Las Vegas, The Entertainment Capital of the World, is now more than ever deserving of a new moniker — World Culinary Destination.
While many visitors still come for the shows, concerts and sporting events, foodies are flocking to the city to indulge in fine food. In the past decade the simple steakhouse and late-night buffet has given way to a wide variety of cuisines, thanks to a large influx of Michelin-starred chefs and top restaurateurs.
While it’s impossible to experience all Las Vegas has to offer on the culinary scene, it’s definitely fun trying.
On a recent four-day, whirlwind food and cocktail tour, I happily noshed my way through several new celebrity restaurants like The Bedford by Martha Stewart at Paris Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, Ramsay’s Kitchen, the sixth Las Vegas restaurant by celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, which opened Nov. 12 at Harrah’s Las Vegas, and RPM Italian, at The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, partly owned by celebrity couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic, the latter the winner of the first season of NBC’s The Apprentice.
“We are really proud of all the RPMs but this one in particular is exceeding our expectations and people are really loving it here in Vegas,” says Rancic, of their 8th RPM which opened last May (the others are in Chicago and Washington, D.C.)
“People think about Vegas for gambling and casinos but it’s a great restaurant and hospitality town. There is such a wonderful food scene here with wonderful hospitality professionals,” adds one of the other co-owners Jerrod Melman, of Lettuce Entertain You Restaurants, which operate five other restaurants in Las Vegas.
When it comes to cocktails, Las Vegas has a beverage selection like none other with drinks served in the most amazing fashion (smoky glass presentations are big here) and in the most stylish, over-the-top environments.
Again, celebrities factor large when it comes to cocktail lounges, whether they own them like Lisa Vanderpump, best known for appearing in American reality television shows or by the list of celebrities who frequent them.
Vanderpump recently opened Vanderpump Paris, an eclectic, Parisian-inspired affair located in the Paris, Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. Here, you can order pretty pink drinks with pink cotton candy on top or have them served on a golden tray inside a crown in a restaurant/lounge worthy of Marie Antoinette.
Meanwhile, for a very masculine atmosphere there’s Barbershop Cuts and Cocktails at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, which is a speakeasy where you gain access by cutting through an actual barbershop.
Lead mixologist Tony Arnone tells me if you visit later in the evening you never know who will drop in to play an unannounced set. Machine Gun Kelly, Bruno Mars, Robin Thicke, John Legend, Macy Gray and the Zac Brown Band have all played here, he says.
Even if you aren’t a hard-core foodie, you have to eat — so why not treat yourself to a top dining experience in this culinary wonderland. Here are just a few of my favourites places to indulge.
The Mayfair Supper Club
For an old-time Las Vegas vibe that serves up not only outstanding dishes but great entertainment, I visited The Mayfair Supper Club, at the Bellagio Resort & Casino, which opened on New Year’s Eve in 2020. Plush booths and linen-topped tables look out to the Fountains of the Bellagio, providing additional entertainment throughout the night. But as each delectable dish arrived it was nearly impossible to catch all of the show. While my caviar-topped whole Dover sole was delicious, I was equally amazed by the deserts. The cherries jubilee, set on fire directly behind my seat, was a show in and of itself, but the chocolate and hazelnut cigar balancing on top of edible chocolate ash was my favourite. A smoker could have easily mistaken it for the real thing.
Two Michelin-starred chef Tetsuya Wakuda has joined the long list of other top chefs to set up shop in Las Vegas. The Japan-born chef, who has received high accolades for his other restaurants in Singapore and Sydney, has created a culinary adventure for diners at Wakuda’s first U.S. restaurant. Wakuda combines the freshest of produce with French culinary arts and Japanese presentation. The fresh sushi and sashimi was so outstanding that a fellow diner at my table, who normally refuses to eat raw fish, was converted. Personally, I’m not a fan of wasabi but I also changed my tune after eating the fresh wasabi Wakuda brings in from Tasmania. The restaurant, located at The Venetian Resort, initially feels like you are visiting Tokyo as you walk past neon street lights in the entry but after turning the corner you are in a softly-lit Japanese sanctuary, where two white sumo sculptures square off between pink cherry blossom trees.
If you are a fan of Martha Stewart, The Bedford, styled after Stewart’s New York farmhouse, is an opportunity to taste her signature dishes. It’s impossible to resist Stewart’s amazing bread basket, with fresh Parker House rolls and rosemary and cherries focaccia. Be careful not to eat it all to save room for Stewart’s potato-filled perogis, finished in brown butter, her perfectly plated (and yummy) oysters Rockerfeller, and her crab cakes. For entrees, my fellow diners quickly polished off the whole roast chicken and baked potatoes topped with creme fraiche and bacon. Since I’m a pescatarian, I opted for a seafood bouillabaisse with generous portions of lobster, halibut, snapper and mussels.
There’s a reason why there’s always a lineup for weekend brunch at Sadelle’s Cafe at Bellagio Resort & Casino. The food is simply excellent from the bruleed grapefruit to the caviar topped eggs Benedict (if you really want to treat yourself), but don’t forget about their tried and true New-York-style bagels and lox or the avocado toast.
Surprisingly there wasn’t as long a line up at Catch at Aria Resort & Casino for brunch but the food was just as good as Sadelle’s within an equally instagramable setting. The truffle sashimi is a must as well as the decadent Anytime Waffle Tower, layered with maple, milk chocolate and raspberry ice cream.
The RPM Italian
Authentic Italian cuisine is served up in this contemporary restaurant where 10 to 12 fresh pastas are made daily. It’s no surprise that one of the best pasta dishes on the menu, Mama DePandi’s Pomodoro, was a dish created by the Italian mother of part-owner Giuliana Rancic. Other standouts include the Maine Lobster Caprese, the truffled garlic bread and spicy King Crab pasta.
Kim Pemberton is a Victoria freelance writer who visited Las Vegas as a guest of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. The LVCVA had no editorial influence on the article.