Bison at Craftsteak
Grass-fed beef is healthier, and if you don’t believe me, read about why in a foodie bible, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (Penguin Press HC, 2006). Bison meat is excellent, lean, herbal and good for you. Top Chef host Tom Colicchio’s restaurant has the best one in town.
$44, MGM Grand, 891-7433, craftrestaurant.com.
Fried Chicken at Popeyes
This is the only chain from which you should even consider eating a piece of Southern-style fried chicken. Their chicken is a perfect blend of spicy and crunchy, with a devilish bite and moist meat. They have great biscuits, too.
$5.95, multiple locations, popeyes.com.
Paella Valenciana at Julian Serrano
The new Aria restaurant serves the cuisine of Spain, using high quality products such as jamon Iberico (ham from acorn-fed pigs) and fresh baby calamari. Picasso chef Serrano, a native of Madrid, brought in a team from his native land. His paella Valenciana—stocked with chorizo, chicken and rabbit, is crusty, redolent of saffron and herbs—is the first great paella available on the Strip.
$40, CityCenter, 590-8520, arialasvegas.com.
Meatballs at Martorano’s
Yes, we love the meatballs at Rao’s (and their lemon chicken as well) but those meatballs meet their match at the hands of the minced beef, veal and pork recipe served by Steve Martorano in his eponymous Rio café and restaurant. The chef, a good ol’ boy from south Philly with tattoos from head to toe, looks rather like Vin Diesel after a plate of Sunday gravy.
$14, 777-7777, Rio, cafemartorano.com.
Grilled Italian Sub at Capriotti’s
This chain started in Delaware, and everyone has a yen for their famous Bobbie, the much-imitated Thanksgiving in a sub roll (turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce). We, however, prefer the taste of a traditional Italian, with cold cuts, cappacola, salami and Provolone, which is all warmed on the grill before going into the sub.
$8 (medium), multiple locations, capriottis.com.
Salmon Rillettes at Bouchon
Rillettes are minced meat or, in rare cases like this, fish made into a spread with their own fat. Thomas Keller’s signature appetizer comes in a glass jar. Spread the rillettes onto crisp rusks made from house baguettes. It’s an unbeatable combo.
$16.75, the Venetian, 414-6200, bouchonbistro.com.
Mashed Potatoes at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
Robuchon is arguably the world’s most celebrated chef, and his Michelin-honored temple of gastronomy, aptly named Joël Robuchon, recently became more affordable with the advent of reasonably priced, prix fixe menus. His legendary potatoes, more butter than starch, grace the menu at L’atelier, his sister restaurant next door. Simply put, they are the best mashed potatoes in the world.
Starting at $10, 891-7358, MGM Grand, joel-robuchon.com.
The Burger at Bradley Ogden
In a town that’s now a virtual hotbed of accomplished upscale burger joints, the one served at the bar in Bradley Ogden is among the best (provided you like blue cheese). The meat is of the best quality, loosely packed, and you can bet your bottom dollar it will come out exactly the way you order it, or be redone without an argument.
$19, Caesars Palace, 731-7410, larkcreek.com/bolv.htm.