Monthly Archives: December 2015

Budweiser Beer Park is Brewing at Paris Las Vegas

Construction of the soon-to-debut Beer Park by Budweiser is well under way at Paris Las Vegas, so we stopped by to check on the progress.

Beer Park Las Vegas

Yes, a beer garden has been tried in this exact location before, but anything worth doing is worth doing again, especially if it’s on someone else’s dime.

The new Beer Park is located on a 10,000-square-foot deck above Hexx Kitchen & Bar, previously the Sugar Factory.

Beer Park will have 100 draft, can and bottle beers to choose from, 100% of which this blog will not be having because we have never actually had a beer. No, we are not Mormon, we just think beer smells sort of unpleasant.

Beer Park by Budweiser

A closer look, because chances are you’re not really reading our story all that closely, so photos have to do the heavy lifting. Whatever.

Still, we understand there are others who enjoy beer quite a bit, sometimes to the point of jumping headlong into the canal at Venetian and suffering serious head injuries. Hey, different strokes.

Paris Beer Park

You’re still just looking at the pictures, even though we pointed it out. What is your deal, anyway?

Beer Park will boast an outdoor grill and picnic tables, as well as dozens of televisions, because it’s the law.

Here’s a look at what Beer Park will look like when it opens in January 2016.

Beer Park Paris Las Vegas

We are obligated to stop being snarky for one second to say how nice this looks.

Here’s a look inside the Beer Park by Budweiser.

Beer Park by Budweiser

No, we did not Photoshop all the African-Americans out of this image.

Beer Park will be going for a ball park, tailgate party, neighborhood park picnic vibe.

Beer Park at Paris will “encourage socializing” with games like pool, bean bag toss and darts. So, Beer Park will be like Gold Spike, but without the “Real World” cast and reliable wifi.

Beyond the beer, food will be available, including by roaming carts. Meats will be made on a custom Budweiser Beechwood Grill that infuses the flavor of beer into the aforementioned meats. Which, we take it, the folks at Beer Park intended to be an appealing in some way.

Beer Park will feature a new takeaway counter, replacing the former walk-up slushy dispensary, Liquid Sugr. Will you find a photo of the former Liquid Sugr on any other blog? Of course not. Do you actually care if you see one? Of course not, but that’s hardly the point.

Liquid Sugr

This photo of Liquid Sugr was taken during the economic downturn, when hotels could not afford all the necessary vowels.

Here’s a look at the former Liquid Sugr now.

Beer Park by Budweiser

A spiral staircase will take guests up to Beer Park. Watching intoxicated guests descend that staircase as they leave may very well end up becoming the greatest Las Vegas spectacle since Siegfried and Roy.

What else do we know about Beer Garden?

Beer Garden will have a rectangular bar seating 80 people and a dining room accommodating 200 guests, the vast majority of them arguing passionately about various sports.

Beers will presumably be served at precisely 31 degrees, said to be the optimal temperature for Budweiser. There will also be cold “plates” at each seat of the bar to keep beers cold, although this should not be a problem in the winter months as temperatures in Las Vegas dips to an average low of 34 degrees in December.

Beer Park assures, however, customers will be comfy both during the winter and summer thanks to misters and heaters.

Beer Park

Hey, it’s a security breach, so we’re making the most of it.

Apparently, there will be gambling at Beer Park at Paris, as well as a DJ and VIP area.

Beer Park will be open from lunch to late night, then will transition into a bar setting for those 21 and older after 10:00 p.m. Find out more at the official Web site, BeerPark.com, a domain name for which we’re thinking Budweiser or Caesars Entertainment (owners of Paris Las Vegas) spent a metric ass-ton.

While we were checking out the Beer Park construction, we had to also check in on the construction next door. That was a huge mistake, of course.

The CVS at Bally’s continues to grow, threatening to swallow Bally’s completely.

Bally's Las Vegas

At first we thought it might be benign, now we see it’s malignant.

Sorry to put a damper on the excitement of the Beer Park, but seriously, it’s unclear whether building this CVS is better or worse than the 1980 hotel fire at this site that claimed the lives of 87 people.

Bally's Las Vegas CVS

The CVS at Bally’s Las Vegas is a triumph of commerce over have a clue.

So, by comparison, Beer Park is a revelation and we can’t wait for it to open!

Besides, you know there’s going to be some enthusiastic cornholing going on at Beer Park by Budweiser, and we wouldn’t miss that for the world.

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Uber is Operating at McCarran Airport, It’s a Pretty Big Deal

It’s taken some time, but ride-sharing service Uber is now operating at the Holy Grail of Las Vegas transportation hubs, McCarran International Airport.

McCarran is one of the busiest airports in the country, and has long been the exclusive domain of Sin City’s powerful taxi companies. No longer. Las Vegas visitors now have more transportation options than ever, and the passengers we’ve talked to absolutely love it.

Uber

Riders are encouraged to rate their Uber drivers, and if a driver’s rating drops below 4.6 (out of 5), their career with Uber is kaput.

Uber’s main ride-sharing competition, Lyft, also operates at McCarran Airport.

The two companies met heavy resistance when they first came to town. The cab companies freaked out, and government officials didn’t know what to do about these disruptive businesses.

In time, though, reason prevailed, and riders have been enjoying convenient, reasonably-priced transportation around Las Vegas since September 2015.

The cab companies seem to realize Uber and Lyft aren’t going to make their businesses crumble merely by merit of their presence. Ride-sharing services are shaking things up and causing taxi companies reconsider some of their business practices and pricing policies, and it’s about time.

Uber Lyft sign

Uber and Lyft have been working with hotels on The Strip to see how red they can make the faces of cab drivers. Our recommendation to cabbies: “Do better.”

Passengers can summon Uber service via the company’s free app. See more on Uber’s official Web site.

Visitors taking an Uber to the airport will specify their airline and the Uber driver will drop them curbside on the departures level of their terminal.

For those taking an Uber from the airport, the rider selects their terminal in the Uber app. Uber drivers can pick up at McCarran in designated areas. For Terminal 1, the pick-up area is Level 2M of the public parking garage. For Terminal 3, guests must go to the valet level of the public parking garage.

Give Uber a try and let us know about your experience! We have heard nothing but good things about Uber and Lyft since they began operating in Las Vegas (beyond the occasional grumblings of some long-suffering, long-hauling cabbies, of course), so we’re big fans of this tectonic shift in how ground transportation works in Las Vegas.

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Bellagio Conservatory Kicks the Holidays Into High Gear With Lavish Winter Display

If you’re feeling holiday spirit-challenged, we recommend a visit to the free Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens.

The Conservatory has unveiled its winter display for 2015, featuring enough creativity and whimsy to warm the heart of even the most die-hard devotee of humbuggery.

Bellagio Conservatory winter 2015

The Bellagio’s Christmas display nearly stunned the snark out of us. “Nearly” being the operative term.

Fans of the Bellagio Conservatory will find a number of familiar elements, but there’s always something new to see at this beloved attraction.

The centerpiece of the Bellagio’s winter display is the 42-foot white fir tree. Don’t get all bent out of shape, it’s faux fir.

Bellagio Conservatory Las Vegas

We kid. The tree is real, shipped in from Mt. Lassen, California. The tree weighs 6,800 pounds, more or Lassen.

The gargantuan tree, easily the most stunning in Las Vegas, has about 2,500 ornaments and 7,000 lights.

Other tried-and-true elements of the holiday display are frolicking polar bears. We suspect the polar bears aren’t going anywhere given the sponsorship deal Bellagio has struck with Coca-Cola.

Bellagio Conservatory polar bear

See all the inappropriate jokes we’re not telling? It’s the Christmas spirit!

The Coca-Cola advertising is done with class, however, and nobody going to begrudge Bellagio for finding a partner to help offset the cost of the producing this winter wonderland in the middle of the desert.

The Coca-Cola partnership once again has a philanthropic component. When guests share a Conservatory photo using the hashtag #HollyJollyVegas, Coca-Cola will donate a buck to Toys for Tots (up to $25,000). It’s hard to hate on Capitalism too much when kids get toys during the holidays.

Bellagio Conservatory

Aren’t you feeling super guilty about global warming right about now?

Each of the polar bears is made with thousands of white carnations. The cubs use 5,000 carnations, and the mother has 12,000.

Conservatory veterans will also recognize the 14-foot toy soldiers.

Bellagio Conservatory toy soldier

Dude, lighten up, it’s not Buckingham Palace.

We also love the working toy train running in endless circles.

One of our favorite Easter eggs in the winter display is the pair video screens showing live video from a camera affixed to the toy train. The screens are located elsewhere in the exhibit, and guests are consistently delighted when they realize what the screens are showing.

Bellagio Conservatory

One of the train camera video displays. We probably should’ve said “spoiler alert.” Then again, this whole blog is sort of a spoiler. You’ll live.

A snow tunnel has made its return, perfect for a photo op. The tunnel is constructed so that “snowflakes” move within the tunnel walls.

Bellagio Conservatory Christmas 2015

Sorry, but “Die Hard 2” sort of wrecked icicles for everybody.

Also in the new winter display are a collection of crowd-pleasing penguins, several of which clearly have a better fashion sense than this Las Vegas blog. Then again, just about everyone does.

Bellagio Conservatory

We assume this, too, is faux. Don’t make us cry penguin tears, Bellagio.

Beyond the returning favorites, new surprises abound.

The house made of chocolate is out, but an animated rocking horse is in (see below).

There are also two 12-foot snow globes. Those are huge globes, even by Las Vegas exotic dancer standards. Yes, in fact, we have to ruin everything. Get used to it.

Bellagio Conservatory

National Finals Rodeo is in town, so you can bet some cowboys have been eyeballing that horse, bigtime.

Overhead bells used in previous displays have been replaced by colorful, 10-foot stockings.

There’s also a 12-foot, animated jack-in-the-box.

Bellagio Conservatory

Or, more accurately, a harlequin-in-the-box, because Las Vegas appreciates alternative lifestyles.

While many of the props used in the Bellagio Conservatory’s winter display don’t involve flowers (an intriguing departure from past displays, and one we suspect could be a cost-conserving measure, it’s a Conservatory after all), there are still a lot of flowers.

According to the Bellagio, there are 34,000 poinsettias (our favorite dog, too), azaleas (love her music), cyclamen (our favorite lady part) and Ottowa mums (who raise the most polite kids, ever).

Bellagio Conservatory Christmas 2015

Everyone’s a child again! So, yeah, sort of smelly and loud, but in a good way!

Unless we missed it, it appears the live music component of the display has been nixed this year. Again, the exhibit appears to be trimming more than just its 750 plants and shrubs.

The Bellagio’s holiday display runs through Jan. 3, 2016.

Bellagio Conservatory

Experts believe penguins survived the extinction of the dinosaurs 60 million years ago. Who’s the comic relief now, dinosaurs?

The winter display is one of five seasonal themes at Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens (here’s the official site), with the others being Chinese New Year, spring, summer and fall.

Bellagio Conservatory

On your way out, stop by the hotel lobby where there’s whimsy all year round.

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens continues to be one of the great free attractions in Las Vegas, and this year’s holiday display is already drawing huge crowds.

Bellagio Conservatory Christmas

Don’t be surprised if your heart grows three sizes during your visit. It’ll be uncomfortable, but totally worth it.

Walking through the Bellagio Conservatory at this time of year is a magical experience. It’s a chance to reconnect with our childhood, to feel the anticipation of Christmas morning, to be filled once again with the wonder and spirit of the holidays.

And we’re not even going to ruin it with a stupid joke. Because we’re sure as hell not going to risk ending up on anyone’s “naughty” list this late in the game. Sorry, heck. Sure as heck.

More cheer below!

Bellagio Conservatory Christmas 2015

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There Are Signs of Life at Alon Las Vegas

Things are happening at the site of the future Alon Las Vegas resort, and new signage now adorns the fence outside the project’s construction site.

Alon Las Vegas

And you thought you’d be able to carry out your sign installment duties in peace. Silly sign installment guys.

There have been rumblings of minor landscaping activity at the Alon site, but the new signs are the first real glimpse into what might be in store at the highly-anticipated resort.

Alon Las Vegas

Who has brass ones big enough to advertise “less service”? Alon, that’s who.

Alon, pronounced “AY-lawn,” sits on the site formerly occupied by the New Frontier, across from the Wynn and Encore, and between Fashion Show Mall and another project slowly taking shape, Resorts World.

Alon Las Vegas is being developed by Australian bajillionaire James Packer and his Crown Resorts (Crown gets a shout-out on the new signage).

Alon’s CEO is Andrew Pascal, a former bigwig at Wynn Resorts, and investment firm Oaktree Capital Management is also involved, although we were too busy to find out how, possibly due to our drinking and gambling duties. We’re pretty sure Oaktree Capital is bankrolling the project, though. How do you think bajillionaires get to be bajillionaires?

Alon Las Vegas

Alon Las Vegas. Less service, yes, but also less judging about plastic surgery and bralessness.™

Once plans for Alon were announced, it didn’t take long for the project to snatch up a metric ass-ton of Las Vegas talent, and not just because we are always looking for a reason to use the word “snatch.”

Alon grabbed Rob Oseland, for example, an all-around cool cat who was also the President and CEO of SLS Las Vegas. Another big hiring coup for Alon was Wynn nightlife sensation, Jesse Waits.

Alon Las Vegas

Alon Las Vegas. Leave your preconceptions at home, like the one about ruffies being just a guy thing.™

Alon Las Vegas will presumably have two hotel towers, a VIP and resort tower. There will also be a 126,000-square-foot water feature. There will also be a nightclub, a performance venue, movie theater, spa and meeting space.

Oh, and there will also be a “botanical chapel,” which we can only assume will be a place for exotic plants to drunkenly make legally-binding mistakes they’ll regret for the rest of their lives.

Alon Las Vegas

Alon Las Vegas. So flush with cash, we splurged on a macron over our “a” rather than one of those lame umlauts.™

The seemingly stock clip-art now outside Alon is a tad ambiguous in terms of illustrating a vision for the resort, but relax, the project has a very concrete concept in mind. Here’s proof: “Central to our vision for the resort is the careful consideration, creative exploration, detailed definition, and uncompromising execution of the resort experience,” says Andrew Pascal.

So, in layperson terms, “We actually have no clue what Alon is going to be this early in the process, but it’s going to kick ass, so maybe just back up off us, cupcake.” Or something along those lines.

Alon Las Vegas

Alon Las Vegas. Where anorexia isn’t a diagnosis, it’s a badge of honor.™

Given the line-up of talent being assembled at Alon Las Vegas, and the whopping $4 billion it will cost to build, anticipation is at an all-time high.

We love Las Vegas newness, and we can’t wait to learn more about the secretive project in the months to come.

Alon Las Vegas

Here’s a peek over the fence at Alon, looking toward Resorts World. That’s a lot of empty lot.

Alon Las Vegas is expected to open in mid-2018. This blog expects to breach the resort’s security sometime in late 2017.

Update (12/10/15): It’s being reported investor interest in Alon Las Vegas is “diminishing.” Yikes! Read more.

Alon Las Vegas

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Tacos El Gordo Re-Opens on the Las Vegas Strip and All Was Right With the World

Tacos El Gordo has re-opened at its former location on the Las Vegas Strip.

To provide some context, for fans of this popular taco joint, this news is akin to hearing a possible brain tumor was merely a smudge on the X-ray.

Tacos El Gordo

It’s a good bet your salivary glands just perked up like a showgirl’s chimichangas in a walk-in freezer.

Tacos El Gordo closed abruptly in December 2014, the result of an ugly squabble between restaurant ownership and the management of the strip mall where the establishment is located. Tacos El Gordo is just north of the Encore hotel-casino.

While there is another successful Tacos El Gordo location in Las Vegas, the Strip location was especially beloved because, well, drunchies, mainly.

Tacos El Gordo

Let’s get this fiesta started.

When Tacos El Gordo closed, the interior was stripped to the bones, and owners of the restaurant said it would not be back. Thankfully, hatchets were buried, amends were made and one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in Las Vegas is back in business.

Tacos El Gordo

We don’t know who this Al Pastor guy his, but he makes some delicious meat on a vertical rotisserie called a “trompo,” or “spinning top.” Good work, Al!

Because word hasn’t really gotten out about the re-opening of Tacos El Gordo, lines are unusually short. That will change dramatically, possibly by the time you finish reading this sentence.

Tacos El Gordo Las Vegas

A first at Tacos El Gordo. Enjoy it while it lasts.

To honor the return of the much-buzzed-about restaurant, we dined there for the first time, and are pleased to say Tacos El Gordo’s reputation is well-deserved.

As the name Tacos El Gordo suggests, the menu is taco-centric, with most offerings in the $2 range.

Tacos El Gordo Las Vegas Strip

Just save some time and order one of everything.

The meats (mainly beef and pork) are all absolutely succulent. We honestly had no idea what to order, so we let the friendly folks behind the counter decide, and everything exceeded all expectations.

Before it closed, Tacos El Gordo had a bit of a reputation for being illogically laid out, and that remains unchanged in the new iteration. First, guests order at different parts of the counter based upon which meats they’d like.

Then, once the food is prepared, customers take their food to a cashier on the other side of the restaurant to pay. On a busy day, which we expect will be every day once word of the opening spreads, this could lead to some frustration, but the food overshadows any logistical challenges.

Tacos El Gordo

You don’t judge their ordering process and they won’t judge your pronunciation of “pague en la caja.”

The meats are carved or chopped to-order, and the toppings (white onion, cilantro and a green sauce, pictured below) are excellent. The flavors—spicy, savory and sweet—dance across one’s tongue like the graceful arcs of water at the Bellagio fountains. Or something.

If you’re unsure what to include or exclude in your taco, defer to the staff, many of whom appear to be actual Mexicans, which is sort of a plus in a taco joint.

The menu also includes things like Vampiro, Sopes, Mulas and several other words we didn’t recognize. That said, we look forward to trying everything on the menu based on the unforgettable tacos.

Tacos El Gordo

After trying this beef taco, we went back for more, mainly to annoy Donald Trump.

Tacos El Gordo features an interesting, although fairly baffling, lime and radish bar. No, really. We asked what that’s all about, and a cashier let us know sometimes people like radishes. And lime sometimes cuts the heat of the spices in certain flavored meats.

Tacos El Gordo

Radishes are related to wasabi, and a cup of radishes has a mere 19 calories.

With the return of Tacos El Gordo to its former location, the restaurant is sure to regain its reputation as the must-try place for cheap eats on the Las Vegas Strip.

Gracias por regresar, Tacos El Gordo! Unless the Internet translated that incorrectly, then nevermindo.

Tacos El Gordo Returns

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