Don't want to spend big bucks on dinner at a fancy-schmancy Vegas establishment? Try lunch instead. Many high-end Vegas joints offer midday menus featuring the same fabulous fare but at a lower cost and in a more laid-back atmosphere. Here is just a sample.
For a casual lunch that's tre¿s chic, head to Giada at the Cromwell, a shrine to the Food Network star. Giada — which serves Italian cuisine with California influences — glows with natural light from retract- able windows and has a patio with great views of the Bellagio Fountains, making it a perfect daytime dining space. In addition to its regular dinnertime dishes, Giada's lunchtime menu includes meal-sized salads like Waldorf Panzanella — raisin walnut bread, spinach, basil, celery, red onion, apple, bleu cheese, roasted shallot vinaigrette; and a hearty romaine salad with the option of adding chicken Milanese or shrimp on top. There's also a variety of sandwiches a¿ la Giada, including lemon pesto grilled cheese, tenderloin sliders and lobster rolls.
One of the hottest joints on the Strip is "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro's Buddy V's at the Venetian. The menu is styled after the home cooking Valastro prepares for his own family. Indeed, with a rustic interior that's covered with framed family photos, you'll almost feel like you're part of the extended famiglia.
Dine with the beautiful people at Daniel Boulud's French eatery, Db Brasserie at the Venetian. Choose from a slightly discounted a¿ la carte lunch menu of updated bistro classics, or go for the two- or three-course lunch prix fixe (at about half the cost of dinner!). Start with watermelon gazpacho, salmon rillettes or heirloom beets, and move on to an entre¿e of steamed mussels, curry chicken salad or the Yankee burger. Finish up with something so Boulud — caramel fondant, cherry almond sundae or an artisan cheese plate. Who knew lunch could be so good?