Las Vegas turns away from the big-name restaurant clones and opens some of the best original dining rooms in the country.
In 2000, Bon Appétit magazine named Las Vegas the hottest destination of the year, an accolade commonly attributed to the fact that the city took the nation's best eateries - like New York's Le Cirque 2000, New Orleans' Commander's Palace, and Spago from L.A. - and replicated them on the Strip. But Vegas didn't stop there. Today, after using the imports to put it on the culinary map, the city has solidified its dining reputation with a slew of fantastic original restaurants. In the new Mobil Travel Guide, two Vegas restaurants, Picasso and Renoir, both originals, received a coveted five stars. Only 14 establishments in the country were thus honored, and only Vegas and New York City have more than one. The trend toward homegrown fine dining in Las Vegas shows no sign of abating, and the place long known as Sin City is now just sinfully delicious. Of the notable newcomers, here are six sure bets.

PICASSO
Bellagio Hotel, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd., (702) 693-7223

The first of the homegrown superstars, Picasso landed Vegas' first five-star rating, and Wine Spectator magazine claimed, "If you have only one meal to eat in Las Vegas, Picasso is the place." Located in the Bellagio hotel, Picasso is a true fine-dining experience, adorned with original works by its namesake artist and offering French haute cuisine with a Spanish influence courtesy of chef Julian Serrano, now considered among the country's elite. And you don't have to worry about choosing at Picasso; it offers only four- or five-course tasting menus.

RENOIR
Mirage Hotel, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd., (702) 791-7223