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.

Guy Creates Las Vegas Race for Friends and It’s Amazing

Everyone needs a friend like Gabe Sinna.

Sinna recently celebrated a birthday, and decided to invite some friends to join him in Las Vegas for the festivities.

Lots of people have done that. But Gabe Sinna isn’t everybody.

After months of planning, Sinna created an ingenious game for his friends to play, inspired by the hit travel competition on CBS, “The Amazing Race.” And his game has raised the bar for Las Vegas scavenger hunts forever.

Amazing Gabe

Trust us, the word “amazing” isn’t used lightly here.

See, just about everyone has a friend who’s a planner. But Gabe Sinna is more than that. He’s a savant. He’s a genius. He’s a freak.

And we’re not just saying that because Sinna dove deeply into the recesses of this very Las Vegas blog for nuggets to inform his “Amazing Gabe” race.

Amazing Gabe

Gabe and the better half of the teams competing in the “Amazing Gabe” race.

While Sinna orchestrated an entire Las Vegas trip for his friends, we tagged along on the part that featured downtown. Not only do we work downtown (in marketing at Fremont Street Experience), the area is home to some of our favorite places in Las Vegas.

Sinna did extensive research about downtown before creating his race, then built his “race” using elements of “The Amazing Race,” including “Detours” and “Roadblocks.” He even used artwork inspired by the show. Told you he’s a freak.

Amazing Gabe

This is the photo caption where we don’t mention how much free time Gabe clearly has.

At the beginning of each leg of the race, Sinna distributed clues (“Route Info.”) and his friends, all couples, got to explore downtown in a fun, unique way.

It should be noted Sinna’s friends are also sort of freaks, as they made matching T-shirts with Sinna’s face on them for each team.

Amazing Gabe

Gabe’s friends weren’t messing around. It’s a little thing called “bragging rights.”

The “Amazing Gabe” race included a carefully-curated list of things to do downtown:

  • Take a photo with the gold nugget replica at Golden Nugget
  • Get a pic with a million bucks at Binion’s
  • Try a scorpion shot at Nacho Daddy
  • Visit Banger Brewing
  • Ride the SlotZilla zipline
  • Visit Golden Gate
  • Rub Buddha’s belly at The Cal
  • See the Berlin Wall at Main Street Station
  • Ride the Downtown Loop to the Gold & Silver Pawn shop
  • Take in the Neon Museum
  • Grab a dog at American Coney Island at The D

The downtown race culminated at Pizza Rock, of course. Did we not mention Sinna reads this blog?

Gabe Sinna’s friends are apparently fellow Las Vegas aficionados, because they navigated his clues with relative ease. (It was determined later the Internet may have made some of the clues too easy to solve. Thanks a lot, blogs!)

Amazing Gabe

Everyone got to express their feelings about Communism at the Berlin Wall display inside the restroom at Main Street Station.

Ultimately, the red team won.

Amazing Gabe Las Vegas

Congrats, Joe and Angie. You’re Internet famous. Not redeemable for cash.

As mentioned, the downtown “race” was just part of the fun. Sinna created a nearly 20-page, spiral-bound booklet for his friends.

The booklet included, among other things, his friend’s favorite drinks.

Amazing Gabe

This is what we meant when we said, “Everyone needs a friend like Gabe.”

There were also agendas for other days of their trip, shuttle schedules, maps of The Strip and downtown and a page for his friends to note which Vegas casinos they’d visited.

One of our favorite parts of his booklet was devoted to a photo hunt. Sinna created an extensive list of Las Vegas-themed photo ideas, including images of:

  • Bachelorette with a sash
  • Slot win of more than $50
  • Any celebrity (yes, a photo with this blog qualified)
  • A doppelganger
  • Guy with a mullet
  • Bike cop
  • Tasteful side boob
  • Pink flamingo
  • Vegas sunset
  • Neon sign
  • Party pit dancer
  • In line at White Castle
  • Any Elvis
  • Showgirl with feathers
  • Guy named Don (I.D. required)
  • David statue at Caesars Palace
  • Pay phone
  • Night club line
  • Kissing at the Bellagio fountains

Now, that’s a Las Vegas photo hunt right there.

Amazing Gabe

What happens in Vegas goes into the Cloud.

Sinna’s booklet also included another scavenger hunt list with items like “business card from a pit boss,” “slot ticket worth .01 (exactly),” “show ticket stub,” “deck of casino cards” and “trifecta of porn cards (brunette, blonde and redhead).”

While we love Las Vegas a lot, we bow before the love Gabe Sinna clearly has for this town. Seriously. His name even has “sin” in it.

Thanks to Gabe for letting us tag along on several legs of the “Amazing Gabe” race! We were truly impressed with his knowledge of Vegas, as well as his organizational ability, as it’s well-known we are personally bereft of the planning gene.

Amazing Gabe

We are not a heights person, but for some, winning prevails over woozy.

If you’ve done anything even remotely as creative as Gabe for a Las Vegas visit, we’d love to hear about it. We won’t hold our breath.

Amazing Gabe

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Fremont East’s Eureka Restaurant Reveals Menu

Eureka restaurant is coming to Fremont East, and we’ve got a peek at the menu.

Eureka Fremont East

The Emergency Arts building was started as a “arts and cultural business complex.” Some bemoan the deminse of The Beat Coffeehouse, but we aren’t them. Coffee is gross.

The Eureka menu exclaims, “All-American scratch kitchen and craft bar driven by energy, discovery and community.” Translation: “Look! We got a marketing copywriter!”

Anyway, here’s the left half of the menu, featuring shareable appetizers, salads, sandwiches and tacos.

Eureka restaurant menu

Every single item on the “Share It” menu would make a great band name.

We want to point out the Mac N’ Cheese Balls, mainly because we like saying “Mac N’ Cheese
Balls,” and also get to point out they’re serving balls in a scratch kitchen. Yes, we’re 14.

Here’s the right side of the menu, including signature dishes, a robust, funky selection of
burgers and a couple of token desserts.

Eureka restaurant menu

Thanks, Eureka, for narrowing down our dining options by including bone marrow, bison, veggie beet, jalapeno egg and fig.

Here’s a larger version of the whole Eureka menu so you don’t herniate yourself.

Eureka opens Feb. 12, 2018 in the space formerly occupied by the beloved The Beat Coffeehouse, just across from El Cortez.

If you’re having difficulty imagining where Eureka is located, we’ve got a handy photo that
covers the whole north side of Fremont East.

Fremont East district

From left to right, it’s Park on Fremont, Evel Pie, Red, Vanguard Lounge, Therapy and Eureka.

While those price points on the menu don’t seem outrageous compared to The Strip, this restaurant is opening on Fremont East. Revelers can get two of the best burgers in Las Vegas at El Cortez or Binion’s for about $5, so we’ll see how Eureka fares.

We look forward to being pleasantly surprised.

The Killers Light Show Debuts at Fremont Street Experience

The free light shows at Fremont Street Experience are a big draw for Las Vegas visitors, and a new show from The Killers has been added to the rotation at the downtown pedestrian mall.

The new Viva Vision show showcases three songs by The Killers: “Mr. Brightside,” “When You Were Young” and “The Man.”

The Killers light show Fremont Street

Fremont’s light shows are one of the best free things to do in Las Vegas, along with the Bellagio fountains, the Mirage volcano and rejecting the sexual overtures of bloggers.

This blog is a big fan of “The Man,” mostly because the video for the song was shot in Las
Vegas.

The Plaza casino is featured prominently in the video, and former Mayor Oscar Goodman even has a cameo (he’s the one with the martini at the roulette table).

The Killers got their start in Las Vegas when the band formed in 2001.

The unfortunately-named band’s members include Brandon Flowers, Dave Keuning, Mark Stoermer and Ronnie Vannucci, Jr.

Their new light show was designed by a Canadian firm, Moment Factory.

Here’s a look. It’s better in person.

Other recent additions to the Viva Vision line-up include shows devoted to Imagine Dragons (another Las Vegas band), Green Day, Linkin Park and Tiesto.

The Viva Vision screen at Fremont Street Experience (where we work in digital marketing as our day job) is about to undergo a major upgrade at a cost of $33 million.

The project will be paid for by Fremont Street Experience, the City of Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Installation of the upgrade is expected to begin mid-2018 and is expected to take a little more than a year to complete. The Viva Vision canopy will continue to operate during the improvement process.

The upgrade project will vastly improve the resolution of the screen, making it visible even during daylight hours, and will create a “floor-to-ceiling, interactive” experience.

Pizza Lotto to Close, Naked City Pizza to Open at El Cortez

Pizza Lotto, a perfectly good pizza joint at El Cortez casino in downtown Las Vegas, is closing.

Another pizza restaurant, Naked City Pizza, is taking its place.

While we haven’t tried Naked City Pizza, 1) it’s pizza and 2) “Naked.” What’s not to like?

Pizza Lotto Italian restaurant

When it opened, Pizza Lotto promised it would have lottery-inspired scratch-off cards with discounts, but it never delivered. (We’ll wait.)

Reports are Naked City Pizza will open at El Cortez after the new year.

Naked City Pizza seems to have lots of die-hard fans, but it’ll be up against a couple of pizza joints that aren’t just good, they’re great. Specifically, the incomparable Pizza Rock near Downtown Grand and Evel Pie on Fremont East.

To its credit, Naked City Pizza was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” We are not entirely sure which category it fell under.

As we tend to eat pizza at least three times a week, we can’t wait to give Naked City Pizza a try.

One Tower Down, One to Go at Las Vegas Club Demolition

Demolition crews have completed bringing down one of two hotel towers at the closed Las Vegas Club in downtown Las Vegas.

Work on the southernmost hotel tower, about 18 floors tall, was completed on Nov. 10, 2017.

Here’s a “before” photo on Sep. 11, 2017.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Want to see a building disappear? Scroll.

And here’s a look at the Las Vegas Club now.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Downtown now has a lot more sky.

Demolition of the 18 Fremont block began back in February 2017.

The Las Vegas Club hotel towers are being mechanically dismantled with high-reach excavators, as opposed to the typical casino implosion, due to the hotel’s proximity to other buildings.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Here’s a look at the good deal of nothing from the Main Street side.

There have been some fun highlights of the hotel tower’s demolition, including stores of cheerleader uniforms (Las Vegas Club was sports-themed), toilets (no, really) and, most recently, playing cards.

We were shooting video as the excavator tore into a storage room containing thousands of boxes of playing cards. This is about as good as demolition porn in Las Vegas gets, frankly.

Demolition of the Las Vegas Club’s sole remaining tower has already commenced.

A key difference between the two Las Vegas Club hotel towers is the just-demolished structure was concrete. The north tower is steel. The base of the building was designed, and built, to hold an additional 20 floors that were never added, so the next phase of the project could be a bit of a slog for demolition crews.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Taking old stuff down is almost as much fun as putting new things up.

The target is to complete the demolition by the end of 2017.

A new resort from Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of The D and Golden Gate, is expected sometime in 2020.

If you’re a fan of demolitions, check out all our Las Vegas Club demolition coverage.

Truck Dings Self-Driving Shuttle on First Day of Service

Murphy’s Law is laughing its ass off right about now.

On its first official day of service downtown, an autonomous shuttle had a close encounter with a delivery truck and the incident went viral.

Driverless shuttle accident

“Look, Ma, it’s a P.R. nightmare.”

Within an hour of a news conference about the shuttle going into service in a 0.6-mile loop around downtown’s Fremont East district, the shuttle was bumped by a truck illegally backing into an alley near La Comida restaurant.

The shuttle, as programmed, sensed the presence of the truck and stopped. The delivery truck driver, however, didn’t sense the presence of the shuttle and continued backing up, so the truck’s tire made contact with the shuttle.

driverless shuttle accident

Despite the self-driving shuttle being sponsored by AAA, no roadside assistance was required.

The story of the fender bender made international news with misleading headlines like “Driverless Shuttle Crashes Within First Hour on the Road.”

Oh, Internet.

During the incident, there were no injuries (the shuttle only goes 10-15 miles per hour), the truck suffered zero damage and the self-driving shuttle had only a small dent on its front left side from being grazed.

Driverless shuttle accident

The delivery truck driver was cited for illegal backing and ruining a perfectly good paint job.

Granted, a human driver might have reversed in time to avoid the accident, but we’re striking this up to bad luck and awful timing as there were numerous news crews near the scene of the accident due to the earlier news conference.

Company reps say the self-driving shuttle has transported 275,000 passengers without incident.

The shuttle is expected to continue its one-year pilot program as planned. It’s free and stops at three locations along Fremont East and a block south on Carson Avenue.