Where to Go Next: Las Vegas | September 2001
BEST NEW RESTAURANTS
Charlie Palmer Steak The popular New York chef already has a branch of Aureole here (at Mandalay Bay); his new Vegas venture boasts dry-aged, gorgeously marbled beef as well as an unusual bar menu (spiced tuna tartare) and a low decibel level that encourages conversation (Four Seasons Hotel, 3960 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-5123).
Cili Wolfgang Puck's latest has a languid Indonesian design and food (such as tandoori lamb chops with eggplant salad) that aims to shake up a normally staid country-club crowd (Bali Hai Golf Club, 5160 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-856-1000).
808 Sleek onyx-and-copper appointments and gentle rice-paper screens set off Hawaiian chef Jean-Marie Josselin's daring fusion dishes—potato-crusted onaga (Hawaiian ruby snapper), wok-fried lobster (Caesar's Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-731-7110).
Nobhill Chef Michael Mina already runs the Bellagio's successful Aqua; his new San Francisco-style restaurant showcases small Bay Area producers and updated versions of such Northern California classics as Hangtown fry (MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-891-1111).
Olio Space-suit uniforms and a 40-foot antipasto bar: Call it eccentric, but there's serious nouvelle Italian cooking going on in this high-design dining room (MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-891-7775).
3950 This cutting-edge steak-and-seafood house has futuristic flourishes, like a plasma-screen digital menu by the front door. The catch: It also has some of the highest prices in town (Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-7400).
BEST NEW FOOD ZONE
Desert Passage, the new shopping complex next to the Aladdin Casino, is the site of these four alluring restaurants (3663 Las Vegas Blvd. S.).
Anasazi of Santa Fe The freestanding stone pillars add drama to a clay-hued interior, as do such Southwestern dishes as cinnamon-chili-rubbed beef (702-836-0989).
Bice With outposts all over the world, this slick import features eye-popping mosaic sculptures and chic leather banquettes, plus a menu of well-crafted, grown-up Northern Italian food (702-732-4210).
Commander's Palace Thanks to such classics as seafood gumbo, turtle soup, blackened Gulf snapper and bread-pudding soufflé, this branch of the New Orleans institution rivals the original (702-892-8272).
Josef's Brasserie Joseph Keller, who opened the Napa Valley's Bouchon three years ago with his brother Thomas (of the French Laundry), runs this shiny bistro with a raw-seafood bar, vintage wines by the glass and French comfort food (702-732-3000).
BEST NEW BAR
Velvet Lounge Outrageous plush sofas and velvet chairs, a killer sound system, a fabulous spirits list and a bird's-eye view of the Strip: Life in Sin City rarely gets better than this (WB Stage 16, at the Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-414-1699).