Since 1976, Georges La Forge's Pamplemousse Le Restaurant has enchanted couples with its romantic ambiance, and it has charmed celebrities such as Frank Sinatra with its elegant, low-key atmosphere. Like a high-stakes game of baccarat played for marshmallows, the cozy, country-inn feel of the hideaway provides a welcome oasis of approachability amidst the neon-colored nightlife of the nearby Las Vegas Strip. Warm candlelight at each table flickers as shadows dance upon the burgundy-colored walls and tucked-away alcoves. Complimentary baskets of crudités begin meals of traditional Gallic fare made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. The strains of French music softly fill the air as guests savor the tastes of wild-caught salmon, pâté spread on toasted baguettes, racks of spring lamb, and grilled filet mignon.
Zagat-Rated French Cuisine
Lauded for its brunch?which CBS Las Vegas listed as one of the best in the area?Master Chef Alex Stratta and Executive Chef Jose Aleman oversee the French-influenced Sunday morning fare at Marche Bacchus French Bistro. Dotted with offerings such as classic quiche lorraine and croque madame, the Zagat-rated cuisine is an off-the-strip favorite among locals. It's even owned by a local couple who took the restaurant over from the original owners in 2007.
A Short Trip, Worlds Away
Though it's just a short ride from the Vegas strip, Marche Bacchus French Bistro "feels worlds away," according to USA Today's 10Best. Situated on the shores of Lake Jacqueline, the restaurant's breezy patio is dotted with lush palm trees and looks out over the sparkling water, while inside leans upscale with crisp white tablecloths under a dramatic chandelier.
The Wine Shop
Before heading to a table, visit the wine shop. There, guests find more than 950 labels to choose from?all of which can be enjoyed inside the restaurant for a $10 corkage fee. On Saturdays, drop in between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to take part in a wine tasting; pours vary from week to week and follow themes such as varietal, region, and top 10 lists.
The sun is just beginning to rise over the nearby mountains as diners shuffle into Egg Works, suppressing yawns, stretching their arms, and sleepily greeting friends and family. Once they find their seat, though, the energy of the restaurant seeps into their mood. Waitresses swing by to flood their cups with steaming coffee and crowd tables with plates of cheesy omelets, spicy mexican breakfasts, and the sweet and savory crepes lauded by Rachael Ray. Others bring mason jars filled with bloody marys made with Habla Diablo hot sauce and bowls of Hawaiian-style sticky-rice breakfasts. As the sun clambers up the sky, breakfast favorites accept the stomach-filling aid of burgers, sandwiches, and the chefs' renowned Cincinnati-style chili?a hearty combination of chili, oyster crackers, and spaghetti.
Diners linger over third cups of coffee at the counters and cushy green booths of the casual dining room, watching flat-screen TVs mounted to walls where hand-painted murals from local artist Mike Miller stretch out. These paintings depict classic countryside scenes, from verdant fields to rolling mountains and New York City tour groups looking very lost.
Music swells in Le Provençal, ricocheting off the murals of the serene French countryside as waiters dressed in traditional peasant attire serenade diners with French and Italian numbers throughout the night. Nestled in the Paris Hotel and Casino, the restaurant introduces diners to the French countryside through steamed mussels, brick-oven flatbreads topped with smoked bacon or capers, and hearty parmesan-crusted chicken. It also prepares its house specialty, the bouillabaisse, and serves it tableside out of a vast cast-iron pot that bubbles with saffron-tomato broth and seafood, like a witch’s caldron but without the accidentally included pointy hat.
It is very Hawaiian at Islander's Grill. Inside the 4,000-sqare-foot plate-lunch-style island eatery, a surfboard hangs overhead, colorful chairs tuck under tables, and ukulele chords hula-hoop around booths and sound waves’ waists. All in all, it is a casual place—one that exudes the laid-back vibe of its owner, Keola Hunt. Yet, as cool and convivial as Keola may be, there’s one part of his business he’s decidedly firm about—his father’s recipes. “Dad’s an old chef,” Keola says of his father Kekoa. “He makes us all stick to the older traditions.” One of those traditions is Kekoa’s plate-lunch special—for which cooks marinate thinly sliced beef in a teriyaki sauce, housemade with soy shipped in from Hawaii. Kekoa’s signature dish, the mauna loa chicken, douses grilled chicken with a housemade lava sauce, built to heat levels of mild, medium, hot, or super Hawaiian, which must be suppressed in a leotarded jar. And while the father may have been so confident—or stubborn—with his flavors and recipes that he forbade menu substitutions, the son has given some slack. “I bend,” Keola says, allowing local macaroni salad to hitch a ride and sanctioning electric steam shovels to replace power lunchers’ forks. Every other Friday, a four-piece Hawaiian band sets up just off the dance floor for live sets. The large space accommodates group events and parties on weekends just as comfortably as it handles the downtown lunch crowd’s takeout and delivery orders on weekdays.
Mediterranean and American culinary traditions don’t share a lot of common ground. Dishes from these two traditions still share space on the menu at Bon Chef Cafe, though. There, you can find Gallic influences in tilapia a la francaise, an egg-battered tilapia filet covered with lemon and white-wine reduction like a caterer on April Fools’ Day. Kababs fill the air with the aroma of spices, and American cuisine is represented by over-sized breakfast sandwiches and hamburgers.