This outpost of the famed New Orleans institution captures the ambience of the original with its lazy wooden ceiling fans and walls lined with wine bottles. Many of the staff members came from the original, and it shows in the warmth and professionalism. You’ll find all the classics on the menu, such as turtle soup, shrimp rémoulade, bananas Foster, and bread pudding soufflé. There are also updated offerings such as jumbo lump crab cakes topped with truffled crabmeat salad, and veal chops with goat cheese. Stop in for beignets and chicory coffee for breakfast Monday through Friday, and don’t forget the toe-tapping jazz brunch Friday through Sunday. The Museum of the American Cocktail opened here in March 2006. (photo, right)
You build your own burger at this fun joint with marble tables and wood-panel walls. First, start with your meat; selections include Colorado lamb, Black Angus beef, and Kobe beef, just to name a few (there are also a few vegetarian alternatives). Then pile on the toppings, like prosciutto, pan-seared foie gras, fried egg, sliced zucchini, smoked salmon, or grilled lobster. Desserts continue the burger theme with choices such as the peanut butter and jelly burger (a warm doughnut with peanut butter mousse and raspberry jelly). The Bar is in Mandalay Place, the small shopping center between Luxor and Mandalay.
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André’s French Restaurant
Cynics predicted an early demise for André Rochat’s venture when he opened a classic French restaurant in an ivy-covered 1930s-era home blocks from the bright lights of Downtown’s famous Glitter Gulch. That was in 1980, and Las Vegans and visiting conventioneers are still savoring his Duo of Colorado Lamb, fillet of beef in green-peppercorn and cognac cream sauce, and tantalizing soufflés. The spot’s sustained popularity prompted the opening of a second location on the Strip in the Monte Carlo.
Super chef Alessandro Stratta serves his high-end French Riviera cuisine to the well-heeled at this drop-dead-gorgeous dining room, reached via a grand staircase. Stratta’s four-course prix-fixe menu ($120) and seasonal tasting menu ($245, with wine pairings) are not for the meek of wallet, but the artfully presented food here absolutely delivers. Specialties include foie gras ravioli in a truffle bouillon with duck confit salad and fillet of John Dory with razor clams gratin, fennel, onion, and oven-dried tomatoes. Dessert tends toward the fanciful, including a wonderful chocolate-banana malt with caramel and macadamia-brittle ice cream. This is one Vegas restaurant you might want to dress your best for — jackets aren’t required but are suggested. (photo, right)
Husband-and-wife chefs Michael and Wendy Jordan established their reputation in Las Vegas with a West Side location that caters to locals, making them the first to prove that good-quality, upscale restaurants could survive off the Strip. Among the signature dishes on the American regional menu are pepper-seared sea scallops with wild mushroom orzo, prosciutto, and black truffle emulsion. Another favorite is Creole-spiced New York strip with garlic-roasted fingerling potatoes, capicola ham, wild mushrooms, and blue cheese. It’s topped, of course, with the restaurant’s trademark steak sauce. The side of white-cheddar grits is addictive.
Lotus of Siam
Despite being in a downright dreary shopping center northeast of the Strip (or perhaps because of this unlikely setting), this simple Thai restaurant has attained near-fanatical cult status, with some critics hailing it the best in North America. What’s all the fuss? Consider the starter of marinated prawns, which are wrapped with bacon and rice-paper crepes, then deep-fried and served with a tangy sweet-and-sour sauce. For a main course, try either the seared scallops with chile-mint leaves, or the pork with stir-fried broccoli and fried, salted fish chunks. Be warned — this is some of the spiciest food you’ll ever try. But another of Lotus’s surprises is the phenomenal wine list. 953 East Sahara Avenue. 702/735-3033. AE, D, MC, V. No lunch.
This sumptuous restaurant, a branch of the New York City landmark, is one of the city’s best. The mahogany-lined room is all the more opulent for its size: in a city of mega-everything, Le Cirque seats only 80 under its drooping silk-tent ceiling. Even with a view of the hotel’s lake and its mesmerizing fountain show, you’ll only have eyes for your plate when your server presents dishes such as the roasted venison loin, braised rabbit in Riesling, or grilled monkfish tournedos. The wine cellar contains more than 900 premium selections representing every wine-producing region of the world. Although men aren’t required to wear a jacket and tie, most do. (photo, right)
Jean Philippe Patisserie
You can always order a fresh fruit smoothie at this Wonka-esque sweet shop at Bellagio, but why do something healthful like that here, where the list of goodies includes cakes, cookies, gelato, hand-dipped chocolate candies, and particularly memorable crepes (try the one filled with mango, coconut, passion fruit, and pineapple sorbets). Café tables are set around a gorgeous circular bar, or you can dine in the airy foyer of Bellagio Tower, where the patisserie is located. Bellagio Las Vegas, 3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Center Strip. 702/693-1111. AE, D, DC, C, V.