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Desert Companion

Side Dish Awards

Other tasty dishes and culinary trends of note in 2016

 

Sandwich of the Year

Pho-dipped banh mi at Le Pho

The traditional banh mi, or Saigon sub, meets all-American diner grub at this downtown Vietnamese spot. A crusty French roll with pickled daikon and carrots honors the traditional version, but there are also some creative deviations. Tender sliced brisket stands in for mystery lunchmeat, and a side of aromatic pho broth is provided for dipping. The end result is a messy and drippy but oh-so-satisfying alternative to an otherwise ordinary handheld lunch. DL

353 E. Bonneville Ave #115, 702-382-0209, lephodtlv.com

***

Happy Hour of the Year

Harvest by Roy Ellamar’s “Harvest Hour”

Harvest is still going strong as a creative farm-to-table concept, and still keeping alive its dedication to painstakingly sourced produce. One of its more quirky features is the snack wagon, a rolling cart of bites such as smoked salmon belly dip, hangar steak tartare and broccoli raab pesto with naan bread. “Harvest Hour,” from 5-6 p.m. and 9-10 p.m., prices select snacks, cocktails and wine at $7 each, making it one of the best values on the Strip. MW

In the Bellagio, 702-693-8865, bellagio.com

***

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Hidden Gem of the Year

Yuzu Kaiseki

In an unassuming strip mall on East Silverado Ranch Boulevard, chef/owner Kaoru-San is transforming a nondescript Japanese restaurant into a niche dining destination with his kaiseki, or small-plate, offerings. A seasonal multicourse meal — think omakase on steroids — with ornate presentations contrasting simple preparations, kaiseki is probably unlike anything you’ve ever encountered. The course progresses around preparation methods, such as the grilled yakimono and rice-based gohan, with no two meals ever the same. And yet every one is out of the ordinary. JB

1310 E. Silverado Ranch Blvd. #105, 702-778-8889, yuzujapanesekitchen.com

***

Burger of the Year

The 3AM Burger at The Burger Joint

The 3AM Burger at The Burger Joint, a new Henderson spot, is a fine example of how this place is going above and beyond in the noble calling of making great hamburgers. It does custom buns and custom patties, so any burger is a sure bet, but the 3AM adds plenty of extra goodies: a free-roam-hen fried egg, bacon from hearty Duroc pigs, roasted tomato, caramelized onions, and hollandaise sauce. Whatever hour you eat it, it’s a world-class breakfast between two buns. MW

10890 S. Eastern Ave. #108, 702-818-5996, burgerjointlv.com

***

Bar Food of the Year

Naked City Tavern

Chris Palmeri may have made his mark bringing suicide fries and Guy Fieri-endorsed fried dough to town, but don’t underestimate his skills as a legitimate chef. At the newest location of his Naked City empire, pizzas and chicken wings are supplemented with a separate “chef’s menu” that’s served 24 hours a day. Expect tacos stuffed with foie gras, creative farmers market-sourced vegetable preparations and truffles on everything. Not too shabby for a joint with a dive vibe. DL

6295 S. Pecos Rd., 702-966-0771, nakedcitylv.com

***

Guilty Pleasure of the Year

Surf & Turf at The Palm restaurant

Recently revamped and redecorated, The Palm is a place that prides itself on its dry-aged prime beef and its lobster. In fact, this is where some of the largest lobsters in town go, going four pounds and up. It’ll cost you a pretty penny, but for a true indulgence, choose a steak (I recommend the 14-ounce filet mignon) and half a three- or four-pound lobster, and just dig in like a shark in a feeding frenzy. MW

In the Forum Shops at Caesars, 702-732-7256, thepalm.com

***

Chain Restaurant of the Year

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

At first glance, dog-friendly Lazy Dog (they have a dog menu!) might not appear to be a gourmand’s mecca. But look a little closer and you’ll realize this casual-dining SoCal mini-chain is no mere canine-catering Applebee’s. Practically everything on the menu is housemade, elevating the upscale bar fare above its peers — you won’t find wok-fired calamari, chicken curry or butter cake at TGIF. Even house beers are special, brewed by LA’s Golden Road brewery. JB Downtown Summerlin, 702-727-4784; Town Square, 702-941-1920, lazydogrestaurants.com

 

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