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There are plenty of places you can go to splurge in Las Vegas. But according to John Curtas, restaurant critic for Las Vegas Weekly magazine, there is only a select crop of restaurants in the city that are worth their salt.In the fall of 1998, when the Bellagio opened in Las Vegas, the stirrings of a revolution in fine dining were taking hold in the city.
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But it wasn’t until the middle of the last decade, when renowned French chefs Joël Robuchon and Guy Savoy came to town, that the reputation of Sin City as a foodie town became a little more refined.
“High rollers are big,” Curtas says. “Vegas has become a food destination unto itself.”
Curtas is the author, along with Las Vegas’s two other chief restaurant critics, Max Jacobson and Al Mancini, of Eating Las Vegas: The 50 Essential Restaurants (available on Amazon). He is described in the book as “our resident food snob…who is practically addicted to haute cuisine.”
Which makes him a perfect guide to the city’s fine dining establishments. In Eating Las Vegas, the writers classify a “very expensive” restaurant as $125 and up, though the really expensive restaurants will cost $300 or more.
We asked Curtas to guide us through the best expensive restaurants in the city, which, for him, seemed an easy task. French cuisine dominates the list.
According to Curtas, though, these restaurants might not be worth the check if you don’t have the right palate.
“On any night of the week, there are people blowing a big wad because they have it,” Curtas says, “but two thirds of the customers are serious food lovers.”
'A tiny little jewel box of a restaurant,' Curtas says. 'It's very small, very pristine, and feels like you're in a dining salon in Paris.'
French chef Joël Robuchon's eponymous restaurant is the first and only restaurant in Las Vegas to earn Michelin's three-star designation.
A 16-course degustation menu runs $425 a person; specialties include Osetra caviar and gelée of green asparagus.
'More modern and edgy in its design,' according to Curtas, Guy Savoy is the sister to its flagship Paris restaurant of the same name.
Named after Guy Savoy, the Michelin three-starred French chef, an average check at this restaurant runs about $250.
A 10-course meal is the pièce de résistance, offering specialties like artichoke and black truffle soup and spiced crispy sea bass.
Yet another namesake, Chef Masa Takayama's Bar Masa is the most respected Japanese restaurant in the city.
Curtas says that the restaurant, which is an offshoot of Chef Masa's New York establishment, has fish flown in from Japan four times a week.
A $250 six-course meal offers such raw delicacies as Wagyu beef tartare and Kawahagi sashimi with white truffle.
One of the city's great steakhouses, Curtas says, Carnevino is an Italian restaurant co-owned by Mario Batali, one of America's most famous chefs, and restaurateur Joe Bastianich.
The menu features a variety of handmade pastas along with classic steakhouse fair.
Though not as pricey as other restaurants in this list, a dry aged bone-in rib eye for two will run you $144.
The second iteration of esteemed chef Wolfgang Puck's Beverly Hills steakhouse, CUT Las Vegas is a formidable alternative to CarneVino, though Curtas thinks they're both great.
The restaurant seats 160 and offers a sleek, modern aesthetic.
Along with an assortment of aged cheeses, choose from a list of aged meats, including New York sirloins aged 21, 28, or 35 days.
Designed by Adam Tihany, the acclaimed interior architect, Le Cirque is draped in warm-toned curtains and glowing with soft light. Curtas called the restaurant 'old-fashioned, very luxurious.'
French chef Gregory Pugin, a disciple of Joël Robuchon, only came to Le Cirque last year.
Curtas says the menu is cheaper than at Robuchon's or Savoy's establishments; a degustation menu featuring truffle crusted diver scallop and paupiette of Mediterranean sea bass costs $125.
This restaurant, Curtas says, actually has real Picassos (a fair share of them) hanging on the walls.
Picasso's executive chef, Julian Serrano, offers a menu reflecting French and Spanish cuisine--a nod to the countries in which Picasso spent of most his life.
The degustation menu, similar in price to Le Cirque, features a mix of seafood, including lobster salad and filet of halibut. The restaurant's website strongly recommends you make a reservation.
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