Can't Miss Culinary Experiences in Las Vegas

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Las Vegas is a city entirely given over to life's guilty pleasures. Sure, you can hit Nevada's desert oasis of neon lights for the gambling, the shows, or its many, shall we say, adult offerings, but foodies know that the real reason to come to Vegas is to experience its cuisine. Many of the world's most-celebrated chefs supervise restaurants on The Strip, making it easy to keep up with global gastronomy trends. There's also a vibrant food scene off-Strip that's worth exploring, and a number of excellent annual food and drink events

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    Joël Robuchon at the Mansion at the MGM Grand
    MGM Grand

    The centerpiece for any culinary traveler will certainly be a very special dinner at one of the many celeb-chef-helmed restaurants. Be prepared, "special" also means expensive. You could easily drop $200, and way, way up, on a meal for two. (Not in your budget? Get the experience without the big bill by having cocktails or appetizers at a celebrity chef's joint.) Try Joël Robuchon at the Mansion at the MGM Grand.  Robuchon was named "The Chef of the Century" by the French restaurant guide Gault Millau in 1990. Check out the eight-course black truffle menu, which includes "La Truffe," a black truffle tart with onions and smoked ham. $500 per person.

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    A more underground and affordable choice is off-Strip at Lotus of Siam. It doesn't look like much, but chef Saipin Chutima’s place has an international reputation as the best Thai food in the West, if not the entire continent, according to Gourmet magazine. Try the Issan Sausage, which is grilled, served with fresh chile, ginger, and peanut.

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    Otto Enoteca San Marco is located inside The Venetian casino, in the San Marco piazza area, which is quintessential Las Vegas fantasy. When you sit on the "patio," and blur your eyes a little, you could almost believe you've left Nevada for Italy. Enoteca San Marco is a great choice for a wine and nibble break, choose from a comprehensive selection of fromaggi and charcuterie. Be sure to try the finocciona, a salami cured with fennel, cracked pepper, and a little curry, direct from Seattle's famous Salumi Artisan Cured Meats. 

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    Start your day off right at Hash House A Go Go. The restaurant has a fun, metallic agri-industrial vibe, and it serves what it calls “twisted farm food”. As you might expect, the house specialty is crispy potato hash, which you customize by adding your choice of roasted chicken, corned beef, house-smoked salmon, chorizo, meatloaf, or veggies. Your hash will be topped with two eggs any style, fresh fruit, and a huge fluffy biscuit. Yep, this is hearty fare, and the portions are both eye- and pants-popping. So, it's a good idea to share, well worth the extra plate charge. Breakfast entrees run about $12.00.

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    Okay, okay, a buffet does scream vintage Vegas, and not in a good way. But El Rancho Vegas, the very first hotel on The Strip, had a buffet, which basically makes it an indigenous food from here. So try to slot a good one into your foodie itinerary. The Buffet at Wynn has 16 cooking stations and earns good reviews for its seafood, particularly its King Crab legs. The Buffet at Bellagio (3600 Las Vegas Boulevard South,(702)693-7111.) earns raves for its Kobe-style beef and duck, as well as its desserts, particularly the chocolate-dipped strawberries.