HEIDI’S PICKS

Heidi’s Picks is a weekly selection of restaurant suggestions from Review-Journal critic Heidi Knapp Rinella. Price symbols are based on the cost of an average entree: $ = entrees less than $10; $$ = entrees between $10 and $20; $$$ = entrees between $20 and $30; and $$$$ = entrees more than $30.

BURGER BAR

Mandalay Place, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 632-9364

Upscale-burger spots have been on the increase in this city and country but Burger Bar is ground zero — where Chef Hubert Keller started it all. It has a casual, sports-bar atmosphere and casual but very serious food, including three types of beef plus lamb, turkey, seafood, veggie burgers and more. We liked our American-style Kobe with blue cheese and zucchini fries, and also the sliders, a trio of buffalo with caramelized onions, Black Angus with bacon and Ridgefield Farms beef with American cheese, with skinny fries on the side. (3/20/09)

Overall: A- $$

MANTRA MASALA

8530 W. Warm Springs Road; 598-3663

Mantra Masala bills its food as healthy without making any specific claims of that nature but a clear avoidance of excess fat is an obvious good start. A plus is that unlike much "healthful" food, Indian cuisine — especially as executed by Mantra Masala — is inherently flavorful. We loved the sweet, sweet Mussels Masala and greatly enjoyed the simple vegetable samosas, garlic nan, lamb korma and chicken mantra. (11/7/08)

Overall: A- $$

PIPS CUCINA & WINE BAR

Aliante Station, 7300 Aliante Parkway; 692-7477

Pips Cucina & Wine Bar is that rare Italian restaurant that has enough offbeat menu selections to give it a fresh feel (and really separate it from the pack) without ever devolving into weirdness. Among the dishes that are worthy of note (and borrow from both the familiar and not-so-familiar sides of the menu) were carpaccio of tuna on a grilled eggplant tart, burrata-stuffed Campari tomatoes, Parmesan consomme, meatball sliders and Fried and Fresh Pasta. (3/13/09)

Overall: A $$

SOCIAL HOUSE

Treasure Island, 3300 Las Vegas Blvd. South; 894-7777

We didn’t like that Social House seemed to kick into almost nightclub mode at a pretty early hour or the extremely detailed instructions from a waiter clearly used to a young crowd, but we did like the food, including a starter of Kalbi beef, shrimp and spicy tuna ballera sushi, a curry lobster roll, tamarind short ribs and Crispy Ice Cream. (2/22/08)

Overall: B $$$$

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