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.
Rick Giffen became the new director of food and beverage for Oyo Hotel this September after working as the executive chef at T-Mobile Arena. Giffen moved to Las Vegas in 1994 and has served in executive chef roles up and down the Las Vegas Strip at The Strat, China Grill properties at Mandalay Bay, Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas, and more. In fact, he’s opened more than 65 restaurants nationwide throughout his 35-year career in hospitality. He trained at the Hotel Intercontinental in his native San Diego and became the youngest executive chef in the Sheraton Hotel family when he took over operations in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Giffen moved to Las Vegas in 1994. When he’s not in the kitchen, Giffen can be found cooking, golfing, traveling, and hiking with his wife Michelle and their two labradoodles, Molly and Snicker. Giffen is an avid golfer and Los Angeles Chargers fan. Here he shares some of his favorite restaurants in Las Vegas.
Eater Vegas: Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
Rick Giffen: My first trip to Vegas was in October of 1987. I was moving from San Diego to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, when I stopped in Vegas for fuel and a bite to eat at the Peppermill. I put $10 in a video poker machine and hit four of a kind, which paid to fill my rental truck’s tank.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
I moved here in 1994 to open a restaurant in the Forum Shops at Caesars. It turned out to be the highest grossing restaurant in the world for the first two years it was open, which, lead me to stay and enjoy the great restaurant and hotel scene for the last 25 years.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
I love the lobster fest omelet with a side of pico de gallo at the Omelet House on Rancho and Charleston, which is my go-to for a great breakfast. Chef Kevin does a great job upholding excellent service and food standards there.
What about lunch?
During the dead heat of the summer, it’s nice to enjoy lunch on the deck of the Mount Charleston Lodge. If I’m on the west side of the valley, Viva Mercado’s is a favorite and if I’m on the southeast side, my favorite has to be Leticia’s Cocina & Cantina at the Fiesta Station Casino.
If you’re going out for dinner, which restaurants do you like to frequent? What makes them special? Any dishes you can recommend?
Living downtown, I always hit Le Thai, Triple George Grill, or the taco truck on East Charleston and 17th. Their ranchero plate is outta control!
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
My favorite spot for a special occasion is STK at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Chef Stephen offers an unforgettable dining experience there.
Are there any brunches in town you like to frequent?
I’m not really a brunch guy, but Border Grill‘s brunch is always on point.
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
Being a downtown local, I frequent The Griffin and the Container Park.
• All Dining Confidentials [ELV]