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A Local’s List of the Best Restaurants in Las Vegas

If you’re hunting for the best restaurants in Las Vegas that are a bit off the beaten path, heed a local’s advice and try a few of these great, hidden options.

A Local’s List of the Best Restaurants in Las Vegas

It’s extremely difficult to pick out my favorite restaurants in Las Vegas; the options are endless and the overall quality is superb now that the world’s best chefs have opened an outpost or two in Sin City. I live here, and because some visitors enjoy trying restaurants off the beaten path that might not be featured on the giant video monitors at the airport, I’ll share some. The following restaurants are not in any particular order as to my favorites, but rather grouped by cuisine. Since I live here and eat out frequently, I seldom go to very high-end restaurants, so the following choices are restaurants that won’t shrink your gambling budget, but are still some of the best restaurants in Las Vegas.

For steak, I have two favorites. Gallagher’s Steakhouse in New York, New York Casino is my number one. Gallagher’s serves up great steaks and the salmon is the best I’ve ever had. The main courses are complemented with excellent side dishes; it’s not incredibly fancy, but it’s a superb traditional steakhouse and one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas.

I also am a huge fan of Mon Ami Gabi in the Paris Las Vegas. The Paris has three steakhouses, and Mon Ami is the least expensive but great. The french fries (or “frites” as the French apparently call them) are very thin and crispy. The restaurant is situated facing the strip, and you can sit outside and watch the Bellagio fountains across the street. It’s a terrific show, and the music changes, so you can often hit two shows in one meal. I usually order the filet (rare, for me), but the traditional favorite here is the “Steak Frite,” a very thin steak which is offered with an assortment of different seasonings or sauces. Stick to the Steak Classique if you go down that road, and enjoy a steak from one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas

Now, here are a few departures from the Las Vegas Strip worth a small trek. A real local favorite for sushi is Sushi Fever, which is located on Sahara just west of Buffalo on the south side of the street. The food is extremely fresh and well-prepared. I go there at least once a week, either for lunch or dinner. I only eat cooked rolls (I don't eat raw things that had mothers), but I know from friends that all the sushi is outstanding. The big hit at Sushi Fever is the selection of rolls; I’ve never seen so many sushi rolls named after various sexual acts and various aspects of sex itself, but it provides some good entertainment for first-timers, and while the food may not to be “orgasmic” to my tastes, that hasn’t prevented the proprietors from taking liberties the menu item names.

I particularly like Mediterranean food because it’s flavorful and relatively healthy. My two Middle Eastern restaurants of choice are Habib's and Paymon’s. There are two Paymon’s restaurants in town—one on the east side of the strip (I don't like the ambiance here so much) and on Sahara, also west of Buffalo on the north side of the street. 

Paymon’s has an extensive menu—both Middle Eastern and Italian (right, I’ve never seen that combination before either). My favorite dish is their pastitsio, which is seasoned ground beef, pasta and creamy bechamel sauce perfectly baked. Yum. The apps don’t disappoint, and the freshly baked Arabic bread complements everything quite well, making it one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas.
Habib's has recently changed location, and it isn’t getting the business it once did as a result. Although the address has changed and crowd has diminished, the food remains excellent. You’ll find Habib’s on Decatur one block south of Sahara on the west side of the street. This is an absolutely beautiful restaurant. My favorite dish there is the chicken kabobs. I’m not really much of a chicken fan, but this dish is so well seasoned and tender, it's great. If you are a fan of halva (or even know what it is), theirs is out of this world. It’s made from finely ground sesame seeds. Habib’s sells it for dessert by the slice, and one slice is enough for four to six people and will delight the entire group.

For Italian food, my favorites are Nora’s on Flamingo and Jones (northeast corner in a strip mall) and Carrabbas Italian Grill on Charleston, one block east of Fort Apache on the south side. From the outside, Nora’s looks like a place you’d drive by 400 times in a month without thinking about it, but inside opens up a wonderful retro-Mad-Men-meets-Soprano’s theme of low-key elegance. The staff also fits in nicely with this feel, and the food is traditional and astonishing. Nora’s is extremely busy (reservations are a good idea). Despite the crowds and the reputation, it is very reasonable and great. I love the pizza, and many members of my family come in as a group and all order the Chicken Carciofi, a wonderful pasta dish featuring chicken and artichokes. They do not serve gourmet style Italian, just extremely tasty family style Italian food, just like Mama made—not my Mama, but maybe yours!

I know Carabbas is a chain restaurant, but the food is consistently good and they have healthier choices than Nora's. My favorite is hazelnut-encrusted trout. I order it with vegetable of the day rather than pasta, and it is served with a salad. It’s a perfect meal if you are interested in lower calorie choices, and the entire menu is terrific.

One last spot: Claim Jumper. If you’re from a few select states in the western US, you may have visited one of these restaurants in this small chain. If not, it’s worth a quick jaunt from your Vegas hotel. Why? Claim Jumper has some really terrific, hearty fare, and some of the best desserts in Las Vegas. My favorite entrees are the baby back ribs and the meat loaf sandwich, but their salads also are terrific. Desserts are the real pleaser here at Claim Jumper; their cakes are the size of the Grand Canyon, and they offer an absolutely delectable treat called the Chocolate Chip Calzone. Amazing baked doughy crust covered in milk, dark, and white chocolate chips, heated, and then doused with hot fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream. Do not attempt this alone. Bring four friends and enjoy.

Vegas has slots, craps, and a lot of really great food. If you’re coming into Sin City, aim for one of these best restaurants in Las Vegas between black jack hands.

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