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Las Vegas is a good restaurant town. It offers respectable culinary and ethnic diversity, served dependably. Hotel
dining in Las Vegas is relatively homogeneous in style and cuisine, while proprietary restaurants try hard to be different.
The restaurant business in Las Vegas is as much a psychological as a culinary art. In Las Vegas you can have the same
meal in an astounding variety of environments for an unbelievable range of prices.
Left to its own devices, Las Vegas would be a meat and potatoes town. Owing to the expectations of its many
visitors, however, Las Vegas restaurants make things extra special. There are dozens of designer restaurants, gourmet
rooms as they are known locally, where the pampered and the curious can pretend they are dining in an exclusive French
or Continental restaurant while enjoying the food they like most: meat and potatoes.
There are two kinds of restaurants in Las Vegas: restaurants which are an integral part of a hotel/casino operation,
and restaurants which must make it entirely on the merits of their food. Gourmet rooms in the hotels are usually
associated with the casinos. Their mission is to pamper customers who are giving the house a lot of gambling action. At
any given time, most of the folks in a hotel gourmet room are dining as guests of the casino. If you are paying customers
in the same restaurant, the astronomical prices you are charged help subsidize the feeding of all these complimentary
guests. Every time you buy a meal in a gourmet room, you are helping to pay the tab of the strangers sitting at the next
table. This is not to say the gourmet rooms do not serve excellent food. On the contrary, some of the best chefs in the
country cook for hotel/casino gourmet rooms. The bottom line, however, if you are a paying guest, is that you are taking
up space intended for high rollers, and the house is going to charge you a lot of rent.
Restaurants independent of casinos work at a considerable disadvantage. First, they do not have a captive audience
of gamblers. Second, their operation is not subsidized by gaming, and third, they are not located where you will just
stumble upon them. Finally, they not only compete with the casino gourmet rooms, but also go head-to-head with the
numerous buffets and bulk-loading meal deals which casinos offer as loss-leaders to attract the less affluent gambler.