A taste of Las Vegas

Updated 12:20 AM ET, Fri September 5, 2014
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Atomic Liquors, the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas, also boasts the city's first package liquor license and off-sales permit. Kat Kinsman/CNN
No trip to Vegas is complete without a cocktail at the Peppermill Restaurant's Fireside Lounge. It's been open 24/7 since December 26, 1972. Kat Kinsman/CNN
A message on the front entrance of the Double Down Saloon declares the 24-hour dive bar and music venue to be "The Happiest Place on Earth." It is correct. Kat Kinsman/CNN
The Double Down's fabled "Ass Juice" is sold for $4 a shot, $9 for two. Kat Kinsman/CNN
A waiter at The Golden Steer steakhouse fires up a tableside pan of bananas Foster. The restaurant has served Rat Pack regulars and tourists alike since it opened in 1958. Kat Kinsman/CNN
Nam Kao Tod, or minced sour sausage mixed with green onion, fresh chili, ginger, peanuts, crispy rice and lime juice is a must-have at Lotus of Siam. Kat Kinsman/CNN
White Cross Drugs, the first 24-hour pharmacy in Las Vegas, opened in 1955 and closed in March 2012. To the delight of faithful patrons, the adjoining Tiffany's Cafe remains open to serve up some of the finest greasy spoon food in town. Pictured here: eggs and trout, a Tiffany's classic. Kat Kinsman/CNN
Original artwork adorns the walls of Tiffany's Cafe. This painting is popular enough to have its own Facebook page. Kat Kinsman/CNN
Chef Jose Andres melds Chinese and Mexican culinary traditions at China Poblano inside the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino. Pictured: Wild mushrooms, huitlacoche (corn fungus), bok choy and knife-shaved noodles. Kat Kinsman/CNN
China Poblano's Viva China taco is an Eatocracy favorite, with crisp beef tendon, scallions, Sichuan peppercorn sauce and a Kumamoto oyster on a corn tortilla. Kat Kinsman/CNN
China Poblano's ceviche takes a nutty turn with tuna, crisp amaranth seeds, soy sauce and pecans. Kat Kinsman/CNN
Gobble it up in a single bite if you can; China Poblano's siu mai contains a poached quail egg in every dumpling. Kat Kinsman/CNN
Chef Jose Andres, who also oversees Jaleo and e inside the Cosmpolitan, is well known for his playful, inventive creations such as this "salt air" margarita with a light, briny foam on top. Kat Kinsman/CNN
Andres' fanciful vision carries over to his tapas restaurant Jaleo, one floor up. Here, croquetas de pollo (chicken fritters) are served in a never-worn shoe. Why? Because that's just Jose's way. Kat Kinsman/CNN
A farm-centric menu in the middle of the desert? You betcha. Husband and wife team Kim Canteenwalla and Elizabeth Blau serves fresh, market-inspired, handcrafted fare like this charcuterie, California ricotta and fennel pizza. Kat Kinsman/CNN
Spanish chefs like Jose Andres and Julian Serrano are making their mark on the Vegas Strip, artfully introducing bold flavors into both food and beverages. Pictured at Julian Serrano's namesake restaurant: Agua de Serrano with tequila, rum, cava, orange, and habanero-agave syrup. Kat Kinsman/CNN
At Julian Serrano, grilled shrimp and octopus adorn a salad of avocados, tomatoes, Spanish olives, sliced red onions and kale dressed in a raspberry vinaigrette. Kat Kinsman/CNN
Serrano's take on a Spanish classic, pan tomate (tomatoes and garlic on grilled, olive-oil doused bread), is a study in seasonality. Yes, in the middle of the desert. Kat Kinsman/CNN
To most people, Las Vegas calls to mind either heavy, high-roller steakhouse fare or endless buffets of dubious shrimp cocktail. Allow afternoon tea service in the 23rd-floor lobby of the Mandarin Oriental to add a note of civility to your nonstop hedonism. Kat Kinsman/CNN
The $36 tea service at Mandarin Oriental comes with a pot of tea, scones, petit fours and an assortment of small sandwiches. Kat Kinsman/CNN
One of the highlights of Downtown Las Vegas' arts district renaissance is independent restaurants and cocktail joints like The Velveteen Rabbit. Owners Pamela and Christina Dylag poured their hearts and hard labor into this elegant lounge, which features craft beers and classic and contemporary cocktails like this lemongrass and blackberry punch. Kat Kinsman/CNN