While it hasn’t been officially announced, word has it Diablo’s Cantina at Monte Carlo, a popular Las Vegas Strip fixture, will close in April 2017.
The restaurant and bar is likely to be replaced with another venue more in line with the Monte Carlo’s rebrand to Park MGM in 2017.
“Diablo” is the Spanish name for the devil. The devil also goes by Beelzebub, Lucifer, Satan and Criss Angel.
It’s possible Diablo’s Cantina may not go away completely. There have been discussions internally about moving the establishment to a vacant spot in the nearby Park promenade, a restaurant row near the T-Mobile Arena.
Diablo’s Cantina’s two-story, Mexican restaurant and bar concept may have been deemed too rowdy for Park MGM’s new, higher-end vibe which employees have described as aspiring to be “more along the lines of Aria.”
Way back in Jan. 2016, we caught wind of a new bar coming to El Cortez, the classic hotel on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.
At last, the hotel’s current casino bar has been closed and Imbibe bar is in the works.
Yes, even if it’s just a curtain, it qualifies as a security breach. You’re quite the stickler, aren’t you?
The hotel has made no official announcement about the bar, it’s closure, any expansion
or even the bar’s name. Just go with it, anyway.
Naturally, we had to peek behind the drapes to see what’s up inside.
The future home of Captain Morgan spiced rum and possibly other kinds of liquor we care much less about.
Presumably, the new Imbibe bar will try to appeal to a younger crowd. From what we hear, there’s already a strong millennial presence on Fridays and Saturdays. El Cortez benefits from all the surrounding restaurants and bars (think Gold Spike and Commonwealth) in the Fremont East District.
Staffers say not only is the bar being renovated, but it’s expanding beyond the current casino bar’s footprint, and could potentially swallow the area where the keno parlor resides. (The keno desk would then be relocated to the hotel’s sports book area.)
Cornhole and foosball in 3…2…
We’ll keep an eye on the new bar at El Cortez, of course, but in the meantime, you’ll want to take advantage of a new promotion at the historic casino.
Here’s a thingy because we’re too drunk to relay the details.
We refuse to do math unless it directly benefits us. This is that.
So, that’s cool, right? You’re making a withdrawal from the ATM, anyway, so why not get some free slot play?
Once you make your ATM withdrawal, head to the casino cage. There, you’ll be given a certificate for free play. Take the certificate to the loyalty club desk, and the free play is put on your club card.
Vast fortunes have been won in Las Vegas with $15. Actual results may vary.
Now, win something and stick it to The Man. Winning with free play is even sweeter than the regular kind of winning, promise.
Taco Bell Cantina has opened on the Las Vegas Strip, and the place has been blowing up since day one. In the “slaying” way, not the Homeland Security way. Don’t make it awkward.
Taco Bell restaurants serve more than two billion customers a year, and boy are their brazos tired.
The new restaurant is the fourth Taco Bell Cantina, and the 7,000th Taco Bell. The opening of the restaurant coincided with the company’s launch of a new logo, the first time the logo has been revamped in 25 years. In other words, longer than the entire lifetime of its average customer.
The new Taco Bell is prominently featured on the restaurant’s second floor, home to lots of young people discussing the importance of being on fleek.
The Las Vegas Taco Bell Cantina is located at Harmon Corner, home to one of the best restaurants in the world, Twin Peaks, as well as Rainforest Cafe. It’s across the street from Cosmopolitan. The location is a little tricky, but that doesn’t seem to be deterring the massive crowds.
Taco Bell Cantina on the Las Vegas Strip features tapas-style plates (exclusive to Cantinas) meant to be shared with your crew. Or, alternatively, your squad.
All Tex-Mex food is some combination of tortillas, meat, cheese and lettuce. So, throw a dart.
During our visit, the place was absolutely packed, mostly with millennials. We asked an employee about the crowds, and she said, “It’s been like this since we opened, all day and night, and we never close.”
Translation: Taco Bell Cantina is printing money, and a big part of that relates to the hooch.
We are not making this up. It’s crushing it.
A centerpiece to the restaurant is a “Freeze” wall offering up a variety of slushies.
The eight flavors are margarita, cola, pina colada, lemonade, orange, Baja blast, cherry and blue raspberry.
Hooch, with a twist.
Once you choose your flavor, you choose a liquor to add: tequila, rum, vodka, whiskey or spiced rum.
Drinking a slushie is like catching an Uber to our happy place.
The Freezes, with liquor, run $9.99 for regular and $14.99 for a Souvenir Twisted Yard. That’s significantly less expensive than other slushie offerings nearby, so the price point, in combination with cheap, familiar food, has quickly made Taco Bell Cantina a go-to spot for satisfying, and fueling, one’s drunchies.
There’s also beer, if that’s more your speed. The beer glasses fill up from the bottom. It’s fun.
How do beer glasses fill from the bottom? Fridge magnets. Consider it a free keepsake after you down your brew.
Taco Bell Cantina is a big space, including a patio and upper floor which has a DJ booth. Because in Las Vegas, it’s the law.
There’s a patio with ample space to Netflix or chill or whatever the kids are doing now. Smashing. That’s a thing, right? Hey, the news release said “Taco Bell is going all in,” so, the kids are obviously not the only ones smashing.
The two-story Taco Bell Cantina is a Taco Bell on steroids. Sorry, “esteroides.”
Taco Bell Cantina may just hit the spot during your Las Vegas Strip adventures, and casino owners would do well to observe the legions of young customer flocking to the establishment.
These pub-inspired soda taps make it so children can pretend they’re about to embark on a Las Vegas escapade.
In Vegas, it’s not always about winning a James Beard Award, it’s about winning hearts and dollars.
Given all the happy hour deals to be found in Las Vegas, it takes a lot to get our attention. Margaritaville Casino at Flamingo Las Vegas just did.
Margaritaville Casino, a casino-within-a-casino, is currently offering five-cent beers each day at its 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Once thought to be extinct, a genuine casino loss leader has been spotted at Flamingo.
The happy hour deal has no small print, caveats or asterisks, so drink up.
While you’re there, you may also want to take advantage of the newly-unfurled beer pong tables. Just about every casino on The Strip is trying to lure younger customers, and beer pong seems an effective, low-cost way to do that. Social games for the win!
If you’re unfamiliar with beer pong, it’s just an excuse to drink a lot. You know, like having children.
There’s also a DJ at Margaritaville Casino, but don’t let that deter you from going.
The beer pong and music marketing strategy has worked wonders at O’Sheas inside the Linq hotel, right next door to Flamingo. The lively spot is the most profitable area in the entire Linq casino.
We’re always on the lookout for great deals on The Strip, especially when they’re hooch-related, so send your favorites our way.
We may spend a wee bit too much time in downtown Las Vegas, partially because we work there (at Fremont Street Experience), but also because we like our Vegas cheap, lucky and occasionally semi-nude.
There is some benefit to our chronic infatuation with downtown, however, as we’re uniquely qualified to share all that’s new in Glitter Gulch. Which we’re using generically to mean downtown, as the actual Glitter Gulch (the strip club) has closed. See? Things move fast downtown, so here’s what’s new since your last Vegas visit.
1. Turmeric Flavors of India
This new Indian restaurant is in an odd location, and completely worth finding. Turmeric Flavors of India sits across from the Downtown Container Park and serves up traditional flavors with a French presentation. A welcome addition to the downtown dining scene.
Too pretty to eat? You’ll get past it.
2. Evel Pie
This throwback restaurant has a charming, relaxed vibe and delicious, cheap pizza. At Evel Pie on Fremont East, you can get a beer and slice for $5 at lunch, play classic arcade games and check out tons of Evel Knievel memorabilia. If you’re not sure where everything is on Fremont East, we’ve got this.
There’s a happy hour, too, with $3 well drinks. Sold.
3. Freedom Beat at Downtown Grand
Out with Stewart + Ogden, in with Freedom Beat. It’s a music venue during the evenings, with a solid menu, including deep friend Twinkies, in case you’re craving them now that Mermaids has closed on Fremont Street.
Freedom Beat’s menu was developed by Chef Scott Commings, season 12 winner of Gordon Ramsay’s reality TV hit, “Hell’s Kitchen.”
4. Wana Taco at Four Queens
Four Queens has rolled out a pop-up taco stand that suits the Fremont Street mojo (drunken revelry) to a tee. The tacos are quite satisfying, and the only downside is there are no beverages sold at Wana Taco. Thankfully, there’s an outdoor bar nearby. It’s Fremont Street, after all.
The tacos at Wana Taco are surprisingly good, about on par with the excellent Taqueria El Buen Pastor just across Fremont.
5. Redwood Steakhouse
This one isn’t entirely new, but it sure looks that way. Redwood Steakhouse at the California recently underwent a major renovation. New look, new menu and there’s an adjoining bar with a great happy hour.
Redwood Steakhouse features “handsomely detailed, carved-walnut pilasters.” We’re not taking the time to look up “pilasters,” so you’re on your own.
6. Holo Holo Bar
The Cal takes up three spots on this list of new downtown things, including the new Holo Holo bar. The Holo Holo bar takes the place of the hotel’s San Francisco Pub, as The Cal continues to hone in on its key customer base, visitors from Hawaii. Holo Holo means “Let’s go!” in Hawaiian slang. The drinks are cheap and the video poker is plentiful.
The Cal has spend millions renovating its rooms and casino, and we’re focused on a bar. Telling.
7. Cal’s Sports Book and Lounge
The California went all out for its new sports book and lounge. The venue is just off the main casino floor (replacing the tired second floor sports book), and has ample seating and hooch.
We like it, despite the sports.
8. Fremont Arcade
This new diversion has breathed new life into Neonopolis, the much-maligned shopping center wherein Heart Attack Grill and Denny’s reside. Fremont Arcade has a number of rare and custom pinball machines, and it’s a great way to spend some time for a fraction of what it costs to gamble.
Several of the limited edition pinball machines at Fremont Arcade cost $10,000 or more, so be gentle.
9. Neonopolis eSports Arena
We rolled our eyes when we heard an eSports Arena was opening at Neonopolis, but we stopped by during an event and it’s sort of a thing. Hundreds of people showed up to watch competitive video game playing. We’re still rolling our eyes, but that doesn’t make it any less a thing.
Yes, there was even a girl.
10. Binion’s Charger Stations
Kudos to Binion’s, not exactly known for being particularly innovative, for installing phone charging jacks at every single chair at every one of its casino table games. You can’t have the phone on the table, but you can set it on your lap as you charge the device and play. There’s another, less pleasant thing at Binion’s, too, unfortunately. Binion’s (along with its sister casino, Four Queens) has converted pretty much all its blackjack games to 6-to-5. A true shocker given its hallowed history as a place that catered to gamblers.
Yes, at every seat. Bring your own cord, or they’re for sale in the gift shop.
11. Hennessey’s Pint Glass
For some time, Hennessey’s Pub has boasted what’s billed as the “World’s Largest Pint Glass.” When you visit again, however, that pint glass will look more like a mug. The pint is being rebranded to promote Not Your Father’s Root Beer. Progress has been slow, but it’s happening, and the structure will get a “handle” to complete the motif.
This isn’t the first time somebody’s taken a mug shot downtown.
Red is a bit of a head-scratcher, but it’s new and it’s open! Red took over the space formerly occupied by Insert Coins, and it’s sort of a bar that aspires to be a nightclub, but without the pretense and $500 bottles of Gray Goose. Red had some trouble with its sign (it didn’t pass inspection), so most folks don’t even realize it’s there. If you stop in, feel free to dance like nobody’s watching, because from what we’ve seen, nobody is.
The folks behind Red say a remodel is planned for 2017, and describe it as a “sports bar by day, nightclub by night.”
13. Coffee Stand at The D
We are not a coffee person, but apparently some people are really into it. The D recently opened a pop-up coffee stand that features Zingerman’s coffee, whatever that might actually be. The stand opens at 6:00 a.m. and is rolled away by noon each day. It’s located near the hotel’s registration desk, and here’s the full menu.
If you’re not a coffee person, the stand also serves iced drinks, expresso drinks, blended drinks and smoothies.
14. Big Rig Jig
This awesome art piece is a little like a human centipede but with trucks. Big Rig Jig is an eye-catching photo op, so if you’re feeling bold (it’s in a not-so-great area, but you’ll be fine during daylight hours), seek it out and behold a wonder of WTF. If you’re interested in more weird photo ops in Las Vegas, we’ve wrangled 25 of them.
Big Rig Jig is located in the courtyard of the closed Fergusons Motel. Like that helps.
15. Eclipse Theaters
We’re not sure who was clamoring for a luxury movie theater downtown, but Eclipse Theaters has opened, anyway. Movies are $18 (stop clutching your chest, it’s embarrassing), but offers chef-catered meals, pre-assigned, reclining seats and hooch. If we’re paying $18 for a movie ticket, there had better be procedures in place to deal with idiots talking or using their phones, or we’ll be looking for a bail bondsman. Thankfully, the neighborhood is teeming with them.
We can’t wait to drink, eat and movie here, especially that first thing.
Oh, and here’s another something new in downtown Las Vegas. The Harley-Davidson retail store has closed. That’s not really the new part. The retail store has been emptied. Which still isn’t the new we’re talking about. What’s new is that by the next time you visit downtown, it is likely to have a new White Castle. No, really. The White Castle on Fremont Street is expected to open in early 2017.
The Harley-Davidson store has a sign that says, “Closed for renovations.” True, sorta.
That just about covers it. Las Vegas is always racking its brain to come up with newer and bigger and differenter. Which is possibly not a word, but Las Vegas doesn’t live by society’s rules.
If you stumble upon new things downtown, or on The Strip for that matter, we’d love to hear about them. Especially if they’re imbibable. Again, possibly not a word, but it certainly should be.
It was recently announced MGM Grand will join the growing list of Las Vegas casino desperately scrambling to woo millennials, younger guests who don’t seem to enjoy traditional forms of gambling all that much.
A new millennial-oriented lounge, Level Up Las Vegas, will soon open at MGM Grand in the space formerly occupied by the Rainforest Cafe (which moved to Harmon Corner).
Rainforest Cafe closed at MGM Grand in August 2015. Millennial translation: A bajillion years ago.
Level Up will be managed by Hakkasan Group, the nightclub people responsible for hugely successful clubs like Hakkasan at MGM Grand, Omnia at Caesars Palace and others.
Seven of the 10 best-earning nightclubs in the world are in Las Vegas, and Hakkasan consistently dominates the revenue rankings.
A third party recruiter for MGM Grand has tipped its hand about what’s in store for Level Up, sending out a job posting that provides what’s sure to be a polarizing peek into both Level Up and potentially the future of casinos.
“We need very little experience dealing but you must be an entertainer,” says the call for job applications. “We are looking for people that are outgoing, bubbly and can really entertain.”
Hold onto your participation trophy, because this video is the inspiration for Level Up.
If you think this hybrid of nightclub, stadium-style gambling and trying-much-too-hard are a special kind of Hell on Earth, guess what—you’re not who it’s for!
Casinos are convinced millennials will enjoy gambling more if they can figure out how to take as much of the gambling out of it as possible. It’s more about the interactivity, the music, the party.
Level Up appears to be what middle-aged white guys in suits think millennials want, based upon reading white papers and attending panel discussions at gaming expos. Which is definitely a recipe for success.
As for the dealer jobs, the posting continues, “The pay is a guaranteed $25/hour. You will not share in the tokes of the MGM dealers. You will receive the tokes given to you in this pit though.”
“Tokes,” by the way, are tips.
So, the dealers aren’t traditional dealers. It’s not about the dealing, you see. They’re more “dealertainers,” a term once reserved for the performing dealers at Imperial Palace, a position quickly killed off when the Imperial Palace became The Linq.
Brownie points if you even know what we’re pining for.
The Level Up job posting concludes, “If you consider yourself to be an emcee type of personality then this will be a great job for you.”
If we ever create a list of people we least want to spend time with, those who consider themselves “emcee types” are likely to sit comfortably at the top.
The future of Las Vegas casinos. Over our dead body.
Then again, we are not a millennial, and casinos have to try something to wrangle these confounding millennials. Downtown Grand went with eSports. Encore tried its Encore Player’s Club. And just about everyone in town has tried cornhole.
It remains to be seen if younger casino customers will respond to Level Up’s special kind of WTF. Apparently, it’s easier for casinos to provide noise, feigned enthusiasm and skill-based games than outmoded things like value and customer service and actual fun.
Since we’re admittedly not the target audience for Level Up, we’ll share a couple of thoughts from our always-insightful commenters.
Guillaume says, “I live in Montreal and I love The Zone at the casino, super excited to see it’s in store for Las Vegas. The Zone is always full on weekends, the party is fun and the minimums are way lower than at tables (3:2 black jack with good enough rules for 5$, can’t beat that). I really believe it’s going to be successful in Vegas too and can’t wait to see it!”
Commenter Mike adds, “It does look kind of fun to me, I’d definitely try it out. I know as a resident I’m spoiled because the usual Vegas is ho-hum regular, but the part of me that loved the SpaceQuest casino at the ex-Hilton would give this a whirl. If you don’t like it, there’s literally the largest casino floor in the United States right outside the door. And it’s got those same amber lights, those same red carpets, and that same damn Bruno Mars song playing that you can find everywhere else.”
We’d love to hear what you think. Of course, you’ll get a ribbon for leaving a comment.