Monthly Archives: December 2019

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 105: Final Episode of the Decade

This is it. Our final show of the “tens,” or whatever the kids are calling them.

In this relentlessly tedious episode, we take a look back at 2019, an unforgettable year in Las Vegas, sometimes in a good way, even.

Vital Vegas Podcast

Ooh, the Vegas sign, so original.

For starters, we take a long, hard look at how people somehow manage to use the term “long, hard look” without blushing.

We also take a deep, probing look at some of the things that filled 2019 with so much WTF.

We would list some of those awesome things here, but that would involve “remembering what we said” or “listening to the show again,” and we all know that’s not happening. Read them here.

While we wrote about the awesome things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019 on this blog, we didn’t share the stupid and sad things that happened. We saved all that for this episode of the podcast, so strip down to your skivvies and immerse yourself in the glorious schadenfreude. A word, by the way, no one has ever successfully spelled without the use of Google.

Here’s a quick overview of some stupid and sad things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019.

1. “R.U.N.” opened at Luxor. Long story short, it’s a dumpster fire wrapped in a train wreck wrapped in a hot mess.
2. Paper straws became a thing. Even turtles think paper straws suck.
3. Service bartenders were replaced by machines at MGM Resorts casinos.
4. Bleutech Park was announced and our Las Vegas media couldn’t seem to get their arms around the fact it’s a scam.
5. They also seem to believe Virgin’s train project is happening. You might say the year 2019 wasn’t the best for clue-having.
6. Surge pricing in gift shops became a thing. That’s right, no prices tags. Because buying Doritos at casinos should be a gamble, too.
7. Resorts World said it plans to have a nightclub. We predict Kaos.
8. Kaos imploded at Palms.
9. The Forum Shops replaced a gorgeous water feature for a restaurant that is taking 46 years to complete, True Food Kitchen.
10. “Blanc de Blanc” opened and closed at Sahara.
11. The Drew pretended to be a thing. It’s not.
12. All Net Arena pretended to be a thing. It’s not.

There were many, many more stupid things that happened, but our New Year’s resolution is to be more positive and stay in denial whenever possible.

Anyway, thanks for a glorious 2019. Take a listen and help us start 2020 with a bang. Because heaven knows that isn’t in the cards for us this year, if you get our drift.

Chica at Venetian Serves Up Latin Flavors With Feminine Flair

We finally got around to checking out Chica restaurant at Venetian, and this under-appreciated dining destination is as appealing to the palate as it is pleasing to the eyes.

Yes, Chica opened in May 2017, but we are very busy and important.

Let’s take a gander at this seductive eatery, assuming people still take ganders. We, for one, have never seen anyone leave a gander, but we don’t get out all that much.

Chica Venetian restaurant

We sort of want to have a completely consensual relationship with this interior design.

The chef behind Chica is Lorena Garcia.

Garcia is known for competing on “Top Chef Masters,” a series whose entire purpose is pretty much to make those of us who are clueless in the kitchen feel even more clueless. It’s believed Lorena Garcia is the first Latin-American woman to open a restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip, as hard as that is to believe.

Garcia, born and raised in Venezuela, is not only a chef, but a cookbook author and cookware designer. She also designed us some scrumptious food.

Chica Venetian

These empanadas were by far the best, and possibly first, we’ve ever had.

You know the food is good at Chica because we did brunch, and we are not a brunch person.

You also know the food is good if we voluntarily tried the grilled Peruvian octopus. If you’re into food with suction cups, you should try it, too.

Chica Venetian Las Vegas

We would not know an aji amarillo sauce if we landed in a vat of it, but it was tasty nonetheless.

The Dulce De Leche French Toast (translation: milk of the dulce) was great, although next time we’d get the macerated berries on the side as it overwhelmed our favorite part, the bread. It’s not called Macerated Berries Toast, after all.

Chica restaurant Vegas

Fun fact: It’s a myth you can get hairy palms from excessive maceration.

Chica says of itself, the restaurant gives guests “the opportunity to explore the flavors of Latin American cuisine as one culture, with influences from Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, among many more.”

This food gets around. All due respect.

Chica Las Vegas

Chica is home to some world-class guac.

The interior of Chica matches the appeal of the cuisine, and has an irresistible interior design with lots of Latin American flair like ironwork and large pieces of art reflecting the restaurant’s feminine theme.

Chica Venetian

Some restaurants just give good vibe.

The beverages are in plentiful supply as well. We even tried the Some Like It Hot, despite it having zero Captain Morgan. The Some Like It Hot is a margarita with a twist, featuring Dos Armadillos Reposado tequila, lime juice, papaya jam and Scotch bonnet peppers.

Chica also makes some mean Bloody Marys and an excellent margarita. We know how you are.

Chica Vegas

We make no apologies for not remembering which cocktail this is. That’s one of the ways we decide how good a cocktail is.

You may also want to try the mimosa deal⁠—bottomless champagne with a choice of fresh-squeezed juices like orange, guava, grapefruit and pomegranate ($25). Technically, they’re health drinks. Because juices.

If we remember correctly, which is highly unlikely, Chica is located between The Dorsey Cocktail Bar and Yardbird.

Chica Las Vegas Venetian

Es este.

You can check out the various Chica menus on the official site.

Thanks to the team at Chica for hosting a portion of our meal so we could try things we wouldn’t normally. Looking at you, Peruvian suction cups.

There are tons of great dining options inside the Venetian, Palazzo and Grand Canal Shoppes, but Chica is definitely a stand-out.

Flamingo Drops Sweet Renderings for Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse

Flamingo Las Vegas has shared some great-looking renderings for its new restaurant, Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse.

Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse takes up residence in the former Center Cut, Cafe to Go and Diamond Lounge spaces.

Bugsy Meyers Steakhouse Flamingo

When a rendering makes you thirsty, then you realize everything in Vegas does.

The restaurant’s name, of course, makes reference to two infamous mobsters, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and his longtime friend and associate, Meyer Lansky.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Flamingo’s news release about the restaurant doesn’t dive too deep into the history of its namesake crooks.

“Bugsy” Siegel (no one who knew him dared call him that, as the term means “crazy”), was a violent thug with a long history of making money from extortion, bootlegging and gambling rackets. He was connected to at least a dozen murders.

Meyer Lansky knew Seigel from their days in New York’s Lower East side where they ran a floating crap game, then progressed to auto theft, burglary, liquor smuggling and far more serious crimes.

Here’s a fun fact: Meyer Lansky’s real name was Maier Suchowljansky.

Siegel and Lansky ran a murder-for-hire operation, too, but let’s not let the fact these guys were douchebags get in the way of enjoying more details about this beautiful new venue at Flamingo. Remember, Las Vegas was built on short memories (and optimism).

To make the name Bugsy & Meyer’s name even more cringeworthy: Historians believe Bugsy Siegel’s whacking was approved by (wait for it) Meyer Lansky.

Bugsy Meyers Flamingo

According to the official news release, the Lansky family is involved in the restaurant at Flamingo. Awkward, given the whole “douchebag” thing.

At the new restaurant, guests will enter through a “bakery” facade, past a kitchen and dry-aged meat cooler. The meat is dry-aged, not the cooler. Words are hard.

The restaurant will have a variety of atmospheres, including the main bar, patio dining, the main dining room, three private dining rooms and a raw bar. We’re pretty sure the raw bar is pictured below. Why is it raw? It’s in Vegas, if you get our drift.

Bugsy Meyers Steakhouse Flamingo

Great fit for Flamingo, we say.

Vegas fanatics will appreciated that the main dining room will feature vintage photos of the early days of Flamingo and Las Vegas.

Bugsy & Meyers will have a speakeasy and private bar lounge, “The Count Room.”

Bugsy Meyers Flamingo

We intend to spend many bleary hours at this bar.

The cocktail menu will have both classics and originals. Our favorite part: “Rum cocktails will be heavily featured.”

From the renderings, we’d say Caesars Entertainment, owner of Flamingo, has found great partners with designers Studio K Creative and Jonathan Adler.

Studio K Creative has done other projects in Las Vegas, including La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas, Crush at MGM Grand and MB Steak at Hard Rock.

We can’t wait to give Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse a try when it opens in the spring of 2020.

“Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel” to Close at Harrah’s Las Vegas

The long-ailing Elvis tribute show at Harrah’s Las Vegas, “Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel,” is set to close Dec. 30, 2019.

The show showcased images of Elvis, 18 of his hits and “Broadway-style choreography.”

Heartbreak Hotel

For once, this show hasn’t said it’s looking for a new place to dwell.

The Elvis impersonator featured in the show, Eddie Clendening, originated his role while starring in “Million Dollar Quartet.”

There were rumors “Heartbreak Hotel” had struggled for some time, including before it even opened.

The show lasted just eight months. It opened on April 15, 2019.

The show celebrated its 100th performance in August 2019.

While “Elvis Presley’s Heartbreak Hotel” will shutter, Elvis hasn’t completely left the building. Harrah’s is home to Big Elvis, who performs in the hotel’s piano bar.

Some have suggested the demise of “Heartbreak Hotel” is further evidence Broadway-style productions are done in Las Vegas. Yes, we are one of the some. Some figure Elvis is pretty much done in Vegas, too.

“Million Dollar Quartet” closed at Harrah’s in 2016. “Jersey Boys” closed at Paris the same year.

There’s no word about what might replace “Heartbreak Hotel” at Harrah’s. Expect the show to say it’s gearing up for a national tour starting mid-2020.

20 Awesome Things That Happened in Las Vegas in 2019

What’s new in Las Vegas? We’ve got this!

We’ve slapped together a perfunctory list of great things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019, from casino sales to broken records and entertainment news that’ll make you gaga.

Let’s dive into the most awesome things in Las Vegas this past year.

1. Sale of Rio

It took a minute, but our scoop about the Rio being sold was finally confirmed. We’d love to say there are big changes in the works at the ailing resort, but Caesars Entertainment will continue to operate the place for at least the next couple of years. Still, the $516 million sale to Dreamscape Companies provides some hope Rio’s got some life left in her despite years of neglect.

Rio Las Vegas casino

Rio has a new lease on life. The old lease was wrinkled an smelled like the Rio.

2. Vegas Was Invaded by Grasshoppers

It was easily the weirdest Las Vegas story of 2019. Las Vegas was invaded by grasshoppers, and the story made international news. The adorable, pallid-winged little buggers were gone almost as quickly as they arrived, but they left a lasting impression on our hearts. And windshields.

Vegas grasshoppers

The grasshopper invasion made the birds nearly as happy as us (this got 323,000 Tweet impressions).

3. Renovation of Viva Vision Screen

The $32 million renovation of the LED screen at Fremont Street Experience was completed on Nov. 13, 2019. The new screen is four times the resolution, seven times brighter and, for the first time, can be viewed during daylight hours. There’s a slew of new video content in the works for the revamped screen, set to debut on New Year’s Eve. Here’s a sneak preview of the new visuals.

 

4. Neon Museum Got the Hard Rock Guitar

When the Hard Rock Cafe closed outside the Hard Rock casino (soon to be Virgin), many had a freak-out about the iconic guitar sign outside. Luckily, the Neon Museum got the sign and spruced it up. Yet another reason to visit the Neon Museum.

Hard Rock guitar

Thought you’d never see this bad boy again? Don’t fret.

5. Elon Musk Starts Tunneling

We broke the story Elon Musk’s Boring Company was coming to Las Vegas, but that’s not the only reason we think this was one of the coolest things to happen in Vegas in 2020. Musk’s company is constructing a twin-tunnel loop transportation system that will whisk passengers from one end of the Las Vegas Convention Center to another, and there have also been preliminary discussions about expanding the tunnel system to downtown, the airport and even the new Raiders stadium.

Elon Musk tunnel Las Vegas

Oh, like you’ve never gotten drilled in Vegas.

6. Raiders Stadium Construction

Our shiny new Allegiant Stadium has been built so quickly, it’s almost enough to give one a concussion. It’s expected to open 2020, so expect that to be on our “Awesome Things That Happened in Las Vegas in 2020” list.

You don’t have to like sportsball to think this is sexy.

7. Quick Work at Circa Las Vegas

Speaking of lightning-fast construction, the Circa Las Vegas resort has been a thing of beauty. At the moment, workers are adding a new floor per week, and the $1.2 billion project is halfway done. Circa is touted as having the biggest sports book in the world, the “greatest pool in the history of the world,” five restaurants, a two-story casino and, sexily, will boast the return of a refurbished Vegas Vickie. December 2020 can’t get here quickly enough.

Circa, circa yesterday.

8. Resorts World Progress

Resorts World has taken about seven years to come into its own, but the new resort is now a looming presence on The Strip. It’s set to open in summer 2021 (after numerous delays, most of them strategic because of flat demand), but 2019 was a year of construction progress as well as adjustments to design (the Asian theme is out), scale (downsized) and amenities (including a 5,000-seat theater).

Resorts World Las Vegas

Resorts World bailed on its Asian theme, but has retained its “at least something’s happening.”

9. Hula Hoop World Record

This story didn’t get nearly enough play, but in 2019, Getti Kehayova broke the record for the largest hula hoop spun at a whopping 17-feet-plus, right here in Las Vegas.

10. Sex Dolls Brothel

You’d think the first sex doll brothel in Las Vegas would get more attention, but this new offering has pretty much flown under the radar. That’s because such establishments have been controversial in other cities, so the owner is keeping the venture on the down low. It costs $150 for a one-hour interaction with a thermoplastic elastomer doll, which, honestly, couldn’t sound sexier. How will the Las Vegas sex doll brothel fare? We trust the owner agrees with our prediction, “Build it and they will come.”

Las Vegas sex doll brothel

From Sex Dolls Experience: “Are you ready to indulge in the ultimate sexual experience where you are the main focus?” Or, as we call it, Tuesday.

11. Whiskey Licker Up Opened

The new Whiskey Licker Up at Binion’s features long pours, great food at reasonable prices and the only revolving bar in Las Vegas. It’s one of our new favorite watering holes downtown, and they even installed some video poker machines at our request. How’s that for customer service?

Whiskey Licker Up

If there are any misspellings in this caption, blame it on Whiskey Licker Up. Those pours, though.

12. Front Yard Opened

We’re pleased to report the long-awaited Front Yard at Ellis Island was worth the, well, wait. The two-level, indoor/outdoor venue boasts two bars, top-notch food and 15 video poker machines. Beer lovers will find themselves in heaven, with fresh beer brewed on the premises at prices you wouldn’t believe if we told you. Oh, all right, we’ll tell you: Giant, frosty beers are three bucks. No, really.

Front Yard Ellis Island

Your new favorite spot, Strip-ish.

13. Wynn/Encore Roll Back Paid Parking

One of the best surprises of 2019 was when Wynn and Encore rolled back paid parking. That’s right, both self-park and valet are free all over again. We’re pretty sure the change was inspired by challenges associated with getting people to visit Wynn Plaza, but whatever the reason, we’re thrilled with this move and hope other Las Vegas casinos follow suit.

Wynn parking

The best kind of paid parking ticket machine: The retired kind.

14. Strat Renovation

In case you missed it, the Stratosphere isn’t the Stratosphere anymore. It’s The Strat, and the north Strip casino has undergone a dramatic transformation. A nearly $100 million investment by Golden Entertainment has turned Strat into one of our favorite Strip hangs, with new restaurants, lounges and casino offerings galore.

Strat casino

You think you know the Strat, but it ain’t that.

15. Lady Gaga Ruled The Strip

When we broke the story Lady Gaga would have a Las Vegas residency, we had no idea she’d take the town by storm. She’s rumored to be making more than any Las Vegas headliner, ever, and continues to receive rave reviews for her performances at Park MGM.

Her close friends call her “Ga squared.”

16. “Atomic Saloon” Opened at Venetian

Fans of “Absinthe” at Caesars Palace were thrilled to hear there would be a new offering from Spiegelworld, the show’s quirky production company. In September, “Atomic Saloon” opened in the Grand Canal Shoppes at Venetian and Las Vegas lost its virginity yet again. The show is raunchy, over-the-top and chock full of variety acts unlike anything else in town. Thanks to “Atomic Saloon” for the pic.

You will look for a more irreverent show in Las Vegas, but you will find nun.

17. Sahara Rebrand and Renovation

The Sahara returned to the Las Vegas Strip in 2019, and if you haven’t visited recently, be prepared for a jolt. The entire casino has been revamped and SLS is a distant memory. While our heart was broken when Cleo closed (replaced with Italian), Sahara won us back with its gorgeous Casbar lounge (photo below). Sahara’s production show, “Blanc de Blanc,” closed after just three months, but the resort’s getting a lot right, too. The overhauled Sahara should be on your ever-growing Las Vegas to-do list.

New Sahara Las Vegas

The Casbar rocks.

18. Golden Nugget Got a Chick-fil-A

Yes, the opening of Chick-fil-A at Golden Nugget made our list of awesome new Vegas things. Not only was it the first Chick-fil-A in a casino, it was the first Chick-fil-A within walking distance of where we work (Fremont Street Experience), so just deal with it.

Chick-fil-A Golden Nugget

Las Vegas knows a little something about breast meat. If you get our drift.

19. MSG Sphere Construction

Construction began on the MSG Sphere in 2018, but it started to look like a thing in 2019. The Sphere is a partnership between the Madison Square Garden Company and Las Vegas Sands (owners of Venetian and Palazzo), and is expected to cost somewhere between $1.2 billion and “Holy crap, that’s a metric crap-ton of money.” Financial black hole aspect aside, the MSG Sphere could end up being epic. It’ll have 18,000 seats inside a 350-foot dome covered on the outside and inside by programmable, wraparound LED screens. Oh, and we can’t forget about the infrasound haptic flooring system, whatever that might be.

Las Vegas knows a little something about giant orbs. If you get our drift.

20. Sale of Circus Circus

Yes, the sale of Circus Circus to Phil Ruffin (owner of TI) for $825 million qualifies as awesome. First, we had the scoop about the sale before anyone else. Second, Circus Circus has long been the red-headed stepchild of MGM Resorts, and hope springs eternal a new owner will give the resort some much-needed love.

Circus Circus Lucky clown

Las Vegas knows a little something about big tops. If you get our drift.

Thank you for your cursory skimming of our list of awesome things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019. Yes, there were many more things we could add to this list, but honestly, we’re suffering from a bit of awesome fatigue.

We considered compiling a list of stupid things that happened in Las Vegas in 2019 (“R.U.N.” leaps to mind, not to mention Bleutech and Kaos), but awesome is infinitely more fun than stupid.

RUN

At least this isn’t a boob joke.

We can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store. Lots of in-progress projects are set to debut, including Allegiant Stadium, Circa, the Las Vegas Convention Center expansion, Virgin Hotel (being rebranded from Hard Rock), Caesars Forum conference center, Elon Musk’s tunnel (officially Jan. 2021, but fingers crossed) and others.

As long as you keep visiting, Las Vegas will keep creating awesome things and experiences, including some involving copulation with dolls. Allegedly.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 104: Front Yard, Solo Bubble Craps and Sheer Kaos

It’s been a minute since our last podcast episode, but we’re making up for it with a non-stop cavalcade of incoherent blathering.

We’ve got the inside scoop on Elon Musk’s tunnel project, the closing on Kaos at Palms, the sales of Rio, Bellagio and Circus Circus and the closure of “Blanc de Blanc” at Sahara, for starters.

The Las Vegas Convention Center is getting drilled. Hey, it’s Vegas.

Then, we blaze through all the Las Vegas news you need to sound like a know-it-all at your local bar.

It’s all the stuff we don’t have time to blog about because we have a life: B.B.D.’s at Palace Station closes, Resorts World’s opening has been pushed back to 2021, China Tang will close at MGM Grand, Carnegie Deli closes at Mirage in February, Red Square closed at Mandalay Bay, Chick-fil-A and Saltgrass are coming to Golden Nugget, Steaks & Alibis will replace Center Cut at Flamingo, Vortex is dead at Linq, Starburst is done at Grand Bazaar Shops, Naked City Pizza closed at El Cortez and more.

We also chat with Christina Ellis about the just-opened Front Yard at Ellis Island, and find out more about the new solo “bubble craps” game from Joseph Friedman of Interblock Gaming.

Front Yard Ellis Island

“Long-awaited” is an understatement when it comes to the Front Yard.

There’s something for everyone on this episode of the podcast, including a listicle, “12 Meh Restaurants in Las Vegas.” Hey, somebody has to say it.

Kick back, hit “play” and be transported to Sin City through the highly overrated magic of podcasting.