Every destination has a ‘must try’ food – Does Vegas?
Philly has the cheesesteak, and we Angelenos would advise visitors to never leave town without sampling a street taco. But does Las Vegas, a melting pot of hundreds of cultures, have one meal or treat the city can claim?
There is no food or meal that embodies both the essence and excess of Las Vegas better than beef — specifically steaks. Sure, the buffets appeal to many, but Sin City is famous for its meats.
Prime rib, châteaubriand, Beef Wellington, porterhouse, rib eye, strip sirloin and Kobe fill the pages of restaurant menus, and patrons of lavish dining destinations with deep pockets and even deeper appetites salivate when splurging on slabs and slices of signature meat.
“Every restaurant in Las Vegas would be a steakhouse if it could be,” said John Curtas, a premier voice in the Las Vegas food and restaurant scene since 1995 and author of “Eating Las Vegas: The 50 Essential Restaurants. “Talk to any restaurateur, and what sells are big, giant haunches of beef and all of its different incarnations. It’s what encapsulates Vegas cuisine, and excess plays a part of it.”
Billboards touting a steak dinner are highly visible both outside and inside the city. The marketing ploy has history in the beef-eating town, specifically relating to the prime rib. It begins in 1942 at the Ramona Room at The Last Frontier. The Strip’s second resort offered the dish for $1.50. Today, eateries fill resorts and casinos, helmed by celebrity chefs offering delicious roasts and more.
Susan Stapleton, editor of Eater Vegas, said visitors are often looking for expensive and extravagant options so that they can go home with both a full stomach and a story to share.
“Las Vegas really doesn’t have its own signature dish or cuisine, but a prime rib is definitely an ode to its past,” said Stapleton.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find as much real Kobe beef—not wagyu — anywhere in the country as you would in Las Vegas. It’s limited and scarce, but there is a demand for it.”
Chefs whip up signature dishes, but opulently wheeling out a Basque-style châteaubriand is a spectacle that Vegas provides, and not entirely symbolic of the Basque culture with history in Nevada.
Jamie Tran, chef and partner of The Black Sheep, anupscale American-Vietnamese restaurant, said that Vegas doesn’t necessarily have a single classic preparation that it can culturally claim as its own, but the signature ingredient is clear.
Tran, winner of Eater’s 2017 Chef and Restaurant of the Year, said. “What I’ve predominantly seen over the years—people definitely gravitate toward eating steaks. People are carnivores here, and love their meat.”