Las Vegas is a master of reinvention, no more evident in its rise to prominence in luxury dining establishments.  Superstar chef Wolfgang Puck paved the way with Spago, followed by a host of celebrity chefs who followed suit in bringing their own luxury restaurants to Las Vegas, many based in the opulent casino hotels lining the Strip.

In its storied past, Las Vegas was the mecca for gamblers.  The famous buffets were loss leaders, attracting players to the tables and slots with cheap food and drinks.  But as gambling began to appear in locations beyond Las Vegas and Atlantic City, and a younger, more discerning clientele began to want more out of their Las Vegas vacations, the city had to expand its appeal.

The handwriting was on the wall that gambling would not be the cash cow it once was, and the city has successfully transformed itself into a food destination as well as building on its tradition of offering fantastic live music and shows, with the latest theatrical variations by Cirque de Soleil and musical extravaganzas by the likes of Lady Gaga.

A historical shift in dining

The advent of luxury restaurant dining in Las Vegas can be attributed to the foresight of Wolfgang Puck, who opened Spago at Caesar’s Palace in the heart of the Forum Shops.  Puck said he was a huge boxing fan, and when he visited Vegas, he always wondered where to go to eat.  He proved critics wrong that Vegas visitors only came for the gambling and the cheap buffets.  Spago has moved to the Bellagio, with a ringside seat overlooking the spectacular fountain shows, and is still one of the top luxury restaurants in Las Vegas.

Other casino hotels got on board with the celebrity chef concept, first the MGM Grand in 1994 with Chicago’s Charlie Trotter, Emeril Lagasse from New Orleans and New Mexican chef Mark Miller.  The Bellagio followed in 1998 by opening restaurants with Alsatian chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and La Cirque’s Sirio Maccioni.

Top restaurants in Las Vegas

The influx of celebrity chefs has created a wealth of choices in types of cuisine for the visitor looking to add fine dining to their itineraries. For another take on the best restaurants that Vegas has to offer, read Condé Nast’s review.

French masterpieces

The finest in French cuisine is represented by some of the top French chefs in the world who have brought their skills to exhibit in Las Vegas.

The MGM Grand features two luxury establishments inspired by chef Joël Robuchon and the only Vegas restaurant awarded three Michelin stars.  Here an indoor terrace with garden provides a graceful setting for the masterful dining experience.  Robuchon, who passed away in 2018, won more Michelin stars than any other chef in the world.

A more affordable option by the same creative talent, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, is also in the MGM Grand. Here the seating surrounds the kitchen, encouraging interaction between guests and kitchen team as the food is prepared and served.

Twist at the Waldorf Astoria provides the only place in the U.S. to experience the cuisine of three Michelin starred chef Pierre Gagnaire.  Perched on the hotel’s 23rd floor, Twist features Gagnaire’s innovative and experimental cuisine and has the decorative wow factor with gold globes that seem to float in the air and a glass staircase to the wine loft.

Guy Savoy at Caesar’s Palace is a two Michelin starred establishment which presents sweeping views of the Strip along with unique luxury dining options like the Caviar Tasting Menu and the Krug Chef’s Table, which offers a small group of diners Krug Champagne with their meal. The ten-course Menu Prestige gives visitors the opportunity to sample some favorites like the artichoke and black truffle soup.

Le Cirque at Bellagio creates a fun circus-like environment with its multi-colored ceiling draperies imagining the big top.  And its French cuisine and wine list are among the best in town.  Then there’s the Bellagio Fountain views to compete for your attention.  Options run from the three-course Pre-Theater meal to the ten course Menu Prestige.

Rivea at the Delano Las Vegas features the work of Alain Ducasse, with a focus on French and Italian food along with stunning city views from its location on the 64th floor.  Try the five course Taste of the Riviera menu to sample the best of Ducasse.

Spanish flair

Eating at Picasso in the Bellagio is like dining in a museum.  A collection of Picasso originals hangs on the walls, and the restaurant offers views of the Bellagio fountains, particularly from its outdoor patio.  Chef Julian Serrano has won two Michelin stars for his work at Picasso, plus multiple AAA Five Diamond Awards. The restaurant focuses on Spanish and French regional fare, connected with those areas where Picasso lived and worked.

Master chef Jose Andrés has two luxury establishments worthy of inclusion in this list, e by Jose Andrés in the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. Hidden away at the rear of his Jaleo restaurant, e sits only eight around a kitchen bar, and guests must request seating 90 days in advance by email for one of the two nightly seatings.  The tasting menu offers up over 20 small courses for sampling.

At Bazaar Meat, a hunting lodge interior with antler chandeliers complements the exquisite meat-oriented culinary delights.  The cotton candy foie gras is a menu favorite but the chef’s molecular gastronomic talents make this a creative adventure for luxury dining aficionados.

La dolce vita

Postrio is Wolfgang Puck’s first Italian cuisine restaurant and is set in the Venetian Hotel’s Grand Canal Shops, with its Venetian St. Marks Square and faux canal setting an imaginative accompaniment to the excellent food.

A taste of Britain

Gordon Ramsey, the renowned and outspoken British chef, has brought Gordon Ramsey Steak to the Paris Hotel and Casino. Ramsey brings the best of steaks with a London like atmosphere, as diners sit under a large painting of the Union Jack on the ceiling.

From the sea

Estiatorio Milos at the Cosmopolitan Hotel brings the best in fresh seafood with a Greek touch.  The focus is on the sea, and guests choose their meal from a large fish and vegetable display. The white-latticed patio with olive trees is a delight.  Chef Nobu Matsuhisa brings his culinary skills to his namesake restaurant Nobu, showcasing his exquisitely crafted sushi and tempura dishes.

Fine dining a compelling draw

Las Vegas has evolved in many ways from its Rat Pack years of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.  It’s still a spectacle in the desert, but the city has adapted to changing tastes and trends and has grown into a diverse entertainment destination.  And luxury restaurants in Las Vegas have become a major reason why.

Although the buffets are still there and have become more refined and costly options in their own right (consider the Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars), and the gambling still draws crowds in hopes of a big payday, the influx of superstar chefs and their imaginative menus has given the city another compelling and luxurious reason to visit.