Where to Go Next: Las Vegas | April 2005
Best New Restaurants
Bouchon With this branch of his modestly priced Napa restaurant Bouchon, superstar chef Thomas Keller (of the French Laundry in Napa and Per Se in New York City) has brought an authentic bistro feel to Las Vegas. The near-perfect dining room, designed by Adam Tihany, is all dark wood and French tiles; the menu of brilliantly executed classics like roasted chicken and trout amandine hits all the right notes, with most entrées priced under $25. DETAILS The Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-414-6200.
Fleur de Lys and Burger Bar Fans of chef Hubert Keller (of San Francisco's Fleur de Lys) can get a double dose of his cooking in Vegas now that he has opened two places. At the elegant Fleur de Lys, he creates playful dishes like "blackjack" of cod brandade—arranged to look like playing cards—along with more sober but equally unforgettable creations like slow-roasted Alaskan king salmon on cauliflower couscous. At Burger Bar, he serves beef, lamb, turkey and salmon burgers—and a $60 Wagyu beef burger with black truffles. DETAILS Fleur de Lys, Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-9400. Burger Bar, Mandalay Place, 3930 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-9364.
Mix in Las Vegas Chef Alain Ducasse's restaurants are known for exorbitant prix-fixe menus, but at Mix, it's possible to keep the bill in the two-figure range. Entrées like the beef tenderloin with potato galette and black-truffle sauce or roasted Maine lobster "au curry" hover around $50. But you can also grab a table in the lounge (where the menu has items for less than $20) and enjoy the same 43rd-story views of the Strip as customers paying a lot more in the dining room. DETAILS Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-9500.
Mesa Grill TV chef Bobby Flay's vibrant Southwestern cuisine is a natural fit for Vegas. At this offshoot of his popular New York City restaurant, you can order his blue-corn pancakes with barbecued duck along with one of 51 premium tequilas. DETAILS Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-731-7731.
RM Seafood Rick Moonen (of the late Restaurant RM in New York City) has opened a Vegas spin-off that recalls classic seafood places like Paris's Le Dôme. Downstairs is R-Bar-Cafe, a raw bar and brasserie; upstairs is Restaurant RM, a tonier spot serving Moonen's more elaborate creations, like sturgeon with caviar cream. DETAILS Mandalay Place, 3930 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-632-9300.
Biggest Blowout Opening
Wynn Las Vegas For his two-billion-dollar resort opening this month, former Bellagio owner Steve Wynn has assembled an incredible lineup of restaurants. The roster includes a number of places headed by former F&W Best New Chefs: Daniel Boulud Brasserie; SW Steakhouse, helmed by Eric Klein, formerly of Maple Drive in Los Angeles; Alex, run by Alessandro Stratta of Vegas's Renoir; and Okada, headed by Takashi Yagihashi, previously at Tribute near Detroit. DETAILS 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-770-7000.
Best Deal Off the Strip
Ping Pang Pong This busy Chinese restaurant, housed in a casino where the locals gamble, may be the only place in town with evening dim sum (prices start at around $2). But the best reasons to come here are the charcoal-grilled lamb chops and Night Market fried rice with beef and hot chiles. DETAILS Gold Coast Hotel and Casino, 4000 W. Flamingo Rd.; 702-367-7111.
Best New Snack Spots
Fix Brian Massie (formerly of Vegas's N9NE) offers addictive snacks, like buffalo wings shaped like lollipops. DETAILS Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-693-8400.
Isla Sit at the bar and order the outstanding chipotle-spiked guacamole from chef Richard Sandoval (of Manhattan's Pampano) with a margarita. DETAILS Treasure Island, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-894-7111.
'wichcraft At star chef Tom Colicchio's latest, you can have sandwiches for breakfast (bacon with Gorgonzola), lunch (meat loaf with cheddar) or dessert (smore'wiches). DETAILS MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-891-1111.
Sensi This Japanese-style spot also has great focaccia with Vacherin cheese and truffles, and perfect oysters. DETAILS Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-693-7111.
Giorgio Caffé & Ristorante Plates of Italian cold cuts match nicely with the restaurant's Italian boutique wines. DETAILS Mandalay Place, 3930 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702-920-2700.