Monthly Archives: November 2016

Las Vegas NHL Team Named at Last: Vegas Golden Knights

After what feels like years of speculation, Vegas Golden Knights has been chosen as the name of Sin City’s NHL franchise.

Here’s the team’s new logo.

Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas Golden Knights, you’ll be hearing from Magneto’s lawyers.

We don’t exactly know what to make of the Vegas Golden Knights name, other than the fact it doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Las Vegas.

The team’s name is a nod to the alma mater of its owner, Bill Foley, a graduate of the United States Military Academy, also known as West Point. The school’s athletic teams are called the Army Black Knights.

The team’s management made up a bunch of clever reasons justifying both the name of the team and its logo. Something about “defenders of the realm” and “the elite warrior class” and “massaging the narrative.”

We tried massaging the narrative a few times, but found the cost of waxing our palms to be prohibitive.

The team has a secondary logo inspired by the star that sits atop the iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign designed by the immortal Betty Willis.

Vegas Golden Knights

“We are proud of the team of high school graphic arts students who spent upwards of 20 minutes developing this secondary logo,” said team representatives.

The Vegas Golden Knights will be the first major professional sports team in Las Vegas, and the NHL’s first expansion team since 2000.

If the Golden Knights name sounds familiar, it could be you attended Clarkson College in Potsdam, New York. The school uses the Golden Knights name as well.

Vegas Golden Knights

Silver Knights and Desert Knights were also in the running for the NHL’s 31st franchise, but Vegas Golden Knights ended up storming the castle. Or something.

The Vegas Golden Knights will hit the ice, or whatever it is hockey teams do in addition to punching each other repeatedly in the face, at the 17,000-seat T-Mobile Arena in the 2017-18 season.

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“Country Superstars” to Close at Hooters Las Vegas

In an all-too-familiar refrain, it’s been confirmed the “Country Superstars” tribute show at Hooters Las Vegas is closing.

The show will have its final performance at Hooters on Nov. 22, 2016. According to the show’s Web site, it opened at Hooters on Sep. 1, 2016.

Country Superstars

As country folks say, “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay under the porch.” Whatever that might mean.

Entertainment writer Mike Weatherford of the Las Vegas Review-Journal was the first to catch wind of the untimely demise of “Country Superstars,” and we confirmed the closure with a Hooters rep.

“Country Superstars” promoted itself as a 70-minute show with tributes to some of the biggest names in country music, including Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw and Willie Nelson.

It originally opened on June 21, 2007 at Fitzgerald’s (now The D Las Vegas). Then it ran at Whiskey Pete’s in Primm, Golden Nugget, Planet Hollywood (V Theater) and Bally’s, before its short time at Hooters.

The departure of “Country Superstars” at Hooters brings our tally of Las Vegas shows that have closed in 2016 to a whopping 26.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 33: Lucky Dragon Opens, Dream Racing and 100 Proof Captain

It’s time for the podcast your mother, and a number of iTunes reviews, warned you about.

In this installment of the Vital Vegas podcast, we chat about the opening of Lucky Dragon, a new Asian-themed casino, and share our amazing experience at Dream Racing, a unique Las Vegas diversion for those who feel the need for speed and possibly Dramamine.

Dream Racing Las Vegas

Depends not included.

As is required by law, we also round up the latest Las Vegas news, including betting on eSports, a new millennial lounge coming to MGM Grand, Electric Daisy Carnival, restaurants coming to Linq promenade, Taco Bell Cantina, magician Jan Rouven’s kiddie porn trial, the closure of “53X” at Paris Las Vegas and more.

Neonopolis eSports Arena

There’s no better evidence eSports is a thing than downtown’s Neonopolis opening an eSports arena and people actually showing up.

Our “Listicle of the Week” is “10 Things We’re Personally Thankful For” in honor of Thanksgiving, and we also roll out some Vegas history about the Palms. The off-Strip resort opened on Nov. 15, 2001.

The Vital Vegas Podcast is a great way to avoid “accomplishing things” and “spending time with family,” so take a listen.

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Asian-Themed Lucky Dragon Casino Opens in Las Vegas, Absolutely Crushes It

A new casino resort has opened in Las Vegas, the Asian-themed Lucky Dragon, and we’re pleased to report it’s off to a fantastic start.

Lucky Dragon

Jaw, meet dropped. Welcome to Lucky Dragon Las Vegas.

If you’d like to fancy up your computer, grab one of our wallpapers: 1024 x 768, 1280 x 1024, 1920 x 1080.

Lucky Dragon’s official opening isn’t until Dec. 3, 2016, but the owners of the boutique hotel-casino apparently couldn’t wait that long to show it off. And with good reason. Lucky Dragon exceeds all our expectations, and is a great new addition to the north end of the Las Vegas Strip.

It’s been six years since a casino was built from scratch in Las Vegas. The most recent was Cosmopolitan in 2010.

Lucky Dragon is located near the corner of Sahara Ave. and Las Vegas Boulevard, between the Bonanza Gift Shop and Golden Steer Steakhouse, not far from SLS Las Vegas and the Stratosphere.

Some good news right off the bat: Parking is free.

Lucky Dragon has done an amazing job with relatively little real estate. Lucky Dragon occupies about three acres of land. By comparison, Caesars Palace sits on about 34 acres.

Lucky Dragon

Size, it turns out, isn’t everything in Las Vegas.

The biggest “wow” factor at Lucky Dragon is its stunning, quarter-ton dragon chandelier. The glass sculpture took 800 people to create, and has 288 glass balls. Sorry, orbs. The sculpture is 23 feet tall and is a dazzling centerpiece of Lucky Dragon’s casino.

Lucky Dragon

They’re orbs, not balls. Please keep it classy.

It should be made clear Lucky Dragon isn’t your typical Las Vegas casino, attempting to be all things to all people. Lucky Dragon isn’t just Asian-themed, its intention is to cater primarily to Asian players.

So, you won’t find the usual mix of casino games or cuisines. Lucky Dragon’s focus is on table games like baccarat and Pai Gow, and all the restaurant offerings at Lucky Dragon feature Asian food.

First, let’s hit the casino.

Lucky Dragon’s center bar is lively and comfortable. Luckily, drinks are poured from the bottle, so unlike in many Las Vegas casinos, you know you’re getting the liquor you ordered.

The bartenders are hilarious, and provide some great entertainment for video poker players. The video poker machines feel loose, and you won’t find any automated drink monitoring systems here.

Lucky Dragon

One of the best things about our first visit was the TVs at the casino bar weren’t working yet, so no sports.

Just about the only qualm we had with Lucky Dragon’s casino (aside from there being no Top Dollar slot machines) was the fact the reflection from the dragon chandelier made it a little difficult to see the video poker screens. Not a huge deal, but we expect changes to the screen angles will be made prior to the casino’s official opening.

Lucky Dragon

You’ll see what we mean.

Everyone on staff was incredible friendly and helpful. The cocktail servers are lovely, and their uniforms are flattering and tasteful.

Lucky Dragon

Yes, some people are Asiaphiles. Don’t make it weird.

Playing at Lucky Dragon means you may have to shift your gambling priorities a bit. We found just four blackjack tables (thankfully, they pay 3-to-2, as opposed to the odds now more common on The Strip, 6-to-5), so for the first time we tried our hand at baccarat. Hey, when in Macau.

Baccarat (you don’t pronounce the “t”) is simultaneously the easiest and most confounding table game. You place a bet on “Player” or “Banker,” and your dealer does the rest. You can do the math, but in our book, math is the opposite of fun.

Lucky Dragon

The house edge is so low for baccarat, a number of Las Vegas casinos don’t offer the game at all.

Of the 37 table games at Lucky Dragon, 25 are devoted to variations of baccarat. There are four Pai Gow tables and two roulette tables. Alas, no craps tables at all, but we’ll live.

Lucky Dragon

Here are the Lucky Dragon chip designs, because we know how you are.

Slot machines take a back seat to table games at Lucky Dragon, but there’s still a solid selection. Most of the games are Asian-themed, but you can still find your favorites like Wheel of Fortune and Buffalo.

One of the brilliant aspects of Lucky Dragon is how it combines a high ceiling with the feeling you’re in a more intimate casino space. Studies have shown players gamble less in spaces with high ceilings, so Lucky Dragon’s designers wisely covered the table games with faux “ceilings.”
These structures allow guests to experience the grandeur of the place, while feeling cozy at the same time.

Lucky Dragon casino

Somebody’s been reading up on casino design. This is brilliant.

Off the main casino floor is a high limit table game area, the Emerald Room.

Lucky Dragon high limit

Much like when we have sex, we tend to last about four minutes in high limit rooms.

Players looking for an even more intimate space can hit Lucky Dragon’s six VIP gaming rooms. These tastefully appointed, Macau-style rooms feel private, but they’re open to the public, as required by Nevada gaming regulations.

Lucky Dragon VIP salon

We’re going to design our den just like this someday. As soon as we get a den.

During our first visit to Lucky Dragon, we pretty much won at every game we played, both in machines and at the tables, so maybe there’s something to this dragon thing!

As with any Las Vegas casino, it’s important to sign up for the loyalty club. At Lucky Dragon, it’s the Dragon Club. You can visit the loyalty club desk or asked for a loyalty club card at one of the gaming tables. A hundred points equals a dollar, and points can be used at Lucky Dragon’s restaurants and hotel.

Beyond its great casino, Lucky Dragon has put together a rather extraordinary collection of dining options. The first you’re likely to encounter is the 24-hour Bao Now, right on the casino floor.

The restaurant has dim sum, soups, noodles and other to-go dishes. You can tell it’s a to-go counter since there are only about 10 chairs.

Lucky Dragon Bao Now

It would be difficult for us to adore the name Bao Now more.

A majority of the food on the casino’s first floor comes from a “show kitchen” called Jewel Kitchen.

There’s a lot going on in there, and it’s a great reminder of how much we don’t know about how Asian cuisine is prepared. Lucky Dragon could sell tickets, but we don’t want to give them any ideas.

Lucky Dragon open kitchen

Careful, or you just might learn something.

Also on the first floor is Dragon’s Alley, meant to evoke the night market scene on Ghost Street in Beijing, whatever that might actually be.

Dragon’s Alley could be described as a food court, but we consider it more along the lines of a buffet. Each station has Asian delicacies, and guests choose dishes a la carte. The chefs are extremely knowledgeable, so navigating the dishes isn’t as intimidating as you’d think.

Lucky Dragon

We’re definitely getting a metric ass-ton of lanterns for our den.

Guests can choose from a wide variety of dishes, each running $5 to $11. There’s seafood and barbecue and dim sum and desserts of all kinds.

Lucky Dragon food court

Dragon’s Alley seats 325 people, and will be open “from breakfast through late evening.” Translation: We’ll see how it goes.

Unlike at other Las Vegas buffets, there’s no signage to identify the dishes, and there are also no prices posted, so you’re sort of winging it until you get to the cashier. We suspect this process will be refined prior to Lucky Dragon’s official opening.

Lucky Dragon casino

Thanks, random guy in line who let us take a photo of his food.

At Dragon’s Alley, look for the art piece fashioned from bicycles.

Lucky Dragon casino

Bicycle is “zi xing che” in Chinese. Told you there was a chance you’d learn something.

On the casino’s mezzanine level, there are the Phoenix and Pearl Ocean restaurants. We’ll definitely be back to do some damage to their menus.

Lucky Dragon Phoenix

We’re fairly sure this is Pearl’s Ocean restaurant. We were fairly well lubricated by this point in our visit. For good luck!

Roaming out of the casino and over to the Lucky Dragon’s hotel, you’ll find Cha Garden. It includes the hotel lobby and pool area, and serves as a lounge and tea garden.

Lucky Dragon Cha Garden

The walk from Lucky Dragon’s casino to its hotel takes approximately a fourth of a minute.

We are not a tea person, but the pool and lounge areas seem a great place to meet friends and enjoy yum cha. Yes, we looked that up. Yum cha are light snacks, like tapas.

The pool area isn’t large, but again, Lucky Dragon has done a lot with a little, and guests should find the space a cooling diversion, especially during Sin City’s sweltering summer months.

Lucky Dragon

We’re pretty sure the pool isn’t more than a couple of feet deep, even at the deep end, so please, no diving.

We stayed overnight in Lucky Dragon’s 203-room hotel, and found our room to be clean and comfortable.

Lucky Dragon hotel

Lucky Dragon’s standard room is 400 square feet. The 55-inch TVs seem to have more Chinese programs than the actual country of China.

That’s our first take on Lucky Dragon, the newest casino in Las Vegas. We had a completely enjoyable first visit, and it’s a must-try during your next Las Vegas visit.

Lucky Dragon seems to have a thorough understanding of its target audience, a departure from the vast majority of Strip hotels that seem to only give lip service to wanting business from Asian customers. (“Look, a lion dance! Gamble here!”)

While Lucky Dragon may have its eye on Asian guests (signs are in both Chinese and English), there’s never a moment when non-Asian guests feel out of place. Whether you prefer chopsticks or a fork, you’re going to find something to love.

Lucky Dragon

Worth noting: Not a single security guard or staff member freaked out about our taking photos at Lucky Dragon, making us a fan for life.

The north end of The Strip has proven challenging for SLS Las Vegas, but Lucky Dragon has chosen a bold strategy in wooing a niche audience. Lucky Dragon could very well end up being an unlikely success story, scooping up regulars from casinos known for being Asian-friendly, like Palace Station and Gold Coast.

Back in the day, opening a Las Vegas casino was pretty much a financial sure thing. That’s not the case today. (Especially when you open a resort without a nightclub. Another reason to love Lucky Dragon!)

With its gorgeous, exotic decor, buzz-filled casino and delicious dining, though, Lucky Dragon could very well have what it takes to get lucky in Las Vegas.

Lucky Dragon Las Vegas

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Hard Rock Cafe at Hard Rock Hotel to Close

The Hard Rock Cafe adjacent to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will close at the end of 2016.

The restaurant, located on Paradise Road, opened in 1990. A quarter century is a great run in Las Vegas!

Hard Rock Cafe closes

For the Hard Rock Cafe on Paradise Road, things have been a little rocky.

Those with a hankering for some Hard Rock Cafe action next year can still visit Hard Rock Cafe on The Strip. Having two Hard Rock Cafe locations has always been a little confusing, so looking on the bright side, this helps clarify things.

Hard Rock Cafe

The Strip’s Hard Rock Cafe appears to be going strong.

No reason was given for closing the Hard Rock Cafe, but restaurants don’t close in Las Vegas when they’re thriving.

Among the Hard Rock Cafe’s more memorable promotional efforts was the “Rouge & Booze: A Drag Brunch,” hosted by a Las Vegas drag queen named Kitty Litter.

In 2015, Hard Rock Cafe played host to a world record attempt for “Largest Drag Stage Show.”

Drag show world record

It was unclear if the world record was broken, but nobody seemed to care. Hint: Bottomless mimosas.

Hard Rock Cafe is the second “cafe” with iconic signage to close in recent months. The Strip’s Harley-Davidson Cafe, with its massive motorcycle, shuttered on Oct. 31, 2016.

Here’s the skinny on the relationship between the Hard Rock Cafe and Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Since 2007, the Hard Rock global brand has been owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. All the Hard Rock Cafes and most of the Hard Rock hotels in the world are operated by the tribe. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, though, is owned by Brookfield Asset Management through a licensing agreement and managed by Warner Hospitality.

Brookfield bought the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas back in 2011. Brookfield also owns the land upon which the Hard Rock Cafe sits.

Dibs on the giant guitar, obviously.

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Lip Smacking Foodie Tours Will Whet Your Appetite for Las Vegas Restaurants

When you’re a Las Vegas blog, one of the most common questions you hear is “Which restaurants should I visit?” Another common question is, “What makes you think you can do a blog when you write as though you’ve experienced a traumatic brain injury?”

Focusing on that first question for a moment, Las Vegas has so many great dining options, it can be overwhelming. That’s where Lip Smacking Foodie Tours comes in.

Therapy restaurant

Therapy restaurant’s soft truffled goat cheese and almond stuffed date wrapped in bacon served on Romesco sauce. Say that five times fast.

Interest in foodie tours has skyrocketed in recent years, mainly people are lazy and indecisive. Foodie tours take the guesswork out of deciding what’s for dinner.

In the case of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, recently named the “Best Las Vegas Tour” in the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s “Best of Las Vegas” honors, guests choose between exploring restaurants on The Strip or downtown. We chose downtown, mainly because we work there. (You thought we were kidding about the “lazy” thing?)

In the downtown and Strip tours, guests gather at an appointed place and time. In our case, the tour began at Carson Kitchen. We didn’t eat there, but it’s sometimes included in the tour.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Let the appetition begin. Which, we should say, we’re only 40% confident is an actual word.

Right off the bat, you start to bond with your fellow tour mates. Foodie tours are a great way to meet new people, especially because there’s also alcohol involved.

The downtown version of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours includes visits to three restaurants and a bar, plus a guided tour around downtown, including the Downtown Container Park and other points of interest, some of them super top secret.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

We’ve walked by this wall a hundred times, but until our tour we didn’t know you could peek between the stickers into the super private Laundry Room at Commonwealth, a popular downtown bar.

Our first stop was Therapy restaurant, one of our favorite downtown Las Vegas eateries. And drinkeries, come to think of it.

The restaurants on the tour set aside special seating, and the food comes out very quickly, since everyone has the same dishes.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

It’s Therapy, in more ways than one.

The restaurants serve a selection of their signature dishes, which means guests get more variety, and the restaurants get to show off.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Foodie tours are perfect for people with commitment issues. Try everything!

One cannot live by signature dishes alone, so this was the panty-dropper cocktail we had at Therapy. We’d tell you the name, but it was a very, very good cocktail.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tour

This is The Smash, with Four Roses bourbon, blackberries, fresh limes and mint. Translation: Get in our belly.

Our next restaurant was Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whiskey, in the Ogden luxury apartment building. The day after our group visited, the restaurant closed its kitchen. They were like, “That meal was so good, we can never match it, so we’re dropping the mic and we’re out.” Or something along those lines.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

We probably shouldn’t bore you with photos of Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whiskey food which no longer exists. Moving on.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours changes up its roster of partner restaurants, so it’s not a big deal to lose one.

Next up, we hit the Wayfarer bar at Inspire, for a cocktail. That cocktail is included in the tour price ($125 downtown, $199 Strip), but there’s a cocktail package add-on for $40 ($60 Strip) where you get a cocktail at each restaurant. Oh, just do it, you big baby.

Part of the Inspire visit involved special access to a “secret,” members only bar, 365 Tokyo.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

According to the owner of 365 Tokyo, it doesn’t exist. Let’s pretend this photo never happened.

A bartender showed us how to chip a block of ice into a ball, as well as showing us his herbs. The other kind of herbs. What is wrong with you?

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Sharp object, dark room. What could possibly go wrong?

If you’d like to know where the bar is that doesn’t exist, just look for the mirrored part of Inspire’s exterior.

Inspire Las Vegas

It’s the protruding part, upper left. Now you know.

Our last restaurant stop was Glutton restaurant.

The food was great, and when you’re on a Lip Smacking Foodie Tour, you get the full VIP treatment from the restaurants. No waiting. Expert information about the restaurant and food, and just an all-around great time with 15 of your new best friends.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours Glutton

Just power through, gang. It’s Glutton!

The food was fast and fresh at Glutton, another downtown restaurant success story we completely forgot to take notes about.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

We have a vague memory this cocktail at Glutton is called ‘Merica. Just order the cocktail with the coconut. They’ll figure it out.

All the dishes at Glutton were shared, and you’ll feel relieved that’s the case, unless you’re wearing pants with an expandable waistband.

Everything was delicious, from the ahi tuna tacos to the Spicy Coppa Flatbread, from the wood charred broccoli to the pickled tomatoes. Yes, we just said the broccoli was good. By this time, the cocktail package was doing all the heavy lifting.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

Flatbread is like pizza, but after it’s been to the gym.

Glutton did a masterful job of topping off the evening’s festivities with dessert, apple cobbler and caramel corn profiteroles, whatever those might be.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

It’s a cream puff, choux à la crème if you’re a blog trying to pretend you know something about food.

We chatted with Donald Contursi, President of Lip Smacking Foodie Tours, for our podcast, so it’s worth a listen.

Contursi is not only a very likable tour guide, we were impressed with his vast knowledge of not just the restaurants and bars on the tour, but Las Vegas and downtown in general. And we don’t tend to be impressed by things that haven’t been enhanced with saline or silicone.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours take between two and three hours, but the time flies by.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

The tour pops in at the Downtown Container Park. There tend to be children, so they don’t stay long.

The company offers other packages, including one with five restaurant visits and a helicopter flight ($299).

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours are a great way to sample some of the best food in Las Vegas, while meeting new people and learning about the city from those in the know. Gratuities are included in the cost of the tour, so you can enjoy your night out without having do to any math whatsoever.

Thanks to Lip Smacking Foodie Tours for hosting our tour, and you can find out more at the company’s official site.

If you give it a try, let us know what you think. Oh, and you should probably avoid eating during the 48 hours prior your tour. You’re going to need the room.

Lip Smacking Foodie Tours

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