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There’s been a flurry of restaurant openings in downtown Las Vegas recently, and we’ve barely been able to keep up. What follow are five new downtown Las Vegas restaurants well worth a taste.
Glutton opened April 10, 2015, and it’s already making quite the impression. Glutton is located at 616 East Carson Ave., just a block or two from Fremont Street Experience.
The menu at Glutton is compact, featuring Snacks, Wood Fired, Plates and Sweets.
The Brown Butter Gnocchi might be our favorite dish at any of the five new downtown restaurants we tried.
See Glutton’s lunch and dinner menu on the restaurant’s official site.
Glutton has a welcoming bar, as well as counter seating, perfect for those dining alone.
The cocktails were delicious, and the ladies will especially enjoy one called the Jessica Rabbit, with Avua Cachaca, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, cardamom, carrot and coconut cream.
The prices are reasonable and the kind of value you expect from a downtown restaurant, as compared to The Strip.
We especially liked the menu item below.
See our photo gallery for more pics from Glutton, and you can rest assured we’ll be stopping by on a regular basis.
Oh, and the wifi password at Glutton is “WOODFIRE,” all caps. You’re welcome.
VegeNation opened April 22, 2015, and is adjacent to Glutton. As the name implies, fare at VegeNation is 100% plant-based. Which means we didn’t actually try anything. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t take a couple of photos!
VegeNation’s menu is replete with items we describe as “having ingredients we don’t recognize, but which we’re sure will be familiar to people into this sort of thing.”
Here’s the VegeNation Web site for all the details.
All right, all right, we’ll visit again soon and actually eat something. The sacrifices we make for you.
3. Itsy Bitsy: Ramen & Whiskey
Itsy Bitsy: Ramen & Whiskey opened in early April, and we already love the joint.
Itsy Bitsy is located in the Ogden high-rise condo building at 150 N. Las Vegas Boulevard, a block north of Fremont Street Experience.
Everything we tried was delicious, although we must admit we had neither ramen or whiskey, mainly because this Las Vegas blog does not live by society’s rules.
Itsy Bitsy doesn’t appear to have its own Web site, and we couldn’t find a menu online, but one will be provided at the restaurant, so chill. Here’s our version of the Itsy Bitsy menu for your convenience.
We got all up in he business of some Japanese chicken bites with an excellent dipping sauce.
The pork pot stickers ($6) were also tasty as all get-out. Unless people no longer use the phrase “all get-out,” then nevermind.
Three small plates and a beverage for around $20? Irresistible.
Itsy Bitsy: Ramen and Whiskey also trumpets its cocktail menu, so we’ll be back to partake soon. Here’s a look at the cocktail menu because we’re selfless like that.
No password is required to access the wifi at Itsy Bitsy: Ramen and Whiskey.
All right, we need to move this along, mainly due to the fact we’re blogging drunk. For the first time, ever, and that’s the story we’re sticking to.
First, PublicUs is not pronounced “public us.” We pronounced it that way and sounded like an idiot. We have lots of other ways we prefer to sound like an idiot, thank you.
It’s pronounced “pub-li-cus.” Publicus is a Latin word meaning “of the people, public, open to all.”
PublicUs describes itself as “a canteen-style, neighborhood restaurant and coffee bar located in the Fremont East District of Downtown Las Vegas.” A gentle reminder, if nothing else, of the uselessness of so many sentences in the English language.
While we didn’t try the offerings at PublicUs, our pal and food critic Al Mancini did, so read his review for all the goodness. Bottom line: He liked it. Mancini, too, noted the sketchy neighborhood PublicUs is in, several blocks east of Fremont Street Experience, past Atomic Liquors and Bunkhouse. While there’s blight nearby, we didn’t feel unsafe making the trek, so live dangerously for once. The address is 1126 Fremont Street.
We’re not entirely sure how to describe the menu at PublicUs, other than that a dish on the restaurant’s menu contains “Ciogga beets, wood sorrel, spinach, sage green goddess and violla.” Exactly zero of which this blog would recognize in a line-up.
The wifi password at PublicUs is “ILoveCoffee!” (Yes, including the exclamation point.) Don’t say we never gave you anything.
5. Simply Pure
Admittedly, Simply Pure has been open since earlier this year, but no way in hell were we going to do a blog post with four new eateries. That’s just weird.
So, Simply Pure is a small shop in the Downtown Container Park catering to vegans and vegetarians. Many items on the Simply Pure menu are “gluten-free and allergy-friendly.”
The menu ranges widely, despite the shop’s compact space, and includes zucchini pasta, chili cheese fries, tacos, lettuce wraps and a chocolate ganache parfait.
You can check out the Simply Pure menu on the official Web site.
These five new restaurants illustrate the variety and value to be found in downtown Las Vegas. They’re quirky and creative, and because they’re new, the employees seem to be trying extra hard to win over new fans.
We’ll keep eating and drinking on your behalf until you can visit these new downtown Las Vegas restaurants on your own. Let us know what you drink. Sorry, think. Let us know what you think. Hey, you experience new things your way, we experience them our way.
It was one of the more promising concepts when the Linq shopping promenade opened, but F.A.M.E., the “Chinatown Food Experience,” has shuttered.
F.A.M.E. (Food, Art, Music, Entertainment) struggled from day one, shuffling concepts within what amounted to a mostly-Asian food court.
F.A.M.E. boasted eight food offerings, including a Fuku Burger.
The closure is likely to mean the planned next phase of the establishment, an “upscale, seated dining experience with a modern Asian cuisine menu,” won’t be happening. The upstairs restaurant was supposed to have featured “a Tokyo-style robata bar, sushi bar and tempura bar.” Now, not so much. (Of note: Another restaurant at The Linq, Off the Strip, was supposed to expand its operation upstairs, but that’s been put off indefinitely.)
F.A.M.E.’s demise is the latest in a series of red flags going up at The Linq shopping district, indicating the project is struggling in a serious way.
For example, the mall’s Blvd. Cocktail Company, a piano lounge, actually went under. The owner of The Linq, Caesars Entertainment, swooped in to save the establishment in order to keep it from closing.
A source close to The Linq summed up the situation this way, “Nobody’s making their rent.”
While foot traffic seems to be strong, it appears many guests stroll The Linq but don’t necessarily stop to take advantage of the strong collection of offerings.
Also struggling is the High Roller Ferris wheel. Caesars Entertainment, which is currently going through a high-profile bankruptcy, confessed the wheel has an average ridership of 5,000 people a day. While that sounds like a lot, the company projected ridership of about 11,000 a day.
Other changes at The Linq have happened with little fanfare. Jon Gray, touted as the “mayor” of The Linq, departed for a gig at Nike. Gray was quietly replaced by Tonia Chafetz, formerly the General Manager of Tivoli Village, another troubled shopping center in Las Vegas.
Another significant, but quiet, change at The Linq promenade was the bowing out of management company Caruso Affiliated. Founder and CEO Rick Caruso, also responsible for the
Grove shopping center in L.A., is said to no longer be involved with The Linq. Red flags don’t really get much bigger or redder than that.
The behind-the-scenes challenges facing The Linq promenade fly in the face of what’s been stated publicly, especially in advertorial spinning the facts to trumpet the project’s success. For example, “So far, the promenade seems to be worth the effort. The High Roller pulls in almost 5,000 riders a day.” Truth, but not exactly the whole truth.
Here’s the thing. The Linq promenade is actually awesome. The project turned a foul-smelling alley between Flamingo and O’Sheas casino (now The Linq hotel) into an appealing, eclectic destination with distinctive shops and a variety of bars and restaurants. Oh, and the world’s tallest observation wheel.
Nobody wants to see The Linq fail, or even flounder. So, the next time you’re in the neighborhood, don’t just stroll. Stop and drink or eat or ride that giant wheel. (Skip Chayo, though, they can suck it.) See a show at Brooklyn Bowl, what’s turned out to be one of the best entertainment venues in town. Visit the cupcake ATM (despite the cupcakes being too expensive and not that good). Bump knuckles with Lucky the Leprechaun at O’Sheas.
The tagline for The Linq is actually pretty dead-on: “So much to do, so little time.”
Let’s make some time, because The Linq is the heart of The Strip, and we’ve all got a stake in keeping it beating. Or something.
We’re sad to report Betty Willis, designer of the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign has died at age 91.
Willis, once called the “birth mother of fabulous,” passed away in her home in Overton, Nevada on April 19, 2015.
Willis began her career drawing showgirls in newspaper ads.
She eventually got a job at Young Electric Sign Company, now called Yesco. After that, she worked for Western Neon, at a time when women commercial artists were rare.
The idea for the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign came from a Vegas salesman, Ted Rogich. Rogich felt Vegas had signs for everything but itself. Rogich and Willis sold the sign to Clark County for $4,000. The famous, 25-foot-tall sign was completed in 1959.
Betty Willis never trademarked the sign’s design, making it free to use on every imaginable kind of merchandise.
Willis considered the sign a “gift to the city.” She was right.
The “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are two replicas of Willis’ sign. One was installed on Las Vegas Boulevard, and the other is on Boulder Highway.
While her “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign is her most famous, Willis designed other signs as well, including the signs for the Stardust and Moulin Rouge casinos, the Blue Angel Motel and others.
Much of Willis’ work can still be seen at the Neon Museum, a must-visit time machine to Sin City’s colorful past.
Betty Willis made her mark on the world when she designed the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign. It’s easily one of the most recognized signs anywhere.
In our book, creating the Las Vegas sign is as close as it gets to immortality.
Thank you, Betty.
Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project continues to push the boundaries of WTF, keeping downtown in the news as it has with its latest endeavor: Parklet Las Vegas.
So, what is it? The “parklet” is essentially a tricked-out, 8-foot by 20-foot parking space.
The parklet is being built near downtown’s John E. Carson building, home to the popular Carson Kitchen and other shops.
The baffling pop-up structure (which is supposed to be in place for a year) is intended to turn an urban parking space into “a little slice of nature.” No, really.
The parklet is “designed to connect people downtown with nature by providing a place to enjoy the outdoors, which reduces stress, increases brainpower and more. Like any park, the parklet is also a place for people to connect with each other—to gather with friends and meet others who also enjoy being outside.”
So, yeah, we still don’t get it. This blog tends to love the Las Vegas that’s the exact opposite of outside.
The first parklet was erected in San Francisco in 2010.
While our work-in-progress photos of Las Vegas parklet don’t make it look all that impressive, the rendering below of the finished product also makes it look not all that impressive.
It took a lot of people to make the parklet possible, including a team of professors and students at Iowa State University and UNLV, the Nevada Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects and Las Vegas Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the latter two “facilitated community engagement with the project.”
Oh, and parklets cost $20,000-$60,000 to build.
The Las Vegas parklet, dubbed “The Waiting Game” (presumably because visitors can use the parklet while waiting for a table at nearby restaurants) opens April 18, “just in time for Earth Day on April 22.” Yeah, a bit of a stretch, but we’re writing about it, so something’s working. Here’s more.
We’ll be swinging by again to see the finished Las Vegas parklet, especially if we can hang out with our cocktail.
This part of downtown has cleaned up nicely in recent months, but it’s still fairly grubby, so sitting outside in a parking space as cars go by doesn’t sound all that appealing at first glance. Then again, we had our doubts about having lunch in a shopping center made of shipping containers, and we’re at the Downtown Project’s Container Park all the time.
Update: Here’s a look at the finished Las Vegas parklet.
The completed parklet has seating for six people. People who are clearly up for an adventure. The roof of the parklet is fancy.
Keep the surprises coming, Downtown Project. We didn’t get the fleet of Airstream trailers, turning Gold Spike into a college dorm gameroom, or the preoccupation with llamas, either. But a recent report pegs Downtown Project’s fiscal contribution to downtown in the range of $118 million, including more than 1,000 permanent jobs.
We love a revitalized downtown, even when it comes in the form of a spruced-up parking space.
Much like Las Vegas itself, visitors to Sin City can’t be summed up with mere numbers or percentages. Oh, who are we kidding? Everything can be summed up with numbers and percentages!
Each year, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority does just that with its fascinating Las Vegas Visitor Profile. The 2014 installment of the report reveals a treasure trove of nuanced travel trends. Since this Las Vegas blog doesn’t do nuance, we’re just going to cut and paste some of the more interesting facts about Las Vegas visitors below.
1. In 2014, 19% of visitors to Las Vegas said it was their first time visiting the city. Question: What took them so long?
2. 58% of visitors arrived via ground transportation, 42% arrived by air.
3. Las Vegas visitors in 2014 stayed an average of 3.2 nights and 4.2 days.
4. Over the course of their stay, Vegas visitors spent an average of $281.88 for food and drink. Mainly drink. Or maybe that’s just us.
5. Visitors spent an average of $47.56 for shows.
6. 71% of 2014 Vegas visitors said they gambled during their visit, down from 80% in 2010 and 77% in 2011. Slackers.
7. 10% of Vegas visitors had children (under 21) in their immediate party. Nobody’s perfect.
8. The average gambling budget of Las Vegas visitors in 2014 was $530.11.
9. 65% of 2014 visitors attended shows during their stay, down from 72% the year before. We have no idea what accounts for the drop in show attendance. Duck Commander Musical wasn’t even a thing in 2014.
10. 19% of Las Vegas visitors in 2014 were from foreign countries. Which, when you think about it, most countries are. Foreign. Please try and keep up.
11. 36% of visitors said they’d visited downtown Las Vegas during their trip. That’s an increase of 6% over the prior year. We should work on commission.
12. Of those who visited downtown, 59% said the main reason was to see the Fremont Street Experience.
13. 88% of Vegas visitors surveyed gambled on The Strip, 27% downtown, 6% on the Boulder Strip. The rest “gambled” by fornicating in a unisex restroom, unless we just made that part up.
14. When visitors were asked how many casinos they visited during their stay, the average was 5.7. The .7 was Casino Royale. It’s adorable.
15. Of visitors who said they planned to visit somewhere near Vegas before or after their Las Vegas visit (16% said “yes”), the three most popular destinations were the Grand Canyon (67%), Hoover Dam (51%) and Zion National Park (20%).
16. 8% of Vegas visitors said they’d been to a hotel nightclub that charged a cover charge.
17. 2% of those surveyed has visited a pool party or day club.
18. 77% of visitors who saw a show in Las Vegas went to a lounge act. Note: Those tend to be free, so not a giant leap in logic.
19. Among all the visitors surveyed, their average number of visits to Las Vegas over the past five years was 5.7.
20. 9% of visitors said they’d attended a convention, trade show or corporate meeting while in Las Vegas. Which is like being shot with a tranquilizer dart, but involving a lanyard.
21. 52% of visitors decided where to gamble after arriving in Las Vegas.
22. 7% of visitors said they’d visited a spa during their trip. Spas just whipped your ass, day clubs.
23. 68% of visitors said they used the Internet to plan their Vegas trip. Side note: 100% of people used the Internet to read that statistic.
24. Of those who said they used used social media Web sites during their visit to plan their activities in Las Vegas (28% of all visitors surveyed), 51% said they used Facebook and 34% said they used Twitter.
25. 30% of visitors arrived in Las Vegas on a weekend, 70% arrived on a weekday.
Again, these numbers are for 2014, and the survey results were the result of first-person interviews with 3,600 randomly-selected visitors. Second-person interviews are so much less fun, don’t you think?
Hope you had as much fun looking these over as we did lifting them from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority report. (Here’s the entire report in .pdf format if you’re into that kind of thing.)
For the record, this is as close as we get to enjoying numbers. Other than the ones noting the alcohol content of distilled beverages, of course.