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 feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Mary Sue Milliken co-owns Border Grill, the Mexican restaurant with locations at Mandalay Bay and the Forum Shops at Caesars with Susan Feniger. The chef got her start cooking world cuisine since she created City Café and City Restaurant in Los Angeles in the 1980s. She starred on Too Hot Tamales with her longtime business partner Feniger and made it to the finals on Top Chef Masters. She’s even co-authored five cookbooks, including Cooking with Too Hot Tamales, Mesa Mexicana and City Cuisine. She was the first female chef to work at Chicago's Le Perroquet in the late 1970s,
On Thursday, Oct. 13, she returns to Las Vegas to create a feast for the Scleroderma Research Foundation's Cool Comedy-Hot Cuisine event at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq with her business partner Feniger, along with chef Rick Moonen and chef Hubert Keller, as well as comedian host Bill Bellamy, Rick and Corey Harrison from television’s Pawn Stars and pastry chef Keris Kuwana from Yardbird Southern & Bar with the Neon Trees entertaining. Here she shares many of her favorite places to eat at any time of day in Las Vegas.
You come to Las Vegas so often. Where do you like to go for breakfast? What’s so perfect about that setting and what do you like to order?
I don’t get to stray far from Mandalay but I really don’t have to because I often stay at the Delano and I adore the breakfast at Della’s Kitchen. If I’m in a healthy mood, I eat their house made granola with plain yogurt and Pudwill farms organic berries (which I buy for my house all the time). But if I’m feeling decadent I splurge on calories and have the amazing fried chicken and waffles or the Portuguese sausage with eggs. The place has charm, great service and they walk the walk of farm to table cooking.
Of course, if it’s a weekend, I skip Della’s and head over to Border Grill, where I taste test all our brunch menu items for quality control.
What about lunch? Any power lunch places you must try in Las Vegas?
For a power lunch, I like to visit our Border Grill Forum Shops neighbor, Joe’s Stone Crab and order the crab roll with warm potato chips. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as impeccable service in a warm and friendly atmosphere to get a deal done.
You’re headed out to dinner in Las Vegas. Where do you like to go? What do you order?
There are so many places I’m dying to try: Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay just opened to terrific reviews, Mr Chow at Caesars Palace is irresistibly gorgeous and the menu is right up my alley with hand-pulled noodles and Peking duck and I had the most amazing meal at Bazaar Meat. I can’t wait to get back and have the chicharonnes and Jose’s Asian tacos again. But the place I go to most often is Lotus of Siam for the crispy rice salad with Thai sausage, the catfish with celery, the Koi Soy (Thai tartare) and anything else chef Deng feels like making for me. It just gets better and better and I’ve been eating Deng’s delicious cooking for more than 20 years.
Do you have a favorite spot for cocktails in Las Vegas?
I adore chef Alain Ducasse, so whenever I can slip away from Border Grill, I go up to Rivea at the top of the Delano to Skyfall Lounge for a great Negroni, a few appetizers and the most spectacular view of the Strip imaginable.
Why are you involved in the Cool Comedy-Hot Cuisine gala for the Scleroderma Research Foundation?
I’ve been involved in all the Cool Comedy-Hot Cuisine fundraisers since we conceived of the idea (pairing great comedy with great food) back in 1986. I’m attracted by the collective passion for finding a cure for this devastating disease. SRF thinks out of the box enlisting all kinds of researchers, doctors, scientists and facilitating true collaboration. It’s an inspirational blueprint for how to solve any of our world’s problems and I want to be involved until we put the foundation out of business!