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.

Driverless Shuttle to Begin Service in Downtown Las Vegas

After a successful pilot period back in January 2017, a driverless shuttle is ready to begin service on Fremont East in downtown Las Vegas.

While an official announcement hasn’t been made yet, the self-driving, autonomous shuttle is expected to begin operation on Nov. 8, 2017.

The shuttle service will be free.

Driverless shuttle Las Vegas

Hold on! You’re in for a wild ride of up to 15 miles per hour.

The driverless shuttle is the first of its kind to be deployed on a public roadway in the country.

Unlike during the shuttle’s test run in January, it will not only move passengers between Flippin’ Good restaurant and the Downtown Container Park, it will loop over to E. Carson Ave., with a stop outside Donut Bar.

Previously, a lane of traffic was blocked off for the shuttle, but when it goes live this time, it will maneuver in traffic.

Driverless shuttle Las Vegas

While the driverless shuttle never turns around, it does go both ways. It’s Vegas, we don’t judge.

The shuttle is battery-operated and carries about 15 people.

Judging by the wrap on the vehicle, the shuttle service is sponsored by AAA.

Here’s a look at the shuttle in action during its pilot period earlier this year.

The hours of operation of the autonomous shuttle aren’t known yet, but the shuttle ran from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during its trial run.

Expect some hooplah around the launch of the driverless shuttle program in the days to come.

Dough Dough’s Hawaiian Cafe and Malasadas is a Delicious Downtown Discovery

Yes, it’s got a weird name.

In addition, Dough Dough’s Hawaiian Cafe & Malasadas is in a weird location. The new restaurant is attached to the Gambler’s General Store in downtown Las Vegas.

Dough Dough's Hawaiian Cafe

At first glance, you might think, “That’s a thing?” You think wrong.

“Weird location,” however, isn’t a deterrent when a restaurant serves one of the best desserts we’ve ever had in Las Vegas. And trust us when we say we’ve had a lot of desserts in Las Vegas.

Prepare yourself for the Dough Dough’s malasada.

Dough Dough's Hawaiian Cafe

That sound you hear it Heaven opening its gates as a choir of angels sings.

Dough Dough’s Hawaiian Cafe replaces the former sandwich shop, Gambler’s Cafe.

The cafe has a full menu, including an excellent “plate lunch” that will be familiar to those familiar with Hawaiian fare.

This blog personally lived in Hawaii for a decade, and we can attest the plate lunch at this modest eatery is one of the best we’ve had in Las Vegas.

Dough Dough's Hawaiian Cafe

Teriyaki chicken, check. Two scoop (sic, it’s a Hawaii thing) rice, check. Macaroni salad, check.

The menu also features salads, burgers and sandwiches.

Dough Dough's Las Vegas

This is the Cliffs Notes version. Find the full menu on the Dough Dough’s Facebook page.

The Pete Kalua Burger is a hamburger with (wait for it) kalua pork on top.

Dough Dough's Las Vegas

“Kalua” means “to cook in an underground oven.” You’d know this if you were a cook in Hawaii, which, we’re pretty sure, is considered a Pacific Rim job.

Undeniably, though, the malasadas are the star of the show at the Hawaiian Cafe.

You know they take malasadas, basically fried dough smothered in sugar, seriously here because there’s an entire menu devoted to this Hawaiian treat.

The malasadas come three ways, as we all wish we did, as either Big, Mini or Bites. They’re all amazing, satisfying and utterly addictive.

The large malasas come with an extensive selection of fillings, including cherry, raspberry, strawberry, apple, guava, pineapple, vanilla, chocolate, coconut cream, lemon, blueberry, cream cheese, apricot and mango.

If you insist upon a filling, just save yourself some time and do the lemon.

Dough Dough's malasadas

These malasadas will change your life for the better. Or, at the very least, for the wider.

The malasadas also come in “Local Favorite Combinations” like “Lemon Drop,” “Strawberries and Cream,” “Apple Pie,” “Pina Colada” and others.

We are a malasada purist (shocker), so we prefer Mini Malasadas (six medium-sized malasadas) or Malasada Bites (a dozen donut hole-sized malasadas).

Dough Dough's Las Vegas

“Malasada” means “under-cooked” in Portugese. The malasadas at Dough Dough’s, however, are fried to perfection.

The minis and bites are rolled in a choice of sugar, including plain, pure cane, powdered or cinnamon.

When it comes to the malasadas at Dough Dough’s, your expandable waistband may just have met its match.

Dough Dough's malasadas

No reservation needed, at least until word gets out. Consider it out.

Despite the restaurant’s challenging location, these sugar-coated delights are an absolute Las Vegas must-try.

While you’re there, wander through the Gambler’s General Store. It’s a great place to get gambling-related merchandise and possibly to put a $2,800 craps table on layaway because you seriously need to get this blog a Christmas present.

Dough Dough’s Hawaiian Cafe & Malasadas is located at 800 Main Street, and has limited hours at the moment, from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Carson Kitchen is Back in Business After Expansion

A popular downtown eatery, Carson Kitchen, has re-opened following an expansion.

Carson Kitchen

Carson Kitchen is located at 6th St. and Carson Ave. Which doesn’t help you find it, but we figured we’d throw it out there, anyway.

In June 2017, Carson Kitchen celebrated its three-year anniversary, and has now added about 550-square-feet to its modest footprint.

The expansion took over a space previously occupied by Black Spade Tattoo.

Additions included a new entryway and bar, especially that last thing.

Carson Kitchen

Carson Kitchen seats six, or 12 if you’re cool with PDAs.

The Carson Kitchen expansion increases the seating capacity of the restaurant by about 24 seats.

Carson Kitchen

Twenty-four more seats may not sound like a lot, but when you’re hangry, it makes all the difference in the world.

The restaurant has kept its open kitchen and social seating, and the menu remains the same, replete with palate-pleasing fare.

Carson Kitchen

Carson Kitchen’s open kitchen lives up to its name. Because it’s open again. This isn’t rocket science.

The food at Carson Kitchen is exceptional, and we’d love to say we dine there often, but the establishment doesn’t serve Captain Morgan, so that’s a nonstarter for us.

Still, Carson Kitchen continues to receive raves, so it’s well worth a try.

Carson Kitchen

Social dining takes some getting used to, much like this blog talking about itself in the first person plural.

Really, the food’s excellent.

Carson Kitchen

The “Devil’s Eggs” are a must-try.

Go here for the full Carson Kitchen menu, and see more of our photos of the food.

Carson Kitchen is open Sunday through Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Yes, we copied and pasted that from a news release. Don’t judge.

Las Vegas Club Demolition Rounds Second Base

The former Las Vegas Club, a sports-themed casino in downtown Las Vegas, is about halfway toward its goal of becoming history.

The Las Vegas Club demolition project, which also included Mermaids casino and the Glitter Gulch strip club, hit a milestone with the removal of a baseball player statue that stood watch over Fremont and Main for decades.

Las Vegas Club baseball player

Demolition guy for scale.

The baseball player was spared becoming debris by the demolition company, Northern American Dismantling Corp.

The statue now sits on the demolition site, next to another classic sign, the Golden Goose.

Fun fact we learned about the Golden Goose: At one time it rotated. The mechanism responsible for the movement makes the goose ungodly heavy.

Las Vegas Club baseball player

Make a bid. Take one home. Check for lice.

Removal of the statue provided a rare close-up of the statue.

Las Vegas Club baseball player

Yeah, it’s gross.

There are currently no plans to dispose of the baseball player or the goose, but it’s likely they’ll end up in the hands of a private owner willing to foot the bill to remove, transport and restore the signs.

Ironically, while strolling Fremont, we spotted one of the baseball player’s relatives.

Fremont busker

We crack us up.

Meanwhile on the site, a massive high-reach excavator, nicknamed “Bronto,” suffered mechanical problems, resulting in what amounts to the excavator equivalent of a “slip and fall,” and has been sidelined for several weeks.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Bronto’s in the shop. Otherwise known as the Las Vegas Club’s former parking structure.

It’s been replaced by an even taller excavator that, after a longer-than-expected assembly period (high-reach excavators seem to be temperamental, a frustration that’s cost the demolition team about six weeks), has been steadily eating away at the Las Vegas Club’s south hotel tower.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Housekeeping has really been slacking at the Las Vegas Club. Photo taken Oct. 20, 2017.

It seems Bronto may be down, but it’s not out. The super of the site says it’s expected the excavator will be repaired and join the current excavator as the hotel’s towers are meticulously taken down.

Las Vegas Club demolition

This was taken Oct. 16, 2017. Fun fact: Demolition guys call the tool at the end of the excavator a “pecker.” Some jokes just write themselves.

It’s been fascinating to watch the progress at 18 Fremont, the address of the block being leveled for a new resort from Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of The D and Golden Gate.

The demolition hasn’t been without challenges. Aside from the mechanical problems with the excavators, early in the project the facade of Mermaids was taken down earlier than expected due to the instability of the old structure. Originally, the facade was to remain in place to assist with dust suppression.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Oh, like we weren’t going to show you a close-up of the pecker. Do you know this blog at all?

Recently, while working with the excavator at the top of the south tower, an exterior decorative piece (see below) tore loose, landing on the casino structure below and crushing a fence along Main Street. While not optimal, the demolition crew anticipated the potential for debris on the Main Street side of the structure and had stopped vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The debris was cleaned up in short order and work was back underway immediately.

Las Vegas Club demolition

This is the “before” photo. First rule of demolition: Gravity always wins.

Here’s a look at the west side of the south tower. There will be a quiz.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Here’s the “after.” The Las Vegas Club opened in 1930. The hotel towers closed in 2013.

The dramatic nature of the Las Vegas Club demolition has made it a bona fide tourist attraction downtown, with groups of gawkers gathering to watch the excavator do its thing.

It’s been a blast tracking the demolition progress, and are giddy as workers move closer to a room on an upper floor that is said to contain dozens of cheerleader costumes, a hold-over from the sports-themed casino’s heyday.

Las Vegas Club demolition

This is one of our favorite things about the demolition site, a peek into Vegas history. We’re pretty sure this used to be a restaurant, possibly the Upper Deck coffee shop.

The plan is to finish demolition of the Las Vegas Club by the end of the year, although it may be slow-going when crews take on the north tower. The north tower’s base was built to be able to support another 20 floors that were never added. The reinforced beams are sure to put the excavators to the test.

Las Vegas Club demolition

There’s still time to swing by and kiss the Las Vegas Club goodbye. Metaphorically. That would really be gross.

Check back as we obsessively chronicle the Las Vegas Club demolition. Hey, the alternative is to get a life and we don’t have time for all that.

Las Vegas Club Demolition: Oct. 20, 2017

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Axe Hole Las Vegas Hits the Mark at Neonopolis

When you think about fun things to do in Las Vegas, axe throwing may not immediately spring to mind. Maybe it should.

Axe Hole, a new offering at Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas, provides guests the chance to test their mettle by tossing axes, knives, spears, throwing stars and other sharp objects at targets.

We are not entirely sure what a “mettle” is, but it sure does sound like something you’d want to test.

Axe Hole Las Vegas

To enter Axe Hole, stroll through this door hole.

Axe Hole follows on the heels of another axe-throwing emporium, Axe Monkeys, which made its debut in Las Vegas in March 2017.

At first, we were doubtful an axe-throwing operation could succeed in Las Vegas, but our doubts were punctured the moment we hit a bull’s eye and heard a magical sound.

“Thook.”

When you land a hatchet perfectly, you’re hooked. Do it when you’re competing against friends, and axe-throwing becomes an obsession.

Axe Hole

Top tip: In axe throwing, it’s all about rotation. If you’re not sticking your throw, move a step forward or back.

At Axe Hole, $25 per person gets you an hour of throwing time. If you can’t commit to an hour, you can do 15 tosses for $15. We’re telling you right up front, you will not be able to stop at 15, so spring for the hour.

Axe Hole

Oh, just do the axe. “Ninja Star Hole” just sounds stupid.

At first glance, axe-throwing would seem to appeal more to men than women, but because the activity relies more on technique than strength, women excel at it.

Axe Hole staffers provide expert coaching so guests can make the most of their time using the throwing lanes.

Axe Hole

Good luck getting the pliers to make a “thook” sound.

Axe Hole keeps things interesting (as if throwing axes wasn’t inherently interesting enough) by selling zombie targets ($4) and “smash box” targets ($5).

A smash box is hung from a target, and an accurate toss will break it open to reveal a prize.

Axe Hole

Ladies and gentlemen, zombie Howard Hughes.

Guests at Axe Hole must be 10 or older to throw, and closed-toed shoes are required to take part in the festivities.

Axe Hole is an entertaining, offbeat way to let off steam and unleash your inner viking in downtown Las Vegas.

Get more details at the official Axe Hole site. And, yes, we really enjoy saying Axe Hole.

 

Gold Diggers Nightclub at Golden Nugget to Close and Get Renovation, Rebrand

Gold Diggers Nightclub at Golden Nugget will soon close for a renovation. Halloween is expected to be its final night of operation before a hiatus.

Rumor has it the night spot will get an overhaul that includes a name change.

Fremont Gold Diggers

Gold Diggers, seen upper right, provides one of the best views of the circus that is Fremont Street.

The club sits on the second floor of the resort, with a balcony overlooking Fremont Street.(Golden Nugget is a member casino of Fremont Street Experience, where we work in digital marketing as our day job).

Gold Diggers is one of the few dance clubs downtown, it’s next closest competitor being Gold Spike, a former casino but now a hotspot for millennials.

Details about the nature of the Gold Diggers rebrand are being kept under wraps at the moment, but expect a “new nightclub experience.” Hey, scoop’s scoop, no matter how vague.

Vegas beer tap handle

If the Gold Diggers renovation involves swapping out these awesome beer tap handles, we call dibs.

It’s expected Gold Diggers, or whatever it’s called next (see update, below), will re-open relatively quickly, even as soon as November 2017.

If you want to know some skinny about Las Vegas nightclubs, we’ve got this.

Update (10/26/17): We’ve learned the new venue will be named Troy Liquor Bar, a brand owned by Landry’s with an existing outlet in New York City’s Meatpacking District.

Troy Liquor Bar Golden Nugget

Troy Liquor Bar will featured a large video wall and will have a new focus on the lounge’s patio overlooking Fremont.

More details to come, so check back hourly for the latest scoop.