Simply put, Kerry Simon’s new restaurant is the most exciting thing to happen to the Downtown dining scene. It also offers the most interesting food we’ve seen from the superstar chef in years. Here, Simon merges his fine-dining and comfort-food skills, putting gourmet or exotic touches on familiar, casual items. Dishes such as fried chicken skins (see opposite page) and bacon jam have become instant classics. And the restaurant’s décor and location in the John E. Carson Hotel give it a gritty urban vibe that’s missing from most new Downtown projects. 124 S. Sixth St., 702-473-9523, CarsonKitchen.com.