Monthly Archives: May 2014

Fremont Street’s Pioneer Club Gets Its Skin Peeled Off, Reveals Las Vegas History

The Pioneer Club in downtown Las Vegas is a building steeped in Las Vegas history, and it’s currently having some of its “skin” peeled off.

Pioneer Club

An anagram for “Pioneer Club” is “Nicer pueblo.” “Pueblo” means “people” in Spanish. Nicer people! Yeah, it makes no sense, but we needed a caption for this photo. Moving on.

The Pioneer Club building was built in 1918, and was originally a restaurant.

Later, it became Beckley’s Mens Wear (photo below). It opened as a casino in 1942, and for its first few years of operation was the biggest and best-known casino downtown.

Beckley's Las Vegas

Before Fremont Street Experience was an experience.

The Pioneer Club casino closed in 1995, and now houses a gift shop. Because life isn’t fair, really.

Pioneer Club

An exclusive photo, because exclusives are the new “actual news.”

The Pioneer Club is known around the world as the home of Vegas Vic, one of the most iconic neon signs in Las Vegas.

Pioneer Club

Oh, the stories Vegas Vic could tell. Of course, most of them would involve the phrase, “I’m a sign, we don’t tell stories!”

Thankfully, Vegas Vic isn’t going anywhere. Some other stuff, though, is.

Pioneer Club

Some neon gave its life for this little endeavor.

The current construction affords a unique glimpse under the building’s facade. The aluminum panels were added to the building’s exterior in 1961. The photo below was taken before the aluminum siding was installed.

Pioneer Club

The building still has those archy things over the windows.

If the sign out front it to be believed, a new building is being constructed between the Pioneer Club building and the Golden Nugget. The new building will house a tattoo shop. Apparently because you breezed right past that whole “life isn’t fair” thing.

Pioneer Club

Please slip into something less comfortable.

The oldest casino in Las Vegas, Golden Gate (it opened in 1906), is downtown, too, not far from the Pioneer Club building.

So, head downtown for a brush with Vegas history. Not to mention slushy drinks and go-go dealers. Because one cannot live on pictures of old buildings alone.

Retail Shops and Betty’s Diner Close at The Quad Las Vegas

All the shops in the “shopping promenade” at The Quad Las Vegas have all been shuttered, including Betty’s Diner, to make way for (wait for it) a food court and expanded gift shop.

The Quad Las Vegas

The shops at The Quad weren’t so much closed as euthanized.

The shops in question sat in a long hallway between the hotel’s Fat Tuesday and self-park garage.

The Quad shops

It was never all that easy spelling tchotchke, anyway.

The closed shops include Emporium, Fun Gifts, Higuchi, Whiskey Run and the Signature Shop.

The stores are being gutted for a significant overhaul. Unfortunately, the inside of the stores are off limits, so we’re unable to share photos of work-in-progress.

Yeah, right. Have you ever visited this blog before? Security breach, baby!

The Quad shops

Everything must go.

It’s been rough keeping up-to-date on all the changes at The Quad. Renovations have come in such rapid succession, in fact, even The Quad’s own Web site doesn’t reflect that the shops have closed.

Also walled up is Betty’s Diner and Cyber Cafe. Betty’s was known for its great location, specifically, in close proximity to timeshare salespersons and those tables that use high-power hoses to give you a massage.

The Quad

“A better Health Department grade than Firefly!” was the Betty’s motto.

The Quad’s Web site says the hotel hosts “nine distinct Las Vegas shopping experiences.” Frankly, even when all the shops were open, they weren’t particularly distinct, nor would they really qualify as “experiences.”

While plans for the space haven’t been official announced, it appears renovations will include a new food court (odds are it will have the same restaurants in other Caesars Entertainment food courts like at Flamingo or Bally’s), as well as a consolidated, expanded gift shop. Because it’s a Las Vegas hotel, that’s why.

The Quad construction

Unless The Quad is going with “implosion chic,” this is probably not representative of the new gift shop.

Nearly all the other renovations at the ever-transforming Quad Las Vegas have been a hit so far, including the return of O’Sheas (expansion coming soon), Catalyst Bar, Tag Bar and Guy Fieri’s restaurant, so we have high hopes these shop closures will make a vast improvement, too. (The new Mexican restaurant, by the way, can suck it.)

Room renovations are also in the works at The Quad, and the hotel is rumored to be getting a new name, too. (We know this because we started the rumor.)

Now, if only The Quad could find a new place for its timeshare salespeople. Say, Arizona.

The Opening of SLS Las Vegas is Closer Than You Think, and It’s Already Feeling Awesome

SLS Las Vegas, opening soon on the site of the former Sahara, was kind enough to invite us on a tour of the under-construction hotel-casino, and we love what they’ve done to the place.

Let’s take a look at some highlights of this new hotel-casino, opening Labor Day weekend.

SLS Las Vegas

Let’s get this sucker open, we’ve got Las Vegas blog money burning a whole in our pocket!

Getting into this shiny new hotel will be integral to one’s enjoyment of it, and there will be four entrances.  The main entrance (below) will be off of Las Vegas Boulevard, three others will be off Paradise Road, including a VIP entrance which will whisk guests into the Lux Tower, the Sahara’s Alexandria Tower.

SLS Las Vegas entrance

We shall henceforth refer to this as the main, or fancy, entrance.

Quick question before we move on.

SLS entrance

What kind of hair conditioner does she use? Seriously, because that hair has clearly been deep-enhanced and revived. Much like the Sahara, come to think of it.

The VIP check-in area already has a fancy fireplace installed. We’d love to show it to you, but we weren’t allowed to take photos inside. Instead, you get full frontal.

SLS Las Vegas hotel

Reality check. There’s still a little work still to be done.

SLS will have three towers, the aforementioned Lux, and two others named World (SLS’s largest, formerly the Tangiers Tower, built in 1991) and Story (the Sahara’s original tower, Tunis, built in the 1950s).

SLS Las Vegas will have 1,600 guest rooms and suites.

At this juncture, we should probably mention our tour guide was Rob Oseland, SLS Las Vegas President & Chief Operating Officer, formerly COO of Encore. He personally gave us a tour, in the midst of what must be a crazy schedule, not so much because we’re cool, but because he appears to be. Oseland was previously Executive Vice President at Wynn, and before that he was the Wynn’s C.O.O. Needless to say, this guy has Vegas hotel-casino experience coming out of a multitude of orifi.

Oseland addresses the issue of those 1,600 rooms and SLS’s challenging location (at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip) head-on, “We need a good cross-section of locals and tourists. At the core, it’s about filling 1,600 rooms. That’s where it starts. Hopefully, our product will differentiate itself enough to create great word-of-mouth and a groundswell. Because there’s not much more billboard space to get the message across.”

SLS Las Vegas

Another view of the work-in-progress at SLS Las Vegas.

SLS Las Vegas is what’s described as an “adaptive reuse” of the Sahara, meaning the previous hotel towers weren’t imploded. The buildings were stripped down to their skeleton and built back up again with lots of new flair, including entirely new rooms in each of the three towers.

The rooms at SLS will be a case of creative use of restrictive spaces. Build-out of the rooms is well under way, with wallpaper and carpeting already installed. (There’s about 70 days left before construction is expected to be completed.)

SLS Las Vegas has already started taking reservations, for dates August 25, 2014 and later.

The design of the room varies by which tower they’re in, prettiest first.

Here’s the Lux Tower room.

Lux Tower SLS Las Vegas

See the walls to the left and back? That’s not paint or wallpaper, it’s actually cloth, strung from ceiling level. Oh, and the mirror on the ceiling is meant to be ironic, yet sassy.

Here’s the World Tower room.

SLS Las Vegas World Tower

We wouldn’t want to clean those light fabrics, but they make the rooms look sleek and inviting.

The Story tower rooms are a different, well, story. They have a studio apartment feel, with a wildly clever way of concealing the shower and toilet behind sliding mirrors. It’s going to feel like you’re showering in your bedroom, but the price of these rooms is going to be relatively low, so don’t get all judgy until you’ve stayed in one.

SLS Las Vegas

SLS knows these rooms aren’t huge, but if you’re spending a ton of time in your room in Vegas, you’re doing it wrong.

Changes to the exterior of the hotel have been dramatic, of course, including removing all the Sahara’s Moroccan touches. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the last of the Sahara’s paint slipping into the sands of history. Or something.

SLS Las Vegas

The Sahara is gone, but not forgotten. Well, not entirely gone. We saw two Sahara restroom signs still in place just off the casino. Dibs!

That tower has distinguished itself from the Sahara in dramatic fashion with glass all the way up. This glass encloses what were once balconies. Aside from a more modern look, this also provided SLS a way to “re-capture” the balconies to increase room size. (Bringing the balconies back into the room adds an additional 60 square feet.)

Let’s get inside the hotel and casino, already.

SLS Las Vegas has gathered together an all-star line-up of restaurants.

There’s Bazaar Meat by José Andrés (a steakhouse), Katsuya (sushi), Cleo (Mediterranean), Ku Noodle (there will probably be noodles), Umami Burger (possibly burgers), 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria (with noodles and burgers, unless they decide to go with pizza instead), the 24-hour Griddle Cafe and the SLS Buffet.

SLS Las Vegas

We’ll have one of everything, thanks.

This group of restaurants is unique not only because they’ve all proven to be successful in other cities, but they’re also all owned by SBE, the hospitality and real estate development company run by Sam Nazarian, which also owns the Sahara itself. All this means these venues have a better-than-average chance of being both good and profitable.

SLS Buffet

Must. Try. SLS Buffet. Despite. Creepy. Antlers.

“Name recognition is important,” says Oseland. “There’s a lot to be said for brand association. The products have already been proven, from design to menu to service and price point. We aren’t just assuming we’re going to add something to the market that’s going to work. It’s a proven system.”

The hotel’s restaurants run the gamut in terms of price points, a key factor in drawing and keeping the all-important local audience.

SLS will be appealing to value-seeking players by offering a variety of price points at its restaurants. Spots like Ku Noodle (a play on canoodle?) and 800 Degrees Pizza ($8-12 for a pizza) are grab-and-go, with prices significantly lower than you’d see farther down the Strip.

Having a variety of price points was a lesson learned by Rob Oseland during his time at Wynn and Encore. “You can come here several times a month and not get sticker shock. At Wynn and Encore, we didn’t have enough price points that were low enough, so people were actually leaving the building because of it.”

SLS Las Vegas

Cleo restaurant, inspired by Cleopatra, who was not only the last pharaoh of Egypt, she was also so hot, she nailed Julius Caesar, known for invading Britain even more successfully than the Spice Girls.

At the top of the SLS food chain will be the Bazaar Meat steakhouse. Oseland says, “It’s the noise of STK [at Cosmopolitan], a bustling steakhouse, with Marquee Nightclub [also at Cosmo], if you combined it with Deuce Lounge [at Aria]. We’re setting up an evening with a steak concept, and holding it together with a collection of lounges that play off of the disruption of a nightclub.”

Bazaar is a collaboration with chef José Andrés, the man behind Jaleo and China Poblano at Cosmopolitan, not to mention Bazaar by José Andrés in the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills.

Bazaar Meat SLS

Dust off your double entendres, it’s Bazaar Meat.

“José [Andrés] is so brilliant and so passionate, he is so outside the box. You have to just let him evolve his program. He went through the whole ideation of this menu, and it was fun to be a part of watching him think about how he wanted to create this experience.” Bazaar, which occupies the space of the Sahara’s NASCAR Cafe, will have its own bar, Bar Centro, as well as its own mini-casino, the Bazaar Casino.

If you’re still clinging to memories of the Sahara, it’s interesting to note a private dining room in Bazaar was once the mechanic’s room of the Sahara’s roller coaster, Speed: The Ride, currently collecting dust in an empty lot near the doomed SkyVue observation wheel at the south end of The Strip.

Bazaar will have its own bar, too, Bar Centro. Because bars!

Bar Centro

Bar Centro is Spanish for, “Who cares, it’s a bar.”

Let’s wander off into other parts of the hotel, shall we?

SLS Las Vegas logo

The not-uncomplicated logo extravaganza, recently added to the front of SLS Las Vegas.

The registration desk of SLS is in the same location as Sahara’s was. Come in from the self-park garage, and turn left. Oseland says, “We pushed it back to be more generous with the space.”

SLS Las Vegas

Sorry, Sahara, we sort of have to quit you now.

There’s a sundry store, called Etc., just off this hallway. We are not sure if Viagra is considered a sundry, but this is where we would look for them. If we ever needed such a thing, which we definitely wouldn’t. Unless it was for a friend. A loser friend. Who we probably wouldn’t even associated with. Especially in a slick new hotel like SLS. Moving on.

Elevators for all the towers are close to registration, so schlepping of luggage is kept to a minimum.

Before you even get to the casino, across from registration, there’s a lobby bar called Monkey Bar. We don’t care what it’s called, as long as there’s a “bar” in the name.

Passing registration, you enter the casino.

“We’re keeping an exposed ceiling. When we peeled back the 15-foot ceilings, we found we had heights of 24 feet. We created more of an industrial look,” says Oseland.

SLS Casino

The future home of 84% of this blog’s disposable income.

The casino is just under 60,000-square-feet. It has 800 slots and 80 table games. Thirty percent is dedicated to video poker, a favorite of locals. SLS promises lots of table games with $5 minimums, too.

The casino serves as sort of a hub, with restaurants all around it, the spokes. The key word to describe the casino is “intimate,” or just the way this blog likes it. For every mile we have to walk to get to a craps table, we deduct 10% in terms of enjoyment. Hear that MGM Grand and Caesars Palace?

Yes, the casino carpet is, in large part, already installed. It has the feel of an abstract painting in places. In others, hands hold cards, intertwined with numbers (and on a roulette wheel). It’s anything but the traditional, garish, casino carpet. The colors are a mix of browns, green, reddish-orange. (No security breach photos for us inside, this time, as we’d like to be invited back.)

Several of the aforementioned restaurants are easily accessible just off the casino floor, such as 800 Degrees Pizza, Katsuya and Umami Burger.

Adjoining Umami Burger is a sports book (run by William Hill, which operates sports books across Vegas), an adjoining Beer Garden, thankfully spelled that way, and not “Bier.”

Umami Burger

The crossroads of Umami, the sports book and the Beer Garden.

Oseland remarks, “There’s interplay between the sports component, a casual burger restaurant and the beer garden concept.”

As weather permits, the walls will open up into a climate-controlled outdoor patio. You can see the Beer Garden in the photo below, which we nearly killed ourself taking because there’s currently no sidewalk outside SLS.

SLS Las Vegas

The Beer Garden. Actually, at this point, it’s a near-Beer Garden.

Next to the whole burger, beer and sports venues is the Sayer’s Club, which Oseland describes this way, “It’s a small, underground entertainment lounge. It has the big roll-up doors that allows Sayer’s Club to also interact with the Beer Garden. The collection of these spaces we hope to program to work together.”

Keep going north and you’ll bump into Bazaar, and then Life, the hotel’s main nightclub, which inhabits the former Sahara Showroom space. Where magician Rick Thomas used to do his thing.

Life nightclub

Life nightclub will be the primary source of “oontz” at SLS Las Vegas.

Rob Oseland notes, “Life sits in an entertainment orientation. It’s our big box nightclub and entertainment venue.” An interesting design feature is you can easily circumnavigate the room without ever cutting through the dance floor. Same with Sayer’s Club.

He continues, “Life could accommodate a full band, a center stage DJ or none of the above. We could fly sets in and do fun things with the ceiling. But it’s being set up as a traditional nightclub.”

Life nightclub

Another view of Life nightclub. SLS has already had a big impact on the Las Vegas economy, based solely upon the number of rendering artists it employs.

All this, and we haven’t even gotten to the pool scene yet!

“The pool was in the exact right location, with west sun exposure all day,” explains Oseland. “We floated an island bar, separated by two pools. We also have a partnership with a company called Korean Technology that’s come in and will be creating seven multi-media experiences for us. One of them will happen on the side of the garage just next to the pool. The whole wall becomes a giant screen which will have super high resolution, 3-D content.”

Well, that sounds entirely incredible, and we can’t wait to see whatever the hell he’s talking about.

SLS pool

If you’re going to get melanoma, at least get it surrounded by beautiful people!

Yes, yes, we realize we’re leaving out a lot. Our ankles were swelling up at this point!

We should probably mention the 10,000-square-feet of retail space at SLS Las Vegas. Many of those feet will be devoted to Fred Segal stores, seven of them to be exact. Well, they’ll be under the Fred Segal umbrella, but they’ll be separate entities devoted to: men’s, women’s, jewelry, home, shoes, denim bar and intimates (think Go Sexy at Flamingo Las Vegas, but without Osmonds nearby).

Overall, we were pretty much dumbstruck by how much is happening at SLS Las Vegas, seemingly all at once.

Every aspect of the hotel and casino seem to have been meticulously planned and thought through, taking into account all the advances in hotel and casino design in recent years.

We expect SLS Las Vegas is going to surprise everyone with its ability to appeal to both locals and visitors, from daytime slot machine players to nightclub-goers and foodies.

SLS Las Vegas

Don’t worry, when the SLS porte-cochère opens, it won’t feature port-a-potties.

This new Las Vegas hotel seems a more-than-worthy successor to the iconic Sahara, with surprises around every corner. And we love surprises. Especially when they involve gambling and reasonably-priced food and copious amounts of liquor. SLS looks like it’s going to be exactly our kind of place.

SLS Las Vegas

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Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar Opens at Golden Nugget Las Vegas

There’s a lively new spot to check out at Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas, Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar.

Cadillac Mexican Cantina sits in the space formerly occupied by the hotel’s Carson Street Cafe, and while it would take a pretty incredible establishment to replace a cafe that holds such fond memories, Cadillac Mexican Cafe is starting off on the right foot. Specifically, there’s tequila, and lots of it.

Cadillac Cantina

Traditionally, Cadillacs and tequila aren’t a great mix, but it’s Vegas, baby.

While we’re on the subject, a new Claim Jumper restaurant occupies another part of the former Carson Street Cafe space (in the hotel’s Carson Tower), but it hasn’t opened yet. It’s a union thing, apparently.

Both of the new establishments are owned by Landry’s, Inc., the company that owns the Golden Nugget.

Cadillac Cantina

If it’s too dark to read the menu, just let the waitress pick.

But let’s get to the hooch and food, already. First things first. Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar has more than 70 varieties of tequila. As if we need to write anything more to get you there. Adios, liver!

You can check out the full tequila menu here.

Our first foray into Cadillac’s signature cocktail selection was the Barrel-Aged Hibiscus Margarita ($13, pictured below). It’s described this way, “Aged for 20 days in a five liter American charred oak barrel, we have combined Cruz Silver tequila with Tres Agave Nectar, Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate bitters and Fruitlab Organic Hibiscus liqueur to create a lush, silky-textured fruit bomb with layers of chocolate, framed with smoky oak.” We don’t have a clue what most of that means, but that did not deter from having it, of course.

Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar

Our future band name: The Silky-Textured Fruit Bombs.

The food menu hits all the right notes, with accessible, reasonably-priced offerings like salads, enchiladas, burgers, tacos and carnitas and tapas (Spanish for “Where’s the rest of it?”).

We’re currently having a love affair with Mexican street corn, so we were giddy to see it on the menu ($4.99). It’s as good as any downtown, including the corn served at La Comida, Nacho Daddy and Pinches Tacos (in the Downtown Container Park). Which part of “We love Mexican street corn” wasn’t clear earlier in this paragraph?

Cadillac Cantina

About 20 million people in Mexico live on less than $2 a day. Consolation: Delicious corn!

Everything we saw and tasted was exceedingly fresh, and we were pretty much full after our two tapas. The other dish was an order of chicken taquitos ($7.99).

chicken taquitos

Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar just gave your microwave taquitos a smackdown.

We can’t really speak to the authenticity of these dishes. We are neither Mexican nor a food expert. We are a Las Vegas blog, which means we pretty much order food to give the appearance we are not an alcoholic.

One dish we can attest got raves from our fellow customers was the Blackened Mahi Mahi Tacos. So, try that and let us know what you think. Here’s a closer look at the menu, and here’s the part that didn’t fit in that first photo.

Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar is adorned with numerous flat-screen TVs, of course. It’s the law in Las Vegas at the moment.

Seating is comfy, with a number of couches, in case you’d like to settle in for an evening of tequila-tasting. Well-suited to that scenario are several tequila flights, the El Presidente ($40), Players Choice ($35) and Tres Hombres ($34).

tequila tower

This would be the point in our blog post where we remind you to pace yourself.

Just around the corner from the main restaurant is a small to-go counter, for pre-order and pick-up service.

Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar is open each day, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Learn more at the official site.

tequila

Insert another gratuitous photo of tequila here.

Enjoy a few more photos from this new restaurant-bar offering at the Golden Nugget, and we’ll see you at Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar. The first 8-10 rounds of street corn are on you.

Cadillac Mexican Cantina & Tequila Bar at Golden Nugget

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Six Shiny New Things at Monte Carlo Las Vegas

It’s happened without fireworks or media stunts, but Monte Carlo Las Vegas has stealthily added an impressive array of new offerings in recent weeks.

Monte Carlo

Yeah, it’s the one with the blue dudes.

The transformation taking place at Monte Carlo includes 800 Degrees Pizza, Double Barrel Roadhouse, Yusho restaurant, Blvd. Creamery, Sambalatte and a foliage-filled outdoor pedestrian plaza.

Let’s take a look at what’s new inside Monte Carlo, and outside, too.

1. 800 Degrees Pizza

800 Degress Pizza serves up build-your-own pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven at, you guessed it, around 800 degrees. That high heat means pizzas come out quickly, and the price points are appealing, too.

800 Degrees Pizza

Factoid: In August, you can bake pizzas on Las Vegas sidewalks at 800 degrees, too.

Our Margherita pizza was $7.65, and was big enough to share. Most toppings are an additional $1.50 each.

800 Degrees Pizza

We don’t get the blobs of cheese thing, but we’re a little old-school when it comes to pizza.

800 Degrees Pizza seats about 120 customers and has a 3,000-square-foot dining room, as well as a 1,000-square-foot outdoor patio.

800 Degrees Pizza

Oven temperature is measured by laser beam. Or something.

The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

800 Degrees Pizza

Your pizza moves down a sort of assembly line, assuring it’s fresh and custom-built.

The pizza crust is absolutely delicious, although the middle of the pizzas are on the soggy side. However, we’ve been informed by longtime reader, J.K. Grance, “The dots of cheese are the traditional style on a Margherita. If the pizza is a little soggy in the middle, then it’s a properly done Neapolitan-style pizza. Which is to say, the Margherita you had is a very old-school pie.”

Let us know what you think!

Still, the price is right, and the indoor-outdoor seating makes 800 Degrees Pizza a fine dining option on The Strip. A second Vegas location is scheduled for 800 Degrees Pizza, in the new SLS Hotel.

800 Degrees Pizza at Monte Carlo

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2. Double Barrel Roadhouse

Like 800 Degrees Pizza, the new Double Barrel Roadhouse straddles indoors and outdoors.

Double Barrel Roadhouse

Monte Carlo has brought more food and drink curbside.

Double Barrel Roadhouse is spacious, with multiple levels within its 12,000-square-foot space.

Double Barrel Roadhouse

Yes, there are the requisite TVs, but they aren’t intrusive.

The signature cocktails are delicious, and run $14 a pop. We went with the Blue Orchid, with Bacardi Dragon Berry rum, Luxardo Maraschino cherry liqueur, Bols Blue Curacao liqueur and lemonade.

Double Barrel Roadhouse

The panty-dropper cocktails are in plentiful supply at Double Barrel Roadhouse.

We visited at lunch, but as the evening progresses, apparently there’s live entertainment, including performances on the restaurant’s catwalks.

Public service announcement: Before you visit Double Barrel Roadhouse, make sure to consult with our friends over at VegasChatter.com to learn more about some “It’s a prank, right?” charges this joint tacks onto your tab without telling you beforehand. It’s not as bad as the CNF charge we’ve shared in the past, but it’s a scam nonetheless.

Double Barrel Roadhouse at Monte Carlo

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3. Blvd. Creamery

Blvd. Creamery offers treats of all sorts, but specializes in those of the frozen variety.

Blvd. Creamery

There be carbs here.

The ice cream isn’t particularly memorable, but the cost is. A small scoop of ice cream and one topping ran us $5.40. Not the most expensive ice cream on The Strip, but not a bargain either. (A triple scoop runs $9.) Hey, somebody has to pay for this prime location.

Blvd. Creamery

It’ll do in a pinch.

There were lots of other sweet treats to choose from as well, things like cookies and even some fancy Rice Krispie Treats.

Blvd. Creamery

‘Sup, Pinterest?

Again, there’s some great outdoor seating, perfect for relaxing and people-watching.

Blvd. Creamery

Sit outside Blvd. Creamery and you’re guaranteed to see some huge jugs. Well, they’re either jugs or giant bingo daubers. Either way, good times.

Enjoy a few more photos from Blvd. Creamery at Monte Carlo.

Blvd. Creamery at Monte Carlo

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4. Yusho Japanese Grill & Noodle House

Yusho Restaurant opened April 9, 2014, with little fanfare.

Yusho Las Vegas

Yusho is Japanese for “winner.” Yes, we know how to use the Internet.

The new restaurant features Japanese street food, and is said to offer “the essential flavors of seasonal meats, fish and vegetables intensified over a fiery grill.”

Yusho Monte Carlo

We’re pretty sure they weren’t open yet, so don’t get all judgmental.

Yusho has a considerable pedigree. It was created by Matthias Merges who was Executive Chef at Chicago’s Charlie Trotter’s for 14 years.

Yusho

Again, outdoor seating is available. It’s a thing.

See the restaurant’s full menu.

 

5. Sambalatte

It’s a coffee joint, but it’s Vegas, so it can’t just be a coffee joint, of course.

Sambalatte, instead, describes itself this way: “From the moment you arrive at the Sambalatte Torrefazione Coffee Lounge, you realize you have entered an environment of sensory immersion. Through meticulous attention to detail, Sambalatte provides an atmosphere that delights the senses.”

Sambalatte

So, yeah, it’s a coffee joint.

Get more fluffery at Sambalatte’s official site.

 

6. The Outdoors

Aside from all the new places to eat and drink at Monte Carlo, what’s really new is the outdoors.

The Park at Monte Carlo

Air. It’s sort of groundbreaking in Las Vegas.

The front of Monte Carlo has had some major work done, including the addition of lots of trees, stone work and water features.

The Park

The aforementioned water feature thingy.

The walkways along Monte Carlo are inviting and many are taking advantage of the ample seating at Blvd. Creamery, Sambalatte and Yusho.

Monte Carlo Las Vegas

A great place to chillax. If people are still chillaxing. We can’t keep up with what people are doing.

A message on the side of Blvd. Creamery perhaps says it best: Sit. Savour. Socialize.

Sambalatte

We’re pretty sure a European did this engraving.

A sticking point, of course, is that “Sit. Savour. Socialize” sign doesn’t include another important “S” word in Las Vegas: Spend.

We aren’t quite convinced the proliferation of tree-lined outdoor spaces will translate into more business in casinos. Unless that’s not the goal. And if it’s not, what is the goal? Guess we’ll have to wait and see where all this outside takes us!

The Park

Trees for the nature-lovers, handrails for the liquor-lovers.

In any event, kudos to Monte Carlo for bringing together a diverse mix of new venues, as well as thoroughly transforming its facade and giving guests new things to see and do.