In keeping with the Eater tradition, we asked a group of restaurant critics, journalists, bloggers and friends of the website to weigh up the year of eating. Your answers to the annual Year in Eater survey will be published in multiple posts. Next, the gastronomy experts will announce their top newcomers from 2020.
Which newcomer in the scene got you excited this year?
Scott Roeben, Vital Vegas:: Must be at 8 East in Circa Las Vegas. The food is so simple but also amazing. The must-try items are fried brisket rice, chicken skewers, and pork belly bao. I’m not a pork belly, but everything 8 East does is absolutely delicious. Plus, pretty much anything in downtown Esther’s Kitchen will be a contender for Best Restaurant Food of 2020.
Melanie Lee, Esser Vegas: I really like Majordomo. The variety of flavors is amazing and the table presentation is so much fun (and movie). I got the chance to try a few things in February and really enjoyed it. Moon Palace on the other hand is also a very fun concept that I really enjoyed!
Bob Barnes, editor of The Las Vegas Food & Beverage Professional and Las Vegas writers for Gayot:: Johnny C’s Diner was impressive to me for the great quality of a great chef (Johnny Church), comfort dishes with nice upgrades over quality ingredients, cool decor for old diners (with a working jukebox!) And very affordable prices. Examples of its comfort food presented in extremely high quality are mac with five cheeses and cheese with a Cheez-It crust; and grilled cheese with honey, brie and walnuts from the region.
Emmy Kasten, freelance writer: What I was most excited about was the return of Chef Barry Dakake with the opening of Barry’s Downtown Prime in Circa. The steakhouse staples and table presentations are amazing and the glamorous venue sets the mood for a memorable night in downtown Las Vegas.
Ken Miller, editor of Las Vegas Magazine:: Bugsy & Meyers Steakhouse in the Flamingo.
Philip Tzeng, food blogger at Las Vegas Fill:: Legends Oyster Bar & Grill is my new favorite for 2020. Chef Jack Jarukasem and his staff serve some of the best seafood at very reasonable prices. They got slammed every time I was there.
Krista Diamond, Freelance Writer at Eater Vegas: The Slanted Door had unfortunate timing with the March 2020 opening date – I’m sad that more people couldn’t enjoy it before things closed, but they will be happy when the restaurant reopens. I love the daikon rice cakes there. They also have a cocktail that was originally served in the Sahara in the 1960s which is a nice touch.
Rob Kachelriess, Las Vegas writer Thrillist:: I really love what Jack Jarukasem does to seafood at The Legends Oyster Bar. Chinglish serves authentic Cantonese in an environment accessible to the Summerlin crowd with a chef, Po-Fai Lam, who is the real deal. Bruce Kalman’s Soulbelly BBQ popup in the Arts District got me excited to see the fully realized version in 2021. It’s one of my favorite downtown spots along with 8 East at Circa (with affordable daily happy hour if you just want to give it a try) and Good Pie which isn’t “new” but so much more in its second location can offer than the original at Pawn Plaza. It was obviously a quiet year on the Strip, but Bugsy & Meyer delivered a classic steakhouse dinner in a fun setting. I also want to highlight a couple of cocktail lounges: the new washroom at the Commonwealth, which has improved on an already mind-blowing concept, and Mas Por Favor, which is where you can have tacos in a secret speakeasy.
Sonja Swanson, Food and culture author: It didn’t open until just before the end of 2020, but likely Banichka, Nina Manchev’s Eastern European bakery – bread is an excellent answer to this year’s horrors!
Louiie Victa, Eater Vegas photographer and co-host of Two hot cooks and a microphone:: Main St. Provisions! After all! And Vegas Test Kitchen is an exciting concept that I would love to try.
Lorraine Moss, co-host of Two hot cooks and a microphone:: Barry’s Downtown Prime. We got a real old school Vegas steakhouse downtown from some of the best guys in the hospitality industry. Love the bone-in ribeye and the short rib of braised beef served in a custom tagine.
Nina King, Las Vegas Magazine Editor in Chief: I loved Majordomo and the bread and hummus were really amazing.
Diana Edelman, founder Vegan, baby:: Chikyu Vegan Sushi & Izakaya. You’re on the same team as Shizen in San Francisco, a hugely popular vegan sushi place. It’s the first upscale vegan eatery and all-sushi restaurant in Las Vegas. It’s exciting to see a vegan restaurant offer a plant-based menu that doesn’t use processed foods or fake meats and cheeses. It was amazing to see their popularity especially when they opened at the start of the pandemic and could only dine in for a couple of weeks before they had to return for takeout.
Susan Stapleton, Editor of Eater Vegas: The Slanted Door in the Forum Shops in Caesars and I can’t wait to see it open again with its modern Vietnamese cuisine. Elio at Encore Las Vegas and I can’t wait to see it open again. When it comes to teaching Vegas a lesson in how to serve a particular cuisine, I feel like Wynn knows what it’s doing. Majordomo at the Palazzo with its Bing bread is a great addition to the Strip. Cant wait to try Robata En by former Japanese chef Ramir DeCastro at Yonaka Modern in Chinatown.
Disclosure: David Chang produces shows for Hulu in partnership with Vox Media Studios, a company of Eater’s parent company, Vox Media. No Eater employee is involved in the production of these shows, which does not affect the coverage of Eater.
• Where 2020 Las Vegas Food Writers loved to have dinner and order takeaway [ELV]
• The Biggest Stories About Eater Vegas in 2020 [ELV]
• The saddest restaurant and bar to close in Las Vegas in 2020 [ELV]
• Year-round Eater Coverage [ELV]
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