Vegas. It’s part of the quintessential American experience. There is no place more synonymous with “a no regrets, wild weekend” than Sin City. It’s a haven where people flock to escape the grind… if only for a few days.
This summer — like every summer — millions will flock to the desert for a getaway. They’ll rage at night, hang out by the pool when the sun is shining, and, with any luck, make all sorts of decisions that would feel borderline regrettable back in the real world. If you’ve got a Vegas trip on the horizon, you’ll want to make sure you hit the best spots to maximize your precious time. That’s why we’re laying out a guide to the best dining, nightlife, and entertainment options available for #Summer18. We’re not going to tell you where to hit the tables, as that tends to be based on where you’re staying as well as your gambling budget (and if you need a sportsbook ranking, head here), but we will tell you what to do for the rest of your trip — from food to clubs to daytime recreation.
We’ll start with what is often the most difficult choice you’ll have to make in Las Vegas: Where to eat. Because seriously, the city has an endless supply of great restaurants. No matter what you’re in the mood for, somewhere on The Strip can satisfy your cravings. Below, you’ll find a variety of options for your culinary excursion through the desert, whether you’re looking for a spot that can handle a large group or a more intimate experience.
YARDBIRD (The Venetian)
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Tucked in the back corner of The Venetian, just past the cashier’s cage, Yardbird offers great Southern cuisine, either in complete meals or as a tapas style dining experience (which I recommend for groups). Our recommendation for a small group is to get a couple orders of the chicken biscuits, mac n’ cheese, fried green tomato BLTs, and fried okra. It’s also hard to go wrong with any of the fried chicken options.
JALEO (The Cosmopolitan)
Jaleo is best known for its paella. As it should be because it’s fantastic. It’s another great spot for a larger group because of the tapas that allows you to sample a little bit of everything, it’s also the cheapest show in the city: They cook all the paella for all to see in the back near the bar.
One of Julian Serrano’s restaurants in Vegas, Lago overlooks the fountains at Bellagio and offers a fantastic tapas style dining experience. On a sunny day, the patio is fantastic for lunch and they have tons of great, lighter options which can be a nice reprieve from some of the more decadent meals you’ll consume in Sin City.
CRAFTSTEAK (MGM) and SW STEAKHOUSE (Wynn)
If you’re looking for an upscale steakhouse experience there are tons of options at nearly every casino on the strip, but Craftsteak at MGM and SW Steakhouse at the Wynn are two of the best around. Both offer high end steaks along with other classic steakhouse dishes for the non-beef eater in your life, but the highlights at both are the thick cuts of beef cooked to perfection.
SW Steakhouse provides some incredible atmosphere, while Craftsteak chooses to wow you with the Wagyu beef.
NOBU (Caesars), MIZUMI (Wynn), and MORIMOTO (MGM)
These three are stalwarts. They’ve been around. Their chefs are famous. And you know what? Sometimes in food that means “bland and boring” but when it comes to raw fish, these three restaurants are able to source some of the very best. That’s crucial when you’re slinging sushi in the desert.
THE BUFFET (Aria) and BACCHANAL (Caesars)
You’ll find little argument about these being the two best buffets in Las Vegas. Dor seafood lovers, Aria’s The Buffet is probably where you’d want to lean. Bacchanal is simply fantastic and the pro move is to go at the tail end of lunch pricing and stick around long enough for them to break out the crab legs and other dinner specialties.
GORDON RAMSEY’S HELL’S KITCHEN (Caesars)
Fans of the show will get a kick out of seeing former contestants from Hell’s Kitchen working in the kitchen (which is not walled off so you can see those familiar faces), but even those who skip the show will enjoy the experience. The Beef Wellington is, unsurprisingly, among the most popular items, but the Tomahawk steak for two isn’t shabby either, and we can’t recommend the brussels sprouts enough as a side (or the meatballs as an appetizer).
BLACK TAP (The Venetian) and HOLSTEINS (The Cosmopolitan)
Let’s lump these two in with each other because they’re both fantastic burger spots with great milkshakes. If you’re looking for a casual, but fun burger spot on the Strip you can’t go wrong with either pick. The shakes at both are great, with some incredibly unique flavors. Black Tap has a birthday cake shake that’s topped with a slice of birthday cake and the coffee and donuts shake (with alcohol) at Holsteins is unreal.
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If you want to venture off Strip in search of some great food at a bargain, Ichiza, right next to the Chinatown Plaza off Spring Mountain Rd just west of I-15, has superb Japanese food — with the highlight being their skewers. It’s among the go-tos for when we want to get away from the Strip and also have a hankering for some meat on a stick.
TACO BELL CANTINA (Planet Hollywood)
Laugh all you want, but if you’re talking value and convenience it’s hard to top this for some late night grub on the Strip. Pricing is the same as any Taco Bell, which is a rarity for chains on the Strip, plus the added delight of a live DJ and frozen margarita concoctions, including the ever popular Baja Blast.
EDITOR’S PICK: Sparrow + Wolf (Off-Strip)
This place is very “new American” and we love it. The menu is thoroughly imagined in the best sense and all the trendy, hipster (but insanely delicious) ingredients are in play: Wood fired oven? Check. Uni and Foie on the menu? Absolutely. Sweetbreads and celery root? You bet. And it’s all bomb.
Start with the hearth-baked bread, which is — quite simply — the best bread we’ve tasted in Vegas. Then move on to the Japanese sweet potato, the sweetbreads, the Campfire Duck, and a whole load of oysters. This is a place to splurge and leave happy before heading back into the fray.
The Sake Rok menu — for both food and drinks — is also a fun, wild ride and their execution is superb. Definitely check out this stand alone location, nestled right in the middle of the strip.