If you think Las Vegas is all shrimp cocktail and cheap buffets, think again! Vegas is a foodie’s paradise, with a restaurant for every taste, style, and budget, from greasy spoon diners to celebrity-chef owned restaurants by the dozen.
The Las Vegas restaurant landscape is always changing, so we won’t get too detailed about specific places to eat in this guide. If you’re looking for advice on where to get your next meal, Trip Advisor and Eater Vegas are your best bets. Instead, we’ll be taking a closer look at what kinds of restaurants and dining experiences you can have while you’re in Las Vegas.
Let’s dig in.
Celebrity Chefs and Gourmet Rooms
Since Wolfgang Puck opened Spago in 1992 inside the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, more than 40 celebrity chefs have opened their own restaurants in Las Vegas and on the Strip. Today, Wolfgang Puck is joined by the likes of Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, Gordon Ramsay, Giada di Laurentiis, Bobby Flay, and Guy Savoy.
Before celebrity chefs started opening up first-rate restaurants, there were gourmet rooms in every casino. Gourmet rooms started popping up in the 1960s, often with a focus on French or Italian cuisine, seafood, and steak, offering a gourmet culinary escape from the clamor of the casino floor. While most gourmet rooms have closed, there are still some serving classic gourmet fare:
- Michael’s Gourmet Room offers table service in a glitzy red-velvet tufted room.
- Try Hugo’s Cellar at the Four Queens in downtown Las Vegas for service from tuxedo-clad waitstaff, complete with a rose for every lady when they enter.
Steakhouses and Buffets
Many consider steakhouses and buffets to be the quintessential Las Vegas dining experience. While the $1.50 prime rib may be difficult to find in the 21st century, a good steak certainly isn’t. Las Vegas is packed with exceptional steakhouses offering prime cuts at varying prices to suit any budget.
Buffets are also abundant. The pre-eminent Las Vegas buffet is the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesar’s Palace, with more than 500 items on offer, including duck, oysters, and creme brulee. Nowadays, the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan is giving the Bacchanal Buffet a run for its money, with higher-quality items like steak and ribs prepared by an in-house butcher in smaller portions.
Carnival World Buffet at Rio. Image by Mark Miller via Wikimedia Commons.
Most Las Vegas buffets will charge you before your meal when you sit down. When you sit could impact the price of your meal, so it’s worthwhile keeping these times in mind if you’re on a budget. If you sit down at the end of the lunch service right before dinner starts rolling out, you’ll be charged the lunch price for the dinner menu.
If you’re going to splurge on any meal, James from Escaping Abroad suggests you make it a buffet:
Victoria from Pommie Travels believes buffets are a great choice for travelers on a budget as well:
Buffets are a classic choice for Vegas visitors traveling with kids, but if you’re looking for something a little more intimate, there are two well-loved places you could try:
- Shake Shack: Some say Shake Shack has the best burgers in Vegas. Their menu is loaded in kid-friendly fare, including hot dogs, fries, and of course, milkshakes. Shake Shack is located right outside New York New York, near the Brooklyn Bridge – a nod to its Manhattan origins.
- Du-Par’s in the Golden Gate Hotel: For classic diner fare at a reasonable price, try Du-Par’s. Esquire Magazine says they make the best buttermilk pancakes in America!
If you want to take a proper food tour of Las Vegas, make sure you check out four of Sin City’s unique food boroughs:
Shake Shack on the Strip. Image by Sarah Ackerman via Flickr.
The Las Vegas Strip offers the widest range of culinary options, from street meat to Michelin-starred fine dining.
Turner from American Travel Blogger recommends Gordon Ramsay’s Pub:
Restaurants on the Strip tend to be more dramatic and over-the-top, but there are a number of budget-friendly options as well. There are multiple restaurants in each resort, so explore deep for the most variety. The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace is a great place to start.
If you’re on a budget, James from Escaping Abroad recommends the $2 tacos at Tacos El Gordo.
Gordon Ramsay Pub + Grill at Caesar’s Palace. Image by Jim via Wikimedia Commons.
Downtown Las Vegas
Downtown restaurants are often cheaper, and can also feel more approachable than restaurants on the Strip, which can be quite swanky. While the dining selection downtown used to be limited, this area is now home to over two dozen restaurants, offering everything from sushi to cajun.
Cafes at downtown Container Park. Image by Tomás Del Coro via Flickr.
Turner suggests checking out Lotus of Siam, which is located about halfway between the Strip and Downtown Las Vegas:
Learn more about downtown Las Vegas.
If you’re hoping to mix with some Las Vegas locals, don’t be afraid to explore beyond Downtown and the Strip. The Arts District, which is located close to downtown on Main Street, is home to a stretch of antique and vintage boutiques, as well as a quirky bar scene.
Las Vegas’s very own Chinatown is located on the city’s West Side, occupying a three-mile stretch of West Spring Mountain Road. This short stretch is home to over 60 restaurants offering every type of Asian fare, including some of Sin City’s best Japanese food.
Some restaurants, especially those located on the Strip, require you to follow a dress code.
For fine dining, a good rule of thumb is to dress to impress – don’t assume nicer street clothes like good jeans are acceptable. Men are often required to wear jackets, slacks, and dress shoes. Women commonly wear dresses, but they are not required.
For casual fare like buffets or diners, wear what makes you comfortable!
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