Listen

News 88.9 KNPR
Classical 89.7 KCNV
'Jazz'

member station

yusho.jpg

Yusho

Yusho

Best of the City: Eat and drink

Desert Companion

BFF's | Eat and drink | Mind and body | Out and about | Shops and services Readers poll | Good better best | Bonus: Food and drink | Bonus: Mind and body  Bonus: Out and about | Bonus: Shops and services

THE CLASSICS

Best Burger

Kalbi burger at Bachi Burger

This glorious creation clinches the title for its forward flavors. All the elements of typical Korean barbecue — soy-marinated beef, red pepper paste and two kinds of housemade kimchi — are condensed into a hand-held, all-American classic. Seoul food lovers should brace themselves for burger nirvana. 9410 W. Sahara Ave. #150, 702-255-3055; 470 E. Windmill Lane, 702-242-2244, bachiburger.com  Debbie Lee

 

Best Pizza

Support comes from

Five50

Strip-goers have no excuse to settle for food-court pizza when Shawn McClain’s joint is within easy reach. The signature Truffle pie is a gut-buster fit for gourmands, but it’s the simpler pleasures that make Five50 a standout: a slice of the Gotham (pepperoni, sausage, salami) from the to-go counter is easily among my Top 10 fourth meals. Aria, 877-230-2742, aria.com DL

Beg to differ! Made of delightfully balanced ingredients sourced mostly from Italy, and wood-fired in less than 60 seconds, the paper-thin pies crafted at Settebello, a certified Vera Pizza Napoletana, arrive unsliced and ready to be torn into. Our fave? The spicy Diavola. 140 Green Valley Parkway, 702-222-3556; 9350 W. Sahara Ave. #170, 702-901-4877, settebello.net James P. Reza

 

Best Chicken Wings

Sporting Life Bar

Anyone can fry a chicken wing, but Sporting Life Bar executive chef Daniel Dalton takes his one step further. He confits them first. (That is, cooks them in their own luxurious fat). The butcher-cut wings, essentially twice the size of standard wings, would fall off the bone if not for the paper-thin yet inexplicably crispy skin barely holding the limb together. You almost don’t need the housemade sauces. 7778 S. Jones Blvd., 702-331-4647, sportinglifebar.com Jim Begley

 

Best Sandwich

Anything at Goodwich

You’ll be hard-pressed to choose between the PBB&J — the extra B is for bacon — and the smoked-cream-cheese-oozing Patty. Or the satisfyingly savory Ham&, in which the “&” stands for aged cheddar and sharp housemade mostrada. It’s not called The Goodwich for nothing. 1516 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-910-8681, the-goodwich.com JB

Beg to differ! The meatball sub at Marc Sgrizzi’s Parma is the gem of the lunch menu. No bells and whistles here, just a handheld flavor-grenade: homemade meatballs, Sunday sauce and mozzarella on a toasted roll. 7591 W. Washington Ave. #110, 702-233-6272, parmabychefmarc.com Tovin Lapan

 

EAT GLOBALLY, DRIVE LOCALLY

Best Indian Food

Origin India

Everyone knows where the best Indian food in the world, outside India, can be found. And London is where restaurateur Raja Majid made a name for himself by spinning traditional Indian with modern touches, such as French-creamy sauces, huge square plates and whole-wheat naan. The only reason Majid opened a similar eatery in Las Vegas is because his wife has family here, and we all benefit from that fluke. Chef Vinod Ahuja creates works of culinary art (especially the Saag Paneer and Lhassoni Jhinga) that rival the joint’s contemporary décor. 4480 Paradise Road #1200, 702-734-6342,
originindiarestaurant.com Corey Levitan

 

Best Japanese

Raku

This Chinatown gem has been a unanimous favorite of chefs and discerning diners since its 2008 debut, and that’s because chef Mitsuo Endo has the (Kurobuta pork) chops to back up the hype. The aesthetic is minimal but the flavors are not — one taste of the silky foie gras egg custard or fresh tofu and you’ll immediately join the chorus in singing Endo’s praises. 5030 Spring Mountain Road, 702-367-3511, raku-grill.com DL

 

Best Chinese

China MaMa

This classic, where nothing really changes, remains the valley’s best Chinese restaurant. Sure, if you’re not a regular, service may border on contemptuous. But don’t take it personally — besides, you’re not there for 5-star service. You’re there for flaky and buttery scallion pancakes, savory beef rolls and the ever-popular xiao long bao (soup dumplings), literally erupting with flavor. China MaMa’s kung pao chicken will turn you from all other inferior “Americanized” versions. 3420 S. Jones Blvd., 702-873-1977 JB

 

Best Thai

Chada Thai

Lotus of Siam may be the most awarded Thai in town, but Chada Thai is where you go if you want more esoteric regional specialties, more unique original dishes and a wine list that is on speed-dial for every master somm in town. 3400 S. Jones Blvd. #11A, 702-641-1345 chadavegas.com Mitchell Wilburn

 

Best Italian

B&B Ristorante

In a city where restaurant trends come and go, B&B earns points for being a timeless white-tablecloth refuge. It also delivers an exquisite menu of rustic Italian fare using pristine seasonal ingredients: fresh burrata with grilled bread instead of mozzarella sticks; ravioli filled with tender beef cheeks in place of bland ricotta. An Italian-heavy wine list, impeccable service and life-changing olive-oil gelato make the meal an unforgettable experience. Venetian, 702-266-9977, bandbristorante.com DL

 

Best Mexican

Bonito Michoacan

One of the Valley’s OG Mexican restaurants, Bonito remains firmly entrenched among the best. All the standards are there, but the specialties are where it excels. Seek out the sarandeado — a slightly spicy, creamy sauce — or the garlicky mojo al ajo. Under no circumstances should you pass on the tableside guacamole. 3715 S. Decatur Blvd., 702-257-6810, bonitomichoacanlasvegas.com JB

 

Rani's World FoodsBest Ethnic Market

Rani’s World Foods

Sure, there are markets with a wider or stranger selection, but few are as charming as this West Sahara staple. With rows of exotic chutneys, stacks of colorful saris and the heavy scent of cumin and curry powder in the air, Rani’s is a welcome world to explore. However, the real star is the vegetarian café in the back. Grab an order of tasty samosas or dig into the daily thali hot plate, served with your choice of veggie mains, dal, rice, chutney, flatbread and as much free chai as you can drink. Scooping up lentils while cheesy Indian music videos play overhead, you’ll feel miles from Las Vegas, yet totally content. 4505 W. Sahara Ave., 702-522-7744, ranisworldfoods.com Sarah Feldberg

 

WAKEY, WAKEY!

Best Breakfast

Della’s Kitchen

Skip the warmed-over bacon and stale waffles at the buffet and bring civility back to breakfast. This daylight hours-only diner at the Delano provides impeccable comfort food and respite from noisy casinos. The blue crab Benedict is a statin’s worst nightmare, but worth the risk — you can chase it with a glass of the Mojave Burn (carrot, orange, ginger, cayenne) to negate any guilt. The Delano, 702-632-9444, delanolasvegas.com DL

Beg to differ! Alongside more traditional breakfast fare, Bagel Café is a bastion of Yiddish delights, from an assortment of fresh daily bagels to crispy potato pancakes or fried matzo. And with breakfast served all day, you’ll never miss your favorites. 301 N. Buffalo Drive, 702-255-3444, thebagelcafelv.com JB

 

Best Pancakes

Griddle Café

I’m sure the plain old buttermilk pancakes at the SLS’ breakfast, lunch and late-night spot are good. But who wants plain pancakes when you can get them stuffed with anything from brown sugar-baked bananas, walnuts and streusel (The Golden Ticket) to Godiva chocolate liqueur and crushed Butterfinger bars? There are 19 varieties in all. Meet the new breakfast of champions. SLS, 702-761-7613, slshotels.com Al Mancini

 

Best Brunch

Veranda Weekend Brunch

It’s an extravagant, all-you-can-nosh country club affair replete with faves like applewood sausage, eggs Benedict and French toast, complemented by fresh fruit, baked yummies, bagels and lox, a cooked-to-order omelette station and fresh mini-donuts. There are more formal, pricier weekend brunches, but this one strikes a stylish, relaxed balance. Four Seasons, 702-632-5000, fourseasons.com JPR

 

The beatBest Café

The Beat

More than just a place for spoken-word performers, indie artists and startup kids, this coffeehouse really is a great coffeehouse, letting us get our fix of sugar-free black cherry and coconut lattes at daybreak or well after the sun has gone down. 520 E. Fremont St. 702-385-2328, thebeatlv.com Jennifer Prosser

 

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS

Best Condiment

Andiamo’s Zip Sauce

What does the savory combination of vegetable consommé, whole butter and soy sauce get you? Only the most addictive condiment in town: the Zip Sauce at Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italian Steakhouse. It’s creamy, with a hint of salinity, and it’s practically healthy, thanks to the vegetable consommé. It comes with the grilled portobello mushrooms but use it with everything. The D, 702-388-2220, thed.com/dining/andiamo-steakhouse JB

 

Best Appetizer

Chicken Skins at Carson Kitchen

Salty and spicy, these addictive appetizers might get overlooked by the unsuspecting diner. But the best part of the chicken is admirably showcased alongside a lightly smoked honey dip. Rarely seen outside the South, so we can thank chef Kerry Simon for putting us back in touch with this savory snack. 124 S. Sixth St., 702-473-9523, carsonkitchen.com JB

 

Best Bar Snack

Spicy pecans at Perch

Need an excuse to while away the hours sipping cocktails at the Container Park? Look no further than these tasty morsels at the park’s most sophisticated dining spot, which also offers a great balcony view of the performance stage. The sweet pecans, the bite of piquin chili peppers and the freshness of rosemary blend seamlessly to create the most addictive bar snack in town. Container Park, 707 E. Fremont Street, 702-854-1418. AM

 

SculleryBest Meat ’n’ Cheese Board

Scullery

This is no dainty appetizer. It’s a glorious smorgasbord of meats and cheeses, breads and spreads, fruit and nuts, maybe even something pickled. Dive headfirst into the array of textures and flavors till you find the combo that blows your mind, then repeat until, sigh, it’s all gone. Ogden, 150 Las Vegas Blvd. N. #190, 702-910-2396, frglv.com SF

 

INDULGE YOURSELF

Best Place for No-Expense-Spared Meal

Sage

With someone else picking up the check, you can easily spin into a whirlwind of flavor and decadence at Sage. Start with chestnut soup and the famous foie gras custard brûlée, and soon you’re ordering bacon-wrapped Iberico loin and a Snake River Farms New York Strip before delving into a flight of artisanal absinthes. Aria, 877-230-2742, www.arialasvegas.com MW

 

Best Tasting Menu

Twist

Pierre Gagnaire’s only restaurant in the Western Hemisphere has a terrific  tasting menu. Every dish comes with two or three “sub-dishes”; it's very high-concept and laboriously perfect, with delicacies like sea-urchin foam and foie gras, and all finished with the famous five-course “Grand Dessert.” When Michelin comes back to Vegas, Twist ought to be collecting stars like nobody’s business. Mandarin Oriental, 702-590-8888, mandarinoriental.com MW

 

TREAT YOURSELF

Best Dessert

Rose.Rabbit.Lie.

Rose.Rabbit.Lie’s old-school-meets-new-school cuisine always comes with a grand finale of desserts. Some, like the Caviar Bon Bons, typify the originality and decadence R.R.L. is known for. What doesn’t sound like a good idea — salted fish eggs and sweets together? — ends up being a balanced galaxy of flavor. Naturally, one of the last tableside Cherries Jubilee, they turn into a dazzling feast for the eyes and the palate. The Cosmopolitan, 877-667-0585. MW

 

Best Candy Shop

Sweet Spot

A toy store for your tongue! A playground for your parietal lobe! Apothecary-style jars filled with colorful chocolates, gummies and hard candies against a background of stark white furnishings make this candy shop look exactly like what it is: a druggist for your sweet, sweet addiction. Container Park, 707 Fremont St. #1290, 702-324-2777, sweetspotcandylasvegas.com Heidi Kyser

 

Best Chocolate

Jinju Chocolates

Jin Caldwell, trained by famed French pastry chefs Jean-Philippe Maury and Frederic Robert, crafts knee-bucklingly smooth chocolates with precision. Jinju has exclusive rights in Vegas to use Fortunato No. 4, a rare chocolate from Peru promoted by Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain. Container Park, 707 E. Fremont St. #2280, 702-348-9407, jinjuchocolates.com TL

 

2 IN THE MORNING

Best Fourth Meal

Chada Thai & Wine

If your late-night grub tends toward the greasy and regrettable, it’s time to do better. Chada is open nightly until 3 a.m., which means you can keep your hangover at bay with charbroiled pork in chili mint sauce, crab curry or stunningly good stir-fried mushrooms and Brussels sprouts. Wash it down with a glass of Riesling, or hot tea if you must. 3400 S. Jones Blvd. #11A, 702-641-1345. SF

 

Best 24-Hour Café

Planet Dailies

This eatery is a deli in its own right — it makes one of the best pastrami sandwiches in town. But equally as delicious are the fluffy pancakes, juicy burgers and overloaded salads that will sate any fix. Planet Hollywood Resort, 702-731-7778, planethollywoodresort.com JP

 

Yusho

Best Late Night Food Event

Yusho After Dark

A wild combination of art and cuisine — with some drinking and music thrown in — Yusho After Dark gives you yet another excuse to check out the exciting fare being served from this hidden corner of Monte Carlo. Executive chef Brian Lhee showcases his abilities alongside an ever-changing rotation of guest chefs in this first-Tuesday-of-the-month event. Who says nothing good happens after dark? Monte Carlo, 702-730-7777. JB

 

EAT IT UP!

Best Seafood Buffet

Bacchanal Buffet

If it’s high-protein goodness you crave, go no farther than the seafood station at this Caesars Palace fixture. You can gorge yourself on some of the tastiest oysters and biggest shrimp in town, along with delicious ceviche. It’s so scrumptious you can fill up on oceanic critters without hitting any of the other buffet stations. Bonus: The martinis don’t stint on the olives. Caesars Palace, caesarspalace.com David McKee

 

Best Dessert Buffet

Wicked Spoon

This has one of the most varied selections on the Strip or off. Each serving comes in friendly, bite-sized portions, so you can run the gamut without bloating yourself. It’s the perfect, light finish to one of the Strip’s more underrated buffets. The Cosmopolitan, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com DM

 

Best Off-Strip Buffet

M Resort

It’s a bit of a haul to reach the M, and the buffet lines are long, but it’s worth the wait for one of the most well-rounded buffets in town. All the stations are strong and the quality of the ingredients is a cut above — sometimes several cuts above — what most locals casinos and numerous Strip ones offer. The seafood station is a tower of strength, but if beef or vegetarianism are your thing, M won’t disappoint you, either. You practically have to drive to Jean, but you’ll be glad you did. M Resort, themresort.com DM

 

LV American TavernBest Comfort Food

Made L.V.

Made L.V. American Tavern has a big snuggly appetizer hug waiting for you — whether it’s in the form of nachos layered with smoked ham hock or mac ’n’ cheese pillowed with burnt pork ends. Sharing comes easy at the Tivoli Village spot, from smoked onion dip and black truffle cheese fondue to garlic Parmesan fries served in a brown paper bag. 450 S. Rampart Blvd., #120, 702-722-2000. Greg Thilmont

 

RESPECT YOURSELF

Best Healthy Lunch

Lyfe Kitchen

This chain from a former McDonald’s exec and chef Art Smith is the next generation fast-casual, thanks to a bright, airy design and a menu full of healthy fare you actually want to eat. From grilled mahi tacos to grass-fed burgers, everything is made fresh and under 600 calories, so you can have luxurious “unfried” chicken for lunch instead of kale salad (although the kale salad is really good). 140 S. Green Valley Parkway #142, 702-558-0131, lyfekitchen.com SF

 

Best Healthy Snack

Açai Bowl from Juice N Go

Some foods make you feel better as you eat them (thanks, placebo effect!), and just the sight of an açai bowl may lower your cholesterol. The healthful Brazilian berries, in a frozen puree mixed with soy milk or apple juice, form the base of the bowl. Next come granola, bananas, strawberries, coconut, honey and any other fruit you request. It adds up to a deliciously satisfying snack loaded with antioxidants. 1735 S. Rainbow Blvd., 702-242-5842, juice-n-go.com TL

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan Food

Bronze Café

In the lobby of The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada is Bronze Café, a primarily vegetarian/vegan venue with the ultimate badge of success: letting carnivores step out of character for a delicious moment. The Good Earth Pita is hearty enough to quell any meat-eater’s appetite, while the Thai Peanut Noodle Salad is hauntingly good without an animal in sight. 401 S. Maryland Parkway, 702-202-3100, facebook.com/bronzecafelv JB

 

DISRESPECT YOURSELF

Best Gut Bomb

POP’S Philly Cheesesteak

It’s true that I usually clear my afternoons if a trip to the Pride of Philly Steaks is on the agenda, but it’s always worth it. The greasy staple of my guilty pleasures must include Whiz and provolone, peppers, onions, mushrooms — oh, and Maalox followed by a nap. 501 S. Decatur Blvd., 702-878-6444, popscheesesteaks.com Chris Bitonti

 

Best Donuts

Real Donuts

There are certainly fancier donut places, but none exceed the old-school excellence of Real Donuts. You can get all the classics here: maple logs, long johns, bear claws and a truly ridiculous fritter. You don’t venture into Real Donuts for anything bacon-infused; you come for the damnedest deep-fried deliciousness. 1811 W. Charleston Blvd.,702-388-9958 JB 

 

CATCH A BUZZ

Best Cocktail Theater

365 Tokyo

Booze is the entertainment at this cozy members-only bar (look for the glass box on the front of the Inspire building), where master bartender Seong Ha Lee makes cocktail magic using siphons, smokers and hand-chipped ice. Watching him construct your libation is entrancing, but drinking it might be even better. 107 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 702-489-9110, inspirelasvegas.com SF

 

Best Beer Crawl

Henderson Booze District

Love good beer? Support local businesses? Enjoy walking around warehouses? If so, head to the new Henderson Booze District. One industrial building hosts Bad Beat Brewing, which features IPAs and a delectable basil-infused “Ace in the Hole.” Another holds CraftHaus, where deliciously sour saisons fill tulip glasses under the glare of colorful cuckoo clocks. A third brewery is opening this month. Finally, Southern Nevada is getting the brewpub love it so justly deserves. 7330 Eastgate Rd., 844-787-0700, boozedistrict.com GT

 

BEST COCKTAILS

Herbs & Rye

Herbs & Rye owns this category for good reason. Here’s one sign of how seriously they take their boozecraft: The era-arranged cocktail menu features multiple tempting choices crafted of proper booze (rye, gin, rum), and just one made from vodka. Not that there’s anything wrong with vodka. ... But we urge you to forgo the Moscow Mule and move up to more potent concoctions. Our pick is the gin martini variation, the Ford. 3713 W. Sahara Ave., 702-982-8036, herbsandrye.com JPR

 

Best Happy Hour

Brooklyn Bowl

We love one-stop shops — great food, drinks, concerts and, yes, bowling. Somehow, we just manage to end up here at happy hour, to get our favorites at half price: Egg Shooters, BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders and Rock ’n’ Roll Fries among them. The Blue Ribbon cuisine by chefs Eric and Bruce Bromberg is aptly named. 5-7 p.m. daily; reverse happy hour: midnight-close. The Linq, 702-862-2695, www.brooklynbowl.com/las-vegas JP

 

Best Booze Milkshakes

Holstein’s

Flavors like pumpkin pie, maple bacon, birthday cake and red velvet come with designer garnishes like chocolate-covered bacon and donut holes. On the menu, the more than a dozen booze-infused milkshakes all sound overwhelming, but in your mouth they are smooth, creamy and tinged with just the right amount of alcohol. The Cosmopolitan, 702-698-7940, holsteinslv.com TL

If you’ve enjoyed this read, wait until you get your hands on a bunch of these reads from contemporary voices mining the good stuff from Las Vegas — all laid out in a gorgeous design experience. Subscribe. It comes to your house. For real!

More Stories

Desert Companion
Feature
Desert Companion
Feature
Jul 01, 2014

DEALicious meals

KNPR
KNPR's State of Nevada