Las Vegas is the most populous city in the state of Nevada and an internationally renowned major resort city for gambling, shopping, and fine dining. Las Vegas is sometimes referred to as "Sin City" due to its reputation for being a place where people go to gamble, drink, and get married quickly. Las Vegas is also home to many world-famous hotels and casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard, also known as the Las Vegas Strip. However, there is much more to this city than just gambling and drinking. For one, there's the food.
Las Vegas has become a world-renowned foodie destination over the years, as celebrity chefs and other investors have coveted operating restaurants in Las Vegas. Cuisine runs the full gamut. You can get Italian, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Mexican, and, of course, American. It's also not too tricky to find meat-free options at the best vegetarian restaurants in the city. The state of Nevada, especially in the north, has become home to a surprising number of Basque Country immigrants. This dates back to the Gold Rush era, and as a result, the local cuisine often has a Spanish flair. When it comes to food in Las Vegas, you can pretty much get whatever you want.
When you get to Las Vegas, and before you start exploring the food scene, drop your bags off at a Bounce luggage locker (there are plenty on Las Vegas Boulevard). That way, you can eat without a worry about your suitcase. The major hotels here, like the MGM Grand, Caesars Palace, Paris Las Vegas, and the Bellagio, all have multiple restaurants for a classic sit-down meal, or you can try some of the best street food in Las Vegas as you continue to navigate the Las Vegas Strip.
Las Vegas Food: Shrimp Cocktail
Shrimp cocktail is an appetizer or snack everyone should try when they come to Vegas. Although the dish is fairly simple, it's a great way to feel a little fancy as you sit and take in the atmosphere of Sin City. At its most basic, a shrimp cocktail is a handful of shrimp paired with a red cocktail sauce. The keys to a good one are the quality of the shrimp and the flavor of the sauce. The base is usually comprised of ketchup and a mild chili sauce, and then chefs add horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, fresh lemon juice, and a dash of hot sauce. A little goes a long way, but you can't beat this flavor combination.
It is said that the shrimp cocktail in las Vegas dates back to 1959, when a chef brought the dish to the city because he was missing the fresh seafood from his home state of California. It was introduced to the masses for a whopping 50 cents at the time. We can tell you that the cost of one now has definitely risen exponentially!
Las Vegas Food: Fried Chicken
Known as a staple in the South, this American cuisine favorite is another dish you have to try when you come to Las Vegas. While there are plenty of upscale restaurants that will offer you their version of fried chicken, we're talking about the real deal. We're talking about chicken that is fried to perfection and served with a side of delicious home-style mashed potatoes.
There are a few different places where you can find some of the best fried chicken in the city, but one spot that always comes to mind is Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. Their Vegas location at the Venetian on Las Vegas Blvd is known for its fresh, homemade food and its southern hospitality. The fried chicken at Yardbird is brined for 24 hours before it is dredged in a secret flour blend and then fried to golden perfection. It is served with white Alabama sauce on the side for dipping.
Las Vegas Food: Basque Cake
If you're looking for something sweet to eat in Las Vegas, you have to try Basque cake. This dessert is a thin sponge cake that is soaked in a cherry syrup and then layered with whipped cream and cherries. It is said to be named after the Basque people of Spain, who are known for their love of cherries. The cake is usually decorated with fresh cherries on top, making it a beautiful and tasty treat.
Basque cake can be found at many different restaurants in Las Vegas, but one spot that always comes to mind is The Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris Las Vegas. This restaurant offers an incredible view of the Strip, along with some of the best food in town. The Basque cake at The Eiffel Tower Restaurant is made with fresh cherries and cherry liqueur, and it is absolutely delicious.
Las Vegas Food: Tacos
A common sight in the US, Mexican food is a popular staple in Las Vegas as well. As we all know, these delicious food items are basically hard or soft shells wrapped around an assortment of fillings. Tacos are the perfect choice for the vegetarians and vegans out there. Since Vegas is known for its love of excess, sometimes a simple taco from a no-frills counter service joint is a welcome break from a fancy and intimate dining room or the iconic Las Vegas buffet.
When you need your taco fix or any other Mexican food in Las Vegas that's tasty and affordable, head to Tacos El Gordo. They have one location on South Las Vegas Blvd, but in all, they have four locations in the city. You'll have to go away from the hustle and bustle (and high costs) of the Las Vegas Strip to seek out this treat from Tacos El Gordo.
Las Vegas Food: Prime Rib
Perhaps a throwback to the days of old when you could get a prime rib dinner for under $5, this meaty concoction has become synonymous with the Las Vegas Strip. The goal was to entice people in for a cheap meal to leave them enough money to gamble on the casino floor. This marketing ploy dates all the way back to 1942, when a restaurant called The Last Frontier offered prime rib with all the fixings for just $1.50. The meat was served to you in their dining room from a cart accompanied by rolls, a tossed salad, and a baked potato.
Prime rib is a beef cut, and it is usually still served with a side of potatoes or vegetables. The prime rib scene in Las Vegas has definitely evolved since the 1940s. Now, the best restaurants take it to another level offering a range of different cuts, prime rib sandwiches, prime rib nachos, and prime rib mac and cheese.
Las Vegas Food: Lobster Tail
A seafood favorite, lobster tail is another dish that you have to try when you're in Las Vegas. While it might seem like an unlikely choice for a desert city, this is another vestige of the city's past. When people come to Las Vegas, they often want to feel fancy and like a high roller, even if they're not gambling with the big kids. Enter the lobster tail. There isn't much to explain on this one: lobster tail is a lobster's tail boiled and served with a side of dipping sauce, usually melted butter.
There are actually a few different places where you can find some of the best lobster tail in town. One spot is Luke's Lobster Las Vegas on South Las Vegas Blvd. Known for their Maine lobster rolls, you can add a half lobster tail to any meal. The king crab is also recommended here.
Las Vegas Food: Ice Cream
A sweet treat to cool off in the heat, ice cream is a must-have when you're in Las Vegas. There are a few different places where you can get your hands on some delicious ice cream, but one of our favorites is at the Chocolate & Creamery at The Cosmopolitan. This unique spot offers made-to-order ice cream sandwiches using your choice of cookies and any of their 16 rotating flavors of ice cream.
If you're looking for something a little different, try the rolled ice cream at Sweet Spot Rolled Ice Cream. This newer spot on the Strip offers rolled ice cream that is made right in front of you. Choose from a variety of flavor combinations and toppings to create your perfect treat.
Las Vegas Food: Sushi
A popular choice among tourists and locals alike, sushi is another must-try when you're in Las Vegas. This type of Japanese cuisine was introduced to Sin City in the late 1960s by Osaka Japanese Bistro.
There are a few different sushi restaurants that you can choose from, but one of our favorites is SushiSamba at The Venetian. This Japanese-Brazilian fusion restaurant offers a unique take on sushi with a variety of different rolls to choose from.
If you're looking for something a little more traditional, try Nobu at Caesars Palace. This world-renowned restaurant is known for its fresh and delicious sushi. The menu features a variety of different rolls, as well as sushi and sashimi platters.
Las Vegas Food: Italian
Italian food has been a staple in Las Vegas since the early days of the city. The first Italian restaurant in Las Vegas was opened in 1931 by Giacomo Giovinazzo, an immigrant from Sicily. This original restaurant, called the Little Italy Café, was located on Fremont Street and only served spaghetti and meatballs.
As the city grew, so did the number of Italian restaurants. By the 1950s, there were over 100 Italian restaurants in Las Vegas. Many of these restaurants were family-owned and operated, and they quickly became popular spots for both locals and tourists.
Today, there are still many excellent Italian restaurants to choose from in Las Vegas. Make the Village Street Eateries at the New York New York Hotel your choice if you have kids. It's a combination of various restaurants within the hotel. They are family-friendly and have one of the best restaurants in Las Vegas for NY-style pizza, Sirrico's. Scarpetta on Las Vegas Blvd is another winner for anyone looking for something more upscale with less of a food court vibe.
Las Vegas Food: All-You-Can-Eat
We know that this is not actually a specific food, but the concept of the all-you-can-eat buffet is a long-standing Vegas tradition. This one also dates back to the 1940s when the first Las Vegas Blvd casino, El Rancho Vegas, offered the first buffet experience to hungry gamblers in 1941. The price for the generous assortment of hot and cold dishes was only $1, but we're sure they made their money back in other ways.
El Rancho was a pioneer, and other Las Vegas restaurants started to follow suit resulting in the buffet-obsessed Vegas we know now. While prices have definitely increased, even when factoring in inflation, the buffet is a Las Vegas rite of passage you must do at least once during your stay. Check out the Wynn Las Vegas Blvd; their buffet is the most popular in town, but be prepared to pay for the experience. Breakfast prices start at around $40, and gourmet dinner prices go up to around $70. The Bellagio and Caesars Palace are other places to try.
As you would expect from a city with such a diverse population, Las Vegas has a cuisine to suit every taste. Whether you are looking for fine dining or just want to grab a quick bite, you will be able to find it in Las Vegas.
Food in Las Vegas is a mix of fancy and simple, and you can get everything from foie gras in a French restaurant and multi-course tasting menus to grilled cheese, a chicken sandwich, French fries, and hot dogs. The celebrity chefs are also ever-present here, with options like Gordon Ramsay Hell's Kitchen, Wolfgang Puck Bar and Grill, and Restaurant Guy Savoy. Plus, every hotel in Las Vegas usually has at least one restaurant worth checking out, from the Palms Casino Resort and Planet Hollywood to The Wynn Las Vegas and the MGM Grand.
With all this good food, you might be coming home with a few extra pounds along with your memories. Be sure to check out the best hikes in Las Vegas to work off some of those tasty extra calories.
So what are you waiting for? Head to Las Vegas and start exploring all the amazing restaurants and world-class food the city has to offer!