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The 38 Essential Las Vegas Restaurants, April 2013

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2005_10_eater38logo.jpgIt's time to update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, “Can you recommend a restaurant?” This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines and price points and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs from where to go for a reliable quick bite to where to go when you want to blow half a paycheck on dinner. Every couple of months, we'll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months) or have stepped up their game.

For those of you readying the pitchforks because your favorite restaurant isn't on the list, wouldn't it just be more productive to leave your thoughts in the comments? State your cases for (or against) restaurants in the comments or in the tipline.

Additions and Subtractions:
· July 2012: Piero's Italian Cusine, Bar + Bistro, Origin India dropped; Old Homestead Steakhouse, Le Thai, Metro Pizza added

· Oct. 2012: Los Antojos Mexicana dropped; Marche Bacchus French Bistro & Wine Shop added

· Jan. 2013: Old Homestead, Holstein's Shakes & Buns and Society Cafe dropped; Kabuto, Spago and Mizumi added

· April 2013: First Food & Bar and Nove Italiano dropped; Chada Thai & Wine and Naked City Pizza added

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Abriya Raku

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Every chef in town stops by Mitsuo Endo’s tiny 48-seater that serves up Japanese robataki dishes, small portions cooked over a charcoal grill, that can change your life.

American Fish

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Michael Mina’s newest Vegas restaurant takes its inspiration from the great outdoors in the look and the cuisine. Salt baking, wood grilling, cast-iron griddling and ocean-water poaching techniques are used in this restaurant that looks like a 19th century lodge.


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Despite a cold but modern interior, BarMasa still serves up some of the best sushi in Las Vegas. Fish caught with 24 hours in Tokyo Bay make their way to this pricey restaurant from Masa Takayama. To experience this best, have an expense account and order omakase, a chef’s choice, multi-course meal.

Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare

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Paul Bartolotta’s namesake restaurant at Wynn is a homage to the chef’s love for Italian cooking. Two and a half tons of seafood is flown in from the Mediterranean weekly and simply, but expertly prepared. The Sardinia-esque room and overlooks an idyllic lagoon lined with cabanas. For the uninitiated stick with the tasting menus to get a true feel for what they are going for, a traditionally fashioned Italian seafood meal.

Bouchon Bistro

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Put together the cuisine of Thomas Keller with a La Belle Epoque setting and you have the perfect recipe for French cuisine. Breakfast here is a treat with flaky croissants and more. Keller sources his ingredients from boutique purveyors.


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Mario Batali’s outpost at the Palazzo dry ages steaks for six to eight months, bringing out the flavors of these pieces of beef you can order by the inch. The pastas and Italian dishes are some of the best in town.

Chada Thai & Wine

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Bank Atcharawan’s Chada Thai & Wine brings Southern Thai food to Chinatown. The former sommelier of Lotus of Siam brings his award-winning list of 150 to 170 wines that skew toward Rieslings and global whites. Many of the dishes on the 50-item menu carry prices in the $10 range. Many are meant to be shared much like tapas, so expect to order several to get a grasp of the menu that features mild, medium and hot dishes.

China Poblano

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Go for Chinese or Mexican at this cheeky restaurant from José Andrés. Chef Shirley Chung makes her noodles in a showcase kitchen at the front of the restaurant. But feel free to order a little from each side of the menu with a group of friends.

Comme Ça

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Chef Brian Howard has shown he’s willing to take risks with his Bistronomy menu that takes diners on a French culinary journey. Charcuterie made in-house and locally purveyed foods highlight this fun menu. Be sure to try the cocktails at the bar as well, a nod to the Prohibition era.

CUT By Wolfgang Puck

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Wolfgang Puck’s best restaurant in Las Vegas serves up a mean bone marrow flan. Critics consider this one of the best steakhouses in town.

Due Forni Pizza & Wine

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Two ovens here cook up Roman and Neapolitan pizzas with an ingredient list featuring the best products from Italy. A mozzarella bar is a must-order, while other dishes from chef Carlos Buscaglia use those same ovens to conjure up imaginative entrees.

DW Bistro

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Dalton Wilson takes his Jamaican roots and combines them with his New Mexican upbringing for some spicy dishes. Brunch here is a must.

Fuku Burger

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These Japanese-inspired burgers are worth tracking down this mobile food truck. Check the schedule online for locations, but they make regular appearances on Friday at the Downtown 3rd Farmers Market.

Hot N Juicy Crawfish

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Chefs love the seafood served up in a bag with a choice of seasonings and spice levels.

In-N-Out Burger

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Ask a tourist one of the first places they stop after landing and many will say they truck over to In-N-Out for a double double. Sure, it’s a chain with nine locations in Vegas, but the burgers stand up.

José Andrés finally brought his divine tapas and paellas to Vegas, but it’s é Bar inside that gets all the buzz. Try to nab one of the eight seats at this exclusive multi-course meal that has foodies buzzing. Otherwise, dine on tapas and be sure to order his paella.

Joël Robuchon

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Yes, you may be dining next to Chuck Norris as celebrity pics seriously line the opulently decorated space that is a cross between the inside of a Faberge egg and the boudoir of Marie Antoinette. The exquisitely crafted fare from the “chef of the century” does however in fact stand up to the room’s décor. It’s French grandiosity meets Asian refinement. Be sure to request a complimentary pick up and a MGM limo will be dispatched to deliver to the private entrance.

Julian Serrano

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Perhaps Las Vegas’ best tapas restaurant comes at the hands of Julian Serrano, the Spaniard whose name adorns the restaurant. He brings his native dishes to life.

By far some of the freshest sushi you can find in Las Vegas, and it won’t break the bank. The 10-piece nigiri goes for $40. Here, it’s more a matter of whether you can land a table in this tiny 18-seater.

L'Atelier De Joël Robuchon

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Watch the artistry of executive chef Steve Benjamin and his team when you pull up a seat at the bar overlooking the kitchen of the Joël Robuchon’s more casual approach to dining that is still through the stratosphere. Tapas, a tasting menu and wines from around the world highlight the menu here.

Le Cirque

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Go for classic and contemporary French cuisine from the Maccioni family replete with a circus tent designed by Adam Tihany. Executive chef Paul Lee pushes the food to over-the-big-top status. This is a must-visit during truffle season.

Le Thai

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Dan Coughlin’s tiny Thai restaurant in Downtown Las Vegas has amazing noodles, magnificent curries at all spice levels and a packed room. Get there early to beat the crowds.

Lotus of Siam

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Arguably the best Thai food in Vegas. Saipin Chutima specializes in Northern and Eastern Thai food. Pair your meal, where you can request a degree of hotness, with the excellent list of Reislings, a perfect balance to the spice.

Marché Bacchus

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After struggling with different chefs over the years, Marche Bacchus seems to have found the perfect fit with Dave Middleton, a protege of Alex Stratta, the former consulting chef here. Look for dishes such as steak tartare, torchon of foie gras and handmade pastas such as red and green tagliatelle with lobster, sea urchin and roe. The wine shop at the front, where guests can pick up bottles to accompany dinner for a $10 corkage fee, features selections from France, Spain, Italy and California. The 120 seats here overlook Lake Jacqueline on the terrace.

Metro Pizza

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Would you miss Metro Pizza if it was gone? Yes, you would. This pizza chain from founders John Arena and Sam Facchini has been making damn fine pies for 32 years. With six locations across Las Vegas, Metro Pizza represents a place where you can always find good pizzas and dish over a slice.

Michael Mina

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Executive Chef Benjamin Jenkins helms this, the original restaurant of its namesake, and brings to life the creative visions Michael Mina has. Look for a fusion of flavors and indulge on the caviar cart if you can afford it.

One of the hottest new Japanese restaurants on the Strip features Devin Hashimoto’s take on traditional dishes. A 72-hour braised American Wagyu short rib “kakuni” with creamy satsuma potatoes, fava bean and shitaake ragout and red wine miso sauce are not to be missed.

Monta Japanese Noodle House

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Monta serves up Kurume-style ramen in a pork broth on its 10-item menu. Critics call it the Raku of noodle joints in town, and fortunately, it sits right next door to the vaunted Japanese restaurant.

Naked City Pizza Shop

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The Guinea Pie caught the eye of Guy Fieri, who featured it on Diners Drive-ins and Dives, but foodies in Vegas have been stopping in this joint within Moon Doggies since it opened for fresh ingredients. Coming soon: a second stand-alone restaurant on the east side of Vegas.


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This is one of the few restaurants in the world where you can dine with an original Picasso hanging next to your table. Julian Serrano marries French and Spanish cuisines at this gem that also sports 1,500 varieties of wine in the cellar.

Restaurant Guy Savoy

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Though the aesthetic is more modern and there is a kitschy view of the Eiffel Tour (you can’t actually see the real one from the rue Troyon in Paris), the cuisine is identical. The most traditional presentations of all the city’s bastions of French cooking are found here and their cellar contains more wine then rest of the hotel combined.

Shawn McClain serves up imaginative fare with inventive twists in an Art Deco dining room at Sage. While the menu changes with the seasons. The foie gras creme brulee is a must-order. Belly up to the bar for a cocktail in a speakeasy setting or order up one of 10 types of absinthe from the roving cart.

Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana

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Pizzas cooked in wood-fired brick ovens in one minute with a crisp crust that you have to tear apart by hand bring in families from all over the valley. It doesn't get more authentic than at Settebello. Coming soon: a second location on the west side of Vegas.

Wolfgang Puck's original Las Vegas restaurant ushered in an era of celebrity chefs in Sin City. The seared duck breast and smoked salmon pizza are must-orders.