Gordita Chicarron at Los Antojos

This tiny restaurant is always filled with the faithful from Mexico City, the place that inspired dishes such as the gordita. The deep-fried corn cake looks like a refugee from a Krispy Kreme fryer, but cut it in half and you’ll find that it’s stuffed with enough fried pork skin to choke a horse. Just don’t tell your doctor. $3.15, 2520 S. Eastern Ave., 457-3505.

Hoppin’ John at Michael Mina

Star chef Michael Mina never runs out of ideas—or restaurants. (His empire consists of 17). Now he’s come up with one of the city’s best side dishes: a spin-off of the famously rich Low Country black-eyed pea and ham hock casserole, here done piping hot from the oven, with a crusty top. $9, at Bellagio, 693-7223.

Fettuccine Alfredo at Pasta Mia

This truly Italian restaurant features the best version of this basic dish that we’ve ever had. Somehow the simple combination of basic ingredients works in a magical way here. Maybe it has to do with the right amount of creamy parmigiana cheese, which comes through in every bite. $16.99, 4455 W. Flamingo Road, 251-8871.

Lobster Corndogs at Seablue

These are definitely not the corndogs that Dad bought for you at the county fair. These are the creations of chef Michael Mina, who surrounds lobster meat with a crispy cornmeal fried batter. Served with whole-grain mustard crème fraiche, the blend of flavors add up to the best food you’ve ever eaten on a stick. $17, at MGM Grand, 891-3486.

Osso Buco at Sirio Ristorante

The Maccioni family’s stunning City Center aerie is the result of designer Adam Tihany’s work. The osso buco here, a huge chunk of veal protein filled with marrow, is fork tender, served on a tempting risotto. Somehow it’s even better than the one they do at Circo. $42, Aria at CityCenter, 590-8540.

Sticky Rice Dumpling at Ping Pang Pong

At lunch, this Gold Coast dim sum emporium has a mostly Chinese clientele, who flock in for dishes the average kwei-lo wouldn’t touch—chicken feet, mustard greens and stuffed taro, for instance. Look to the rolling cart for lo mai gai, sticky rice stuffed with chicken, mushrooms and Chinese sausage, served in a lotus leaf. Don’t ever eat in a dim sum restaurant without ordering at least one. $3.88, in the Gold Coast, 4000 W. Flamingo Road, 367-7111.

Kusshi Oysters with Bloody Mary Sorbet at Sage

Chicago’s Shawn McClain has received a lot of attention for his “foodie” restaurant at Aria. These tiny, briny oysters, topped with a tangy red surprise, rival the famed oyster en gelée at Guy Savoy in Caesars Palace as the best bivalves on the planet. $19, Aria at CityCenter, 590-8690.

Turkish Eggs at Silk Road

Try breakfast at chef Martin Heierling’s Silk Road sometime. The wickedly creative chef, who also runs Sensi in Bellagio, has traveled Central Asia, and his menu is heavily influenced by the region. This casserole of basted eggs with a spicy tomato sauce comes with a terrific free-range turkey hash underneath. $17, Vdara at CityCenter, 590-2030.

Suggested Next Read

Michael Mina

Michael Mina

By Max Jacobson

When the blank space earmarked “seafood” came up in the plans for CityCenter’s Aria, the name Michael Mina quickly surfaced. The chef, who was already running Michael Mina at Bellagio, Nobhill and Seablue at the MGM Grand, and Strip Steak at Mandalay Bay, has made his name synonymous with creative fish cooking. What he aims for at his newest restaurant, American Fish, is a refined take on regional American seafood, using various cooking techniques such as ocean-water poaching, cast-iron grilling and wood smoking.



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