Vue Bar, on the second floor of The D casino, downtown, is one of our favorite places to hang out in Las Vegas.
The second floor of The D is devoted to vintage slot machines, and we especially love the sound of coins hitting hoppers, just like when we first visited Las Vegas back in the day.
While Vue Bar has video poker, it’s been missing that certain something, until now. Vue Bar recently got itself two blackjack tables, as well as a bevy of go-go dealers.
The D answers prayers we didn’t even realize we’d prayed.
One of the tables is Super Fun 21 (sup, blackjack newbies), the other is a six deck shoe that pays an as-it-should-be 3-to-2. Five dollar table minimums make us happy.
The D is always coming up with new ways to keep us coming back, from the great food at Andiamo Italian Steakhouse to the party vibe at Longbar, from the free slot play that magically shows up on our player’s card every so often to the fringe on the go-go dancers’ outfits.
Now, we’ve got Vue Bar with blackjack! Vue Bar was already a fun place to socialize, but blackjack tables up the fun quotient considerably. We met some charming visitors from Canada, one of whom insisted on splitting 10s. Twice.
Talk about causing an international incident. Please ask your fellow players if you’re cool to do this, otherwise, expect puncture wounds.
Who’s up for some blackjack at Vue Bar, where the hooch flows freely and there are serious fringe benefits? Literally.
There’s a lot going on at downtown’s Plaza hotel, and here are four of those very things we just mentioned at the beginning of this sentence, in case you weren’t paying particularly close attention.
1. Bier Garten
The Plaza must really love creating suspense around its new Bier Garten (translation: “bear garters”), because this thing is taking for-flipping-ever.
Look! Real grass! Bonus: This isn’t the new part.
That’s not the new part. Please don’t make us repeat ourself.
The new part also isn’t the colorful wall of recycled wood, below. Although that’s new, too. Confusing, we know.
Bier Garten: Keeping color blind painters employed since late 2013.
The new part is this weird wall of foliage. It makes us wonder if Bier Garten designers spend a lot of time trying lots and lots beers. Or possibly taking ecstasy.
There’s a remote chance this is the world’s biggest fresh spice rack.
Related: If the Bier Garten doesn’t have this slot machine, we are giving up all hope for humanity. And casino marketing.
Darn. Mugs. We were hoping for cans.
2. Gift Shop
Back in November, we noted the former Gigi’s Cupcakes was shaping up to become a gift shop, and that’s exactly what’s happened. The small, pop-up shop features Plaza merchandise, as well as goodies featuring resident comedian Louie Anderson.
It takes about three minutes to do inventory in this gift shop.
3. A Freaky Car
We hear this car is both a car and a work of art. It’s sort of what the Batmobile would look like if it had an eating disorder.
Please send your angry letters about our eating disorder joke to: Plaza Hotel, 1 S. Main St., Las Vegas, Nevada 89101.
4. $20 Parking
Yes, this is the one that sucks spectacularly. Remember when Vegas casinos had free parking, no strings attached? Well, downtown isn’t exactly like that anymore. At the Plaza, you currently have to pony up $20 to self-park. That’s not a typo, although we wish it were.
Customer relations fail.
We were told the $20 charge (typically $5) is in honor of the days surrounding the New Year, as parking is at a premium during this period. Regular guests of the hotel can just suck it, apparently.
The good news is you can get your $20 back, but you have to play in the casino, and must have a bartender or slot attendant validate your parking receipt to get a reimbursement. Oh, and you have to take your validated receipt to the cashier cage and wait in line to actually get your money. So, yeah, super convenient.
Overall, we like the Plaza. Spacious, inexpensive rooms. Hash House A Go Go. Loose slots. Oscar’s Steakhouse. A hair salon with women in lingerie.
Just please don’t make us jump through hoops to park and play in your casino, Plaza. The costumed buskers are the most irksome thing on Fremont Street, and we’d prefer to keep it that way.
The home of one of the best burgers in Las Vegas, Binion’s Cafe, is about to double in size, and we had to stop by for a security breach to document the restaurant’s expansion.
A sign near the old-school cafe says it will be expanded “starting January 2014,” but from the looks of the work going on, “starting in 2014” is more likely to be “finished in January 2014.” (The casino’s getting new carpet, too, and that process is already under way as well.)
Please try and keep up, sign.
The first hint of the expansion is a large construction curtain next to the ever-bustling cafe.
Must. Not. Breach. Security. Probably.
There’s another barrier on the Benny’s Bullpen Sports Bar side.
In Vegas, it’s important to practice safe construction.
Sadly, the construction curtain and plastic sheeting made it impossible to photograph the space the cafe is expanding into, we laughed.
Here’s a look at the expansion-in-progress.
The future home of our 800th Binion’s burger.
Business is good at the Binion’s Cafe, so it’s about time the joint had its pants let out. Or something.
You might not be able to tell from its intimate dining area, but the Binion’s Cafe has already been expanded once. More is always better in Vegas.
Nevermind those celebrity chefs on The Strip! L.G., pictured below, is a superstar in his own right, cranking out the cafe deliciousness on a grill that’s been seasoned to perfection since around the turn of the century (and we’re not talking about the most recent one).
L.G. is a master of whatever that utensil is called.
L.G. and the Binion’s Cafe team make a variety of dishes, but just have the burger, already. It costs $6.45, but it’s $89.45 worth of awesome.
Consider your hangover subdued.
Soon, there will be even more to love at one of Sin City’s classic casinos, Binion’s. And don’t forget to have your photo taken with a million dollars while you’re there.
You’ve probably seen video slots similar to this one in a Las Vegas casino. It’s a blackjack or roulette game with a “virtual dealer,” typically an attractive young woman beckoning you with her gaze. Or, in this case, cleavage.
Typically, “they’re coming out” is a craps term, but in this case, we’ll make an exception.
We spotted this roulette machine, from the visionaries at ShuffleMaster, inside the casino at Planet Hollywood, and quickly realized this was no ordinary virtual dealer.
The young woman in question sported large, artificial breasts, with a revealing dress requiring spray adhesive (or fashion tape) to keep things from getting completely R-rated.
Conclusion: Blogging about Las Vegas is hard. Difficult. It’s difficult.
Not content to entice players with her smile, this virtual dealer proceeds to lean over and spin the wheel.
A miracle of modern engineering.
This is about as close as it gets to porn in a casino, folks.
And the fun doesn’t stop there. Let’s just say this roulette wheel is very, very happy to see her. (For casino nerds, the part of the roulette wheel she’s fondling is called the “turret.”)
Behold the only casino slot machine in Las Vegas where you’re pretty much guaranteed a happy ending.
Pretty bold stuff, even for Las Vegas.
How much shame do slot machine makers have? We’ll let this virtual roulette game answer that question.
The Linq, a new dining and shopping district at the center of the Las Vegas Strip, has opened its first batch of shops, restaurant and bars.
The Linq is just getting started.
While just a handful of stores and restaurants opened Dec. 27, 2013, others will make their debut in the next couple of months.
The exact tenant list for The Linq is fluid, even as venues begin to open. Some tenants which were officially announced have dropped out of the project for various reasons. Lost tenants include the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (which we reported exclusively back in October), Off the Strip Bistro (an Italian restaurant that couldn’t get financing) and something called The Foundry. Still, there’s a lot of Vegas newness coming to The Linq.
Ready for a walk-through the first phase of The Linq? Let’s have at it!
As we posted, O’Sheas has been a highlight of The Linq so far. O’Sheas sits inside The Quad, but is readily accessible from The Linq corridor. On its first day, the new O’Sheas was absolutely packed. Read more about the much-anticipated opening of O’Sheas.
About 40% too loud, but otherwise a great time.
Outside, The Linq is showing off its new, 130-foot-tall digital marquee.
The Linq marquee’s stock video skews young and dope. Or sick. Or possibly fresh. We can never keep those straight.
Here’s a short video clip of The Linq’s new marquee in all its “So You Think You Can Dance” glory.
The Flamingo has a stunning new side entrance featuring massive flamingos.
Why they’d choose to plant two palm trees in front of it, we have no idea, but it was about the only facepalm of our visit to The Linq.
Somebody get a buzzsaw, please. Bling always wins over horticulture in Las Vegas.
We predict the newest must-do photo op in Las Vegas will be for guests to stand under the raised leg of the flamingo, pretending as though they’re going to be crushed. Trust us on this one.
See the bend in the flamingo’s leg? That’s actually its ankle. Seriously.
Speaking of photo ops, The Linq has set up a number of large, interactive video screens so visitors can snap photos and share them via social media.
Similar kiosks can be found around Las Vegas, but these are the largest and most colorful. (Careful as you enter your e-mail address on the screens if you’re concerned about privacy, as it is very large and very public.)
A Scout leader told us that once.
The only restaurant to open at this juncture is Haute Doggery, which is a small space serving, as one might guess, hot dogs.
Haute means “fashionably elegant or high class.” “Doggery” means “Screw that, it’s hot dogs.”
This shop should do a lot of business, as the prices are reasonable and dogs are a great on-the-go source of party fuel as visitors “do The Linq.”
We like the license plate art on the ceiling at Haute Doggery.
Next up is the Purple Zebra, a slushy drink and candy shop. The store offers about 20 alcoholic slushy drinks, 10 non-alcoholic and more specialty drink containers than we’ve ever seen in one place (and Las Vegas has a ton of specialty drink containers).
Technically, it’s a white zebra with purple stripes, but let’s not get bogged down with details.
There are 38 novelty drink cups at Purple Zebra, ranging from 16 to 100 ounces.
Las Vegas visitors will never again have a shortage of things to put their hooch in.
Our favorites drink receptacles are the stocking leg cup ($24.95 empty, $29.95 with non-alcoholic beverage and $39.95 filled with regular daiquiris) and the 100-ounce saxophone ($26.95 empty, $35.95 filled with non-alcoholic slushy and $49.95 with a liquor-laden daiquiri).
These are actually covered with fishnet stocking material. Which is hot.
Free samples of all the slushy flavors are available, of course. Insider tip: Just have 0-40 of the free samples and you’ll be all set. Or you’ll be kicked out. Hey, you haven’t truly had the Las Vegas experience until you’ve been frisked and forcibly removed from a slushy drink store.
We’ve died and gone to slushy drink heaven. Which, granted, is redundant.
The other retail store at The Linq is Koto, a novelty gift shop. Nothing too remarkable about it, other than that it has the jump on its competitors who haven’t opened yet.
“Koto” comes from the Latin, “Nothing spectacular, but we’re first.”
The last venue which opened at The Linq on Dec. 27 was a Starbucks. Perhaps you’ve heard of them.
This place is going to make a killing.
A Mexican restaurant, Chayo Mexicano, adjoining The Link at The Quad didn’t quite launch on The Linq’s opening day, but it appears to be ready. We wish we could share a photo of this new restaurant, but that would involve a security breach which we’re definitely against. Probably.
Here’s Chayo Mexicano at The Linq!
If you look closely, you can see the outline of the restaurant’s mechanical bull.
Chayo Mexicano will have two levels, including a patio with outdoor seating on the second floor.
We can’t wait to try this one, just from the looks of the joint.
That’s it for the venues at The Linq at the moment, but the flurry activity mid-Strip is truly amazing. We’re hearing good things about yet another new bar coming to The Quad called the Living Room.
Also, we slipped into an upper level at The Quad and caught of glimpse of a space we hear will be home to a new food court. No further details are available at this time, but we wouldn’t be surprised if The Quad called upon the services of the company that runs the food courts at Flamingo and Bally’s, Fifth Avenue Restaurant Group, to oversee out the food court at The Quad.
You can’t beat food courts for cheap eats on The Strip.
The Linq, of course, will really begin rolling when the High Roller observation wheel opens, probably within the first few months of 2014. Exciting stuff!
Enjoy more poorly-composed photos of all the new stores and restaurants at The Linq Las Vegas.