Is Access the New Excess?These days even big-ticket restaurants are opening casual, accessible offshoots—without the four-hour commitment or the four-figure bill. Adjoining Guy Savoy’s austere dining room at Caesars Palace (where 10 courses will run you $290), the tiny, 20-seat Bubble Bar is among the better values in town, offering samplings from Savoy’s kitchen—jewel-like oysters in an icy gelée, perhaps, or a silky artichoke-and-truffle soup—at a fraction of the cost (four plates for $40).
It requires a very healthy appetite (and a very healthy bankroll) to take on the 16-course tasting menu at Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand. A less involved but equally sublime alternative can be found nearby at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, where delightfully tangy steak tartare, crispy crinkle fries, and a sinfully buttery pommes purée can be ordered à la carte.
At David Burke Las Vegas, in the Venetian, Chef Burke’s rich and intricate dishes (like a colossal ostrich-egg shell filled with lobster scramble and caviar) can easily overwhelm. Instead, take a seat at the bar, framed by glowing bricks hewn from pink Himalayan salt, and order the delectable bento box, which collects five dainty portions off the menu for just $38.
Chef’s Night Out
Sunday nights are the wrong time to dine on the Strip, since chefs tend to put their places on autopilot and go elsewhere for dinner. Many end up at Rosemary’s Restaurant—a 10-minute drive west of the Strip—where every bottle of wine is half-price on Sundays, the tables are free of rowdy conventioneers, and the service is warm and spot-on. Michael and Wendy Jordan’s cooking also draws from their roots in the Midwest and the Deep South, with favorites such as pork chops with hopping john in a creole-mustard reduction.
It’s not uncommon to see big-name chefs parked at cafeteria tables under fluorescent lights at T.C.’s Rib Crib, enjoying the moist pulled pork, spareribs, and baby backs with sides like spicy collards and fried okra. Order sweet tea and check the chalkboard for the glazed-donut bread pudding.
At the year-old Vintner Grill, the only indication you’re not in the Hamptons is that you reach the front door via an office park (look for the vg sign, visible from the street). The blinding-white, modern dining room sits on the western side of town; the menu includes crispy wood-fired flatbreads, Moroccan-spiced lamb spareribs, and halibut with orzo and lemon gremolata.
Why You Should Order Fish in the Desert
In a single week at the Wynn Las Vegas’s Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, chef Paul Bartolotta receives 1½ tons of impossibly fresh Mediterranean seafood—langoustines, cuttlefish, prehistoric-looking slipper lobster. The theatrical dining room, with its neo-Baroque inverted chandeliers, is all about maximalism, but the best dishes are the minimalist ones: fish simply grilled with olive oil, lemon, and parsley.
Late nights are the best time to hit Treasure Island’s buzzing sushi-and-sake restaurant Social House: after 10 p.m., chef Joseph Elevado (a Nobu veteran) begins grilling mouthwatering skewered meats and serving his tantalizing hand rolls (try the Korean-style beef with green onions and sesame oil).
Bleary-eyed taxi drivers and late-shift poker dealers gather at Tiffany’s Café, a greasy spoon on the dicey southern fringes of downtown (it’s at the back of an all-night White Cross Drugs). When the craving for chicken-fried steak strikes at 5 a.m., this is definitely your place.
Luv-It Frozen Custard is a beloved local shack on the northern end of the Strip, whose Western sundae (topped with caramel, hot fudge, and pecans) has inspired cultlike devotion.