The Best Food in Vegas Isn’t on the Strip—Here’s Where to Go on Your Next Trip
A local shares his favorite spots.
Sunset’s Insider Guide series highlights seasonal diversions and secret travel tips from local experts. Follow along as we learn where to eat, drink, stay, and shop.
Chef Brian Howard has been a Vegas local for over 20 years, and a favorite spot for both him and his kitchen crew to eat off the clock is Chinatown, also known as Spring Mountain Road. “It’s a food lover’s paradise. The three-mile stretch is an ode to and representation of most Asian cuisines, and over the last six years or so it has expanded into a Mecca of deliciousness,” he says. “You can have just about anything you’re looking for, from a world-class kaiseki experience to a 12-course tasting menu or the best bowl of noodles you’ve ever had.”
You’ll find “tastes of modern Spain at one of my favorite restaurants, EDO,” and at “Hachi, the beers are cold, the sake flows, the food is top-notch, and it won’t break the bank. From sizzling skewers of yakitori to delicate slices of sashimi, every dish is crafted with the utmost care.” Shanghai Taste is “a small six-seat counter where you can watch the team fold dumplings and fresh noodles. The xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, are a must-try. I’m a sucker for the juicy and flavorful thin-skinned, non-traditional crab version. The cold sliced ox tongue in Sichuan sauce will leave you singing and the fat noodles with pork and mushroom will leave you comforted, as if you’ve eaten in Grandma’s living room.”
Tucked away in a quiet corner of Chinatown, “Sand Dollar Lounge has been a local favorite for over 40 years. You can grab a cocktail and the best pizza in the city after 10 p.m., all while rubbing elbows with the city’s top chefs.” The Golden Tiki transports travelers “to a tropical paradise, complete with palm trees, bamboo huts, and a starlit roof. There’s an extensive menu of inventive cocktails like the classic mai tai or the painkillers served in tiki mugs.” J Karaoke is “a hidden gem. The atmosphere is lively and fun, with neon lights, plush seating, and a vast selection of songs.” They also offer “a menu of Korean-style fried chicken, spicy rice cakes, and other tasty bites to fuel your singing sessions.”
The Las Vegas Strip is about a 5-to-10-minute drive from Chinatown. “The Palms Place Spa and Hotel is one of the closest hotels en route, and has all the luxury contemporary amenities needed, even can be rented out as Airbnb. It’s also within walking distance to my restaurant, Half Bird Chicken & Beer. (Wink, wink.)”
Chinatown Plaza is “a maze of sensory delights. Here, you’ll find a smorgasbord of specialty shops, spas, massage parlors, and markets, each one offering a tantalizing glimpse into the world of Chinese commerce. From produce and dried seafood to herbal remedies and trendy Asian fashion and anime toy stores, it’s a place where you can lose yourself for hours.”