Monthly Archives: September 2021

Beloved Mt. Charleson Lodge Destroyed by Fire

A longtime Vegas-adjacent landmark, Mt. Charleston Lodge, was destroyed by fire in the early morning of Sep. 17, 2021.

The Mt. Charleston Lodge is owned by the Ellis family who also own Ellis Island Casino. The family purchased the lodge in 2018.

Wood, a blessing and a curse.

The fire destroyed the main lodge building, constructed largely of pine logs, but nearby cabins remained undamaged.

The lodge wasn’t open at the time of the fire, which started in the venue’s dining room, and there were no injuries reported, other than to the saddened hearts of Las Vegas residents.

Here’s some drone video of the aftermath of the fire.

The old-timey Mt. Charleston Lodge was about 45 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, and was a popular restaurant and lounge for those with the inexplicable desire to do outdoors things at Mt. Charleston.

You suck, combustion. Photo courtesy of Mt. Charleston Facebook page.

Our friend Christina Ellis, said in a statement, “It’s with a heavy heart that we announce the Mount Charleston Lodge burned down this morning. Most importantly, none of our team members nor any members of the Mount Charleston community were harmed in the fire. The surrounding area and the cabins were both left untouched. We’d like to thank all the first responders who assisted with keeping everything contained this morning. The lodge was a beloved landmark, and we plan on rebuilding and recreating the atmosphere and charm that so many were able to enjoy throughout the years.”

Sounds like we’ll be getting a shiny new Mt. Charleston Lodge, so there’s that.

The Mt. Charleston Lodge employs about 30 people, many of whom have worked there for many years.

Mt. Charleston Lodge was sort of the opposite of Las Vegas, yet we liked it, anyway.

There’s been an outpouring of support from the community about the loss of the Mt. Charleston Lodge, and our thoughts are with the Ellis family.

Thankfully, there was no loss of life, but that doesn’t mean the loss of the lodge isn’t heartbreaking.

In town full of flash and spectacle, Mt. Charleson Lodge was a place where locals and visitors could find a good deal, unpretentious people, fresh air and trees that weren’t imported from somewhere else.

We hadn’t visited in some time, so the Mt. Charleston Lodge fire serves as a painful reminder to not put things off as life can take surprising, sometimes tragic, turns.

We’ll say it, call your grandparents, already.

Steak ‘n Shake is Done at Oyo Casino, Per Staff

Employees are informing guests of Oyo casino that its Steak ‘n Shake¬†restaurant has closed permanently.

The restaurant never reopened following the shutdown of March 2020, due to the pandemic.

Steak N Shake Oyo

It sounds like the Steak ‘n Shake at Oyo is fried.

The permanent closure of Steak ‘n Shake leaves slim pickings for dining options at Oyo, although Hooters is reliably good, even during our national chicken wing crisis.

There’s also the Splash Cantina (we’ve never seen it open) and Southside Eatery (more of a snack bar, and currently closed).

So, yeah, Hooters.

While Steak ‘n Shake is closed, the video poker bar out front is still in operation. We trust that part’s owned by Oyo.

Steak ‘n Shake is part of a national chain, with more than 600 locations.

The owner of Steak ‘n Shake, Biglari Holdings, was in trouble prior to the pandemic, and it was reported the company could file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That was avoided, following an infusion of cash.

Steak ‘n Shake permanently closed 82 locations in 2020. There are 57 locations temporarily closed, with the company saying it intends to reopen “most of them.”

According to staffers at Oyo, it seems their location won’t be one of the restaurants reopening, although Oyo hasn’t confirmed the closure is permanent yet.

We enjoy our visits to Oyo, and the values are strong.

Oyo Las Vegas casino

Let’s just say you can’t get lost in Oyo’s tiny casino. Sorry, “boutique.”

Oyo is one of the few places in Las Vegas where you can still find $1 blackjack, for example.

Oyo is the former Hooters, formerly Hotel San Remo, formerly Polynesian, formerly Pacifica, formerly Treasury, formerly 20th Century, formerly Paradise, formerly Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge.

Let’s just say it’s been a wild ride and leave it at that.

Oyo reopens

Our liver has been impatiently waiting for this cocktail spot at Oyo to open for some time now.

Hooters became Oyo on September 16, 2019. Yes, we broke the story. Do you know anything about this blog at all?

Even though Oyo is a petite hotel, it could use another restaurant or two. Pizza springs to mind, as the typical guest is a value-seeker with modest dining requirements.

Oyo may not feel the pressure to bring in another restaurant, because for many the hotel is an inexpensive altrenative to The Strip, and Oyo tends to be their jumping off point for nearby resorts.

For those hankering for some Steak ‘n Shake, there’s another location just 415 miles away from Oyo at South Point Hotel.

Also, there’s an In-N-Out a minute away across the freeway on Tropicana. They also have excellent shakes. Just saying.

Update (9/17/21): Dawn Wolf, Oyo’s Directory of Marketing, says the casino plans to reopen Steak ‘n Shake, but no date has been set. Per Wolf, “We are monitoring our future occupancy forecast very carefully to determine the right period of time to reopen.” Hope lives for Steak ‘n Shake fans, but time will tell.

Downtown’s New Peyote Restaurant Is a Trip

A trendy new restaurant, Peyote, opens in downtown Las Vegas on Sep. 24, 2021.

Thankfully, you have us, so you don’t have to wait to get a taste.

Peyote restaurant Las Vegas

In Vegas, everything’s better with sparkle.

Peyote is located at Fergusons Downtown Motel, sort of just east of Fremont East.

Look for the bigass tractor trailers doing a mating dance.

Big Rig Jig

You thought we were kidding?

Peyote is a boutique restaurant from the awesome Ryan Doherty, founder of Corner Bar Management.

While Peyote is Doherty’s latest venture, he’s got his fingers in a plethora of other popular spots.

He’s got Commonwealth, Park on Fremont, Discopussy, Lucky Day on Fremont Street and Oddwood lounge at Area 15.

Peyote is further evidence Ryan Doherty believes in downtown, and has built a team so good you’ll want to try this out-of-the-way spot even if you’ve never visited downtown before.

If you’re a Vegas virgin, hit Circa and the Viva Vision light show first, but after that, Peyote.

Peyote Las Vegas

It’s not a patio, it’s “al fresco dining,” rube.

Some of the players at Peyote include Hall and Kim Owens, the folks behind Main St. Provisions; Jolene Mannina, managing partner; Max Solano, beverage and cocktail program consultant; and Juyoung Kang, general manager and lead mixologist.

Peyote is 3,400-square feet of great food, drink and eye candy, including a patio with a custom 3D-mapped LED bistro-light canvas.

There’s also a ton of quirky art.

Peyote Fremont East

It would be difficult for us to love this hippo balancing on its tongue more.

It’s telling that at Ryan Doherty’s venues, staff are given cheat sheets about the artwork in case guests inquire. They inquire.

We knew you’d ask.

Naturally, we tried a cocktail first, and it was awesome. It doesn’t come backlit like this. That’s a blogger thing.

Peyote cocktail

We love telling friends we had a Peyote cocktail. This one’s called the Big Bliss.

The Big Bliss has Volcan de Me Tierra blanco tequila, Giffard Pamplemousse liqueur, fresh strawberries, lime-orgeat sour and fresh sage. We don’t know about you, but if they didn’t have lime-orgeat sour, we’d have been out of there.

Here’s a look at the cocktail menu.

Gird your liver, you’re downtown.

One does not live by cocktails alone, of course. Although, we have expressed a willingness to try.

We don’t entirely know how to describe the cuisine at Peyote, we just know we liked it.

Here’s the menu.

Peyote downtown menu

It sounds snootier than it is.

Here’s a bigger version of the menu so your eyes don’t implode.

We’ll let the news release do the talking. “Peyote’s upscale dinner menu will offer a decadent arrangement of appetizers, such as an heirloom tomato summer squash tart; mini shrimp toast topped with wild smoked salmon roe; American country ham on toast served with tangy pickled mustard seed, carrot aioli and wild arugula topped with red eye gravy; and more. Savory main dishes include Carolina Gold rice risotto with grilled corn, sunflower seeds, leeks and almond milk; heritage pig sandwich with grilled pork belly, grass-fed butter, radish, plum mustard, rouge creamery cheese and red pepper pickles; Santa Maria vintage tri-tip grilled on oak served with grilled baby gem, corn salad, pickles, chili preserved radish, butter ball potatoes and fry bread designed to feed three to six guests; and more.”

Which all sounds great, but our tastes are a tad simpler. So, during our media visit, we let our host, Ryan Doherty, order.

Two words: Pork chop.

Simple, effective and grilled to perfection. If you’re 80 or older, insert a Peter Brady reference here.

Even the weird food (we aren’t exactly a tangy pickled mustard seed type) ended up being delicious, and we hate everything.

We even accidentally had vegetables thinking they were French fries.

Peyote veggies

Best way to make kids eat their veggies, ever.

One of the best surprises was the Heirloom Tomato Tart, something we typically never would’ve ordered unless we were being water-boarded. It was great, despite the presence of tomatoes.

Peyote tart

Thanks to Ryan Doherty for making us eat this thing we ended up loving despite our best efforts.

There aren’t any desserts on the menu, but you won’t have room for them, anyway.

It’s worth mentioning, Peyote adds a five percent fee to its checks. We aren’t a fan of such service charges, and asked owner Ryan Doherty about the fee. He said it’s temporary, and has to do with the big price fluctuations for products (liquor and food) at the moment due to the pandemic. Because prices ebb and flow so much (he noted chicken wing pricing “is like the Bitcoin index” half the time), the fee was deemed a better way of addressing those challenges, as opposed to changing the menu prices every week. Just a heads up.

Beyond the walls and patio of Peyote, it sounds like there will be some live music in a small amphitheater that sits just outside.

Ryan Doherty doesn’t just create bars and restaurants, he creates experiences. He makes places people want to hang. Peyote is that.

Just because we don’t eat something doesn’t mean we can’t take pictures of it for you.

Peyote will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from noon to 2:00 a.m. Fridays through Sundays.

There’s some free street parking nearby, but rideshare is recommended. That way you can explore the cocktail menu more thoroughly, if you get our drift.

Riseshare also sidesteps the fact it’s not the best neighborhood, although we’ve never had any issues. The area around Peyote is well-lit and there’s security at the main entrance to Fergusons.

Peyote could very well be a thing.

While Peyote is a little out of the way, it’s a great excuse to explore the Fremont East Entertainment District.

This wayfinder should help, should you choose to make the trip. See how that tied back into our headline? This isn’t our first rodeo.

It’s a challenging location for a new venture, but if you flame broil it, or create the right cocktail menu, they will come.

Enjoy more Peyote images in our expansive and poorly-focued photo gallery below.

See you there. We’ll be the one balancing on our tongue.

Little Tony’s Out at Palace Station, Tacos & Tequila Moving In

Little Tony’s, a sister restaurant to downtown’s popular Pizza Rock restaurant, has closed at Palace Station.

The off-Strip casino has announced Little Tony’s will be replaced with Tacos & Tequila.

Tacos & Tequila will be familiar to Luxor fans, as the restaurant and bar operated there for more than a decade.

It’s really about the tequila.

After some extensive research, we have determined Tacos & Tequila features both tacos and tequila.

There will also be an ass-ton of high-def TVs.

According to Palace Station, “The menu will include the ‘#1 Alambre,’ made with filet mignon, applewood smoked bacon, Oaxaca cheese, poblano chili, onion and cilantro served on a corn tortilla; the shrimp quesadilla, made with grilled shrimp, black beans, Oaxaca cheese, pico de gallo, chipotle aioli, crema fresca and avocado wrapped in a flour tortilla; and beef barbacoa enchiladas, made with slow-roasted brisket, roasted Guajillo-tomato sauce, gouda, Oaxaca and
jack cheese, pickled onion and sour cream made with corn tortillas.”

Tacos & Tequila will also serve vegan and gluten-free selections so weirdos have something to occupy themselves while other customers eat the delicious food. All due respect.

Signature cocktails include margaritas and more than 100 different tequila selections. Pace yourself, hombre.

We trust Tacos & Tequila will not transfer over its annoying CNF charge to Palace Station. Locals would put up with that crap for about zero seconds.

According to Palace Station, Tacos & Tequila will open near the casino’s sports book “later this year.”

It’s a little strange to think about how little “later this year” is left in this year.

Photo via the Station Casinos blog, and props to them for being one of the few Las Vegas casinos that understands the value of having a blog. Looking at you, Caesars Entertainment.

If you’re looking for another Mexican option at Luxor, you can still hit Diablo’s Cantina. We visited recently and it did the trick.

So, what happened with Little Tony’s at Palace Station? Well, it wasn’t that great, for one thing. Tony Gemignani, the pizza god behind Pizza Rock, hasn’t been able to translate the downtown restaurant’s sucess at other locations. The same goes for the Pizza Rock at Green Valley Ranch. It’s just O.K.

Either Little Tony’s wasn’t meeting expectations or the lease ran out and Palace Station, owned by Station Casinos, just didn’t care for the existing deal and found a new partner.

Let’s just say successful restaurants rarely close in Las Vegas, unless there’s a sex scandal. This wasn’t that.

Dibs on one of these sweet booths at the former Little Tony’s.

It’s hard to go wrong with casual Mexican fare and booze with locals.

For visitors, Palace Station is well worth a short trip, as the values (including table minimums) are a refreshing departure from The Strip. The place is full of reasonable dining options, including the Charcoal Room steakhouse, the always-packed Oyster Bar and relatively new Tailgate Social.

Palace Station recently got a $192 million facelift, and it shows.

Tiki-Style Bar In the Works for Mirage

Guests of Mirage recently received an intriguing survey from the Strip resort.

Casino surveys often telegraph plans already in motion, and this one’s juicy because it asked guests to provide feedback about a new tiki-style bar “situated on the waters overlooking the iconic Mirage volcano.”

Mirage volcano

A new tiki bar overlooking the Mirage volcano would be fire. Also, possibly lit.

Here’s a look at the concept, although this isn’t a rendering of the actual venue, “but rather to give a general sense of what it might look like.”

This is one of the best ideas we’ve seen floated in awhile.

Please make it look like that, Mirage!

The survey also said, “this tiki-style bar features table and bartop seating, a range of beer and cocktails, as well as a grab-and-go daiquri bar.”

If you grabbed a daiquiri at this bar, why would you want to go anywhere?

While we weren’t one of the customers asked, we love this idea, and it’s a great fit for the Mirage.

Here’s another image to give a sense of the space.

In Vegas, we’re spoiled rattan. It was either that or a “frond or foe” joke, sorry.

One can never have too much tiki.

Vegas has some great tiki bars off-Strip, including Frankie’s Tiki Room (try the Fink Bomb) and Golden Tiki (check out the shrunken heads).

Ellis Island had a fun pop-up tiki experience on the second floor of its Front Yard. It ended Aug. 1, unfortunately. They’re doing more pop-ups in the future, possibly for Halloween and definitely for Christmas.

Tikiwise, Mirage doesn’t need surveys, they just need us!

Love the concept, it’s a great new addition to augment the volcano eruption experience and they’ll be printing money, so let’s make this new tiki bar a reality at Mirage.

Lucky Player Snags Million-Dollar Jackpot at Cannery Casino

There’s been a spate of big wins in Las Vegas casinos in recent weeks. This, despite the fact we’re only partially sure “spate” means what we think it means.

Eh, we’ll go with “plethora” just to be on the safe side.

The local’s win was a whopping $1,024,065.45, rounded down to $1,024,065 because there’s a coin shortage.

The wager? A mere $3.75.

Poor Ryan probably got carpal tunnel writing out that number!

This big hit happened in the wee hours (2:19 a.m.) of Sep. 10, 2021 at Cannery in north Las Vegas. The win was officially announced Sep. 13. Our Twitter followers heard about the humongous jackpot on Sep. 12, mainly because we omniscient. Or possibly because our Twitter tipsters are are bad-asses, but mostly that first thing.

The million-dollar-plus jackpot was hit on a Buffalo Grand slot machine. That was a big relief to Cannery, owned by Boyd Gaming, as those jackpots are paid by the machine manufacturer, not the casino.

How much does the player actually get out of that million-dollar prize? Generally, The Man holds onto 27% for federal tax purposes, or about $276,000. Government do take a bite, don’t she?

That leaves about $748,000, or the equivalent of 57,582 Chili Stuffed Idaho Baked Potatoes at the casino’s cafe.

As we always say, the next best thing to hitting a monster jackpot is being able to pretend we’re happy for someone else hitting one!

Big wins keep the Vegas dream alive, so congrats to the lucky winner, complete lack of resentmentwise.