Good coffee roasters make good neighbors, as the saying goes—or should go. Which is why we’re so glad Colorado River Coffee Roasters is just a bean’s throw away in nearby Boulder City. Don Anderson micro-roasts his six varieties of coffee to order, which means this just might be the freshest, most distinctive cup of coffee you’ve ever had in Las Vegas. Don and son Erik then hand-deliver the day’s batch to partners such as The Beat Coffeehouse, DW Bistro, Valley Wine & Cheese, Milo’s in Boulder City, the Molto Farmer’s Market and, soon, Whole Foods and Boca Park’s Sambalatte. Of course, you could always join the coffee club and get some Sumatra Aceh Pantan Lues or Ixil A’achimbal Guatemala delivered to your door for about 27 cents per cup. Not by Don personally, but you get the idea. crcoffeeroasters.com.
Best New Coffeehouse
If you hear the word “coffeehouse” and wax sentimental about those college days spent enveloped in a cocoon of familiarity, routine and camaraderie, then a tiny wicker-backed seat awaits you at Downtown’s new culture club, The Beat Coffeehouse. The most recent downtown creation of Michael and Jennifer Cornthwaite, The Beat and the adjoining Emergency Arts gallery offer more than just a place to be unapologetically artsy. From the killer coffee to the crave-worthy chefly creations of Andy Knudson to the ’zine-lending library, The Beat is a steadfast bastion of unique in a sea of groupthink. 520 E. Fremont St., 300-6268.
Best Dining Table with a Story
Photo by Anthony MairUnion’s epic table.
It’s not a stretch to find a Las Vegan with a wild reputation. But a table? The massive—dare we say, erotic?—VIP dining table in Aria’s Union Restaurant has, you know … a past. Like something borrowed from the movie set of Alice in Wonderland, the massive golden tabletop was constructed from one solid piece of wood and flanked at either end by towering, throne-like chairs. While details (such as exactly what kind of wood it is) are shrouded in mystery, it’s said that the table comes from India by way of Ohio, where it was purchased and relocated at a cost of $30,000. The 16-seater reportedly took 12 men to move it into its place of honor. Like so many other wonders of the world—the Grand Canyon, the Sphinx, Elizabeth Taylor—no one seems to know how old the table actually is.
Best Power Lunch Spot
Ever since former Commander’s Palace chef Carlos Guia took over the stoves at the Country Club, it’s been a magnet for visiting celebrities, Nevada politicians and casino executives, even those from rival Strip properties. Guia serves a fairly traditional steak-house menu during the week, but his Jazz Brunch on Sundays showcases his New Orleans roots, and has been all the rage with locals from the jump. In Wynn, 248-3463.
Best Frozen Yogurt/Ice Cream Spot
Atomic #7 may be the most eccentric business model in town, but the ice creams and yogurts—frozen to order from liquid nitrogen in cylinders below the counter—will win you over. First, choose a size, then a flavor from a long list of eccentric choices, including peanut butter and bananas Foster. Finally, choose a base, cream, soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, lactose-free 2-percent milk or fat-free yogurt. The two women who run the place will then freeze your treat before your very eyes. 605 Mall Ring Circle, Henderson, 458-4777.
Best Lunch Deal
François Payard is a pastry genius, but his restaurant remains a guarded secret. At Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro, $19 buys you a spectacular three-course lunch. You start with lobster salad or goat-cheese onion tart and then progress to salmon en papillotte or couscous with merguez sausage and chicken. Dessert is one of Payard’s museum-quality pastries, which would be $5 to $7 each if ordered a la carte. This would be a bargain at twice the price. In Caesars Palace, 731-7110.
Best Coffee Shop
Du-Par’s, the famous coffee shop at the Los Angeles Farmer’s Market, recently opened a branch here and it instantly became the best coffee shop in town. The pancakes are also the best. The cinnamon rolls are as rich as Warren Buffet, and dozens of classic American pies are made daily in-house. Have the corned-beef hash for breakfast or a crusty chicken fried steak, if you dare. In the Golden Gate, 1 Fremont St., 385-1906.
Best Late-Night Dining
Often overlooked because it’s north of downtown, the 24/7 Jerry’s Famous Coffee Shop at Jerry’s Nugget features waitresses who look as if they have been working here since before The Flood, a terrific pot roast, great fried chicken and the best selection of cakes and pies in the city. 1821 Las Vegas Blvd. North, 399-3000.
Best Food on a Stick
At Rare 120, chef Jonathan Snyder’s Kobe meatball lollipops—six lovely skewered orbs—are soft, yielding and delicious, and the three dipping sauces on the side (basil aioli, honey mustard and spicy ketchup) are all winners. In the Hard Rock Hotel, 693-5000.
Best Fast Food
Smashburger is a fast-food joint meant to rival In-N-Out and Fatburger. The burgers here are better and the service faster. Meat is smashed on the grill, resulting in a meaty, messy sandwich, and the toppings here—namely apple-wood-smoked bacon and Haystack onions—are all worth adding. 7541 W. Lake Mead Blvd., 982-0009; 9101 W. Sahara Ave., 462-5500; 5655 Centennial Center Blvd., 462-5503.
Cravings isn’t always mentioned with the buffet big hitters on the Strip. But Adam Tihany’s design includes interactive TV screens and interesting spaces to eat in, and the stations—such as the best barbecue station on the Strip, a terrific do-it-yourself Asian noodle bar and a fabulous doughnut machine—give Cravings a unique, eccentric appeal. In The Mirage, 791-7111.
Best Culinary Trend
Photo by Anthony Mairthe Slidin’ Thru truck.
It all started in Los Angeles with a Korean taco truck, and Twitter did the rest. Now these food trucks are in most U.S. cities, offering innovative “fast food” to office parks, music festivals and even parking structures. Las Vegas already has a few delicious examples, including Slidin’ Thru, whose sliders attract droves of customers, and Fukuburger’s “Fuku truck,” which made its debut on July 4. And we’re confident more are on the way, including some that are bound to offer Chinese and barbecue.
Geno Bernardo is on to something at his Sunday-only Palms extravaganza. Nove’s High Society features many of the chef’s greatest hits: pizza and panini, salumi, crab claws and fresh shrimp, a brisket, sausage and potato hash, and even Geno’s Sunday Gravy, which he slow cooks, starting at 7:30 a.m. Music is provided by a DJ. Wines are poured from clever inflatable kegs. 1-7 p.m. Sundays, in the Palms, 942-6800.
Lots of Vegas restaurants play at tapas, small savory bar dishes that originated in the Basque country of Spain. But only Julian Serrano does right by the genre at his new eponymous restaurant. His Padrón peppers, chicken croquetas, pata negra ham and pa amb tomàquet (tomato-rubbed bread) have an authenticity few restaurants outside Spain match. In Aria, 590-7111.
Light Group corporate chef Brian Massie has a way with sliders. His late, lamented lamb sliders at sister restaurant Brand are missed, but there are always these pricey-but-worth-it Bobby Baldwin Sliders here at Fix. They are made from Kobe beef and served in a trio, with aged cheddar cheese and grilled onions, accompanied by spiced fries. In Bellagio, 693-7223.
Best Gourmet Burgers
In the era of gourmet takes on burgers, chef Lorin Watada’s fusion sandwiches at Bachi Burger are fast becoming a rage. The Lonely Bird, a burger made from ground chicken and turkey, is a highlight, as are the sweet-potato fries served in a metal cone. The Kalbi burger—a Korean-inspired creation of ground beef, pork, soy, garlic, ginger, chili paste, hot fermented red-bean paste and a dab of the cabbage kim chi—is definitely not for sissies. 470 E. Windmill Lane, 242-2244.
Best Healthful and Delicious Dish
Photo by Anthony MairSpago’s super salad.
Salmon salads make for great warm-weather meals in Vegas, and nobody does one better than Spago chef Eric Klein. For his Unagi Glazed Salmon Salad, he glazes his wild salmon with unagi (sea eel), then mixes it with romaine lettuce, daikon radish, shiso (a Japanese basil), carrots and avocado slices, and he dresses the whole shebang with celeriac rémoulade and a splash of ponzu. It’s summer in a bowl, and you’ll feel better after just a few bites. In the Forum Shop at Caesars, 369-0360.