The Un-Vegas Las Vegas Guide
It will always wear the crown of being destination #1 for bachelors and spring breakers, but Vegas also has the honor of being a major business conference destination—and for those visiting for work, the incessant casino noise and 24-hour-party energy can feel overwhelming and distracting. Venture off the Strip, though, and you’ll find the city itself is full of alternatives—non-claustrophobic spots to eat, drink, play, and rest—you just have to know where to look. And as an undersold bonus, the surrounding desert is home to some of the country’s most compelling nature. Below, our picks for a more low-key, non-toxic stay, with a few imperative pit-stops on Vegas’s main drag for some of the country’s most compelling food.
Ronald’s Donuts4600 Spring Mountain Rd., Chinatown | 702.873.1032
The vegan donuts at this no-frills strip mall bakery are nothing short of legendary. And it’s not just the exceptional quality that keeps fans coming back again and again (they taste just like the real thing, if not better), it’s also the sheer size of the selection: fritters, Boston cream-filled, jelly, maple, classic glazed, and the list just keeps going from there. It's kind of the perfect pit-stop on the way to the airport.
Luv-It Frozen Custard505 E. Oakey Blvd., Downtown | 702.384.6452
With more than 30 years of experience and legions of loyal locals to back it up, this Vegas standby is known for churning out some of the best old-fashioned frozen custard in the state. The cash-only walk-up counter is in a somewhat out-of-the-way part of town and usually has a bit of a wait, but don’t let that deter you—the creamy sundaes (hot apple walnut is unreal), thick milkshakes, and floats are well worth the wait.
The Golden Tiki3939 Spring Mountain Rd., Chinatown | 702.222.3196
Although the indoor lava cove, designated pirate's lair, and leopard print booths may suggest otherwise, this six-months-old Chinatown tiki bar is actually genuinely good, not gimmicky. There’s an authentic Polynesian food menu to support a cocktail offering that includes the Painkiller (rum, OJ, and Dole pineapple whip), Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, and a Dark & Stormy that's really solid for a landlocked city.
PKWY Tavern9820 W. Flamingo, Spring Valley | 702.243.5329
While the bar menu at this local watering hole is all about hearty, well-prepared comfort staples—sliders, fish & chips, and a really good cobb salad—the real draw here is the beer. The selection is as vast as it is far-reaching, with some of the 200+ brews (regulars are awarded loyalty cards) hailing from as far as Jamaica and Scotland. And lest you forget you’re still technically in Vegas, it’s open 24/7.
Sweets Raku5040 W. Spring Mountain Rd., Chinatown | 702.290.7181
This is the tiny sister operation (and neighbor) to the much-loved Raku Grill, though the focus here is on the dessert bar. You'll find Japanese sweets of every variety: The menu is split up into a three-course prix fixe and a small selection of a la cart daily specials. From fresh sorbet to fruit-flavored tiramisu, everything is made by hand on the spot under the watchful eye of Executive Pastry Chef Mio Ogasawara.
Artisanal Foods2053 Pama Lane, Paradise | 702.436.4252
All of the best chefs in Vegas go to Brett Ottolenghi to source hard-to-find luxury ingredients like truffles, foie gras, and caviar, which he sells out if his cozy gourmet food shop, Artisanal Foods. This fall, he teamed up with long-time Vegas chef Johnny Church to set up a tiny six-seat restaurant that serves a tasting menu during lunch five days a week. It's an incredibly intimate, special experience, and the combination of Church's experimental style and Ottolenghi's penchant for sourcing exotic ingredients makes each meal more unusual and innovative than the next. If you don't have time for a full meal, it's still worth stopping in to taste the rare cheeses and cured meats. Needless to say, it's a mainstay if you're doing any cooking during your stay.
Daily Kitchen3645 S. Town Center Dr., Summerlin | 702.685.7100
This casual restaurant and juice bar is a local favorite off the strip. They open early—7am—and serve breakfast, lunch, and early dinner. With a number of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options, the menu has a California bend: Poblano Breakfast Wrap, acai bowls, Ahi Tuna Tacos, salads, wraps, and burgers made from natural grass fed beef (or black beans). This is also a good spot to pick up a juice or smoothie after a long night out, when cleansing might be on the mind.
Go Raw Cafe2910 Lake E. Dr., The Lakes | 702.254.5382
This health food café is an amazing resource when you’ve overindulged a bit. From two conveniently locations (one on either side of town), they offer up raw and vegan meals, cold pressed juice, and a small market with supplements and clean snacks.