Have you ever had a porterhouse aged for 260 days? If you’re willing to put up the platinum to cover the costs, the Carnevino at the Palazzo in Las Vegas is willing to serve up the meal and in addition to the steak you’ll have Iron Chef Mario Batali’s pasta and access to one of the greatest Italian wine lists on the West Coast.
Or maybe you’re more in the mood for skirt steak from Top Chef Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak at the MGM Grand served with vegetables from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.
But all the best places in town don’t come with a celebrity chef and television spotlight. Nero’s at Caesars, formerly the Spanish Steps, offers Black Angus beef from Creekstone Farms and executive chef Eric Damidot prepares what could be the perfect Bearnaise sauce.
Here are the top 10 steak joints in Las Vegas:
1. MOLTO MARIO’S ITALIAN STEAKHOUSE The best steak in town? The answer is simple. If you’re a connoisseur of aged beef, order one of the 6-to-8-month-old, dry-aged beauties from Molto Mario’s Italian steakhouse in The Palazzo. At the Palazzo Las Vegas, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-789-4141.
2. CUT is all about variety in a lineup of carnivorous delights. For a price, it will put before you three cuts of the best steaks in the world: A-5 true Kobe (Wagyu) beef from the Kagashima Prefecture in Japan; prime, hormone-free, corn-fed sirloin from Nebraska; and 35-day dry-aged beef from Illinois. Those steaks are presented in raw form first, perfectly trimmed, and ready to tempt you off that low-cholesterol diet you’ve been struggling with. At the Palazzo Las Vegas, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-607-6300.
3. CRAFTSTEAK The trouble with ranking Craftsteak in any steakhouse competition is you could eat here forever and never think about ordering a piece of beef. The vegetables (many trucked in from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market) are some of the most pristine anywhere, and chef Matt Seeber has a fine way with fish as well — making this a steakhouse even vegetarians can love. At the MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-891-7318.
4. DELMONICO Along with Prime in the Bellagio, Emeril Lagasse’s bastion of beef in the Venetian was among the first of our great meat emporiums. As with Carnevino, all of this top-shelf beef (and Cajun specialties like killer crab cakes and N’Awlins gumbo) are available at lunch. Sometimes the Bam Man can go overboard with his caloric creations, but there’s no denying the perfection of his dry-aged rib eye, matched with one of super-sommelier Kevin Vogt’s wines from the Wine Spectator Grand Award list. Caesar salad lovers should note this one is made tableside (the way it should be), and is one of the best versions around. At the Venetian, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-414-3737.
5. STRIPSTEAK If butter basting is your thing, then Michael Mina has got the cut for you. The conceit here is to sous-vide (vacuum poach) the meat at a low temperature before finishing the cuts over a wood-burning grill. This results in a rib eye or porterhouse that is as tender as these cuts can get. At Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-632-7414.
6. PRIME The guy whose name is on the door — Jean-Georges Vongerichten — comes to Vegas about as often as I go to a monster truck rally, but this place has bred some serious talent over the years — including molecular wizard Wylie Dufresne and Kerry Simon. Rob Moore (now at Jean-Georges Steakhouse in Aria) has supervised the stoves over the past five years and even with his departure, you can be assured this place will rarely miss a beat. It may be the most expensive steakhouse in town, but it is also the most beautiful, and the six-peppercorn-encrusted strip steak (and the short ribs and the veal chop), along with outstanding side dishes, keeps Prime in the pantheon of perfection. At Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-693-7223.
7. NERO’S Once called the Spanish Steps, a steakhouse has been located on this corner of the sprawling Caesars casino as long as we can remember. Now called Nero’s, it serves some of the best dry-aged steaks in town. The Black Angus beef comes from Creekstone Farms — one of the top purveyors of hormone and antibiotic-free beef in the country — and are better by far than the steaks in better-known places. The New York strip competes with the best in town, but we love the chateaubriand, served with a nice vegetable assortment and a perfect Béarnaise sauce that is so good, you know there’s a Frenchman — in this case corporate executive chef Eric Damidot — behind things in the kitchen. At Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-731-7731.
8. SW STEAKHOUSE The room has never been one of our favorites — huge, open and with all the charm of a bus station inside the Wynn — but there’s no denying the succulence of the steaks, or of chef David Walzog’s tasty sides. That big open space and stupid, intrusive Lake of Dreams light show does nothing to deter the crowds though, which show up every night for dinner. Before coming to Las Vegas, Walzog made his name at Strip House in New York, where he perfected his potatoes rosti, signature creamed spinach, truffled creamed corn and lots of other things to make your heart beat faster. At Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-248-3463.
9. N9NE Military-jet afterburner decibel levels and wall-to-wall poseurs do nothing to deter the throngs who pack this place nightly in hopes of spotting an Ashton here or a Gaga there. The food is secondary to the scene, but doesn’t have to be. The Kobe burger is top drawer, and the kitchen is justifiably proud of the crab-stuffed ‘shrooms, fried rock shrimp, colossal lump crab cake and braised beef ravioli with melted root vegetables. We also love the super-charred steaks (grilled at 1,200 degrees) and could spend all night sitting at the bar watching hotties do their celebrity-spotting in between bites of our sirloin. At the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road, 702-942-7777.
10. THE STEAKHOUSE AT CIRCUS CIRCUS Another forerunner of our plethora of prime rates a wave for longevity (24 years), dry-aging its beef on premises, and for cooking the steaks just right over super-hot mesquite charcoal. Its biggest drawback is that you have to walk through the seedy, low-rent, no-tell-motel smells of the Circus Circus to get to it. Once inside, all of that will be forgotten as you tuck into a superior steak, in clubby, masculine surroundings, for 10 bucks less than the same piece of meat costs in swankier digs. At Circus Circus, 2880 Las Vegas Blvd. South, 702-794-3767.