For many visitors to Las Vegas, choosing where to dine can be overwhelming and costly, which is why Donald Contursi re-channeled his skills and passion for food into Lip Smacking Foodie Tours in 2014.
Top ranked on TripAdvisor and Yelp!, Lip Smacking Foodie tours help eliminate the guesswork on where to dine in town, sniffing out the best signature dishes and new eats.
The afternoon and evening programs, for groups from 10 to 200, are also infused with Las Vegas history. These site visits and programs can be tailored for meeting and event planners’ needs, too.
“We recently showcased three sustainability-focused Vegas restaurants to organizers and planners for the Natural Products Expo West tradeshow,” Contursi said. “Custom touches included incorporating exhibitor products in the menus and bringing in a local natural foods expert to speak at our final restaurant.”
I joined Contursi on a foodie outing this past March. Following our podcast interview (bit.ly/vegas_food) at Wynn Las Vegas, we hit the nearby Peppermill for happy hour. Nine hours and multiple stops later, we capped the night at The Kitchen at Atomic in downtown Las Vegas.
Along the way, Contursi dished on the ever-expanding Las Vegas food and beverage scene, highlighting new global cuisine hot spots and off-the-strip gems.
From vintage steakhouses to fresh Greek and Peruvian food, here are some of the best places for groups to grab a bite in Las Vegas right now.
Combining a restaurant with the fabulous Fireside Lounge, this groovy Strip institution and Hollywood filming favorite (Casino, for one) is the ultimate Vegas time capsule, established in December 1972. The interior features deep booths, pink and purple lighting, fake trees and big-time eats and cocktails.
“We host special events and groups ranging from conventioneers to celebrities,” said General Manager Peggy Orth, here since 1974 and proud of the venue’s “team spirit” and “family” culture. “Planner amenities include 23 individually programmable TVs and a new wireless mic system.”
Walkable from Wynn, Encore and new developments such as Resorts World Las Vegas and the convention center expansion, the Peppermill—open 24 hours every day—is primed for continuing perennial appeal.
Edge Steakhouse | Credit Jeff Heilman
Located in Westgate Las Vegas, TripAdvisor’s top-rated Las Vegas steakhouse in 2019 is only three years old but feels like a vintage classic.
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Decorated with Elvis portraits, the circular main room is the stage for Michelin-trained Executive Chef Steve Young’s artistry. From the beet salad and wagyu beef to the bananas Foster flambe, this was my best meal in Vegas, ever. The veteran staff are expert hosts, and with a global resume, NYC-born bartender Mike delivers the perfect Manhattan. Groups have a private wine room and dining room for events.
Chef Costas Spiliadis’ celebrated Greek seafood temple at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas features fresh Mediterranean fish flown in daily and one of the best lunch deals in town. Highlights include the Milos Special: paper-thin zucchini and eggplant fried crispy served with tzatziki and graviera cheese saganaki. The scenic outdoor terrace is a magnet for private events.
Located between New York-New York and Park MGM, this high-energy concept, inspired by Japan’s pop culture scene, mixes sushi with live entertainment and guest interaction. Event spaces include the 5,000-square-foot Terrace Ballroom, with a 1,300-square-foot outdoor balcony overlooking The Park Las Vegas and T-Mobile Arena. Buyouts for 2,000 include the main dining room and mezzanine level.
Wing Lei | CREDIT Barbara Kraft
Wing Lei—which translates to “forever prosperous”—is a Forbes Five Star restaurant housed in a gold dining room at Wynn Las Vegas, inspired by classical Chinese jewel boxes. It’s North America’s first and only Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant.
The menu is a blend of Cantonese, Shanghai and Szechuan flavors, with delicacies that include tableside-carved Imperial Peking Duck. Versatile venues include the 70-capacity main dining room, featuring two 100-year old pomegranate trees; private Dynasty and Imperial rooms, each hosting 13 guests; and a semi-private dining room for 24-32 guests.
Acclaimed L.A. chef Ricardo Zarate delivers unique Peruvian Nikkei cuisine at this versatile Palazzo Las Vegas restaurant. Tantalizing bites include the Big Eye Tuna Sashimi Ceviche with black truffle and kizami tiger’s milk. Event spaces include the 12-person Once Eleven room, 250-capacity main dining room and outdoor patio.
In 2013, best-selling cookbook author and Emmy Award-winning TV personality Giada De Laurentiis joined pioneers Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill at Mandalay Bay as the only female celebrity chefs in town. Overlooking the famed Four Corners from its second-floor perch at The Cromwell, her 260-seat Mediterranean-Californian restaurant glows with upscale decor, signature dishes like lemon spaghetti, and generous private dining space.
This Jamaican-inspired joint in the fast-emerging Las Vegas Arts District, named for a famed NYC record store, serves up craft cocktails and island fare like jerk wings and beef patties. With ska and reggae music setting the beat, the expansive space hosts events and is ideal for late-night hangs, outdoor patio included.
Atomic Liquors is the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas, opened in 1952, and was once frequented by Barbra Streisand and the Rat Pack. The adjacent Kitchen at Atomic opened in 2017 and serves bar bites, small plates and entrees in an updated former gas station. Both venues host events, individually and together, with overflow space on the front patio.
4 Vintage Steakhouses in Las Vegas That Serve Up Supper and Nostalgia
Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris Las Vegas and STK at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas are among the Strip’s popular contemporary steakhouses.
Many more beckon across Vegas—including the old school club. Featuring vintage decor, tuxedoed career captains and servers, table-side presentations and more, these standard-bearers offer a true flavor of the past.
Downtown cityscape from Top of Binion's Steakhouse | CREDIT Jeff Heilman
Opened in 1958, Las Vegas’ oldest steakhouse is an enduring big shot. Highlights include the dedicated banquettes where Sinatra, Elvis and other celebrity regulars once dined, plus private dining rooms for 37 and 16 guests, respectively.
This 24th-floor aerie features spectacular cityscape views and signature dishes such as chicken fried lobster and 28-day aged steaks. This spot is ideal for smaller groups, with larger banqueting venues available on other floors.
Opened at the former Barbary Coast (now The Cromwell) in 1982, this relocated red velveted treasure now anchors South Point Hotel Casino and Spa. Featuring a Tiffany domed ceiling and classics like Dover sole and chateaubriand, it’s time capsule dining at its finest, with private space for 16.
Groups of up to 16 venturing into the faded 1968 heirloom Circus Circus will find meaty rewards at its perennial top-rated steakhouse. Aged in a glass-enclosed room viewable from the dining room, prime cuts are prepared over an exhibition-style mesquite charcoal broiler.