The 15 Most Essential Food Experiences in Las Vegas

The must-visit restaurants that best define Sin City dining.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Photo courtesy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

If you want to do Las Vegas right, you gotta eat right. Austin is known for barbecue and Chicago's got deep dish pizza, but Las Vegas has… well, a little bit of everything. This town has mastered the art of repackaging everybody else's food into something that feels like an event. No, we're not talking about sushi plates in convention halls or overblown buffets with lines that spill out onto casino floors. Las Vegas has one of the most intriguing dining scenes in the world, and while celebrity chefs often hog the attention, there's a deep and diverse variety of cuisine that stretches beyond the Strip to Chinatown, Downtown, Summerlin and other neighborhoods on the rise. If you want to visit the latest buzzworthy dining destinations, get familiar with the hottest restaurants to visit right now, but if you want an iconic experience that helps define the Las Vegas we know and love today, make sure to cross the following options off your bucket list.

Esther's Kitchen
Esther's Kitchen

Eat at Esther's Kitchen in the heart of the Arts District

Downtown Arts District
James Trees' signature restaurant isn't solely responsible for the rise of the Downtown Arts District, but its success is most responsible for shaping the neighborhood as a must-visit destination for drinks and dining. Esther's Kitchen represents the best of modern Italian cuisine: house-made breads, pastas and pizzas with frequent variations and seasonal menu revamps all made from locally-grown ingredients. Through it all, Trees is smart enough to understand the long game. He could get away with charging more, but with great food comes great responsibility–and encouraging repeat visitors isn't only good for his bottom line, but the momentum of the Arts District itself. Esther's Kitchen is taking over a larger space in 2023 and will have even greater resources to become only bigger and better in the years ahead (while the original dining room is converted into an intimate French restaurant). Trees also operates another Italian restaurant, Al Solito Posto and Ada's Wine Bar at Tivoli Village, giving diners in the West Valley a taste of the ambitious spirit that made Esther's Kitchen so great in the first place.
How to order: Book a reservation at Esther's Kitchen, Al Solito Posto, or Ada's.

Kame Omakase
Kame Omakase

Relish a Japanese feast in Chinatown

The Vegas version of Chinatown is about more than dumplings and dim sum—although those are pretty awesome all by themselves. The neighborhood thrives with unexpected variety that goes beyond Asian dining, from the tacos and cocktails of Mas Por Favor to the French plates and wine of Partage. However, it's the Japanese sushi masters who provide the most cherished meals in Chinatown. The reputation started with Kabuto, which gave Vegas artfully presented omakase dinners in a quiet, minimalist setting. Chef Gen Mizoguchi later set out on his own with Yui Edomae and Eric Kim followed up with Sushi Kame. All three provide incredible beginning-to-end, multi-course dining events with carefully selected seafood, certified Kobe beef, flavorful soups and inventive seasonal appetizers with each bite designed to be savored to the fullest. Kaiseki Yuzu shifts the format a bit, offering masterful kaiseki presentations with a similar devotion to quality ingredients.
How to order: Check with each restaurant for booking policies.

Lotus of Siam
Photo courtesy of Lotus of Siam

Indulge in Thai cuisine at Lotus of Siam

Off the Strip
Lotus of Siam is more than just Penn Jillette's favorite restaurant. The recipes of Chef Saipin Chutima, passed down through generations, represent the diversity of Thai cuisine with a heavy emphasis on the Northern region, where spicy flavors and coconut milk sauces carry a Burmese influence. Taste the authenticity in dishes like the Nam Kao Tod (pork fried rice that manages to be both chewy and crispy at the same time) and Som Thum (a bright papaya salad with apples and peanuts that works best with sea bass on top). An acclaimed wine list leans towards whites, especially rieslings, to balance the intense flavors of the food. This is the one restaurant that every other chef in Vegas makes a point to visit on their downtime—and some tourists plan their vacation around. The original Lotus of Siam in Commercial Center is now closed, but the brand continues in two newer locations: one east of the Strip on Flamingo and a just-opened space in Summerlin's Red Rock Resort.
How to order: Book a reservation online.

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Photo courtesy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Take a dive 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

The Lost Spirits distillery, which occupies its own stand-alone building at the AREA15 complex, is an entertainment attraction and distillery wrapped up in a perfect-for-Vegas package. It's also home to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a fantastically weird and experiential restaurant with a 16-course tasting menu heavy on meats and seafood to reflect the "land and sea" environments in the classic Jules Verne novel of the same name. An evening works best by touring the distillery first, checking out the live entertainment and the groundbreaking way the spirits are aged. From there, you'll board a "submarine" and be one of just 12 guests sharing the same table. Music and unique vessels (like mock Fabergé eggs and plates in the shape of human lips) play key roles in multisensory presentations, climaxing with a whole roasted pig "sacrificed" at an altar by Executive Chef Taylor Persh. The distillery's own rum is used in the recipes without the alcohol being cooked off, so expect to walk away with a buzz regardless of how much you drink.
How to order: Book a reservation online well in advance. Seatings are just twice a night at 5pm or 9pm.

Sparrow + Wolf
Sparrow + Wolf

Get lost in the eclectic spirit of Sparrow + Wolf

Sparrow + Wolf may be the Chinatown restaurant that's hardest to define. Chef Brian Howard's restaurant is meant to feel like a dinner party with clever cocktails, esoteric wines and touches of Mid-Century Modern decor, especially in a secondary dining space known as the "living room." The name of the restaurant reflects a combination of classic and contemporary styles, finding balance in a menu that never sits still too often, blending New American cuisine with Asian, French and Italian influences. Not one dish has been in place since day one, although you can usually count on some variation of oysters (one grilled, one chilled), cured meats, cheeses, a tartare and meats large and small, including a prime steak and banchan combo. A custom-designed wood-fired oven is the heart of Sparrow + Wolf, producing an aroma of almond wood and hardwood mesquite charcoal that works on everything from seafood to vegetables. If you can't decide, a seven-course tasting menu (with no supplements to worry about) covers most of the bases with top favorites and a few off-menu surprises.
Hot to order: Call 702-790-2147 to book a reservation.

Carson Kitchen
Carson Kitchen | Photo by Eugene Dela Cruz

Try a new take on comfort food at Carson Kitchen

Fremont East
Spending at least one night on Fremont Street is a bucket list activity by itself for any Vegas tourist and if you can only eat at one place in the area, make it Carson Kitchen. The final restaurant by late celebrity chef Kerry Simon proved a Downtown restaurant could be contemporary and ahead of the curve. Today, it remains in good hands with partner Cory Harwell, who expanded the brand to Salt Lake City and Atlanta—a rare example of a restaurant concept beginning in Vegas and going elsewhere, as opposed to vice versa. Carson Kitchen combines comfort with a modern, semi-industrial space that includes a courtyard fire pit and rooftop seating. The menu likes to put unexpected ingredients in familiar dishes with frequent updates throughout the year. A pork meatloaf and a Nashville-style "hot duck" sandwich are two recent examples. The crispy chicken skin appetizer with smoked honey has been around since day one and never wears out its welcome.
How to book: Score a reservation online.

Top of the World Interior_
Photo courtesy of Top of the World

Elevate your evening with incredible views

The Strip
Everything's better with a view in Las Vegas—and that includes dinner too. It's hard to beat the Top of the World restaurant on the 107th floor of the 1,149-foot Strat tower. Dishes like a prime bone-in ribeye and roasted lobster tails are enjoyed in a slow-rotating dining room that presents a 360-degree view of the Las Vegas Valley by the time the meal wraps up. The Eiffel Tower Restaurant at the Paris resort isn't quite as high in the sky, but its 110-foot perch offers some pretty awesome views as well. The dining room is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the Strip. A corner table with unobstructed views of the Bellagio fountains is considered one of the most romantic spots in Vegas. Ask for Table 56 well in advance when making a reservation—and cross your fingers. After closing during the pandemic, Vetri Cucina is now back open on the 56th floor of the Palms: Marc Vetri's team knew not to mess with a good thing. The menu of Italian cuisine (with hand-made pastas in brown butter and other delicate toppings) is served inside a charming, rustic dining room with spectacular panoramic views of the Strip.
How to book: Make a reservation at Top of the World online or by calling 702-380-7711. Make a reservation at Eiffel Tower Restaurant online or by calling 702-948-6937. Make a reservation at Vetri Cucina online.

Restaurant Guy Savoy
Photo courtesy of Restaurant Guy Savoy

Indulge in French fine dining

The Strip
If there's one thing Vegas does right, it's French fine dining. Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace isn't cheap, but it may be the most perfect, complete meal in Las Vegas. Guy Savoy's only restaurant in the world outside Paris provides a masterful interpretation of modern French cuisine with seafood, Wagyu beef, foie gras and truffles prepared in delicate, carefully arranged dishes with showstopping bread and cheese servings. The late Joël Robuchon's legacy lives on with two restaurants at the MGM Grand: the eponymous Joël Robuchon, which is like dining in a private mansion and the slightly more casual L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, where the best seats are at a counter surrounding an open kitchen. Le Cirque was closed for much of the pandemic, but reopened in late 2021 at the Bellagio, under the direction of new executive chef Dameon Evers, who brings a renewed seafood focus and an exclusive American Wagyu beef to an intimate, elegant circus-themed dining room. All of those restaurants specialize in multi-course tasting menus. Michael Mina's Bardot Brasserie at the Aria is a bit more casual, but still an experience with elevated takes on classics, including escargot, Steak Frites and Beef Wellington.
How to book: Book online reservations at Restaurant Guy Savoy, Joël Robuchon, L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon, Le Cirque, and Bardot Brasserie.

Mayfair Supper Club
Photo courtesy of Mayfair Supper Club

Entertain yourself with a supper club reboot

The Strip
Remember back in 2019 when a new wave of speakeasies and supper clubs was all set to welcome a new and improved "Roaring 20s" with throwback charm? Well, 2020 was a bad start to a promising decade, but we're beginning to straighten things out and two supper clubs are reinventing the concept for a new generation. Delilah is easily one of the best restaurants in Vegas right now, based on the new American cuisine of chef Joshua Smith, whose tableside Beef Wellington and Dover Sole "Fish and Chips" pair perfectly with live performances and an engaging art deco dining room that feels like a movie set. Mayfair Supper Club offers a similar mix of food and old-style entertainment, but it also offers the Bellagio fountains as a backdrop for one of those "only in Vegas" moments—which is what these bucket lists are all about, right? Try the slow-roasted Mashima prime rib and a seared-on-the-spot seafood sushi roll for dinner. The restaurant takes on a high-energy "Mayfair After Dark" theme later in the evening Friday-Saturday, but cools things down with live jazz on Sunday.
How to book: Reservations at Delilah are notoriously tight. Call 702-770-3300 well in advance and try your luck. Mayfair Supper Club has reservations online or by calling 702-693-8876.

Photo by Cole Saladino for Thrillist

Order next-level tapas at EDO

You may not expect to find Spanish tapas on the edge of Chinatown, but EDO is easily one of the most flawlessly executed dining experiences in Las Vegas. Quality imported ingredients, expert preparation and artful presentations feel especially welcome in an intimate dining room that includes a wall-size mural and cocktail cart preparing gin-and-tonics on the spot. Prices are reasonable, especially when choosing a multi-course tasting menu that can be adjusted to dietary preferences. The name is an acronym for the phrase "extra day off," as well as a nod to chef Oscar Amador Edo, whose Catalan background leans heavily toward seafood and subtle French and Mediterranean influences. Taste the dedication to ingredients in a 30-day aged strip loin carpaccio served on a cheese pastry or Peruvian baby scallops in brown butter. A similar menu with an added Italian influence is available at Anima by EDO, a sister concept in the West Valley that's currently one of the best new restaurants in Vegas.
How to order: Book a reservation online or call 702-641-1345 to accommodate larger parties.

Golden Steer
Photo courtesy of Golden Steer

Take a trip back in time at the Golden Steer

Off the Strip
Expertly cooked, wet-aged, prime steaks are even better when served in an environment rich in authentic Vegas history. The Golden Steer Steakhouse (just west of the Strip on Sahara) has been around since 1958, back when there was a hitching post to park your horse. Since then, the restaurant has famously hosted the Rat Pack and other celebrities, often dedicating favorite booths in their honor—with Frank Sinatra's being the most in demand. Mobsters used to love the place too, ordering meals in a rear parlor room with a secret door for a quick escape. The stained glass, wood paneling, mounted memorabilia and dark lighting only add to the atmosphere with a few subtle renovations over the years to feel like something more than just a relic of the past. Tableside presentations are a big part of the experience, especially with the Caesar salad (arguably the best in town) and a Bananas Foster dessert. But whether it's a lean filet or bone-in ribeye, you're really here for the steaks and the Golden Steer Cocktail, a combination of cognac, bubbly, lemon and peach that's almost like a super-charged mimosa.
How to order: Reservations are available online, but call 702-384-4470 when requesting a specific booth. Golden Steer also ships steaks and meals throughout the country.

Bazaar Meat
Photo courtesy of Bazaar Meat

Feast on steak at Bazaar Meat

The steakhouse is a format well-represented in Vegas, but few are as adventurous as Bazaar Meat by José Andrés. Under the day-to-day direction of Executive Chef Candace Ochoa, the kitchen digs deep into a wide array of food, from raw seafood and caviar flights to wild boar sausage, Buffalo-style bison, a ten-pound suckling pig and three choices of Spanish bone-in ribeye. If you like things weird, start off with the foie gras cotton candy. Multi-course tasting menus are a great way to get the full experience, but come with that "defeated by food" feeling when it's all over. Arrive hungry, pace yourself and go easy on the sirloin tartare, which can fill you up a little too easily.
How to order:Book a reservation or order takeaway online.

Delmonico Steakhouse
Photo courtesy of Delmonico Steakhouse

Wash down steaks with whiskey at Delmonico Steakhouse

Everything begins with a drink at Emeril Lagasse's Delmonico Steakhouse. The whiskey list is legendary with more than 700 spirits from at least eight different countries, including a few single-barrel exclusives. Otherwise, go with one of more than 2,300 selections on the wine list, which has a stellar reputation in its own right. Whatever you're sipping on will pair perfectly with the steakhouse's prime cuts—sourced from Creekstone Farms, dry-aged in-house, and often given a New Orleans-inspired Creole twist, especially the juicy bone-in Ribeye. The best seat in the house is at the Chef's Table, which offers a multi-course tasting menu with wine pairings and a rare look at Chef de Cuisine Ivan Roja's kitchen team in action.
How to order: Book a reservation online or call 702-414-3737 to ask about availability at the Chef's Table.

é by José Andrés
Photo by Beverly Poppe, courtesy of é by José Andrés

Enjoy the intimacy of é by José Andrés

The Cosmopolitan
The most intimate fine dining restaurant in Las Vegas has just nine seats, making it the most exclusive place to eat in Las Vegas. Guests at é by José Andrés pull up to one single countertop and are guided through a culinary journey of more than 20 small bites in less than two hours. Ingenuity is the theme with many of the dishes based on gastronomic experimentation. The Cotton Candy Empanadas with foie gras have been especially fun in the past, but anything is fair game. With only two seatings a night at 5:30pm or 8:30pm, reservations can be hard to book, but worth the advance planning to score what is literally a golden ticket to enter. Add a wine or cocktail pairing and enjoy one of the most intriguing and unique dinners in Las Vegas. The intimate restaurant is tucked away in the back of Jaleo, another great José Andrés restaurant that sticks with more traditional Spanish fare.
How to book: Reservations are available online (although you may need to sign up on a waitlist).

Photo by Rob Kachelriess for Thrillist

Mix steaks and cocktails with Herbs & Rye and Cleaver

Off the Strip
Nectaly Mendoza's Herbs & Rye earns so much praise as a craft cocktail bar, it's easy to forget it's also a restaurant—one that serves house-made pasta and perfectly charred steaks. The latter are half-off during an epic happy hour that's been generously running since the pandemic started. It's a moody, dimly-lit locals hangout and industry clubhouse with tight reservations on weekends. Fortunately, sister steakhouse Cleaver has much more room east of the Strip, with a similar cocktail list and happy hour. There are flashier restaurants in town, but few have as much local charm. And admit it, you could use a stiff drink right now.
How to order: Book a reservation online with Herbs & Rye or Cleaver.

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Rob Kachelriess has been writing about Las Vegas in Thrillist for more than eight years. His work has also appeared in Travel + Leisure, Trivago Magazine, Sophisticated Living, Modern Luxury, Leafly, Las Vegas Magazine, and other publications. He's putting multiple checkmarks next to his bucket list restaurants. Follow him on Twitter @rkachelriess.