food

Eat around the world -- without leaving Las Vegas

Oct. 5, 2012 at 10:11 AM ET

Julian Serrano
Courtesy MGM Resorts
Chef Julian Serrano, who has restaurants at ARIA (Julian Serrano) and the Bellagio (Picasso), will be one of the featured guests at the 3rd Annual Las Vegas Food & Wine All-Star Weekend.

It’s only a little more than four miles long, but the Las Vegas Strip packs in a worldly culinary punch. Forget about going around the world in 80 plates. All you really have to do is go up and down The Strip.

Some of the city’s tremendous variety of cuisines will be on full display this weekend at the 3rd Annual Las Vegas Food & Wine All-Star Weekend. Many of the internationally renowned chefs behind the Vegas Food Explosion will be on hand.

Chef Julian Serrano, who has restaurants at ARIA (Julian Serrano) and the Bellagio (Picasso), will be one of the weekend’s featured guests. He notes that the town once known for sports betting and blackjack has become a mecca for foodies.

“People love having all different food options in Vegas because they know that they are very lucky to have excellent food from all different international cultures in this great proximity," Serrano said.

This proximity means instead of booking a $2,000 flight to Japan, you can just walk the length of a hotel lobby, where a dozen different cuisines may be offered. Chef Enzo Febbraro, a native of Naples, Italy, is serving up authentic Italian cuisine at Allegro in the Wynn. Early in his career, Febbraro cooked in several different European cities. He now says others can have a similar culinary tour in Sin City.

Border Grill at Mandalay Bay
Courtesy MGM Resorts
Many argue the best Mexican restaurant in Sin City is Chef Susan Feniger's Border Grill at Mandalay Bay.

“People living in or traveling to Vegas must feel very lucky to save travel expenses and time. Only in a city like Las Vegas, which attracts travelers from all over the world, is something like this even possible,” Febbraro said. “It’s truly incredible.”

Las Vegas food writer John Curtas declares that something as simple as Italian food is done on a higher level in Las Vegas. “Allegro in the Wynn and Rao's in Caesars are probably two of the best Italian-American restaurants in the country,” according to Curtas.

“I have to nominate José Andres' China Poblano (The Cosmopolitan) as the most unique 'international' restaurant we have -- with its groovy blending of Chinese dim sum with Spanish tapas and Mexican street food," Curtas added. "Go to it and then to Milos upstairs in the Cosmo for fabulous Greek fish, and you'll feel like you've traveled the world without stamping your passport.”

Which cuisine reins supreme on the strip?

“It is the Japanese chefs who are making the biggest splash,” Curtas says. The best sushi/sashimi in town remains at Bar Masa at Aria or Shibuya at MGM, he says. However, Curtas points out that “Yellowtail in the Bellagio does great Japanese/Korean fusion dishes, and Devin Hashimoto at Mizumi (Wynn) is one of our most innovative chefs.”

Chef Hashimoto weighed in and said if you actually want to travel a bit you can find even more foreign food, not far from the Strip. “One block you can have Vietnamese Pho and Bun, and the next block over Chinese Dim Sum, and then the next block over Japanese Izakaya food, and then still the next block down have fish and chips at an Irish Pub,” according to Hashimoto.

The days where people grabbed a $5.99 buffet in between placing bets is a distant memory in Las Vegas.

As Chef Susan Feniger (who many argue has the best Mexican restaurant in Vegas — Border Grill at Mandalay Bay) notes, “People are excited to go to Vegas to have an all-around experience, explore and feel like they are traveling the world in food. They can eat great Asian one night, great Mexican another night. It’s what people expect now.”

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