The locals never seem to shy from naming Rosemary’s as their favorite eatery, though Pamplemousse, Le Restaurant on East Sahara Avenue and Alize French Restaurant in the Palms Hotel have earned local kudos. But as dining options continue to explode in Las Vegas, a number of heavy hitters have set up shop on the Strip in the big hotels in the last 12 months.
BOUCHON, Venetian, (702) 414-6200
Thomas Keller’s Per Se has opened to glowing reviews in New York, and he has made a similar impact here with his bistro in the Venezia tower. Like the original bouchons of Lyon after which it was modeled, Bouchon serves bistro classics and offers an extensive selection of raw seafood.
DIEGO, MGM Grand, (877) 793-7111
Traditional Mexican cuisine that starts with an authentic base — squash blossoms, tequila-dressed roasted cactus, Oaxacan red mole and slow-roasted goat — is given a distinctly contemporary twist here. The menu features small sharing plates in the traditional tapas style of Spain. Vividly designed by Vicente Wolf, the 2003 James Beard Award winner for restaurant design, Diego is also the desert home of tequila master Julio Bermejo, the only American knighted as such by the Mexican government.
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FLEUR DE LYS, Mandalay Bay, (702) 632-9400
Chef Hubert Keller has opened a Vegas outpost of his San Francisco restaurant. The contemporary French menu has three-, four- and five-course prix fixe menus as well as a la carte. A floral theme permeates the room: from the china to the backs of chairs to the dining room wall, which consists of 3,000 fresh-cut roses that have to be maintained each day. A 12,000-bottle wine loft features a cellar-masters table.
MESA GRILL, Caesars Palace, (877) 346-4642
The first restaurant outside New York City from Food Network host Bobby Flay combines classics from the Gotham Mesa Grill with items Flay has created expressly for the Caesars Palace location. Southwestern-influenced menu, packed with playful and serious food, makes full use of the 20-foot-high rotisserie grill that is the restaurant’s centerpiece.
To woo younger crowds, casinos have ramped up the hip factor of their clubs and bars. Here’s a list of a few hot joints:
GHOSTBAR, The Palms, (702) 942-7777
Located on the 55th floor of the Palms, Ghostbar features three walls made of glass, with a breathtaking view. The small room is designed with a space-age bachelor-pad feel. Contempo furniture warms up the glass and metal backdrop as does the colored fog floating across the ceiling. Cover charge runs $10-$20.
ICE, 200 E. Harmon Ave., (702) 992-7970
Voted best new club and best sound system at the 2004 World Club Awards and Winter Music Conference, Ice features six unique environments — one lined in fur, one featuring go-go dancers — and VIP areas. The enormous dance club is open Thursday through Sunday until 5 a.m. Cover is $20.
KRAVE, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. S., (702) 836-0830
Sia Amiri, mastermind behind West Hollywood’s Rage, and Jeffrey Sanker have created the first Strip-fronting nightclub catering to the gay and lesbian community. State-of-the-art lighting and sheer draperies provide the 450-seat danceteria with its intimate vibe. John Stagliano’s live show “Fashionistas” takes the stage Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m. before the club opens at 10. Cover is $20.
LIGHT, Bellagio, (702) 693-8300
Upscale and elegant, Light was modeled on the New York venue of the same name, and has attracted a fair share of celebrities. (Former Miami Dolphin Ricky Williams danced all night on New Year’s Eve.) Tables –about 30, which can accommodate up to 10 people each — can be reserved ahead of time. Music is a mix of hip-hop and techno. Cover is $20.
PURE, Caesars Palace, (702) 735-8323
The largest nightclub in the city (36,000 square feet) opened in December and features three separate venues in the one setting: A main room with a fair amount of bed seating; the VIP hideaway, dubbed the Red Room, with cocoon-like booths; and the Terrace, a hidden enclave offering panoramic views of the Strip. Club is owned in part by Celine Dion, Shaquille O’Neal, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Pure Management Group. Still in its early phase, cover charge varies, and the hours of operation are not firm.