A culinary open book with a speakeasy feel sans the restrictions and limiting exclusivity, hometown heroes Herbs & Rye appeal to the foodie and cocktail connoisseur within us all. Earning awards and nominations for everything from their incredible staff to their top-notch bar program, Herbs is certainly where the heart is.

When someone mentions Las Vegas, what do you see in your mind’s eye? Is it a montage of slot machines, showgirls, and all-you-can-eat buffets set to Frank Sinatra’s Luck Be A Lady? Perhaps you envision a glamorous oasis of reckless abandon and debauchery where rules blur amidst the neon and LED. For most, Vegas is a fantasy land, but for others, it is simply, well, home. Typically, in a place like Vegas, when you’re looking for an experience that isn’t cheapened by the masses, you go to those who know the setting intimately—the locals. In search of recommendations for an authentic resident dining experience beyond the glitz and glamour of The Strip, there is one name that echoes in every set of recommendations across the board: Herbs & Rye.

To any Las Vegas local, Herbs & Rye is one of the best kept not-so-secret-secrets of all of Sin City. Owner Nectaly Mendoza spent over a decade cutting his teeth in some of the most successful restaurants of the time and place and learning from some of the best in the hospitality industry. After years of glasses polished, drinks made, and dues paid, it was time for Nectaly to helm his own ship. Against all odds, and at the head of the recession mind you, his dream became a reality in the last quarter of 2009. Although the odds were against him, through careful curation, hard work, and his own ardent tenacity he created one of the most beloved bars/restaurants in the state, and according to critics from around the globe, one of the best in the world. As for the expert staff, well, they’re not so bad either.

With just one step instead, the warmth and magic of the place in the middle of nightly dinner service is undeniable. Once your eyes adjust and you make your way through the dining room, crystal chandeliers illuminate your path against red damask and dark leather. Cozy booths line the wall across from a stunning menagerie of a bar, but if you prefer a more isolated experience, there are two other intimate dining rooms for seating. It is a rarity and a pleasure to experience such expertise without a simultaneous air of pretension when it comes to a cocktail bar, and Herbs is so much more than that.

The bar program has always been the focus for Nectaly at Herbs. With hundreds of spirits from all over the world at your disposal alongside a neatly cataloged beer and wine selection, the cocktail list itself is an absolute encyclopedia of sorts, spanning back to the gothic age and highlighting the benchmarks of each era in cocktail history. To think, you can get the best Painkiller you’ve ever had outside of a tiki bar; shoot, maybe in any bar, then have yourself a proper Aviation right after. Chances are, if you give a barfly a Negroni or two, they’re going to be burning for some pasta or a steak. Quality, properly marbled cuts of meat cooked to perfection coupled with house-made pastas and seafood galore calls for a vast, yet well-balanced food menu with enough variety to ensure any guest can find a favorite.

With all of this in mind, whether you wish to sip the green fairy served from an absinthe fountain, enjoy a neat pour of rye whiskey, or share a bottle of Cabernet with someone you love, Herbs & Rye has a place at the table just for you.