In a city with hundreds of new restaurant openings each year, it’s a constant struggle to narrow down where to eat on any given occasion in Las Vegas. This year’s crop of first-to-market imports from around the country and menu revamps from some big-name chefs wrenches the decision-making process even further.
Here are six mouthwatering bites you don’t want to miss right now.
Giada’s Cacio e Pepe Bucatini
When celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis debuted her first restaurant inside Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Cromwell in 2014, we fell in love with her feminine approach to pasta eating — you won’t find mounds of noodles on the plate, but instead right-sized and well-balanced portions. Even though there are heaps of carbs, nothing feels heavy.
In honor of the venue’s four-year anniversary, the Emmy-winning toque introduced new menu items and even a decadent cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) bucatini for two served in a warm Pecorino Toscano wheel. This creamy cheese preparation will have you clamoring for every last noodle.
Momofuku’s A5 Hokkaido Wagyu Potatoes
Giving new meaning to the term “meat and potatoes,” the Momofuku outpost inside Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Cosmopolitan unveiled a new dish by chef Shaun King that represents the best of both worlds.
Crisp potatoes are tossed in honey mustard, crunchy garlic and chili oil, and then blanketed in a paper-thin slice of A5 Hokkaido wagyu.
Is it a side? Is it an entrée? It could really be both, depending on if you are willing to share or not.
NoMad Bar’s NoMad French Dip
Not many restaurants are known for their chicken, a dish often considered a necessity rather than a luxury on high-end menus. However, the team at Make it Nice hospitality has become famous for its interpretation of the rudimentary bird.
Various forms of the poultry are served at chef Daniel Humm’s New York City restaurants NoMad (within Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The NoMad Hotel) and Five-Star Eleven Madison Park, but his roasted chicken with black truffle and foie gras has become legendary.
At the Las Vegas outpost of NoMad Bar, which debuted in October inside NoMad Las Vegas, Humm takes a more playful approach to his signature dish and serves it as a French-dip-style sandwich with shaved chicken, gooey Gruyère cheese and a side of black truffle jus for dunking.
Ghost Donkey’s Nachos
A bar that only serves nachos and tequila is a dream come true for those who love Tex-Mex cuisine. One of the most fun openings of the season is Ghost Donkey, a 27-seat speakeasy that has been impressing cocktail hounds in New York City for the last two years.
Find the hidden door marked with a donkey in the back of Block 16 Urban Food Hall on The Cosmopolitan’s second floor. Enter and be stunned by a room that screams fiesta with multicolored lasers, whimsical Mexican décor and adorable donkey figurines everywhere.
The menu is composed of drinks based in tequila and mezcal, and nachos of various types are the only food item. But these aren’t any run-of-the-mill chips and cheese.
The cool factor comes from gourmet, un-nacho-like toppings, such as truffle nachos with cheddar and layers of black truffle and chives, or carrot nachos made with carrot chili, carrot habanero hot sauce, mezcal-pickled carrots and cilantro.
Continuing the earthy vibe, the mushroom margarita made of huitlacoche– (corn fungus) infused mezcal, triple sec, lime juice and lava salt carries a savory complexity not often found in the typically sweet tipple.
Scotch 80 Prime’s Mesquite Fired Crustacean Tower
As steakhouses go in Vegas, N9NE at Palms Casino Resort dominated the scene for locals and tourists for more than a decade. Shuttered in 2017 to make way for the $620 million renovation of the hotel-casino, Scotch 80 Prime opened its doors in May 2018 with a menu by executive chef Barry Dakake to wow the taste buds and an art collection with works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst to blow up your Instagram feed.
Named after “the Scotch 80s,” one of the city’s most affluent neighborhoods known for its sprawling midcentury-modern mansions, this restaurant embraces the theatrics of Las Vegas dining with large-format dishes and tableside presentations, such as a classic cocktail cart, Fire & Ice Banana Split and mesquite-fired crustacean tower, which turns the ubiquitous shellfish presentation into a memorable moment.
Served hot rather than cold, Maine lobster, white shrimp, sea scallops, Spanish octopus, Alaskan king crab and littleneck clams are grilled over mesquite, flambéed at the table with brandy, finished with scampi butter and garnished with charred lemons.
Lakeside’s Mushroom and Egg Fried Rice
Fried rice for breakfast? After you try it at Four-Star Wynn Las Vegas’ new Sunday jazz brunch, you will question how you ever lived without it.
While the mushroom and egg fried rice might not be a brunch-time staple like Lakeside’s lemon ricotta pancakes or crab cake eggs Benedict with miso hollandaise, chef David Walzog tempts conventional daytime dining with surprising presentations and ingredients.
The picturesque setting of the restaurant along Wynn’s Lake of Dreams is an added dose of aesthetic engagement to pair with these pleasures of the palate.