It’s time again for the Year in Eater — where we look back at the last twelve months of Las Vegas’s restaurant scene. We reached out to Vegas’s finest food writers, reporters, and bloggers to get their takes on local trends, recent standouts, and notable newcomers. Here, they reflect on the biggest trends of the year.
I love that more local restaurants are developing creative mocktails with quality ingredients that go beyond juice and soda water.
—Emmy Kasten, freelance writer for Eater, Tripadvisor, The Infatuation and more
Food halls, once an ingenious idea to replace the buffet, have overrun the town. Sure, it’s nice to be able to choose a stall and perhaps pick up a pizza or grab some sushi or Nashville hot chicken, but the concept of sampling is lost (and would be pricey if you tried to do it buffet-style).
—Ryan Slattery, Eater Contributor
Exciting: celebrity chefs venturing out into the ‘burbs. (For example, Wolfgang Puck’s 1228 Main in the Arts District, and Michael Mina’s involvement in the Sundry at Uncommons.) Infuriating: I’m getting incredibly sick of sushi handrolls that are little more than a folded sheet of nori stacked with rice and fish. They were kinda cute at first. But I’m over them. They look lazy, and the fish spills out all over the place. When a bluefin tuna dies for your culinary enjoyment, the least you can do is treat the remains with a little respect. And that means a well-assembled cut roll or conical hand roll. Death to these “sloppy tacos” of the sushi world
—Al Mancini, creator of the Neon Feast restaurant guide, co-host of Food and Loathing
The more restaurants that can embrace Yelp Waitlist, the better. Seeing how long the wait is for busy spots in real time is super helpful.
— Philip Tzeng, online at @LasVegasFill
I’m most excited about local food halls that encourage diners to try various dishes from multiple chefs and restaurants during one meal.
— Donald Contursi, Lip Smacking Foodie Tours
Exciting: I’ve been seeing a lot more Hawaiian brands and concepts emerge (makes sense because Las Vegas is the 9th island!) as well as chefs from Los Angeles coming in for a piece of the fabulous Las Vegas dining scene. Also, caviar is everywhere here.
— Louiie Victa, contributing photographer for Eater
Credit cards for reservations and the inability in general to make in-the-moment dining decisions based on the need for reservations everywhere, price gouging, over-priced Instagrammable menu items that fall flat.
—Melinda Sheckells, contributing writer Hollywood Reporter, Forbes Travel Guide, Business Traveler, host of Tasty Tuesday on KTNV 13
I’m sick of seeing classic cocktails priced above $20. Strip resorts have tried hard to make it the new normal and now we’re almost relieved to see a $15 cocktail in other parts of the city. Also — some vibe-dining restaurants are leaning too hard into the “vibe” and not enough into the “dining” these days.
—Rob Kachelriess, Contributor for Thrillist, Zip Code Magazines, and Las Vegas Weekly
Listen, I’m fully aware that I sound like an old man yelling at the clouds. But the restaurants are too loud. I expect it when going into a nightclub-adjacent clubstaurant. But ear-splitting, conversation-ending, bass-thumping music can’t be the only way to create ambiance. On the other hand, I’m seeing more restaurants charging for bread. And I’d argue that’s a good thing. Because often, it means that the bread is good enough to charge for it. I’m looking at early adopters of that trend — like Esther’s Kitchen with that sourdough and recent imports like the Fontainebleau’s Komodo with its nori-topped milk bread and the Amari Italian Kitchen & Wine Shop’s herb-topped focaccia.
— Janna Karel, Editor for Eater Vegas