A Texan’s Guide to Food in Las Vegas

Emma Cain

Las Vegas, Nevada is a city with a different award-winning restaurant from around the country on every corner. Similarly to Austin, this makes navigating the food scene there overwhelming. Luckily, this is a guide to find the perfect spot on or off the strip to grab a bite of food in Las Vegas.

Bang for Your Buck’ Restaurant – Grand Lux Café 

The Grand Lux Café is located in the Venetian Hotel on the strip in Las Vegas. This restaurant has massive portions with pretty affordable pricing. They have an extensive menu, and serve just about anything you could think of, from burgers to pasta, stir fries and steak. What makes this restaurant even better is that they never close! My favorite was their pasta. I’ve tried the Short Rib Ravioli and the Lemon Chicken Piccata which were both super flavorful and huge! I also recommend starting your meal off with the Crispy Thai Shrimp & Chicken Spring Rolls. If you happen to be staying in the Venetian, which is my favorite place to stay in Las Vegas, having the Chicken and Waffles brough up as room service after a long night out is absolute heaven.

Off-the-Strip Bites – Umiya Sushi

Umiya Sushi is a small Japanese joint off the strip. That just happens to also be right next door to a go-cart track! I usually don’t venture far from the strip when I visit Las Vegas, but if you’re in the mood to explore, definitely check this place out. You can choose one of two dining experiences when you come here, a la carte or all you can eat! The all you can eat option is super affordable, $22 per person for lunch and $27 per person for dinner, and the menu is huge! You can pick anything from rolls and sashimi to noodle dishes and yakitori.

I wasn’t too hungry when we came here so I ordered some rolls a la carte. I tried the Firecracker Roll with spicy scallop and crab, topped with fresh tuna, served with house made hot sauce, spicy mayo, and ponzu. Also, the Red Rock Roll which has tempura shrimp and cucumber, topped with spicy crab and seared tuna, served with a tangy sauce and a spicy mayo. Both of these rolls were incredible, and I definitely want to go back and try more of their menu.

Italian Restaurant – Matteo’s Ristorante Italiano

Matteo’s is a small Italian restaurant located between the Venetian and Palazzo Hotel. The restaurant is beautiful, with a modern industrial feel to it. The ceiling and walls are lined with steel and copper fixtures, and there are light wood accents around the restaurant which complement the neutral linens. When you first sit down, there is complementary bread and olive oil brought to the table which is one of my favorite things at a restaurant. All of their pasta is fresh and made in house every day.

I always get the Casonezi which is pork and veal filled ravioli with pancetta, sage, brown butter, and Parmigiano Reggiano. The dish is very rich but the filling in the ravioli has some spice which cuts through the creamy sauce really nicely. If you’re a mortadella fan, the Modenesi pasta is a beautiful dish with parma prosciutto filled pasta, pistachios, mortadella, truffle butter, and winter black truffles. The portions here are on the smaller side but you can really tell a lot of time and effort was put into each dish, especially in the perfectly tender handmade pasta.

Dessert – Milk Bar

Milk Bar is located on the second floor of the Cosmopolitan Hotel and is a cute dessert stand that was featured on Chef’s Table: Pastry! Christina Tosi, a James Beard award winning chef is the mind behind Milk Bar. They make cake truffles, huge cookies, cakes, and their famous Milk Bar Pie.

Unfortunately, when I went there, they were sold out of the pie. However, I did try the cake truffles which were like rich and moist cake balls that melted in your mouth. I tried the chocolate birthday flavored ones, but they also have red velvet and vanilla birthday cake. I also had a slice of their birthday cake, which I was really excited for because that cake is featured in Milk Bar’s episode on Chef’s Table. It’s a three-tiered rainbow flecked vanilla birthday cake layered with creamy birthday buttercream. It’s simple and perfect. You can also get Milk Bar treats shipped anywhere in the United States now through their website!

Casual Dining – Hattie B’s Hot Chicken

Hattie B’s is a Nashville family-owned restaurant with a location in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. What makes Nashville hot chicken different than regular fried chicken is that there is hot sauce and spices in the breading, and also after its fried, the chicken is tossed in spicy sauce and sometimes also a spice blend. Hattie B’s hot chicken is no joke. They have spice levels from ‘Southern’ (no heat) all the way up to ‘Damn Hot!!’. You can choose from dark or white meat pieces, or they have a chicken sandwich which is what I recommend. The sandwich is a bit messy to eat but the chicken is so flavorful and moist, I think its better than Chick-fil-a.

Instagram-able Bar – Chandelier Bar

I visited the Chandelier bar while I was waiting for a reservation and was in awe with how beautiful the space is. In the Cosmopolitan Hotel, there is a massive chandelier in one of the foyers that hangs multiple floors down. On the second floor, is the Chandelier Bar, that is located inside the gigantic chandelier. The walls of the bar are rows of crystals, with ambient neon pink lighting. While their drinks are a bit pricey, they are innovative and delicious. 

One of their specialty cocktails, The Royal Tenenbaum was my favorite, refreshing twist on a paloma. It was a well-balanced mix of jalapeno-infused Roca Patron, pink grapefruit liqueur, citrus, cilantro, ginger-tamarind syrup and cucumber soda. One of their most wild drinks is the Verbena Cocktail. It’s like a vodka lemonade with sweet ginger puree, kaffir lime leaves, lemon juice, coconut ginger rooibos tea, lemongrass syrup, vodka and ginger beer. However, what makes this cocktail special is a Szechuan button, a flower bud that once eaten creates a tingly and numbing sensation in your mouth, that sits on top of the drink. If the décor and ambiance doesn’t sell you on this bar, the cocktails definitely will.

My Favorite Overall – Momofuku

I saved the best for last. Momofuku is Chef David Chang’s restaurant located in the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Momofuku means ‘lucky peach’ and their logo is a fitting cute peach. However, there could be a correlation between the restaurant and the name of the inventor of instant ramen, Momofuku Ando. Momofuku is an Asian fusion restaurant, and I have to stop by here every time I visit Las Vegas because the food is that good.

My favorite appetizer is the Shrimp Buns. It comes with two per order and its flash fried shrimp tossed in a creamy spicy sauce, pickled red onion, and some shredded iceberg lettuce inside a warm steamed bao bun. Each time I have visited the selection has changed, but the ramen at Momofuku is amazing. I got the Spicy Miso Ramen which comes with braised short rib, black garlic, and a shoyu egg. I’m not a fan of super heavy and fatty ramen, but this dish remained light while still being rich, like a good bowl of ramen should be. They have larger platform protein-oriented dishes, all of which that I have tried were delicious. However, the Shrimp Buns and the ramen are what I highly recommend at Momofuku.

Las Vegas is an epicenter for amazing food from award winning chefs. Which means I know I am missing some great restaurants on this list. That’s why I love Las Vegas, there is amazing food from world renowned restaurants on every corner, and I haven’t come close to trying them all.