NEON JUN­GLE

Whether it's vin­tage glam­our, high-roller Hol­ly­wood heists, or an 'all-in, what stays in' week­end with your squad, Las Ve­gas is the en­ter­tain­ment des­ti­na­tion of your dreams. Melissa Leong re­veals how to get the most out of wild desert town.

delicious - - CONTENTS - NIKKI FENIX HY PHO­TOGRAP @food­erati

There’s a whole lot more to Ve­gas than bright lights and black­jack…

Since its birth in 1905, Las Ve­gas has been a bea­con for high-stakes fun and fri­vol­ity, even if you never roll a dice. The mere men­tion of this Amer­i­can city con­jures colour­ful his­tory, pool­side glam­our, par­ties for you and your 3000 clos­est friends, Hol­ly­wood stars and, these days, celebrity chefs.

But not ev­ery­thing this city has to of­fer re­volves around full-tilt glitz and the fre­netic en­ergy of Las Ve­gas Boule­vard (the Strip). If you want to fully ap­pre­ci­ate the sub­tlety as well as the spec­ta­cle that makes Ve­gas such a grand town, step away from the glare of the bright lights and get out there and ex­plore.

STAY

Where you stay in Ve­gas will colour your ex­pe­ri­ence sig­nif­i­cantly. This re­ally is a town where there’s some­thing for every­one – and we mean every­one. Well-heeled trav­ellers who want to be in the thick of things should con­sider The Cos­mopoli­tan of Las Ve­gas (3708 S Las Ve­gas Blvd; cos­mopoli­tan­lasve­gas.com) or Man­darin Ori­en­tal (3752 S Las Ve­gas Blvd; man­dari­nori­en­tal.com) for a sleek, mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Ve­gas ex­pe­ri­ence. The for­mer also hap­pens to house some of the more ex­cit­ing eat­ing op­tions in town, in­clud­ing Mo­mo­fuku and sis­ter es­tab­lish­ment Milk Bar, as well as LA ex­ports Egg slut and Scar­petta. For when virtue is nec­es­sary, The Juice Stan­dard serves up su­per­food smooth­ies, nut milks and cold-pressed juices in­fused with the likes of bee pollen, turmeric and spir­ulina (to atone for one’s sins). The Cos­mopoli­tan’s Boule­vard Tower also of­fers some of the best views of the Strip, in­clud­ing many of its gleam­ing neon signs and the leg­endary Foun­tains of Bel­la­gio shows, for that Ocean’s Eleven mo­ment.

If you want a lit­tle space be­tween you and the masses, Man­dalay Bay (3950 S Las Ve­gas Blvd; man­dalay­bay.com) is about as iconic as re­sorts in Ve­gas come. Com­mand­ing prime po­si­tion next to the

Luxor ho­tel and its giant sphinx at the south end of the Strip, Man­dalay Bay is home to one of the most im­pres­sive pool com­plexes in town, and also hap­pens to be within walk­ing dis­tance of that ‘Wel­come to Fab­u­lous Las Ve­gas’ sign, for pole photo po­si­tion­ing.

EAT & DRINK

The past decade or so has seen the Ve­gas dining scene trans­form from prime-rib cen­tral to one of the most high-cal­i­bre of­fer­ings you’ll find in this part of the world. Whether you’re feel­ing like a high roller or are down to your last chips, there is plenty to sate your ap­petite.

The mega re­sorts and casi­nos in this town have the pulling power to cre­ate world-class eat­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, and in venues such as The Cos­mopoli­tan, Bel­la­gio, The Vene­tian, Cae­sars Palace and MGM Grand, you’ll find par­tic­u­larly strong dining op­tions at every level – many with a celebrity chef’s name at­tached. Try Thomas Keller’s ca­su­ally el­e­gant Bou­chon (The Vene­tian,

3355 S Las Ve­gas Blvd; vene­tian.com) for French bistro clas­sics, or the clean, bright Ital­ian fare of Gi­ada at Gi­ada de Lau­ren­tiis’ name­sake venue – pop­u­lar with ladies who lunch – in The Cromwell ho­tel (3595 S Las Ve­gas Blvd; gi­adade­lau­ren­tiis.com/ve­gas).

Cake Boss star Buddy Valas­tro’s mod­ern Ital­ian-US bistro, Buddy V’s Ris­torante (The Vene­tian, 3355 S Las Ve­gas Blvd; bud­dyvlasve­gas.com), is per­fect for re­laxed an­tipasti, while fans of New York’s

Car­bone (Aria Re­sort & Casino, 3730 S Las Ve­gas Blvd; aria.com) can make their date an of­fer they can’t refuse in the Ve­gas ver­sion. With those red-vel­vet-cur­tained booths, who could blame them?

You know it’s cool if David Chang did it. The punchy and fresh mod­ern Asian cui­sine of Mo­mo­fuku works a treat here. From the buzzy front bar to the dining room that faces out over the Strip, this joint at The Cos­mopoli­tan draws a crowd that is young, vi­brant and in­formed – just like the staff. If you want to drink Jura wines and slurp cold ra­men topped with uni (sea urchin), smoked trout roe and Alaskan crab, this is the place to do it.

If you beat the house, or sim­ply feel like a win­ner, look no fur­ther than Joël Robu­chon’s epony­mous res­tau­rant. Un­doubt­edly the pin­na­cle of haute cui­sine in Ve­gas, Joël Robu­chon (MGM Grand, 3799 S Las Ve­gas Blvd; mg­m­grand.com) is a tem­ple de­voted to the art of food. It might be lo­cated just off the casino floor, but once you step through those curved

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