Critics of Las Vegas have long derided the city’s lack of culture. Those familiar with The Smith Center, the city’s epicenter for the performing arts, know that those critiques are without merit. Opened in 2012, The Smith Center in Downtown Las Vegas is home to the Nevada Ballet Theater and the Las Vegas Philharmonic. The Smith Center plays host to Broadway performers, music legends, comedians, and countless other artists at its three theaters and two-acre outdoor space.
For those who would like to have dinner and a show, The Smith Center’s convenient location provides easy access to both the west end of Fremont Street and the Arts District. And while it should be noted that The Smith Center’s own Myron’s Cabaret Jazz has its own food and drink menu that includes charcuterie and bento boxes, these five restaurants near the Smith Center are definitely worth checking out.
A classic dinner at the former mayor’s place
Three-term mayor Oscar Goodman played a major role in the creation of The Smith Center by making land available for the project. His eponymous restaurant, located at the Plaza, serves vintage Vegas fare including crab cakes and fresh shellfish for starters and bone-in rib-eye steak and smoked pork chop with apple chutney for the main course. In addition to a classic meal, diners can also enjoy one of the finest views of Fremont Street from beneath the restaurant’s glass enclosure.
Oscar’s Steakhouse, The Plaza, 1 S. Main St.; 702-386-7227
A meal before a matinee
Whether it’s a hearty breakfast of eggs, fried chicken, mashed hash browns, and country gravy (the Kentucky fried chicken) or a fresh quinoa crunch salad topped with quinoa and edamame hummus, MTO Cafe offers a casual breakfast or lunch before a matinee performance at the Smith Center. The downtown cafe serves made-to-order breakfast specialties, burritos, salads, and sandwiches. For dessert, fans order espresso and fried apple rings.
MTO Cafe, 500 S. Main St.; 702-380-8229
Pizza and microbrews
Wine may be the go-to option for a classy drink before a show at The Smith Center, but those who prefer a good craft beer might want to go to a place where it’s brewed on-site. Located at Main Street Station, Triple 7 Restaurant & Microbrewery serves a rotating selection of its own craft beer along with burgers, pizza, and dishes such as tater tots served with beer cheese dip, salmon teriyaki, and vegetables over steamed rice.
Triple 7 Restaurant & Microbrewery, Main Street Station, 200 N. Main St.; 702-387-1896
Latin comfort food and cold brew
The insanely hip Makers & Finders gem of the Arts District offers a fittingly cultured dining choice before a performance at The Smith Center. The coffee bar and cafe serves Latin American dishes including empanadas, ceviche, and plantain chips with black bean dip, plus artfully crafted espresso drinks. Wine, beer, and craft cocktails — including a delightful lavender mimosa made with rose cava — also make the menu.
Makers & Finders, 1120 S. Main St.; 702-586-8255
Asian cuisine and tea service
Located inside perennial Ninth Island favorite the California right off the Fremont Street Experience in Downtown Las Vegas, California Noodle House offers an intimate, stylish restaurant serving Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. Menu favorites include Korean pork belly with Thai chili between bao buns, oxtail fried rice, and pan-seared rare ahi tuna with baby bok choy and mustard miso. An extensive tea menu has options ranging from Thai iced tea to Pekoe black tea.
California Noodle House, California, 12 E. Ogden Ave.; 702-388-2680