- Raiders punter AJ Cole has been with the team for four years, the last three of which were spent in Las Vegas.
- In his time with the team, Cole has developed some very serious views on the city’s restaurants.
- Cole keeps a list on his iPhone of his favorite places in Las Vegas and is eager to share.
Las Vegas Raiders punter AJ Cole is a master of his craft.
During the 2022 season, Cole ranked fifth among punters in the NFL, with a net average of 43.9 yards per punt. He’s good enough that the Raiders moved to secure him for the future in 2021, when the team signed him to a four-year, $12 million extension after he was named a first-team All-Pro that year. .
Now a veteran, Cole, 27, knows Sin City very well and, like anyone else who has spent any time in Las Vegas, takes his restaurant recommendations very seriously.
Insider caught up with Cole and his future wife, professional volleyball player Kylie Pickrell with Athletes Unlimited, on the red carpet ahead of the NFL Honors awards in Arizona during Super Bowl week. Of all the professional athletes Insider has requested restaurant recommendations in their home team cities, no one has reacted more happily than Cole.
When asked about his favorite restaurants in Las Vegas, Cole immediately lit up.
“Oh my gosh, that’s so hard,” Cole said, pulling out his phone.
“I have this section in my Notes app that I keep,” he enthused. “Those are all the restaurants we’ve eaten at in Las Vegas. I write a review on all of them.
“That’s a serious question for me. If you want a real answer.”
Cole assured us that he would mix up his recommendations so as not to name just three steakhouses. As a reporter, I have never seen an athlete more prepared to answer a question.
“So the steakhouse is SW,” Cole began. “Their steaks are great. Great atmosphere. Great drinks. Little show is awesome. I really like it.”
SW Steakhouse It is located at the Wynn. “Aged steaks and a curated selection of certified Japanese and domestic Wagyu star at Forbes Travel Guide Four Star Award-winning SW Steakhouse,” announces his website.
Unsurprisingly, you’ll have to shell out a fair amount of cash for your meal at a steakhouse of this quality. Waygu Japanese beef cuts start at $240. Having said that, there are options for your main dish that costs less than $100.
But the vibes at SW Steakhouse seem worth it. And being the first restaurant that comes to mind for an NFL player who has eaten all over Las Vegas has to count for something.
As promised, Cole went in a different direction with his second restaurant choice: Din Tai Fung in the Aria.
“It’s okay, but it’s not like some crazy five-star Las Vegas, but the food is great,” Cole said. “The dim sum is amazing. And I have a peanut allergy so I can’t normally eat at a lot of places like that. I know the chef there, he’s the man.”
For any dim sum fan, this place looks amazing.
“From Taipei to Los Angeles, the esteemed Taiwanese noodle and dumpling house is famous for its Xiao Long Bao, including the famous Shanghai-style soup dumplings stuffed with Kurobuta pork,” the website promises.
“Each of our Xiao Longbao It is carefully weighed and hand-folded to achieve our exclusive 18-fold Golden Ratio and stuffed with premium Kurobuta pork marinated in a blend of carefully selected seasonings,” the website says. “Combined with the spicy aromas of fresh ginger and green onion leaves, every bite is the perfect bite.”
For his final pick, Cole offered another wild card: Beauty and Essex at the Cosmopolitan.
“This is just a great place to experiment. The food is really good,” Cole said. “Going there with a group of people and getting all the stuff is really fun. And I like that it’s in a little speakeasy like a pawn shop.”
Clearly, the food at Beauty and Essex is made to be shared.
“Beauty and Essex has a really cool vibe,” Cole said. “I love the shareables there. The crazy stuff: street corn ravioli, fritter ferris wheel, they have grilled cheese soup dumplings.”
Signature dishes at the restaurant include the Grilled Cheese Dumplings and “Wonder Wheel” desserts Cole mentioned, as well as the Thai-style Fried Shrimp and Tuna Poke Wonton Tacos. They also sport a impressive cocktail list.
Cole’s partner, Kylie Pickrell, approved of Cole’s three choices, but offered three of her own.
First, where the couple went for a recent Las Vegas celebration: Jose Andres’ Bazaar Meat.
“We went there for his birthday this year and we did the tasting menu, and it was amazing,” Pickrell said. “They put things in there that I wouldn’t think of trying or ordering in a restaurant myself.”
Bazaar Meat describes itself as an “innovative dining experience,” in which guests can “enjoy the fun, nuanced cuisine and cocktails for which The Bazaar by José Andrés has become known on both coasts, in a surprisingly seductive environment”.
Tasting menus like the one Pickrell and Cole enjoyed are available at prices of $205 and $290 and offer impressive variety.
zumaa Japanese restaurant in the Cosmopolitan, it was another of Pickrell’s favorites and was the first place the couple ate together after moving to the new city.
Omakase is available at prices of $138 or $168 per person or guests they can choose their own favorite dishes from the menu.
With his latest restaurant, Pickrell opted for a venue that includes dinner and a show: Mayfair Supper Club at the Bellagio.
“That’s a fun moment,” Pickrell said. “There’s a show going on constantly while you eat and as the night goes on it also gets a bit raunchier. So if you like fun stuff like that, it’s a good place to go.”
“Dinner is never just dinner,” their website promises. While I can’t be entirely sure what they mean, I intend to find out the next time I’m in Vegas.
And for any new Raiders player looking to get to know the city, Cole is ready to help.