Archive for the ‘Reviews’

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 2014

October 31, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, The List 3 Comments →

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Here it is food fans: our inclusive, independent, infallible, indispensable, indomitable, inevitable, individual, incorruptible index of Las Vegas 50 most “essential” restaurants. It represents our educated opinion of the best food and restaurant experiences Las Vegas has to offer, in descending order of importance to our food scene.

Put another way, these are the restaurants I would take another food writer, gourmet, world-class chef, or ardent food fan to if they asked me to take them on the ultimate epicurean tour of Vegas, and we had a month to complete the task. (For those of you who are wondering: every one of these places has been visited multiple times by yours truly. Many of them have fed us at least a half a dozen times, and in ten of them we’ve eaten more meals than we can count.)

Readers of the last printed edition of this title, will notice that 21 of the 50 entries are new — that’s how much our food scene has changed since we released the 2013 edition in November, 2012. The year ahead may be a quieter one as far as new openings are concerned, but don’t bet on it. There may finally be enough interest (and affluent warm bodies) downtown to final give that area some traction in the finer foods department (thank you Kerry Simon), and the venerable Strip hotels are going to be upping their games now that some of their stores are starting to show their age (are you listening MGM and Caesars?) Smaller hotels with a few, top flight offerings seem to be the wave of the future (a la the SLS), although Resorts World might be a behemoth that changes the game the way the Bellagio did in 1998.

All of us at Eating Las Vegas hope this will be the start of a tradition — that of releasing our 50 Essential list every Nevada Day/Halloween. We will be updating some of the reviews throughout the year, and you can look forward to our “new look” Web site coming on-line within the month, which will make accessing the 50 Essential much easier, as well as all past and current content.

In the meantime we will continue to give you Las Vegas’s only erudite, incisive, unfettered and un-compromised opinions on its restaurant and dining scene….and never forget that we at ELV stand by our ELV Guarantee: All Opinions Right Or Your Money Back!

THE TOP 10

1. Joël Robuchon

2. Restaurant Guy Savoy

3. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

4. Raku/Sweets Raku

5. Carnevino

6. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

7. Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare

8. Kabuto Edomae Sushi

9. Picasso

10. Estiatorio Milos

THE REST OF THE BEST

11. Yonaka

12. China Poblano

13. Julian Serrano

14. Sage

15. Allegro

16. China MaMa

17. Mizumi

18. Le Cirque

19. db Brasserie

20. Giada – The Restaurant (on Earth – The Planet)

21. Rose.Rabbit.Lie.

22. Yusho

23. Carson Kitchen

24. Spago

25. Lotus of Siam

26. Michael Mina

27. CUT

28. Bouchon

29. Bazaar Meat

30. Eiffel Tower Restaurant

31. Forte

32. Due Forni

33.  Jaleo

34. Rao’s

35. District One

36. Chada Thai

37.  Cleo

38. I-Naba

39. Sen of Japan

40. B&B Ristorante

41. Monta

42. Nakamura-Ya

43. Mint Indian Bistro

44. Marche Bacchus

45. Ku Noodle

46. El Sombrero

47. Desnudo Tacos/47.1 Rodeo Tacos Barbacoa estilo Hidalgo

48. Zen Japanese Curry

49.  The Goodwich

50.  Art of Flavors

Honorable mention: Delmonico; Chocolate & Spice Bakery; La Comida; Wing Lei, Botero; Katsuya by Starck; Honey Salt; Prime; Table 10; Mundo; Comme Ça; Top of the World; Aloha Speciaties; Soyo; O Face Doughnuts; Bin 702; Border Grill; Tacos El Gordo; Buddy V’s.

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 50. ART OF FLAVORS

October 30, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Downtown, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews 5 Comments →

50. ART OF FLAVORS

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Let’s get one thing straight, shall we?

Art of Flavors is not a restaurant. It has no menu; it has no waitrons. There is no maitre’d to seat you, nor are there many real seats to be had. The flatware is plastic, the dishware is cardboard, and the appetizers and main courses are as non-existent as the good judgment of the girls dancing across the street.

So why is is number 50 on our list of The 50 Essential Restaurants of Las Vegas? Because, quite simply, no eating tour of our humble burg would be complete without a stop here.  Because, even more simply, lying in the shadow of both the Olympic Garden strip club (literally) and the Luv-it-Custard ice cream stand (figuratively), lies the best goddamned gelato ever to melt on a Las Vegas sidewalk.

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The brainchild of pastry chef Desyreé G. Alberganti, these luscious concoctions are all made on premises, with all natural flavors, no additives, and a ton of passion — passion (and intensity) you can taste with every silky smooth spoonful.

It is gelato so good that we at ELV have been in dozens of times and have to fight with ourselves not to go on a daily basis. It is gelato so good it single-handedly raised the foodie IQ of downtown Las Vegas the day it opened. It is gelato so good you will never be satisfied with store-bought ice cream again.

Yeah, it’s that good.

There’s nothing generic about AoFG. It is as hand-tooled and artisanal as food gets in the High Mojave Desert, and after one bite of Alberganti’s cioccalato di pepperocino (chocolate spiced with the back-of-the-throat warming glow of peppers),or her Fior di Latte (basic vanilla gelato base), or the Pumpkin Spiced Pie Creme Brûlée, or Smurf (yes, it’s very blue), or the last word in Cookies ‘n Cream, you will foreswear all other forms of frozen desserts forever.

And if it’s boundary-pushing sweets you’re after, you’ll swoon over things like Roasted Garlic with Herb and EVOO, Black Sesame Seed with Edamame and Caramelized Soy Sauce, or…..wait for it….Chicken Wings:

…each of which tastes exactly like the thing(s) it is named after….yet somehow manages still to be a sweet, palate-pleasing, slurp-worthy dessert.

How Desyreé does it is anyone’s guess, but one lick in and you’ll know you’re in the hands of a devilishly creative kitchen angel — with a heavenly sense of humor that’s going to be hell on your waistline.

Favorite dishes: The gelato, Bozo. All of them.

ART OF FLAVORS GELATO

1616 Las Vegas Blvd. South #130

702.569.3636

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 49. THE GOODWICH

October 28, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Downtown, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews No Comments →

49. THE GOODWICH

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 ELV note: Until The Goodwich opened earlier this year, a good hot sandwich was harder to find than a Mormon distillery. Still less than a year old, it remains the only place to get a a superior version of the meal that made John Montagu famous. Rather than blather on and on about how good The Goodwich’s creations are, we’ll leave it to Mitchell Wilburn to extol its virtues, as he did in a posting back in March. Take it away Mitchell:

Damn man, damn.  I have been so consistently wowed by this place, that I’ve been going back about twice a week.  It does help that it is five  minutes away from my hip (and only slightly dangerous) digs in “The Downtown”, but I would drive from Summerlin consistently and even bear slumming it in Dino’s (and I REALLY don’t like Dino’s) to enjoy these seriously bad-ass sandwiches.

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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 48. ZEN JAPANESE CURRY

October 27, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews, Spring Mountain Road 3 Comments →

48. ZEN JAPANESE CURRY & TOPPINGS

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It’s tasty.

It’s fresh.

It’s unique.

It’s inexpensive.

It’s chef-owned.

That chef/owner (Takaya Zenbayashi) is always at the stoves.

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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 47.1 RODEO LOS REYES DE LA BARBACOA ESTILO HIDALGO

October 23, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews 1 Comment →

47.1  RODEO LOS REYES DE LA BARBACOA ESTILO HIDALGO

Since Desnudo Tacos is kaput for the time being, our staff thought it appropriate to elevate Rodeo Los Reyes de la Barbacoa estilo Hildago to the much coveted “best damn hole-in-the-wall tacos” spot on our Essential 50 list.

The tag line says ¡ Todo hecho al momento! and they mean it.  The quality of the barbecued meats and the tortillas and the beans and the salsas they put out (for around ten bucks a platter) is nothing short of phe-nom-en-ol.

In terms of bang for the buck, it can’t be beat.

In terms of having the longest name in Las Vegas restaurants, it can’t be beat either.

To get there, take the Decatur North exit off the 93-95 (across from the Meadows Mall) and proceed north on Decatur. Look to your left a mile or so up the road and you’ll spot the barely lit “Barbacoa” sign in the middle of a seedy shopping center:

Don’t be put off by the bare tables and the fact there are only five people in the joint and three of them work there. Because two of the three are the ladies who are barbacoa-ing their hearts out back in the kitchen….in the “style of Hildago” of course.

The magic they make with these meats puts many a Mexican to shame. Take one bite of the carnitas, goat (chiva) or carne asada and be prepared to drop your taco in appreciation. The salsas will also blow you away.

Yeah, they’re that good.

Favorite dishes: What are you deaf? Get the tacos….all of them.

P.S. This picture doesn’t do them justice.

RODEO LOS REYES DE LA BARBACOA ESTILO HIDALGO

2115 N. Decatur Ave.

702.638.1100

EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 47. DESNUDO TACOS

October 22, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Reviews 2 Comments →

ELV note: Unbekownst to us, 2 hours before we posted this today, Desnudo Tacos announced on its Facebook page that it would be shuttering operations at the end of this week due to a lease dispute. As much as it saddens us to hear this, we ‘ll stick by our pick of it as an “essential” Las Vegas restaurant (yes, the food is that good), and keep on the lookout for the new location — which we are confident will happen soon.

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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 46. “The New” EL SOMBRERO

October 20, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, Downtown, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Openings, Reviews 1 Comment →

46. EL SOMBRERO

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The old El Sombrero was Las Vegas’s oldest restaurant. It opened its doors for the first time in 1950, and was considered time-worn and venerable when, in 1970, Teresa and José Aragon took over and started cooking their unique brand of Mexican-meets-New Mexican food. After a 44 year run, the Aragons retired in April and sold the joint to Irma Aguirre. It reopened in August, and what she and Executive Chef Oscar Sanchez have done to the 43 seat space is nothing short of amazing.

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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 45. KU NOODLE

October 16, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Chefs, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Openings, Reviews Comments Off

45. KU NOODLE

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Chinese restaurants in Las Vegas come in two sizes: on-the-Strip and overpriced, and off-the-Strip and down and dirty. The holes in the walls are stuck into seedy shopping centers up and down Spring Mountain Road. They are generally excellent, but also, due to their being the genuine article, off-putting to most round eyes. Strip Chinese joints usually charge double for dishes remarkably similar to ones you get a mile to the west, but at least you’re not afraid to look into the corners, and the ingredients are usually better.

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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 44. MARCHE BACCHUS

October 15, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Reviews, Wine 2 Comments →

44. MARCHE BACCHUS

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We at ELV are not sure if Marche Bacchus even qualifies for the coveted title of Best-Off-Strip-Restaurant-That’s-Not-In-Chinatown anymore, but we do know this: it’s still our favorite restaurant in Vegas, and the only one we ever want to go to to wile away a weekend afternoon, sipping spectacular wine (at the best prices in town) and engaging in our usual witty display of epicurean aphorisms and gastronomic bon mots.

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EATING LAS VEGAS – The 50 Essential Restaurants – 43. MINT INDIAN BISTRO

October 13, 2014 By: John Curtas Category: Critics, EATING LAS VEGAS - The 50 Essential Restaurants, Food, Max Jacobson, Reviews 1 Comment →

43. MINT INDIAN BISTRO

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Calvin Trillin once wrote that the average Italian restaurant gets more customers in a day than the average Indian restaurant gets in a month. ELV — the man, the myth, the yogurt-yogi-spiritual-advisor — used to agree with him. These days the tables have been turned (somewhat) and from the lines out the door at Mint Indian Bistro, it appears the Indians (dots not feathers) are giving the Italians a run for your money. ELV also thinks every vegetarian restaurant in Vegas is a joke. They should all close up shop immediately, and every vegetarian in town should start frequenting this place  instead.

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