Chris Santos sets a table for impeccable flavors and a dash of whimsy at Stanton Social Prime, interview

Chris Santos opens Stanton Social Prime at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, photo provided by Caesars Entertainment
Chris Santos opens Stanton Social Prime at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, photo provided by Caesars Entertainment /

While the floor of the Caesars Palace casino might be a cacophony of sounds, lights, and excitement, Stanton Social Prime is an enclave that promises a dining experience to remember. When Chris Santos, chef, restauranter, cookbook author, and Food Network personality looked to bring this version of his beloved Stanton Social NYC to Las Vegas, the task was more than just delving into the past. The resulting space with its shareable menu will become its own dining destination. During a recent conversation with Santos, he shared the process behind creating this menu, the experience he wants diners to have, and he revealed a few secrets along the way.

As diners first step into Stanton Social Prime, it feels like an intimate space. Santos believes that the restaurant will be a destination for date night, celebratory parties, and for guests who want to experience his approach to dining. Similar to his other concepts, the menu is meant to be shared around the table. While his cookbook Share explained that approach, this food is designed for communal appreciation. As the reaction to the flavor elicits a response, the conversation grows.

Chris Santos at the opening of Stanton Social Prime in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – MARCH 18: Chef Chris Santos and Bella Hadid attend the grand opening of Stanton Social Prime at Caesars Palace on March 18, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment) /

Chris Santos commented that “it is about trying to get people to share.” While there is “no delineation between appetizers and entrees,” it is more than just a bounty of food on the table. It is about setting the table with dishes that spark an interest. As people’s eyes light up, the food becomes even more flavorful.

With over 50 menu items, Stanton Social Prime has plenty to offer even the most discerning tastes. Although Santos did not start off deciding to create a Stanton Steakhouse, the beef offerings are a highlight of the menu.

Stanton Social Prime shareables
Stanton Social Prime shareables, photo provided by Caesars /

Santos recalled how he went to a beef ranch to find inspiration for the restaurant’s menu. As he recalled the experience, he got a little sentimental. Discussing how they spent the day on the farm, understanding the process, and appreciating the craft. At night, Santos said, “we would cook with the beef we butchered for the day, and it would be a feast. Everyone would offer different dishes.” Through that process, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes was discovered.

The Tomahawk, served tableside, was discovered during that ranching expedition. Santos said that this signature dish is a cut that really has not be used before. Specifically, he said that “it is the tomahawk with the short rib attached.” He said that the dish is served with bone marrow, black garlic, French butter and presented to the table hanging and lit on fire.

Santos said that the ranch experience “definitely influenced the menu.” From the hanging presentation to the respect for using all types of cuts, it is about pushing a conversation forward. Just like the shareable concept invites people to have that communal dining experience, the food leaves a lasting impression long after the table is cleared.

Signature Tomahawk at Stanton Social Prime,
Signature Tomahawk at Stanton Social Prime, photo provided by Caesars /

While tableside presentation seems to be making a comeback in various Caesars Las Vegas dining properties, Santos does not want the presentation to overtake the total experience. For him, it is less about numerous carts roaming between the tables. Specifically he said, “we do not want to ruin the dining experience.” At the same time, “the subtle ways” that the restaurant can present the dishes to the table will make an impression.

One adjective that peppered our conversation was whimsical. While some chefs might interpret that idea to molecular gastronomy or playing with perception, Santos takes a different approach. The dishes are meant to be fun. Long gone are the days of stuffy plates without room to explore. This food is about enjoying the moment and the company seated at the table.

Stanton Social Prime signature file
Stanton Social Prime signature filet, photo provided by Caesars /

Looking at various menu items, it is about not taking the fine dining concept too seriously. For example, Santos described in detail his tartare dish served over a French cheese quesadilla. While this concept might never fly in a traditional restaurant, it will become the must have dish at Stanton Social Prime.

Santos admitted that “the dish makes no sense,” but it hits all the components of a great dish. “That wedge of quesadilla has the great cheese pull and the traditional steak tartare.” Even the traditionalist will have to succumb to the temptation.

Another example of that culinary creativity is with the crab cake. The corn dog crab cakes are far from the norm but the perfect bite to share. That item sitting side by side with Stanton favorites, like the Famous French Onion Soup Dumplings and Pierogies make it hard for diners to not order one of everything on the menu.

Famous French Onion Soup Dumplings at Stanton Social Prime
Famous French Onion Soup Dumplings at Stanton Social Prime, photo provided by Caesars /

In the end, Chris Santos and the Tao Hospitality team have created a new restaurant that will definitely be a highly sought-after table at Caesars Palace. Appealing to a diverse set of diners, it might become some of the most talked about food across the resort’s properties. One word of advice for diners, bring a robust appetite because it will be hard to narrow down the choices to just a few dishes.

Stanton Social Prime is located at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. The restaurant is open from 5-11:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations can be made online.