Even if you never were much of a gambler, there’s now one sure thing to bet on in Vegas. Here’s the tip: it’s the food. The desert gambling capital is the new culinary proving ground for ambitious New York chefs. The casinos have come a-courting, and leading the way is Steve Wynn, whose new Venetian palazzo, the Bellagio, has just opened versions of the Maccioni clan’s Le Cirque and Circo, as well as Prime, a new steakhouse from Jean-Georges Vongerichten. (Wynn has also imported boutiques by Prada, Armani, Tiffany’s, Moschino, and Chanel, to make you feel even more at home.) Smith & Wollensky just opened an outpost next to the MGM Grand. And later this year, the new Mandalay Bay will have clones of China Grill and Charlie Palmer’s Aureole. Of course, for a true all–New York weekend, how can you resist the New York–New York Hotel & Casino? Incredibly, this virtual Gotham is actually a witty and knowing encapsulation of your kind of town. It also has a perfectly respectable version of Gallagher’s Steak House and a reincarnated Schrafft’s, the former Fifth Avenue ice-cream parlor. Just as in the real city, it’s not easy getting fast reservations, so book all your tables ahead.
DETAILS Bellagio (888-987-6667; rooms start at $299, but rates change often); New York–New York (800-693-6763; rooms start at $129.99, but rates change often); Le Cirque (702-693-8150; entrées from $28 to $39); Osteria del Circo (702-693-8150; entrées from $19 to $26); Prime (702-693-7223; entrées from $18 to $54); Smith & Wollensky (702-862-4100; entrées from $24 to $32); Gallagher’s Steak House (702-740-6450; entrées from $18.95 to $75).