The Sin City food scene is on the rise, on and off the Strip

Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace has been awarded two Michelin stars, the Forbes Travel Five Star Award, The AAA Five Diamond Award, and many other honors.

Las Vegas is maybe the strangest anomaly of a city — culinarily and otherwise — in the United States. Around the turn of the 20th century, when New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other American powerhouse population centers were booming with emerging food cultures of their very own, Sin City was non-existent – an unincorporated stopping point between Salt Lake City and Los Angeles.

Now, of course, certain permissive attitudes have catapulted Las Vegas into a booming, shining beacon of excess, where people of every socioeconomic background go to spend more than probably should, and eating better, and more frequently, than they do at home. After all, the business of Vegas is making your dreams come true (at least until you reach into your wallet the next morning), and over the last 15 years, this has increasingly meant upscale, innovative dining. Indeed, our list of Las Vegas’ 15 best restaurants, which is in nothing less than a curated culinary tour through projects from some of the world’s best chefs.

While some people view Las Vegas as all artifice with little substance, there’s more than show to the culinary talent and restaurants in Sin City. This includes enormous efforts from top names in the restaurant world, like Spanish cuisine champion José Andrés’ é and Jaleo, Mario Batali’s Italian Steakhouse CarneVino, and world-class French at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon and Joël Robuchon’s L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.

But it also includes insider spots off the Strip for locals those in the know. Las Vegas is increasingly becoming not just a land of vice, but a place where folks go to retire or raise a family – and of course, these folks would rather not spend every night eating out elbowing tourists.

Saipin Chutima’s award-winning Thai spot Lotus of Siam, farm-to-table inspired restaurant Honey Salt, and Japanese grill Raku aren’t located under mock Brooklyn Bridges or Eiffel Towers, but in strip malls. Spanish tapas spot FireFly – a favorite for locals – has three locations, not one of them on the main drag. Eating well in Vegas doesn’t mean hoping for a glimpse at a celebrity chef.

With new, huge experiments in fine cuisine being born every day – including the aforementioned Andrés’ upcoming Bazaar Meat and James Beard winner Guillermo Pernot’s upcoming Cuba Libre – any list of the best restaurants in Vegas is sure to be heavy on fluctuations from year to year. But for now, the 15 we have on board aren’t too shabby either. From Strip centerpieces to innocuous outposts, here are our selections.

15) Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Steakhouse

14) FireFly

While tourists fight crowds at celebrity chef tapas hotspots, locals know that some of the best small plates in town can be found off the Strip at one of FireFly’s three locations. Founded by veteran Vegas chef John Simmons in 2003, FireFly is impressive based on the sheer immensity of the menu alone — customers choose from chilled, hot, meat, and seafood tapas, each section with around 15 small plate choices. But it’s the quality that keeps FireFly in business (and expanding). These are fresh, masterfully-flavored dishes, prepared for those in the know.



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