Sin City is home to a lot of restaurants and bars, but there are tons of hidden gems that the majority of Las Vegans aren't unearthing. To help guide us to these potential discoveries, we've enlisted some of our city's food players to share their recommendations for a weekly feature dubbed Dining Confidential. Know a chef who wants to share some top dining spots? The tipline is open.
John Hilton’s career in food and beverage started when he as a sous chef at Circus Circus, a gig he picked up after heading west from Virginia after high school. From there, he worked at the Las Vegas Convention Center as and assistant chef as well as the Cashman Center as executive chef. Then he left the industry to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, Calif. After graduating, he became the executive chef at the Plaza, Fitzgerald’s and then Beyonce and Jay Z’s 40/40 Club locations in Manhattan and Atlantic City, N.J. He has worked numerous Live Nation catering events for artists including Kid Rock, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and the Miss Universe Pageant. Hilton joined Three Square Food Bank in 2009 as the executive chef, overseeing the creation and production of approximately 24,000 meals per week that benefit the organization’s childhood nutrition programs. Here he shares three restaurants that he likes to visit when friends and family come in from out of town.
Which restaurants do you turn to when you’re not working?
Olives at the Bellagio, Alizé at the Palms, and The Barrymore at the Royal Resort.
Of those restaurants, what dishes are most memorable?
At Olives, I’m a big fan of the watermelon salad. It’s such a fresh and unique combination. I like how the smooth citrus vinaigrette brings out different flavors in the watermelon, tomatoes and feta.
Alizé serves this beef carpaccio with summer melons, celery root and a truffle-yuzu aioli. It’s a unique use of fresh melons in a dish that would generally be more savory. It’s refreshing. I also like the foie gras terrine. How can you go wrong with that smoked duck and artichoke crepe?
It’s hard to choose just one thing from The Barrymore. From their roasted artichoke and the Wagyu steak tartare to the Chilean sea bass and the short rib of beef, I always enjoy my meals there.
Why do you enjoy going there?
Olives is just breathtaking. The décor and the backdrop of the Fountains of Bellagio make it a really special location in addition to imaginative food.
Alizé has a view to die for. You can also tell there is so much pride put into each dish and I appreciate that the attention to detail really shows throughout the meal.
The Barrymore is vintage Vegas. It’s such a cool hideaway and to me it’s like a hidden secret.