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Viva Food Vegas
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Your memories, assumptions, impressions of Las Vegas food are of seedy drive-thru burger bars where the patties are as flabby as the tyres on over-weight monster pick-up trucks, crawling though on their way to roadside wedding chapels. Simon Walton rolls the dice and says think again.

Neighbourhood eateries, downtown diners, and high-end haute-cuisine is the new mealtime menu in the Mohave Desert. From 800 Degrees pizza pioneers at the SLS Resort, topped by the Stratosphere Space Needle, to the black pyramid of Luxor, at the airport end of The Strip, there’s no end of restaurants claiming to be the hottest in town.

No one therefore should be surprised that renowned Californian chef Michael Mina has opened a revamped restaurant in the depths of the vast Bellagio resort hotel, that has ambitions, or rather a mapped-out plan, to be the best seafood restaurant in the United States - if not the world.

"I don’t want to do a new concept,” he told Bite. "I want to do Michael Mina 2.0.” So what he’s achieved is an oasis of good taste seafood, away from the kitsch of the vast gaming halls outside. Sure, the tasting menu, from Caviar Parfait to whole Hawaiian Kona Kampachi masterfully dissected at your table, is going to make losing a couple of high stakes spins seem no big deal, but the rewards here are guaranteed, and everyone’s a winner.

Then there’s Bridlington-born Lee Bennet, making a name as celebrity chef at the Park MGM, a multi-zillion dollar revamp of the Monte Carlo Resort. He’s a prodigy of Gordon Ramsay, whose paisley pout is currently on the side of every ‘effing cab on The Strip. Nevertheless, the Yorkshireman, who still talks like he just walked off the set of Emmerdale, is impressing groups, meetings and banqueting guests, as his team turn their crafty hands to anything from satisfying Singaporean business groups with traditional dining experiences, to fifty new ways to serve pork to mid-west pig farmers. Search for Michael and Lee at MGMresorts.com.

What you want though, is to hit the sidewalk as the searing Nevada sun goes down. Rendezvous for a starting platter of American favourites (more healthy vegetables and less fatty burgers) at Carson Kitchen. From there, Whitney and her fellow guides will stroll you around the Downtown Lipsmaking Foodie Tour ((vegasfoodietour.com). You’ll find real Las Vegans alongside your table, as you’re toured through the lesser touted streets. First, visit Therapy, where indulgent Chicken and Red Velvet Waffle Sliders are among the tasters. Trot round to the verdant patio of 7th and Carson, by way of an exclusive photocall above classic Freemont Street on the verandah of private member’s Club Inspire, before experiencing the unique street food and bar business district of Container Park - it really is made from redundant shipping containers. 

After that, you’ll need shipped back to your hotel, without ever having touched a finger-licking bad buffet. Vegas has upped the stakes on food experiences. It’s a winning bet every time.

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