Monthly Archives: August 2013

Three Extraordinary Las Vegas Walls

Las Vegas does a lot of things exceptionally, and now you can add “walls” to the list. Here are three Las Vegas walls worth checking out.

1. St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Wall at Mob Museum

The Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas is a must-visit attraction, providing a fascinating look at the history of organized crime and law enforcement both in Las Vegas and across the country.

One of museum’s most dramatic artifacts is the wall from the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Yes, the actual wall.

The massacre took place in a warehouse in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

The massacre took place in a warehouse garage in Lincoln Park, Chicago. The garage was demolished in 1967.

The Valentine’s Day Massacre happened in 1929, when seven mobsters were whacked by killers hired by Al Capone. The bullet holes in the wall have even been highlighted in red.

Creepy good fun.

Creepy good fun.

2. Berlin Wall at Main Street Station

Also in downtown Las Vegas, Main Street Station has procured itself a massive chunk of the Berlin Wall, displaying it, of all places, a men’s restroom.

Women can view the Berlin Wall, too. Just wander in if you’re bold enough, or better yet, find a security guard and they’ll happily escort you.

Show your disdain for oppression at Main Street Station.

Show your disdain for oppression at Main Street Station.

The Berlin Wall was built in 1961, fell in 1989 and was originally called the “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart.” Sorry, that’s dangerously close to being educational. We’ll try and avoid that in the future.

3. Climbing Wall at Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks restaurant and bar, in Harmon Center next to Planet Hollywood, is a happy place. It also happens to have a remarkable wall. One you can even climb.

The climbing wall at Twin Peaks is a dizzying three stories tall, and is often ascended by the establishment’s comely waitstaff. In short shorts. But mainly we’re impressed by their climbing skills.

Fancy socks optional.

Fancy socks optional.

You never know what amazing discoveries you’ll unearth in Las Vegas. Or urinate on. Whichever.

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The Quad Is Testing the Limits of Our Sanity

Ah, casino-hotel marketing. It’s difficult. We get that. We’ve even done some of it.

But, now, The Quad is testing the limits of our sanity with an ongoing habit of spelling everyday words with a “Q.” It has to stop. Yesterday.

Do we love a Las Vegas room deal? Yes. Do we want to walk into a busy intersection when we see this "Q" thing? Also, yes.

Do we love a Las Vegas room deal? Yes. Do we want to walk into a busy intersection when we see this “Q” thing? Also, yes.

“Qrazy”? Really? It’s enough that we’re asked to endure a name like “The Quad,” so why add insult to injury?

Does The Quad not realize every time they use a call-to-action like “Booq It,” scores of potential customers go into a Hulk-like rage?

Enough is enough. The Quad, don’t undermine the years of work “Sesame Street” has done to get us to love the letter “Q.” This awkward affectation needs to go the way of the O’Sheas garage. Now, if not sooner, thanks.

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Three Weird-Ass Roulette Bets You Need to Know

Even if you’ve been playing roulette forever, there are still things to learn. There are bets, for example, that aren’t clearly marked on the roulette layout. Here are three you need to know.

The Courtesy Line

It’s pretty straightforward to bet on zero and double zero, with one chip, by placing it on the line between the two numbers. It’s called a “split” bet.

We're not to the weird part yet. Just chill.

We’re not to the weird part yet. Just chill.

But if you’re sitting at the end of the table not easily within reach of the zero and double zero spaces, did you know there’s a “courtesy line” bet that accomplishes the same thing? It’s the line between the “2nd 12” and “3rd 12” bets, as in the photo below.

No matter where you make the zero and double zero bet, it pays 17-to-1.

No matter where you make the zero and double zero bet, it pays 17-to-1.

This courtesy line bet saves players from having to figure out how to bet the zero and double zero from the opposite end of the table, including having to ask the dealer to do it.

The Basket Bet

The “basket” bet lets you bet on five numbers with one chip. When you bet in the position pictured below, you’re betting on zero, double zero, 1, 2 and 3, all at the same time.

The basket bet is what’s known in roulette parlance as a “seriously sucky bet.” That’s because while the house edge in American roulette (European roulette has a zero, but no double zero) is 5.26%, the edge on a basket bet is 7.89%. You’ve been warned.

The basket bet pays 6-to-1. Oh, just run away, already.

The basket bet pays 6-to-1. Oh, just run away, already.

It should be noted you can find European roulette tables around Vegas, where the house edge dips down to 2.7%. Obviously, finding those tables is worth the hunt.

Our friends at LasVegasAdvisor.com maintain a great list of European roulette tables in Vegas.

The Avenue Bet

If betting three numbers, all in one row, is called a “street” bet, it makes sense six numbers (in two rows) is called an “avenue” bet. You can bet on six numbers at once by placing your chip strategically as illustrated below.

Avenue bets pay 5-to-1. Yeah, we hate math, too, but it's important to know a little so you get the correct payout when you win.

Avenue bets pay 5-to-1. Yeah, we hate math, too, but it’s important to know a little so you get the correct payout when you win.

If there’s a combination of numbers you’d like to bet in roulette, chances are there’s a way to easily make the bet. Casinos are super accommodating that way. Ahem.

Now that you’ve mastered these three weird roulette bets, feel free to brag about your expansive roulette knowledge to your friends and colleagues. Sure, they’ll be annoyed, but there’s a 5.26% chance that’s just jealousy talking.

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A First Look Inside Downtown’s New Pizza Rock Restaurant

One of the new Las Vegas restaurants we’re most looking forward to opening is Pizza Rock, soon to be a tasty addition to the dining options at Downtown Third.

We love when a plan comes together. Especially if there's pizza involved.

We love when a plan comes together. Especially if there’s pizza involved.

There’s a lot of pizza we like downtown, but not a lot we love, so we have our fingers crossed with Pizza Rock.

If you can create a cool logo for your restaurant, you're half way home.

In the restaurant business, if you can find a decent graphic designer, you’re half way home.

We pressed our camera up against the new restaurant’s windows to get a first peek inside this new downtown pizza place.

The first thing to pique our interest? The bar, of course.

The first thing to pique our interest? The bar, of course.

Pizza Rock is still very much under construction, but it’s expected to open in the late summer of 2013. Which we thought we’re already in, but what do we know?

You can visit the restaurant’s official, and pretty much useless, Web site, to sign up for an e-mail newsletter. We did.

We're big fans of these decorative flourishes on the ceiling. Funky, with playing card symbols.

We’re big fans of these decorative flourishes on the ceiling. Funky, with playing card symbols. And possibly lightning.

Apparently, one of the big draws of Pizza Rock will be its “celebrity chef,” Tony Gemignani. Have you heard of him? Us neither, which is why many “celebrity chefs” in Las Vegas have “quotation marks around them.”

That said, Gemignani seems to have racked up a number of notable accomplishments in the pizza world, several of which are touted on the sign outside Pizza Rock.

We'll try a pizza from a world champion any day of the week.

We’ll try a pizza from a world champion any day of the week.

If you’re the first American to ever win the World Pizza Cup competition in Naples, Italy, you’re cool with us. (Naples tourism tagline: “Naples. Our garbage collectors have been on strike since the mid-1970s.)

Pizza Rock has a sister location, in Sacramento, California. Pizza Rock seems like it will be a good fit for the Las Vegas restaurant scene, because they have already mastered the art of “news release fluffery.”

Here’s a sample: “Utilizing fresh organic local ingredients to create savory dessert pizzas and sensational menu items, focusing on being totally unique and bold, using interesting combinations that have never been done before, as well as ‘over the top’ presentations.” We’re also pretty sure that isn’t a sentence. But copywriting has never been how we measure how good a restaurant is!

There's a chance we're sharing a photo of the same thing over and over, framed differently.

There’s a chance we’re sharing a photo of the same thing over and over, just framed differently. You’ll live.

Feel free to check out the Pizza Rock menu for its Sacramento location, as it’s likely to be what’s in store for the downtown location as well.

The menu features numerous antipasti options (Italian for “before the meal,” in other word, “appetizers”), salads, pizzas (shocker) as well as other Italian fare like stromboli, calzone and pastas. These are a few of our favorite things!

Pick up the pace, construction dudes, we're famished.

Pick up the pace, construction dudes, we’re famished.

Pizza Rock had us at “900-degree wood-fired Cirigliano Forni oven.” (Cirigliano Forni is a family-owned, brick oven manufacturer that has made pizza ovens for three generations.)

More Pizza Rock updates are sure to be on the way. If we can stop eating pizza long enough to type something.

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Golden Gate Opens New Entrance, Drunks Ruin It

There we were, all excited about the new entrance at the Golden Gate, downtown.

Why were we excited about a casino entrance? Because it would allow us to slip into the casino on its east side, bypassing the crowds that often gather at the stage, farther down.

Sure, we’d miss the bartop go-go dancing, but it would be a small price to pay to get to the craps tables more quickly.

Subtle, yet effective. In theory.

Subtle, yet effective. In theory.

We like the fancy masonry, or whatever you call it. Natural materials. Welcoming, but understated, right?

Those little yellow pylon thingys should've tipped us off. It wasn't raining.

Foreshadowing? There were these “Caution” thingys on opening night, but it wasn’t raining.

So, the new entrance opened without much fanfare a few days ago, but last night, it appears the new entrance was roped off and closed.

We have a suspicion it was because of the drunk people.

Oh, downtown, you're so you.

Tease.

See, the new entrance at the Golden Gate is the only entrance to a Fremont Street casino with a step. And, yes, it’s just one step. The overall intoxication level on the Fremont Street Experience is above average, to say the least, so there may have been an issue with patrons not being able to easily navigate that one step. We’re not kidding.

Casino owners are infinitely patient when it comes to the law of unintended consequences, so it’s likely they’re working on a solution to this problem. Obviously, “people not being dopes” isn’t feasible. Maybe different lighting. Maybe more gradual inclines of some kind.

The Golden Gate is one of our favorite places to play, downtown, so for the moment, we’ll enter the usual way. Past the go-go dancers. If we must.

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If You Can Find It, The Buffet at Aria is Worth Another Taste

Approximately 75% of our visits to The Aria involve getting lost. And we are a self-proclaimed Las Vegas expert.

But once we arrive, we tend to like what we find. If you haven’t been to The Buffet at Aria, it’s definitely worth the trip.

The Buffet was at the forefront of Sin City's "Naming Things What They Are" movement.

The Buffet was at the forefront of Sin City’s “Naming Things What They Are” movement.

The Buffet at Aria was just three years old when it got a major renovation in early 2013. Why? Because it’s Las Vegas, that’s why. Las Vegas is like a shark. It has to keep moving or it dies. Yes, Las Vegas is like a shark, a shark with tassels, but a shark nevertheless.

Let's get to the food photos, already.

Let’s get to the food photos, already.

The renovations made The Buffet a much more open and welcoming space, moving from harsh tile to soothing wood. The lighting is now recessed and warm, too.

If you manage to take a breath between plates, take a moment to look around.

If you manage to take a breath between plates, take a moment to look around.

The Buffet at Aria has 13 serving stations, which, as it turns out, is a very lucky number for guests. The stations include many of the food groups we’ve come to expect from Vegas buffets, like a meat carving station, a “Fish Market,” pizza and other popular favorites.

A "Diner" station serves up the American comfort food. Then again, isn't all food sort of comforting?

A “Diner” station serves up the American comfort food. Then again, isn’t all food sort of comforting?

Of course, our favorite buffet station is almost always the dessert station, and The Buffet at Aria does it up right.

We'll try anything if it's pretty. There's a lot to try here.

We’ll try anything if it’s pretty. There’s a lot to try here.

There’s also a fine selection of Asian offerings, Latin dishes and a high point of any visit for us, naan baked in an authentic Tandoori oven. We enjoy ignoring that whole “Don’t fill up on bread!” thing.

We tend to ignore the "Don't fill up on pizza!" rule, too.

We tend to ignore the “Don’t fill up on pizza!” rule, too.

The prices are reasonable for a mid-to-upper range buffet on The Strip, with breakfast for $18.99, lunch for $22.99 and dinner coming in at $33.99. There’s a brunch on weekends for $29.99, and a “Gourmet Dinner” (translation: same stuff, more expensive) on Friday and Saturday (3:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.) for $39.99.

If you’re going to do The Buffet at Aria up right, you might also want to pony up $12.99 for unlimited mimosas, Bloody Marys, beer on tap and wine.

Buffet chefs sit around all day coming up with new ways to tempt us.

Buffet chefs sit around all day coming up with new ways to tempt us.

Oh, and there’s a benefit to being a little difficult to find. There are rarely long waits to get into The Buffet. (Not always a great sign, but in this case, it’s unrelated to the quality of the food.)

The Buffet at Aria might not be on par with Wicked Spoon at The Cosmo, or Bacchanal at Caesars, but it doesn’t really try to be.

The revolving gelato wheel is a must-try, of course.

The revolving gelato wheel is a must-try, of course.

So, get out your compass and give The Buffet at Aria another try.

And say “hello” to the Revolving Wheel of Gelato Delights at the dessert station for us. We’ll be back to do some serious damage soon.

In the meantime, here are more photos to keep your salivary glands well lubricated.

The Buffet at Aria

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