Libertine Social Opens at Mandalay Bay

Libertine Social, a new bar and restaurant, has been unveiled at Mandalay Bay.

Yes, we got some photos. We know how you are.

Libertine Social

Libertine Social sits in the former Shanghai Lily space. Now, it’s a lot more chillable.

A “libertine” is someone devoid of moral or sexual restraints. So, yeah, a pretty good fit for Sin City. Note: In Vegas, restraints cost extra!

All the news releases and articles we read about Libertine Social repeatedly mention the name of “James Beard Award-winning chef Shawn McClain,” as if that should mean something to laypersons like us. We’re going to assume if someone gets an award for their beard, they’re probably good at other things as well.

Libertine Social

A news release says Libertine Social’s “eclectic design captures the abandon of the restaurant.” We actually have a fear of abandonment, but we’re working through it.

While we don’t know their name, whoever did the interior design of Libertine Social clearly knew what they were doing.

The restaurant has two bars, a Main Bar (below) and “more intimate” (translation: smaller) Arcade Bar.

Libertine Social Las Vegas

We dig the Main Bar’s vibe. Enough of this trend of chairs without cushioning, though, Las Vegas.

The restaurant’s Main Bar “features a diverse set of ways to imbibe that celebrate the spirit of partying in Las Vegas with a world-renowned mixologist at the reins.” Psst. There aren’t any world-renowned mixologists, but it’s adorable how people in public relations think there are.

Libertine Social’s now world-famous (he’s appeared in this blog) mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim has created a cocktail menu with “Elevated Shots” (specialty shots with liquors like vanilla bean-infused plantation rum), “Swizzles” (icy Caribbean cocktails stirred with swizzle sticks made from the Quararibea turbinata tree), “Draft Cocktails” (handmade cocktails made “with the efficiency and speed of a draft system”), “Barrel-Aged Cocktails” and “Bottled Cocktails.”

Libertine Social

Arcade Bar. No pinball machines, sorry.

Apparently, ice is a big deal at both of Libertine Social’s bars, “with diamonds, cubes, pellets and spheres perfected for each drink.” When ice pellets catch on in Las Vegas, you’ll know where they got their start.

On the food side of things, the menu aspires to “encompass the social spirit of a house party,” with gourmet toasts and dips, “indulgent flatbreads,” sausage boards and other options “encouraging guests to share and socialize.”

First, we were once expelled from college for showing someone our sausage board.

Second, if we ever have a band, we’re going to call it the Indulgent Flatbreads.

Libertine Social

“We’ll pay for parking at Las Vegas casinos when rabbits fly!” Oh, right.

While we didn’t get a chance to try the food or drink, we’ll definitely be back to Libertine Social.

We might tease them a bit, but the space is unpretentious and welcoming, and is clearly intended to encourage hanging out and mingling. You know, being social. All the kids are doing it. (Libertine Social has, thankfully, spared us the table shuffleboard and cornhole. You’ll live, Millennials!)

Libertine Social at Mandalay Bay is open Monday through Sunday, 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. If you check it out, we’d love to hear what you think.


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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 24: Pinballs to the Wall, Strip and Downtown Discoveries and More

There’s a little something for everyone in this installment of the highly overrated Vital Vegas Podcast.

For starters, we’ve got an enlightening interview with Larry Galbraith, one of the owners of the new Fremont Arcade at Neonopolis, downtown. Come to find out, there’s more to pinball machines than meets the eye (a metric ass-ton more).

Galbraith walks us through the new arcade to talk about the 16 custom and limited edition pinball machines and other offerings at the new downtown diversion.

Fremont Arcade

We tend to prefer our machines to be of the slot variety, rather than pinball, but Fremont Arcade’s rare, custom machines won us over.

We’ve also got all the latest Las Vegas news, as well as exclusive discoveries on The Strip and downtown, to help you get the most from your next Las Vegas visit.

Get the inside scoop about the renovated Chandelier Bar at Cosmopolitan (pictured below), the Riviera implosion, Lucky Dragon, Amorino Gelato at Linq promenade, Pete Rose’s exit from the Pete Rose Sports Bar & Grill, the new Game Lodge at Twins Peaks and so much less!

Chandelier Bar Cosmopolitan

Chandelier Bar at Cosmopolitan has to be one of the most stunning in the world, and we’re not just saying that because we are a Las Vegas blog. We’re saying that because we have eyes.

We also talk Freedom Beat at Downtown Grand, Blue Man Group’s 10,000th performance in Vegas, the closing of “Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding” at Bally’s and Paul Zerdin’s “Mouthing Off” at Planet Hollywood, all the shops shuttering at Pawn Plaza and the two-year anniversary of SLS Las Vegas.

Take a listen! It makes us feel like our Las Vegas obsession, resulting in sleepless nights, liver damage and lack of a sex life, is totally worth it.

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Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips is Finally Taking Shape

The long-awaited Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips at Linq promenade is finally happening, and we’ve got the security breach to prove it.

We poked our lens over the construction wall to get a glimpse of the restaurant’s progress, and it appears Gordon Ramsay is ready to give another in-the-works restaurant at the Linq pedestrian mall, In-N-Out, a run for its money.

Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips

Everyone should try a little of the old in-and-out when they’re in Vegas.

From what we can see, Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips is on the petite side, and not much has been done to the interior so far.

The restaurant is described as a “grab-and-go British comfort food venue,” featuring fish and chips and other traditional British food. We expect it to be pretty good in spite of that fact.

Chef Ramsay already has several successful restaurants in Las Vegas: BurGR at Planet Hollywood, Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris and Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace.

More to come on Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips.

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A Peek at Downtown Grand’s New Restaurant, Freedom Beat

Construction is well under way at Downtown Grand’s new restaurant, Freedom Beat.

Freedom Beat replaces the resort’s former cafe, Stewart + Ogden, and will take up not only that closed restaurant’s space, but also that of another closed restaurant, Red Mansion.

While Downtown Grand has wisely built its construction walls from floor to ceiling, here’s an exclusive first look at a rendering for the Freedom Beat concept.

Freedom Beat Downtown Grand

We’re unsure if the “I Love Mom” will stay, but it’s a great excuse for us to say, “Love you, Mom!”

The new restaurant concept is subdued and welcoming from what we can tell, and we can’t wait to take our first bite. Bonus: Freedom Beat looks like it will be Nirvana for solo diners.  The Buddhist one, not the band. Please try and keep up.

Freedom Beat is a collaboration between Downtown Grand and 34th Floor Hospitality, the same folks who overhauled Downtown Grand’s pool scene, Citrus.

Freedom Beat logo

Freedom Beat was also the name of a 1988 anti-apartheid concert in London. About 200,000 people attended the free show.

34th Floor Hospitality was also involved with the recently-closed Inna Gadda di Pizza and Pawn Donut & Coffee at Pawn Plaza, as well as The Pizzeria (“Secret Pizza”) at the Cosmopolitan.

Freedom Beat’s interior design comes from Las Vegas-based Bunnyfish Studios.

The new restaurant is expected to have an entertainment component, although specifics haven’t been announced.

Freedom Beat Downtown Grand

The aforementioned security breach-thwarting construction wall.

Just today, we spotted “Hell’s Kitchen” season 12 winner Scott Commings at Downtown Grand. He’s being tapped to help create the menu for Freedom Beat, and also serves as executive chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill at Caesars Palace.

Update: We got the first sneak peek at Freedom Beat’s menu.

Freedom Beat menu

We’re hungry. That’s a good sign.

We’re excited to see what Freedom Beat has in store! This blog is a firm believer Downtown Grand is one of the most underrated resorts in Vegas, and despite a number of challenges, Downtown Grand forges ahead.

Downtown Grand recently called off a Zowie Bowie residency due to a lack of attendance. (The contract was originally scheduled to run until October 2016.)

The hotel also quietly pulled the plug on its weekly Taboo Summer Nights events. While the event was a huge draw (about 1,000 people gathered at the hotel’s pool each week), the crowds are rumored to have been unruly, so the series was canceled.

Citrus at Downtown Grand

Downtown Grand’s pool is on fleek. Or whatever the kids are saying now. Trust us, in the time it takes you to read this photo caption, they’ll be on to the next thing. It’s fire. Or lit. Or bae. Let’s just go with those, already.

Onward and upward, and kudos to Downtown Grand for changing things up and continuing to improve its offerings.

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Work Begins on Exterior of Fremont’s La Bayou Casino

Work has begun on the exterior of former grind joint and daiquiri dispensary La Bayou on Fremont Street.

Here’s your exclusive look at the scaffolding and mesh, which, we should add, would make a great band name.

La Bayou renovation

The casino version of a burka.

La Bayou was purchased by Derek and Greg Stevens, who also own The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate, in April 2016.

Here’s a look at the historic casino before it closed.

La Bayou Las Vegas

For years, La Bayou was our go-to spot for strawberry daiquiris. Which explains all the typos and grammatical errors in this blog post.

La Bayou has a long and glorious history which we are far too drunk to actually research or share with you.

Instead, here’s a photo of where La Bayou is in relation to other things Derek and Greg Stevens purchased, specifically Mermaids and the Girls of Glitter Gulch Strip Club and Human Petri Dish.

La Bayou Fremont Street

La Bayou originally opened as the Las Vegas Coffee House. Because naming things is hard.

The Stevens brothers haven’t said too much about their plans for La Bayou, but stripping away the New Orleans-themed decorations on the buildings facade are probably high on the list.

Derek Stevens has said the La Bayou site is likely to be part of an expansion of the Golden Gate casino, which is an idea we love, basically because we personally kick that casino’s ass at every possible opportunity. All due respect.

On the other side of Fremont Street, both Glitter Gulch and Mermaids will soon be absorbed into a new resort which will also include the shuttered Las Vegas Club. The resort is being called “18 Fremont” internally, but don’t get emotionally attached to that name.

To stay in the loop about all the happenings on Fremont Street, make sure to visit this Las Vegas blog, hourly. At least. Like you have anything better to do.

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Four, Count ‘Em Four, Shops Call It Quits at Pawn Plaza

To say downtown’s Pawn Plaza is going through a rough patch would be an understatement. A startling four shops have shuttered at Pawn Plaza in just a week’s time.

Pawn Plaza is a shopping complex fashioned from shipping containers, an idea inspired by downtown’s Container Park. Pawn Plaza sits next to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop made famous in TV’s “Pawn Stars.”

Pawn Plaza

It’s like Piet Mondrian humped a container ship. Or something.

It seems Pawn Plaza is going through the same kind of growing pains Container Park experienced, just all at once.

Here’s a rundown of the casualties.

Smoke’s Poutinerie

The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop gets a huge number of Canadian visitors, so it made sense to have an eatery featuring this popular Canadian dish. No such luck. Smoke’s Poutinerie was the first of the four shops to close.

Pawn Plaza

We quite enjoyed whatever it was we ate here.

Inna Gadda di Pizza

The closing of Inna Gadda di Pizza came as a surprise because of the restaurant’s pedigree. The shop was run by some of the same folks who opened the popular Pizzeria at Cosmopolitan (often called “Secret Pizza”). The pizza was okay, but given the choice between Inna Gadda di Pizza and the excellent Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke BBQ, it was no contest.

Inna Gadda di Pizza

“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” translates roughly as “The Garden of Life,” further proof you learn a metric ass-ton of useless stuff writing a blog.

Pawn Donut and Coffee Shop

The Pawn Donut and Coffee Shop was managed by the company behind Inna Gadda di Pizza. The doughnuts were solid and the prices were good. It’s likely this small shop could hold its own, but when Inna Gadda di Pizza pulled up stakes, it was a package deal.

Pawn Donut and Coffee

“Folks, we’re closing the shop, so we have to move everything out.” “All right, I’ll get a shoe box.”

Las Vegas Flip Flops

It’s a shock a flip flop store would fail given the huge public demand for, you know, flip flops.

Pawn Plaza Flip Flops

You will be missed, Las Vegas Flip Flops, by both of your loyal customers.

Thanks to Eater Vegas and Las Vegas Advisor for sharing news of the shuttered shops.

So, what’s the story at Pawn Plaza?

It’s been reported businesses at Pawn Plaza have been struggling overall, with disgruntled shopkeepers claiming the shopping center’s failing to meet their expectations.

Pawn Plaza’s PR team says, rightly, it’s the nature of the business that some stores will survive, others won’t.

Gold and Silver Pawn

The Gold & Silver Pawn shop continues to draw throngs. Just walk over to Pawn Plaza and buy something, people. It’s 14 feet away.

Pawn Plaza says it looks forward to announcing new tenants soon. Then again, what else are they going to say?

Is Pawn Plaza worth a stop? Of course! Did we mention Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke BBQ? It has a bar. ‘Nuff said. Bonus: “Pawn Stars” star Rick Harrison even tends bar there most Friday and Saturday nights.

Oh, and try Rita’s Italian Ice and Custard. The frozen custard is amazing, but just make sure it’s custard you’re getting because of the occasional egg shortages. It’s a thing.

Rita's Italian Ice custard

First, the custard is spectacular. Second, our future as a hand model is assured.

We’re rooting for Pawn Plaza to find a new batch of shops to fill out its roster. Pawn Plaza is a colorful addition to a blighted part of downtown. It’s just a matter of finding the right mix of shops and not relying solely on pawn shop visitors to support them.

And more bars couldn’t hurt.

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