Monthly Archives: October 2016

The Pub, Street of Dreams and Pool Close at Monte Carlo to Make Way for Park MGM

The transition of Monte Carlo to Park MGM has begun in earnest with the closing of The Pub, the hotel’s pool and Street of Dreams shopping promenade.

Monte Carlo Street of Dreams

Break out the Kleenex! And not for the usual reason you break out Kleenex when you’re on the Internet, perv.

Naturally, we poked our nose in to check on the progress of the rebrand.

The Street of Dreams shopping area was eerily quiet, although lots of guests still walk through the rows of closed shops on their way to the tram for Aria and Bellagio.

Monte Carlo shops closed

It’s like “The Omega Man.” (Millennial translation: It’s like “I Am Legend.”)

Yes, all the shops in the Street of Dreams have left the building, including Starbucks and the Big Chill Bar, at least one of those we wish we’d have gotten a slushy drink from, because slushy drinks.

Monte Carlo shops closed

These two weren’t the best roommates, anyway.

Here’s a little walk-through of the closed Street of Dreams. Yes, we refer to it as the “Field of Dreams” at one point. We didn’t say all the liquor options at Monte Carlo had closed, did we?

By far, our favorite closure is that of a gift shop called MC Essentials, mainly because irony is the birth canal whence we were spawned. Or something.

Monte Carlo shops closed

Define “essential.”

For many, the closing of The Pub is the most bittersweet element of the changes going on at Monte Carlo. Unfortunately, capturing photos of The Pub would have involved a security breach, so we can’t share any here.

The Pub closed

You. Are so. Gullible.

Here’s another photo, just to ensure you have time to bid farewell to a beloved Las Vegas watering hole. A watering hole, we should add, which will always occupy a special place in our heart because that’s where we met and hung out for hours with the members of Wang Chung. We are not making this up.

Monte Carlo The Pub closed

Oh, great, now there’s a seat available.

Just outside, the Monte Carlo pool has closed and it already in the process of being tore up real good. Which is the technical term for it in the demolition world, probably.

Monte Carlo pool closed

You just got spared some melanoma. You’re welcome.

Guests of Monte Carlo still have access to a pool, it’s just at MGM Grand.

The closures of The Pub, the pool and the Shops We Never Visited Because Shopping is Boring are part of a $450 million rebrand of Monte Carlo by MGM Resorts. As mentioned, the new hotel will be called Park MGM. The resort will also have a hotel-within-a-hotel, NoMad Las Vegas.

The renovations and rebrand will be finished in 2018, and will bring lots of new offerings to the former Monte Carlo, including an Eataly marketplace, whatever that might actually be.

We really, really like sharing news about the rebrand of Monte Carlo because we wrote about it a year before anyone else. In the parlance of Las Vegas blogs, neener-neener.

If you’re looking for clues about what’s to come at Park MGM, look no further than the Monte Carlo’s exterior. The hotel has telegraphed its new look by painting a section of the building in what we assume with be Park MGM’s color scheme.

Monte Carlo Park MGM

Easiest security breach, ever.

Yes, we broke out the big lens. Somebody had to.

Monte Carlo Park MGM

We recommend you keep your curtains closed when staying in a Las Vegas hotel. Just saying.

There’s a lot more coolness to come, and you can rest assured we’ll be all over it like glitter on a stripper.

Or something appropriate.

Like a banana hammock on a Chippendale.

Oh, relax. Like you read this far, anyway.

10 Craps Mistakes Made By First-Time Players

Craps is an absolute blast, and one of the most exciting games in a casino, but it can be intimidating to new players.

We’ve slapped together 10 common craps mistakes made by newbies.

googie 1. Trying to hand cash to a dealer.

Dealers aren’t allowed to take cash from your hand, so simply lay your money on the table. The dealer will give you chips, and you’re ready to stick it to the house.

googie 2. Not holding the dice over the table.

There are lots of rules in casinos, typically intended to either keep people from cheating or employees from stealing. Always keep the dice in sight of the dealers and boxman. We’d explain what a “boxman” is, but it’s not that kind of list.


Want to make $1,000 from a $1 investment? Bet a “hard six.” Hit it three times before you “seven out” and you get a grand!

googie 3. Touching the dice with two hands.

It’s exciting shooting the dice, and if you’re a craps virgin, experienced players are going to love having you shoot the dice, too. Just make sure to only use one hand to shake or throw the dice. Using two hands makes the house nervous (as some cheaters try to switch the dice for loaded ones).

googie 4. Not hitting the back wall.

Throw the dice all the way down, or the dealers will let you hear about it. This ensures each roll is truly random, and there’s no funny business (sometimes called “dice control” or “precision shooting”) going on.

Craps pyramids

Just look for these bad boys at the opposite end of the table, and hit them with the dice. No pressure.

googie 5. Not knowing the chip denomination colors.

We saw this one at a downtown casino recently, and it was adorable. Before you begin play, make sure you know the colors associated with each denomination of chip. Red chips, for example, are typically worth $5. Green are worth $25, and so on. This helps a lot when a helpful dealer says, “If you’d like to bet on 6 and 8, I’ll need $12.” Otherwise, chaos.

googie 6. Holding a drink over the table.

Yes, people sometimes drink when they gamble. That leads to spills, and the felt on table games is especially vulnerable. So, take a sip and place your drink on the special “rail” down below (and don’t forget to tip your waitress). The chip rail is on top, by the way, with ample room for your winnings.

Craps the hook

See the drink rail? It’ll keep your cocktail out of harm’s way.

googie 7. Dangling hands over the table.

Seasoned gamblers are very superstitious, especially craps players. Avoid their hard stares by keeping your hands out of the way of the dice. Hands are better put to use clapping in support of hot shooters.

googie 8. Shouting out late bets.

“Get your bets in early!” is a common saying among dealers. Waiting until the last minute to make a bet can cause confusion and delays at the table. Make your bets when the dice are in the middle of the table, before they’re pushed to the shooter.

googie 9. Mistaking dealer placed bets for self-serve.

Some craps bets are made directly by players, and others are made by the dealers. For the most part, anything within arm’s reach is your responsibility. Otherwise, set your chips in the middle of the table (the area marked “Come” is a good spot), and tell the dealer your bet. If you’re confused about which bets are which, just watch and ask questions. You’ll find other players and dealers are very helpful. Note: It’s best not to ask lots of questions during a hot roll. You’ll mess with the mojo.

craps mistakes

Craps tip: Don’t bet the Big 6 and 8. The same bet pays more if you “place” those numbers with the dealer. You’re welcome.

googie 10. Saying “seven” at the table.

Speaking of mojo, this is one of the worst transgressions a new craps player can make. Don’t say the word “seven” out loud at the craps table. Our hands are actually shaking just typing that word. Part of the fun of craps is learning the rituals of the game, the jargon, the ridiculous rules and superstitions. This isn’t one of the ridiculous ones, by the way. Don’t say “seven”! Just trust us, we are a Las Vegas blog.

Now that you know some of the gaffs new craps players make, you can avoid them and take part in one of the most thrilling casino games, ever.

Remember to have fun stick to the basics of the game when you’re first starting out.

Catch a hot roll and you could reach legend status in a mere three to four hours. Actual results may vary.

Two Things on The Strip Making Us Smile Right Now

It’s the little things that count, and two wee things on The Strip are making us smile right now.

For months, we’ve publicly bemoaned the tacky Dick’s Last Resort sign on the front of Excalibur.

Dick's Last Resort

We don’t have enough palms or faces.

Well, miracles never cease in Las Vegas, because the Dickish sign has been removed.

The now-blank space used to play host to a Merlin statue, but if rumors about a rebrand of Excalibur turn out to be true, he won’t be back. We’d rather see nothing than something nauseating up there.

Excalibur facade

Merlin the magician has (wait for it) disappeared.

Next, we’ve also spent months whining about the state of the pink elephant at the Diamond Inn Motel, very near the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign and across from Mandalay Bay.

Las Vegas pink elephant

Somebody looks like they’ve been rode hard and put up wet. Which is possibly a horse thing, but whatever.

Well, the owners of the motel finally ponied up for a repair, and the pink elephant is back to being ready for its roadside attraction close-up.

Pink elephant

Back in the pink! (Millennial translation: The pink elephant is lit.)

Las Vegas is full of surprises! And shrimp. But mostly that first thing.

Owners of The D, Golden Gate Acquire Key Parcel Downtown

Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of The D and Golden Gate casinos, have acquired a coveted parcel of land in downtown Las Vegas, this time from casino giant Boyd Gaming.

The land is located between Plaza Las Vegas and Main Street Station, just across from the closed Las Vegas Club, a site where the Stevens plan to build a Strip-style resort, currently being referred to as “18 Fremont.” (Recently, Derek Stevens was asked about likely names for the new resort, and he said, “Grandissimo is in the lead, but only because we haven’t come up with any others yet.”)

Here’s a look at the site, a coveted location downtown, and critical to plans for 18 Fremont.

Stevens downtown parcel

Sort of a blank slate. Las Vegas has been known to do some interesting things with its blank slates.

At the moment, the parcel in question is essentially an empty lot, but is home to two vintage train cars, an attraction viewed by upwards of 14 people each month.

One car is The Blackhawk, the private car used by Buffalo Bill. The other is The Cascade, from the 1980s. We trust a sale of the train cars is already in the works. You know who to call, classic train nerds.

Stevens parcel 18 Fremont

The train! The train! (Millennial translation: It’s a “Fantasy Island” pun.)

Here’s a look at the lot and the trains, because that’s how we roll.

So, what’s the big deal about an empty lot?

For one thing, it provides many more options for the new resort at 18 Fremont. The lot could provide much-needed space for parking or other infrastructure, but specific plans have not been announced. It’s unlikely the hotel itself, or the casino, would be extended across Main Street. Its expected one of the Las Vegas Club towers will be imploded in mid-2017 (“between May and September”), the other tower is likely to have floors added. The cost of the new resort is expected to surpass $100 million.

Furthermore, as mentioned, this has been a closely-held piece of land for years. (Main Street Station opened as Holiday International in 1978. It became the Park Hotel and Casino in 1987.) Boyd purchased the hotel in 1993.) Dozens of offers have been made on the parcel over the decades, but Boyd officials have always declined. The approval of the sale by Boyd Gaming signals a belief the new resort will “lift all the boats” downtown.

In fact, some speculate many of the renovations happening at the three Boyd resorts downtown (The Cal, Fremont and Main Street Station) are in anticipation of the influx of new business as the new resort comes online. Yeah, it’s that big a deal.

Las Vegas Club

The former baseball-themed Las Vegas Club.

Following the purchase of the Las Vegas Club, the Stevens also acquired the Glitter Gulch Strip Club, Mermaids casino, and two retail spaces (which nobody ever thought would sell, frankly, and which could have been a major thorn in the side for developers of the new resort).

Those combined, strategic purchases mean an entire block of prime Fremont Street real estate can now be devoted to the new resort.

Buffalo Bill Cody car

Teddy Roosevelt, Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill slept here. Which we now can never unsee.

The acquisition of the land between Plaza and Main Street Station caps off an impressive set of investments in downtown Las Vegas, unprecedented since Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project went on a real estate buying spree totaling $100 million.

Let’s do a run-down of the journey so far.

googie Derek and Greg Stevens first invested in Golden Gate, and they now own it outright.

Golden Gate

What, we were going to share a photo of the exterior of the Golden Gate? Do you know this blog at all?

googie Next, they purchased Fitzgerald’s and turned it into The D Las Vegas after a $22 million overhaul.

googie In 2013, the Stevens purchased the abandoned Clark Count courthouse for $10 million. The building was demolished and the site is now the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center.

Downtown courthouse

The courthouse wasn’t imploded, but a tower of the former Las Vegas Club probably will be due to its dense construction materials. Expect hoopla.

googie The Stevens then were the sole bidders for downtown’s Bridger Building. It was purchased for $2.7 million. The building will be used for office space and will serve as a distribution center for the Stevens downtown casinos.

googie Then, the Las Vegas Club was purchased for a rumored $40 million from Tamares Group, who also operate the Plaza Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Club closed at midnight, Aug. 19, 2015.

Las Vegas Club

The former Las Vegas Club gift shop. And casino. And likely CVS, until Derek Stevens saved the day. Long story.

googie Next, the purchase of Girls of Glitter Gulch, Mermaids and La Bayou were acquired, all in one pop. They closed on June 27, 2016. It’s expected the La Bayou site will be used to expand the adjacent Golden Gate’s casino.

googie The Stevens then closed on a small but pivotal deal involving two small retail shops. The small stores (0.08 acres, to be specific) between Mermaids and Glitter Gulch were purchased from businessman Haim Gabay for $13.5 million. Funds from that purchase were, in turn, used to purchase the Bonanza Gift Shop on Oct. 21, 2016.

Fremont storefronts

That’s not a typo, $13.5 million. The courthouse purchase gave the Stevens an entire city block, for $10 million.

With this most recent purchase of the land between Plaza and the Ogden Ave. underpass (for $7.5 million), it’s clear the Stevens are in it for the long haul, and they have big, juicy plans for Fremont Street and beyond. (And by “beyond,” we mean that if you heard some of the rumors circulating, your mind would be blown. There’s much more to come.)

Details for the new resort at 18 Fremont haven’t been revealed yet, but Derek Stevens drops lots of hints in an early episode of our podcast. It could be 2019 before the new 18 Fremont resort opens its doors.

There’s been some buzz Stevens hired five architectural design firms to draw up plans for the new resort. Unlike most searches, however, the firms were paid for their work up front, so Stevens owns the intellectual property and could cherry pick the best ideas from each proposal. Which gives us warm, throbbing feelings about what’s in store.

It’s been amazing to watch as these acquisitions have unfolded, and we look forward to seeing what’s next with bated breath. Which, we fully acknowledge, is a weird thing for breath to be, but we defy you to find gum in a Las Vegas casino gift shop.

Full disclosure: Our day job is in marketing at Fremont Street Experience. The D, Golden Gate, Main Street Station, The Cal and Fremont are partner casinos of Fremont Street Experience. Our opinions are our own, like them or not.

Harley-Davidson Cafe Unloads Memorabilia Prior to Closing

As first reported here, Harley-Davidson Cafe on The Strip is closing Oct. 31, 2016. On the way out, the restaurant will be auctioning off its memorabilia, much of it related to (wait for it) motorcycles.

All the items up for auction are listed on a liquidation site, Nellis Auctions.

Harley-Davidson Cafe memorabilia

The Harley-Davidson Cafe has been on The Strip for 19 years, so that means everything is at least halfway to being an antique.

Bidding has already started, and ends Oct. 28, 2016. Anything purchased during the auction has to be removed from the restaurant by Oct. 29. Here’s more information.

The memorabilia up for auction ranges widely, from an autographed photo of Cher on a Harley to a Bon Jovi-signed guitar, celebrity-signed motorcycle gas tanks and even a prop motorcycle used in “Easy Rider.”

All the items up for auction have minimum bids, but most are ridiculously low, so get in the game at the official auction site and take home a piece of Harley, and Vegas, history.

Turmeric Flavors of India Opens, Poised to Be the Next Big Thing in Downtown Dining

The downtown Las Vegas restaurant scene has been booming in recent years, and the new Turmeric Flavors of India is destined to join the ever-growing list of must-try eateries,
mainly because it’s flipping amazing.

Turmeric Flavors of India

Fun fact: Turmeric Flavors of India is built on the site of a former motel pool. Granted, we may not have a firm grasp of the definition of “fun.”

Turmeric Flavors of India is one of the most-anticipated Las Vegas restaurant openings in recent memory, probably because it’s taken the place so long to arrive! We’d nearly given up, but now we’re happy to report it was well worth the wait.

Turmeric Indian food downtown

Garage door-style windows roll up for some downtown atmosphere. Which isn’t nearly as cringe-inducing a thought as it used to be.

Turmeric Flavors of India, which definitely needs a shorthand version of its name, has hit the ground running while swinging for the fences and firing on all cylinders. Let’s just say we’re as good at mixing metaphors as Turmeric is at producing exceptional dishes that are creative twists on classic Indian fare.

The new restaurant offering on Fremont Street sits across from the Downtown Container Park. It’s a challenging location, but not when you serve up dishes like the ones you’ll find on the Turmeric menu. Whether you walk, bike, drive or jet ski there, you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll love. (Let us know how the jet ski thing goes.)

What’s more, much of the food isn’t just delicious, it’s also (gasp) healthy and possibly (yikes) vegetarian. Don’t have a freak-out, just have more of the mind-blowing naan.

Turmeric Flavors of India Las Vegas

Naan is like foreplay. It’s better with someone else in the room. Or something.

The aforementioned naan is both glorious and dangerous. Owner and chef Ritesh Patel said he tried dozens of variations before landing on the recipe, and it shows.

As far as we know, Turmeric Flavors of India is the only Indian restaurant downtown, and the only one of its kind we’ve found in Las Vegas.

The food is both familiar and new, and every dish has approximately 48 ingredients we’ve never hear of before. Then again, we don’t get out much.

We tried the lunch menu first. There’s a somewhat limited selection, but better to do a few dishes right than a lot of dishes meh. Which Turmeric should totally steal for their advertising.

Turmeric Indian Fremont Street

Most people pronounced “Turmeric” as “tu-mer-ic.” Feel free to donate the additional “r” to Goodwill.

It’s obvious right off the bat Turmeric is going for an elevated take on traditional Indian dishes. When we saw our Chicken Tikka, we nearly had a meltdown (we were probably thinking of chicken tikka masala).

A simple, light dish with all the flavors you’d expect from this Indian favorite.

Turmeric Fremont Street Vegas

Make sure to fully exploit any accompanying sauces or dips. The flavors will dance on your tongue like an Indian folk dancer.

We then dove into the Aaloo Papdi Chaat (spiced potato, garbanzo, wheat crisp, cilantro, tamarind and yogurt chutney), which we assume translates as “similar to a salad, lughead.”

Turmeric Fremont Indian

We strive not to eat things we can’t pronounce, but that would limit our diet to pizza and our words.

Turmeric really kicks things up with its dinner menu. Every dish is a complex mixture of nuanced ingredients completely lost on us because we are not a food critic, but we know what we like.

To start off, we became enamored with a salmon dish, and we are not really a fish person. Green pea relish, puffed rice and potato chaat. What’s not to love?

Turmeric Indian Vegas

Yes, it looks like art. As everyone knows, the best art is the edible kind.

As if this weren’t already enough to prove how impressive Turmeric is, we even had the grilled eggplant. Yes, voluntarily. The dish features peanut-sesame crust, tamarind chutney and labne, and yet we loved it, anyway.

Turmeric India downtown Vegas

If Turmeric can get us to eat eggplant, all things are possible.

You know miracles never cease because we also tried the stuffed Portobello mushroom. Probably because it looked like a stuffed potato skin. We’re pretty sure we’re now a de facto vegetarian. Except for the meat dishes. Hey, let’s not get bogged down in details.

Turmeric Indian food

Yes, we enjoyed a mushroom floating on something green. Told you all things are possible.

Turmeric Flavors of India has a signature cocktail menu, of course. It’s downtown Las Vegas, after all.

Here’s a look.

Turmeric cocktail menu

The exact moment when note-taking ends and award-winning blogging begins.

As with the food, the cocktails were masterfully prepared and consistently tasty.

We have a vague recollection the cocktail below is the Milk & Honey, but don’t make any bets on it. What you can bet on, though, is this is a certified panty-dropper cocktail, in the finest tradition of panty-dropper cocktails.

Turmeric cocktail

How do you say “We respectfully request a diving board” in Hindi?

We also knocked back the Darjeeling Limited, with Beefeater 24, a house darjeeling tea syrup, fresh lemon and egg white.

Turmeric cocktail

Ridiculously dropworthy.

But wait, there’s more.

Turmeric strives to be more than just an Indian restaurant, and has a second floor bar that will have a Kamasutra style (and we seem to remember it will be called Kama). Given it was inspired by a book about sex, we’ll be interested to see how Kama is positioned. If you get our drift.

Turmeric Kama downtown

The upper deck’s a work-in-progress, but there’s a lot of potential for entertainment, private parties and bottle service. Kidding. It’s downtown. People will throw things at you if you pull that bottle service crap.

Turmeric Flavors of India is fully embracing its downtown location, and will mix it up with live shows and a variety of events, the specifics of which we have completely forgotten. Thanks a lot, Darjeeling Limited.

Turmeric Indian food downtown

You’ll know it when you see it.

There will be more details to come, but the Kama patio is destined to become a wildly popular new diversion on Fremont Street, and the best possible spot to watch the fire-breathing praying mantis across the street at the Container Park.

Container Park mantis

“Fire-breathing praying mantis” wasn’t just a literary device.

In case it wasn’t abundantly clear, we absolutely adore this new offering, and we predict Turmeric Flavors of India is going to win over legions of fans with its inspired menu, fine dining food quality and unpretentious vibe.

We chatted with chef Ritesh Patel, so look for the interview in the next installment of the highly overrated Vital Vegas Podcast.

Turmeric Flavors of India chef

Our new food idol, chef Ritesh Patel.

In the meantime, check out more photos of Turmeric Flavors of India, and put it on the agenda for your next visit to downtown Las Vegas.

Turmeric Flavors of India

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