Monthly Archives: December 2014

Today’s Casino Jargon: “On the Hook” in Craps

At a crowded Las Vegas craps table, things can get crazy. Dealers have developed a shorthand to communicate with each other, including ways of describing where players are positioned at the table.

Sometimes you’ll hear dealers use the term “on the hook.”

This refers to the corners of the craps table, usually the corners on the same side as the “stickman” (the dealer who retrieves the dice, calls out the numbers and places proposition bets).

Craps the hook

Ah, the times we’ve had on the hook in Las Vegas. Which is not also a euphemism. Probably.

Since a player at any of the table’s four corners is said to be “on the hook,” dealers sometimes qualify the term as “inside hook” (corners across the table from the stickman) and “outside hook” (on the same side as the stickman). Learning craps jargon is half the fun of playing. Now you know!

First Look: Tom’s Urban Las Vegas Opens at New York-New York

Officially, Tom’s Urban Las Vegas, a new restaurant and bar offering at New York-New York, opens Dec. 30, 2014 at 11:00 a.m., but a soft opening allowed us to get a jump on the crowds to check out this new casual dining option on The Strip, including its delicious signature cocktails and crowd-pleasing menu.

Tom's Urban

The first Tom’s Urban opened in Denver. We’re happy it came to its senses and headed to Las Vegas, like everyone else.

Once you get past the peculiar name (Tom’s Urban sounds a little like a sentence fragment), the restaurant is pleasingly designed and a welcome departure from the Sporting House sports bar which formerly occupied the Tom’s Urban Las Vegas space.

Here’s a panorama we took of the place that’s nearly too wide for the Internet.

Tom's Urban Las Vegas

Tom’s Urban is open 24 hours a day. Which, based upon the cocktails we had, may not be enough.

The $5.8 million restaurant had us at “four bars.” (There are three inside, one outside. In one restaurant. Because Las Vegas!)

Tom's Urban Las Vegas

In some Asian cultures, four is bad luck. Except as the number relates to bars, of course.

The man behind Tom’s Urban, Tom Ryan, is a fascinating dude, to say the least. He’s the founder of Smashburger, and created stuffed-crust pizza for Pizza Hut and the McGriddle for McDonald’s.

He has an undergraduate degree in food science, a master’s degree in lipid toxicology (the study of fat-induced toxins in the diet) and a Ph.D. in flavor and fragrance chemistry. This blog does not use the word “fascinating” lightly.

Tom's Urban

Tom Ryan is big into sustainability, so we trust some of that wood is reclaimed or whatever the kids are calling it.

Ryan was named one of the “Top 25 Food Entrepreneurs of the Last Quarter Century” by Gourmet Magazine, and founded the Tom’s Urban concept with restaurant financier Rick Schaden in 2012.

Which is all a lot less important to know than Tom’s Urban’s cocktails are awesome.

The signature cocktails at Tom’s Urban come in two sizes, Big ($13) and Tom’s Size ($22). The cocktail names are colorful and include Stripside “Horny” Marg, Area 51 Fireball, WTF, Bacon Bourbon Mary, Bog Trotter and the Taze Me, Bro.

Let’s try some, shall we?

First up is the Sin City Punch with Cruzan light rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, cream of coconut and acai. We have no idea what an “acai” is, but if it helps drinks taste like our Sin City Punch, we’re hoping it runs for President in 2016.

Tom's Urban Las Vegas

The Sin City Punch. We’d call it a “panty-dropper,” but we weren’t wearing any at the time.

The Walk of Shame has Patron Silver tequila, kiwi, lime juice, pineapple juice and agave syrup.

Tom's Urban cocktail

Another “on fleek” cocktail. Hey, you can’t visit a place called Tom’s Urban without also visiting the Urban Dictionary.

Also great was the Skyy High Roller, with Skyy infused ginger vodka, papaya, lychee, lime juice and simple syrup.

Tom's Urban cocktail

We thought at first the lychee thing was a typo. We were wrong. Marking the first time we’ve been wrong since 2003.

Rounding out our cocktail tour was the Cactus Ass Kick, with Almeca Altos Plata tequila, hibiscus syrup, prickly pear and lemonade.

Tom's Urban cocktail

Hibiscus syrup could totally be acai’s running mate in 2016.

Our only disappointment was that we weren’t able to try the restaurant’s much-talked-about spiked shakes as they weren’t available for the soft opening. As if we needed another reason to return after our Cactus Ass Kick.

The Tom’s Urban menu has a little something for everyone. There are burgers, urban street tacos, sandwiches, pizzas, salads and small plates.

Here’s a look at the goodness.

We tried a couple of the small plates, starting with the Ginger Chicken Potstickers, with Seoul dipping sauce. They were tasty and a fine value at $8.

Tom's Urban pot stickers

Potstickers, also known as “guotie,” date back more than four millennia. They’re also known as “Peking ravioli.” People in Peking are, like, “no.”

The Buffalo Chicken Sliders ($13) were equally delectable, with crispy chicken breast, Tom’s buffalo sauce, blue cheese dressing, sliced celery and a mouth-watering, butter-toasted brioche bun.

Tom's Urban sliders

These disappeared quickly, but we have a vague memory of them being amazing.

As a Las Vegas blog, we were obligated to order the Sin City burger ($16.50) with American cheese, fried egg, crispy onions, applewood-smoked bacon and BBQ sauce.

Tom's Urban burger

There are a couple of kinds of ketchup to choose from, Moroccan and Carribbean. The thing they have in common is this blog would not be able to find their countries of origin on a map.

There are so many more menu items we can’t wait to try during our next visit.

Tom Ryan’s description of the menu is a keeper: “Tom’s was designed to bring comfort food forward in a very modern culinary way. People are looking for comfortable nouns but upscale adjectives.”

Tom's Urban dessert

Red velvet cake for dessert. Because there’s no such thing as “full” in Sin City, unless it’s followed by the word “bosom.”

There’s also a fairly extensive breakfast menu, with pancakes, benedicts, omelets, breakfast burritos and more.

Beyond the enticing food and drinks, a stand-out aspect of Tom’s Urban is the bartenders. Gregarious and knowledgeable, they make you feel at home, and when you leave you’ll have made some new friends. Friends with sweet mixology skills. Which are, ultimately, the best kind of friends to have.

Tom's Urban bar

Our favorite bar at Tom’s Urban, despite the fact there are no video poker machines, we whined.

Guests can enter Tom’s Urban from inside or outside the hotel, and it’s right next to the new Shake Shack, another first in Las Vegas.

Both establishment’s have a great view of passersby and New York-New York’s Brooklyn Bridge replica, and once the weather warms up, the restaurant’s patio should do great business.

Tom's Urban Shake Shack

Quite the nexus of Vegas newness right here.

Tom’s Urban may be taking a back seat to its neighbor, Shake Shack, when it comes to buzz at the moment, but Tom’s Urban is going to win over its own legion of fans in short order.

Enjoy more pics from Tom’s Urban Las Vegas, the outstanding new restaurant and bar, sorry, bars, at New York-New York.

Tom's Urban Restaurant Las Vegas

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Shake Shack Las Vegas Is Ready for Strip Debut at New York-New York

Few restaurant openings in Las Vegas have garnered as much buzz as the impending opening of Shake Shack at New York-New York.

The much-anticipated opening finally happens Dec. 29, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.

When we stopped by today, Shake Shack’s construction walls were down, and employees were busily training inside.

Shake Shack Las Vegas

We have to hope nobody puts an eye out.

The first Shake Shack opened in New York City’s Madison Square Park in 2004. The Vegas restaurant faces Las Vegas Boulevard at New York-New York, adjacent to The Park, a new shopping and entertainment promenade. The new restaurant features a 2,500-square-foot patio.

Fun fact: The tabletops at Shake Shack Las Vegas will be made from reclaimed bowling alley lanes. Read more.

Shake Shack will be open from 11:00 a.m. until midnight, Sunday through Thursday and 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Expect a wait once Shake Shack opens. There’s a lot of pent-up demand. Why do people love Shake Shack so much? Apparently, it’s the burgers, Shack sauce, crinkle fries, custard shakes, hot dogs, great customer service, vegetarian options and a secret menu, too. We’re ready to try them all. Except for the vegetarian items, of course. Let’s not go nuts.

“Recycled Percussion” Closes at The Linq, Moving to Planet Hollywood

“Recycled Percussion” performed its last show at The Linq (formerly The Quad, formerly Imperial Palace) on Dec. 25, 2014, after more than 500 shows.

The show announced it will reopen in the Saxe Theater at Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile Shops in March, 2015.

There’s no word yet about what show might take the place of “Recycled Percussion” at The Linq.

Recycled Percussion

In a dramatic opening, the cast of “Recycled Percussion” plays while suspended high over the stage.

“Recycled Percussion” was a mainstay of the solid line-up at The Linq hotel, along with Jeff Civillico’s “Comedy in Action” and Frank Marino’s “Divas Las Vegas.”

“Recycled Percussion” is a surprisingly entertaining show, especially given it features one thing, drumming on a variety of “junk.” (The music has been called “junk rock.”) The performers manage to keep things interesting by presenting a variety of vignettes, and the show is billed as “interactive” because audience members get to drum along with pots and pans.

It’s great the four performers will have a new home for this raucous Las Vegas show.

Merry Christmas From Las Vegas

May your balls be full of cheer this holiday season.

High Roller

We are a blog, not a graphic designer. Clearly.

So, You Think You’re in Las Vegas (Think Again)

Wrap your head around this one: Even when you think you’re in Las Vegas, you’re probably not.

The Strip, the iconic stretch of resorts people most often associate with Las Vegas, doesn’t sit inside the Las Vegas city limits. It’s actually in the less-romantic-sounding “unincorporated Clark County.” Chances are if you’re on The Strip, you’re in a community called Paradise.

This is where comes in. The site can automatically detect your current location, or you can type in an address, and within a few seconds, you’ll know whether you’re in Las Vegas or not. Give it a try.

Las Vegas

We just registered, so don’t even think about it.

Paradise, it turns out, contains McCarran International Airport, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and the bulk of The Strip.

Feel free to use this newfound knowledge to impress hotties at the bar. Just make sure you’re in a bar where hotties are very, very easily impressed.