If you think about food in Las Vegas, the casino buffet probably comes to mind. The buffet features prominently in nearly every movie made about Las Vegas. But there is another side to Sin City: a robust culinary scene dominated by celebrity chefs and extraordinary cuisine. Las Vegas has become one of the world’s top food destinations. On a recent trip to the city, we struck out on a Las Vegas food tour to experience the best the city has to offer.
We set out with Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, a small company founded in 2015 that focuses on small group tours of Las Vegas best restaurants. Having done food tours in other cities (New York, Barcelona, Budapest, London, etc.), we’ve found that these intimate gatherings give us a deep immersion in a city’s culinary scene and it is a good way to start out a trip. It helps us pick which places we want to revisit and explore in greater detail. For this trip, we went on the Lip Smacking Foodie Tours three-hour Afternoon Culinary Adventure tour.
Having done other food tours, we thought we knew what to expect. We were wrong. The Las Vegas food tour is unlike any other we’ve experienced in the world – and that’s a good thing. Rather than moving from restaurant to restaurant and trying one dish apiece, this tour focuses on achieving depth within some of Las Vegas best restaurants. It’s a winner!
Founded in California, Javier’s Cantina is the brainchild of Javier Sosa and focuses on contemporary Mexican cuisine and mixology. Since opening in 2012, Javier’s is one of the hottest restaurants in Las Vegas (and has long waits for a reservation). This made it one of the absolute highlights of the Las Vegas food tour.
We settled into the dimly lit restaurant within the Aria City Center complex and started with a quartet of fresh salsas (house, tomatillo, habanero and fire roasted). We sampled a trio of enchiladas (Dungeness crab, shrimp and chicken). Tracing back to its seaside roots in California, Javier’s Cantina excels in seafood. The crab and shrimp were the most remarkable thing we ate all day.
Inside the Cosmopolitan hotel, we visited the Estiatorio Milos – a Mediterranean restaurant with a heavily Greco/Aegean influence. After the relatively heavy Mexican dishes, Milos provided lighter, ethereal elements. We sampled three different dishes. First there was a traditional Greek salad with tomatoes, olives and feta. It was followed by grilled octopus that was fork-tender and full of flavor. We were the only guests in the group who had tasted octopus before and can attest that this was the best we’ve ever had.
We also tried the Milos Special (called a windmill). It was a lightly fried zucchini and eggplant with tzatziki and a kefalograviera cheese. It was sweet, savory and very filling. It’s unlike any dish we’ve ever had in our lives before.
Jaleo by Jose Andres
Also in the Cosmopolitan is Jaleo by Jose Andres. Think tapas – on steroids. After spending quite a bit of time in Spain last year, we had our fill on Spanish cuisine, but Jaleo made us rethink that one. The sampling started with Aceitunas ‘Ferran Adria’ – essentially a recreation of Adria’s olive spherifications with alginate. If you’ve never had it before, it is a mindblowing experience and was a highlight of the Vegas food tour. The program continued with an endive and goat cheese salad. But Jaleo excels in Spanish classics of chicken croquetas (served in a shoe – think “sole food” instead of “soul food”) and a massive chicken and mushroom paella.
We also used a traditional Spanish porron to share a drink. The porron is glass pitcher that is shared around the table. The goal is to pour into your mouth and not get it all over your clothes. We were successful.
The Las Vegas food tour came to a glorious, sugar-fueled conclusion at Hexx, a confection and chocolate store on the strip. Hexx makes their own chocolate on premise from whole imported chocolate beans from Peru, Ecuador and other far-flung destinations. At Hexx, we had the chance to go into the commercial kitchen and see how the beans are separated, ground and the chocolate is made. After, we were able to enjoy a selection of desserts, which included an Aztec cake and brownie (all made with their chocolates).
Having done food tours in other cities such as New York, Barcelona, Budapest, Amsterdam, and London, we were impressed with our Las Vegas food tour. The depth of dishes at each restaurant was a surprise and a pleasant twist on the food tour concept. If you find yourself in Vegas, we’d highly recommend one of the Lip Smacking Foodie Tours.
More on the Las Vegas Food Tour
Afternoon Culinary Adventures
This was the tour we enjoyed. It includes 12+ dishes at four stops over three hours for $125 per person.
Savors Of The Strip
This includes 15+ dishes at five stops over three hours for $199 per person.
Downtown Lip Smacking Tour
This includes 12+ dishes at four stops over 2 ½ hours for $125 per person.
Additional Details on Lip Smacking Foodie Tours
What to Bring: While the walk is not strenuous, comfortable shoes can be very helpful.
Notice: Some tours have an option alcoholic beverage pairing. You must be 21 years of age for the alcoholic beverage pairings.
Where to Stay in Las Vegas: Las Vegas has a ton of hotels, and there can be some incredible mid-week deals, but weekends can also be pretty expensive as people come for the weekends. Check the latest Las Vegas hotel prices here.
Additional Reading: Check out this article for a comprehensive list of other things to do in Las Vegas.
We were the guests of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours while in Las Vegas. All opinions of the delicious and decadent are our own.