Chef/owner, Bratalian and Bacio restaurants
Best place for lunch: Spago at the Forum Shops — I love the Symphony Tuna. Best late-night snack: Holsteins at The Cosmopolitan for burgers or Pellegrino’s Pizza & Deli in the Tropicana (obviously for the pizza). Best breakfast spot: Cracked Egg. Great atmosphere, fresh food and fast service. Where I eat dinner when I’m not at Bacio or Bratalian: Atelier by Joel Robuchon. I love Chef Steve Benjamin and his foie gras-stuffed quail. Best local hangout: The Sanctuary at Town Square. The vibe reminds me of the lounges in South Beach. Best nightclub: Hard to pick one. TAO, RPM and now 1OAK — it was one of my favorite nightclubs in NYC, and I’m glad that longtime friends Ronnie Madra and Scott Sartiano brought it to Vegas.
Xania V. Woodman
Vegas Seven senior editor of dining, beverage and nightlife
Best second date: At one of Adam Carmer’s Flight Schools held in the Whisky Attic, where your date can see your adorably nerdy side through bourbon glasses. Best night out: Downtown Cocktail Room’s Mixology Mondays lets you enjoy four hand-crafted, original cocktails with all your newest cocktailian friends for just $20. Best mixologist: Ice cubes just try harder in the presence of the newest member of the Wirtz Beverage Nevada cocktail development team, Andrew Pollard. Best instant vacation: A plate of pork jerky and a bottle of cheap, cold, exotic suds at Le Thai downtown transports me to Portland, San Francisco, Boston … Best cocktail program: Wynn Resorts property mixologist Patricia Richards has figured out how to sync more than 20 bars with a level of consistency that yields the perfect cocktail every time, every shift — even when the hands aren’t hers.
Review-Journal political columnist
Best neighborhood Italian: Gaetano’s. With a proprietor who chats with his customers, discusses the finer points of Italian cuisine and guides you through a mouth-watering menu and wine list, what’s not to love? Best cigar lounge: Havana Cigar Co. Good prices, good service and now with a full bar — including excellent scotch. Best indoor gun range: American Shooters. Whether you want to plink away with a handgun or try a rifle, this is the place to do it. Best place for beers: Yard House. Sadly, they no longer serve beer in the eponymous three-foot glass, but you can still get a half-yard. Best movie theater: Rave Motion Pictures in Town Square. First-run movies are shown in stadium-style theaters with comfy seats and little tables to hold the popcorn, candy or hot dogs. And the high-def sound will drown out all but the most committed movie talkers.
Best place to find arrowheads (and .22 shells): Knob Hill in the Eldorado Mountains. Best road trip to an alien universe: Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park, weird habitat of the ever-mysterious sliding stones. Best place to hear bullfrogs: ponds at the Corn Creek conservation area. You can hear them a mile away! Best jaunt back in time: Heritage Street at the Clark County Museum, where eight real structures from Las Vegas’ colorful past have been set up and furnished with vintage furniture and equipment. Best place to photograph the Las Vegas Strip at night: McCarran Airport Terminal 1 parking garage, level 5. Best 45-minute road trip with wildlife viewing potential: Spring Mountain Ranch State Park. I spotted a five-point stag while ambling along the hiking trail just east of Lake Harriet.
Artistic director, Nevada Ballet Theatre
Best museum: The Neon Museum gives me an instant glimpse and feeling of “yesteryear” Vegas. Best relaxation spot: Red Rock Canyon for its natural beauty, peace and quiet — and a great place to think. Best place to play tourist: The fountains at Bellagio, where choreography, music, movement and audience come together. (Much like the experience of a Nevada Ballet Theatre performance.)