Look out New York, Las Vegas is stealing your cooks. Sin City is quickly becoming the hotbed of celebrity-chef restaurants. And these restaurants aren't notable just because their owners are on television.
The 2007 AAA Five Diamond reports are in, and The Strip claims four Five Diamond-rated restaurants: Alex at Wynn Las Vegas, Joël Robuchon in the MGM Grand and Le Cirque and Picasso, both in the Bellagio. These days, top dinner reservations are as important, if not more so, than a ticket to see Celine Dion or a Cirque du Soleil show.
The changes in the city's dining scene haven't gone unnoticed. Poker pro (and early Microsoft employee) Richard Brodie comments, "The tip for two at Guy Savoy is more than most families of four spend on dinner. It's a paradise for the gourmet and the expense-account owner, but the day of the bargain is gone."
Big-name chefs continue to set up shop here, and the foodies are following. According to Alain Gayot, editor-in-chief of Gayot.com, one of the more respected Web sites for dining and travel recommendations, "The money vortex has attracted many a chef to Las Vegas ... From the French talent of Joël Robuchon to the Japanese art of Masa Ishizawa and the American seafood interpretations of Rick Moonen, Las Vegas is on its way to becoming the restaurant capital of the world."
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So, what are the best tables? The good news is that there are plenty of options. Each of the biggest resorts on the Strip has one celebrity-chef restaurant under its roof, if not a handful. Foodies who frequent Vegas make a point of ticking off one or two award-winners each visit.
In the past year, French heavyweight chefs Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon opened their first stateside restaurants, now two of the most envious reservations in town. Most recently, Michael Mina added Stripsteak, the fourth title in his Glitter Gulch empire, which also includes Michael Mina at Bellagio, Seablue and Nobhill at MGM Grand.
Nobu at the Hard Rock is the city's most prized sushi restaurant, and diners put Alex at Wynn Las Vegas on their list not only for Alessandro (Alex) Stratta's refined French cuisine, but because of its elegant private location.
This being Vegas, several of these dining establishments boast unique and unusual decorating flourishes: Fleur de Lys with its magnificent flower sculpture, the hourglass staircase at Alex, or Picasso and its namesake paintings.
With the help of the Zagat Survey, we hit the Strip to research this list of the 10 most expensive restaurants in Las Vegas. When prices among competing high-end restaurants were equitable, we opted for the most recent and high-profile establishment in order to generate a top ten list.
So grab a reservation from this short list of gems, and seek out your wildest culinary fantasies. Just bring a healthy appetite and a good credit line.