Don't unpack - there's time for that later. You've just arrived in Vegas and already you're hungry for a taste. Maybe a light afternoon snack of Parmesan paprika popcorn at Hubert Keller's approachable new small-plates concept, Fleur. Fleur at Mandalay Bay also mixes frozen cocktails tableside, compliments of a little liquid nitrogen magic. Plus, the hugely popular pajama brunch at Simon Restaurant & Lounge inside Palms Place offers a Bloody Mary bar, cotton candy, chicken and waffles, a junk food plate and, of course, a sushi bar.
It's almost time for dinner. Here's when the options can overwhelm. But don't stress - you're in Las Vegas now, and there are no bad choices.
Take your steak seriously? So do we. That's why the luxury-lifestyle magazine, Robb Report, named Las Vegas "the best place on Earth to eat steak." Mario Batali's Carnevino at The Palazzo, featuring a succulent 240-day dry-aged Riserva rib eye, rose to the top of the list. Or, you can head to any of the other six steak houses singled out for their exemplary steaks, such as Old Homestead Steakhouse at Caesars Palace or STRIPSTEAK at Mandalay Bay. Pair that rare delight with a nice glass of vino. TENDER steak & seafood at Luxor is the four-time winner of the coveted Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
If you're with a group, head to Jaleo. Chef José Andrés' Spanish restaurant at The Cosmopolitan features an eight-seat inner sanctum with a 10- to 12-course dinner of tiny bites eaten sans silverware. For a sophisticated steak, try Mizumi at Wynn Las Vegas. This Japanese cuisine venue offers a stunning view of Mizumi's private gardens for a truly unique dining experience.
It's time for dessert, but don't expect the choices to get any easier. Wynn Las Vegas's Lakeside Seafood has a dessert cart named Desire. And on that cart is where you'll find the bacon chocolate bar made with creamy milk chocolate, fleur de sel and, of course, applewood-smoked bacon. They'll dip anything in chocolate at Max Brenner in The Forum Shops at Caesars. But why bother dipping when you can just order a huge syringe filled with a chocolate potion you can squirt directly into your mouth?
If you're a cellar dweller, how about socializing in a place where you can choose from 160 wines by the glass using a prepaid tasting card to enjoy drinks of 1, 3 or 5 ounces? The Hostile Grape at M Resort offers a contemporary, hip atmosphere with boutique wines and handcrafted cocktails, along with unique samplers.
If it all seems too much, perhaps you're better off ending the night at ARIA's Sage, where you can inhale absinthe vapors. Shots range from $20 to more than $100. The cost for a shot of one special variety goes up each time it's ordered, because once the bottle's gone, it's gone forever. Or, enjoy a beer at Public House at The Venetian, where Nevada's one and only certified beer cicerone (think wine sommelier, but for beer) uses his Ph.D.-level expertise to help you find the perfect brew to pair with your meal.
Perhaps downtown is your scene. You'll find no shortage of culinary delights. At the newly renovated Plaza Hotel & Casino, step inside Oscar's Steakhouse, brought to you by former Las Vegas mayor and legend Oscar Goodman. For a moodier vibe, take the short walk off Fremont Street to Triple George Grill. Order wine by the bottle and steaks by your favorite cut. Dark, intimate booths and a long wooden bar running nearly the length of the restaurant give the distinct vibe that you've traveled to another time.
And for the hip and trendy scene, visit BarBistro, a modern kitchen nestled on the first floor of downtown's most eclectic collection of art galleries. Or, sample contemporary American cuisine at Eat for breakfast and lunch. After all, you'll need some fuel to get through a long day in Las Vegas.