More than 200 restaurants opened in Las Vegas, and 2019 isn’t even over yet. The breaadth of Asian cuisines in Las Vegas only grew with teppanaki, robata grills, omakase specialists, and more. Casual restaurants such as Valencian Gold made a difference, while neighborhoods in Summerlin and Mountain’s Edge landed the restaurants those areas desperately needed. Here now are the 23 most important restaurant openings in 2019.Read More
The 23 Most Important Las Vegas Restaurant Openings of 2019
Casual fare, Asian dishes, and more ruled 2019
Other Mama’s Dan Krohmer’s Japanese robata-style Hatsumi features a menu based on Krohmer’s travels to Japan. Chef de cuisine Bobby Silva — who worked at Mina Group, SushiSamba at the Grand Canal Shoppes, and Momofuku at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas — came on board to manage kitchen operations at Hatsumi. Krohmer found inspiration from traditional omotenashi-style hospitality that invokes the “subliminal happiness” one might have found at a 1980s hotel lobby bar in Tokyo. The restaurant features robata izakaya dining with a yakitori bar, responsibly sourced seafood, beer and wine lists, and a full bar with a cocktail menu that boasts the largest sake program downtown.
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Dan Krohmer of Other Mama fame opened La Monja with a menu of coastal Mexican fare. Look for menu items like seafood ceviches, handmade masa, and Nixtamal corn tortillas. La Monja, across from Krohmer’s Hatsumi at Fergusons Downtown, also features a full bar with tequila and mezcal as well as a patio out front. Dishes include pescado a la talla with grilled bass with salsa verde, la barbacoa with fresh ground tortillas, shrimp empanada with chipotle shrimp, spinach tamales with lengua, and a quinoa lentil salad with a guajillo cashew vinaigrette.
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Sheridan Su, a semifinalist for Best Chef West in the James Beard Foundation Awards for the past two years, opened Every Grain, a restaurant specializing in food inspired by grandmother’s Taiwanese food. Braised minced pork rice is the specialty here. The menu features a roster of small plates such as braised tofu, bao with braised pork belly, Chinese greens, and cucumbers with garlic, vinegar, and chili oil. Dan dan noodles come with braised minced pork and sesame sauce. But the main attraction is the lu rou fan with braised minced pork belly over rice. Diners can add roasted spring chicken, a marinated and fried pork chop, or one of three egg options to the top.
Able Baker Brewing
A beer-themed ode to the Atomic Age in Las Vegas debuted with a roster of homegrown brews. Able Baker Brewing Co. brings a downtown micro-brewery and taproom filled with atomic orange flooring and Nevada gear decking the walls of the Gateway District space. The 7,504-square-foot venue replaces a long vacant furniture store, a few steps from Wyoming Avenue. The space features 40 seats along with a 600-square-foot patio in the front. Some of Able Baker’s beers on tap at the 15-Bbl brewhouse include Atomic Duck IPA, Honey Dip Stout, Cherry Berry Bang Bang, Double Dead Duck IPA, Test Site Saison, 5-Pepper Porter, and Chris Kael Impaled ale.
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Dagu Rice Noodle Las Vegas
China’s “most popular noodle brand” launched its first U.S. expansion at Shanghai Plaza on Spring Mountain Road, creating a casual, contemporary, full-service restaurant highlighted by “endless refillable bowls” of noodle soup prepared with a braised, bone-in, pork broth. Dagu Rice Noodle’s house specialty soups are brought to the table and rested on a 200 degree warmer.
Myungrang Hot Dog
Myungrang Hot Dog on the ground floor of Shanghai Plaza offers less than a dozen items, such as the Korean spin on a corn-dog-on-a-stick served as the $1.99 original, the $2.99 sausage and mozzarella dubbed the best, a rice cake version, and a $2.99 upgrade made with beef sausage. Two unusual options include a squid ink batter rendition and a dog wrapped in potato cubes. Five different sauces and three seasonings are provided with a quick guide to condiment combinations posted to help customers prepare the No. 2 combo of sweet chili, mustard cheese, ketchup, and Parmesan sauces.
85C Bakery Cafe
Operating more than 1,000 stores globally and a huge hit in California, 85C Bakery Cafe specializes in premium coffee and teas, including a range of sea salt options, European-, Danish-, Taiwan-, and Japanese-style bread and pastries, and a very eye-catching range of whole cakes, or slices, pitched as available for “affordable prices.” Inspired by the optimum temperature to serve its coffee, the 85C menu includes $3 blueberry cheesecake, Black Forest, chocolate cookie crumb, and strawberry cake slices, plus egg tarts, buns, brioche, and the $29 8-inch cakes, highlighted by mango creme brulee, sweet choco bear, tiramisu, and red velvet creations.
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Shanghai Plaza’s Yummy Rice serves sticky “glutinous rice” dishes in clay pots, a Cantonese-style of preparation its owners claim is unique to Las Vegas. With room for less than 40 diners inside, Yummy Rice’s equally compact menu concentrates on its specialty selections, cooked with the rice at the base of the pot to “absorb any flavors.” Lunch specials are all priced at $8 and include the soup of the day. Diners can choose between Chinese sausage, chicken and mushroom, beef and eggs, “vegetarian,” or minced pork and eggs. For dinner, prices range between $12 for Chinese sausage and rise to $18 for “mixed seafood,” but each order arrives with a “side of egg custard, vegetables and a daily side dish.”
A new Japanese restaurant in Chinatown promises high-end kaiseke and omakase dining experiences at the Lotus mixed-use building at the corner of Spring Mountain Road and Procyon Street. Sushi Kame debuted with multi-course, multi-hour dinners that diners need to reserve at least two weeks in advance. The 3,295-square-foot space allocated an estimated construction budget of $490,656 for the buildout. Chefs Eric Kim of Kame Omakase fame on Lake Mead Boulevard, Hideki Tsujimoto, and Masaru Matsuura helm the kitchen that offers a $350 per person kaiseki dinner with an ever-changing menu, as well as $195 and $250 per person omakase experiences.
Chef Gina Marinelli returned to the Las Vegas dining scene with La Strega, serving Italian cuisine in Summerlin. Marinelli brings dishes from across the Italian peninsula, a tradition she learned from her grandparents, who came from Lake Como and Sicily. Dishes include Margherita, quattro formaggi, pesto and truffle, prosciutto cotto, and spicy pig pizzas for $12 to $16. Pasta dishes range from spaghetti pomodoro for $14 and bucatini Genovese with a dandelion pesto for $15 to the $18 stracci with braised oxtail and wild mushrooms, and the $27 pasta di frutti di mare with rock shrimp, calamari, and lobster in a spicy pomodoro. On the main entrees, diners can find cozze with Pei mussels for $21, $18 salmon grigliata, and pollo alla Milanese for $21.
Smith & Wollensky
After a two-year absence, Smith & Wollensky returned to the Las Vegas Strip with a new two-story location inside the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian. The restaurant features a tavern-like lounge on the promenade level, an upper-level wine wall, and a view into the butcher room. Diners can head to the Art Deco-inspired bar or request the all glass private room that overlooks the bar and promenade. USDA Prime dry-aged steaks, shellfish towers, twin stuffed lobster tails, a coffee and cocoa rubbed filet, châteaubriand for two, and a roster of sides such as creamed spinach, buttermilk onion rings, and cremini mushrooms make the menu.
Tatsujin X in the Flamingo Arville Plaza, next to the Palms resort at the intersection of Flamingo Road and and Arville Street, offers 11 seats facing the chef’s open view, teppanyaki iron griddle, plus a handful of tables. Diners begin with a chef’s choice of starter, followed by a salad, appetizer, grilled vegetable, and the main course options that include rib-eye steak and sea bass. Pork okonomiyaki or garlic rice comprise the shime course, and the meal ends with the dessert of the day.
Television personality Bobby Flay opened his first new restaurant in five years when Shark officially debuted at the Palms. The seafood- and fish-forward restaurant features sushi and raw bar dishes. Flay uses ingredients from South America, Mexico, and the Mediterranean in dishes that range from ceviche, tacos wrapped in purple corn tortillas, and entrees. Flay relies on some of his favorite chili peppers, leaning on panca, rocoto, and aji amarillo in dishes such as sea scallops with mustard green salsa verde, panca chili, and cojita; tuna tartare with crispy green rice and Peruvian chili sauce; and cured salmon and egg tostada with rocoto hot sauce and black bean “butter.” Many of the entrees are meant to share, such as a whole grilled lobster with basil, garlic, and red chili butter and The BF steak, a 36-ounce bone-in prime porterhouse with triple chili butter and pan juices. Diners can order churros with toasted coconut and bittersweet chocolate sauce and ube cheesecake with a fruit salsa for dessert. Chef Kiyo Asano, who studied in Osaka, Japan, and worked at Nobu and Bar Masa, heads up Flay’s first sushi efforts. Highlights include a spicy blue fin tuna roll, salmon sashimi with hot smoked chili dressing and cucumber basil relish, and yellowtail ceviche with charred pineapple, chili de arbol, and bitter greens.
Greene St. Kitchen
A world-class street art collection, an arcade, a secret entrance, a birdcage for a bar, a Banksy, and an ode to New York City’s SoHo neighborhood come together at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms. Clique Hospitality created this American restaurant designed by Rockwell Group. Diners enter through a speakeasy video arcade entrance with classic games lining the walls and a 1980s 8-bit video-inspired tiled floor. A vending machine’s secretive “door” next leads through a tunnel and into the restaurant’s main bar and lounge, where diners find bartenders serving cocktails enclosed in a gold, bird cage-like structure. The 5,000-square-foot restaurant features a patio, shareable plates, and over-the-top entrees such as Legs and Eggs with butter-poached king crab legs and Kaluga caviar; Jidori chicken kabobs served with shawarma spiced tzatziki sauce; a kale and duck confit salad; and a tuna pizza dish. Kale and duck confit salad, as well as a 42-ounce tomahawk rib-eye steak served with a creamy au poivre and Bordelaise sauce round out the menu.
Francesco Lafranconi, the former executive director of mixology and spirits education at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, has a luxury cocktail lounge in the Fantasy Tower of the Palms dubbed Mr. Coco. Customers who take the elevator up to the third floor can order cocktails and bites while enjoying art and live entertainment. More than 30 vermouths, and quinine-based and fortified wines make the menu of the lounge named the retreat for Lafranconi’s dog. Customers receive a cocktail amuse bouche before they even step food in the elevator. Chef Steve Benjamin, who left L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon at the MGM Grand in 2017, and currently oversees the food and beverage at the Waldorf Astoria in Los Angeles created the menu that include caviar served table side. Bites include Gruyere cheese puffs, hamachi and salmon with crispy rice, and smoked salmon with a baguette with dill. Savory dishes include an eggplant caviar confit with pita, cumin seeds, raz el hanout and tomatoes coulis; a charcuterie and cheese platter; one ounce of Osetra caviar for $145; foie gras torchon; and the signature dish, chilled capellini pasta.
Mama Rabbit, the mezcal and tequila bar, opened at the Park MGM with a roster of small bites, three rooms, artwork from Spanish artist Okuda San Miguel, three sculptured slot machines, and gaming tables with poker and roulette. The Oaxaca-inspired bar from Bricia Lopez, dubbed the Oaxacan princess by the late LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold, claims to have the country’s largest collection of mezcal and tequila. Rare finds, versions made just for this bar, and an encyclopedia of information on the elevation of each entry give customers a chance to learn more about entry.
Hello Kitty Cafe
The first semi-permanent Hello Kitty Cafe opened at the Park. Parent company Sanrio brings a mini cafe pop-up in front of Beerhaus, between the Park MGM and New York-New York. The open space cafe features bright pink Hello Kitty graphics ripe for photos. Customers can order Hello Kitty-themed beverages, including coffee and espresso drinks as well as lemonades, iced teas, and milk teas. Hello Kitty cakes, cookies, croissants, doughnuts, and ice cream round out the food. Additionally, exclusive merchandise will include specially designed Hello Kitty Cafe mugs, T-shirts, baseball caps, key chains, and tote bags.
The Cereal Killerz Kitchen
Breakfast fans can pretend its Saturday morning every day of the week at the Galleria at Sunset and chose from dishes created with “100 cereals from around the world.” The Cereal Killerz Kitchen debuted “the first and only cereal bar in Las Vegas” in the mall’s second-floor food court, specializing in create-your-own bowls prepared in front of a wall of hard-to-find brands and flavors. A mix of two cereals and one topping is priced at $5, while three breakfast favorites and three toppings are available for $7, plus a choice of “cow” or “alternative” milk.
Marc Marrone, the former Tao Group corporate executive chef, opened his second Graffiti Bao, this time in the southwest. Marrone, along with his business partner Todd Lunger, bring a fast-casual restaurant with dumplings in Sichuan chicken, prawn and pork, or vegetable, bao buns, rice rolls, and bun-ches, a mix of buns and rolls. Entrees start by customers choosing a protein from beef, chicken, pork, prawn, or crispy tofu and then selecting a style such as Mandarin orange, Kung Pao, sweet sesame, or roasted chili sauce. A Singapore-style ramen, lo mein, and a chicken fried rice round out the menu.
Consider Valencian Gold the place for paella for the people. The fast-casual restaurant opened with a roster of paella dishes in the southwest, meant to change the way the Spanish dish is served. Chefs Paras Shah and Jeffrey Weiss takes the celebrated Spanish dish and gives diners the option of building their own bowl of the rice dish. Diners choose bowls that feature chicken, seafood, mushroom and chickpea, or harvest grains, then add on proteins such as grilled chicken, lamb, steak, shrimp, vegan herb-bean, or Spanish ratatouille.Aioli, romesco sauce, charred broccoli, and roasted eggplant choices come next, followed by toppings such as cabbage-apple slaw, marinated tomatoes, sweet corn salad, or herb pearled couscous. The menu can be served with gluten-, dairy-, soy- and nut-free options.
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Back in 1977, the UNLV men’s basketball team was riding a high, taking coach Jerry Tarkanian’s Runnin’ Rebels into the NCAA Tournament only to lose by one point to North Carolina in the Final Four. The team, nicknamed the Hardway Eight, may not have been national champions, but they turned Las Vegas into a sports town. Now Henderson has its own ode to the team with Hardway 8, a bar and restaurant from Bryant Jane and Lyle Cervenka, the co-owners of Starboard Tack. Consulting chef Johnny Church, formerly at the Golden Gaming and Aureole, to name a few, created the menu that includes a corned buffalo Reuben, porchetta sandwich, grilled vegetable panini, and a hero with prosciutto, mortadella, and hot copa. Buffalo fried oysters, a charcuterie board, and deep-fried mozzarella make the starters menu, while fish and chips, rabbit sausage bangers and mash, pappardelle pasta, 24-hour braised porchetta, and Tenaya Creek Bonanza Brown beer can chicken make the entrees.
Locale Italian Kitchen
Nicole Brisson, the former executive chef at Eataly at the Park MGM, opened Locale Italian Kitchen, exploring the traditions of Italian cuisines with a meat-centric menu, with Andy Hooper, one of the partners in The Black Sheep. Red sauce Italian dishes mix with ingredients sourced from small American farms and others deliver straight from Italy. The menu features house-made charcuterie, fresh pasta made daily along with specials ranging from those made with local produce to large-format dry-aged steak. A full bar and wine list is available, focusing on Italian and California wines and brown spirits.
Some highlighted menu items include pollo al forno, a baby chicken with polenta and peperonatta; parmigiano with eggplant, basil, and tomato; prosciutto arugula pizze with tomato and fiore di latte; pici carrietiera primi, an oven-roasted tomato with pepperoncino; and guancia fritti “alla amatriciana” with onion marmelatta, guanciale and pecorino. Antipasti include mussels al forno with Calabrian aioli. Starters range from $6 to $20 and entrees from $14 to $36.
Belly Bombz Korean Inspired Chicken
Southern California’s Belly Bombz debuted at the Silverado Ranch Village retail center with Korean-inspired chicken. Choices include chicken wings, tofu, and loaded fries, including the West Coast favorite of Bomb Dust Fries tossed in a barbecue dry rub. The restaurant also has a spin on a Nashville hot chicken sandwich.