Many of Las Vegas’ resorts, attractions, artists, and shows are often described as “legendary.” Restaurants are another story. Because these casino destinations on the Strip are constantly improving their offerings to keep visitors coming back for more, the dining scene is constantly changing; even the most beloved restaurants are often transformed into something new.
But there are legendary restaurants in this city, on and off the Strip, and the best place to start this discussion is probably at Piero’s Italian cuisine (702.369.2305), a 40-year-old Italian institution across from the new Las Vegas Convention Center West Hall. Owner Freddie Glusman, who celebrated his 85th birthday earlier this month, has long been one of the city’s most celebrated hosts, known for hanging out with Las Vegas executives, professional athletes and entertainers. Vegas. But Vegas locals and visitors keep coming back to Piero’s, recently enshrined in the Las Vegas magazine Hall of Fame month after month, year after year, due to the one-of-a-kind atmosphere and classic cuisine, especially signature dishes like Caesar salad, pasta fagioli, linguine and clams and homemade pappardelle with mushrooms, white wine, garlic and thyme.
Back on the Boulevard, Circus Circus projects itself into the future while retaining its most emblematic dining room, The steak house (702.794.3767), a favorite for over 30 years. Known for grilling premium Midwestern beef over mesquite charcoal, this restaurant carries on a great tradition of fine service and simple, high-quality cuisine at prices far more affordable than you’ll find at many others. great strip steaks. Once you’ve chosen your cut and perhaps a lobster tail or king crab legs added, your meal comes with all the trimmings including fresh bread, soup or salad, sides of vegetables and potatoes.
It’s far from fine dining, but the equally legendary pepper mill (702.735.4177) just across the street is always a hot spot for cocktails in its neon-hued Fireside Lounge and satisfying 24-hour dinner fare in its cozy dining room. Great people-watching in the wee hours here as after-show and post-disco revelers flock to the Pepper Mill to enjoy a late-night bite on breakfast favorites, mountains of nachos, sandwiches deli-style and juicy half-pound burgers.
Away from the lights of the Strip, the oldest Mexican restaurant in the state of Nevada happily serves great food in a casual environment from its Boulder Highway location in Henderson. Inaugurated in 1975, El Torito Cafe (702.564.2309) is a different legend, one that has fed generations of local families for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Familiar dishes such as enchiladas, chili rellenos, sizzling fajitas and pork chile verde are among the most popular dishes at this friendly spot.
And when it comes to family restaurants, any longtime Las Vegan will steer you towards Subway Pizza (702.736.1955), founded by two affable New York cousins, John Arena and Sam Facchini, in 1980 and now serving slices and pies and more at five locations scattered around the valley. This kitchen’s dedication to freshness and quality ingredients shines through, and one of its latest creations, the 86th Street Sicilian-style square pizza, has won awards at the International Pizza Expo Challenge, which returns to Las Vegas next month. It doesn’t get any more legendary than that.
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