Vegas Seven

Best Restaurants 2011

  • Best Restaurant (on Strip)

    Guy Savoy

    By Max Jacobson

    Chef Savoy has a son here, Franck, who is now director of food and beverage at Caesars Palace, home to this palace of gastronomy. As a result, the renowned chef comes to visit us often, which gives his restaurant better quality and consistency than those owned by his rivals.

  • Greenland Market

    By Max Jacobson

    In a Korean food court, you won’t find a Sbarro’s, Panda Express or Hot Dogs on a Stick. What you will find are kalbi (Korean-style barbecued short ribs redolent of sesame oil), meats griddled in an egg batter, chicken ginseng soup and jap chae (noodles sautéed with Korean spices). Here, at five separate kiosks, each specializing in their own two or three dishes, you’ll also be treated to banchan—side dishes that accompany any Korean entrée—at no additional charge.

  • Japanese

    Raku

    By Max Jacobson

    Japanese food is far more than sushi; in fact, our best Japanese restaurant serves no sushi at all. Chef Mitsuo Endo uses bincho-tan, special charcoal imported from Japan, to grill and smoke many of the delicacies he serves robata-yaki-style—cooked on a tiny hibachi in the back kitchen.

  • Forte European Tapas Bar & Bistro

    By Xania V. Woodman

    Spain shares not even one inch of border with Bulgaria. But here there is a delicious culinary marriage between the two countries—as well as with Greece, Russia and much of Eastern Europe. You’ll get the idea when you tuck into a Bulgarian mixed grill of kebapche, kufte and karnache sausages, and wash them down with an Astika lager (also Bulgarian).

  • Vintner Grill

    By Max Jacobson

    When Vintner opened five years ago, people complained that they couldn’t find the place, hidden as it is in a generic office mall. These days, customers jockey for parking spaces, as the restaurant has become a de facto social club for upscale west-siders.

  • North Country Smokehouse Bacon

    By Max Jacobson

    Carlos Guia’s Jazz Brunch at Wynn’s Country Club Grill is worth a detour for his shrimp and andouille gumbo, poached eggs with pulled smoked pork, and dozens of other tempting treats. But this meaty, smoky bacon—slow-cured with maple sugar in a New Hampshire smokehouse—surfaces in many Guia creations, and it’s the best bacon we’ve ever tasted. Take that, Nueske’s.

  • HK Star

    By Max Jacobson

    There are some great Chinese restaurants on the Strip, but some are only open to Chinese high-rollers, while others—such as Pearl at MGM Grand and the Michelin-star-winning Wing Lei at the Wynn—can be astronomically expensive. As to the question, then, of bang for the buck, authenticity and good tasting food, HK Star, in a strip mall at the western end of Chinatown, wins by a nose.

  • Los Antojos

    By Max Jacobson

    The best dishes here are posted on the wall in Spanish. And many customers, like the owners, are transplanted natives of Mexico City. Don’t miss consome loco, chicken rice soup slow-simmered with cilantro and onions; pambazo, baked potatoes with sausage, lettuce, cream and Mexican cheese; or gordita with chicharron, a deep-fried corn cake split open and stuffed with fried pork skin.

  • Steve Benjamin

    By Max Jacobson

    Despite having what appears to be an American name, this friendly Parisian is as French as a Camembert wrapped in a tricolor. When Benjamin first came to the MGM Grand six years ago, his accent was as thick as the crème Anglaise served on desserts in his restaurant. Today, he’s lost much of the accent and speaks fluent English. He’s made Las Vegas his permanent home.

  • Big Wong

    By Max Jacobson

    Is there such a thing as Brooklyn Chinese? There is, if you listen to Wei Lee, who serves freshly fried shrimp wonton, brisket noodle soup and Hainan chicken rice (dark meat on the bone with seasoned rice), a specialty of Malaysia, at his new restaurant. Most of the dishes are $5, and his mother’s own mushroom sausage rice is to die for.

  • R.I.P.

    Eateries that said goodbye

    By Max Jacobson

    Alex Alex Stratta won two Michelin stars at the Wynn, but apparently the margins weren’t sufficient to keep the star chef in business. Bradley Ogden After a great run, the seminal American chef will close his eponymous restaurant at Caesars early in the first quarter, to be replaced by Gordon Ramsay’s gastropub. Town Square fare

  • Pad Kee Mao at Thai House

    By Max Jacobson

    This unheralded restaurant in the far corner of a shopping mall off Silverado Ranch Boulevard would have a national fan base if it were near the Strip. Pad kee mao is a huge pile of rice noodles sautéed with your choice of meats—chicken, beef, pork or shrimp—plus egg, scallion, Thai chili and black soy sauce. The noodles get browned edges, and a wonderful condiment tray is brought as an accompaniment. Pay close attention to those deadly, cylindrical green chilies.

  • Mitsuo Endo of Raku

    By Max Jacobson

    What makes a chef great? Imagination, technique and dedication to craft. On that score, Endo-san, as he is known to his colleagues, has no peer as an off-Strip talent. Is there anyone else imaginative enough to do the Waterfall Tofu-tofu inside a wooden push-up contraption that is meant to be pushed out, in pasta-like strands, into a broth smoky with ikura, tiny salmon roe? (He makes the tofu in-house, too, and it’s better than any in Tokyo.)

  • Patisserie Manon

    By Max Jacobson

    Jean-Paul Layden and his wife, Rachel, operate this gorgeous bakery and epicerie on upper Charleston, and you have to look hard on the Strip (at places such as Payard) to find pastries of comparable quality. The prices here are much lower, of course. We’re talking croissants to rival any in town, macaroons, fruit tarts and Croque Monsieur, all made from natural ingredients and pretty enough for a Paris window display.

  • MOzen Bistro and Border Grill (tie)

    By Max Jacobson

    If you’re thinking bacon and eggs, think again. MOzen Bistro at the Mandarin Oriental caters to many Asian guests, and the restaurant has a team of chefs from India, China and Japan to complement chef Vivek Rawat. There is a distinctly Asian cast to this brunch, served noon-2:30 p.m. Sundays. You can make up a bento box composed of six dishes, order the restaurant’s terrific Indian-style chicken, have XO fried rice, and even top-grade sushi, all for one set price ($48).

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