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.
Susan Feniger and her partner Mary Sue Milliken own both Border Grills in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay and the Forum Shops at Caesars. Feniger also opened Mud Hen Tavern in 2013 and Blue Window in 2015 in Hollywood. The Culinary Institute of America grad got her start at Chicago’s famed Le Perroquet as one of the first women in the all-male kitchen. She moved on to Wolfgang Puck’s infamous Ma Maison in Los Angeles, and then it was off to the French Riviera. She opened City Café in 1981 in Los Angeles serving eclectic dishes from around the world. She co-authored six cookbooks, including her latest, Susan Feniger’s Street Food. She appeared on 396 episodes of the Food Network’s Too Hot Tamales and Tamales World Tour series and competed on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters in 2010.
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?
I love what's been happening downtown, with the insurgence of fun and funky venues that focus on good food with fresh ingredients. PublicUs is an amazing spot with a focus on bringing the community together. The trees growing out of the center of their indoor tables are genius. The urban vibe is perfect for morning meetings that sometimes evolve into power lunches as well. They definitely take their coffee game seriously, so I like to get a pour over of their most interesting offering and while their food menu is ever evolving, there is always something fun to try. Last time I tried the organic egg toast with Nduja (spicy prosciutto), parmesan cream, spinach, roasted garlic and furikake (Japanese seasoning) on house-made sourdough bread.
What about lunch? Any power lunch places you must try in Las Vegas?
Morels at Palazzo is great hidden gem for lunch. If you sit outside on the patio, you can watch the hustle and bustle of the strip, but not have to actually be a part of it. Their table-side Caesars are very old-school Vegas and fun.
You’re headed out to dinner in Las Vegas. Where do you like to go? What do you order?
I try to support local businesses as much as possible, so when I'm not at Lotus of Siam, DW Bistro is another must-have. Their DW jerk fried chicken with homemade cornbread is fabulous, and I love their slow-cooked pork bowl. The fusion of New Mexico and Jamaican cuisines is well executed and their staff is always super-friendly.
Do you have a favorite spot for cocktails in Las Vegas?
I love checking out new places whenever I am in Vegas, especially the smaller and unique. Tokyo 365 has been one of the most interesting finds so far. It's this amazing downtown, members-only, Japanese-style speakeasy that only has 10 seats. Don't ask me how I got past the hand print scanner located in the hidden door disguised as a bookshelf, but once inside, I absolutely loved the white interior with floor to ceiling smoke glass windows that look out over the main strip of downtown. All I had to do was ask Casey to make something savory and fresh over ice and he nailed it. Between the sultry jazzy vinyls on the record player and the amazing hand-crafted cocktails I actually forgot about the outside world and lost track of time.
Why are you involved in the Cool Comedy-Hot Cuisine gala for the Scleroderma Research Foundation?
I have been cooking to find a cure for scleroderma since my dear friend and college roommate, Sharon Monsky, was diagnosed with the disease back in 1982. While scleroderma is considered a rare disease, it affects hundreds of thousands of people around the world. The word literally means ‘hard skin,’ but the disease is much more. Both debilitating and degenerative, scleroderma is an autoimmune disease that often attacks the internal organs — especially the lungs and kidneys — with life-threatening consequences.
Sharon was such an inspirational friend. The organization she founded, Scleroderma Research Foundation, continues to grow and is more committed than ever to fulfilling her vision of a world without scleroderma. Cool Comedy is now an SRF tradition in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. It has raised millions of dollars for research and included such phenomenal performers as Dana Carvey, Ellen DeGeneres, Jay Leno, John Mayer, Conan O’Brien, John Oliver, Jerry Seinfeld, the late Robin Williams and others, all of whom donate their time and talents for the cause.