On and Off the Strip: Libertine Social, Elia and Mama Rabbit
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James Beard Award-winning chef Shawn McClain had already collaborated with MGM Resorts to create Sage and Five 50 Pizza at Aria before he took a third swing with Libertine Social (Mandalay Bay, 702.632.7558), his most innovative Las Vegas restaurant project to date. It’s essentially a next-generation gastropub, but there’s no right or wrong way to eat and drink at this dynamic destination along Mandalay Bay’s famed restaurant row.
Start with small bites like oysters with Tabasco gel and tequila mignonette, smoked salmon crudo with horseradish cream, crispy pork belly with black garlic jus or the caviar “fried egg.” Share a cheese board or a platter of Casella’s Heritage Prosciutto. Or keep an entrée all to yourself, hearty offerings such as beef short ribs with braised collard greens or wood-roasted scallops with peaches, lardo and arugula. And make sure to find an expertly crafted cocktail to match the meal, whether it’s a classic rum swizzle, a Suntory Toki whiskey highball or one of the bar’s draft cocktails. It’s an experience all its own. –Brock Radke
Off the Strip: Elia
Kolokythakia. If this practically unpronounceable dish, an appetizer of paper-thin fried zucchini slices served with a dollop of creamy tzatziki, was the only item on the menu at Elia (4226 S. Durango Drive, 702.284.5599), it would be worth a visit all by itself. But the postage stamp-sized restaurant excels at offering upscale Greek cuisine in an approachable atmosphere, ranging from tender grilled octopus to a sharp, roasted feta cheese dish. Couple any of these with a selection from the thoughtful-yet-concise wine list and you’ve got the makings of a memorable meal. –Jim Begley
The newly opened Mama Rabbit (Park MGM, drinkmamarabbitlv.com) was quickly identified as the final link in a chain of Los Angeles-born venues in a vibrant corner of the Park MGM casino, connecting Roy Choi’s eclectic Best Friend restaurant to the Houston brothers’ lively On the Record nightclub. But this Mama has her own flavor, powered by an extensive selection of mezcal and tequila, a bold approach to bartending, sublime snacks and an unforgettable environment that includes live entertainment and gaming. –BR