For a city that lets it all hang out, Las Vegas has a few secrets it likes to keep. And for a town obsessed with food and drink, this naturally extends to eating spots that require a little insider info. Lucky you, we’re in the know. Here are some of the Valley’s best-kept venue secrets …
Ghost Donkey inside Block 16 Food Hall (at the Cosmopolitan)
With just eight seats at the bar, Ghost Donkey (a New York City transplant that earns cool cred right off the bat) is a speakeasy made for tequila and mezcal lovers. Finding it is a bit tricky, but after you’ve made your way through Block 16 Urban Food Hall, there’s a secret door that leads to this agave paradise. You can order tasting flights from the extensive selection (tequila is classified from the highlands to the lowlands) or try any of the specialty cocktails, highballs or frozen margaritas. And what goes best with Mexican spirits? Nachos, of course, and here you’ll find selections such as truffle or chorizo and tripe. We bet this is one secret you won’t be able to keep to yourself.
Sara’s inside Mabel’s BBQ (at the Palms)
There was much fanfare when chef Michael Symon’s Mabel’s BBQ opened in the newly refreshed Palms at the end of last year. Certain guests were given a special key for another Symon concept opening a couple of months later, which turned out to be Sara’s, a supper club that can be accessed through an unmarked door near the bar at Mabel’s. And while the barbecue joint can be a raucous affair, Sara’s offers a whole different vibe: It’s white linen napkins and elevated classic American cuisine, served by captains who expertly perform tableside preparations like they’ve been doing them for a hundred years. Sara’s is bespoke to the bone, and don’t even get us started on the prime rib.
Bavette’s secret lounge (at Park MGM)
There’s so much going on at Park MGM these days—NoMad! Eataly! Gaga!—but one restaurant that’ll score you points is Bavette’s, a steakhouse straight out of Chi-Town. Bavette’s is sure to impress anyone with a menu that’s on point and ambience that’ll take your heart rate down instantly (think dim lighting, dark paneling, vintage murals and Tiffany lamps that will wean you off that smartphone blue light). But Bavette’s best feature? A secret lounge in the back that invites you to linger with just one more Old Fashioned. It’s dark and intimate, a keeper of secrets in a town that has many to tell.
The Barbershop (at the Cosmopolitan)
We can make this whole list about secret places in the Cosmopolitan (if you haven’t tried Secret Pizza on the third floor in a narrow hallway next to Jaleo, go there, stat!). The newest contender is the Barbershop, a literal place to get a haircut and shave but with a Cosmo twist: It’s also a Prohibition era-inspired bar. It can be accessed through a small door marked “Janitor,” and once you’re in, you’ll be treated to an upscale watering hole complete with a vintage 1800s mahogany bar from Kentucky. During the day, you can multitask and get a cut and shave; in the evening, relax with a whiskey- or bourbon-forward cocktail while enjoying a rotating band of DJs.
é inside Jaleo (at the Cosmopolitan)
From reading this list, you should know by now to pay attention to every nondescript door you might encounter at the Cosmopolitan. Hidden away in the lively Jaleo, where a Spanish fiesta seems to be taking place at all hours, this intimate, nine-seat gem of a restaurant is one of the most coveted dining experiences in town. The chef-driven tasting menu comprises 20-plus courses that’s constantly evolving. A seat at é is not cheap ($275 per person), and scoring a reservation requires patience (make reservations online three months in advance). But the payoff? A culinary experience that can never be replicated (or documented—taking photos with your phone will break the chefs’ hearts. Put that thing away and be present for a couple of hours.)
Su Casa inside Mi Casa Grill (at Silverton)
Say you go out for Mexican food and then halfway there, you realize that what you really want are gorgeous tuna rolls and pieces of sashimi lightly bathed in a soy-and-wasabi concoction. You’re in luck, because Su Casa at Silverton understands your conundrum. Tucked inside Mi Casa Grill Cantina, this Latin- inspired Asian restaurant features poke, sushi, sashimi, nigiri, ramen … and ceviches. (Well, hamachi, tuna and salmon ceviches.) Su Casa is a nice little surprise, and in a city with endless choices, it’s nice to go someplace where you don’t have to go far should you choose to pivot.