August 1, 2021

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Travel Finishes First

Here’s What’s New In Las Vegas For Summer 2021

11 min read

Summer is upon us and Las Vegas is back in full swing. Following a lift on the mask mandate, casinos returning to 100 percent capacity, and just about everything with the exception of some shows back to regular operations, Sin City is ready to welcome visitors. Whether you’re coming into town for a bachelor or bachelorette party, to try your luck at the tables, or to get some pent-up energy out of your system, this is the perfect place to do it. Most of your favorite spots are still around, but in a city where everything is constantly evolving or changing, there are also several new places to hit up if you’re visiting soon. Read on to discover some of the latest restaurants, bars, attractions, and hotels worth visiting this summer in Las Vegas.

Restaurants

Night + Market

James Beard semifinalist Kris Yenbamroong has brought his popular Night + Market from Los Angeles to the new Virgin Hotels Las Vegas and it doesn’t disappoint. With dishes that pack bold flavors and a spice level that goes well beyond just a kick, this is where you’ll find the real deal when it comes to Thai food. If you’ve been to one of chef’s other restaurants, most of the menu will look familiar. Popular dishes like the pork toro, thick-cut pieces of fatty jowl served with a chili dip, and nam khao tod, a crispy rice salad with soured pork and loads of aromatics, have made it to Sin City and are musts when ordering. But to make this outpost a little more special there are also several items that are unique to the Vegas dining experience, such as a garlic fried rice topped with Santa Barbara uni and ikura, lobster pad thai, and whole fried catfish. And if mango sticky rice is missing from the dessert list during your visit it means that Thai mangoes aren’t in season, but a side of coconut rice will serve as a solid substitute. For those who’d like to enjoy a drink with their meal, there’s an extensive selection of natural wines, or give the spiked Thai tea a chance—but be warned, it goes down a little too easily and is definitely a creeper.

The X Pot

Hot pot has finally arrived on the Las Vegas Strip and it’s not just your regular, run-of-the-mill hot pot, either. At the X Pot, tucked away in the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian Resort, the Chinese tradition features classic selections like meatballs, noodles, and vegetables, as well as elevated ingredients like A5 wagyu, king crab, and lobster. Broths, which are served in individual pots, range from a delicate golden chicken stock to a spice-packed Szechuan soup. There are also several sumptuous appetizers on the menu, like langoustine topped with caviar and truffle tofu rolls. For a little entertainment factor, little robots scoot around the dining room floor, assisting the servers with shuttling over the delectable morsels to your table.

Osteria Fiorella

Following a successful pop-up, James Beard Award–winning chef Marc Vetri found a permanent home for his rustic Italian cuisine in the form of Osteria Fiorella at Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa. The star here are the pastas, which are all made in-house and cooked perfectly al dente. To round out your meal, the meatballs with whipped ricotta are a must and any of the pizzas, cooked in a wood-burning oven, are perfect for sharing. If you’re stopping by for brunch, don’t skip out on their pastries, especially the cranberry white chocolate scone, or the gigantic cinnamon bun that’s sold out every Sunday.

Soulbelly BBQ

Out on the patio of Soulbelly BBQ you’ll find a pair of giant smokers where James Beard–nominated chef Bruce Kalman prepares unctuous meat every morning. Everything is made in-house here, from the pickles to the sausages. The staples on his menu include Texas-style salt and pepper brisket, Carolina pulled pork, pork belly rubbed with espresso, and two types of links, all of which are excellent. But if the pastrami beef rib is listed on the daily specials, order extra—it’s so ridiculously tender that each bite instantly melts in your mouth. The sides here shouldn’t be overlooked, either, particularly the corn casserole and mac and cheese, the latter of which features homemade pasta swimming in a cheddar and American cheese sauce, topped with a parmesan and chicharrón breadcrumb. To wash it all down, cocktails are on offer, but it’s the range of American beers, including local brews such as those by next-door neighbor HUDL Brewing, that’ll likely win you over.

Vegas Test Kitchen

Serving as an incubator for local talent, Vegas Test Kitchen allows for chefs to test out new dishes before they change up their menu or open up their own restaurant. There are six main concepts that are continuously rotated throughout the week, including Yukon Pizza, which makes sourdough wood-fired pizza utilizing a yeast that has been in the family for over a decade, and Pop ’N Pies, where pastry chef Andrea Mclean dishes out some of the best slices you’ll ever have the pleasure of tasting. But to get the full experience, come in between Monday and Wednesday when one-off pop-ups take place. Afterward, make sure to stroll around Fergusons Downtown, where a former motel has been turned into a shopping center showcasing local creators and first-time business owners.

Bāng Bar

David Chang is at it again with another concept for Las Vegas. This time around the restaurateur has opened up a quick, grab-and-go concept within the Cosmopolitan’s Block 16 Urban Food Hall. His second outlet for the preeminent resort, and third in Sin City, highlights spit-roasted meats served in flatbread (the name bāng is inspired by the Korean word for bread). It sounds simple, but once you take a bite you’ll be instantly reminded that sometimes it’s better to stick to the basics. Choose between a U wrap or fold up, the former of which is similar to a thin tortilla while the latter is like a fluffy pita, filled with spicy pork, teriyaki chicken, or spicy eggplant. Rice bowls are also on offer, as are sides like pickled shishito peppers and a chickpea dip made with miso and sesame oil to round out your meal. And if you want to add a little kick to every bite, ask for a side of their homemade habanero sauce.

Brera Osteria

Tucked away in the Venetian Resort’s replica of St. Mark’s Square, Brera Osteria is a surprising standout within the property’s Grand Canal Shoppes. To start, order the squash blossoms, which are lightly fried and bursting with cheese. For the main course you can’t go wrong with any of the pastas, which are all homemade, but the risottos are also a work of magic. Don’t sleep on the charred cauliflower, either, which is perfectly seasoned and sits on a bed of couscous. The restaurant also does a proper apertivo where you can enjoy an Aperol spritz while savoring complimentary bites sent out by the chef.

Delilah

Opening July 14, Delilah at the Wynn Las Vegas promises to be a modern-day supper club with a Gatsby-esque vibe that pays homage to the roaring ’20s. Chandeliers, plush interiors, and a warming fireplace will set the tone for refined American fare and a troupe of entertainers accompanied by a live Jazz band.

Bars

Lucky Day Tequila and Mezcal

If the canopy of 15,000 dazzling lights above the bar isn’t enough to entice you, Lucky Day’s incredible selection of tequila and mezcal certainly will. With everything from small-batch bottles that you’ve probably never heard of like Afamado to big names like Don Julio, they’ve got it all. Try one of the flights if you like your agave spirits straight or go for one of their craft cocktails, which are easily some of the best in the city. Being that the same people behind Commonwealth and the Laundry Room own Lucky Day, it’s no surprise that this cozy spot is one of the best new openings of the year.

Legacy Club

Set on the 60th floor of the new adults-only Circa Resort & Casino, Legacy Club offers one of the best views in Las Vegas. The lounge has its own dedicated elevator bank, which opens up to grand interiors decked out with plush furnishings. Outside you’ll find a spacious terrace complete with a fire pit, perfect for an evening cocktail. The menu boasts over 100 whiskies, including rare finds like Pappy Van Winkle. Old Fashioned fans will also greatly appreciate the build your own option, which allows guests to choose from a list of sweeteners that includes five spice syrup and maple ginger syrup along with a variety of bitters. But if you’re not a fan of the classic cocktail, there are several other fantastic craft concoctions on offer, including the light and refreshing Liberace made with the Botanist gin, Cointreau, lime, cucumber, and jalapeño.

Stadia Bar

There are countless of sports bars in Las Vegas, but Stadia Bar at Caesars Palace really pays homage to athletics. Designed by Rockwell Group, floors are made from recycled basketball court wood and a color scheme of dark brown and burnt orange reflect that of footballs and basketballs. And with TVs at every direction you turn, you won’t miss out on whatever game is on at the moment. There are also some surprisingly elegant touches, too, in the form of rose gold–hued handrails and beer taps, along with a white marble countertop at the bar. Spirit offerings include those that are athlete- and celebrity-owned, as well as your usual suspects. For highball fans, keep an eye out for the dedicated cart, which shuttles around a variety of Fever Tree sodas and numerous garnishes for your customized effervescent drink.

Honorable Mentions From 2019

If you didn’t get the chance to come to Sin City before the pandemic, 2019 was a great year for new bars on the Las Vegas Strip. Vanderpump Cocktail Garden opened at Caesars Palace, combining lush greenery with Gothic romance, and offers cheekily named cocktails that are superb both in presentation and execution. There was also Mama Rabbit Tequila + Mezcal Bar at Park MGM, featuring the city’s largest selection of agave-based spirits. And for fans of brown liquor, the Barbershop Cuts & Cocktails at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is a debonair speakeasy with an extensive list of whiskey, bourbon, and scotch.

Activities and Entertainment

Area15

Dubbed as an immersive playground, Area15 is all about sensory stimulation. The bunker-style entertainment complex is just a few minutes away from the Las Vegas Strip and is filled with colorful and dramatic installations that’ll spark your imagination. While general entry inside the facility is free, you’ll have to purchase tickets to the various adventures housed within. One such experience is Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart, which starts by entering a cheeky grocery store filled with eccentric and humorous twists on typical products, but behind the walls you’ll find yourself entering a visual playground that seems to be made for Instagram. There’s also Wink World: Portals Into the Infinite created by Chris Wink, one of the three co-founders and the chief creative officer of Blue Man Group, where guests walk through six mirrored rooms that display a rave-like combination of light, color, sound, and motion. And if you’re in town by July 29, Van Gogh: the Immersive Experience will be exhibiting at Area15 until then. In addition to all of the attractions there are also dining and beverage outlets inside, including an ice cream shop, food hall, and an arcade bar complete with pool tables, classic and new games, and is home to the rare Killer Queen.

27 – A Musical Adventure

There’s perhaps no show more appropriate for Virgin Hotels Las Vegas than a musical number. Paying homage to iconic artists Robert Johnson, Jimi Hendrix, Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse, 27, named for the age that these greats passed away at, features tribute-style performances where the cast play the role of the aforementioned musicians and sing some of their greatest hits. While seats can be purchased, guests are also highly encouraged to treat this as a concert and dance in front of the stage.

Hotels

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

Taking over the former Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is bringing its own sense of cool to Sin City. Interiors draw inspiration from the Mojave Desert, with its warm hues and planted cacti. Accommodations, which are called Chambers here, are spacious and feature the brand’s signature beds with a corner lounger, colorful artwork, a vanity, and oversize bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. But where the property really wins is its dining venues. For starters, it’s home to Night + Market, one of the best new restaurants in town, but you can also find Nobu, Mediterranean-inspired Kassi Beach House, the upscale One Steakhouse, and a handful of other options among its exemplary offerings. No Vegas hotel would be complete without a lively pool scene and the oasis here is modeled after those found in Mykonos, with thatch-roofed huts as cabanas and pools fringed with sand, doubling as a makeshift beach. On the weekends the party factor is taken up a few notches at the oasis as it turns into Élia Beach Club. For additional entertainment the hotel also has a 4,500-person theater in addition to an intimate live music venue, paying homage to Virgin Records’ humble beginnings, where 27 – A Musical Adventure currently shows five nights a week.

Resorts World Las Vegas

Opening on June 24, Resorts World Las Vegas is the first new build on the Strip in over a decade. The 3,500-key property sits on nearly 88 acres and will feature three hotel brands: Las Vegas Hilton, Conrad Las Vegas, and Crockfords Las Vegas. The sprawling resort will also be home to the highly anticipated hawker-inspired market amidst its dozens of dining options, a five and a half–acre pool complex, and a 27,000-square foot spa. It also promises to be home to some of the Sin City’s hottest entertainment with a new day and nightclub by Zouk Group featuring resident DJs Zedd and Tiësto and a 5,000-capacity state-of-the-art theater that will welcome A-list artists like Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan.

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