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 our Hit List comes in.
It’s our guide to the restaurants that have opened in the past year that we’d highly recommend you try. It’s also sorted chronologically, so you’ll find the newest spots at the top, and as you keep scrolling you’ll find the ones that are great enough that we still haven’t stopped talking about them months later.
There’s a good chance you leave Greene St. Kitchen in the Palms with a little less available storage on your phone from all the photos you took of the interior. There’s graffiti all over the walls, an arcade, and a rosé champagne vending machine just to start. Come with a group before going out for the night, share things like stuffed lobster and a 24oz Tajima (wagyu) rib-eye, and leave with more friends than you walked in with.
La Strega is a new 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, chicken milanese with grilled peaches, and anchovy crostini with preserved lemon. They also serve a similarly long and interesting brunch menu on Sundays from 10am-2:30pm.
We don’t know if it’s the silent movie playing on one of the walls or the twists on American classics they serve, but there’s something comforting about Old Soul. What we do know is that it’s a restaurant downtown that looks sort of like the cellar of a haunted mansion, except one where all the ghosts end up being really nice. The entire menu - other than the NY steak - is under $30, but with jus and creole butter on top, that 10oz cut is near perfect (and worth the extra dollars) next to a side of fried green tomatoes. It’s somewhere you’ll find yourself getting comfortable - you’ll sink really far down in your chair, drink a whiskey flight, and pretend you live there for the night. Just don’t get too comfortable because Old Soul shuts down at 9pm (and is closed Fridays, Sundays, and Mondays).
Lamaii is a new 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 snapper, 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 2am every night and is probably the best place in Chinatown to eat Pla crispy beef when it’s already dark out.
If you sit right inside the entrance to the Palms, you’ll overhear at least four couples ask, “Where is Sara’s?” out loud before trying to find someone who might be able to answer. Luckily for you, you’ve read this guide and know that it’s located inside Mabel’s BBQ on the casino floor. There are only 45 seats inside this secret supper club so reservations are basically mandatory. The truffle fried chicken with parmesan and honey is one of our favorite dishes, but if you really want to go for it, try out the smoked prime rib, carved tableside, with optional foie gras butter.
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 A-Frame OG baby back ribs from the “LA Sh*t” part of the menu and a whole rack of lamb with kimchi chimichurri from the large-format 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.
There are two types of people you’ll find at Catch. The ones who came because they saw pictures of the wild, colorful, forest-like entrance, and the others who heard that this restaurant in the ARIA has some truly amazing seafood. Whichever group you’re in, you’re going to have a good time here. The fish they serve is some of the best in Vegas and the menu has dishes like salmon belly carpaccio with yuzu and hamachi spinach with sweet ponzu. It’ll all have you leaving happy enough that you won’t want to purposefully crash everyone’s photo ops.
Everything about Vetri Cucina feels exclusive. After making your way into the Palms and through the casino, you’ll find a host stand. You’ll be greeted on the ground floor then whisked up 56 floors via a private elevator. When the doors open, you’ll see one of the best views of the Strip you’ll find anywhere in Vegas and you’ll wonder whether anything here could match up. Then the incredible pastas will hit your table and they’ll be the only thing that could make you forget about the skyline.
Walking into Nomad, you’ll have to confront your darkest secret: you never returned the copy of To Kill A Mockingbird you took out from the library in 7th grade. Thankfully, while the restaurant has two stories worth of books, there’s no librarian and no late-fees, just incredible (and expensive) food. We love the tagliatelle with king crab and the 14oz veal chop tomahawk, but we always leave here talking about the desserts. The “Milk & Honey,” which is honey-oat shortbread, brittle, and ice cream, might be the best one in town.
Cleaver is a steakhouse in Southeast Vegas that’s a little different than your classic, old-school spots serving large slabs of meat. There are lots of chandeliers, a long bar, funky wallpaper, and a very large painting of Chris Farley. Head here with friends for a long dinner of steak and pork belly mac and cheese, or come during one of their daily Happy Hours (5-8pm and 12-3am) for half off certain steaks and drink specials. Then discuss what you’d wear for your floor-to-ceiling portrait.
Wine bars can be stuffy places with overpriced pours and tiny plates of food that do nothing to offset the glass of wine in front of you. Mordeo, a wine bar in Chinatown, does neither of these things and is worth going to as much for the food as for the wine. The space is small so come early and grab a seat at the bar (where the majority of the seating is) and order anything from a few yuzu chicken skewers to a 32oz Tomahawk steak for two. Then turn your full attention to their long wine list with bottles at a wide range of price points and plenty of by-the-glass options.
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.