What are Rick Moonen’s favorite restaurants?

I always have different intentions. I’ll go to really more of a modern-cuisine-type restaurant to see what’s going on in the new world of cuisine — in Chicago, you end up going to Alinea. And then, of course, Wylie Dufresne’s wd~50 in New York for that genre of intrigue. I love the science of food, so I love to watch what people are doing.

In Las Vegas, I like to go to Robuchon’s restaurants — L’Atelier and Joël Robuchon at The Mansion. For fine dining, I like Daniel in New York City. Wherever there’s a Daniel Boulud restaurant, I’ll always try it out because I think he’s really, really smart about how he does things. And even Danny Meyer’s restaurants, whenever he’s come up with a new concept. I like to keep my finger on the pulse of what these great thinkers are doing so I can feel an association with them. That’s really why I go to dine — to have good food and a good time, but also to stay on top of food trends.

I like down-and-dirty, really cool restaurants like The Breslin in New York, which is such a small restaurant but it’s cool, it’s hip, it feels right. It’s kind of a growing genre of that type of restaurant: bohemian-style, utilizing cuts of meat and food that isn’t always considered the high-end. It’s more comfort food. I love restaurants like that as well. 

I also love ethnic restaurants that are doing it right. I love to visit Chinatowns. In Las Vegas, I go to a Korean barbecue type place that’s tucked away in the back of a strip mall that’s authentic.

Honest food excites me. That can come from just about anywhere and on any level, from sit-down, roll-up-your-sleeves really good food in a very inexpensive environment to the finest, where you walk into The Mansion at MGM Grand and you feel like if you take the wrong step, someone’s going to look at you. But I understand and appreciate it all and enjoy it.

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