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Las Vegas Restaurants that Redefine Excellence in Dining

STRIPSTEAK’s talented chef Benjamin Jenkins, the knowledgeable sommelier Joshua Lieberman, lovely server Alexis, and charming manager Tony Fisher

by Robin Roth

STRIPSTEAK Impresses Even the Most Sophisticated Diners

There’s not enough ink or adjectives in the dictionary to adequately describe or capture how truly extraordinary the STRIPSTEAK Restaurant is (located at the fabulous Mandalay Hotel and Casino)! It succeeds in raising the bar in dining perfection. There is certainly no shortage of steak houses in the world, but there are few (IF ANY) that can begin to compare with STRIPSTEAK.

From the moment you enter this modern, sleek, beautifully appointed establishment you will know you have walked into a celebration of fine dining. The ambience is warm, hip, trendy, contemporary, open and airy. You will enjoy the highest standard of gourmet cuisine in a relaxed, inviting and comfortable, YET TRENDY, atmosphere that will stimulate all of your senses! I love this place! STRIPSTEAK is part of the Mina group and has only been opened for three months. I must extend MAJOR kudos for the accomplishment of fine tuning EVERYTHING in such a short amount of time.

I must go into a little detail about the culinary brilliance of the prestigiously awarded Chef Michael Mina founder of the Mina Group, along with tennis legend Andre Agassi as his partner. (Now if that isn’t a winning team!) With many award-winning restaurants already under his belt, Michael Mina is a man with a mission: to bring the best flavor combinations to his diners. I SAY “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, MR. MINA!” Among other things, Michael is known for his trio concepts, three flavor variations of one dish. I must say it is quite fun to indulge in this style. Along Mina’s culinary journey, he has learned to take great pride in seeking out the best of everything and go the extra distance to create a special environment for his guests. He examines the dining experience from every angle, not just in terms of food and service, but from the décor and perspective as well. “You never know which specifics are going to blow people away, so the safest thing to do is to make sure every detail is covered and that the overall style of the restaurant comes together as a complete package,” states Mina.

There are two large, dry-aging rooms at STRIPSTEAK, which is where they age their own beef. Since they are adamant about cooking beef over wood, they have two large mesquite grills visible from the dining room for all to see as well as your food being prepared.

That said, it takes the input of many to create the perfection at STRIPSTEAK, and all involved have managed to create it beautifully. For instance, the charming, knowledgeable and gracious General Manager, Tony Fisher makes sure every guest at all times is attended to in style. His eyes are everywhere making sure everything is on target and operating smoothly. Believe me he misses nothing! For the serious wine enthusiast, Rajatt Parr, the wine director of Mina Group, along with Bernie Deluna and Sommelier Joshua Liberman, have collected 1,000 of the most impressive variety and selections of wines from all around the world. Make sure you get with Josh, as he is remarkable at pairing your wine to better enhance your food selections.

Furthermore, I cannot say enough about STRIPSTEAK’s gifted Executive Chef Benjamin Jenkins talents and execution of every dish I devoured. BRAVO, BENJAMIN! He is ONE with his dishes.

My very lovely, bubbly, and delightful server, Alexis, elegantly guided me through the diversified menu selections.

Let’s start! To begin, if you order from the tasting menu (pairing wines can be added as well), you will also receive Michael Mina’s amazing new cookbook. It is a great deal and I highly recommend it. Fear not, you may also purchase the book if you order off the menu.

When you are served the tasty bread, although it is DIFFICULT to resist, you must save room for your dinner, as I promise you won’t want to miss a single bite. Every course is presented as beautiful as the flavors themselves.

For your starters, if you love shellfish, I highly recommend that you try anyone of the ice cold shellfish and or caviar selections. You can also treat yourself to a shellfish platter as well. The Caviar is out of this world and elegantly served in traditional style. The fresh, cold, sweet, East Coast Oysters are also a delightful choice. If you love liver, you MUST without question order the Foie Gras Sliders with pear chutney and basil. This is the ultimate delicacy, full of luxury and romance, versatile, sensual flavor and creamy texture. A word to the wise, you cannot leave STRIPSTEAK without enjoying the “Shabu Shabu” Matsutake Mushroom Broth Specialty. The American Kobe Beef is presented on the side, awaiting the diner to cook it themselves in the mushroom broth. Innovative, delicious, assertive flavors that will melt in your mouth! On the lighter side, you can start with the very yummy and inviting “Louis” lettuce cup and avocado crab. So great and creative!

For your entrée, I suggest the Japanese “As” Kobe Ribeye. The finest beef dish that you will FOREVER remember! Stunning! This steak is like butter. What a rare treat! It is beef-candy! I also suggest the best Filet Mignon I have ever had. Not only are you being served the finest quality beef, it is masterfully cooked to your taste. Compliment your steak with the most fabulous and original Potato Puree Trio- Lobster, Sour cream and onion, and Horseradish. This is a MUST! Indulge further and order the Truffled Mac & Cheese and or the Spinach Soufflé, parmesan cream. I didn’t know where to start, it was all so sensational. Every morsel you eat at this wonderful restaurant will be filled with many flavor combinations, textures, soul, all conceived with the special touch and the result of much experience from a gifted chef.

Let me help you with some TERRIFIC wine selections as well, all hand picked by Sommelier Joshua Liberman.

Course 1:

Course 2:


As for the desserts, “just …forget about it!” They are absolutely decadent and totally unique. Go for it and treat yourself to the Bananas Foster, spiced Rum sauce, cinnamon ice-cream served with a homemade doughnut or the Chocolate Pot de crème served with classic Beignets or heck have both, have them all! I can only say, WOW! After dinner, stay, relax and enjoy any one of the restaurant’s 118 single malt scotch selections.

STRIPSTEAK, alone, is worth traveling to Las Vegas for! It is among my favorite restaurants in the world, and I know you will feel the same. From the décor and ambience to the impeccable service, endless wine selections, and delectable foods, dining just DOESN’T get better than this! STRIPSTEAK is simply superior, unparalleled and unforgettable! I rate this stellar restaurant an absolute A+. RUN and experience this almost sensual food experience! A personal THANK YOU TO CHEF MICHAEL MINA!

Don’t forget to get your cookbook and their caramel and chocolate-covered popcorn to take home!

Be sure to make reservations: 702-632-7414.

Social House: Not Just a Sushi Restaurant


Talk about exciting and new restaurant concepts, Social House has cornered the market on it. It is young, cool, hip, trendy, with a night-club atmosphere meets fine dining. There is even a D.J. nightly playing music. Just stepping into Social House, located inside the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino (located above Tangerine and owned by PURE Management Group), you immediately feel the charming, sophisticated Japanese Lifestyle, and modern atmosphere. Inside you will also see a bank of safe deposit boxes which signify good luck and a good omen for gamblers. Whether you are looking for a full blown dining or just a late night snack, Social House is your place. They open at 5pm and close at 4am. If you wish, you can also go out on the balcony and catch the siren show pirate battle that is in front of the hotel. You will never have a better view of it!

Since the premise here is that dining should be social experience, this brand new restaurant has brought this concept full circle, hence its name! They serve in portions where everyone at the table can share and party together on the family style tables!

I want to begin by telling you about the absolutely stellar (and adorable) acting General Manager Mark Steele. He really knows his business and you can see all around you why he is so proud of Social House. He is so jazzed about it that it rubs off on everyone in the restaurant. What a delightful man and a joy to be around. Furthermore, they are amazingly lucky to have Chef Joseph Elevado, who previously working at Nobu. He is now enjoying the creative freedom of his own kitchen and says, “I’m into a broad range of Asian flavors and am influenced by Thai, Filipino, and Indonesian food.” Well, I promise you that Elevado has nailed it by the taste of his innovative fusion of amazing creations at the Social House. I love his unique, beautifully presented and perfectly executed range of flavors and textures. He is so serious about the freshness of his seafood, that they fly it in daily from Japan, the East Coast, and the Pacific Northwest. Joseph also works along with Executive Sushi Chef Kouji Yamanashi and pastry chef Ralph Perrazzo as they combine forces to create the very best experience they can give their diners. You will also be treated to the most cared after service as well.

Allow me to brag to you, on behalf of the Social House, about some of their unbelievable dishes. To begin with, you must try the mini-Kobe burgers, made with Joseph’s secret ingredients that make up succulent bites of beef with roasted garlic and onions. YUM! If you are looking for Sushi, simply choose your favorite. It is all wonderful, including the Spicy Tuna and the Kalbi Beef roll. I totally recommend the out-of-this-world Lobster Curry with Tamarind Dressing Salad. They don’t play here; there are huge pieces of lobster. This dish is heaven because there many flavors and textures that create one amazing dish. For a hot appetizer, go ahead and devour the Shrimp Tempura with a Sweet Sesame Sauce. Another amazing dish is the luscious Citrus Peel Miso Cod. I don’t even like Cod and I ate EVERY morsel. Any of these would be nice for a light dinner as well. For you entrée I suggest, WITH ALL MY HEART, the Black Angus Beef Bone in Rib Eye Teriyaki. They present it to you perfectly sliced. Another winning choice is the Black Angus Beef Bone in Filet Mignon with three dipping sauces. This is the beef lover’s dream come true. No matter what you order, it will be the best you ever had. I also suggest you add the Pancit stir fried egg noodles with vegetable for a unique change of pace. I am going to be perfectly frank with you reader, I ate so much here that I even embarrassed myself. IT WAS WORTH IT, THOUGH!

As for dessert, it is totally worth spending the day in the gym to immerse your self in the velvety Warm Chocolate Cake. I need to have this dessert again in my lifetime. Also, the Yogurt Pancakes and Ice Cream Sandwiches are a royal treat!

I cannot tell you how great this restaurant is, with its artistic food and creative blends of flavors. THE BEST! By the way, as this is now one of the happening “IN” spots, you never know what celebrity might be hanging at the table next to you!

Call for reservations: 702-874-7111.

Joe’s: Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crabs


I mean, let’s be real, who doesn’t love Joe’s? Here is the place to come and “PIG OUT.” It is so yummy, you won’t even feel the guilt because it will be worth it! You can just listen to the sound of, “CRACK, CRACK, CRACK” and already taste the best stone crabs in the world! I know there is a Joe’s in many cities, but I want to be totally honest and say, the Las Vegas Joe’s in the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace is my NUMBER ONE FAVORITE!

To begin with, they care so much. For example, the restaurant manager Jason Caparelli (the hunk with the perfectly gorgeous hair), is always on hand, looking out for his guests, as is general manager, the delightful Dave Quillen. With these two guys looking out for you, you will have it made! The service is friendly and on target. Your servers fly around taking care of all their guests and never stopping. My server Suzanne Witt was so energetic, adorable, fun, and helpful. She loves her job and, who could blame her, she works at JOE’S? You can either sit in the main dining room for a more formal dining atmosphere or a more casual dining out on the patio and watch the hustle bustle of Las Vegas visitors running about while you lay back and eat the best seafood around. You never know who you might see here. No matter where you sit, you will have a blast, as this is a FUN restaurant!

Okay, let’s dish! To start, I mean yeah right, STONE CRABS, OF COURSE! (You can have this as an appetizer or an entrée). However, if you are not a fan of stone crabs (how is this possible?), dive into the Oysters Rockefeller. Rockefeller himself would be impressed! I also recommend the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake; not your typical cake as this one is LOADED with crab meat and little breading. No matter what you order for your entrée, their world famous Hashed Brown Potatoes and Joe’s Cole Slaw is a must. If you are coming for a light lunch, all the salads and sandwiches are unreal! For an entrée, I would suggest any of their wonderful prime steaks especially the ones on the bone. If you are in the mood for fish, the Blackened Mahi-Mahi and the Grilled Florida Grouper are sensational. Another great dish and a nice change is the Calf’s liver with bacon and onions. I also loved the Veal Cutlets and Teriyaki Chicken. If you are not a seafood or meat lover, don’t fret. Joe’s has you covered, too! You can enjoy an array of delectable vegetables, salads and sides such as the Garlic Creamed Spinach.

To finish this perfect dining event, kick it up a notch and order from the extravaganza of pies made in-house daily. Everyone, of them is a treat…But…I would get my favorites the Peanut Butter with hot fudge or the Chocolate Fudge Pies. Also, wonderful are the Coconut Cream, the Key Lime, the Pumpkin Chiffon, the Sweet Potato Pecan and the Boston Cream Pies. For a guaranteed food party, RUN TO JOE’S! YOU WILL THANK ME! Call for reservations: 702-792-9222.

Little Buddha Restaurant and Sushi Bar for the Art of Dining


The first and only Little Buddha restaurant from Paris and Paris’ most successful restaurants has now made its American debut at the Palms Casino Resort. This hot and happening spot is a real celebrity hang-out! So, I extend this little tip, look around you! (Yes, Paris, Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Leonardo have all dined here).

This restaurant’s setting is elaborate. It is romantic, exquisite, dimly lit, exotic yet friendly. As you enter the Little Buddha’s rotunda, you will be entering into a different land of luxury. You will be quite relaxed in the warm, rich red, velvet seats. You can look up and see the famous Little Buddha wishing you luck from wherever you sit.

General Manager Shelly Galloway and Manager Erik Franke are a huge part of what makes Little Buddha so amazing. They run this fine restaurant with grace, precision, and finesse.

For combinations that stimulate all of the senses, I can only say, Little Buddha! If you are looking for a relaxed, intimate, and unique dining experience, serving tantalizing Asian-French fusion cuisine and a fabulous sushi bar, you have landed in paradise. Little Buddha offers dishes that range from light to a distinctive complexity of foods with heightened depths of flavor. Allow me to give you a few ordering pointers.

Order any one of the many Sake drinks to enhance your meal. Now, to start with an absolute explosion of flavors, go for the Little Buddha Roll and the George’s Lobster Roll. OH, SOOO good! A tasty way to experience a variety of the appetizers is to share them, so try to order a tasting of all of the following: the fantastic Crispy Chicken Spring Rolls with sweet Thai chili, the yummy Hawaiian Smoked Pork Pot-Stickers, the superb Chinese BBQ Rib, the Jumbo Fried Lump Crab Wonton with sweet and sour sauce (to-die-for) and the delicate Crispy Spun Tiger Shrimp with coconut and basil sauce. Everything was truly sensational!

Next, don’t forget to order any one of the rice dishes, I suggest the House Fried Rice. I can still remember it now! For your entrée, one of the best food memories of my life is the Boneless Domestic Kobe Short Ribs with mushroom risotto. This dish was so artistically delicious, it melts-in-your mouth. Tender beyond words! Another wonderful intriguing entrée is the Miso Glazed Black Cod. It will spark and wake up your palate.

Dessert lovers will not be neglected at the Little Buddha! Immerse yourself in the Liquid Center Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream and do ask to add some fresh fruit on top. Can we say, BEYOND AWESOME! For the non-chocoholics (how is this possible), the Buddha Brulee and the Trio of Baby Cheesecake are both outstanding. Whether you are looking for romance, a business dinner or dinner with friends, you will love the food, service, and ambience at Little Buddha!

Call for reservations: 702-942-7778.

Tintoretto: A Simple Taste of the Old Country


This awesome, traditional Italian restaurant in the heart of the Venetian Hotel shops captures the essence of Italy. Here you will enjoy gourmet authentic Italian dishes in a very relaxed, informal, cozy atmosphere and I might add, deliciously affordable. This is one of my favorite little places to hang, especially while shopping!

I have to start by telling you about the precious, charming, hospitable, and warm Italian woman Maria Rosa that makes Tintoretto come to life. Her big, lovely, welcoming smile is infectious and she shares it freely with all her guests. Once you enter Tintoretto and meet Maria, she will take such good care of you that you will feel as though you are entering her own Italian Villa. BRAVA!

This isn’t your normal restaurant; Tintoretto is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner meals. It remains open until 1am. They are there whenever you want to join them. From 12 to 8, you can enjoy street music and real people statues, which are lots of fun if you have children with you.

All the food at Tintoretto is fresh and made on the premises, including the bread, pastas, sauces, pastries, as well as the mozzarella. By the way, ask for Juan Garcia and Modesto to be your servers, as they are so charismatic.

I would love to share with you some of my favorite dishes. Start with the Insalata Caprese with mozzarella, tomato and basil. Being homemade makes it delicate and the perfect texture. I also enjoyed the Insalate di Patate di Salmone. The salmon was lovely. The soup of the day is always a winner. If you love Caesar Salad, they serve it fresh, cold and tasty. All of the pizza selections are awesome, as the bread and cheese are made on the premises. The pastas are all a taste of authentic Italian cooking, from the sauces to the perfectly cooked pasta. I recommend them all, just choose your favorite.

For your main dish, this is tough as there are so many I love here. The flavors are so authentic and divine. Let me offer a few to try. The Veal Cutlet topped with ham and cheese is delicious, the Eggplant or Veal Parmigiana is classic, the Barbecue Shrimp served with rice and black beans is lovely, the Pan seared Pork Chop with Vermentino wine is heavenly. I think my favorite of all was the spectacular Baked Lasagna because it was the most perfect tasting lasagna I had ever tasted. The flavor was a bold blend of tastes yet light and delicious. No matter what you order, it will be a pure Italian MANGA-FEST… SOO WONDERFUL!

SAVE ROOM for desserts, as there is an ocean from which to choose. Tintoretto has an entire case filled with the most amazing cookies, cakes, tarts, mousse, and pastries, including the best chocolate covered strawberries. You will want to take them all home, and YOU CAN. They sell all their desserts to go and believe me when I tell you they are all among the best desserts I have ever known, and that is saying something. DO TAKE THEM HOME or you will be sorry! For a casual, gourmet, AUTHENTIC, Italian dinner with a European flair and class, run to Tintoretto. Please say hi to Maria Rosa for me!

Call for reservations: 702-414-3400.

Japonais: A Special Memory

Walking into Japonais, with its free-flowing, relaxing, serene, classy, and open décor, you immediately feel as though you have been transported into modern day Japan. Subdued in style, with its dramatic European elegance and its distinctive approach to ambiance is stunning yet unpretentious and will instantly charm diners. Japonais, one of Chicago and New York City’s most adored and critically acclaimed restaurants, comes to Las Vegas in the beautiful Mirage Hotel and Casino. Renowned restaurateurs and partners in all three Japonais properties, Miae Lim, Rick Wahlstedt and Jeffrey Beers (also the restaurant’s designer), have joined forces with The Mirage to open a Japonais outpost in one the country’s most thriving culinary cities.

Celebrated Executive Chef/partner Gene Kato, in charge of hot appetizers and entrees, along with Sushi Chef/partner Jun Ichikawa, combine their culinary genius to offer something for every palate and craving with their contemporary cuisine. Japonais intermingles traditional cuisine with contemporary accents and seamlessly fuses innovative presentations, flavors, Japanese ingredients, textures, French techniques, and pairings with each selection. With the highest concern for freshness, Japonais buys its fish from Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, the world’s largest fish market.

I cannot tell you how excited General Manager Julio Burbano is about his newly opened restaurant. Hearing him describe each dish on the menu was like an experience in-and-of-itself. He knows his business! My stunningly beautiful server Yayoi, from Tokyo, made dining at Japonais even more wonderful, if that is possible. Some of the dishes you must NOT miss include Japonais’ popular “The Rock,” thinly sliced marinated New York strip steak cooked on a hot rock right on the table. The Yuzu Sweet Shrimp is also lovely with a quite intensive blend of citrus tastes, which makes for a very imaginative dish. For a lighter appetizer, the lobster spring rolls are delicate and light. For your main course, the House Smoked American Kobe Rib Eye is truly fantastic. The MUST try entrée, hands down, is the Kurobuta Pork Chop, a pineapple marinated grilled pork chop with manila clams and sweet potato croquettes in a garlic clam sauce. Folks, the presentation alone is like NOTHING you have ever seen before. Can I say, a resounding, “YUMMY!” For sushi lovers, I recommend the Kani Nigiri, the Bin Cho and or the Spicy Mono. A Sushi dream!

Moving on, Chef Gene’s decadent and marvelous desserts make it a ‘food happening’ to try. They include a triple chocolate indulgence of chocolate ginger mousse cake, the chocolate chawan mushi with wild berry soup, and the chocolate truffle beignet rolled in sugar and cinnamon. In you are not into chocolate (???), then try the outstanding apple pie, Toban yaki, with oatmeal clusters and honey vanilla ice cream. OH MY!

Readers, on your next visit to the city of lights, stop in for a memorable and delicious dinner at Japonais.

Call for reservations: 702-792-7979.

There you have it, readers, six of the most unique, original and outstanding MUST DINE restaurants in Las Vegas. Tell them the Blonde sent you! Bon Appetite!


1. Heavenly Liver Foie Gras Sliders at STRIPSTEAK
2. Social House’s outstanding manager Mark Steele and brilliant chef Joseph Elevado
3. Best in the world Black Angus Beef Rib Eye Teriyaki at Social House
4. Joe’s manager Jason Caparelli and server Suzanne Witt show off Joe’s amazing pies
5. The Joe’s delicious Bone In Filet
6. Little Buddha’s gifted and handsome chef Scott Green
7. Tastings of appetizers at Little Buddha
10. Tintoretto’s one-in-a-million Maria Rosa
11. Fabulous Pasta with Mozzarella at Tintoretto

12. Japonais’ charismatic manager Julio Burbano and server Yakoi

13. The heavenly Pork Chop served at Japonais

Photos by Robin Roth

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