Las Vegas restaurants continued to rack up accolades

Once known for its all-you-can-eat buffets and bargain shrimp cocktails, Las Vegas has transformed itself into a top culinary destination. Within a decade, Las Vegas has redefined the culinary and wine experience by offering the most comprehensive collection of celebrity chefs and world-class restaurants, more master sommeliers than any other city in the world and more wine sold per capita than in any other destination.

Las Vegas’ credibility as one of the globe’s centers for fine dining grew even more when, in 2008, it became the fourth U.S. city to be profiled by the authors of the Michelin Guide, the prestigious restaurant and lodging guidebook. For more than a century, the Michelin Guide has provided reviews of restaurants and lodging and its one- to three-star rating system is regarded as the most discriminating in the world. This year, the Michelin Guide Las Vegas 2009 features 140 restaurants and 32 hotels.

Bon Appétit magazine, a leading authority in the culinary world, cemented Las Vegas’ place among U.S. dining capitals by declaring the destination as one of the nation’s top five restaurant cities. In fact, the publication has partnered with the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and Las Vegas resorts, to host an annual epicurean event called Vegas Uncork’d. This four-day event in May provides an intimate connection with legendary chefs, along with grand tastings of their delectable creations.

Las Vegas continues to be recognized year after year for its quality restaurants. In 2009, two restaurants were honored with a five-star rating by Mobil Travel Guide: Alex at Wynn Las Vegas and Joël Robuchon at The Mansion at MGM Grand.

Recently, AAA announced its Five Diamond Award winners for 2009, considered one of the most prestigious recognitions that a restaurant can achieve. AAA Five Diamond Award-winning restaurants include Alex at Wynn Las Vegas (fourth consecutive year), Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand (third consecutive year), Le Cirque at Bellagio (sixth consecutive year), Picasso at Bellagio (eighth consecutive year) and first-time winner Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace.

AAA rates nearly 60,000 restaurants and lodgings each year throughout all 50 states, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, providing the broadest coverage of any U.S. rating system, both geographically and by number of properties rated. Of those, only 103 resorts and 59 restaurants earned the highly coveted AAA Five Diamond rating for 2009.

As the dining scene continues to evolve in Las Vegas, new restaurants continue to open nearly every month, providing unique experiences for repeat visitors. Some of the many new restaurants in 2009 include the following:

In keeping with the culinary standards set by Wynn Las Vegas, Encore introduces a new all-star team of chefs to the dining family, each of whom is in their kitchens cooking dinner every night. Five signature restaurants pair these master chefs with personally prepared gourmet fare.

Sinatra is a salute to Ol’ Blue Eyes. Chef Theo Schoenegger’s modern Italian cuisine riffs with Sinatra tunes as guests revisit the entertainer’s legendary charisma. A surprise awaits at Switch, Chef Marc Poidevin’s French-inspired seafood and steakhouse. Diners can appreciate the art collection by Columbian artist Fernando Botero at Botero steakhouse while sampling Chef Mark LoRusso’s modern cuisine.

Society Café Encore was designed with the whimsical era of Oscar Wilde in mind, to match the imaginative cooking of Chef Kim Canteenwalla. Turn a corner in the casino and come face to face with a 27-foot crystal dragon, mounted at Wazuzu, where rising star Chef Jet Tila serves up Pan-Asian cuisine.

M Resort Spa Casino has opened nine restaurants. Studio B, the resort’s show kitchen buffet, integrates a state-of-the-art restaurant with a live-action cooking studio. At Marinelli’s guests can enjoy authentic Italian dishes in the stylish restaurant or overlooking the Villaggio Del Sole. Terzetto combines great charcoal-grilled steak and seafood with an even better social atmosphere.

Gracing the summit of the M Resort, Veloce Cibo combines an extensive menu of appetizers, entrees, sushi, sashimi and nigiri with satisfying desserts and a range of hand-crafted cocktails. Red Cup Café, a 1920s art-deco-inspired 24-hour gathering spot, is the place for hand-prepared American classics. The Hostile Grape is known as the cellar and tasting room with an attitude.

Baby Cakes, a European-inspired pastisserie offers an impressive assortment of confections including pastries, cakes, chocolates, cannolis, and a variety of coffees. Adjacent to the race and sports book, guests can order by the numbers at Vig Deli with an extensive menu that includes hot dogs, burgers, barbecue, sandwiches and hand-tossed pizza. A casual outdoor dining experience, Piazza Grille is a sun-soaked Mediterranean-style experience.

Aria, the resort casino at CityCenter, has named the chefs set to oversee its culinary offerings. Sirio Maccioni will introduce Sirio, featuring Italian favorites. Michael Mina will head up American Fish, featuring refined American cuisine.

Julian Serrano will offer a more casual concept featuring innovative interpretations of Spanish fare. Jean-Georges Vongerichten will add Jean Georges Steakhouse to the mix.

The Light Group will unveil an edgy American dim sum style concept. Jean-Philippe Maury will open JP Patisserie featuring a variety of breakfast pastries, sandwiches and desserts. These well-known chefs who run acclaimed eateries at Bellagio, The Mirage, MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay, will be joined by Masayoshi Takayama, the world-renowned chef of the famed Masa in New York City and Shawn McClain, celebrated executive chef and partner at three of Chicago’s top restaurants.

Aria also will be home to Blossom, a classic Chinese restaurant; Lemongrass, a modern Thai restaurant; Café Centro, serving three meals each day; and The Buffet, a contemporary take on the standard.

Caesars Palace has opened two new restaurants featuring authentic cuisine from the many regions of mainland China. Beijing Noodle No. 9 is a stunningly designed casual restaurant serving signature hand-pulled noodles, authentic Shanghai-style soup dumplings, braised and roasted meats and live-to-table seafood and fish. Sea Harbour is an authentic Cantonese-style fine seafood restaurant.

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