Foodies might dismiss it as a rehash and locals might avoid it as a tourist trap, but I love a place like Joe’s Stone Crab. In many ways, it’s the epitome of a big Vegas restaurant: It’s from some other place (aren’t we all?); it’s fancy yet casual; and the food is precise, consistent and really good. Its location in the Forum Shops is another plus, high-quality dining in our high-end Strip shopping mall.
- P.J. Clarke’s
- The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace, 434-7900.
- Daily, 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
Joe’s is an undisputed success, which made me wonder why we needed a Vegas version of iconic saloon P.J. Clarke’s just a few yards away, also on the Forum’s ground floor. Joe’s is Miami; P.J.’s is New York. Joe’s is steak and seafood; P.J.’s is the same thing, really. But then I realized: On the Strip, overkill is a good thing. If it ain’t broke, right? And guess what? The food at P.J. Clarke’s is really good.
Much has been made of its famous Cadillac burger, a study in simplicity. I say it’s too simple, tasty but certainly not among the best in our Vegas, the greatest burger city in the world. Move on to other outstanding fare that just feels like the right thing to order in this cozy, big city bar and grill, a restaurant that seems worn-in despite opening in January. A solid, classic Caesar, or perhaps a blue cheese and bacon-saturated iceberg wedge. Crispy Parmesan tater tots, or a bright avocado and Dungeness crab salad. A superb steak frites, with a 10-ounce skirt steak and shoestring potatoes.
The best time to hit the bar is between 3 and 6 p.m., any day but Saturday, for the Oyster Riot. It’s a happy hour with two-for-one drinks to wash down dollar oysters, plump and juicy. Could be East Coast, could be West Coast. Whatever’s fresh. For lunch, get a lobster BLT, the famous chicken pot pie or some of the best fish and chips on the Strip. For dinner, blow it out with a 16-ounce Delmonico ribeye, with bacon and cabbage colcannon potatoes on the side. If it ain’t broke, right?