Wine and Dine Your Way Through The Las Vegas Cuisine Scene With Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Las Vegas is a constantly evolving hotspot on the global cuisine scene. There are so many haute new restaurants to choose from, you’re likely to get mighty hangry narrowing it down to just one or two.

The Las Vegas Strip or downtown? American? French? Chinese? And don’t even get us started on picking an entree.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours carves out the indecision and cuts clear to the meat of the matter by leading a social dining adventure that leaves you satisfied and a bit savvier. As a guest on the award-winning tours, you trade never-ending waiting lists for immediate, reserved seating at a handful of top-rated Las Vegas restaurants. There you enjoy three to four insta-worthy signature dishes at each hotspot with likeminded foodies from around the world.

donald2Photo Credit: Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

There’s plenty of wow-factor, mingling and gourmet gluttony to go around. There’s also a chance to walk it off in between restaurants, all while being treated to appetizing morsels about Las Vegas by a dedicated tour guide.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours President Donald Contrusi started his foodie tours company after spending 10 years as a food server. During this time, he worked his way around town to the higher-end restaurants, eventually trading his apron for a bonified seat at the table.

“I’d always try a new restaurant on my day off,” explains Contrusi. “I saw how all the different restaurants offer different experiences. I thought how great it would be to show people around the city and introduce them to the best restaurants … get them to taste the dishes each restaurant is famous for, the signature dishes.”

The spread at Michael Mina's Bardot Brasserie during the Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch.
The spread at Michael Mina’s Bardot Brasserie during the Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch.

Photo Credit: Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Each tour goes to three to five restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip and in downtown Las Vegas. The list includes award-winning dining destinations with ambiance, uniqueness and the best quality ingredients; restaurants which Contrusi considers the crème de la creme.

Aria Resort & Casino and The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, for instance, both have some phenomenal restaurants,” says Contrusi. “Estiatorio Milos [at The Cosmopolitan] flies its seafood in from Greece, Spain and Portugal almost daily. You’re not going to see every restaurant in Vegas doing something like that. Momofuku [at The Cosmopolitan] is another one. David Chang is all the rage. He’s got his Netflix series ‘Ugly Delicious’ and he’s grown an empire, and it’s continuing to grow.”

Tour guests take a selfie with the Whole Suckling Pig at Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas.
A Lip Smacking Foodie Tours guest takes a selfie with the Whole Suckling Pig at Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas.

Photo Credit: Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Las Vegas resident Ann Keith came across Lip Smacking Foodie Tours online and was impressed by the company’s rave reviews. She decided to take some out of town guests on the downtown tour and had a blast. “When my sister was coming to town looking for a venue for her daughter’s engagement celebration, I recommended the [tour],” she says. “There were 13 in our party and not one person was disappointed.”

Keith and her daughter-in-law from Texas later booked the Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch. She personally prefers the downtown tour to the boozy brunch, but everyone has their own taste.

“Once, after the boozy brunch, one of the ladies liked our logo so much that as soon as the tour ended she went and got, on her ankle, a tattoo of the lips,” notes Contusi, adding, “We have a lot of different tours, in the afternoon and evening. We have a tour at the Venetian and Palazzo. Our steakhouse tour takes you to the best steakhouses in Vegas [Bazaar Meat at the SLS Las Vegas; Jean Georges Steakhouse at Aria; Scotch 80 Prime at Palms Casino Resort]. That one is really a high rollers tour.”

7th & Carson is one of the Stops on the Downtown Foodie Tour.
7th & Carson is one of the Stops on the Downtown Foodie Tour.

Photo Credit: Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Typically the group walks to each new location, but certain tours feature transportation. During this little breather, a knowledgeable tour guide provides tips and tidbits about the city.

“We talk about art installations and things to do in Vegas–all part of the experience,” says Contrusi. “For the downtown tour, we talk about historic Las Vegas and how it’s how it’s changed with Zappos coming in and putting $350 million into the area. We go to all the independently-owned, farm-to-table restaurants where a lot of the chefs are the owners [Carson Kitchen, Therapy, Inspire, 7th & Carson]. We show a different side to Vegas that’s more where the locals go.”

Along with seeing a different side of Vegas, guests get the opportunity to take a gamble on new restaurants.

“If you go on your own, you’re going to select something that you know you’re going to like … the safe bet … and maybe skip over the signature dishes altogether,” says Contrusi. “With our tour, you’ll try dishes you probably wouldn’t have ordered … dishes that they’ve built a reputation on, that you’re not going to find other at other restaurants.”

Mesquite Fired Crustacean Tower at Scotch 80 Prime.
Mesquite Fired Crustacean Tower at Scotch 80 Prime.

Photo Credit: Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

No matter which tour you take, each restaurant will have about a 30-minute window to showcase what they do best. Chef Sean McClain’s Sage at Aria, for instance, has the second largest collection of Absinthe in the United States so a server presents it to tour guests tableside, lights it on fire, and lets the guests inhale the fumes.

Across the casino at Mexican restaurant Javier, guests are seated in the same private dining room that has housed celebrities like Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Jordan.

“It’s like their stage time and everyone is trying to really impress the guests and exceed expectations,” says Contrusi, noting that guests themselves have a great time. “I’ve seen everything from people who met on the tour hanging out the next day to engagements during the tour.”

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours guests have a great time during a stop at Chef José Andrés' Jaleo inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.
Lip Smacking Foodie Tours guests have a great time during a stop at Chef José Andrés’ Jaleo inside The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

Photo Credit: Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Since Lip Smacking Foodie Tours has a lot of repeat customers who like to try new things, the company does one-off tours and group events such as an off-Strip tour with electric transportation for an earth-friendly group and a dessert tour for a pastry chef’s graduation party. The possibilities are practically as bottomless as the mimosas.

As the city’s restaurant landscape continues to expand, so does the tour company.

“We’re developing as we grow, so keep an eye out,” says Contrusi. “We’re going to expand the portfolio and work our way over to Park MGM, Eataly, maybe NoMad, and some of those other restaurants that are opening up soon.”

The food at Javier's in picture perfect for these guests with Lip Smacking Foodie Tours.
The food at Javier’s is picture perfect for these guests with Lip Smacking Foodie Tours.

Photo Credit: Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Lip Smacking Food Tours range in price from $125 per person for the Afternoon Culinary Adventures and the Downtown Lip Smacking Tour to $149 for the Lip Smacking Boozy Brunch and $199 for Savors of the Strip.

For an extra $100, guests can upgrade to the Savory Bites & Neon Lights Tour, which is capped by a luxury Maverick helicopter ride above the world-famous Las Vegas Strip.

“It’s the cherry on top,” says Contrusi. “You have champagne, complimentary, and then a flight over the strip. You can’t beat it.”