Las Vegas always has a steady stream of new restaurants opening and this year was no exception. Dozens of new dining spots dished out great meals in 2014. We can’t list them all, but we picked 10 of our favorite new places to grab some tasty food. If you haven’t been to these restaurants yet, get out there and try them because another new crop of places is undoubtedly headed our way in 2015.
Carson Kitchen, 124 S. 6th St.: Celebrity Chef Kerry Simon brought his American gastro-lounge, Carson Kitchen, to downtown Las Vegas this year and we couldn’t have been happier. The restaurant, located in the old John E. Carson Motel, is designed to make guests feel like they are dining in someone’s home. The 1,800-square-foot space is pretty intimate but there’s also a 910-square-foot, garden-style rooftop patio providing more space.
The menu, which has an emphasis on sharing, includes social plates, sandwiches, entrées and stone oven flatbreads. Some of the small plates include tempura green beans made with pepper jelly and cream cheese; “Devil’s Eggs” complete with crispy pancetta and caviar; and our absolute favorite, bacon jam served with baked brie and toasted baguette. We also love the unique sustainable selections from the farm and garden, which include rabbit ragu made with spaghetti squash and Parmesan and black rice and oxtail risotto, made with a Parmesan cream.
For dessert, do yourself a favor and try a bourbon fudge brownie served with brown butter bacon ice cream or glazed donut bread pudding.
db Brasserie at the Venetian: This year Las Vegas celebrated the return of acclaimed French chef Daniel Boulud (he previously had a restaurant inside Wynn). His contemporary French restaurant db Brasserie offers updated brasserie classics and his signature burgers. You can’t go wrong with dinner entrees like crispy duck confit, Tunisian lamb and steaks. The burgers are also to-die-for. Try The Frenchie – a beef patty with Morbier cheese, confit pork belly, tomato, onion compote and arugula on a peppered bun.
The restaurant is also open for lunch and we recommend the brunch on weekends. Delicious menu choices include Belgian waffles, duck hash and a classic croque monsieur.
Yusho at Monte Carlo: This restaurant is kind of a hidden gem located in the plaza area in front of Monte Carlo and it’s been getting rave reviews from locals and tourists alike. Yusho, from renowned Chicago chef Matthias Merges, serves creative takes on Japanese street food. You’ll find things like steamed buns, unique ramens, house-made pickles and fresh meats.
Go for the Logan Poser Ramen, made with crispy pork, egg, nori and cucumber or the 2X Fried Chicken, created with spicy kanzuri, green tea and lime zest. You won’t be disappointed.
Giada at The Cromwell: Celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis’ first restaurant has been a major hit in Las Vegas. Dinner reservations are booked for months in advance because people are clamoring to try her signature dishes, family recipes and a gorgeous antipasto station. Speaking of gorgeous, the view of the Strip and Bellagio Fountains from the restaurant’s large retractable windows is another reason we love this place.
De Laurentiis adds a lighter touch to Italian dishes, all while staying true to classic Italian recipes. We like the lemon spaghetti and the vegetable Bolognese rigatoni. And don’t even think about leaving without having Giada’s lemon ricotta cookies.
Martorano’s at Paris: Chef Steve Martorano has had a restaurant in Las Vegas (at the Rio) for awhile, but we’re glad he added a second outpost of his Italian eatery at Paris. The vibe here is fun. There are old school films playing on TVs around the restaurant and the music gets a bit louder as the night goes on.
The food is good, classic Italian with Martorano’s edgy attitude and East Coast influence. You’ll find favorites like penne alla vodka and bucatini carbonara. Be sure to try the eggplant stack, breaded and pan fried eggplant layered with homemade mozzarella, marinated tomatoes, arugula and slices of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. We absolutely love the signature Famous Meatball & Salad topped with ricotta cheese. It’ s so simple, yet so good.
Cleo at SLS Las Vegas: Cleo at the SLS hotel is the perfect place to go with a group of friends. The restaurant features Chef Danny Elmaleh’s contemporary Mediterranean cuisine and fresh cocktails.
There are dozens of small, shareable plates available for under $20 each and we suggest you grab a bunch of them. Mezzes (appetizers) include babaganoush, hummus, shishito peppers, spanakopita, chicken kebabs and more. The flatbreads, in varieties like kale, seasonal mushroom and artichoke, are also very good. There’s really something for everyone here, including seafood options like grilled octopus, garlic shrimp and scallops.
Mercadito at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa: Mercadito, which opened at Red Rock this year, blends traditional Mexican fare with creative interpretations of local and seasonal ingredients. The menu, with dishes designed for sharing, starts out with freshly prepared ceviches, guacamoles and salsas. A variety of tacos with homemade corn tortillas are available including chicken, pork, fish and steak.
Our favorite is the taquizas – make-your-own tacos served with homemade corn tortillas. The costillas de res features incredibly tender red wine-braised short ribs served with cauliflower-turnip casserole.
Mercadito features a large indoor/outdoor lounge and you can find some great specials there like Taco Tuesday with two tacos for $5.50 and a happy hour Monday – Thursday from 4 – 6 p.m. in the bar. Happy hour offers $5 margaritas and sangria, $6 guacamole and ceviche and more.
Lao Sze Chuan at the Palms: This Chinese restaurant was a spicy addition to the Palms this year. And we mean that literally. The menu, from renowned Chicago chef Tony Hu, is actually divided into spicy and non-spicy items. Lao Sze Chuan has a robust menu (more than 100 items) of Sze Chuan cuisine and a selection of popular Mandarin, Cantonese, Hunan and Shanghai dishes made especially for the Palms location.
There are beef, chicken, pork and seafood options, along with a variety of soups, dim sum and traditional hot pots. Try the Sze Chaun Peppercorn Fish or the signature Tony’s Chicken with Three Chili, a spicy favorite.
Bazaar Meat at SLS Las Vegas: Carnivores had a lot to rejoice about this year with the opening of James Beard award-winning Chef José Andrés’ Bazaar Meat. The restaurant focuses on a social, shared plates experience and serves some pretty exotic meats in all forms.
For starters, try the cotton candy foie gras or Asian tacos with jamon iberico, toasted nori and flying fish roe. Seafood includes grilled Spanish red prawns and fresh sea urchin. You’ll also find Kobe ribeye, black Wagyu skirt steak from Washington, braised lamb neck, Spanish blood sausage with uni and much more. Don’t worry, they do serve vegetables here too. Try the Catalan spinach, roasted leeks or grilled baby corn.
Pot Liquor Contemporary American Smokehouse at Town Square: Las Vegas has never really been known for great barbecue but Pot Liquor is helping to change that. The restaurant’s name is derived from the broth in which meat or vegetables have been cooked, and is the creation of restaurateurs Flip Arbelaez and Doug Bell.
They have a wide selection of contemporary barbecue cuisine with elements from each of the traditional barbecue regions like Memphis, Nashville, North and South Carolina, Kansas City and Texas.
Menu highlights include appetizers such as stuffed pig’s feet accompanied by brandy braised apples, pepper greens and sticky sauce; grilled prawns with Boudin Noir and pork belly with country grits. For the main course, options include a Texas-style sliced beef brisket, hangar steak over ox-tail ragu, fried catfish Benedict, Carolina chopped pulled pork and much more.
We like to stop in for brunch on Sundays and indulge in the smokehouse-influenced menu with items like pulled pork and waffles, chicken fried steak and smoke house hash with smoked beef brisket, crispy potatoes, onions, peppers and eggs.