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.
Jackson Stamper came on board at The Kitchen at Atomic back in May as the executive chef after a brief stint at Esther’s Kitchen. He spent five years as the executive chef at Employees Only in New York City. He worked at Harvey’s Bistro in his hometown of Orlando, Florida; Hoof & Fin, Federal Donuts, and Vintage Bistro in Philadelphia; and Quahogs in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Here he shares some of his favorite restaurant discoveries in Las Vegas.
Do you remember your first trip to Vegas? What happened that was memorable?
About six years ago when my wife and I first started dating, she brought me out to visit her sister. We hit up the Strip, but then for me, I definitely remember going to Fremont. I went to Golden Nugget. Her brother-in-law hit a huge payout with a royal flush on a video poker machine. We basically just used all that money to just keep us going for the whole night. We just played tons of table games and got to do a bunch of stuff that I’d never gotten to do before.
What made you decide to move to Las Vegas?
My wife and I moved here in December. We had been living in New York for quite a long time. I was there for about six years. She’d been there for about 15. Her sister lived here in Las Vegas, and we’d been coming to visit once or twice a year for the last five years. And we always loved it and we thought it was great and it just seemed like it had a lot of opportunities here.
Where do you like to eat breakfast in Las Vegas?
So right down the street from us, there’s a place called PublicUs and it’s a great place for pastries. Pretty much every day that I work, I go in there and I get an espresso and some sort of pastry on my way to work. If I’m looking to have like more of like a traditional kind of like breakfast breakfast, I go to The Bagel Cafe, which I happen to live a block away from. It kind of reminds me of New York City. The bagels are amazing.
What about lunch?
So for my money, the best sandwich that I’ve had here is at Cured & Whey. Their duck Reuben is phenomenal. And then they also have a Cuban that’s super, super good. I just like to go in there and taste and buy charcuterie and cheese. They always have great, interesting stuff and it’s always changing.
Do you have any favorite restaurants for dinner?
One of the first places I went to here when I was still just visiting is Chengdu Taste. It’s definitely a place I would say to go if you’re a little more adventurous because they do really cool stuff with like pig ears and offal. The first time I was there, I saw that every table had this dish. It was this pot with all these skewers in them. And I just said, “Bring me whatever that is. Just bring it to me.” And it wound up being chicken feet.
Esther’s Kitchen is probably my No. 1. Obviously it’s special to me because it was my first job. I get the yellowtail crudo, mafalda and lobster, gnudi that they make in house, and then I always finish with the budino.
Other Mama is also a great one I discovered before I even moved here and I’ve always just loved it. I always go and get the sashimi platter and it’s always super amazing, super fresh, very affordable, and then the deviled eggs and fried oysters, a great kind of decadent counterpart to sashimi platter.
Then you have The Black Sheep. I like the grilled Spanish octopus. It’s phenomenal. It’s spicy but not too spicy. The last time I was in I had this I had this bouillabaisse dish. That’s probably the first bouillabaisse dish in Vegas that I’ve had with Vietnamese flavors in it.
Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
My all-time favorite place to go for a special occasion, especially like an anniversary or something with the wife is Kabuto. It’s a great little sashimi and sushi spots that’s in the same little strip mall as Raku. I think it’s like a little lesser known, but it’s got like the most amazing omakase that I’ve ever had. It just absolutely blew my mind. For me, it’s the best sashimi omakase experience in the city.
The other special occasion place that is special to me is the NoMad Restaurant. My wife and I would always go there in New York. Now they have it out here. We went there for New Year’s Eve and they had this whole roasted chicken for two that is mind blowing. It’s this perfect sharing dish.
Let’s say you want to hang out with your friends after work. Where do you like to go?
I’m a dive bar guy, so Dino’s Lounge is one that I love. Frankie’s Tiki Room, the Huntridge Tavern. And then if we’re looking for like late night food, obviously Herbs & Rye and Cleaver are staples are staples.
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