Las Vegas is an overwhelming city. It’s expensive, it always feels like daytime even in the middle of the night, and the weather usually hovers around “surface of the sun” levels. There are also about as many restaurants as there are people, with new ones opening almost weekly. And since you probably only have a few days in town, you don’t want to waste your time and money eating overpriced, mediocre food. That’s where this comes in.
It’s our guide to the restaurants that have opened in the past few years that we’d highly recommend you try - so you can spend less time debating where to eat and more time reading books on counting cards or deciding what to wear to the five pool parties you’re checking out tomorrow.
Milpa is a newer Mexican spot in Spring Valley that focuses on local ingredients and the highest quality heirloom corn for their in-house masa. Their signature blue corn tortillas are the celebrity of their molino (milling) concept where you can buy their masa, tortillas, and tostadas. Build your own tacos or try our personal favorite, the mushroom and squash tetela.
Lamaii is a Chinatown spot that looks a bit like a chandelier store and serves great, spicy Thai food. Once you get tired of counting the hanging lights and trying to find the tag on your chair so you can get one for your apartment, order the whole fried sea bass, grilled curry sausage, and Panang curry, all of which go well with anything from their wine list that focuses on Riesling, Champagne, and Chablis. Lamaii is open until 10pm or 12am every night and is probably the best place in Chinatown to eat pla crispy beef when it’s already dark out.
La Strega is a newer Italian place in Summerlin - about 20 minutes from The Strip - and it’s worth a trip if you have some extra time in the city. They serve familiar-sounding food, but each dish on the menu has one or two unexpected ingredients that make this place stand out, like the stracci pasta with braised beef cheeks and sage and anchovy crostini with preserved lemon.
When it’s time for a big, fancy-ish, fun dinner that you and your friends all budgeted for on your Las Vegas trip, check out Majordomo at the Palazzo. This is the second location of David Chang’s popular LA restaurant and like the original, it’s best enjoyed family-style. Share larger format dishes like the smoked whole plate Korean barbecue and Texas-style short rib, along with starters like the buttery bing bread (get the fancy foie) and corn cheese gratin. If you really want to make a night out of it, reserve the secret karaoke room and sing the night away between cocktails after your feast.
Like double dates and renting a paddleboat, there are some things you shouldn’t do alone. The same goes for Cleaver - to experience this place fully, you need to bring a group. You can’t go wrong with any of the steaks, but the 64-oz Cleaver ribeye is what will guarantee that everyone else in the restaurant looks at your table with a mix of jealousy and fear. This spot right off the Strip also has one of the best Happy Hours (from 5pm-3am daily with rotating specials every weekend), when most of the steaks are at least 20% off.
Mott 32 could have a post-it note for a menu with only one dish on it - their applewood-roasted Peking duck - and we’d still go to this Chinese/dim sum place in The Venetian regularly. Thankfully their menu is almost 20 pages long and is full of other great dishes, including a variety of dumplings and barbecue pluma Iberico pork that sort of tastes like bacon-honey candy. You’re most likely not going to leave a bite on the table but save room for the fresh mango and coconut rice roll dessert.
Unlike at some Korean BBQ spots, you don’t have to cook your own food at Best Friend - probably for the best since their drinks are strong, which isn’t exactly a recipe for success with a hot grill. The menu is a little all over the place, and can only be described by “LA-meets-Korea-meets-Vegas” - which means things like Kogi short rib tacos from the “LA Sht” part of the menu and a 34-oz bone-in ribeye from the “Vegas Sht” section. There’s also a fully-functioning bodega you walk through to get to the dining room, and it’s where you should pick up a slushie to go as you leave.
From the spiral staircase to the library’s worth of books lining the walls, it would be easy to assume that the entire Nomad budget was spent on the space. But then you look at the menu and realize that’s only half the story - there’s caviar service, tuna tartare, and a roast chicken stuffed with truffles and foie gras. It’s one of the best places on the Strip (and the city in general) for a very special - and very expensive - night out. So if you’re looking for that classic Vegas experience of spending approximately a month’s rent on a meal, make a reservation (Thurs-Mon) at the Nomad.
We could probably make a mini Hit List out of just the places inside The Cosmopolitan’s Block 16 Food Hall because it has a bunch of our favorite dishes all within stumbling distance of each other. There are Nashville hot chicken sandwiches at Hattie B’s (always get a side of the pimento mac and cheese), bruleed cinnamon rolls from District: Donuts, Sliders, and Brew, and meatball banh mis from Lardo. There’s also a mezcal speakeasy called Ghost Donkey that happens to have the best nachos on the Strip - just look for the door with the donkey on it. Head here with a large group, spread out, and pray that everyone is willing to share.
The Silver Stamp
A dimly lit bar with wall-to-wall beer signs reminiscent of your uncle’s basement in the Midwest might not be your first thought when checking out the downtown Vegas bar scene, but The Silver Stamp is exactly that in the best way possible. Located a bit off Main Street, this is the best place to recoup after checking out the First Friday scene in the Arts District. The Silver Stamp also has one of the best beer selections in town along with a huge wall of vintage cans that’s fun to stare at after a few pints. If you start chatting up the staff, prepare for some impromptu Patsy Cline karaoke or a round of Bartender’s Breakfasts if you’ve got a stomach strong enough to handle hard boiled pickled eggs (this place is a bar through and through, so don’t expect to eat a full meal here).
Ada's Wine Bar
Located in Tivoli Village’s outdoor space, Ada’s is the wine bar Summerlin needs. With a Bottle + Boards option that includes a full bottle of wine and a rotating selection of chef’s specialties, it’s the perfect excuse to up your wine knowledge solo or with friends. The menu is full of Spanish/Mediterranean tapas that go great with large quantities of vino, like the Iberico chorizo croquetas and the wild mushrooms with taleggio cream and a sunny side up egg. If you’re feeling daring, try your hand at pouring wine into your mouth with a porron without spilling.