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Dining

What’s the deal with weird Las Vegas restaurant lists in the national media?

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Travel + Leisure has achieved time travel, having already declared Giada De Laurentiis’ first-ever restaurant one of the best new places to dine in Las Vegas. It opens in May.

Las Vegas is a great place to list. Websites, magazines, the Weekly and other media outlets love to launch listicles at readers, detailing any number of the fabulous Las Vegas amenities that need to be explored. (And they should—we are fabulous, after all.)

But a couple of recent restaurant-focused Vegas lists have missed the mark in a rather confounding way. Travel + Leisure just released an article titled Best New Restaurants in Las Vegas, which sounds fun and informative. But more than half of the 15 "best new restaurants" mentioned are not open yet or not new.

Sure, it’s a safe bet that Giada at the Cromwell or Daniel Boulud's DB Brasserie at Venetian will be among the hottest and tastiest restaurants to open on the Strip in 2014, but shouldn’t we wait until they actually fire up the grill and start cooking to declare them the best? T+L also wrongfully shouts out stellar Wynn restaurants Bartolotta and Wing Lei, both of which were recently renovated. While refreshingly beautiful, they’re very much the same restaurants they’ve always been, still serving the high-quality cuisine that's earned them fans for years.

The article’s more legit picks include Rose. Rabbit. Lie., Wild, Crush, Bobby’s Burger Palace, the Blind Pig and the collective eateries at Container Park. It missed some obvious candidates along the Strip, including Heritage Steak, Buddy V’s, Rx Boiler Room, Kumi, Five50 Pizza Bar and the brand-new Brooklyn Bowl, as well as off-Strip spots like Pizza Rock, Desnudo Tacos and Echo & Rig.

Perhaps most misleading: In mentioning Daniel Boulud’s and Masaharu Morimoto’s coming restaurants (at Venetian and Mirage, respectively), the story makes the loaded claim that the star chefs will “actually be in the kitchen here.” Um, if you say so.

Heritage Steak gets no love from Travel + Leisure, but USA Today calls it a top spot for foodies.

The article also reminded of another weird food piece from earlier this month, USA Today’s mystifying 10 best Las Vegas spots for foodies, a list that generated widespread discussion and even ridicule on social media among some local restaurant scribes. This one neglects to explain exactly what a spot for foodies is, leaving us to define it for ourselves. Once you get past that ambiguity, you’ll find a list with several great restaurants that don’t seem to have any commonality. A few renowned tourist traps show up, as does a completely random food truck.

Lists can be lots of fun, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with generating a little culinary debate. (The Weekly food team certainly likes to get listy from time to time, as you can see here and here.) Let’s hope for a little more thoughtful consideration from the national media next time around.

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Brock Radke is Las Vegas Weekly's food editor and author of the Strip-focused column The Incidental Tourist. He has written ...

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