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Las Vegas is not the place that comes to mind when you think of fine dining, it doesn’t quite fit with the image of vice and hedonism, yet there is a real about Vice City these days as off-the-Strip restaurants raise the game for visitors and residents alike.
There’s nothing wrong with a steak dinner with fries washed down with Californian cab sav, but for the discerning foodie/gambler, there’s a burgeoning casual fine dining scene that fits exactly with what the city wants and needs.
The creative team behind Cosme have announced they will open a yet-to-be named restaurant open at Wynn Las Vegas the first quarter of 2020. Enrique Olvera’s New York based Mexican institution seems like a perfect fit for the city in the desert.
Las Vegas’ Mexican origins and large Mexican population make a natural home for the Cosme-related restaurant, but more than that, a general upbeat energy, irreverence and joie de vivre in the city is right in line with Enrique Olvera’s attitude to Mexican food. The soul of Mexican food is about getting people together and have a party and what better place to do that than Vegas?
"We're thrilled to join Las Vegas, a vibrant and exciting city that knows the art of a great party," Olvera said in a statement. "Our goal is to create a restaurant that embraces the showmanship of the city not just with celebratory food but also in the design and ambience."
While Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand has long been the standard bearer for classic fine dining in Las Vegas but recently some huge names have been steadily making their way to set up in the City of Lights. David Chang opened Momufoku at The Cosmopolitan, a dining hall that includes the likes of Eric and Bruce Bromberg's Blue Ribbon, É by José Andrés and much more.
With a sizeable part of the city’s population involved in the service industry in one form or another, the Las Vegas is an attractive place for chefs to set up shop where their dollar goes a lot further than in say New York or LA according to a report by Kevin Alexander for Thrillist.
With a steady, dependable stream of tourist revenue and tourists often playing loose with their winnings, or drowning their losses, Vegas will continue to be a bankable destination for big name chefs looking to expand their empires into new territories.
Culinary scenes have a habit of growing themselves and propagating as chefs gain experience and push on to open a place with their own name on it. Michelin recently announced a new guide for California, so we may in time see a scene that could justify a star ranking of its own. Watch this space.