New additions to the local dining scene in 2013 brought balance. There were big openings on the Strip and in the ’burbs plus plenty of sizzle in hot spots in Chinatown and Downtown. Hopefully you made the rounds and logged your own list of new deliciousness; here are my picks. A quick note: Two more favorites, Honey Salt and Chada Thai & Wine, opened in the fall of 2012, just missing the cutoff. You should visit both.
1. Heritage Steak If you wrote this Tom Colicchio concept off as just another celebrity steakhouse, it’s your loss. The space is beautifully relaxed, the service is spotless and the flavors are gorgeous and precise, all about the best ingredients prepared in the best possible way, no nonsense or pretense. Mirage, 791-7330.
2. Hakkasan There’s an amazing restaurant under that big crazy club. Hakkasan serves pristine Chinese food in an astonishing environment. Dim sum and duck are must-eats, but feel free to wander. MGM Grand, 891-7888.
3. Lulu’s Bread & Breakfast I’ve recommended this homey breakfast and lunch spot more than any other this year, somewhat surprising because I’d really rather keep its peerless pastries and sublime sandwiches on house-made breads to myself. But I’m not here to keep secrets. 6720 Sky Pointe Drive, 437-5858.
4. Pizza Rock I love pizza. I just can’t decide if I love a greasy New York slice more than a delicate Neapolitan pie. At Pizza Rock, I can have those styles and more, each pizza done perfectly. 201 N. Third St., 385-0838.
5. Rx Boiler Room This wacky, lush restaurant is unusually experimental for the Strip. Hopefully the risk of creating it and its ultra-fun comfort food and creative cocktails yields as much reward for Rick Moonen as it does for diners. Mandalay Bay, 632-9300.
6. Yonaka In a parallel foodie universe, neighborhood sushi joints pair the freshest fish with fruits, roots, grains and infused oils to create dynamic flavors instead of mayo-sauced wackjob rolls with silly names. Make this alterna-world your reality at Yonaka. 4983 W. Flamingo Road, 685-8358.
7. Echo & Rig This stylish steakhouse and butcher shop is one of the most well-rounded restaurants in town, offering affordably priced, high-quality cuts with brightly flavored sides, plus brunch, small plates, great wine and beer lists and a healthy dose of class. Tivoli Village, 489-3525.
8. Five50 Pizza Bar This year was big on pizza, and the Strip’s top arrival is Shawn McClain’s noshtacular nook near Aria’s sports book. McClain’s dedication to supreme ingredients shines through in his pies and non-pizza menu, easily pleasing all palates. Aria, 590-7550.
9. Kumi Capping the Light Group’s restaurant revamps at Mandalay Bay is Kumi, a dramatic space proudly serving the next evolution of Akira Back’s Japanese-Korean-American cuisine, an inspired medley of shareable favorites and exciting new dishes. Mandalay Bay, 632-9100.
10. Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Steakhouse Downtown is booming, but fewer new restaurants have popped up within the Fremont Street Experience. You may have missed this old-school gem, where meat is butchered in-house and hand-made pastas and tableside Caesars still rule. The D, 388-2220.
11. Andrea’s Opened last New Year’s Eve, Andrea’s is a stunning, sleek room—one of my favorites—and Joseph Elevado’s multi-ethnic cuisine is much more creative and ambitious than the club-ready atmosphere suggests. Encore, 248-3463.
12. Novecento The authentic Neapolitan pizza here is so good, chef/owner Marc Sgrizzi has opened two stores within a year. Find the one near you and watch your customized creation become perfection in seconds in a 900-degree wood-fired oven. 5705 Centennial Center Parkway #170, 685-4900; 9460 S. Eastern Ave. #130, 485-2900.
13. Las Cazuelas Humble and hearty, this new neighborhood Mexican joint serves up some of the homiest fare in the entire Valley, including stellar mole and saucy mini-tortas known as chanclas. 9711 S. Eastern Ave., 837-0204.