Las Vegas caters to just about every sort of romantic. On the one hand, the city provides probably more dramatic over-the-top ways to express your love than any other place in the country; where else could you take your beloved on a gondola ride through indoor Venetian canals, while being serenaded by strains of “O Sole Mio” beneath painted sunset skies—and then hire a helicopter to personally zip you over the city for the real sunset as night descends and neon lights twinkle? On the other hand, there are plenty of (often overlooked) quieter, more intimate opportunities for romance in the city as well—like moonlit walks through desert landscapes, and hushed spa treatments in private couples’ cabins. Similarly, the romantic dining scene in Vegas runs the gamut from flamboyant excess to subtle glamour. Whatever sort of cuisine and ambience puts you—and your significant other—in the mood, it’s here.
Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Paris Las Vegas
Before you dismiss Eiffel Tower Restaurant as the territory of bereted, fake-accented waiters, consider this: Chef Joho—also the proprietor of Chicago’s Everest and Paris Club, and Brasserie Jo in Boston—cut his teeth at L’Auberge de L’Ill in Alsace and kitchens all over Europe before commanding a Michelin three-star restaurant by the age of 23. Read: Vegas’s Eiffel Tower may be a copy, but the restaurant is the real deal. Ask for the corner table (it’s table 56 to the front-of-house staff), which faces away from the restaurant and toward the Bellagio fountains across the street. Order the soufflé (my favorite, the Grand Marnier) before your meal to give the kitchen the 45 minutes they’ll need to prepare it.
Twist by Pierre Gagnier, Mandarin Oriental
Chef Pierre Gagnier has three Michelin stars for his restaurant in Paris, and his lovely, 23rd-floor restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental is the only place in the United States where you can eat his classic, witty French fare. More than 300 gold globes float from the ceiling, making you feel as if you’re in a kind of postmodern Lawrence Welk dreamworld. And then there is the food: seasonal avant-garde French dishes that might include sea urchin mousseline with caviar, or a summer appetizer of mozzarella ice cream and zucchini.
Marché Bacchus French Bistro & Wine Shop
It’s difficult to envision a lovely alfresco meal by a swan-filled lake when you arrive at this restaurant’s nondescript desert strip mall on the city’s west side. But once inside, you’ll be delighted you took the gamble; heading out to the lakeside patio here is like eentering Narnia through a wardrobe. The onsite wine shop sells almost 1,000wines— including labels like Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Harlan Estate, and Pétrus. The French and Mediterranean menu has recently been refreshed by James Beard Award-winning chef Luciano Pellegrini.
Restaurant Guy Savoy, Caesars Palace
The décor is more modern at this two-star Michelin restaurant than at Guy Savoy in Paris, but the menu is designed to emulate the original—and to great effect. It is not unusual for gourmands to arrive solo simply to have a near-religious experience with the iconic artichoke and black truffle soup. Of course, sampling from the signature menu or the new “Innovation Menu” (think lobster “candy,” brie white truffle, langoustine tartare) is far more romantic à deux. Plus, you can see the Eiffel Tower (or at least a reasonable facsimile) from this Guy Savoy. Recently, the Champagne room was transformed into a sleek Cognac Lounge to showcase the collection of rare, high-end spirits.
With its soaring ceilings, romantic balcony that sits virtually on top of the famous choreographed Bellagio fountains, and walls hung with real Picasso paintings, this restaurant can make even the highest rollers a bit breathless. Chef Julian Serrano takes his inspiration from the artist’s haunts in the south of France and Spain, giving gastronomic life to the art that hangs on the walls. At the right time of year, you can indulge in the special Alba truffle menu, but the degustation menu, paired with selections from the 1,900-bottle cellar by master sommelier, Robert Smith, is an over-the-top experience.