Category Archives: Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas is a quirky alternative to the Las Vegas Strip, with good gambling, a grittier vibe and a diverse collection of restaurants, bars and casinos. Downtown Las Vegas isn’t for everyone, but many locals and tourists enjoy it for the value, authenticity and lively atmosphere.

Circa Resort Unveils Restaurant Line-Up

Circa Las Vegas opens in Dec. 2020, but the new downtown resort has already announced its five restaurant offerings.

Circa’s restaurant line-up includes a deli, a steakhouse, a burger and wings joint, an Asian spot and a BBQ truck.

Here’s a quick overview of the restaurants coming to Circa Las Vegas:

  • Saginaw’s Delicatessen from Detroit
  • Barry’s Downtown Prime, a classic steakhouse
  • Victory Burger & Wings Co. from the crew behind The D’s American Coney Island
  • 8 East, an Asian restaurant from the genius behind downtown’s Le Thai
  • Project BBQ, the first permanent food truck on Fremont Street

Let’s get into the renderings, already! Here’s more about the restaurants at Circa resort.

Saginaw’s Delicatessen

Saginaw’s Delicatessen comes from well-known Michigan restaurateur Paul Saginaw.

Circa deli

Saginaw is an Indian word meaning “land of the Sauks.” Look, not ever photo caption can rock your world.

Saginaw is best known for his Zingerman’s Deli, an Ann Arbor institution he opened with partner Ari Weinzweig, acclaimed as being among the world’s best sandwich joints.

Saginaw's Circa

“Delicatessen” comes from the Latin, meaning “alluring, delightful, dainty,” much like us. Dainty, that is.

Downtown fanatics might recognize the Zingerman’s name from the coffee stand at the D Las Vegas, currently undergoing an expansion.

Fun fact: We played craps with Paul Saginaw one time. He’s a hoot.

Barry’s Downtown Prime

You can’t open at Las Vegas casino without a steakhouse. It’s the law. Take a gander at Barry’s.

Barry's Downtown steakhouse

Do people still take ganders? Well, they should.

Barry’s Downtown Prime has a solid pedigree before it even opens, as the chef will be Barry Dakake, the force behind N9NE at Palms which closed in Sep. 2017.

For the record, Barry Dakake’s name is pronounced “day-cake.” It’s not like he hasn’t heard jokes about that before, so please grow up like we probably have.

Barry's Downtown Circa

Bold move to name a place “Barry’s.” First, not the flashiest. Second, what if they fire the chef? Bright side: At least the name doesn’t have a number in it.

Dakake’s partner, Yassine Lyoubi, who served as general manager for N9NE Steakhouse and Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres at Sahara (formerly SLS).

Barry's Downtown steakhouse Circa

Boom. Now we know where Vegas Vickie will be at Circa. Fun fact: Her leg’s going to move again!

There aren’t a lot of sure things in Las Vegas, but Barry’s Downtown Prime is bound to be one of them.

Victory Burger & Wings Co.

Victory Burger & Wings will overlook Circa’s sportsbook, being touted as the world’s largest.

Circa’s going to be sports-friendly, so it needed a sports bar. Victory covers all the bases.

Victory Burger and Wings

We predict you’ll be seeing us a lot, Victory Burger & Wings.

Victory Burger & Wings comes from the folks behind the popular American Coney Island at The D, Chris Sotiropoulos and Grace Keros.

The menu will include specialty burgers, wings and appetizers.

Oh, and beer, lots of beer. (Bonus points if you read that in the voice of Keanu Reeves.)

Victory burger Circa

Why do we feel like our pleas for a “No Sports” section is going to go unanswered?

8 East

We’ll say this as delicately as we can: Any restaurant from the folks behind Fremont East’s Le Thai restaurant is going to kick ass.

8 East restaurant

Please let us know if saying an Asian restaurant is going to “kick ass” is racist, thanks.

8 East was inspired by metropolitan Asian food markets and will feature pan-Asian cuisine. The menu will span Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai dishes.

We’re going to breeze by the part in the news release where it says 8 East will have “communal dining.” Hey, no restaurant is perfect.

8 East Asian Circa

Time to brush up on your chopsticks. Also racist, probably.

An Asian restaurant will fill a niche not currently available at Circa’s sister casinos, Golden Gate and The D. 8 East is likely to be a big hit with a lot of downtown regulars, as an inordinate number hail from Hawaii.

Project BBQ

This downtown fixture is finally going to find a permanent home. It’s moved around often to accommodate the ever-changing construction footprint of Circa, and before that the Las Vegas Club demolition site.

Project BBQ will be Fremont Street’s only permanent food truck and its first Carolina BBQ joint. The truck will be moving west from its current position, toward Plaza and near the Main Street stage at Fremont Street Experience. Prime real estate.

Our pal Chef Rex Bernales keeps it simple and satisfying, offering pulled brisket, pork and chicken, among other BBQ favorites.

Project BBQ Fremont

This isn’t the first time someone’s pork has been pulled downtown, if you get our drift.

The mix of restaurants at Circa seems to have a decent amount of variety, both in terms of cuisine and price points.

Worth noting: Some have asked where Golden Gate’s famed shrimp cocktail will resurface a Circa. Owner Derek Stevens says they haven’t decided yet. Stay tuned.

Given how quickly Circa is being built, these new restaurants will be here before you know it, and we can’t wait to sink our teeth in.

Disclosure: Our day job is in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience, and The D and Golden Gate are casino partners of that organization. Our opinions are our own, especially the poorly spelled ones. We sometimes drink when we blog, in case that weren’t obvious.

Checking In on Downtown Grand’s New Hotel Tower

It’s been a minute since we shared photos of Downtown Grand’s new hotel tower, so consider this that.

Downtown Grand construction

We’re calling it topped off.

The new tower is set to open in mid-2020, and will have seven guest room floors, adding 495 new rooms to the downtown hotel-casino.

The 495 new rooms will include 405 standard rooms, 67 studio units, 20 one-bedroom suites and three presidential suites. Guests will be able to recognize the presidential suites immediately because their quality will be unimpeachable.

Downtown Grand construction

Downtown Grand says it’s known for its “industrial chic aura.” We enjoy visiting, anyway.

The new Downtown Grand tower is being build where the hotel’s valet parking was once located. Construction began about a year ago.

The new tower will connect to Downtown Grand on the casino and pool levels.

While Downtown Grand’s casino has struggled since the resort opened in Oct. 2013, its hotel business is said to be stronger, so the owners are clearly playing to the resort’s strengths in an attempt to drive more room revenue.

Downtown Grand tower

The views won’t win any awards, but Downtown Grand’s rooms are some of the best downtown and quieter than those along Fremont Street, as is the casino.

Downtown Grand, formerly Lady Luck, is owned by CIM Group and operated by Fifth Street Gaming.

While we’re on the subject of Downtown Grand, we recently spoiled the surprise the hotel will be getting a new restaurant, Hot N Juicy Crawfish. No, the new restaurant hasn’t yet been announced yet, that’s just how we roll.

Hot N Juicy Downtown Grand

Interesting how “hot” gets top billing. “Juicy” needs a better agent.

The Louisiana-style seafood restaurant will move into the space previously home to Commissary After Dark and the short-lived Downtown Underground eSports Lounge.

We’ll keep an eye on the construction at Downtown Grand, so check back for further updates whenever you’re done skimming stories on blogs where you don’t even bother to read the last sentence. Rude.

Lyft Art Park Closes on Fremont East in Downtown Las Vegas

It was weird while is lasted. With zero fanfare, the quirky Lyft Art Park downtown closed and disappeared shortly after the calendar flipped to 2020.

And, yes, we understand most calendars don’t “flip” anymore. Your smartassery is duly noted.

Here’s the former home to some seriously offbeat art. The space has returned to its former glory as a parking lot next to Park on Fremont restaurant.

Lyft Art Park closed

It wasn’t paradise. And this parking lot was already paved. Can you believe that song came out 50 years ago?

The Lyft Art Park opened on Sep. 26, 2018, and featured a rotating collection of larger-than-life art pieces, many imported from Burning Man.

Featured art included a 30-foot ballerina, a massive polar bear and an out-sized robot.

Lyft Art Park ballerina

This statue, called “Euterpe” (named after a Greek muse), was on point.

Other pieces featured at Lyft Art Park included a bug thing, a cab thing, a trailer thing and several other things we can’t even describe as well as those.

Some of the art pieces have made their way to nearby locations.

The giant Flamingo now sits next to the Downtown Container Park.

Lyft Art Park flamingo

Lyft Art Park’s giant flamingo has flown a few blocks east. Yes, flamingos fly. Trust us, we are a photo caption.

The recycled lion is on temporary display in the porte cochere at the Plaza casino.

Plaza lion

Bonus points for reading our mind on that sign, Plaza.

It’s weird how you can take something for granted, then when it’s gone, miss it a lot. Like a short refractory period.

We took Riviera for granted, too, and we miss it now that it’s a parking lot. The former New Frontier site is going to be a parking lot as well.

The point is, enjoy things while you can, because nothing lasts forever. Thanks a lot, diminished testosterone levels. Or whatever we were originally talking about.

Restored Golden Goose Returns to Fremont Street

The classic Golden Goose statue, which once ruled the roost over the seedy Glitter Gulch strip club, has been returned to its former glory and can again be viewed on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

Golden Goose downtown Las Vegas

We’re excited you’re back! Sorry, “eggsighted.” Like you didn’t know what was coming.

The sign was donated to the Downtown Project by Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of The D and Golden Gate. The Stevens acquired the Golden Goose, along with Glitter Gulch, in 2016.

Downtown Project inherited both the Golden Goose and another iconic casino sign, the baseball player from Las Vegas Club. Here’s a photo of the signs near the Las Vegas Club demolition site.

Down, but not out.

Now, the Golden Goose resides farther east than its original location, at the corner of Fremont Street and 10th Street, near the entrance the Bunkhouse Saloon.

The Golden Goose looks awesome, and not only sports a new paint job, but also revolves, as nature intended.

Downtown Project hasn’t made a big deal out of the Golden Goose restoration, so we’re going to!

Props, Downtown Project.

All right, so maybe we used “big deal” a little loosely, but we genuinely think it’s awesome Downtown Project was willing to make an investment in Las Vegas history despite the fact there’s virtually no return on investment with a giant, spinning Golden Goose.

Golden Goose

Vegas does kitsch right.

The Golden Goose casino opened in 1974 and closed in 1980. Before that, the space held State Cafe, Buckley’s and Mecca Casino.

Golden Goose

Here’s to another bunch of decades.

We haven’t heard about any plans for the Las Vegas Club’s baseball player, but another iconic statue, Vegas Vickie, is being refurbished and will return to Fremont Street when Circa Las Vegas opens in Dec. 2020.

Here are a few more photos of the Golden Goose before and after its Fremont Street comeback.

New Sportsbook at The D Las Vegas Means Five Shows Are Done

Sports are a big deal, and a big draw, at The D. So, it’s not all that surprising to hear the downtown casino will turn its showroom into a proper sportsbook.

The closure of The D’s second floor showroom means its five resident shows will be out as of Jan. 5, 2020.

The D showroom

The curtain’s falling on The D’s showroom. Oh, like you didn’t see that coming.

The five shows closing at The D are: “Marriage Can Be Murder” (dinner show, never saw it), “Laughternoon” (entertaining, family-friendly show featuring Adam London), “Friends, The Musical Parody” (valiant effort, but forgettable), Jokesters Comedy Club (missed this one, too) and “Defending the Caveman” (the only show we’ve ever seen that was so bad, we walked out, then saw it another night with a different actor, just so we could walk out again).

“Marriage Can Be Murder” recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, with more than 6,000 performances under its belt. The dinner show originally opened at the Showboat Hotel & Casino.

The announcement of a new sportsbook at The D comes on the heels of a recent retooling of The D’s diminutive sportsbook not too far from the showroom. The unveil of that sportsbook happened in conjunction with a renovation of our home away from home, Vue Bar.

Vue Bar

Please don’t disturb us at Vue Bar. We already have carpal tunnel from all the autographs.

The showroom at The D never seemed an especially good fit for the casino. Downtown is much more about drinking and gambling than it is about theatrical productions.

Aside from the current crop, the only other show we can remember seeing in The D’s showroom was “Ja-Makin-Me-Laugh,” a show so awful it made “Defending the Caveman” look like “The Book of Mormon.”

Oh, and “Aussie Hunks” may have been there for a minute. Otherwise, we have no explanation for having taken this photo in 2015.

Aussie Hunks Las Vegas

Not to be mistaken for “Thunder From Down Under” or “Aussie Heat,” probably.

The new sportsbook at The D follows the recent launch of Circa Sports, a sports betting venture from brothers Derek and Greg Stevens.

The Stevens own The D, Golden Gate and the under-construction Circa Las Vegas resort. Circa is expected to open in Dec. 2020. (Note: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience as our day job. The D is a partner casino.)

We trust a couple of the shows displaced by the closure of The D’s showroom will find new homes. Hopefully, not all of them. Because life’s too short for entire shows centered around losing TV remotes and leaving the toilet seat up. All due respect to toilet seats.

Binion’s Nails It With New Whiskey Licker Up

It’s been a busy few months at Binion’s Gambling Hall.

In July 2019, the downtown casino opened (technically re-opened) the historic Hotel Apache, with a modest 81 old-timey rooms. The original Hotel Apache opened in 1932.

Now, Binion’s has opened a new restaurant, bar and nightlife venue, Whiskey Licker Up. And, no, we honestly never thought we’d use the words “Binion’s” and “nightlife” in the same sentence.

Whiskey Licker Up

Yes, it’s open during the day, too, but “nightlife” just sounds sexier.

Whiskey Licker Up officially opened on Sep. 30, 2019, with some perfunctory hoopla, which is the best kind of hoopla in our humble opinion.

Where to begin? With the bar, naturally! Do you know this blog at all?

The centerpiece of Whiskey Licker Up is a sweet revolving bar. It was inspired by Carousel Bar, a hot spot in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

You’re familiar with New Orleans. It’s like Las Vegas, but stickier.

Whiskey Licker Up

Our newest happy place.

The revolving bar has variable speeds and rotates counter-clockwise. We talked to an engineer who said bars that rotate clockwise can cause people to feel woozy. We honestly have no idea what difference that would make, but we are a blog, not an engineer.

Here’s a look at the revolving bar during construction.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Heavy drinking precludes us from sharing any fun facts about the revolving bar, sorry.

The bar takes 15 minutes for a complete revolution.

Here’s a badass time lapse video of the revolving bar at Whiskey Licker Up.

It’s downtown, so the venue has a back-up bar, of course. This one doesn’t rotate, but the long pours are still in effect.

Whiskey Licker Up

Proof a person can have more than one happy place.

Video poker players will note that Whiskey Licker Up has none. Video poker, that is. You’ll survive. We were surprised about that, too, but the bars were built so they can accommodate video poker machines should they be installed in the future.

For now, it’s just food, hooch and a section of the restaurant that can be used as a dance floor.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Everyone asks where one can go to dance downtown. This will apparently be that.

The food we’ve tried has been delicious, including the wings, beef sliders and meatballs. The pork sliders were a disappointment, but the chicken tenders more than made up for them as they are some of the best we’ve had in Vegas.

Here’s a look at the meatballs.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

These meatballs are far better than they have to be.

The fact Binion’s gets meat right shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve have the hamburger in the Binion’s Cafe. It’s also one of the best in Las Vegas, possibly because they use meat trimmings from their steakhouse, and that often means your burger is made from filet mignon.

Here’s a look at the Whiskey Licker Up appetizer menu. Please don’t strain your eyes, click here or possibly here for a larger image of the full food menu.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Please don’t call them “tapas.” Downtown hates that pretentious crap.

The liquor is ample at Whiskey Licker Up, which probably wasn’t difficult to predict given “whiskey” is right in the name of the place.

The signature cocktails are $12 ($18 for a double), and there’s an extensive beer selection. Again, click here (for the cocktail and wine menu) and definitely here (for the beer menu).

Yes, they have Captain Morgan from the bottle. Don’t you ever think about anything else?

The original plan for Whiskey Licker Up was to have a mechanical bull, but apparently it was nixed. Instead, the venue features one of those new-fangled virtual reality machines. Isn’t it funny you never hear about things being old-fangled?

The VR machine is a four-seater. Here’s a look.

Whiskey Licker Up

If you start to freak out, just close your eyes. This isn’t rocket science.

The VR machine, the X World 360, has the option of 89 different rides. We, naturally, chose a mellow one. It was awesome, and we are not even a ride person, virtual or otherwise. Here’s more about the X World 360 if you’re into that kind of thing.

Rides are $15 a pop. The mellow rides last 7-9 minutes, the more intense ones last 3-4 minutes.

On the service front, Binion’s has wisely hired a bevy of model servers. They’re like your typical servers, but are younger, more attractive and less roboty.

The theme of Whiskey Licker Up is a little bit country, but without the bull, they have the flexibility to feature a variety of music styles. We suspect, though, country will be prominent when the rodeo is in town. There’s even a rodeo gate (slash advertisement) for photo ops.

Whiskey Licker Up

It’s hard to beat this bucking chute. Which sounds far more inappropriate than it really is.

Whiskey Licker Up is bigger than you’d think, and there’s tons of seating at tables, at the bars, on the outdoor balcony (enclosed by windows that can be rolled open) and in VIP booths.

Again, never expected to say “VIP booths” in a story about Binion’s, but we’re always open to surprises.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

No paper straws for the win.

One of the absolutely best things about Whiskey Licker Up, of course, is it’s at Binion’s, and Binion’s is an iconic part of Vegas history.

Part of that history has been exposed at the street entrance to Whiskey Licker Up. Guests go up a flight of stairs, and can see a wall of petrified wood that dates back to the Mint. It’s downright old-fangled.

The Mint was absorbed into Binion’s in 1988.

Vegas fanatics will enjoy the fact a portion of the Mint’s famous facade has been left exposed. Prepare yourself for engorgement, if you get our drift.

Whiskey Licker Up Mint

Swoon fodder. Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad band name.

Preliminary hours are 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., except for Friday and Saturday, when the place will stay open until 4:00 a.m.

It’s gratifying to see Binion’s doing this new venue right. We’d love to see some video poker, but the prices are reasonable and the service is perky, so we expect to be back soon and often.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience and Binion’s is one of its member casinos. Opinions are our own.

Of course, we’ve got more photos of Whiskey Licker Up, so mosey on through them or whatever the kids are doing.

Whiskey Licker Up

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