Not everybody has to pay for love in Las Vegas. When you find it—or if you bring it—surely you’ll have to eat. That’s when it’s imperative to make a reservation for one of the most romantic restaurants the city has to offer.
I’ve been writing about Las Vegas for more than a decade, and have become an expert in all of the sweetest sweet spots for dinner with your sweetheart. Here’s my rundown on the best restaurants—in the three most popular parts of the city—to take your honey for a dinner he or she will never forget.
There’s only one super-romantic restaurant in Old Vegas, but it’s probably number one on my list: Hugo’s Cellar at the Four Queens Hotel and Casino.
Walk down the stairs from the casino floor and it’s like you’ve walked back in time to the 1960s, when servers wore tuxedos and all of the fanciest dishes came by on carts. If you tell the host you’re out for a romantic evening, he’ll give your sweetheart a rose. There’s no extra charge for this touch at Hugo’s; it’s simply how they roll.
As far as the menu is concerned, start with a martini—shaken, not stirred—then move on to an appetizer where you can sear meat and fish on piping-hot rocks. Next, order the Caesar salad, which is prepared on a tableside cart (of course). Main courses here span the usual gamut, but because you’re in Old Vegas, opt to split the surf and turf—steak and lobster. Finally, for desert, order the bananas Foster, which is flambéed tableside (again) and gets all the neighbors talking.
A curtained booth at Cleo
Also downtown, located more than 800 feet above Las Vegas at the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower, the award-winning Top of the World Restaurant offers a dining experience like no other.
This Las Vegas fine-dining restaurant features culinary delights served in an elegant atmosphere with unparalleled views of the city as the restaurant revolves 360 degrees every 80 minutes. Yes, the food is great. And the wine list is one of a kind; Top of the World has also been awarded the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence every year from 1996 to present. But the views are what seal the deal.
I could go on for virtual pages about the romantic restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip, but my list of faves is pretty manageable.
First up: Scarpetta, at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. This eatery, from award-winning chef Scott Conant, serves up modern Italian food in an intimate and secluded setting. Fans of Lady and the Tramp can slurp spaghetti together with some of the best spaghetti and tomato sauce anywhere on earth. In winter, the restaurant also serves up a bunch of other hearty dishes, such as Sicilian-spiced duck breast with preserved orange, root vegetables, and caramelized endive. Don’t forget a strawberry soufflé for dessert.
Viewfinder Tip: Before dinner at The Cosmopolitan, check out Level 1.5 of Chandelier Bar, where mixologist Mariena Mercer makes the best and most creative cocktails in town.
Next on my list: Cleo, at SLS Las Vegas. I love this restaurant for three reasons. One, it’s the only true Middle Eastern place on the Strip. Two, the restaurant has a bunch of booths you can close off with curtains. And three, just about everything here is designed for sharing, which always is fun when you’re dining with your sweetie. Chef Danny Elmaleh also serves up mezzes and flatbreads, and complements these offerings with a selection of handcrafted cocktails and unique wines. The restaurant recently was named one of Travel + Leisure magazine’s “Best New Restaurants in Las Vegas.” I think you’ll agree.
If we’re talking about romantic restaurants, LAGO inside Bellagio is another great option. Chef Julian Serrano serves small plates that are perfect for sharing. Foccacia with ricotta cheese and honey was a popular starter when I took my bride. We also loved the corkscrew pasta with lamb ragù. Without question, the best feature of LAGO is the open-air patio: It offers a front-row seat to the Fountains of Bellagio. When you make your reservation, ask for a seat out there and thank me later.
Last but not least is BARDOT Brasserie, one of my Expedia Viewfinder Pick restaurants from 2015. This place—from chef Michael Mina—is located inside Aria Resort & Casino, but transports you to Paris with authentic French bistro food and an authentic French bistro feel. Order the duck wings à l’orange if you like chicken wings, and sautéed skate wing if you like fish. Be sure to cap the night with a cognac or Chartreuse for you and your love.
Dining room at LAGO
Las Vegas has some wonderfully romantic dining options off the Strip as well.
At The Palms Casino Resort, check out N9NE Steakhouse, which was renovated in 2015. The menu, by Executive Chef Barry S. Dakake, offers an array of USDA prime-aged beef selections, as well as fresh seafood, innovative side dishes, whimsical desserts, an impressive wine list, and handcrafted cocktails. When I go, I always order the house rock shrimp with spicy Sriracha sauce to start and George’s creamed corn to accompany my steak. For dessert, the PB&J cheesecake is as good as it sounds.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar out at Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa in Summerlin.
Food in this hopping restaurant is second to none, but I especially love the daily happy hour, during which eight different food items—including pigs in a blanket and steak tartare bites—and draft beer or house wines are just US$6.00. Just because you’re celebrating romance doesn’t mean you can’t look for bargains, too.
Where are your favorite cities to travel for a romantic getaway?