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 readers to these potential discoveries, Eater Vegas enlisted some of the city's food players to share their recommendations for a feature dubbed Dining Confidential.
Las Vegas native Joshua Smith feels right at home at Bardot Brasserie, the French restaurant from Michael Mina at Aria. After all, he worked with the Mina Group at Seablue, the former seafood restaurant at the MGM Grand where Pub 1842 sits now.
The executive chef at Bardot returned to Las Vegas when the restaurant opened in 2015 after a stint as a divisional executive chef for Lettuce Entertain You, where he worked with chef Matthew Kirkley at the now closed L20 in Chicago. Smith worked at the former Anisette Brasserie in Santa Monica and Church & State Bistro in Los Angeles as well as at Estiatorio Milos at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Here he shares some of his favorite places to dine when he’s not tinkering with motorcycles.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
I was born and raised in Vegas. Although I’ve lived and worked in Mexico, Los Angeles and Chicago, Vegas is my home. My entire family still lives here and I plan to stay. I fell in love with both Chicago and LA, but Las Vegas affords me luxuries that I took for granted when I was younger such as the close proximity to unbelievable natural wonders, playing with my two giant dogs in my pool and being near my family.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
Leading the charge at Bardot Brasserie allows me to serve nearly 100,000 guests per year. There is nowhere else in the world I could be at the nucleus of a project this grandiose. My home happens to be the most visited tourist destination in the world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
I love old Vegas nostalgia and luckily there are a few breakfast spots that really capture vintage Vegas at its best. The Peppermill is a must-visit whether for a Scorpion Bowl in the Fireside Lounge or breakfast in the classic diner. Trust me when I say you have to order their fruit plate. The Omelet House and Mary’s Hash House are also at the top of my list for a weekend breakfast.
What about lunch?
Monta for ramen! I order the tonkotsu-shoyu ramen and indulge in a little extra chashu pork. Their gyoza are also the best in the city in my opinion. Another plus is the service is very fast like most ramen joints you’ll find in the city. You can count on being in and out in about 25 minutes.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
Carbone at Aria is truly a special place with its classic staple menu items like the rigatoni vodka to the roaming dessert cart for a table-side show. While the food is incredible, the dining experience is just as important. It is easily the best date spot in town but I also love coming as part of a large group and sharing a few plates.
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
If it is my birthday, please take me to Raku. It has my favorite food in the city. If it is my girlfriend’s birthday, you can bet we will be eating in a classic restaurant like the Steak House at Circus Circus. It is a special place, filled with nostalgia. The menu is deceptively simple, but the food is on point and full of flavor. Order the big bone in cut of prime rib and prepare to share.
Are there any brunches in town you like to frequent?
I would pick Bardot Brasserie for brunch every time. Being a real Francophile, all I want is a great croissant and I’m happy. If I had to pick another place it would be DW Bistro. The chef brings a little Jamaican touch to its brunch menu and it is incredibly unique and delicious. I’d suggest making a reservation as they get pretty busy on the weekend.
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
You cannot beat the Starboard Tack for a good time. It is a spot in my neighborhood where the Rat Pack used to hang out. The new owners took it over and are offering a nautical themed drink and food menu in a comfortable, affordable and casual environment. Save room for the ice cream too. It’s from Magnolia, a Filipino family-run operation. The flavors are tropical and addictively exotic.
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