Downtown’s Plaza Hotel has yet another massive mural adorning its hotel tower, and this time the art veers toward the ominous.
We recently wrote about the Plaza’s first larger-than-life mural, Cultivate Harmony, by Shepard Fairey. The hotel’s second mural is by Dean Stockton, also known as D*Face.
The new mural is reminiscent of the work of Roy Lichtenstein. We knew this liberal arts degree would come in handy someday.
The latest mural, “Behind Closed Doors,” has a bit of a story behind it. The image is apparently that of a woman who came to Las Vegas with her husband and her lover. She murdered her husband, leaving him in the desert. When she comes back to her room expecting to find her lover, she’s haunted by her dead husband instead. Read more.
While massive, “Behind Closed Doors” can be tricky to see from ground level. (It’s on the south side of the Plaza’s hotel tower.) One of the best views is from the hotel’s pool deck, complete with 16 pickleball courts, but we’ve got an even better one. We couldn’t resist. We love pop art.
The two Plaza murals join dozens of others throughout downtown Las Vegas, mainly thanks to the Life is Beautiful music festival.
The Park, a restaurant row between Monte Carlo and New York-New York on the Las Vegas Strip, has become a hub for public art.
Upping the selfie ante, The Park is currently playing host to Park People, a series of life-sized human figures fashioned entirely from Lego bricks.
“Lego” comes from the Danish phrase “leg godt,” or “play well.” A good fit for Las Vegas, actually.
The Park People series was created by Nathan Sawaya, and is said to “explore the conceptual and expressive potential of process driven forms of the human body.”
So, yeah, Lego people.
Here’s a little video we slapped together, mainly because video is the new reading. Or something.
More Lego people, please!
Dude, it’s Vegas. You might want to pick up some sunscreen.
Sawaya holds an intriguing distinction—he is said to own more Lego bricks than any other individual, with two million bricks in each of his two studios (one in L.A. and another in New York).
Yeah, he’s nude, but at least he’d modest.
During our recent visit, guests were cozying up to the nine interactive figures, providing a memorable moment in Las Vegas for tourists and, as an added perk, great buzz for The Park.
Watch the hands.
According to the news release about Park People, the Lego figures are “situated curiously” on “elegant” wooden benches. There’s a reason “elegant” is in quotation marks. Mostly because they’re just benches.
The plural of Lego is Lego.
Each Lego sculpture can take two to three weeks to build, and each Lego block must be glued into place.
Pretty sure somebody’s going to be hearing from Blue Man Group’s lawyers.
The Park People exhibit ends Dec. 30, 2016, so if you’d like to see these Lego sculptures, you’d better step on it.
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.
The Wheel of Misfortune was painted inside one of several abandoned “thickener” pits at the Three Kids Mine, operated from 1917 to 1961. The pits were used to “leach a processing pulp” in the production of manganese, whatever that might mean.
Suggestions for the other six pits: Beach ball, clock, wagon wheel, Christmas ornament, pizza, casino chip.
The Wheel of Misfortune is on private property, and the site might be toxic, but that’s part of the fun of visiting to check it out.
The Wheel of Fortune is located just behind Laker Plaza and Lake Mead Boat Storage, just a few hundred feet past the entrance to Lake Las Vegas, off of Lake Mead Parkway.
If you’re up for an adventure, find Laker Plaza and the River Mountains Bicycle Shop, pictured below.
The owners of the shop are no strangers to people seeking out the Wheel of Misfortune, so they charge $5 to park. Go, Capitalism.
As you exit the store, hang a right and go to the end of the paved parking lot. There, turn right toward the hills. There are no signs, so you’re on your own. Also, the path isn’t paved, but it’s an easy, two-minute stroll to the Wheel of Misfortune.
You can either take photos from a distance or climb the short wall and get into the pit for some selfie action.
Be sure to make some noise, as the pit has a sweet echo effect.
Millennial for scale.
The Wheel of Misfortune may not be there forever, so if you’re curious, add it to your list of things to do in Las Vegas.
Of course, we would never encourage trespassing (probably) and don’t blame us if you get a brain tumor from traipsing across a field of manganese mining waste. Hey, some people take manganese as a supplement, so for all you know, you could come out of this with not only epic Instagram photos but also stronger bones and more regular menstrual cycles.
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, 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.
“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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
It’s the protruding part, upper left. Now you know.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.