There are plenty of big name eateries in Sin City, but some of my favorite Las Vegas restaurants are located away from the strip — and definitely worth the trip.
It was 36 hours into our Vegas vacation and we had completed our three biggest “checks”: Amazing entertainment in the form of Rock of Ages (which we treated as our own personal karaoke show)? Check. Dancing with Lady Luck at the blackjack table? Check. Lying by the pool and ordering drinks with little umbrellas and too much sugar? Check. But after getting grub via a few grab-and-go options and one fairly decent meal, I was hungry for a more satisfying dining experience.
You’ll find undeniably amazing restaurants housed in the glittery, pulsing palaces that line the Vegas Strip. Well-known chefs like Joel Robuchon, Iron Chef Morimoto and seafood deity Rick Moonen all have world-class outfits here that could compete with restaurants in New York or Paris. However, the eateries in the casinos can also be crowded and, in my mind, overpriced.
Instead, if you don’t mind shelling out for a cab or an Uber, try these gems away from the crowds on the Las Vegas Strip.
Lotus of Siam
When I mentioned to numerous friends that I wanted to find an off-the-Strip dining experience, they all recommended to me the renowned Thai restaurant Lotus of Siam. Chef Saipin Chutima serves northern Thai cuisine that tastes like his grandma made it — because he uses her recipes, which have been passed down through the generations.
Bring an adventurous palate; this is not your typical Thai. Start with the Nam Kao Tod, a crispy rice dish with ginger, peanuts and herbs. Then pick whatever looks interesting — maybe the Khao Soi (crispy duck) or crispy mussel omelet, which reminded me of the oyster omelets I tried on the streets of Malaysia.
Reservations are a must at Lotus of Siam, which offers two locations in Las Vegas.
Sparrow + Wolf
A friend who knows all about eating in Vegas recommended this relatively new addition to the local culinary scene. “This is where all of the Vegas chefs eat,” he told me, so of course, I wanted to go! The menu is eclectic, combining old-world cooking techniques with new flavors and ingredients, some of which are sourced locally.
The dishes here are meant to be shared, which is great when you’re trying something new like beef cheek and bone marrow dumplings, or wood roasted lamb neck. But there are plenty of more familiar options, too.
Make reservations well in advance; the restaurant isn’t huge and fills up fast. If you’re up for splurging, Vegas-style, spring for the chef’s tasting menu with beverage pairing.
If you’re a fan of Russian cuisine, Café Mayakovsky might just be your new favorite place. And if you’ve never tried Russian cuisine, this is the perfect opportunity. Named for a pre-revolutionary poet, playwright, actor and artist, this cafe offers a wide variety of authentic dishes at reasonable prices. You can eat your fill on the various types of dumplings like vareniki, pelmeni and perozski; or opt for an entrée like roasted chicken or guliash. It’s not fancy, but boy, is it tasty.
Café Mayakovsky hosts DJ Hexozon for a Russian music session on Saturday nights from 10 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Battista’s Hole in the Wall
This gem is technically off the strip, but close enough that you could walk. An homage to old time Vegas, the restaurant is packed with memorabilia. In fact, you could spend your entire dinner perusing all the photos, the collection of tiny liquor bottles and the Alaskan moose named Moooossolini.
The menu is classic red sauce Italian food — more akin to what you’d find in a Little Italy than in the country itself — but it’s hearty and tasty. The fact that house wine is included doesn’t hurt, either. Let Gordy the roving accordion player set the mood and you’ve got a dining experience worthy of the Rat Pack.
Where to Stay:
Marriott’s Grand Chateau®