From its 1978 opening in New York City, Via Brasil Steakhouse has withstood the test of time and critics to bring the churrascaria tradition to diners on both ends of the country. At the stately Las Vegas restaurant, South American traditions come through not only in the more than 18 meats that grace tables but also in the way each one is prepared and served. The special churrascaria cooking traces its origins to southern Brazil's gauchos, who wound down their long days of herding cattle on the Pampas by roasting cuts of beef over crackling fire pits and writing up formal business proposals for opening steak houses in America. Today, chefs continue that tradition by roasting slabs of meat on rotisserie grills, then slicing each one tableside in order to give diners the exact cuts and temperatures they desire.
Inside the restaurant, an opulent surrounding of marble columns and countertops, floral centerpieces, and huge, sunny windows complement smartly dressed servers as they tote skewers to tables and carve off tender morsels of top sirloin, leg of lamb, and salmon. Selections from 16 side dishes garnish each savory cut of meat with exotic ingredients such as hearts of palm and yucca fries, and a salad bar urges diners to help themselves to more than 30 unique recipes. To complement the feasts, an ample wine cellar and a resident sommelier help diners bring out the rich flavors of each dish with expert advice on the dozens of bottles from around the world.
For those looking for the finest USDA prime beef and a top-of-the-line wine list, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, is the place to go. Inside the restaurant, rich reds and browns help to create a private and relaxing environment. Tables are beautifully covered in white cloths and are candle-lit, making for an intimate setting, while the dim lights and classic décor create the atmosphere of an authentic steakhouse that still manages to be unique. Some of the most popular items include the baked brie, braised short ribs of beef, dry-aged steaks and Alaskan king crab legs, to name a few. Sides such as chipotle cheddar macaroni 'n' cheese and the Fleming’s Potatoes, as well as creme brûlée and chocolate lava cake desserts, are also available.
In 1971, Jimmy Nishiyama introduced the city of Las Vegas to Japanese hibachi cuisine. Three decades later, and the friends have stayed very much in touch. During that time, Geisha House, Nishiyama's brainchild, has grown to fill three locations and eight menu pages. Colorful specialty sushi rolls, such as the baked Japanese Lasagna—cream cheese and mayo atop a crabmeat and avocado roll—make fitting partners for grilled lobster, filet mignon, or scallops in hibachi dinners. Nearly 30 varieties of sake trip merrily across the palate, while the Geisha martini blends sake with plum wine and a treasure trove of James Bond jokes.
Though Zhigang Wang mastered the art of sushi in Tokyo, he refined a second Japanese culinary art—hibachi—during an eight-year tenure at The Mirage in Las Vegas. Today, he showcases both cooking styles as head chef of Ohjah Japanese Steakhouse Rainbow.
Before they can assemble rolls from handpicked ingredients in Zhigang's kitchen, all Ohjah's sushi chefs must have at least six years of sushi-rolling experience. That training shines through on the menu's many specialties including the french kiss roll, a shrimp tempura, crab, and cucumber medley covered with mango-tomato salsa. They also cook elements that many chefs might usually keep raw, whether its deep-frying the casino roll's salmon and asparagus or baking the Japanese lasagna roll's crab and cream cheese.
Away from the sushi bar, Ohjah's hibachi chefs show off their culinary wizardry at the restaurant's teppanyaki tables. As flames shoot from the grills, chefs sear succulent cuts of everything from kobe beef to teriyaki-flavored scallop and halibut. More hot dishes emerge from Ohjah's kitchen, including "nachos" made from wonton chips smothered in avocado and spicy sautéed crab.
Out the window, the blue of the Palms Place pool sparkles; in the air, the smell of braised beef short ribs linger. This marriage of elegance and hearty food might not seem an intuitive one, but the man behind the recipe makes it sing. Celebrity Chef Kerry Simon, who Rolling Stone famously deemed "the Rock-and-Roll chef," has braved Iron Chef America's "Kitchen Stadium" and opened restaurants the world over. His Palms Place jewel, Simon Restaurant & Lounge, takes inspiration from his jet-setting ways—literally. "I call it designed from jet lag," Simon told the Las Vegas Sun. "It was a lot of stuff that, over the years when I traveled, I craved."
Luckily for guests, Chef Simon's cravings are varied. At the sushi bar, diners feast on specialty rolls and sashimi, with wok-charred edamame and ahi tuna tartare ready to accompany the hand rolls and tiny dishes of soy sauce. Mama Simon's meatloaf, made with beef and veal, goes toe-to-toe with truffled mac and cheese for the title of most comforting dish, while a 40-ounce porterhouse waits to test the depths of guests' hunger or the size of their cheek pouches. But it isn't all savory—the brunch menu boasts brioche apple-crunch pancakes crusted in Frosted Flakes, and Simon Junk Food platters, designed to be shared, let diners walk down memory lane with brownies, Rice Krispie treats, cupcakes, cookies, and cotton candy.