In a town that generally celebrates every opening with fireworks, spotlights or ribbon cuttings, the gradual unveiling of the Linq has been a bit anticlimactic. The High Roller has been looming over our skyline for a couple of months, flashing its colors and rotating, but only this week allowed its first paying customers. And while the shopping district, nestled between the Flamingo and the newly rechristened Quad hotels, is packed with customers on most evenings, it still isn’t 100 percent functional, with some retail spaces still yet to open. What is open, however, are some of the hottest spots to eat on the Strip, with more on the way.
Haute Doggery is one of two Linq eateries brought to us by local restaurateurs Block 16 Hospitality. And while silly offerings such as the Billionaire Dog (a Kobe beef frank topped with foie-gras torchon, port onion marmalade and truffle mayo) clearly serve no other purpose than to provide tourists with bragging rights, there are plenty of other hometown favorite dogs worth sampling, such as the Windy City or the Detroit Coney Classic.
Block 16’s second Linq project is another urban classic, Flour & Barley, a pizza joint that’s basically split between two operations. If you want a slice to go, there’s a takeout window that does New York City street pizza perfectly. The slices are huge and a little greasy, served on a paper plate in a brown paper bag. Inside the restaurant, the offerings are a bit fancier, with smaller, crispier pies such as the salsicce, loaded with fennel sausage, mozzarella, caramelized onion and Calabrian chili. Either way, the place is worth a visit.
For Mexican food, check out Chayo Mexican Kitchen & Tequila Bar. Make no mistake, Chayo isn’t trying to be authentic—this is a high-end suburban American take on Mexican cuisine, but in a spot like the Linq, that’s totally acceptable. The food is good, especially the cilantro cream soup, made with Serrano peppers and toasted pine nuts. The interior is dark and sexy (although the mechanical bull in the center of the dining room hints that it might get a bit rowdy after hours). And the outdoor patio is great for people-watching.
Without a doubt, the coolest venue in the Linq is Brooklyn Bowl. It will inevitably get more attention for its concert lineup (which tends to go heavy on jam bands) and two floors of bowling alleys than for its menu. But not to be ignored is food by Bruce and Eric Bromberg, who opened a string of Blue Ribbon restaurants in New York City before bringing Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill to the Cosmopolitan. Among their gourmet comfort-food offerings, the fried chicken is a standout, although the version offered here is a bit different from the Asian-spiced variety at Cosmo. I prefer the latter, but my wife disagrees. Try them both and judge for yourself.
The final big food concept to arrive at the Linq will be F.A.M.E.—Food, Art, Music, Entertainment. As the name implies, it promises to be a lot of things for a lot of different people. That also applies to chef Bryan Emperor, a former Wall Street banker who is now tasked with bringing several Asian cuisines (Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, China and Malaysia) to the Strip, as well as styles that range from street food to formal dining. The chef’s years of living and traveling throughout Asia allow him access to certain ingredients that generally aren’t available in the U.S., including an artisanal white saikyo miso from Kyoto and Mongolian mountain salt. You’ll have your chance to try obscure Asian seasonings once F.A.M.E. opens to the public in May.
430-4435. Open for lunch and dinner 10 a.m.–midnight daily. Lunch or dinner for two, $12-$20.
Flour & Barley
430-4430. Open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m.–midnight daily. Lunch or dinner for two $12-$25.
Chayo Mexican Kitchen
691-3773. Open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Sun–Wed, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. Thurs-Sat. Lunch or dinner for two $60-$150.
862-2695. Open for lunch and dinner 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Sun–Thurs, 11 a.m.–4 a.m. Fri and Sat. Lunch or dinner for two, $40-$70.
463-8000. Opening in May.