It’s almost ICSC RECon time, when professionals from across the retail real estate world descend on Las Vegas in the industry’s version of the Super Bowl. One of the biggest challenges of this great networking event – other than sore feet – is trying to find enough time to connect with everyone you want to see during your short 3 or 4 days in Las Vegas. Most people end up extending the day by meeting for drinks or appetizers after the daytime deal making end. But with so many choices, it’s difficult to know exactly where to take that post-game party.
Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing David Falk speak, chef and restauranteur of The Boca Restaurant Group. (Next time you’re in Cincinnati, but sure to check out his restaurants Boca, Nada and Sotto, which are a few of my favorites.) During his presentation, David described wanting to create food that makes people moan – you know, the sounds you make when the food you’re tasting is just too amazing to keep quiet. I knew exactly what he was talking about.
When I was at Momofoku in Vegas a few months ago, I told my server that the pork belly bun made me want to ooh and ahhh, but I thought people would think it was a bit strange since I was sitting alone. David was right – great food makes you want to moan out loud. Momofoku is just one of the many great places to dine in Vegas that will elicit just that response. Why not check a few of those restaurants off your Vegas food bucket list with your pre-dinner meetings?
I polled some of my favorite foodie friends as well as local experts on their recommendations for their favorite “yum-inducing” restaurants or bars in Las Vegas. Listed below are five sets of recommendations for quick bites or drinks.
- For That Traditional Las Vegas Ambience.
- Stuart Shapiro, Senior Director of National Accounts at Phillips Edison, recommends Piero’s for their calamari, Caesar salad and veal parmesan with a Manhattan served straight up. Piero’s opened in 1982 and quickly became a hangout for Las Vegas locals, celebrities, politicians, and some of those businessmen in the casino industry with Italian surnames, those ‘local color’ guys.
- Stuart also loves Joe’s at The Forum Shops at Caesar’s for crab, ceviche, peppermint ice cream and cocktails! (Did he say peppermint ice cream?! Yum!)
- Our senior leasing professional Chris Young never misses the opportunity to visit The Golden Steer, which he describes as a “really cool place”. This old Rat Pack hangout claims to offer ‘the best steaks on earth since 1958’ and one of the ‘oldest steakhouses in Las Vegas’. I’m trying to figure out a time to stop by for a quick sampling of their Rhode Island Crab Cakes and Large Seafood Stuffed Mushroom Caps. Chris recommends getting ‘three fingers’ of Jack Daniel's and a steak like Sinatra used to get.
- Drinks on the Patio. Enjoying drinks on the patio is the perfect way to network and relax after a long day inside the convention center. Diana Perry, Vice President of Marketing & Social Media at Linear Retail Properties, sent me some of her favorites:
- Lavo – If you're looking for a casual and comfy spot to overlook the strip, Lavo is THE place! A thoughtful wine list is perfectly paired with their well-known softball meatballs appetizer.
- Rhumbar – For a chill, yet fun, reggae inspired stop, hit Rhumbar's outdoor patio where you are free to smoke hookah and jam to the tunes.
- DCR – New speakeasy that just opened this year with unreal creative cocktails.
- Le Central Bar at Paris – A new bar getting known as "The Late Night Spot" as its doors are open 24 hours.
- Get off the Strip. Love this recommendation from Howard Berger, a Las Vegas resident and Managing Partner, Program Director for Realcomm. He recommends Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen, which is limited to craft beer and a decent selection of wines, but offers a really pleasant experience. It’s his ‘go to’ when folks come to his end of town in Summerlin. Howard – I hope to ‘go to’ if I have some time to sample their Thai Bouillabaisse with fish/mussels/shrimp/scallops/cams/coconut broth. The Secret Kitchen is all about Nittava’s passion for cooking, using her family recipes from her homeland of Thailand.
- A Quiet Place and Good Deal. After a long day of setting up our booth a few years ago, some co-workers and I discovered the Happy Hour at Koi at Planet Hollywood that offers half-off signature drinks and appetizers from 5pm-7pm. This quiet lounge away from the craziness that would begin a couple of days later was the perfect place to enjoy an abundance of creamy shrimp tempura – for half price.
- So Many Choices, so Little Time. I always love Wendy Albert’s recommendations, Senior Director of Marketing for Miracle Mile Shops. She has a spreadsheet of the latest and greatest places and I could not pick just one.
Hopefully, these ideas will whet your appetite and help you plan for some quick bites or cocktails in Vegas. There are so many options, you really can’t go wrong. I look forward to seeing my CRE friends in a couple of weeks, and hearing which restaurants were your favorites!