Our sixth installment of the Vital Vegas Podcast is live, so let the festival of WTF begin!
Vital Vegas is to podcasting as pig farms are to fragrances.
In this installment of the Vital Vegas Podcast, we purport to chat exclusively with Austin “Chumlee” Russell, of “Pawn Stars” fame, about his recent arrest on charges related to drug and gun possession.
The awkwardness runs deep for fan favorite Chumlee at the moment.
We also superficially discuss the latest Las Vegas news, and trot out some filler in the form of “This Week in Las Vegas History.”
On March 10, 1995, the world’s first Hard Rock Hotel opened in Las Vegas, bringing with it a slew of rock stars. Which may explain the proliferation of pharmacies on the Las Vegas Strip, if you get our drift.
Our favorite part of this week’s show is an interview with renowned pizza god Tony Gemignani, the aforementioned “cheese whiz” and mastermind behind the best pizza joint in Las Vegas, Pizza Rock.
Tony Gemignani not only tells us how to pronounce his name, he also talks candidly about the International Pizza Expo recently held in Las Vegas, and also shares how he was banned from competing in the World Pizza Championships for winning too often. Gemignani also talks about the potential expansion of his growing pizza empire to the Las Vegas Strip.
Tony Gemignani opened the International School of Pizza and certifies pizza chefs from around the world. This blog is certifiably nuts about Pizza Rock.
This week’s episode also features our quick picks of 10 great bars where one can grab a cocktail in Las Vegas. We break our picks into two parts, one devoted to fancy bars with great views, another consisting of downtown bars that are fun and cheap.
Here’s the list we slapped together in five minutes.
There are a few things you know about Guy Fieri’s restaurants before you even set foot in one, starting with what they’re not.
They’re not pretentious, they’re not understated, they’re not about nuance or gourmet dining.
What they most certainly are is over-the-top, indulgent, audacious and unforgettable. Just like Las Vegas, come to think of it.
Guy Fieri’s second restaurant effort in Las Vegas, El Burro Borracho, opened at Rio Las Vegas on March 4, 2016.
Welcome to Ciudad de Sabor. Which we’re not translating when you have the whole Internet at your fingertips.
“El Burro Borracho” translates as “drunk ass” in Spanish, so we’re not left to wonder what’s in store at this lively spot that’s taken up residence in the former Buzios Seafood space.
If you’re unfamiliar with Guy Fieri, you need to invest in a television. Fieri (real name: Guy Ramsay Ferry) hosts 90% of the shows on the Food Network. He’s the guy a lot of people love to hate, but unless you’re a food snob, his crowd-pleasing Vegas restaurants, including Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar at the Linq Hotel, possess a lot to love.
El Burro Borracho, which will inevitably have a nickname, is a long, narrow space, with a bar (pictured below) as well as a long counter area running along an open kitchen.
You know you’re in for a good time when the hooch is right up front.
The menu at El Burro Borracho is in the realm of Mexican food, although purists are sure to discover a lot of WTF.
There’s a variety of comfort and bar foods in the mix, including nachos and street corn and jalapeno poppers and quesadillas and other favorites.
The chips are on the house. A lone fried pork rind is included to remind us about the resilience of the human arterial system.
You’ll also find soups and salads, hamburgers, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and chimichangas.
We went with the Al Pastor tacos ($17), with marinated pork shoulder, grilled pineapple serrano salsa, avocado crema, pickled red onion and cilantro. Delicious and filling.
Al pastor tacos were inspired by the spit-grilled meat brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Look how much more worldly you are now than five minutes ago. You’re welcome.
Desserts include house-made churros, fried ice cream, chocolate flan cake and other temptations.
As for the cocktails, they were plentiful and strong, stealing the spotlight by appearing before the food in the restaurant’s menu. The signature cocktails are priced at $15, and most could easily serve four people.
The Aztex Punch has El Jimador tequila, Sailor Jerry spiced rum (regrettably not Captain Morgan, but we’re not entirely inflexible), orange and pineapple juices, peach syrup, strawberry puree and a dark rum float.
Pineapple juice contains bromelain, which is believed to help prevent cancer. You can totally use that as an excuse for having a sixth Aztec Punch.
El Burro Borracho faces the hotel’s pool area, and there are plans to open a “taco stand” in the back portion of the restaurant, accessible to those at the pool seeking munchies and libations in ridiculous quantities.
This “taco stand” area should be hopping as things heat up in Las Vegas.
Currently, Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho is open 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The restaurant is technically in a “soft opening” until the official grand opening, April 1, 2016.
The copious amount of liquor, friendly staff and party atmosphere make for a fun night out at El Burro Borracho.
Rio Las Vegas could certainly use a shot in the arm, with many of its retail shops closing and a large section of its casino floor devoted to timeshare sales. We are not making this up.
The upstairs BK Whopper Bar has closed and will soon be replaced with a Smashburger.
Out with the old, in with the smashed.
KISS Minigolf will be moving into the former seafood buffet space (zero construction has started yet from what we could see), so that could also contribute a new sense of energy to the resort, as does the hotel’s show (recently relocated from the Venetian), “Rock of Ages.”
We hear a new “high-profile restaurant concept” is yet-to-come, and will sit in the space once occupied by Antonio’s Italian Ristorante.
If a hotel is looking to amp up its vibe, Guy Fieri’s brand seems a good fit. El Burro Borracho is a great place to kick back with friends, numb some brain cells and fuel up for a Las Vegas adventure.
Because when was the last time you saw someone wearing an “I Got Nuanced in Vegas” T-shirt?
Already one of the most popular and appealing resorts in Las Vegas, Cosmopolitan continues to unveil new offerings. Most recently, Cosmo opened Clique Bar & Lounge, followed by a new Race & Sports Book.
We’ve got all the scoop, as well as so many photos the world may soon experience a pixel shortage.
Clique Lounge is mere feet from the Cosmo’s new high limit slot parlor. We call them parlors to make them sound fancier.
Clique Bar & Lounge was created in partnership with Clique Hospitality in the space formerly occupied by Cosmo’s Book & Stage.
The lounge’s interior is understated by Las Vegas standards, managing to feel upscale without being ostentatious, exuding a vibe welcoming even to those who may not love the more pretentious aspects of Sin City’s nightlife scene.
We’re getting to the cocktails. You should really try and keep that drinking problem of yours in check.
Clique (pronounced “click,” not “kleek,” by the way) is a lot about the exceptional cocktails and serious mixology, a claim made by most, if not all, Las Vegas lounges and bars.
Clique fulfills its promise, making it a stand-out in a town famous for its innovations in the realm of libations.
These are the Don Sandia shooters. Edible shot glasses for the win.
Bargain-hunters may feel a bit of sticker shock at Clique, but $18 specialty cocktails are quickly becoming the norm on the Las Vegas Strip.
Ultimately, that’s not the price of a cocktail so much as the price of an experience, and Clique delivers one guests are unlikely to soon forget.
Bonus points for adorability.
Some of the more remarkable cocktails at Clique are prepared tableside by expert bartenders. Sorry, mixologists. It doesn’t matter what you call them. They facilitate the happy.
Mixologists Justin and Anthony may very well have degrees in chemical engineering.
Each cocktail presentation is more dramatic than the last. The tableside cocktails break down into three groups: Barrel Smoked ($30), Table Infused ($25) and Caramelized ($25).
One of the more entertaining presentations is for the Bow Street Banana, which includes capturing smoke in your glass. It’s hard to explain. Just go with it.
You thought we were making this up?
Please note there are some rules around these tableside cocktails, including the possibility there may be a one drink minimum for each person in your party. At $25 to $30 a pop, that can add up.
We’re pretty sure they can’t put “Barrel Smoked” on the menu unless there are actual barrels involved.
A delicious diversion at Clique is the other menu, the food, or “Table Snacks.” Food is served from 5:00 p.m. to midnight.
Recommended are the Pizza Pockets ($14) and Mini Sliders ($18), the perfect complement to your drink of choice.
One of our few quibbles with Clique involves not being able to dip a square Pizza Pocket into a round sauce cup. Related: We needed an excuse to use the word “quibbles.”
You won’t want to leave Clique without having the heavenly Deep Fried Oreos ($9) with vanilla anglaise sauce.
Tried to limit ourselves to a dozen of these. Failed.
The staff at Clique is as memorable as the beverages and food.
The bartenders all appear to be models, and that also goes for the cocktail waitresses. The team at Clique seems to be able to balance good genes with a high degree of menu knowledge and ability to hold a conversation.
Hey, we had to share the cocktail server uniform. The things we do for you.
Also new at Cosmopolitan is a sparkly new Race & Sports Book. Even if you’re not all that into races or sports (we aren’t), we suspect you’ll find this new venue enticing (we did).
It’s sort of the way you’d want your den to be if you had a couple million bucks sitting around.
Cosmo’s new Race & Sports book has a lot to love, including comfy chairs, an epic hell-ton of TV screens, and even some Millennial-friendly games like tabletop shuffleboard and pool.
The aforementioned comfiness.
Social spaces with non-revenue-generating games are a thing in Las Vegas at the moment, so cut them some slack.
A little race, a little sports, a little blackjack, a little foosball. What’s not to love?
Near the Race & Sports book is a collection of table games, the kind that actually make casinos money.
Cosmo’s nailing it.
The new Race & Sports Book is just inside the Cosmo’s Las Vegas Boulevard entrance, near Chandelier Bar. Which we swear we’re not just mentioning so we have an excuse to share this photo we took.
Don’t just sit there, pin something.
There’s still some construction going on in the adjoining Lucky Cat space. That’ll be a small Starbucks in time.
Cosmopolitan’s Race & Sports Book has its own specialty cocktails and food items, several of which can be seen in the photo below, because we’re all about giving you the tools you need to get the most from your Las Vegas sojourn. The legal ones, anyway.
The Race & Sports Book cocktail menu references six sports and a legally non-binding agreement.
The Race & Sports Book at Cosmopolitan has a little something for everyone, and it’s well worth a stop.
Choose your source of adrenaline.
Both Clique Bar & Lounge and the Race & Sports Book are wins in our opinion. Along with the casino’s renewed focus on gamblers, Cosmopolitan Las Vegas remains one of our favorite places to drink, play and people-watch. Let us know what you think.
The food, small plates and appetizers, come from the same chefs as the Strat’s Top of the World restaurant.
Please don’t confuse the sliders at 107 SkyLounge with the sliders at Skyfall Lounge at Delano. Significantly better value here.
DJs do their thing starting at 11:00 p.m., so that’s either a reason to stay late or to leave early, depending upon your level of enjoyment of the DJ experience.
Making 107 SkyLounge an even better value is the fact visitors going up to the Stratosphere’s observation deck pay $20 to do so ($12 for hotel guests, $10 for children ages 4-12). If you say you’re hitting 107 SkyLounge, you get to ride in the super fast elevators—they travel three floors per second—free of charge.
The folks at Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse, invited us to dinner, and you’d better believe we accepted.
This is the second location for the Fogo de Chao, a restaurant whose name: 1) technically requires a tilde over the Chão, and 2) you’re pronouncing “Chão” wrong.
Fogo de Chao literally means “fire on the ground.” And, yes, photo captions are where this blog keeps the bulk of its utterly useless information, thanks.
Seriously, though, you’re pronouncing it wrong. It’s Portugese, a language that mysteriously adds a soft “n” to the end of words that don’t actually contain any.
Here’s the correct way to say Fogo de Chao.
That’s right, it’s pronounced “fo-go dee shown.” There will be a quiz.
Now that we have the formalities out of the way, let’s eat. And drink. Although, not necessarily in that order.
All great meals start with a panty-dropper, in this case, the Ruby Red Martini, with Ketel One vodka, ruby red grapefruit, lemon juice and black salt.
In case you’re not familiar with Brazilian restaurants, it’s not your typical style of service. Rather, it’s “espeto corrido” or “continuous service.” While you have a primary server, once you flip over your coaster (green on one side, red on the other), multiple gaucho chefs approach your table bearing gifts.
Or, as our dining companion put it, “I turned over my button and all these men approached me and offered me their meat.”
The meat served at Fogo de Chao is remarkably good, perfectly seasoned, roasted over an open fire (called “churrasco”) and carved tableside.
The charming gentlemen delivering your meats aren’t servers, they’re Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs. About 90% of the chefs at the Downtown Summerlin location of Fogo de Chao are from Brazil.
The team at Fogo de Chao works like a well-oiled machine. Everyone knows everyone else’s job, which comes in handy when you’re looking to get your next cocktail, trust us.
Beside the protein, there’s also a gourmet Market Table and Feijoada Bar, with salads, soups, vegetables, Brazilian side dishes and feijoada, which we luckily had a news release to inform us is a traditional black bean stew with rice, fresh orange and yucca flour.
Some colorfulness from the Market Table.
The stars of the show, though, are the meats. There’s Picanha, the restaurant’s signature sirloin, filet mignon, our personal favorite, lamb, chicken wrapped in bacon, chicken legs and others.
When you want to pause the meat delivery, you simply flip your coaster over to the red side.
Green means “yes,” red means “chill.” Think of it as a gaucho remote control.
The cost per person for the “churrasco” experience is $49.95. Visit the official Web site for more details, including what are rumored to be great happy hour values. We were far too busy shoveling food to stop and take notes.
The two private dining rooms are adorbs, assuming that’s something people still say.
Molten lava gets a bad rap. You’ll want to try the cake version.
Fogo de Chao is truly a distinctive and memorable experience. The service is exceptional, even in a town where exceptional service comes standard.
Fogo de Chao is a must-visit for Las Vegas locals, and while many visitors won’t venture to Summerlin (about 20 minutes west of The Strip), if you do, this should be on your short list of restaurants to try.
Enjoy more photos, and please resist the temptation to lick your computer monitor or smartphone.
The newly-opened Therapy restaurant is a worthy addition to the restaurant boom in downtown Las Vegas, with a striking interior design, stand-out signature cocktails and diverse menu.
Yes, this is in downtown Las Vegas. Rude of you to ask, by the way.
Therapy has magically transformed a site formerly occupied by a Dollar Store into one of the most appealing restaurant spaces in all of downtown Las Vegas. Therapy sits next to Park on Fremont and Radio City Pizzeria, about half-a-block east of the SlotZilla zip line tower at Fremont Street Experience.
The restaurant seats about 135 people and has two levels, but sit on the lower to avoid giving the servers strokes.
The 600-square-foot “loft,” at right, would be a great place for private parties, said none of the servers, ever. Because lactic acid or whatever.
Therapy’s menu is compact but covers a lot of ground.
Three are appetizers (“Bites”), salads “The Greens”), pizzas (sorry, flatbreads) and sandwiches (“Handheld” section of the menu), dishes for sharing “The Social Club), fancy dinners (“Knife and Fork”) and desserts (“Simply Sweet”).
Here’s a look at the delicious Oxtail Empanadas ($12).
Oxtail is the tail of a cow. We try not to think about it too much.
Most dishes on the menu run $12-15, which seems about right for the quality of the food, but downtown, it’s a tick above what patrons expect in terms of value. Example: The $14 burger. Many great burgers downtown run $5-7.
It’s no BurGR burger, but not many are.
Compare the prices to The Strip, though, and you’re in for a treat for a song.
For example, the Filet Frites entree is a full-on filet mignon with irresistible truffle fries for just $32. That’s a pittance in filet mignon dollars. Which should be a thing.
Please don’t make us look up a synonym for “delicious.” That makes blogging feel like work.
Our favorite dish so far has been the fantastic French Dip sandwich, with prime beef, horseradish cream on a hoagie roll with truffle chips. It’s $16. So, again, $3-5 too much for downtown, but French Dip perfection nonetheless.
Not every dish was a hit with the group we dined with, so there’s some room for improvement at Therapy. The Chicken and Red Velvet Waffle Sliders didn’t meet expectations, and the bread served with our meal wasn’t the best (the sauce needs something, but we have no idea what), but these are quibbles given the enjoyment we derived from our meal, especially in the dessert realm.
The hit of the meal was easily the Crumbled Carrot Cake, served just as described. Crumbly. Actual food people call it “deconstructed,” mainly to impress their food people friends. This is the must-try dish at Therapy, even at $10.
They had us at brown butter ice cream.
The Trio of Sorbet ($9) were also excellent, with cherry winning out over orange and key lime in our utterly unqualified opinion.
Sorbet, still no “h” in it.
Here’s an actual qualified opinion about Therapy from our friend and food critic, John Curtas at Eating Las Vegas.
On our first Therapy visit, it was all about the food, but on the second, it was all about the libations.
We’re happy to report the signature cocktails make Therapy an essential destination whenever you’re downtown. Therapy leapfrogs over its surrounding competition, especially in the area of beverages.
First up, a sure-fire panty-dropper, the Fuhgettaboudet, with Captain Morgan, Malibu rum, fresh juices and raspberry ($12).
This will get you in the mood for a Vegas adventure. Or for just about anything, really.
Next was what we vaguely remember as being the Bitter Tangerine Daiquiri. Don Q Rum, Campari liqueur, Fruitations Tangerine (a craft cocktail mixer) and fresh lime. Whatever it was called, it was awesome.
Some of the best cocktails are the ones you don’t remember the name of. Or remember drinking. At all.
Then there was the White Peach Pisco Punch. Probably. We were drinking. Excessively. Because the health of our liver pales in comparison to pointing you toward some of the best cocktails we’ve had downtown, and trust us, they have been many.
They are all fantastic, even without our dopey video light thingy sitting behind them.
Overall, Therapy restaurant and bar is step above many of the recently-opened offerings in downtown Las Vegas and on par with the wildly popular Carson Kitchen a block or two away.
The servers and bartenders are friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere is welcoming. The place looks wired for sound, but thankfully, management has figured out people like to converse as they eat and drink, so keep the music at a reasonable level.
Our new happy place.
You can learn more about Therapy restaurant in downtown Las Vegas on the restaurant’s official site. Or just read this blog post again, and pay attention this time.
Therapy is open Sunday through Wednesday, 11:00 a.m. to midnight; Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Therapy is defined as “treatment intended to relieve or heal a disorder.” Yes, we consider sobriety a disorder.
Enjoy more photos of Therapy below, because that’s how this award-winning and ever-humble Las Vegas blog rolls.