John Curtas is …

The List

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The List

(Because meatballs, at Standard & Pour)

As we’re about to go full throttle through this holiday season, we at ELV thought you’d like to know where we’ve been eating, and where you should take those pesky relatives when they’re looking for something to do. As usual, all places come highly recommended unless otherwise noted.

THE LIST

Gordon Ramsay Steak – Face it, the best cheeseburgers spring forth from superb steakhouses. This is one of the best in the business. The cheeseburger and the steakhouse:

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire – Gagnaire’s food never fails to astonish. Top toque Frédéric Don is doing his master proud. The only thing that ruined my meal here on Election Night was the results…of the election, not the meal. ;-)

CUT – Industry veteran Nicole Erle turns out the tastiest desserts of any steakhouse in town (which is really saying something).

OhLaLa French Bistro – Opened barely a month, not even the mighty ELV can get a table here — that’s how good (and small) it is. Our steak tartare was a properly seasoned slab of Gay* Paree. In fact, it was a dead ringer (in taste and texture) for one we enjoyed at Le Train Bleu eight years ago (although a quarter the size) The fries are out of this world:

….and we can’t wait to try the rest of the menu.

Bardot Brasserie – Can a Vegas brunch be any better? No it can’t:

Carson Kitchen – I wish the restaurant was bigger; I wish the menu was bigger. On the other hand, everything here is always perfect, so maybe I don’t.

Marche Bacchus – Go for brunch; get the crab Benedict:

Yuzu Japanese Kitchen – Just go. Now. And try to remember that you’re not in Tokyo:

Standard & Pour – I love this place almost as much as I hate Green Valley.

Strip Steak – I love the food here almost as much as I hate the decor.

B&B Ristorante – Expect a major renovation after the first of the year. The food needs none. Except that friggin’ garbanzo bean amuse bouche. They’ve even toned the music down a skosh, so bravo all around to Brett Uniss and Nicole Brisson!

Raku –Izakayas don’t get any better in America.

Eggslut – The best thing about this place is the name. Are the overloaded egg sandwiches good? Yes. Are they worth waiting in line for? No.

Ocha Thai – Family-run Thai since 1989. Recently facelifted. Go a couple of times and they’ll treat you like one of the family:

Delices Gourmands French Bakery & Cafe – Best. Bread. Period. The pastries are no slouches, either.

Magal Korean BBQ – Love the food; hate the noise level. Koreans must enjoy screaming at each other over their haejangguk. Or something:

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Cornish Pasty Co. – I don’t get pasties. I don’t get them and I don’t like them. Too one-dimensional and doughy for me. That being said, if you like these cousins-of-a-pierogi-empanada, you’ll be in hog heaven, and if you don’t, there’s lots of great beers on tap to console you.

 Border Grill – The Too Hot Tamales never miss a salsa beat.

Turmeric Flavors of India – I want this place to be a huge success. The food is updated, interesting Indian. Those two things might not be compatible:

Izakaya Go – I’ve had my last bad meal here. The menu is too long, the food too uneven, and the fish too flabby.

Le Pho – If I ate every meal here, instead of indulging at most of the other delicious joints on this page, my cholesterol would be cut in half and the Food Gal® would quit nagging me.

PublicUs – New chef (Justin Bannon), new head barista (Marilou Galindo), same old toothsome bread, sandwiches, and concupiscent coffee.

Libertine Social – These “modern fried” eggs aren’t fried at all, but they’re fantastic, as is everything about this joint:

LS is a tough place to leave from sober (that’s how good the cocktails are), and this double-double burger is a perfect way to help you avoid a hangover:

 Evel Pie – A slice of the Big Apple streets comes to downtown. I was prepared to hate this place, but one bite in took me straight back to deck oven heaven in lower Manhattan (New York, not Kansas):

EATT Healthy Food – Because everything tastes better under a pistachio dome:

Don’t you agree?

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*as in joyful, frolicsome, and full of whimsy.

The List

Image result for anton ego

Everyone knows ELV loves restaurants. That’s why he’s been obsessing over them for 50 years and  writing about them for 22.

ELV — the man, the myth, the inveterate fresser —  first fell in love with restaurants when he was a mere tadpole of 6 — when his mum and dad would take the family every Sunday for breakfast at Ronnie’s in Orlando, Florida.

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We used to sit (all six of us) at a booth right inside and to the right of the front door. (People watching was my parent’s favorite sport, and boy, did we ever get an eyeful every weekend.) I can still taste the fist-sized, house-made pumpernickel rolls — dark and sour, loaded with finely-chopped, melted onions, tri-folded into the dense, chewy dough. Dad used to buy them back the sackful to take home, and one of my first food epiphanies came from unfolding the roll and stuffing it with rare roast beef (that dad also brought home from their deli counter).

(I even remember going off into a little corner of our house, or sitting on our sofa alone while doing this, the better to enjoy the savory-sour marriage of soft bread and beef all by myself. To this day, when I’m really hungry and there’s something really good to eat in the house, I enjoy sitting off in a corner by myself, enjoying it in the most primal and infantile sort of way.)

Nothing beats eating alone sometimes, just as nothing can compete with watching the human comedy pass by, over good food, good company and the ones you love.

(As usual, The List* contains all of those places at which we’ve dined over the past few months. All places are highly recommended, unless otherwise noted.)

THE LIST

Libertine Social

Bouchon

Zydeco Po-Boys

Ocha Thai

Bazaar Meats

Omelet House (Terrible with a capital “T”.)

Yuzu Japanese Kitchen

Chengdu Taste

Hiroyoshi

Weera Thai

Andiron Steak & Sea

DJT (Some remarkably good food, in an old-fashioned, Miami Beach-like lobby, with some killer seasonal specials. Put aside politics and dig in. Just try to forget where the money is going.)

THE Steakhouse at Circus Circus

Charlie Palmer STEAK

Portofino

Carson Kitchen

Standard & Pour

Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whiskey (Ramen that’s gone from decent to terrible, with the worst whiskey list since Whiskey A-Go-Go .)

La Comida

Capriotti’s

B&B Ristorante

Carnevino

Gelatology (Best. Gelato. In. Town. Period.)

Delmonico

Mon Ami Gabi

Du-par’s (Get the pancakes. Or the patty melt. Or a slice of pie. Skip everything else.)

Raku

Bōcho

Spago

Art of Flavors

Rick’s Rollin Smoke BBQ (I wouldn’t eat here with Al Mancini’s palate.)

The Smashed Pig

El Sombrero Mexican Bistro

Fiamma

La Cave

Allegro

Halal Guys (Inexplicably popular food at unbelievably low prices for undeniably dumb Yelpers. I guess that explains it. I wouldn’t go back here if the food was free. Because that’s what it tastes like. Cheap ass, free food.)

Due Forni

Chicago Joe’s (No one gives a shit anymore and it shows.)

Harvest by Roy Ellamar

Estiatorio Milos

Hearthstone

Mr. Chow

Spartina (In L.A., I know, but worth a drive just for Stephen Kalt’s fabulous pastas.)

Carbone

Bardot Brasserie

The Goodwich

Emeril’s Fish House

Alizé

André’s (Au revoir to a French classic.)

Goong Korean BBQ

Hobak Korean BBQ

Magal Korean BBQ (We ate multiple times at all three of our new, upscale’d Korean ‘cue joints, and Magal gets our nod as the best of the bunch.)

Delices Gourmands French Bakery and Cafe

Yui Edomae Sushi

EATT Healthy Food (Eat. Here. Now. For the healthiest French food in town.)

Le Pho

Khoury’s

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon

Beer Park (For lover’s of serious suds and serious bar food. Even Budweiser tastes better here. Go figure.)

PublicUs

Glutton

The Perch (Everything tastes like it came out of a freezer bag, because it probably did.)

Lotus of Siam

Sage

(That’s 66 restaurants in 90 days if anyone’s counting.)

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Yep, ELV loves restaurants like vanilla loves fudge, like peanut butter loves jelly, like Donald Trump loves grabbing cats.

It started at a very young age and has continued right through into our sixth decade of life.

We love restaurants for their theater, for people, for the food, and for the civilization they represent. But mainly we love them because they remind us of that little boy, sitting in a big, semi-circular, low-backed booth on a late Sunday morning with his family, waiting for those pumpernickel rolls to show up, while his mom and dad made him the happiest kid on earth.

We SALUTE You on Labor Day

You know who never gets Labor Day off?

Chefs. And cooks. And bar backs. And dishwashers.

Nope, they never get three-day weekends. (Well, maybe they do, but not like the rest of us.)

Especially on Labor Day. And especially in Las Vegas (Nevada, not New Mexico).

Because over 315,000 hungry souls invade the High Mojave this weekend looking for fun, sun and sustenance.

And someone has to be working their tails off to feed them. From our vaunted frog ponds to the lowliest buffet, our restaurants will be humming today.

Labor Day also kicks off  “The Season” in our humble burg — the time of the year when the bargain-hunting day-clubbers leave, and every conventioneer, honeymooner, bevy of bachelorettes:

….and high-roller in da woild descends upon us, looking for whatever their version of “fun” is.

And, as we said, they all have to eat and drink.

And spend a lot of money doing it.

So, on some level, all those restaurant workers are probably not that unhappy about slaving away at the stoves today, because the living they make at it is probably better than it is in almost any other city in America.

Still though, they’re working today and you probably aren’t, so hats off to them: the good folks who feed us (and 42 million visitors a year), so well.

While we’re at it, The List*:

Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Bar (Great food, greater than ever, even greater wine list.)

Hachi Japanese Yakitori Izakaya (Just opened – yet another izakaya around Spring Mountain Road – worth a look.)

Mothership Coffee (Get the coffee; use the pastries as a doorstop.)

PublicUs (Coffee and pastries don’t get any better around town.)

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