Las Vegas Dining: My Favorite Restaurants
Las Vegas restaurants have something for everyone!
I am a frequent traveler to Las Vegas and greatly enjoy the fine food this grand city has to offer. From buffets to upscale restaurants featuring world-renowned chefs, from seafood to steaks or prime rib, you can find it in abundance in Las Vegas. There are some famous restaurants on the Strip I haven’t yet tried due to their prices, but I’ve enjoyed this city’s fine dining for decades and have developed my own list of favorites. In many ways, my experience in Las Vegas is defined by the quality of its restaurants, and dining out is an important part of the Las Vegas experience. I usually find myself wishing I could extend my stay in town because I don’t want to miss eating at my favorite restaurants, yet I’m always hoping to try new places, as well.
If you’re planning a trip to Las Vegas, I highly recommend the establishments listed here. There are restaurants to fit any taste and budget in Las Vegas, but these are among my favorites:
Guides to Las Vegas Dining
The hotels and their restaurants
Las Vegas restaurants: my personal favorites
Hugo’s Cellar in the Four Queens Hotel: Hugo’s Cellar is a perfect combination of quality food, ambiance and outstanding service. Its location in downtown Las Vegas (as opposed to the Strip) makes this restaurant a less desirable destination for some guests, but this experience should not be missed. Ladies are offered a fresh red rose upon entering a dining area decorated in a New Orleans theme. Hugo’s has it’s own wine cellar with an outstanding selection of wines—hence the name.
You start with bread that’s light and tasty, and it is tempting to overindulge from the very beginning. As good as the bread is, the salad that follows is even better. I will list Hugo’s salad cart options in their entirety—it is quite the feast. Choices include crisp romaine leaves, anchovies, fresh peeled tomato wedges, bay shrimp, chopped eggs, sliced mushrooms, marinated artichoke and hearts of palm, bleu cheese cubes, roasted pine nuts, croutons and grated parmesan cheese. This salad is so special you might be tempted to stop there, but don’t. The menu includes lobster tail, King crab legs, scallops, jumbo shrimp, and more. If seafood doesn’t interest you, there are superb steaks and prime rib, veal, roast duck, and rack of lamb.
Chapala’s Mexican Restaurant: This restaurant is not on the Strip, but rather across the street from a car dealership on Decatur Blvd. I searched Google for reviews and found several negative opinions, and I must say I totally disagree. The food is reasonably priced, the quantities are excellent and the meal itself is outstanding.
The service is terrific! Wait staff remembered my family from previous Las Vegas vacations, and even recalled what we ordered! They are prompt and good-natured—I have never seen bad service or an unfriendly attitude from the staff. We typically arrive at Chapala’s by cab, and on one rainy night, we could not find a taxi to take us home. After our efforts to make our way back to the hotel proved ineffective, the owner’s daughter brought her car around and drove us back herself! Service just doesn’t come any better than that!
Top of the World Restaurant in the Stratosphere Hotel: Towering over the rest of Las Vegas is the Top of the World Restaurant in the Stratosphere. This dining experience is to be savored, so keep the majority of the evening open when coming here. The restaurant rotates to allow for a total view of the city during the course of your meal. On the menu an enjoyable three course dinner for two fell victim to inflation as it originally boasted five courses, each accompanied by a specially-selected wine. Despite the smaller offering, it is still fun and delicious. Their regular menu also offers tasty selections with veal, venison and duck among the choices.
Although the food is good, you are largely paying for the view of Las Vegas from 108 stories high, and you will want to sit on the outer edge of the restaurant or in one of the booths, slightly raised from the floor. If seated on the interior, the view is still good but you might find yourself gazing past another diner to steal a glimpse of the city—slightly uncomfortable throughout the hour or more it will take to finish your meal.
Il Fornaio in the New York, New York Hotel: Superb Italian food with fine service and a pleasant atmosphere. It is fun to sit “outside” (among the walkways inside the hotel) and watch passers-by, and the wine selection is a good match for your food. Wonderful pizzas and calzones, outstanding pasta dishes and expertly grilled steaks, chicken, duck, lamb and veal make for a representative Italian offering. My personal favorites are the conchiglie al polo and the linguine mare chiaro.
Warning: when last I ate there, a relative ordered a Coca-Cola and assumed refills were complimentary. To his surprise, he had consumed $8 worth of soda. Be sure to get a glass of water with your meal, no matter what else you have to drink. It’s cheaper that way!
Eiffel Tower at Paris Hotel: This splendid restaurant is located on the 11th floor of Paris’ Eiffel Tower replica. It boasts excellent food, an extensive wine list and a professional staff. This restaurant has a magnificent view of the Strip and the “dancing fountains” across the street at the Bellagio. Everyone wants a table near the fountains, however, which makes seating competitive. The ambiance is upscale and, just as with the Top of the World Restaurant, part of your dinner tab is for the view.
The continental menu is superb. Options include quail, duck or pheasant breast, rack of lamb, veal medallions, and Beef Wellington. Seafood offerings list swordfish, halibut, sea bass and salmon. If you can afford it, American and imported caviar is offered as well, but it isn’t cheap.
The service is professional if a bit impersonal. I am not offended when the wait staff interjects a bit of personality into their duties—I find that preferable to the cold efficiency of a professional waiter, and I have certainly encountered attendants with the ability to maintain their standards while interacting with patrons on a more personal level.
Bally’s Sterling Brunch in Bally’s Hotel: Forget the Sports Book on Sunday and spend some time at Bally’s Sterling Brunch. This is one of the more expensive brunches around, but well worth the price. Unlike other Las Vegas brunches, reservations are the norm to prevent lines from forming. If you arrive early, you can relax on leather couches and be served Perrier-Jouet champagne while you wait—also available inside in unlimited quantities.
There are no tacos or dried-out baked chicken breasts served here. The menu is lavish with smoked nova salmon, sturgeon caviar, and iced seafood including clams, oysters, crab claws and shrimp. There is also an abundance of cured meats and pate, domestic and imported cheeses, and a Japanese sushi bar. The carving station boasts rack of lamb, beef tenderloin and pork loin. Maine lobster is available, also. I don’t normally crave desserts, but their offerings are so beautiful I will usually pick up something.
While naming my favorites, I would like to quickly salute other restaurants that once graced Las Vegas but have closed their doors. Whether it was for their food, ambiance or service, I enjoyed these places and miss them now that they’re gone. My list of “gone but not forgotten” restaurants includes the Alpine Village Inn, Quark’s Bar and Restaurant, Lilly Langtree’s, Caesars Magical Empire, Two Guys from Italy and Bob Baskin’s Restaurant.
If you run low on money while you’re in Las Vegas, skip a night at the tables in favor of dining out in one of the restaurants listed here. When you leave town, your wallet might be a bit emptier but your stomach will be happy.