Dining

The best new restaurants of 2014

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Don’t miss the crab-laden uni perciatelli at Rose. Rabbit. Lie.
Photo: Patrick Tregenza

Wow! This was a seriously big restaurant year in Las Vegas, maybe one of the most deliciously significant years ever. You want celebrity chefs? We had new stuff from Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, Guy Fieri, José Andrés, Kerry Simon and Daniel Boulud. Craving innovative takes on soulful favorites? We got Brooklyn Bowl, Yusho, Mercadito, Lao Sze Chuan and Made L.V. Dreaming of the day a Michelin-starred chef opens an off-Strip jewel? That happened, too.

With all this activity, choosing our favorite new restaurants was a tricky task. But that’s what we’re here for. And we brought surprises—only five of our 14 choices are on the Strip, and we’re betting you haven’t even heard of a few of these appetizing arrivals. Well, unless you’ve been reading the Weekly all year, which we highly recommend. Sounds like a good resolution for 2015…

Bazaar Meat by José Andrés

Don’t call it a steakhouse. Bazaar Meat is an altar of yum, a monument to meat and more, and further proof—as if he needed it—that Andrés is a one-of-a-kind culinary trailblazer. Whole suckling pigs and Spanish-style, bone-in rib steaks ordered by the pound push big-game Vegas dining to the next level, while sea urchin-topped coins of blood sausage and toasted nori-jamon Iberico tacos will blow your mind and catch your taste buds off guard. Don’t miss the perfect cloud of omelet with kidney, sweetbreads and bone marrow called Tortilla Sacromonte, a weird, special, fantastic treat. Brock's Favorite! SLS, 702-761-7610. Sunday-Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m. –BR

Bazaar Meat's Tortilla Sacromonte incorporates off-the-wall animal parts like kidney, sweetbreads and bone marrow.

Carson Kitchen

Finally, destination dining Downtown. No other restaurant has drawn us to Fremont East like Carson Kitchen has, and it’s only fitting that it comes from one of our city’s all-time favorites, Kerry Simon. While battling MSA (multiple system atrophy), Simon developed a creative menu including addictive fried chicken skins, hauntingly good gyro tacos and a bourbon fudge brownie with brown butter bacon ice cream that epitomizes decadence. I, for one, am glad Simon returned to the forefront in 2014. 124 S. Sixth St. #100, 702-473-9523. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. –JB

Cleo

Chef Danny Elmaleh’s bright, beautiful take on Mediterranean cuisine includes familiar bites like tahini-laced hummus and delicately fried falafel along with fun, fresh, unique dishes like the raw lamb kibbeh nayyeh and eggplant-feta flatbread from a central woodburning oven. It’s all incredibly refreshing and so, so welcome in a city where pasty hummus and dried-out shawarma is all too common. SLS, 702-761-7612. Sunday-Thursday, 6-10:30 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 6-11:30 p.m. –BR

David Clawson's meaty take on a crab cake satisfies.

David Clawson Restaurant

David Clawson may not be a household name, but his restaurant—set in a sleepy Anthem shopping center—is better than those of some of his more famous contemporaries. Menu descriptions for his small-plate offerings are simple but the preparations are not, including the Valley’s best crab cake, uni-laden faux risotto and noodles rife with garlic. There’s hardly a more precise meal in town, and that’s all the fame Clawson needs. 2480 Bicentennial Parkway, 702-466-2190. Tuesday-Saturday, 5-10 p.m. –JB

DB Brasserie

There were other new restaurants this year that came with more hype or edgier fare, but I ate at DB many more times than any of those, and I know I’ll keep coming back no matter what other excitement arrives, because it’s just perfect. Daniel Boulud’s new Vegas menu collects favorite French, Mediterranean and American dishes from his other restaurants, hones in on what makes each of them great, and effortlessly knocks it out of the park. Venetian, 702-430-1235. Daily, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. –BR

Bet you haven't had lobster <em>pho</em> before.

Bet you haven't had lobster pho before.

District One

Vietnamese restaurants tend to be cookie cutter—oh look, pho and spring rolls!—so the inspired menu at District One is more than a refreshing reprieve. Sharp beef carpaccio swimming in sesame oil highlights Italian influences, while hearty oxtail fried rice channels China and Charleston. Even the traditional Vietnamese dishes deviate from the norm, with whole-lobster pho and the now-infamous Big Bone soup, filled full of femur. Your mother’s Vietnamese this is not. 3400 S. Jones Blvd. #8, 702-413-6868. Daily, 11 a.m.-3 a.m. –JB

The Goodwich

No matter your tastes, you’ll find your favorite sandwich at the Goodwich, the small kiosk in the Dino’s parking lot. Reminiscent of holes-in-the-wall you’d find in more mature food cities, I’m hoping this spot is a harbinger of things to come as Strip talent migrates and opens accessible, locals-oriented joints. From the best PB&J to a ridiculously rich patty melt, ingredients are painstakingly procured and prepared generously, with ample use of foie gras and chicken skin. Goodwich? More like Greatwich! 1516 S. Las Vegas Blvd. #A, 702-910-8681. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. –JB

Sweet shrimp tartare with tomato sorbet and celeriac purée, an unusual and transcendent dish at Japanese Cuisine by Omae.

Sweet shrimp tartare with tomato sorbet and celeriac purée, an unusual and transcendent dish at Japanese Cuisine by Omae.

Japanese Cuisine by Omae

Chef Takeshi Omae earned Michelin stars at Masaharu Morimoto’s Tokyo restaurant. Now Omae has landed in Las Vegas, ready to compete with the stars of the Strip, armed with 12 seats and a constantly changing omakase menu utilizing immaculate ingredients and unbelievable technique. This artistic, reverential Japanese experience is not for everyone, but if you go, it’ll be one of the most memorable meals of your year, too. 3650 S. Decatur Blvd. #26, 702-966-8080. Tuesday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m. –BR

Jinya

When is a ramen bar one of the best new restaurants in the city? When it’s Jinya, the acclaimed LA transplant that finds a cozy home on the west side, stays open late and serves some of our best, most soul-satisfying noodle soups and a diverse, smile-inducing selection of dishes from crispy chicken and pork buns to quinoa salad and spicy-creamy shrimp tempura. 4860 W. Flamingo Road, 702-868-8877. Daily, 11:30 a.m.-3 a.m. –BR

Lao Sze Chuan

We have super-upscale Chinese fine dining, and we have super-cheap and tasty, hole-in-the-wall, Spring Mountain Road Chinese deliciousness. But what falls in the middle? Tony Hu’s Lao Sze Chuan is the answer, coming from Chicago to fill our void with authentic, addictive, frequently incendiary cuisine made for sharing. Get the signature three chili chicken or the spicier dry chili chicken, but don’t miss the tea-smoked duck and Szechuan peppercorn fish. Palms, 702-942-6862. Daily, 11 a.m.-midnight. –BR

Mercadito’s memorable blackened swordfish tacos.

Mercadito’s memorable blackened swordfish tacos.

Mercadito

The Sandoval brothers’ taco shrine was another welcome newbie from the Windy City, a colorful, high-energy eatery that seems focused on deconstructing our favorite Mexican foods and rebuilding them, piece by piece, to flavorful perfection. There are three seafood tacos, and we can’t decide which we love best, each decorated with specific slaws or sauces. More choices await with three guacs, three ceviches and five salsas, and don’t even get us started on the cocktails. Red Rock Resort, 702-979-3609. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 a.m., Sunday & Monday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. –BR

Rose. Rabbit. Lie.

Fine dining meets energetic supper club, with entertainment and diners intertwining for a feel unlike any other restaurant’s. RRL might have lost some luster with the departure of Vegas Nocturne, but it’s still worth a visit, to try executive chef Wes Holton’s crispy riff on oysters Rockefeller, creamy duck confit pasta or undeniably unctuous uni perciatelli. Because ultimately, the dishes are as enthralling as the entertainment. Cosmopolitan, 877-667-0585. Tuesday-Thursday, 5:30 p.m.-midnight; Friday & Saturday 5:30 p.m.-1 a.m. –JB

Behold, the confit chicken wings at Sporting Life Bar. They seem simple, but they taste amazing.

Sporting Life Bar

Locals bars are a fixture of Vegas life, and unfortunately, so is pedestrian bar food. But former Bouchon sous chef Daniel Dalton has elevated Sporting Life’s menu, a blend of classic fare and haute cuisine. Where else can you find veal presse alongside green pork chili nachos, or order pork belly with the Valley’s best chicken wings? Only at this nondescript sports bar, which used to house an Outside Inn—adaptive reuse at its finest. Jim's Favorite! 7770 S. Jones Blvd., 702-331-4647. 24/7. –JB

Yusho

Truly unique and wildly exciting, Yusho—an American take on a Japanese izakaya—is oddly challenged by its Strip-side location at Monte Carlo. That means many haven’t tried out the remarkable, deboned chicken wings with bonito salt, the pig-laden Logan Poser Ramen, or the on-tap gin and tonic. The menu is loaded with innovative offerings necessitating numerous visits, but you have to start with just one. Monte Carlo, 702-730-6888. Sunday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 5 p.m.-1 a.m. –JB

Tags: Dining, Food
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Jim Begley

Jim Begley is an avid food lover who began writing about his Las Vegas dining adventures to defray his obscene ...

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Brock Radke

Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for almost two decades. He currently serves as editor-at-large covering entertainment and ...

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