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Stack at Mirage tempts with affordable, American bistro fare and a heavy dose of scene.

By Vince Font

With all the attention on gambling and booze, it would be all too easy to box your Las Vegas vacation into an itinerary of Blackjack and gin. Certainly, food doesn’t come to mind as a first priority, but that’s a rookie mistake. The locals know that when it comes to fine dining and nightlife, the feast starts long before the first course. Here, we size up the three hippest restaurants in Las Vegas hotels.

Stack at Mirage
The food at Stack is so good that you could make the argument that the hotel and casino are just there as an afterthought. This is the kind of place where the food is almost secondary to the vibe, which is best described as being “constantly abuzz.” In other words, you don’t come here for a quiet dinner. You come here for the food and the experience, and to see what other Las Vegas restaurants are doing wrong by comparison. The wooden “stacked” architecture is gorgeous, and the American Bistro menu is both diverse and shockingly affordable for the quality.

Tastiest recommendation: the Cowboy Steak, a 24-ounce bone-in ribeye that’s about the closest thing to the perfect steak. Not a steak lover? Then the Garbage Salad — which consists of shrimp, salami and artichoke with Italian dressing — might just be what you’re looking for. If you’re dining with a fellow carnivore, try going in together on the Ultimate Steak, an incredible 40-ouncer that can be made even more incredible if you add a lobster tail. Not a meal that’s easily forgotten.

Fix at Bellagio
Mirage’s Stack owes a lot in both look and vibe to the Bellagio’s Fix, but since they were both the brainchild of the same company I won’t complain. Besides, good architecture’s one thing — good food is another matter entirely, as is ambience. Fix has both in perfectly measured proportions. Again, this isn’t the ideal setting for a romantic date unless you’re both more into people watching and soaking in a killer vibe. The menu, which is top notch American cuisine, is as varied as the clientele, and for the sizes of the portions and the overall atmosphere, a great value.

Fix is great if you’re into sharing your dishes, something that alot of high-end food joints typically thumb their nose at, but in this case it’s actually encouraged with an entire (albeit short) portion of the menu dedicated specifically to shareable plates. The thin crust pizza is good enough to make a pizzaiolo flush with envy, but if you really want something special go for the Ultimate Shell FIX. With a stated emphasis on the capital letters, this monster dish comes with lobster, crab, prawns, oysters and clams. Parting tip: If you’re just in the mood for something small, go for the Kobe beef slider appetizers. You can thank me later.

Lavo at Palazzo
If you’re looking for the best of the best Las Vegas restaurants, you’re spot on if you set your sights on Lavo. One half of Lavo is a fine restaurant, the other half a happening night club that’s known as a hot spot for celebrity sightings. Probably the best thing about Lavo is that it’s the ideal one-stop evening hangout, especially if you’re in the mood for a place where you can eat like royalty (without it hitting your wallet too hard) and drink like a celeb (without requiring the suspension of disbelief).

Plus, think of it this way: Once you’ve finished gorging yourself, you can burn off some calories by taking to the dance floor. Not convinced you’ll gorge? Then you’ve probably never seen the menu, which is exquisitely Italian and is actually very reasonably priced for a place this stylish. Brick over pizzas are two feet long and you can even get a lobster scampi pizza, but true Italian lovers will lose their heads over the grapefruit-sized A5 Kobe meatballs. Just make sure you save room for dessert, as you won’t want to miss the delectable Oreo beignets, which taste an awful lot better than they sound. Tip: For the best restaurant view, jockey for a spot on the terrace that overlooks the Vegas Strip.

You don’t have to sign up for all-inclusive vacations to enjoy any of the hip Las Vegas restaurants on the list above—but it doesn’t exactly hurt matters, either. Just remember that the best Las Vegas vacations are those taken in good measure with great food. In a town as hip as Vegas, who wants to eat anyplace dull? Hopefully my short list will point you in the right direction.

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Vince Font is a freelance writer born in Puerto Rico and currently escaped to Utah. When not dreaming of interstellar travel, he’s on the hunt for weird, wacky, and off-the-beaten-track vacation destinations. Next stop: The Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast.

Tagged: Hotels

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