When you eat a fancy burger in a hip bar on the Las Vegas Strip, give credit to Hubert Keller. When he opened Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay in 2004, he created a simple, delicious blueprint for casinos, restaurateurs and celebrity chefs to follow—an elevation of the classic American fast-food meal plus a great beer selection. Burger Bar is still going strong, as are other Strip burger joints sporting big names like Gordon Ramsay and Bobby Flay. The burger-and-beer spot has become a must-have for the Vegas megaresort, the same way every casino once required a buffet.
The Venetian has never had a buffet, but it has recently opened a third version of the big Vegas burger bar. The New York City-based Black Tap has taken over the Strip-fronting space formerly occupied by Rattlecan and B&B Burger & Beer, with a wholesale redesign. Black Tap Vegas feels like the no-nonsense urban eatery it originated as in lower Manhattan. The soundtrack features hip-hop and pop from the ’80s and ’90s, and the menu is crafted by Michelin-starred chef Joe Isidori.
If you like to stick to the basics, you’ll find satisfaction in the All-American burger ($16), prime beef on a spongy bun with all the regs (lettuce, tomato, pickle, American cheese, special sauce) that approximates a great homemade burger. Further into that familiar realm, enjoy the chili cheese burger ($18) or the Texan ($19) with cheddar, crispy onions, bacon and barbecue sauce. Popular Black Tap signature creations include the Greg Norman ($20), a Wagyu beef patty topped with blue cheese, arugula and buttermilk-dill dressing, and the decadent Old Fashioned ($18) with horseradish, Swiss cheese, crimini mushrooms and caramelized onions.
Black Tap is equally famous for its camera-ready Crazy Shakes ($15-$17), some of which are decorated with whole slabs of birthday cake or ice-cream cookie sandwiches. Classic shakes ($9) are just as tasty, and spicy Korean-style chicken wings ($14) are a solid alternative to fries and onion rings.
Now that we know there will always be new burger joints on the Strip, the only question is which one to visit next. Put Black Tap on your list.
BLACK TAP CRAFT BURGERS & BEER Venetian, 702-414-2337. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.