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There was a time when Las Vegas' restaurants were known more for quantity than cuisine. This was due to the legendary casino buffets which offered mountains of food for modest prices on the well-calculated assumption that diners would hit the tables or slots machines to work off their meal.
Today however, Las Vegas has a large selection of world-class eateries, with Italian trattoria, classic French fine-dining and luxury steakhouses especially well represented. Some of the country's top chefs are now based here and exciting new restaurants open weekly. In addition, Vegas is home to several world-class sommeliers.
All this increasing activity and greater competition means that Vegas offers decent value for money compared to other large cities. The net result is that the former capital of the 99-cent shrimp cocktail is now a regarded as a global cuisine capital. When it comes to eating at least, the odds are really in your favour.
Andre�s at Monte Carlo
French / 3770 Las Vegas Blvd.
Most of the glitzy Las Vegas hotel resorts feature French restaurants, but Andre Rochat's latest contribution is exceptional. Extreme fine dining here includes fresh seafood, poultry and vegetarian dishes - don't miss the signature dish, Scampi André, or perhaps try the Rack of Colorado Lamb. Andre's is known for its excellent stocks and sauces, as well as its fine pastry. Open daily, reservations essential.
French / 400 East Sahara Avenue
Just 500 yards from 'The Strip', Pamplemousse provides a quiet dining oasis reminiscent of a cosy French country inn, with soft orchestral music in the background to accompany the gourmet fare. There is no menu. Waiters knowledgably recite the specialities of the day, which usually include the renowned Hobo Steak, Norwegian salmon, roast duckling, veal medallions, filet mignon and spring lamb. The appetisers and desserts are just as mouth-watering including the famous trademark Basket of Crudités. Reservations are essential. Open daily for dinner. Dress smart casual (no jackets required, but appreciated).
Golden Steer Steakhouse
American / 308 W. Sahara Avenue
The Steer, about a mile from 'The Strip', is the oldest steak house in Las Vegas having been in business in the same spot since 1958, and still a favourite with thousands of loyal diners. Celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Elvis Presley frequented the Steer to enjoy the large and perfectly grilled traditional steaks, especially the Diamond Jim cut of prime rib. Fish, chicken and some Italian dishes are on offer too, and a selection of interesting appetisers - try the seafood stuffed mushrooms. Lunch and dinner Monday to Friday, dinner Saturdays and Sundays.
Moroccan / 3900 Paradise Road
Exotic and exciting dining is offered in a cosy Middle-Eastern tent where diners lounge on cushions on the floor, or on comfy low couches, to enjoy a traditional Moroccan meal. Robed waiters explain the six-course fixed-price menus, while belly dancers gyrate provocatively. The meals are accompanied by homemade Moroccan bread and, if offered, be sure to try the filet mignon (marinated and grilled in Moroccan spices). Algerian wines are available. Open for dinner nightly. Reservations required.
Mon Ami Gabi
French / 3655 S. Las Vegas Boulevard
Few restaurants can claim sidewalk space on the famous Las Vegas Strip, where diners can watch the passing parade. Mon Ami Gabi, emulating a Paris brasserie, does just that with not only an outdoor section, but a glass conservatory and several indoor dining rooms as well. The cuisine on offer is mainly classic French steak frites and fruits de mêr with flavoursome sauces. Their braised pork shank, and the steak with blue cheese sauce, are subliminal. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Italian / 820 South 4th Street
Italian restaurants abound in Las Vegas, both on and off The Strip, but for really good home-cooked food and excellent value, the unimposing brick building housing Chicago Joe's, in the residential downtown area, is a sure bet. The pasta sauces are renowned among locals, all reputedly recipes handed down by the owner's family through generations. Try the pasta with eggplant (aubergine/brinjal) or white clam sauce, or perhaps the Lobster Joe. Open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Friday; Saturday dinner only.
Burgers / 4888 Dean Martin Drive
Famous across the western US, In-N-Out is a burger chain totally different to McDonald's or Burger King. The burgers are made from fresh ingredients prepared on-site, and the service is excellent. While the menu may seem very short, insiders know that there is a 'secret menu' available on the website with all sorts of bonus options, including 'animal style' burgers and Neapolitan milkshakes. It's not fine dining, but In-N-Out is a great place to go for a quick burger in Las Vegas.
Gonzalez y Gonzalez
Tex-Mex / New York-New York Hotel and Casino, 3790 Las Vegas Boulevard South
With just about as much Mexican flair and spice that can be conjured up, Gonzalez y Gonzalez is the perfect place to knock back a few margaritas, dive into a plate of tacos, tamales or quesadillas and enjoy the Mexican energy in the outdoor dining courtyard decked with lanterns and piñatas. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Bookings recommended.
Wicked Spoon Buffet
Buffet / 3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Amid the sea of $5 lobster that is buffet dining in Las Vegas, Wicked Spoon Buffet comes out tops. The restaurant serves a huge selection of dishes ranging from pizza and tacos to sushi and pad thai, all portioned out in attractive single-serving dishes rather than scooped from serving bowls. Make sure to save some room for dessert, which is highlighted by a fully-staffed gelato bar.
Seafood / 620 East Flamingo Road
It's well worth leaving the Strip for dinner at Roy's, considered the best seafood restaurant in Las Vegas. The menu is Hawaiian fusion, with mouth-watering options like Crunchy Golden Lobster Potstickers and Boursin Cheese-Stuffed Chicken. There are a few sushi choices, and Roy's even has special vegetarian and gluten-free menus.
French / Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Le Cirque which is located in the luxurious Bellagio Hotel and winner of the prestigious AAA Find Diamond rating, is decked in vivid orange, reds and pinks with elaborate and colourful artworks, conjuring a unique and accurate feel of what it must be like to dine under a big top. Boasting a world-class wine list of more than 900 international selections highlighting wines from France's best wine regions, you can be sure the food is just as mouth-watering. Try the Coeur de Filet de Boeuf served with sautéed foie-gras, smoked serrano potato Croquette and sweet onion compote, while those with a sweet tooth will love the classic Tahitian vanilla bean crème brulée. Open Tuesday to Sunday for dinner only. Bookings essential.
American / Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, 4455 Paradise Road
If there's one place in Vegas you're going to find a Rock 'n Roll themed restaurant, it'll be in the Hard Rock Hotel. Diners can enjoy a good, old-fashioned American hamburger while gazing at the restaurant's 50s and 60s rock memorabilia. A good place to grab a greasy bite to eat, like the Sirloin Burger, after a long night at the slots or tables. Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.