Steak is one of those Las Vegas traditions, like showgirls and chandeliers, that makes the city the epicenter of excess. With steak, extremes are played out in huge quantities, such as 40-plus ounces of aged beef, flamed in peppers, complemented by a double martini and dressed in sauces and a cavalcade of side dishes. The steak itself is now an art form. Here are a few Las Vegas steakhouses that make the cut.
Fine dining in Vegas cut its teeth on the concept of gourmet rooms. Every casino had a gourmet steakhouse for its players and big spenders. The meals were comped and served by hovering waiters in tuxedos who tossed salads table side and served sizzling desserts. A few of these holdovers still linger. Hugo’s Cellar at the Four Queens Hotel and Casino downtown and the Golden Steer Steakhouse, between the Strip and downtown Las Vegas, still cater to the old guard in a city where, not too long ago, everyone knew each other by first names.
World renowned chef Wolfgang Puck’s steakhouse offers a menu of organic ingredients such as eggs and chicken, as well as corn-fed, Nebraska-raised and 35-day dry-aged USDA prime cuts, Australian and American Wagyu beef sirloin and Kobe beef short ribs, which offer smooth-textured tastes.
A life-sized brass casting of Bodacious, a legendary monster bull from the rings of Pamplona, Spain, greets guests in the entrance, a symbol of the bold approach to cuisine at CARNEVINO. The restaurant is the masterwork of Mario Batali, whose esteemed Italian dish selections come as seconds to his signature dry-aged bone-in rib eyes, hormone-free, chemical-free and massaged with black peppers, sea salt and fresh rosemary. A hefty list of Italian wines can be experienced through the restaurant’s prix fixe beef tasting menu paired with just the right Italian vintage.
SW delivers tender, aged rib eyes and T-bones. The steakhouse also has the scenery. The restaurant offers indoor and patio seating that looks onto the “Lake of Dreams.” Every half hour, the small outdoor lake, backed by a 140-foot mountain of pines and 70-foot waterfalls, becomes the set for riveting shows of artful laser and cinematic projections, water-jet choreography and sensational musical scores, such as 2 flowers projected over the lake and set to classical music. The shows last 5 to 7 minutes, enjoyed alongside favorites such as the popular 20-oz. rib eye. Chef David Walzog also sells a lot of 42-oz. chili-rubbed double rib eyes -- definitely not for sissies.
Chef Emeril Lagasse aims for a one-of-a-kind steak experience at Delmonico. The steaks are massaged with Creole seasonings, dabs of butter and bacon fat to ensure each bite melts in your mouth. The overall menu is a bit of France and a bit of N’awlins with escargot and stuffed pork trotters, along with gumbo and Chateaubriand. Award-winning wines are available for pairing.
While most steakhouses in Las Vegas tend to go over the top in size, price, sauces and side selections, some serve steak simply -- rare, medium and well done. For those who like the simplicity of a good steak, a twice-baked spud and maybe a side of succotash, old Vegas is all too happy to oblige: The steakhouse at Circus Circus, The Flame Steakhouse at the El Cortez and Mr. Lucky’s at the Hard Rock Hotel, which serves the Gambler’s Special at all hours: steak, shrimp, a side and a salad for under $10. You can’t beat those odds.
Lark Ellen Gould is an award-winning journalist focusing on culture trends and curiosities in Las Vegas. She has written more than 5 books about the city.