Updated December 21, 2022 - 7:47 pm
As 2022 ends, we celebrate 22 noteworthy restaurants that opened this year in Las Vegas; we also bid goodbye to more than a dozen restaurants of note that shuttered. ■ This list is not comprehensive, and it could have been assembled in any number of ways. For new places, we considered only standard restaurants that debuted their concepts in 2022. No matter how accomplished, that excluded food trucks, pop-ups, ghost kitchens or spots that simply reopened (without concept change) after being closed. We also wanted selections to reflect the dining diversity of the city, not just places on the Las Vegas Strip. ■ To be deemed shuttered, restaurants had to cease operations in 2022, not shift to another concept (like catering or events) in the same space or be temporarily closed. ■ We look forward to bringing you all the tasty in 2023 in our lovely Las Vegas. Happy New Year.
■ Anima by EDO (at The Gramercy): The finest restaurant to debut in Las Vegas in 2022 began service in early January. The quiet confident seasonal alchemy of chef and co-owner Oscar Amador draws on his native Barcelona while braiding in culinary threads from Japan, greater Asia, Sicily, South America and beyond. His deft borderless approach soars in dishes like baked Okinawa sweet potatoes, ricotta gnocchi and braised Kurobuta pork cheeks. Peruvian scallop crudo astonishes.
■ Balla Italian Soul (in Sahara Las Vegas): The latest project from chef Shawn McClain, a James Beard winner, ranked among the most highly anticipated debuts of 2022. The bright seasonal menu ranges from antipasti and house pasta to seafood and wood-fire pizzas to wood-fire meats. Splendid sea bream opens new vistas on fish. Spritzes wet the whistle.
■ The Bedford by Martha Stewart (in Paris Las Vegas): The DIY doyenne introduced her signature cozy luxury with a party that included pal Snoop Dogg. The glossy faux bois dining room recalls her farmhouse in Bedford, New York. Among the menu of Stewart favorites: caviar-laden baked potato, her mother’s pierogis and roast chicken for two carved tableside.
■ The Boss Café by Buddy Valastro (in The Linq): Valastro, who first found fame as TLC’s “Cake Boss,” backs off sweets a bit with a mozzarella bar, pomodoro pizza squares, panzanella salad, ham and pancetta panini, and chicken Milanese. But fear not, sugar lovers. Valastro’s lobster tails — puff pastry with cream filling and fresh berries — are on the menu.
■ Crossroads Kitchen (in Resorts World): Plant-based cooking took its place among Strip fine dining options with the opening of Crossroads Kitchen from chef Tal Ronnen. Deep red banquettes and dark woods provide a backdrop for chestnut foie gras, chips topped with seaweed caviar and plant-forward versions of tagliatelle bolognese and pepperoni broccoli pizza.
■ Dominique Ansel Las Vegas (in Caesars Palace): Yes, there are Cronuts, in flavors distinct to Vegas. But there’s much more from Dominique Ansel, once named the world’s greatest pastry chef. Look for flaky kouign amann, madeleines baked to order, sweet and savory croissants, and Lucky 7 confections like glossy fortune cookies and four-leaf clovers.
■ Fugetsu Okonomiyaki Izakaya: Okonomiyaki, the Japanese pancakes griddled with mix-ins and toppings, arrive in fine fettle. Pork and seafood versions are prepared with egg, red ginger, cabbage, tempura and house sauce. Modanyaki versions incorporate yakisoba noodles. The menu also features kushikatsu deep-fried skewers and hot stone rice bowls.
■ Half Bird Chicken &Beer: In Chinatown, cage-free sustainable chicken stars in rotisserie birds, chicken sandwiches and chicken nuggs with dipping sauces. Half Bird Cockfight Pilsner awaits pairing. There’s even ramen on weekends from the walk-up window. Half Bird comes courtesy of chef Brian Howard of Sparrow + Wolf.
■ Lotus of Siam (in Red Rock Resort): This Vegas institution, led by James Beard-winning chef Saipin Chutima, expanded for the first time since opening in 1999. Menu mainstays like khao soi, butterflied garlic prawns and crisp soft shell crab made the trip to the Red Rock dining room resplendent with lanterns, Thai art and replicas of Thai temple architecture.
■ Lumin Cafe &Kitchen (at Illuminarium in Area15): Elizabeth Blau and chef Kim Canteenwalla, the James Beard nominees behind Honey Salt and Buddy V’s, bring an eclectic menu to this virtual reality venue. Explore hummus with grilled naan, tater poutine with smoked bacon gravy, gochujang Korean fried chicken or a burger spiked with kimchi slaw.
■ Mezcla: Spirits meet Latin seafood with the debut of Mezcla, a tequila and ceviche bar in the Arts District. Mezcla (Spanish for “mixture”) pours agave spirits like tequila, mezcal and raicilla, and specialty spirits like sotol, a liquor derived from the desert spoon plant of northern Mexico. Sip the spirits with Peruvian ceviche and other versions of the dish.
■ Nellie’s Southern Kitchen (in the MGM Grand): The restaurant honors the cooking of Grandma Nellie, great-grandmother of the Jonas Brothers, and the re-imagined Southern food of chef Mario Nichols. Seared shrimp tops grits that are cakes, not creamy. A Southern egg roll is stuffed with barbecue chicken, house mac and cheese, and drunken collards.
■ 138 Degrees: Chef Matt Meyer launched this chophouse, named for the ideal temperature for finishing steaks, in his old Served Global Dining. 138 features in-house dry aging of beef from Nevada ranchers and other local producers, as well as thoughtfully sourced fish, poultry and pork, all prepared on a wood-fire grill. A fire pit anchors the main dining room.
■ The Pepper Club (in The English Hotel): The Arts District marked a milestone when celebrated chef Todd English debuted this restaurant in his eponymous English Hotel. The menu embraces the Mediterranean and Japan in dishes like sesame grilled octopus, chicken marinated in cherry blossom shoyu and sashimi, sushi rolls and omakase platters.
■ Ramsay’s Kitchen (in Harrah’s Las Vegas): Kitchen makes No. 6 for Ramsay restaurants on the Strip. Vegas-only dishes like wagyu carpaccio, beef rendang and surf-and-turf with Japanese scallops help distinguish Kitchen from its sibling in Boston and the chef’s other Strip menus. A gorgeous dining room palette runs to gray, admiral blue and copper.
■ Randy’s Donuts: The famed L.A. bakery with the giant doughnut on the roof opened its first Vegas shop to long lines, product sellouts and general glazed pandemonium. Things have settled now, with online ordering introduced. Three more Vegas stores are on the way, according to owner Mark Kelegian.
■ RPM Italian (in the Forum Shops at Caesars): Celebrity couple Giuliana and Bill Rancic and business partner Lettuce Entertain You debuted this sleek Italian with pasta made fresh daily. Look for top-notch cacio e pepe, as well as preserved lemon pizzetta and Gorgonzola wagyu. The olive oil martini alone is worth a trip to the bar.
■ Spiedini Fiamma Italian Bistro (in Rampart Casino-JW Marriott): It’s all light and air and balmy blues at this dining room astride koi ponds and waterfalls. Chef Paula Smagacz sends out Italian staples like saffron mussels, baked rigatoni and family-style meats with choice of pasta. The cannoli? They’re worth taking.
■ Toca Madera Steakhouse (between Aria and The Shops at Crystals): A $10 million buildout, L.A. bona fides, zhooshy design and premium beef create this modern Mexican steakhouse. Standouts: Flaming bone marrow and tomahawk steak atop roasted salsa verde and branzino rubbed with chipotle mezcal butter. At the hip bar, be nonchalant.
■ Vanderpump à Paris (in Paris Las Vegas): Restaurateur and reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump unites moody Art Nouveau Paris with Vegas sexy, and with her take on craft cocktails and French bistro standards. Try the No. 5 cocktail (poured from a Chanel No. 5-style bottle) and rich oozy baguettes stuffed with black truffles and triple crème brie.
■ Wakuda (in The Venetian): Chef Tetsuya Wakuda, holder of two Michelin stars, described the menu as “classic Japanese with our little touch.” Like soba noodles lavished with black truffles or lobster graced with sea asparagus, served in a dining room chockablock with contemporary Japanese art. There’s also opulent omakase dining in private chambers.
■ Yukon Pizza: The pizzeria moved from a pop-up inside Vegas Test Kitchen to a storefront in the Huntridge neighborhood. Yukon showcases pies built using a family sourdough starter. Pizzas come in regular and personal sizes; slices are offered in four styles. Pies and slices include vegan options. Cauliflower wings, meatballs and pasta round out the menu.
Bochco Downtown Sushi: Bochco opened in 2016 in a two-story space in the John E. Carson building. At the time, it was a sushi pioneer in the area.
Burger Brasserie (promenade between Paris and Bally’s Las Vegas): This spot gained fame for its $777 Kobe-lobster burger that included a bottle of Dom Pérignon rosé. Burger Brasserie padlocked the patties to make way for a Guy Fieri restaurant.
The Chancellor (in Tivoli Village): In May, The Chancellor launched in the speakeasy space of the old Exclusivo. In June, it closed, despite customer enthusiasm online for its international menu. Will new premises be a better fit?
Divine Café: Pam Howatt, whose catering outfit ran this restaurant at Springs Preserve, allowed her operating agreement to end in May after eight years to return to full-time catering. Springs Cafe now occupies the space.
Every Grain: Sheridan Su, a James Beard chef nominee, and his wife and business partner, Jenny Wong, were behind this storefront on East Charleston Boulevard offering the chef’s take on Taiwanese braised pork rice with a signature mix of grains.
Fort Bedlam: This colorful coffeehouse opened in October 2021, with nearly 50 coffee and tea beverages amid a lively hodgepodge interior that included a red leather booth rumored to be carved somewhere with Kurt Cobain’s initials.
Johnny C’s Diner: Johnny Church combined quality ingredients and classic technique to refashion breakfast standards like French toast and chicken fried steak. Word is Church is looking for a new location.
Joyful House Chinese Cuisine: According to longtime Chinatown restaurateur Joe Muscaglione, a dim sum spot is replacing Joyful House. Public records indicate the replacement is called Palette Tea Lounge.
Majordomo Meat & Fish and Moon Palace (in The Venetian): Famed chef David Chang’s restaurants closed abruptly in early June with no reason given. A spokesperson thanked Chang for his “innovative contributions to the resort’s culinary program.”
Mozz Bar (in Resorts World): The chicken Parm sandwich was justly praised, but this concept from chef James Trees was a culinary outlier among the mainly Asian purveyors in the food hall. Trees, a James Beard nominee, still has three restaurants, plus two French spots and a bar on the way downtown.
PBR Rock Bar & Grill (in Miracle Mile Shops): Owner Jonathan Fine blasted out a statement in late August that PBR could not sign a new lease because “the landlord has determined a Country Americana brand is not a ‘fit’ for them at this time.” PBR was open for a dozen years.
POTs: Iman Haggag closed her brick-and-mortar Egyptian restaurant, and its later ghost kitchen incarnation downtown, in 2022. Her vegan cooking drew loyal customers; she now sells a line of spices at potslv.com.
Wolf Down: As its sign touted, Wolf Down featured Berlin street food — specifically, salads, sandwiches and rice bowls built from spit-roasted meats or other proteins, several produce toppings and choice of sauces.
Contact Johnathan L. Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ItsJLW on Twitter.