Las Vegas Off-Strip Dining Is Off the Charts

The off-Strip scene is strong all day and all night in Las Vegas.

Mizunara at The Sundry Angelo Clinton

Lively, energetic, delicious off-Strip dining has existed in Las Vegas for years, with pioneering hot spots like Chinatown’s Aburiya Raku, Summerlin’s Honey Salt and the Arts District’s Esther’s Kitchen merging the ideas of neighborhood restaurant and destination restaurant. But what’s happening now at new developments around the city is a whole new level. Visit the mixed-used UnCommons complex (where tenants include Morgan Stanley and DraftKings) in southwest Las Vegas on a 100-plus-degree day. You might see sweating visitors eating SunLife Organics gluten-free avocado toast and drinking Urthh Caffè iced tea after doing yoga outside. Those less concerned with wellness might be buying cookies and browsing jewelry during the Market in the Alley shopping pop-up at UnCommons. And, of course, there’s a line out the door for Salt & Straw ice cream. 

SunLife and Urthh are brands that originated near the beach in Los Angeles. Salt & Straw started in Portland. Walk into The Sundry, TableOne Hospitality’s buzzing food hall at UnCommons, and you’ll find many out-of-town culinary forces. Standout dishes at The Sundry include Los Angeles chef Ria Dolly Barbosa’s soul-warming Filipino beef stew (mechado) at Petite Peso and Oakland chef Matt Horn’s fried chicken sandwich at KowBird. 

The Sundry attracts both local scenesters and an in-the-know hospitality crowd. So we’re not surprised to see chef Nicole Brisson, who runs Brezza at Resorts World, on her way out of The Sundry on a busy Saturday afternoon. And then prolific restaurant developer Elizabeth Blau, who’s opened numerous Strip casino restaurants and also operates Honey Salt. Blau has an early dinner reservation at L.A. chef Ray Garcia’s B.S. Taqueria, a full-service restaurant inside The Sundry. She lets us crash her table, where we devour glorious pork-shank carnitas.

The bar and lounge at Lotus of Siam. Clint Jenkins

Over in Summerlin, the dining collection at the revamped Red Rock  casino-resort is buzzing. There’s a colossal bone-in veal Parm and top-tier pastas like rigatoni with sausage ragu and pappardelle with smoked short rib at Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri’s all-around exemplary Osteria Fiorella. At a new outpost of local Thai powerhouse Lotus of Siam, guests feast on herbaceous crispy rice salads, catfish larb, curries and potent dips for dinner or weekend brunch. Greek restaurant Naxos Taverna and its adjacent Kallisto Oyster Bar serve meals built around seafood, whether you’re eating chilled shellfish, indulging in a whole Dover sole, or trying a pan roast that’s lighter and milder than what you’ll get at Palace Station’s legendary Oyster Bar  (another off-Strip spot owned by Red Rock operator Station Casinos).

After dinner, you can have a nightcap or just keep eating at Red Rock’s Rouge Room, a lounge/piano bar that resembles a much bigger, more mass-market version of New York nightlife player The Nines. At Rouge Room—brought to you by Los Angeles hospitality group Wish You Were Here (which is also working to open a Mexican restaurant at Red Rock)—there’s even an outdoor pool with cabanas. You can order caviar service, steak au poivre or profiteroles as you choose your own adventure. The weekend crowd, while not exactly dressed to the nines, is clearly ready for a sexy but more inclusive alternative to overheated Strip nightclubs. Discerning locals who frequent Red Rock—including Coin.Cloud CEO Chris McAlary, who lives and works nearby and once had a party for his cryptocurrency company at the space that is now home to Rouge Room—tell us they’ve never seen the resort pop off like this before. 

RedRock’s Rouge Room. Clint Jenkins

The off-Strip scene is strong all day and all night in Las Vegas. The talk of Chinatown is Shanghai Plaza, where the big parking lot starts filling up before many of the restaurants (like clay-pot rice specialist Yummy Rice and soup-dumpling slinger ShangHai Taste) open at 11 a.m. By 10:45 a.m. on the weekends, there’s a long line of guests fueling up with coffee at 85°C Bakery Cafe before they start a food crawl.

And much more is coming off-Strip. Station Casinos is building the Durango casino-resort across the street from UnCommons. The Eat Your Heart Out food hall at Durango will have outposts of sandwich shop Uncle Paulie’s and Irv’s Burgers (both from Los Angeles) alongside Prince Street Pizza, Vetri’s Fiorella pasta bar and Vegas mainstays like Shàng Artisan Noodle and an outpost of Palace Station’s Oyster Bar. That’s in addition to a full-service restaurant collection that will include the California-inspired Summer House from behemoth hospitality group Lettuce Entertain You.

“Right now, it is a sort of renaissance era for the off-the-Strip venues in this city,” Durango vice president and general manager Dave Horn tells Observer. “The competitive nature breeds more options than ever before with similar, or better, food and service than traditional Strip locations. Also, when people travel, they want to experience the city like a local. I think Las Vegas has one of the most vibrant and original local culinary scenes out there right now.”

Durango is scheduled to open later this year. And based on the action across the street at UnCommons and at other sizzling off-Strip enclaves, Las Vegas is ready.

Las Vegas Off-Strip Dining Is Off the Charts