If you had any doubts about the whole Vegas Valley being a major food destination, the following pages should put them to rest once and for all.
No surprise that the Strip led the way this past year. Wynn Resorts upped the epicurean ante with two key additions to the scene: Andrea’s and Allegro. Hakkasan of London at the MGM Grand and Kumi at Mandalay Bay were two other major openings. And Nobu, the superstar Japanese chef, opened a whole tower of excellence at Caesars Palace, all designed in glorious minimalism by David Rockwell.
There’s more around the corner, too, with planned openings by master chefs Mario Batali (yes, more gourmet burgers) and Daniel Boulud (French brasserie fare) at the Venetian, followed in 2014 by the launch of the SLS Hotel, starring chef José Andrés’ Bazaar.
Things are heating up off-Strip as well. In Summerlin, Las Vegans are finally getting a variety of fine-dining venues worth a detour. See our Best Restaurant Off-Strip for starters. And over at Tivoli Village, a foodie revolution is under way at a mall we once thought DOA: Angelo Sosa has proven to be an innovator at Poppy Den; Bradley Ogden has resurfaced with boutique American cuisine at Hops & Harvest; and L.A. chef Sam Marvin recently joined the party with Echo & Rig, reviewed on these pages two weeks ago.
The Asian influence also continues to spread in Las Vegas. Are there finally enough ramen noodle joints for ya? They’ve seemingly sprung up on every corner of the Valley. And our Chinatown has continued to expand, with Chada Thai & Wine (3400 S. Jones Blvd.), which is run by a chef formerly of the nationally acclaimed Lotus of Siam. In the same mall, another Southern California import, Shaanxi Gourmet, serves fare from northwest China. This is why we added the category Best Foodie Mall this year.
We also added Best Downtown Restaurant, a category you would have laughed at a year ago. That was before the epicurean revival, led by newcomers such as Eat, Park on Fremont, La Comida and … well, keep reading for our best example.
Our Best Restaurants committee—myself, fellow Vegas Seven food critic Grace Bascos, Dining & Drinking editor Xania Woodman and Vegas Rated editor-in-chief Melinda Sheckells—would like to congratulate all of this year’s winners. Additionally, we’d like to toast the city itself for a remarkable 2013.