MGM Grand Las Vegas
3799 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Phone: (702) 891-1111

The MGM Grand Las Vegas is one of the most luxurious hotel and casinos on the strip, which puts it high on the running for the best in the world. The rooms are well furnished and it's been my experience that everything (i.e.: TV, plumbing fixtures, etc.) were in good working order. Of course, if you spend all your time in the room, you're missing the point of Vegas altogether. I suggest that you get out and take a walk through the casino area and down the Studio Walk to get a general feel for the layout of the hotel. Assuming you have a pulse, you'll likely see something that interests you. Even more likely, you'll see several things that interest you.
With as much neato crap as there is to do and eat there, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. I aim to remedy that. Below are all of the restaurants that are inside the MGM, or at least not too far outside, in the case of the Cabana Grill. I'll give a brief description of each restaurant's general theme or style, and then a review. There are still 3 places I haven't tried yet (Craftsteak, NOBHILL, and Pearl, so I can't say much about them.

Dining Info:

Craftsteak - Head chef Tom Colicchio utilizes a culinary stategy known as "elegant simplicity" at this place. Whether that has any meaning to anyone whatsoever or is just fancy rhetoric is left as an exercise for reader. At any rate... Diners choose from an a la carte menu, where the emphasis is placed on beef, poultry, fish, lamb, pork and veal.

Pearl - An "east meets west" style Chinese restaurant. Authentic Chinese food with influences from the provinces of Canton and Shanghai. Unfortunately, I have yet to experience this restaurant personally. Judging by the lighting, atmosphere, and general ambience, I'd recommend dressy casual. It would also probably be wise to make reservations a day in advance.

NOBHILL - Opened in late July 2003, NOBHILL is a restaurant that attempts to recreate the types of dining experiences found throughout San Francisco. 80% of their products come from Bay Area growers and producers. Eating here is a top priority on my next Vegas adventure, and I'll be sure to update this node.

Emeril's - Yes I'm talking about Emeril Lagasse of "BAM!" and "Kick it up a notch" fame. As anyone who has viewed his (increasingly gimmicky) show knows, his specialty is cajun/creole cuisine. If you've made the decision to drop some serious coin on your meal and eat here, I recommend you try the Creole Mustard Glazed Redfish. It is not to be beaten. This restaurant is also a dressy casual affair, at least, which means some nice slacks and a polo shirt. Don't be surprised however, to see many other patrons wearing a suit and tie. Also, unless your recent victories in the casino have left you feeling heady with luck, don't expect to get in without a reservation at least 48 hours in advance.

Grand Wok and Sushi Bar - Didn't get your fill of Chinese cuisine at Pearl? Try this place. It offers a somewhat broader sample of the flavors of the Orient, with chefs who specialize in creating Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean and Vietnamese foods. What better place for you to broaden your horizons and finally see what you've been missing by avoiding sushi all these years? And if you decide, after tasting it, that raw fish isn't your bag of coffee, why not wash all those regrets away with some sake? Also of note is this awesome waterfall/moat thing they have going on. The MGM Grand website claims it give the illusion that the restaurant is floating on water. I never saw it that way, but it's an interesting effect nonetheless.

Mark Miller's Grill Room - The Grill Room features a different entree every month, so schedule your Vegas trip accordingly. The one permanent fixture on their menu is the Cowboy Rib Steak. The Coyote Cafe is the Grill Room's more casual half. It features authentic hand-painted Southwestern decorations, and really, really, small tables. Still, the grub was tasty.

MGM Grand Buffet - Ah buffets. Truly a staple of any gargantuan hotel/casino. The MGM Grand Buffet is no exception. While it's not quite on the level of the Rio Buffet, is usually worth the wait. They cater to the seafood lover with shrimp, crab legs, and all that other good stuff. Not always the best selection, but if you don't feel like trekking off the strip to the Rio, then this is as good as it'll get, and while you're there, grab me a purse full of lasagne and tell 'em CptPlanet sent ya.

Rainforest Cafe - "A wild place to shop and eat!" boasts the slogan. More like "A wild place to waste money and further half-assed hippie political agendas!" Oh, wait. I mean... save the whales. OK, now that I've done some immature venting, let me qualify my distaste for this place. While the dining atmosphere, in essence a fiberglass rainforest, was unique and pleasant, I found the novelty of it was overshadowed by the long lines, high prices, and overall unremarkability of the food.

Ricardo's Mexican Restaurant - Traditional Mexican food in a casual atmosphere.. Whether you're a spice wimp or have a cast iron gullet that is the envy of the gods themselves, you'll find a dish to suit your tastes. I think a simple yum is sufficient to describe it. Not much information is available about the enigmatic Ricardo, which leads me to believe that the name was chosen by a board room full of suits simply for it's zesty latin connotations, or perhaps it was chosen by someone who just loved Lucy a little too much.

Studio Cafe - Ah, the other staple of a Vegas hotel/casino. It's a traditional diner menu, that offers sandwiches, burgers, milkshakes and the like with service and deliciosity rivaled only by the 24-hour cafe at the Aladdin. A surefire way to take your mind off the fact that the casinos only left you with enough money to gorge your fat ass on a chocolate shake at 4:30am. Usually picks slightly up between 11pm to 1am when all the other restaurants are closed. Either get there early or wait it out.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe - Although he is arguably the fruitiest of all the celebrity chefs, his cuisine never disappoints. Best of all, he's never there, so you can enjoy a plethora of tasty dishes without some smarmy European explaining, at great length, ze beauty of ze coloure and ze flavoure. As far as atmosphere and decor go, I rather liked the colorful little tile mosaic and overall bright, artsy decoration. Very zesty and appetizing.

Cabana Grill - So you're doing a few laps around the MGM Grand's luxurious pool facilities to combat the impending butter overdose you feel coming on as a result of your dining experience at Emeril's last night, and that distended gut of yours starts to gurgle. Not to worry my friend, because the Cabana Grill's got your back. Here you can get appetizers, sandwiches, pizza, whatever. Remember to wait 30 minutes before that next cannonball though.

Unfortunately, upon my visit to Vegas in January 2003 for CES, I learned that my favorite restaurant in the entire hotel had mysteriously vanished. It was a very upscale mediterranean place called Neila's. I can say without any hesitation that they had the best service I've ever been witness to. The waiter, Phil I think was his name, was aware that we the diners were about to embark upon a journey in to uncharted flavor territory, and spent a great deal of time and effort explaining each and every menu item. The meal started off with a small shot of cinammon liqueur, progressed through exotic and exquisitely prepared appetizers and entrees and ended smoking flavored tobacco out of a hooka. Sadly, it is an experience which I shall never again relive.

Parting Thoughts

Now that the dining section is complete (for now), I'll leave you with a few things to think about. First, rooms fill up fast. I recommend booking your hotel reservation no less than six weeks in advance. Also- and this is more of a general Vegas travel tip- remember that Las Vegas is in the middle of a desert. If you're going in the summer, make sure to bring plenty of t-shirts, as you'll probably be sweating enough to warrant at least a couple changes a day if you're anything like me. Make sure you pack more than that though, as you'll likely be going to restaurants and shows where the "just walked in off the street" look isn't very well received. I'll add more to this node as I think of it, and a special thanks goes to ouroboros for helping me figure out how to arrange and structure this writeup.

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