photos (with commentary), about all of my eatings about town.
Bon appétit!
THE END
Image(It only took thirty years, but I’m finally the official something of something.)