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All About Vegas Restaurants

By Ryan Bifulco

Vegas, baby. Vegas! They weren't lying: what happens in Vegas... stays in Vegas!

How many times have you heard those catch phrases? Well, we agree - they are both very overstated. But, they really do sum up your Vegas experience. Bottom line: Las Vegas is about checking your husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc. at the door and cutting yourself loose from any morals, worries, conscience. This is the place where everyone seems to think that "anything goes" - and it usually does! People actually do enjoy pretending they are somebody else. Even the most conservative woman in your office will let her hair down and give in to that one night stand -- she is in Vegas, after all!

With all those poker faces and bluffs at the casino scene, everyone thinks they are somebody else long after they leave the tables.

Vegas is a place to act like that friend that always tells the best stories. It's a place to stay up way past your bedtime, gamble away your entire paycheck, act a bit crazy, or do the things you are always too scared to do in the "real world." It's a place where you're supposed to get into trouble and mix things up. It's a town of bling-bling and dreams - cause you never know when your luck is going to catch fire.

Somehow, despite all this crazy single silliness, Vegas is still a big enough town to offer plenty of options for the alterna-yuppie couples too. They can get all cleaned up and enjoy an exquisite meal or glitzy show. They can run the tables with the best of 'em and waste the afternoon away at the pool or spa. Things getting boring in the bedroom? Try one-part champagne, one-part swanky hotel room, one-part Vegas, and you'll be at it like jackrabbits again. Just don't get too liquored up, cause you might just wake up the next morning and learn you were married by Elvis in that tiny white chapel, complete with plastic flowers. Classy, ey? Bet the parents will love hearing that one!

Yes, Vegas has a lot of adrenaline and you'll feel the rush in everything you do here. In a town where people have $10,000 riding on one card, even the mundane everyday tasks like eating and drinking take on more excitement. And if eating and drinking is your thing, you've come to the right place. Top restaurants and chefs from around the world have dropped into town and opened up for business. Now, you too can enjoy the highest quality of cuisine on The Strip. Here then, are our journeyPod Picks for dining, wining and dancing Las Vegas style:


Bradley Ogden (Caesars Palace) - Famous California chef Bradley Ogden recently opened this sleek and modern Caesars Palace restaurant, his first outside of the Bay Area. In addition to a 60-seat lounge, the eatery boasts a patio dining area that faces Caesars Coliseum and a faux patio with torch-like fixtures and waterfall. The emphasis is on farm-fresh, regional and creative American fare - try the "opah" and the "halibut", and you'll realize why this restaurant is such a prize. Everything here seems to be perfect, and judging by the looks on the folks around the place, everything really is! Hint: try to get a seat in the rear dining room near the fireplace - it's the most romantic spot here.

Delmonico Steakhouse (Venetian) - Chef Emeril Lagasse has done it again - this time on the Las Vegas strip! Located in The Venetian, his newest Creole-influenced Old Tuscan monastery-style establishment take its name from the legendary, century-old New Orleans institution. Remember the time when lunch was a full-fledged event and cocktail hour was never to be missed? Delmonico Steakhouse remembers! Though beef is the main draw here, you won't be disappointed with all the other choices on this menu. And make sure you save room for the fresh blueberry bread pudding with lemon ice cream and caramel sauce. Psst... if you want the "ultimate" dining experience, try and reserve the chef's kitchen table and enjoy a six-course tasting menu.

Il Mulino (Caesars Palace) - Perfect for prime people-watching (ask for a seat on the 40-seat patio that overlooks the Forum Shops Strip) and decadent fare, Il Mulino is sure to please. Diners sit in a sumptuous room with wrought-iron chandeliers and a floor-to-ceiling glass-enclosed wine rack. All the meals here begin with a slew of delectable and complimentary appetizers and the menu choices are impressive. But you won't just be impressed with the food, the team of tuxedo-clad waiters and rich specialties will surely make this one your most luxurious dining experiences while in town.

Daniel Boulud Brasserie (Wynn Las Vegas) - Who would want to pay $40 for a burger & fries? We would and we did and we loved it. Of course the beef was the finest in town and this was no ordinary burger. Boulud's other signature dishes like the beefsteak tomato, tarte pissaladière, crispy pork belly and the fricassee of Dover sole are...how should we say, "kick ass." If you're looking for upscale French cuisine that's served in a sumptuous-country themed setting - this brasserie is the perfect choice (overlooking the Wynn lagoon).

Andre's (Monte Carlo) - Repeatedly voted among the best restaurants in the city, Andre's is essentially located in a 1930's era Las Vegas home that's been converted into a charming and comfortable French Countryside chateau. Serving decadent French cuisine - everyone who leaves here is wowed. There are three private dining rooms and even a Louis XVI room, where diners can enjoy cognac and cigars. Tables are topped with Versace china, candlelight and fresh flowers. The menu is seasonal, and always features a bounty of fresh seafood, fowl and meats - try the duck wrapped in hazelnut crust.

Sushi Roku (Caesars Palace) - L.A.'s wildly popular sushi hotspot is now available in Sin City. With its critically acclaimed Modern Japanese fare and Zen-like atmosphere, Sushi Roku is not just a favorite among the hip, young visitors - the locals flock here too! And not only is the scene fabulous, but the food is to die for. Specialties include seared yellowtail sashimi with ponzu and diced chilies, and baked lobster roll with creamy spicy sauce. Signature cocktails are awesome; try the "Cantaloupe Martini" or the "Tokyo Cooler". And if you're in the mood for a view, booths 603 & 604 are elevated and allow you to gaze out at the Strip.

Piero's Italian Cuisine If you're looking to relive the days of the Rat Pack, head on over to this retro-styled Vegas mainstay that's outside the casino strip (located at 355 Convention Center Drive). Piero's boasts leather booths and an attitude-infused setting. Don't be surprised if you see a few familiar famous faces here - they too can't stay away from the Roman-style stuffed artichokes and the restaurant's signature spumoni.

Prime (Bellagio) - For gorgeous views of Bellagio's dancing fountains, pop into Prime. Steaks come with six types of mustard and five sauces - all of which add sophistication to any cut. The restaurant's signature steak is the veal porterhouse with kumquat-pineapple chutney and caramelized cauliflower. And the dessert-of-choice, the chocolate cake with warm gooey center, ain't too shabby either! Note: If you've had a good day at the tables, treat yourself to a $1,050 shot of Chivas Royal Salute (bottled and launched in 1953 in honor of the newly-crowned Queen Elizabeth II).

Fleur De Lys (Mandalay Bay) - Prix-fixe French contemporary cuisine (with Mediterranean touch) is presented like artwork in this romantic and elegant enclave. Named as one of "the nation's Hot 50 Restaurants" of 2005, this is for many discriminating palates, hands down, the best food in Vegas. However, the food isn't the only thing impressive here, Fleur De Lys boasts a floral arrangement of 3,500 fresh ice-pink rosebuds, the theater-style curtains at the small tables and the hand-painted china at each table just exudes grace and style. If you're a vegetarian, don't fret: the chef has been known to whip up something unique just for you.

Olives (Bellagio) - A Mediterranean gem with a lakeside view (Bellagio's dancing fountains), Olive's is the less-expensive relative of The Mirage's Onda (as well as a branch of our boy Todd English's original Boston-based eatery). Don't miss their signature wood-oven flatbreads with imaginative toppings and the little dumplings of goat-cheese in black-olive-flavored wrapping. Just make sure you save room for the vanilla-bean soufflé - it's so good, it should actually be outlawed!

Michael's Steakhouse (Barbary Coast Hotel) - A culinary masterpiece for over 20 years, this intimate gourmet eatery is known for its epicurean delights! Exquisitely furnished in rich red velvet, the restaurant features a 40-panel stained glass-domed ceiling, oversized wingback chairs and imported Italian marble. When dining here, try the signature dishes that include the Chateaubriand Bouquetierre or Rack of Lamb. And, you must (we say: must!) save room for dessert - like the Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee or the famous chocolate-dipped fruit selection.

Aureole (Mandalay Bay) - Wine cellar meets rappelling competition at this Charlie Palmer masterpiece. It is as much of an event to eat at Aureole, as it is a culinary soiree - and the wine list is exceptional (restaurant boasts nearly 10,000 bottles). With that, guests are greeted by the spectacular, 42-foot wine tower that houses these bottles. Then there's the food. The menu changes seasonally, and the tasting menu which changes almost weekly offers three and eight-course tasting options. If you see the pork tenderloin with sage wrapped in prosciutto on the menu, do not think twice.

Chinois (Caesars Palace) - Chef Wolfgang Puck's casual Asian and French-inspired café features two levels of authentic Asian art, a trickling water fountain and windows big enough to inspire people-watching on the Forum Shops Strip. An exhibition-style kitchen allows restaurant guests to view the preparation of their tantalizing feasts. Try the passionately-popular Chinois Chicken Salad and the spicy Kung Pao Chicken. If you and your party are particularly ravenous, meals can be served "family style" to give you the chance to sample more than just one of Wolfy's dishes.

Tao (Venetian) - A visually stunning 43,000 square foot restaurant, banquet room, ultra-lounge and nightclub, Tao has been a magnet for those on the "A" list (movie stars, sports celebs and rockers alike). Modeled after the sexy and successful NYC restaurant of the same name, Tao is located under the watchful eye of the lucky signature 20-foot Buddha. Featuring two rooms - The Temple and The Emperor's Ballroom - Tao features a variety of music formats, eight private sky boxes and an infinity pool. The menu boasts Hong Kong, Chinese, Japanese and Thai fare with full entrees and small plates. Tao also has an extensive wine list with more than 30 sake options. Make reservations at least a week in advance or even Buddha himself won't be able to get you a table.

journeyPod.com is the only place you need to visit for information on the trendiest bars and restaurants, the most luxurious hotels, and the most exclusive parties and shops for discriminating travelers. Visit journeyPod.com for the lowdown on where to go in Atlanta, New York, Miami, LA and other major cities around the world, and listing to our monthly travel podcast for the best in upscale travel and entertainment. If you like the finer things in life, journey to journeyPod.com!

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