When it comes to dining in Las Vegas, it’s easy to get swallowed up by the gastronomical glitz and star power. Just about every celebrity chef—good and not-so-good—has an outpost here.
Wolfgang Puck was the first to break ground in the early ’90s. By the end of the decade, the arrival of Charlie Palmer’s Aureole and Julian Serrano’s Picasso paved the way for Vegas to be known for more than the steam table buffet.
Today, Vegas dining reads like a roster of Who’s Who, from eponymous restaurants by Michael Mina and Joël Robuchon to offshoot concepts by Thomas Keller and Michel Richard. But as the rest of the country turned toward more casual dining in recent years, so did Vegas.
While Vegas has more celebrity chef swag than any other city in the world, culinary cred lives outside of the casinos. In fact, no trip to Sin City is legit unless a meal happens off the strip. Chances are, that off-strip meal will be much kinder to your wallet.
Insiders rave about Archi’s Thai Kitchen, which prides itself on being straight Thai. If lunch or late night has you jonesing for a burger, check out Bachi Burger. The menu features some wacky combinations like a banh-mi burger (pork, lemongrass and shrimp) in addition to classic grass-fed and wagyu beef.
As new construction in Vegas grows outside the confines of hotel casinos, expect more casual options off the strip. No matter where you go, the odds of good dining options will always be in your favor.
Tom Colicchio’s steak joint nails it with this must-go outpost inside the Mirage. Great food from the wood-burning oven. The walls stocked with spare firewood adds to the ambiance. You’d never know you were in a casino.
José Andrés’ beloved Washington, D.C., stalwart proves that Sin City has a thing for tapas, too.
Don’t miss the off-strip Japanese robata joint that’s a favorite among Vegas chefs.
Another worthy off-strip option: an authentic noodle house specializing in tonkatsu ramen.
Pierre Gagnaire’s Twist is worth forking over the Franklins. Las Vegas is the only U.S. city where this well-known Frenchman has an epic restaurant outside of his homeland, putting this on every chef’s bucket list.
A Go-to Dish Scores Big
Get a taste of an award winner
When the stakes loom large, a strong, reliable dish is always a good bet. Food Fanatics Chef Steven Grostick relied on his Great Frickin’ Chicken to win the World Chef’s Challenge, one of the culinary highlights of the annual World Food Championships.
Representing the American Culinary Federation, Grostick competed against 20 other chefs, making it through three challenge rounds that put his culinary skills to the test.
The chicken recipe, which calls for guinea hen, clinched the winning title for the competition held late last year in Las Vegas.
Great Frickin’ Chicken
Food Fanatic Chef Steven Grostick; Detroit
2 cornish game hens
½ pound cornish game hen, white meat only
1 egg white
¾ cup heavy whipping cream
Kosher salt, as needed
¼ cup pistachios, roughly chopped
¼ cup prosciutto, diced
Olive oil as needed
8 ounces maître d butter, your recipe
Butcher the game hens by removing wings and wing tips,* legs and thighs. Remove and french the drumettes and legs. Split thigh from legs and debone.
Split breasts off carcass and remove tenderloins from the breasts. Dice tenderloins along with half pound white meat and place into chilled food processor bowl; pulse to puree with egg. While processor is running, slowly add cream until well blended. Fold in seasonings, pistachios and prosciutto; set forcemeat aside.
Pound thighs to similar thickness and place on plastic wrap, skin side down. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of forcemeat in center of each thigh. Roll thighs into ballotines and place on a small piece of parchment paper. Fold parchment to keep each ball in tact and spread with a small amount of olive oil.
Place ballotines in a pre heated 350 F oven and roast to internal 155 F temperature. Remove and rest.
Meanwhile, in a hot saute pan, sear breasts and legs over high heat with olive oil. Allow skin to crisp, turn and roast in preheated 350 F oven to internal temperature of 155 F. Baste the meat continually with maitre d’ butter.
To plate, remove parchment from ballotine and sear to crisp skin. Split the ballotine and pair with a breast and leg. Makes 4 servings.
*Reserve wing tips and wings for other use, like stock.
Steven Grostick is a Food Fanatics chef from Detroit for US Foods who’s as passionate about the biz today as when he started 20 years ago.
Follow the Food Fanatic on Twitter @ChefSGrostick