In a city filled with splashy, high-profile celebrity chef restaurants, it’s refreshing to discover something more low key, unexpected and off the traditionally beaten path. You most likely won’t be staying at Circus Circus, Palace Station or even The Luxor, but that’s where you’ll find three of Vegas’ best-kept secrets that are definitely worth a detour, if only for an hour or two.
The Steakhouse at Circus Circus
Las Vegas is an incredible town for steak. But, yowza, steak in Las Vegas can be extremely expensive. (Most steaks at the top steakhouses start around $55, à la carte, and skyrocket from there.) The best exception to this rule is The Steakhouse at Circus Circus, a wonderful relic of Vegas’ Rat Pack days. The dining room hasn’t changed in 25 years—red vinyl booths, dark green walls, brass railings and the very same waiters who used to serve Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. Big-ass steaks are dry-aged in-house for 21 days, then grilled over mesquite. The most expensive steak is $51, and they all come with soup or salad and a choice of potato. Jackpot.
The Oyster Bar at Palace Station
Chances are, you didn’t even know there was a casino called Palace Station. And chances are even better that you’ve never heard of that casino’s Oyster Bar. The locals would like to keep it that way. Blink and you’ll miss it.
The entire restaurant is merely a kitchen counter with about 16 bar stools. It’s open 24 hours, and there is always a line (no reservations), almost entirely made up of regulars. The menu is tightly focused on shellfish: freshly shucked oysters, clam chowder, gumbo, jambalaya, bouillabaisse… The gumbo is as good as anything in New Orleans, but the best dish on the menu is something called a “pan roast,” which is a lot like gumbo, only better.
Lynyrd Skynyrd BBQ at Luxor
This new barbecue spot plays up its celebrity connection to the classic rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, but there’s another, more important celebrity connection that only a true barbecue enthusiast might understand. The menu was created in collaboration with Kreuz Market, a legendary no-frills barbecue joint in Lockhart, Texas. This is a great new place to kick back with a cold beer and listen to live music. The barbecue is very good — not exactly true to the Lockhart original, but very good nontheless (especially the jalapeño beef sausage).
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