You’ve already had dinner at Aureole Las Vegas, its team of wine angels dangling above you from the restaurant’s four-story wine tower. You’ve been to every Emeril outpost within earshot of a slot machine, and you’ve gorged yourself at every buffet from Biloxi to South Florida. But we’re here to tell you: You haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to the continent’s most outstanding casino wining and dining experiences.
What follows is not meant to be an exhaustive list of North American casinos and their destination restaurants—a list of the best bites in Las Vegas alone could fill this entire magazine a few times over. What we sought out were locales that even seasoned gamblers may not have visited yet, and the newest, brightest lights in the more well-trodden gambling zones. If you’re anything like us, blackjack just isn’t blackjack until you’re settled in to your lucky first-base seat, and there’s a free cocktail nestled in the cup holder in front of you. Want to know what casinos are pouring on their gaming floors, and what to eat when you need a break from baccarat? Read on.
It’s only been within the last 13 or so years that Connecticut’s Indian tribes have planted casinos on their lands, but their gambles have paid off big. The northeastern state’s tribal casinos bring in $2.2 billion—the most of the 28 states that have Native American casinos—and they likely have their proximity to New York City to thank for their profits. Being only a three-hour drive from the country’s culinary capital, though, puts added pressure on these casinos’ food and beverage programs to be that much better.
Foxwoods, in Mashantucket, has a massive, 340,000-square foot gaming area—the largest in the world—but is less known as a culinary destination. Paragon Restaurant is the resort’s top offering, quite literally: The 24th-floor view can’t be beat. Chef de Cuisine Scott Mickelson’s menu nods at old-school opulence (with dishes like escargots, Chateaubriand for two served tableside, and flambéed desserts), and also pleases the casino’s big-spending Asian guests (shark’s fin soup, sushi-grade tuna and delicious, succulent Kobe beef). Start the evening in the restaurant’s Champagne bar, where an apéritif duo of Moët sparkling wines ($24) is dazzlingly presented in a crystal, candelabra-like holder. At the table, look past the predictably dense California Cab pages on the wine list and you’ll find surprising values in Petaluma’s Bridgewater Mill Shiraz ($39) and Jermann Pinot Grigio ($60).
The gaming floors at Mohegan Sun, in Uncasville, may not be as vast as those of their tribal neighbors, but options for epicurean adventures are more varied. Chef Todd English has an outpost at Tuscany; the thing to try here is handmade gnocchi with a hearty glass of red (Steele Winery makes a “Todd English Selection” Zinfandel available only at English’s restaurants). Chef Jasper White’s Boston-based seafood favorite, Summer Shack, is here, too. The tables are long, encouraging communal dining, but the vast raw bar is really where the action is.
In a bright corner of Mohegan’s Casino of the Sun is Rain, far and away the most upscale eatery on the property. In an atmosphere so serene that you can’t hear the din of the slots, spend your winnings on a heavenly five-course degustation menu, with accompanying wines ($120). If you don’t want to spend that much time away from the gaming tables, though, just have the diver scallops ($36) and a bottle of S.A. Prüm Riesling ($44), and get back to doubling down. Look for us at the blackjack pit just outside of Rain—there’s a lot of luck at those tables.
One final word about Mohegan Sun: Their Sun WineFest, held each January, is not to be missed. The weekend event offers the ubiquitous grand tastings and winemaker seminars, but also has a fantastic, unique component called the Celebrity Chef Reception, at which some two dozen chefs each devise a single dish, and guests move room to room to sample them all. The in-the-flesh lineup for 2005 included Susanna Foo, Lydia Shire, Mark Miller, Jasper White, Todd English, Gustav Mauler and Gordon Hammersley. The event’s cover charge is a little steep (hey, it’s for charity!), but that’s what everyone who hasn’t had Kobe Beef Surf and Turf Sliders—yes, White Castle gone upscale —seems to think. (Wine pairings at each stop are also included.) It’s only money, right?
From New York, New York
“Floating casino” isn’t all that Cunard’s impressive, year-old Queen Mary 2 has going for it, though onboard gambling sure is a bonus when you’re seasick, going stir crazy, or if you’ve already had the Grape Seed Body Scrub ($129) at the ship’s outpost of the Canyon Ranch spa. Gourmet dining opportunities abound aboard, and the wine offerings—which were hand-selected by Michael Broadbent—are very good. They’re mildly priced, too, which is gentle treatment considering that Cunard could easily rake QM2’s captive, affluent passengers over the coals. On a recent voyage, this journalist purchased a bottle of Barossa Valley Estate E&E Black Pepper Shiraz at an almost-retail price ($95). Champagne fanatics, forgo reading the tome and have Grand Dame by the glass at the Veuve Clicquot Champagne bar, on the ship’s third deck.
Though the ship’s fancier dining rooms offer very good, multicourse meals, Mary’s big gastronomic draw is the Todd English Restaurant, which follows the same Mediterranean bent as English’s Olives, Tuscany and Figs restaurants. It might be the suggestion of the ship’s gentle sway, but this menu seems heavier on seafood than the chef’s others, and that’s just fine by us. One bite of the Yellowfin Tuna Tartare on cucumber salad with rock shrimp, sesame dressing and whitefish caviar, and your wins or losses at the craps table are a distant memory. (QM2 guests incur a $20/person surcharge at lunch to eat at Todd English; at dinner, the surcharge is $30/person. Surcharge does not include beverages.)
Atlantic City, at least to neighboring New Yorkers, has a reputation for being somewhat lowbrow. And in some ways, it’s depressing. Avenues are littered with strip clubs and pawn shops, prospering because so many have lost their shirts at nearby gaming areas. For many would-be East Coast gamblers, Connecticut’s casinos are closer. And newer. So why bother with A.C.?
The answer is simple. Atlantic City is blooming with new action, from Showboat’s new House of Blues-themed casino and poker room, to The Tropicana Hotel & Casino’s shiny new shopping and dining plaza, The Quarter. At the latter, there’s a convincing Frank Sinatra wannabe crooning away at Tango’s, a perfect perch for people-watching that also has wine flights—the Chardonnay New York State of Mind is an ode to Long Island’s Castello di Borghese, Corey Creek and Galluccio Family wineries. (While you’re sipping, make sure to ask for seconds of Coco-nuts. The addictive housemade snack is a baked concoction of curry, coconuts, cayenne and egg whites.) At Cuba Libre, you may be tempted to order one of the restaurant’s signature mojitos, but don’t miss out on this dreamy Cuban joint’s extensive collection of wines (they’ve got more than 20 by the glass), heavy on offerings from Spain, Argentina and Chile. Seductive dessert stop Brûlée (which turns into nightclub 32 Degrees after hours) has an impressive list of sweet wines, including Fusta Nova Moscatel, to go with their confections. Not into the sweet stuff? There are plenty of Champagnes, Armagnacs, Ports, and some Madeira and Calvados. Cognac connoisseurs can splurge on a Hennessy sampler of four one-ounce pours for $50. Outside of the Quarter (but still at the Trop), make sure you stop in for some fresh seafood and a sweeping ocean view at Wellington’s. They’ve got over 50 handpicked wines from California and Washington, with a sprinkling of bottles from Australia and New Zealand. For those who’d rather BYO back up to their rooms, there’s Vino 100. The small shop entices with its collection of boutique wines for under $25.
At Harrah’s, the best dining option is ‘Cesca. The second outpost of this popular New York restaurant showcases 175 wines, many of which are gems from Tuscany and Piedmont. Ask the sommelier for one that goes with the restaurant’s homemade chestnut linguini.
Still in all, the biggest news to hit A.C. this millennium is Borgata, the first new casino to break ground here in 13 years. The vibe is young and energetic, and the casino floor is small, but always packed. It’s to your benefit that you can’t elbow in at the roulette table, though—there’s just too much good eating to do, and you’ll need that roll of cash to see you through. The Old Homestead steakhouse has plenty of American Cabs and burly Brunellos to stand up to its beef, and is home to The Macallan Fine and Rare Collection (a taste of the 1926 bottling is only $3,300 a dram). Suilan is Chef Susanna Foo’s serene Asian-cuisine outpost, where aromatic whites and Cognacs are the beverages of choice. Chef Luke Palladino reigns at Specchio, Borgata’s heavenly, upscale Italian outpost. The service here is warm but exacting, and the food—mushroom and tallegio crespelle (crepes) for starters, and beet and smoked-ricotta-filled ravioli—is some of the best that we’ve had all year.
What’s most unusual about Borgata, especially in the context of other Atlantic City casinos, is the premium that it puts on wine and wine service. Ombra, Borgata’s subterranean trattoria, has a full dinner menu but its wine bar—where flights of Nero d’Avola and Primitivo are paired with artisanal Italian cheeses—is the heart of the action. Borgata Wine Director Shawn Dore, a transplanted Canadian, is warm, effusive, and really knows her stuff (see Q&A page 16). There’s “access to the cellar 24 hours a day,” says Dore, and that’s some access indeed, considering that Borgata is one of the biggest wine clients in all of New Jersey.
If East Coast casinogoers do not have Puerto Rico on their radar, there is a good reason: By law, casinos there are not allowed to advertise. If you look in the San Juan yellow pages, you’ll only find four listed. But the fact is, most of the major hotels in San Juan have their own casinos. And when you add all of the other charms of this island, P.R. becomes a fabulous destination for the gamer—especially one who also likes to dine well, enjoy great wines, swim, snorkel, explore a rainforest, fish and golf.
There are 13 casinos in the two most tourist-friendly sections of San Juan. Isla Verde (a mere five minutes from the airport) is the more high-toned area, though it’s also only five minutes from Piñones, where you can get the genuine street food of P.R. Condado, further west, has a more villagey feel and is closer to Old San Juan, the charming area with beautifully maintained Andalucian architecture and 35 restaurants.
An ideally located casino with great food and wine is the Ritz-Carlton in Isla Verde. The hotel’s gaming area is modest in size, but, like many P.R. casinos, is directly adjacent to the dance floor, which lends your gambling experience an even more vibrant and sensual air. Dine at the hotel’s Prime 787, which is described as “a contemporary steakhouse,” although it’s much more. Chef de Cuisine Simon Porter mixes classic and contemporary in terms of presentations as well as recipes, making for a very adventurous dining experience. A Kobe flatiron, as tender and flavorful a steak as you’ll find anywhere, is priced so reasonably it almost pays for a night at the blackjack table. Or try pan-seared Chilean sea bass with pumpkin-sage ravioli and a lemon-vanilla emulsion. The wine list, 250 items strong, is deep in first-growth Bordeaux.
From the Ritz-Carlton, you’re only a short walk from the hottest casino on the island, the Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel. In terms of size, fashionability and scorching music, this place currently has the buzz. The hotel’s lobby also has a wine bar and a Palm steakhouse.
Gambling in Canada, where casinos are either tightly controlled or fully owned by provincial governments, may lack the glitz and glamour of some U.S. destinations, but that doesn’t mean oenophiles or gourmands must suffer. Unless, of course, they’re looking for a free glass of Pétrus or The Macallan at the blackjack table.
Enticing gamblers with gratis drinks is frowned upon in Canada, to the point that it is banned across the board nationwide. Where it is legal to consume alcohol while playing, which is definitely the exception rather than the rule, expect the wine to be plonk, and expect to pay. At all three major eastern Canadian casinos—in Montréal, Niagara Falls and Windsor, near Detroit—locating fine wines means finding a bar or restaurant, and the better the restaurant, the better the selection.
In a city that ranks among the best for dining in North America, Nuances, the flagship restaurant of the Casino de Montréal, faces some of the toughest culinary competition in the land. Fortunately, the CAA/AAA Five-Diamond restaurant measures up with a creative menu firmly rooted in the French classics. Their voluminous cellar features no fewer than 1,400 selections, among them 14 vintages of Margaux, including the great 1947, and eight of Château d’Yquem dating as far back as 1870. And guidance is always nearby, since every server at Nuances is a certified sommelier.
Cast more in the Vegas model is the Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort, which opened in the summer of 2004 and sprawls over 2.5 million square feet of space. (The Casino Niagara opened in 1996.) Its gastronomic nexus is 17 Noir, a two-level, 320-seat restaurant which offers sushi and noodle bars, along with a dining room featuring prime Alberta beef and a 4,500-bottle wine cellar, highlighted by an extensive list of vintage Niagara ice wines. Further southwest, at Casino Windsor, Caché, the restaurant formerly reserved for the casino’s elite players, is now open to the public on a limited basis. It draws from its 500-bottle cellar to accompany a seafood-centric menu.
Some 17 miles east of the Las Vegas strip, you’ll find Lake Las Vegas, a sprawling luxury residential development and resort surrounding a 320-acre lake. There are two world-class hotels here: the Hyatt Regency, which opened in 1999, and the AAA Five-Diamond Ritz-Carlton, which opened two years ago and is located one block from the Casino MonteLago. One great thing about Lake Las Vegas is what is not there. There’s no eye-numbing neon to compete with the surrounding mountains and crystal-blue skies. At the Ritz-Carlton, Chef Joseph Keller serves up inventive cuisine at Como’s, located in the village directly across from the casino. At the hotel’s Medici Café, feast on à la carte specialties such as as roasted Peking duck in kumquat marmalade, or go whole hog with their tasting menu ($90; $135 with six paired wines). The latter might include Hawaiian Ahi poke with sautéed shiitakes and Chalk Hill Sauvignon Blanc, or grilled Colorado lamb with dried fruit chutney and Dominus Napanook.
In Reno, the wine-and-gambling connection is nowhere more prevalent than at The Eldorado, and its adjoining sister property, Silver Legacy. Both are owned by Don and Rhonda Carano, who also own the Ferrari-Carano winery in Sonoma County. As you might expect, Ferrari-Carano wines are in abundance here (Trésor is $15 by the glass), and a special emphasis is placed on gastronomy—The Eldorado, for example, brews its own beer and roasts its own coffee.
Alain Gregoire, a Normandy native who has been at The Eldorado for nine years, is the maître d’ at Roxy’s restaurant. “We have a wide variety of wines for all tastes,” he says. “[They] work nicely with classic entrées we feature, like Steak Diane and Veal Oscar.” Roxy’s martini bar has 102 selections (and from 4:30 to 6pm, they’re only $4). Not to be outdone on value, the Friday seafood buffet at the Silver Legacy serves up everything from Alaskan king crab to Hawaiian wahoo, for only $18.78 per person.
At the Peppermill Hotel Casino, John Sanders, the long-time maître d’ at the property’s White Orchid restaurant, says the menu changes monthly. “We have three or four ‘cellar specials’ that reflect the season and customized menus,” says Sanders. And “10 months a year, we have winemaker dinners. Recently we had Richard Frank of Frank Family Winery, and Dan Duckhorn has been here two or three times.” The White Orchid is rated as one of the best restaurants in Northern Nevada; it combines a serene ambiance with gourmet cuisine.
The Siena Hotel Spa and Casino‘s contemporary Lexie’s restaurant is on the bank of the Truckee River in downtown Reno. As is the case with most top restaurants, Chef Juan Villa’s menu emphasizes top-quality, fresh ingredients; it reflects the Tuscan theme of the cozy hotel/casino. Enoteca, the casino’s lower-level wine bar, has 35 wines by the glass and 275 by the bottle. Enoteca’s secluded “chef’s table,” in the 18,000-bottle wine cellar, can be booked for intimate dinners for up to 20 people. The wine bar’s smoke-free environment (rare in Reno) is popular with locals and tourists alike, as are its Wednesday-night bargains: Think gourmet appetizers (such as crab cakes with pesto aioli) and a flight of five wines for just $14.95. A similar deal can be had about three miles from downtown Reno, in Sparks, Nevada. Restaurante Orozko at John Ascuaga’s Nugget also has Wednesday wine tastings. From 4:30 to 6:30pm, guests enjoy a flight of four wines paired with Basque-style tapas, all for $18. On Sundays in Orozko, premium wines by the glass are half price.
If there were one place to spend money that you don’t have to be a superstar for a couple of days, it’s Las Vegas. The MGM Grand, the world’s largest hotel casino, should be foodies’ first Vegas stop. Here, there are restaurants owned by Emeril Lagasse, Michael Mina, Charlie Palmer, Hubert Keller, Stephen Hanson and Rick Moonen, among others. And one of the best things about such dining options is the casino’s newfound pride in having a wine program that now shines as brightly as its culinary offerings.
Having recently hired their first-ever wine director, Jamie Smith, the MGM Grand finally has something that it had been missing: a commitment to the complete wine experience. Smith, 36, holds an Advanced Sommelier Certificate and has already completed his first year of the Master of Wine program. Smith knows what wine consumers want, and with the help of the property’s seven sommeliers, he makes sure that they get it.
MGM Grand’s stable of restaurants is a far cry from the all-you-can-eat buffet scene in which other casinos are still stuck. At Shibuya, Chef Eiji Takase, formerly of Sushi Samba, offers a twist on classic Japanese fare. Saké Sommelier Eric Swanson presides over a saké collection rumored to be the country’s most extensive. Swanson has broken down his list into three user-friendly categories, and is always ready to field questions. Less adventurous souls will find comfort in the restaurant’s traditional wine list.
Next door to Shibuya, Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak calls. This contemporary steakhouse is one of the best on the Strip. The restaurant receives its produce fresh from a Southern California farm that grows all sorts of vegetables—hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, Nantes carrots, Jerusalem artichokes—especially for them. Chef Christopher Albrecht’s menu changes daily, but typically includes Kobe filet mignon, lobster, duck and quail. Whatever you do, don’t forgo the incredible bread pudding (and a post-dinner Scotch or Bourbon from the huge selection) for dessert.
At Manadalay Bay, renowned chef Alain Ducasse presides over Mix, on the 64th floor of The Hotel, Mandalay’s new hotel tower. There is no more incredible setting than this one, high above the neon lights. Start your meal with the Osetra caviar with blinis and crème fraîche, served in a block of ice, then move on to the duck breast “dolce forte” with glazed mission figs. The desserts are so good you’ll have a hard time deciding between them (we went for the almond-raspberry Napoleon with vanilla cream).
Wine purveyor 55 Degrees Wine and Design, located in Mandalay Bay’s shopping promenade, has taken its cue from Aureole and devised its own digital wine list. Big spenders: There’s no lack of reserve and high-end wines here (including the 1961 Mouton Rothschild, for $3,500). Some of the hotel’s restaurants will even waive corkage if you bring a bottle of wine that you purchased at 55 Degrees. Us? We’d rather bring a special bottle back to our room, to enjoy in the hot tub.
A little further up the Strip is the Bellagio, which really needs no introduction. This AAA Five-Diamond hotel and casino is home to some of the world’s most renowned chefs including Julian Serrano and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s 2004 Restaurateur of the Year). Chef Michael Mina debuted Aqua restaurant when the Bellagio first opened, but transformed Aqua into his namesake restaurant, Michael Mina Bellagio, last year. The updated restaurant is still nestled in the property’s lush botanical gardens. Mina’s cuisine (and its presentation) is beyond fantastic. For starters, we had a Roquefort soufflé with sautéed pears, which was just about the best thing we’d ever eaten—that is, until we got to the caviar parfait. Vegetarians, don’t fret, there is a five-course tasting menu just for you. For the love of Pete, all of you, eat here before you die.
In 1998, back when the doors to the much heralded, long-awaited Bellagio finally opened, just standing in the lobby was an awe-inspiring moment of its own. There was no other hotel-casino like it in the world. From the dancing fountains out front and Dale Chihuly’s hand-blown glass sculpture on the ceiling, it couldn’t get better than this.
Steve Wynn is often acknowledged as the person responsible for making the casino dining experience what it is today. He started with The Mirage in the late 1980s, and went on to open several more hotel-casinos over the next decade. The Bellagio was to be his coup de gras. Or was it? In 2000, Wynn sold all of his properties to the MGM Mirage for $6.4 billion, and has since been scheming an eponymous resort to outdo his last one.
Wynn Las Vegas opened in April 2005 to a public who wasn’t sure if Wynn could top the Bellagio. Did he? You bet. Wynn Las Vegas, located on the old Desert Inn site, is elegant but massive. Though there are signs of excess at every turn—an unbelievable golf course here, a Ferrari dealership there—this property somehow feels much smaller, and more personal, than any other casino we’ve seen. The casino’s attention to detail is unmatched; its rooms are appointed with 700-thread-count linens, and have floor-to-ceiling windows that offer spectacular views from every angle. Everything here is the best of the best, without being gaudy or overdone. This is nowhere more true than it is in the casino’s restaurants.
Wynns’ executive director of food and beverage, Elizabeth Blau, was the one who approached the world’s top chefs and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse: their own restaurant, in a gorgeous space, in one of the greatest cities in the world. And 10 of them, including Alex Stratta, Mark LoRusso and Paul Bartolotta, took her up on Wynns’ offer. The only caveat—and this, straight from Steve Wynn himself—was that these big-name chefs be in the kitchens themselves, preparing and designing the best, freshest meals they could make. Also to that end, Wynn Las Vegas has an executive chef whose sole responsibility is to receive and inspect daily deliveries that the casino gets from all over the world.
To reach Executive Chef David Walzog’s Country Club Grill at Wynn, pass the glorious buffet, the poolside Terrace Café, the villas and the pro shop. The wine list is all American, but if you come for breakfast, as we did, you may not delve too deeply into it. The eggs Benedict with fresh Canadian bacon and perfect hollandaise sauce is delicious on its own, but tastes even better with the 18th-hole view. Finish out your breakfast with the energizing fresh fruit platter of melon, berries, mango and banana and then hit the links.
Down the winding escalator, underneath the massive Parisian umbrellas you’ll find Daniel Boulud Brasserie. “DB,” as it is called, has two amazing chefs in the kitchen: Boulud himself, when he is not in New York (he was the one chef who escaped Wynn’s “in-the-kitchen-at-all-times” rule), and partner Philippe Rispoli, former executive chef at Aureole Las Vegas. The restaurant has an incredible outdoor terrace by the pond, also the locale of free nightly entertainment. Here, we lunched on a perfect fresh lobster salad, with a glass of Marc Kreydenweiss Riesling. We rounded out our meal with a flavorful pistachio-raspberry tart.
After passing through the bustling casino and the entrance to the Tower Suites you’ll find Wing Lei, which means “forever prosperous” in Chinese. Under the direction of Chef Richard Chen, formerly of Shanghai Terrace in Chicago, this upscale Chinese restaurant is decorated in royal flair with large comfortable chairs; gorgeous pomegranate trees are just outside the window. Don’t come here without ordering the five-course Peking Duck dinner ($78/person, two-person minimum)—it’s Chef Chen’s specialty, and dramatically carved tableside. Sommelier John Paddon likes to pair it with one of the many Pinots on the wine list (for us, it was the 1999 Talbott). You may not think you have room enough for dessert, but trust us—the mango sorbet is a must.
Steve Wynn’s goal of offering a complete dining experience wouldn’t be complete without someone to spearhead the wine program. Thirty-two-year-old Danielle Price, formerly of the Smith & Wollensky Group, is wine director for all of Wynn (see Q&A on page 16). She presides over a 3,000-bottle master wine list, meeting with chefs to determine which bottles best highlight the property’s varied cuisines.
Wynn Las Vegas leaves you breathless at every turn of the mosaic tile floor. The best part? No matter where you are in the building, whether it be poolside or hitting it big at the tables, you can order wine at any time. Steve Wynn has outdone himself, and Vegas-bound food and wine lovers are the better for it.
Tribal casinos have hit the big time in California—from San Diego, just minutes from the Mexican border, to Northern California’s wine country. What? Casinos in wine country—can life get any better? Apparently, it can. Properties like River Rock Casino, in Alexander Valley, are detested by the local winemaking community, which doesn’t want their picturesque neighborhood to be even more congested and tourist ridden than it already is. (In other words, you aren’t going to make friends with people behind the tasting bar by asking how to get to River Rock.) Though the AAA Four Diamond Pala Casino Spa Resort, just outside of San Diego, has good eats in The Oak Room and Mama’s Cucina Italiana, most other Golden State tribal gaming locales haven’t really made dining and wining a priority.
Your best bet for California gamblin’ is the old standby, Lake Tahoe. Though the postal address for Cal Neva is technically in Crystal Bay, Nevada, the state boundary between California and Nevada runs through the resort’s main lodge and swimming pool. Located on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, you come to Cal Neva for seclusion, not big gaming action. Owned by Frank Sinatra in the early 1960s, today Cal Neva guests can take a guided tour of the private tunnel Sinatra used to scoot from the intimate Celebrity Showroom to the secluded cottages overlooking the lake. Under new ownership, the resort will undergo extensive renovations and additions in the next few years. Meanwhile, in the property’s Lakeview dining room, Chef Jim Haecker turns out dishes like Maryland crab cakes in Cajun rémoulade, and blackened lamb loin in tomato beurre rouge. At the Circle Bar, under a crystal dome containing over 7,000 pieces of hand-cut stained glass, sip on The Marilyn (Vincent Van Gogh Dutch chocolate vodka and raspberry, $7.50) before trying your luck in the country’s oldest originally operating casino gaming area.
Sweet Corn and Rock Shrimp Risotto recipe by Chef Gustav Mauler of Las Vegas’ Spiedini and Sazio.
With contributions from: Alia Akkam, Atlantic City (Tropicana and Harrah’s); Stephen Beaumont, Canada; Tara Ferdico, Las Vegas; Glen Putman, Reno, Henderson and Lake Tahoe; Daryna Tobey, Atlantic City (Borgata), New York and Connecticut.