By Lesley Balla
The Las Vegas restaurant scene is hotter than ever, from the flashiest new mega-restaurants on the Strip to unconventional steakhouses in the suburbs. Whatever you're looking for, whether it's a day of shopping and dining in the suburbs to the latest celebrity-chef spots, we've got you covered. Here are 10 of the hottest new discoveries you won't want to miss in Sin City. (Feature photo by DB Brassiere)
Tapas by Alex Stratta
Why It's Hot: Alex Stratta ran restaurants at the big resorts for almost 12 years until he cut ties with the Wynn, where his haute dining room Alex garnered high praise. He stayed in Las Vegas but strayed from the Strip, finally settling on this new tapas restaurant in Tivoli Village, a shopping and dining complex in Summerlin. It's a more casual, everyday dining destination, and definitely a great reason to check out the suburbs.
Must-Order: The ingredients are Mediterranean, but the presentation is pure Stratta. Meaning: modern interpretations of traditional dishes, mostly small plates that change frequently. Some signatures include Valencia-style paella, oxtail stew, Moroccan chicken with apricots, curried lamb kebabs, patatas bravas, baked Monte Enebro cheese and bacalo. Don't miss nightly specials like game hen on Wednesdays and roasted porchetta on Sundays.
Insider Tip: There are a lot of great restaurants and boutiques in Tivoli Village. Make a day of it. (Photo by Tapas by Stratta)
440 S. Rampart; 702-483-3555
Andiron Steak & Sea
Why It's Hot: Restaurateurs Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla (Buddy V's, Honey Salt, Made L.V.) debuted this modern steakhouse in the burgeoning Downtown Summerlin outdoor retail district this spring. The massive room is meant to have a feminine East Coast edge with whitewashed woods, pops of greens and navy blues, floor-to-ceiling plantation shutters and a window looking into the bustling kitchen. There's a massive bar and patio that suit local shoppers.
Must-Order: Some early hits include sea urchin toast with shaved radish; Alaskan king crab with avocado purée, grapefruit and fennel pollen; a tomahawk steak for two with trumpet mushrooms; turbot steamed with citrus; and mac 'n' cheese waffles.
Insider Tip: There are more than 100 shops and restaurants at Downtown Summerlin, including a big movie theater. Do as the locals do: get off the Strip and spend a day out here. (Photo by Andiron Steak & Sea)
1720 Festival Plaza Drive; 702-685-8002
Border Grill at the Forum Shops
Why It's Hot: Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger were part of the first wave of celebrity chefs to land in Las Vegas with Border Grill at Mandalay Bay, and now they've added a second location at The Forum Shops at Caesars. Located near the spiraling escalator, the indoor patio flows into the cantina lounge, with a ceviche bar, open kitchen and dining room inside. It's colorful and vibrant, just like the original in Santa Monica.
Must-Order: The majority of the menu is classic Border Grill, things like green corn tamales, Yucatan-style pork in banana leaves and grilled fish tacos. But there's also that ceviche bar putting out various things like Peruvian-style ceviche with mahi mahi and aji Amarillo chile, and Guatemalen shrimp cocktail. Margaritas and mojitos are always a must.
Insider Tip: The famous Border Brunch is available on Saturday and Sundays with unlimited small plates — think bacon jalapeño peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chicken and waffles, churro tots and fried green tomatillos — for $34.99 per person. Bloody Marys and margaritas are extra. (Photo by Border Grill)
3500 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-854-6700
Why It's Hot: Giada De Laurentiis opened her first restaurant in Las Vegas because, well, Vegas. Anchoring the new Cromwell boutique hotel, there are incredible sweeping views of the Strip and the Bellagio fountains from most seats in the house. With its natural woods, cream-colored furniture, photos and imported tiles around the space, you truly get the feeling that you're in the celebrity chef's own home, which is exactly what she was going for. Expect her famous lemon chicken, pea crositini and drinks named after movies her grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis, produced.
Must-Order: Things from the antipasti bar, like caponata with balsamic and toasted pine nuts, wood-roasted mushrooms with marcona almonds and ricotta salata, and pea-pesto crostini with prosciutto. Entrees like whole roasted chicken carved tableside and served with a cacciatore-style sauce; bucatini with Calabrian chile pomodoro and fresh ricotta; and the veal chop saltimbocca. Plus sides like zucchini with spun golden potatoes and pomodoro sauce and lemon spaghetti squash.
Insider Tip: Because De Laurentiis has such a rabid fan base, there's a photo booth to take a keepsake picture and post directly to social media. Who knows, maybe Giada will even be there and get in the booth with you. (Photo by Giada)
595 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; 702-777-3777
Bazaar Meat at SLS
Why It's Hot: This is how José Andrés does a steakhouse: a tartare bar with carpaccio and cured meats; raw bar with a huge selection of caviar; lots of grills; the best grass-fed, corn-finished beef in America, plus suckling pigs, lamb, quail, offal and more. Think anything that will fulfill carnivorous cravings. The room, which is just off of the main floor of the newish SLS hotel on the north end of the Strip (the former Sahara) is expansive and feels rather meaty throughout, from the carpet emblazoned with a butcher's diagram of a cow to the antler chandeliers hanging above. The wine list tops 600 bottles and cocktails have the flash and flair of other Bazaars (think smoke, liquid nitrogen and goblets). Get those and small bites in the restaurant's Bar Centro.
Must-Order: Some of Andres' famous dishes, like the smoked salmon cones, cotton-candy-wrapped foie gras and gazpacho shots. The raw bar is impressive, as is the caviar flights ranging from $45 to $350 for three. Suckling pig nestled in a Spanish cazuela and roasted in a wood-fired oven. The giant bone-in rib eye steaks are sold by weight, cooked to your specifications and sliced for sharing. Catalan spinach, baby carrots with Greek yogurt and Robochon-style potatoes ("butter, butter, more butter, some potatoes") from the massive side selection.
Insider Tip: Should the need to play poker while sipping a martini with liquid olives strike, the Bazaar Casino, the only casino to be branded by a James Beard Award-winning chef, allows you to play blackjack and roulette while noshing and sipping from the Bazaar menu. (Photo by Jill Paider)
2535 S. Las Vegas Blvd.; 702-761-7610
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