Eat Like a Local: Off-Strip Vegas
For Yahoo Food’s travel summer series, Eat Like a Local, we’re taking you on a cross-country food crawl, city by city. Here’s where to chow down in America’s lesser-known destinations without sticking out like a sore thumb.
The Amangiri resort, nestled in the desert’s rocky landscape. (Photo credit: Courtesy Amangiri)
Vegas has led the charge on celebrity chefs—you can dine under Gordon Ramsay’s roof one night and Wolfgang Puck’s the next—but “there has been a shift from fine-dining, meal-of-a-lifetime experiences to much more approachable ones,” says Melinda Sheckells, an editor at Vegas Rated and Vegas Seven magazines.
The city has also become more friendly towards those with dietary restrictions. Once the land of buffets and steak dinners, Vegas is now a place brimming with gluten-free options, among others. “Sure, we would all love to eat Joel Robuchon’s potato purée with a pound of delicious butter in it every day, but the reality is that after you eat that, you want to pass out,” laughs Sheckells. A number of the new hotspots these days are well-removed from the famous Strip (another shift!) Here are some of Sheckells’s favorites.
Best Hole in the Wall: Chicago Joe’s
“Downtown Las Vegas is now really becoming a hip epicenter, as most downtowns should be, but there are a couple really great spots peppered in there that have been around for years,” says Sheckells. Chicago Joe’s is one of those spots, and it serves up rich, Southern Italian food. “It’s everything you think a Chicago Italian restaurant should be: it’s got ten tables, red checkered tablecloths, no air conditioning, and when you leave, you smell like garlic.” Speaking of which, the garlic dressing is a must. “It’s not really a dressing, it’s so thick—it’s like pure whipped garlic served on crisp romaine lettuce in little wood bowls from the ’70s.” (820 S. 4th St.; 702-382-5637)
Best Dive: The Bonnie Springs Ranch Restaurant
You’ll spy dollar bills on the ceiling and a stellar burger on the menu at the Bonnie Springs Restaurant, a Wild West ghost town about 30 minutes from the center of Vegas. “It’s that simple fire-grilled burger with the perfect amount of American cheese, and you don’t even need condiment,” says Sheckells. “Saddle up to the bar, get a Bloody Mary, sign up for horseback riding, and forget that you’re in Las Vegas.” (16395 Bonnie Springs Rd. 702-875-4191)
Freddie Glusman. (Photo credit: Courtesy Piero’s)