On the Strip: Julian Serrano Tapas

Julian Serrano is one of the foundational chefs of the Las Vegas Strip. He helped set a new standard for fine dining with the exemplary Picasso at Bellagio and more recently created an Italian experience, Lago, at the same resort. But with Julian Serrano Tapas (Aria, 877.230.2742) he created the first Spanish restaurant at a Strip casino while sharing innovations on his own native cuisine.

Its parade of flavorful small plates include classic tapas such as the potato-laden Spanish tortilla, gambas al ajillo (sautéed shrimp in a spicy tomato sauce) and goat cheese-stuffed dates. But there are larger-format shareable items for your group, including traditional paellas, crispy roasted suckling pig or the Portuguese-influenced seafood and rice dish known as mariscada. Start with an imported Spanish charcuterie and cheese platter including the famed “pata negra” Iberico de Bellota ham and a pitcher of house-made sangria and you’ll forget you’re still in the desert. –Brock Radke

Off the Strip: Jade Asian Kitchen & Noodles

The new Jade Asian Kitchen & Noodles (JW Marriott Las Vegas and Rampart Casino, 221 N. Rampart Blvd., 702.869.7900) finds the balance between the type of restaurant that satisfies the revolving door of tourists and conventioneers and an easy-access destination that gives locals a reason to come back again and again. Chef Ayoung Chang’s menu samples favorites from China, Japan and Korea, and the gorgeously appointed restaurant is large enough to offer a variety of experiences. There are teppanyaki tables, a sushi bar, a noodle bar and a traditional booze bar that opens onto a large patio with a waterfall view. –C. Moon Reed

#trending: Frites

Of course you want fries with that. At Frites (Excalibur, 702.840.3440), an airstream trailer food truck in the Excalibur’s food court, fries are the main attraction, not dismissed as an obligatory side dish. Load the crispy potatoes up with Kansas City-style barbecue-sauced chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese and caramelized onions. If you’re a purist, try one of the house flavors, sprinkled with everything bagel mix, Cajun seasoning or truffle flavor, and feel free to add a fried egg and get a root beer float to wash it all down. –Brock Radke