The best casino restaurants in the world have come a long way from their one dollar, all-you-can-eat Vegas origins. Legend has it that the all-you-can-eat-buffet was the invention of quick-thinking publicist Herb McDonald. Herb was working at the El Rancho Las Vegas resort in the mid-1940s. One evening, a handful of hungry players came to the bar looking for food. The restaurant was closed but Herb headed to the pantry and grabbed some cold cuts, cheese, bread, and other goodies.
The late-night buffet was a hit with the punters and Herb saw an opportunity. The one-dollar all-you-can-eat buffet was born, and it would be a Las Vegas staple for years to come; keeping players at the tables and drawing new business to the hotel.
Times change. Today’s casinos fight tooth and nail for every customer and catering is one of the weapons available. In Macau, the hub of gambling in Asia, every casino operator worth his Himalayan rock salt has a clutch of Michelin-starred restaurants. Las Vegas is also serving up the haute cuisine in a bid to keep its more demanding punters wanting more. Here’s our list of the top dining destinations where the casino chips come triple cooked.
#1 Jade Dragon, City of Dreams, Macau
Iberico pork barbequed over lychee wood, stunning dim sum, and deep-fried Fine de Claire oysters, are just a few of the highlights on offer at the Michelin starred Jade Dragon restaurant. Situated in the heart of the City of Dreams resort in Macao, the Jade Dragon is one of several high-end restaurants in the Melco Resorts & Entertainment portfolio.
The Jade Dragon is the only restaurant in Macao to hold three Michelin stars and has eleven private dining rooms, connected directly to the car park via secret lifts for those discrete VIP dinners. There are five different areas in the restaurant, each with its own colour scheme, as well as lavish helpings of gold, jade, embroidery, and exquisite Chinese art. This is dining at its very finest.
#2 Picasso, The Bellagio, Las Vegas
The Bellagio in Las Vegas is synonymous with the opulence and extravagance of the strip. It’s design originally drew inspiration from the white villages of Europe, so it is only fitting that its double-Michelin starred Picasso restaurant serves food inspired by French and Spanish cuisine. Fusing the food together is chef Julian Serrano, who has won the prestigious James Beard Foundation Award twice. The inside of the restaurant is adorned with the works of Picasso himself, and you can choose to sit indoors surrounded by his artwork and ceramics or sit outside and take in a view of the spectacular Bellagio fountains.
The menu offers pan-seared scallops, lobster, halibut and more, although according to Chef Serrano the quail is so popular that he has seen clients eat it for fours courses, even dessert! Such is the quality of the food on offer at Picasso, it has added a Five Diamond award from the AAA and Five Stars from Forbes to its two Michelin stars meaning a visit to Picasso should be on every casino hopping foodies bucket list!
#3 Waku Chin and Cut, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Head to Singapore and the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel and – underneath – not only will you find 15,000 sq./m of gaming space but also a luxurious shopping centre and a selection of restaurants. For the red meat lover, Cut by Wolfgang Puck serves up one Michelin-starred steaks from all kinds of cows, including Wagyu, Angus, and USDA Prime. It’s a carnivore’s delight.
Raising the game by another star is Waku Ghin by Tetsuya Wakuda. When the munchies kick in at the craps table, or hunger pangs are having a negative impact on your blackjack game, just head for the lift and make a beeline for this incredible (and very pricey) restaurant where Oscietra caviar sits alongside marinated Botan shrimp and sea urchin. This is Japanese cuisine at its finest. Wakuda was the first person ever to be appointed as a sake ambassador of Japan from outside the country.
#4 Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse at L’Hôtel de Paris Monaco
OK, so it’s not technically in a casino, but it is just three minutes away! We may be bending the rules a little here to squeeze in Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse, but truly no list of fine dining and casinos is really complete without an entry from Monaco. Location specifics aside, this three Michelin starred restaurant is more than worthy entry onto our list of the best casino restaurants around. In fact, Alain Ducasse was the youngest chef to ever received the Michelin honour when he was just 33! Worldwide, the legendary chef has earned an incredible 21 Michelin stars, so you know you are in safe hands when you come to one of his thirty-four restaurants!
This iconic restaurant contains all of the pomp and grandeur you would expect from an eatery on Place du Casino, with high ceilings, gold fittings and chandeliers the order of the day. Given its location, its also not a surprise to discover that the Cote d’Azul has an influence on the menu as well. If you do decide to cash in your chips and take in a lunch, a six-course, fish-inspired feast awaits, although be prepared to part with around €180 per person for the pleasure.
#5 Aureole, Manadaly Bay, Las Vegas
At the Mandalay Bay you will find the world-famous Aureole restaurant. Charlie Palmer opened the first Aureole in New York to widespread acclaim, and it wasn’t long before the New York chef brought his distinctive style to Las Vegas – and style is the key word when we discuss this spectacular restaurant. Designed by the esteemed Adam Tihany, everything is sleek and state of the art. The vibrant rooms each have different themes; one is bright and spacious, while the Swan Court takes inspiration from elegant visits to the New York opera. The final area is for private gatherings and has a Japanese theme, with tables having personal patios for added comfort and swans are present on their outdoor pond.
The centrepiece of the restaurant is as equally impressive as the food – a 42-foot-tall wine tower containing over 10,000 bottles of wine. Made from glass and steel, the impressive structure is reminiscent of an obelisk in how it pierces the air above. Meanwhile, watching the “wine angels” retrieve bottles for guests is a performance itself!
#6 Paco Roncero, Casino de Madrid
If we made a list just of spectacular restaurants in the world, the unique Paco Roncero at the Casino de Madrid would probably still make the list. To enter, you will first go up an opulent 19th century staircase from the casino floor. Once you enter the restaurant you are greeted by a bright, modern room to offer a visual and interactive dining experience. However, it is what is outside that will take your breath away. Once you step out onto the terrace you are treated to a wonderful view of Madrid from above, a perfect place to soak up the atmosphere of the vibrant Spanish capital.
The view is not the only thing that will take your breath away as the food matches the location. The double-Michelin starred restaurant offers both an al a carte and tasting menu and the food is presented in such a way as to ensure the culinary adventure is interactive. Diners can take advantage of a dinner that is not just a meal, but an experience by getting involved in the kitchen and also in the staging of the food on the dining hall floor.