As we exit the rainy city’s wettest season, everyone in Seattle has the same thing on our minds: Sunshine and great food. Okay, maybe time soaking in the sparkling glow of that golden orb is a bit more important than doing so while enjoying incredible meals, but if your sun-drenched destination of choice is Las Vegas, you’ll do some good eating while you’re there and we’ve sussed out the best options for Seattleites that are as in need of some glitz, glamour, and great steak as much as they are copious quantities of Vitamin D.
For the finest of dining: é by Jose Andres
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it: to get into this nine-seat counter meal tucked into the back of Jaleo, you’ll need to reserve a few months in advance, receive your golden ticket, and show up at the appointed time. But once in, your $250 buys you a parade of innovative spins on classic Spanish cuisine dotted with luxury ingredients. From the cheese plate that includes a tiny pizza to truffle-showered foie gras royale and beyond, this is a once-in-a-lifetime type of meal, eaten face-to-face with the friendly chefs cooking it.
For a taste of Thai: Chada Thai and Wine
For years, Lotus of Siam has owned the Thai food crown in Vegas — and the Issan (Northern) food specialist is still worth a visit. But while places similar to Lotus have cropped up around the country (including in Seattle), the restaurant’s sommelier has opened his own spot in Vegas’s Chinatown, where dishes like crispy soft-shell crab over apple and cashew salad and lobster-tail drunken noodles pair up with an intriguing wine list.
For a spicy jolt: Chengdu Taste
While Seattle doesn’t hurt for Sichuanese food, this outpost of a Los Angeles favorite takes the regional Chinese cuisine to a level of precision and authenticity we lack here. Signature dishes such as the green pepper boiled fish and toothpick cumin lamb combine buzz-inducing spice with expert cooking. The strip-mall simplicity isn’t much in atmosphere, but cool down your mouth and jazz up your evening with a stop around the corner at Golden Tiki for rum-infused Dole Whip, a starry sky, and a scorpion bowl for the group.
For a quick bite: Secret Pizza
The world’s least-well-kept secret might just be this un-signed New York-style slice and pie spot. Simply follow the hall plastered with records next door to Jaleo on the third floor of the Cosmopolitan. While it isn’t quite like what you’d find on a Brooklyn street corner, it certainly outclasses the pizza we get in Seattle, and is an easy, fast snack.
For a sweet treat: Momofuku Milk Bar
As David Chang built his famous Asian-fusion empire, his pastry chef, Christina Tosi, first piggy-backed, then, perhaps, leapfrogged along to fame on the strength of her creative desserts. Sample the best-of here, including her corn cookies, crack pie, and cereal-milk soft serve. They also offer an only-in-Vegas treat called the MilkQuake, their version of a concrete—available in Tosi’s signature birthday cake flavor. And, this being Vegas, you can get a few boozy versions of the frozen drinks.
For the best Brunch: Yardbird
This Miami-based restaurant nails all the brunch basics: bloody Marys, bacon, and biscuits. Flaky, buttery biscuits impress even the pickiest Southerner and the fried green tomatoes serve as the base of a flavorful BLT spread with pimento cheese. Build a meal around the namesake fried chicken, surrounding it with apps and snacks, and maybe one order of the note-worthy shrimp and grits.
For the fastest of food: Smashburger
The classic Seattle move is to head straight to that Mecca of California fast food, In-n-Out (which now has an on-Strip location in the Linq), but that’s not the only regional fast food you’ll find here. New York’s Shake Shack offers their famous milkshakes, fries, and high-quality burgers from (where else) New York, New York. But, following an intense, head-to-head taste off, the best burger in the category actually goes to the Denver-based chain, Smashburger, which can be found inside Caesar’s Palace.
For old-school Italian dessert: Carbone
In New York, Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone, and Jeff Zalaznick’s throwback restaurants bring a bygone era back, but in Vegas, the pair transport in time and place, bringing eaters to the golden era of New York Italian-American food. The family-style menu brings the glitz and garlic in its trio of baked clams, the oversized croutons gracing the Caesar salad, and the bone-in veal parmesan. But it shines the brightest in atmosphere and at dessert, when a pair of carts roll up: one laden with tiramisu, parsley-topped carrot cake, and an incomparable lemon cheesecake, the other with a wealth of amari and assorted other after-dinner drinks. Take your pick, but save a little room for the sweet treat that ends each meal: rainbow cookies and the house-made limoncello.
For happy hour snacks: Otto
It’s hard for us Seattleites not to love local-boy Mario Batali, and his casual pizza spot in the Venetian’s St. Mark’s Square (an outpost of one in NYC) makes the perfect place to people-watch, take in the free entertainment, and enjoy a glass of prosecco and some snacks. The mozzarella en carozza introduces the grilled cheese sandwich to the monte cristo to great success, and the fried squash blossoms bring spring and ricotta to the plate. Finish up with the olive oil gelato which is worlds better than what you’ll get across the plaza at the gelato specialist.
For tofu that will change your outlook on life: Raku
The best restaurants in Vegas seem to fall into one of two categories: on Strip and strip-mall. And when it comes to the later, this Izakaya—Japanese bar snack spot—takes the (tofu) cake. With sake flights—and explanations—that ease even a rookie into the world of fine Japanese drinks at an affordable price, and a homemade tofu, shaped in a circle and best served chilled with chile paste and preserved vegetable, that will make anyone who has ever bad-mouthed the bean curd reconsider their stance. The menu includes a variety of snack styles, and the hits include everything from the simple—crispy shrimp, served whole and dusted with green tea salt—to the intense: foie gras custard with udon noodles. Finish off with a jaunt across the parking lot to sister space, Raku Sweets, for dessert.