Celebrity chefs? Check. Old-school foodie finds? Check. Hip new eateries? Check. Food for the gods? Check. Las Vegas-bound groups convening at Caesars Entertainment properties are in for quite the list of delectable experiences.

Meetings Today recently checked out some of those divine restaurants, in addition to the culinary event of the year in the entertainment mecca: The Grand Tasting of Vegas Uncork’d, a multiday extravaganza that showcases the creations and insights of celebrity chefs and restaurateurs for thousands of foodies.

To start the weekend, we kicked off dinner our first night with a visit to Rao’s. This classic Italian eatery features two inviting, dimly lit rooms—plenty of wood, intimate booths, pictures of family and friends, including a few celebs—that are replicas of its original location in New York City. Rao’s took us by surprise once the stories started unfolding and plate after plate of deliciousness rolled out. For one, Celine Dion apparently orders the famous Lemon Chicken every night, and with good reason. That, along with other signature Rao’s dishes like the giant meatballs, are to die for.

“The original Rao’s is 121 years old, and I look good for my age, don’t I?” quipped Rao’s Co-Owner Frank Pellegrino Jr., who came by to give us signed copies of his latest book, Rao’s Classics, which he co-authored with his dad, the late Frank Pellegrino Sr., then entertained us with stories of how the restaurant became one of the hottest reservations in town shortly after Mimi Sheraton of The New York Times raved about the Lemon Chicken and gave Rao’s three stars in 1977. Since then, Rao’s, still the same charming East Harlem corner establishment, is impossible to reserve, unless you know one of the longtime regulars with an “assigned” table.

Fortunately for us, and anyone in Las Vegas, the great food and warm hospitality at Rao’s is much more accessible, and groups can take advantage of a wonderful private dining area that feels like your grandma’s dining room, or other areas such as a patio overlooking the pool. Full buyouts are available.

“Rao’s is still always about neighborhood, friends, family, love and some dynamite Southern Italian cuisine,” Pellegrino said.

Sticking with the Italian theme, this time with California influences, we headed over to Giada at The Cromwell the next morning for a lovely breakfast. The restaurant, the first for Food Network star Giada De Laurentiis, has been a big success, offering an airy ambience with windows that open wide throughout and sleek white booths, comfortable conversation areas and an open kitchen. The setting is ideal for small and large events. Highlights of our meal included Lobster Hash, with lobster, marble potatoes, Neuske’s bacon, peppers, onion confit and two eggs sunny side up; Italian Chicken and Waffles, with cacciatore-spiced chicken, polenta waffles, Parmesan and cacciatore sauce; and

Chia Seed Parfait, with fresh raspberry, chia seeds, maple-sweetened Greek yogurt and marcona almonds.

Caesars Entertainment’s latest dining addition is Virgil’s Real Barbecue at The Linq Hotel and Casino. Awesome food, including barbecue made in the individual style of cities around the country, as well as live music and an outdoor patio make this a fun spot for group dining and events.

A fitting culmination to our weekend was The Grand Tasting of Vegas Uncork’d at Caesars Palace’s Garden of the Gods Pool Oasis, with dozens of Vegas restaurant booths dishing out tasty samples while celebrity chefs mingled with the crowd. Caesars Entertainment chefs Nobu, Giada, Gordon Ramsay, Guy Savoy and Bobby Flay were on hand, and prior to the event Ramsay announced the opening of a Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace this winter.

Drawing roughly 3,000 people, the tasting was a testament to the property’s expertise in pulling off spectacular events.

“We’re so accustomed to dealing with large groups such as this—one of our biggest and most notable events of the year,” said Lanette Myers, executive director of catering and convention services for Caesars Palace. “This event is the pinnacle of a three-day culinary excursion—a journey where you enjoy restaurants throughout the city with some amazing chefs.”

We’ll definitely toast to that! 

Caesars Entertainment
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