Category Archives: Las Vegas Bars

Golden Gate Closes Temporarily to Complete Expansion

In a town known to stay open 24/7, it’s rare for a Las Vegas casino to close, but that’s exactly what’s happened at Golden Gate.

Both Golden Gate’s casino and hotel closed on Aug. 20, 2017. It will re-open on Aug. 25, 2017.

Golden Gate

Golden Gate is a hive of activity, mainly because cliches save us a lot of time writing photo captions.

Golden Gate closed temporarily so an expansion into the former La Bayou casino space can be completed.

The expansion will nearly double the size of Golden Gate’s casino floor, and increase the number of slot machines by about 100.

We got a first peek inside the new space, of course.

Construction will mean a brand new loyalty club desk, as well as a 20-foot expansion of the casino’s popular outdoor bar, One Bar.

Golden Gate

The existing casino at Golden Gate has been stripped down to its pantaloons. We should probably stick with cliches.

Crews are expected to work 108 hours straight during the closure of Golden Gate to meet the ambitious construction timeline.

The Golden Gate expansion will be revealed on Aug. 25, marked by a free concert at Fremont Street Experience (where we work in digital marketing as our day job) by Better Than Ezra on Sep. 3, 2017.

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Golden Gate Expansion Nears Completion, Here’s a First Peek Inside

Golden Gate’s expansion is in the home stretch, and we’ve got an exclusive look inside.

Golden Gate expansion

Dead center is where the 24-foot tower of televisions will be. No, we haven’t talked about that yet. We don’t live by society’s rules.

The expansion has been months in the making as Golden Gate has moved into the footprint of the former La Bayou casino.

The additional space will nearly double the size of Golden Gate’s casino floor, adding about 100 slot machines.

Golden Gate will close temporarily on Aug. 20, 2017 to complete the build-out, and the new space will officially debut on Aug. 25.

If you know anything about this blog, you know we’re not real big on waiting for things to “officially debut,” so we had to do a security breach, while adhering to all applicable laws, ordinances and safety regulations, of course.

Golden Gate expansion

We love that new slot machine smell.

During the closure, virtually the entire east wall of Golden Gate’s existing casino will come down to connect the new and old spaces.

A highlight of Golden Gate’s expansion will be a 24-foot tower of TVs, surrounded by hundreds of beveled mirrors.

The television “fountain” will sit inside a new entrance to the casino, with marble flooring and velvet drapes.

The opening of the new casino area and entrance will coincide with an expansion of the casino’s lucrative outdoor bar, One Bar. The bar will expand 20 feet.

Golden Gate expansion

There are fewer words in the English language we love more than “more bar.”

Another big change at Golden Gate will be the relocation of the casino’s loyalty club desk. To complete the finishing touches of the loyalty club and casino expansion, it’s rumored crews will work 108 hours straight during the casino closure to meet the Aug. 25 debut date.

We’re exhausted just typing that sentence.

Golden Gate loyalty club

This is where they’re going to keep the loyalty.

To celebrate the debut of the casino expansion, owners Derek and Greg Stevens will host a free concert by Better Than Ezra on Sep. 3 at 9:00 p.m. The concert is a late addition to the free summer concert series put on by Fremont Street Experience (where we work as our day gig in digital marketing).

Golden Gate has made the most of a fairly modest space, and the casino interior already gives off a welcoming vibe with its mix of modern and classic design elements, including dark wood accents we sort of want to rub our various body parts up against for some reason.

Golden Gate expansion

Golden Gate opened in 1906. Back in those days, slot machines paid jackpots in cobwebs.

The new space is already filling up with shiny new slot machines (no classics from the Riviera here), many of which were too tall to put in other areas of the casino due to the classic casino’s low ceilings.

Golden Gate’s expansion is a great excuse to stop by during your next visit, and make sure to check out the demolition site just across Fremont Street while you’re there.

Here’s a little-known fact related to Golden Gate: The hotel was home to the first telephone in Las Vegas (the phone number was “1”), but that’s not the little known fact. The little-known fact is about who got the second telephone in Las Vegas. Any guesses?

We’ll wait.

You’re going to love this.

Golden Gate (originally called Hotel Nevada) was owned by John F. Miller. The second telephone in Las Vegas was installed in his home, at the behest of Miller’s wife, Rosa. Who else do you think he’d call with the city’s first phone? Now you know!

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Corduroy Opens in Eclectic Fremont East District

Corduroy, a quirky, lively bar from the Downtown Project, has opened in the Fremont East Entertainment District in downtown Las Vegas.

The new bar sits in a space formerly occupied by a clothing boutique, Coterie, between two popular downtown hangouts, Beauty Bar and The Griffin.

Corduroy bar

If Fremont East isn’t familiar territory, have no fear. We did a quick walk-through.

Corduroy, which we’re still having difficulty spelling consistently, opened Aug. 5, 2015, and already feels like a hit.

Corduroy

To understand corduroy, you must understand cords and wales. We don’t, so nevermind.

The centerpiece of the 4,000-square-foot space is a large, decorative “bubble wall” behind the bar.

The color-shifting, fluid-based wall is a mesmerizing backdrop for the libations to come.

Corduroy Las Vegas

Corduroy’s wall art is reminiscent of a lava lamp, a phrase we’re pretty sure will keep Millennials busy for the next several minutes, Googlewise.

Here’s a look, as we are clearly lacking in the vocabulary to adequately describe the thing.

Corduroy is an inviting space with a relaxed, unpretentious vibe.

As with too many bars downtown (Commonwealth, Downtown Cocktail Room) and elsewhere, the music is 20 percent too loud to comfortably hold a conversation, but the kids seem to like it that way.

For some time, the plan was to call the venue The Vault, but management thought better of that name as the concept was fleshed out.

Corduroy is a reference to the fabric popular in the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s, and the music at the new bar reflects that era.

The 1970s also served for many of the decorative touches at Corduroy, including a wall of vintage speakers and other audio equipment.

Corduroy Fremont Street

Audiophiles will immediately recognize these items as “old things to set your iPad on.”

Beyond the appeal of the space, the menu at Corduroy is equally memorable.

Here’s a look at the signature cocktails, most reasonably priced in the $9 range.

Corduroy drink menu

Don’t think of it as a drink menu, think of it as a to-do list.

Right off the bat, one must have Sex on the Beach. The sweet, refreshing cocktail is served in a Capri Sun-style juice bag, and costs just $6.

Corduroy cocktail

Things just got all whimsical up in here.

We also tried the amazing Raoul Duke cocktail, with Tanqueray gin, Cherry Heering liqueur, triple sec, Benedictine liqueur, Angostura bitters, grenadine bar syrup, lime, pineapple and a shot of Mezcal for good measure.

Translation: It’s a certified Vital Vegas blog panty-dropper cocktail.

Corduroy cocktail

Fun fact: “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” by Hunter S. Thompson, was originally written under the name Raoul Duke.

During our visit, Corduroy’s Moscow Mules and Frontier Mules were being ordered faster than the bartenders could crank them out.

The drink menu also features “Classics” ($10) and “Shooters” ($6.50).

While the food menu isn’t expansive, there are some “Munchies,” including chicken pot pie, Hot Pockets, corn dogs and other quick bites.

When you visit Corduroy, and you should, make sure to fully explore the space.

Check out the classic video game table, as well as the irreverent restroom signs.

Corduroy restroom

We are easily amused.

Behind an unmarked door is a room for photo ops, with converging lights, vanishing point-style.

Corduroy Fremont Street

And we got the Millennials back.

Beyond the main bar and a small stage for DJs, there’s a separate lounge area with comfy furniture and small smoking room. We won’t hold that against them.

Downtown Project, owners of Gold Spike, Downtown Container Park, Inspire and other venues, has a winner on its hands with Corduroy.

Corduroy Fremont Street

Corduroy is no-frills fun. Although if you’re a frills person, do you. It’s Vegas, we don’t judge.

Corduroy seems a perfect fit for Fremont East, and is poised to be a crowd-pleasing, laid-back watering hole for visitors and downtown denizens alike.

Corduroy opens at 4:00 p.m., and operates Wednesday through Sunday.

Corduroy on Fremont East

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Tipsy Robot’s Automated Bartenders Are a Riveting New Diversion on the Las Vegas Strip

A pair of robotic bartenders have created some serious buzz since a new bar, Tipsy Robot, opened inside Miracle Mile Shops at the Planet Hollywood Las Vegas resort.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

“Kuka” is a German word meaning, “Bow before your new robotic bartender overlords.”

Tipsy Robot is billed as the “first land-based robotic bar.” There’s another pair of robot bartenders on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas cruise liner, but these are infinitely better, because Las Vegas.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

You can’t spell “tipsy” without “tips,” and, ironically, robot bartenders don’t accept those.

As marketing gimmicks go, this is one of the best we’ve ever seen, and crowds were gathering to watch the robots mix drinks even before the venue opened to the public.

We were utterly mesmerized as the dynamic duo deftly delivered drinks. See for yourself in our hastily slapped-together video.

That adorable little dance, though.

So, here’s all the Tipsy Robot skinny.

Guests place orders via one of 33 tablets. There’s a robust list of 18 signature cocktails, but guests may order custom-built drinks, too.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Park it at a tablet and make some mechanical mixology magic.

For an existing drink, it’s just a matter of making a selection and providing a name and e-mail address.

For custom drinks, guests can choose from virtually unlimited options, from the kind of liquor (Tipsy Robot boasts 172 bottles, or 59 different brands) to exact proportions of liquor and mixers and ice.

There are 14 “portions” in all. For example, we ordered a rum and Coke with two parts rum, six parts Coke and six parts ice. We really like ice.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Tipsy Robot serves Captain Morgan Silver. We’re trying to get past it.

Once an order is placed and paid for with a credit card (drinks are $14 for a standard drink with one shot of alcohol), it goes into a queue. That’s a fancy European term for “line.”

The robots take anywhere from a minute to 90 seconds to prepare a drink, so the virtual line moves quite quickly.

A fun part of the process is that video displays keep track of where your order is in the queue, and you can tell when your specific drink is being made.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Analytics! See where you are in the queue, the most popular drinks being ordered and trends related to the consumption of various drink categories. You are officially a world-class nerd.

While a drink is being prepared, an e-mail is sent to the address given when the order was placed.

The e-mail contains a QR code which, when scanned, “unlocks” the drink. This ensures nobody can abscond with a cocktail.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Set your drink free with your QR code. QR codes are like bar codes. Emphasis on “bar.”

That’s it.

The robots prepare drinks element by element, grabbing ice from a dispenser, extracting liquor from bottles hanging overhead, slicing fruit, shaking up the drink and pouring the cocktails ever-so-carefully into plastic cups.

What don’t the robot bartenders do? They don’t take breaks, they don’t accept tips and they don’t provide straws.

There are attendants in space-aged uniforms to handle the straw thing.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

The robot helpers are called “Galactic Ambassadors.” Just play along.

During our visit, we chatted up Rino Armeni, owner of the 2,500-square-foot Tipsy Robot and Chairman of Robotic Innovations. He said, “I’m very proud that Las Vegas finally has something different, new, and most importantly, ahead of its time.”

Armeni is a charismatic Italian whose enthusiasm is contagious.

“In food and beverage,” Armeni says, “I think we’ve been asleep at the wheel lately. It’s been a matter of recycling, rather than being inventive.”

Yes, he actually said “sleeping on the wheel,” but we know what he meant.

Armeni continues, “We want to be almost like the fountains of Bellagio, the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign. We want people to come and experience this kind of entertainment.”

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Owner Rino Armeni greets Tipsy Robot guests, assuring them he’s never heard the word “Skynet” before.

Armeni is careful to point out he considers the robot bartenders entertainment, rather than a replacement for actual bartenders.

In fact, Tipsy Robot has a “Human Bar,” with humans serving up the libations.

The robot bartenders aren’t fully autonomous, of course. A human being is still tasked with replacing the liquor bottles.

When we asked an insider how much the robots cost, the answer was along the lines of “a metric ass-ton.”

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

Humans and robots have many things in common, including an ongoing need for lubrication.

Tipsy Robot is looking to crowdsource the names of the robots. Siegfried and Roy leap to mind. Find out more on the Tipsy Robot Facebook page.

Tipsy Robot is open from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10:00 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Here’s another look at these modern marvels. You may not be able to tell these robot bartenders your problems, but you’ll always know the precise size of your pour.

Tipsy Robot Las Vegas

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Mercato Della Pescheria at Venetian Is a Las Vegas Must-Try

There’s an old Italian saying, “Il savio non s’imbarca senza biscotto.” It means, “A wise man never boards a ship without biscuits.”

We have no idea how that phrase relates to the captivating Mercato Della Pescheria at Venetian Las Vegas, but it was the best we could manage after a one-minute Google search.

Let’s eat!

Mercato Della Pescheria

Here’s a fun fact: Guests prefer to sit on the “patio” at Mercato Della Pescheria, despite the fact it’s not, technically, outdoors.

Mercato Della Pescheria has somehow managed to fly under the radar, but it’s easily one of the best Italian restaurants on the Las Vegas Strip.

The restaurant is tucked neatly in a corner of St. Mark’s Square in the Venetian’s Grand Canal Shops. The space was previously occupied by a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, Postrio.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Yes, we made a beeline to the bar. Do you know this blog at all?

Mercato Della Pescheria is Italian for “fish market,” a much less romantic term than “Mercato Della Pescheria.”

Mercato Della Pescheria is a mouthful, and is probably one of the reasons you don’t hear more about it. We’ve taken to calling it “Mercato” for short, or just “Rinaldo,” mainly when we’re drunk.

Mercato was inspired by an Italian coast seafood market. The vast majority of the ingredients in the dishes are imported from Italy, as are the servers, hostesses and managers at Mercato Della Pescheria.

You can see one of those Italian imports at the end of our walk-through.

While we are not a food critic, we can attest to the authenticity of the dishes, as we have eaten in the actual country of Italy.

To start, try selections from the menu’s “Salumeria” section (or “delicatessen”). Here you’ll find exceptional cured meats and Italian cheeses, almost all of which have names with ample vowels.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Stick to the small board. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Sorry about the sports analogy, we won’t let it happen again.

Appetizers include bruschetta (it’s the law), beef carpaccio, fried calamari, meatballs, marinated vegetables and other items.

Oh, and wood-roasted octopus. This is why you bring someone with you to Italian restaurants. They can tell you it’s delicious, and you can just trust their judgment.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Octopuses are soft-bodied, eight-armed molluscs. We can certainly sympathize with the soft-bodied part.

Before you get too far into the menu, you’ll want to try one, or several, of Mercato Della Pescheria’s signature cocktails.

As further proof we are not a restaurant reviewer, we have no idea which signature cocktail this is. We do remember it was absolutely delicious, so take a leap of faith, order something the waitress recommends and know you’ll get something good.

Mercato Della Pescheria cocktail

There’s a chance this is an “Italian Highball,” with Skyy Infusions Georgia Peach vodka, Aperol (an Italian aperitif), white peach puree, lemon and San Pellegrino blood orange soda.

Mercato has a dizzying selection of fresh pasta dishes, which sort of made us wish we were a cow. Because they have four stomachs. Please try and keep up.

If you’re like us, most of the pasta you eat comes out of a “box” or “bag” from a “grocery store.” This is blasphemy to Italians, and once you have pasta made in-house, you may never go back.

Mercato pasta

Fresh pasta, suitable for inhalation.

The rest of the menu is devoted to meat and seafood, from the “coal-fired Josper oven and grill,” whatever that might actually be.

Simply put, every damn dish is better than the next at Mercato Della Pescheria. The veal osso buco was impressive, and we are not personally a veal person.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Sometimes, food is so pretty, you don’t want to eat it. The amazing part is we nearly wrote that with a straight face.

The shining star at Mercato Della Pescheria was the lasagna, the “Lasagna Della Mamma.” It’s easily among the best we’ve ever had. In our lives. And we have lived a fairly long life. Don’t rub it in.

Mercato Della Pescheria

Do not covet our lasagna. We can totally tell you’re coveting.

You will absolutely not have room for dessert, but have it, anyway.

Ask about the tiramisu (sorry, “Il Tiramisu”), as it’s prepared fresh, tableside, with homemade lady fingers, mascarpone cream, coffee and chocolate.

Mercato Della Pescheria

“Grazie!” we exclaimed. “I’m from Poland,” she replied, as we nearly caused an international incident.

While Mercato Della Pescheria isn’t cheap, you get what you pay for, and given the quality and freshness of the food, we consider it a value as well as an upscale dining experience you probably can’t find back home. Unless your home is Milan.

Mercato Della Pescheria

One more panty-dropper cocktail, the Cosmo Bianca, with Skyy Bartlett Pear vodka, St. Germain, lime sour and white cranberry.

If you’re visiting Las Vegas, it’s all about finding unforgettable experiences, and Mercato Della Pescheria is a “bellissima” example of just that.

Find out more at the official site, and make sure to check out the full menu.

Mercato Della Pescheria at Venetian

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Red Rock Resorts Will Reportedly Jettison Five Restaurants and Clique Hospitality

There’s a shake-up on the way, and it could mark the end of five restaurants at Red Rock Resorts casinos in Las Vegas.

Rumors are Red Rock Resorts, also known as Station Casinos, will sever ties with one of its main restaurant partners, Clique Hospitality Group, at the end of 2017.

In the parlance of Las Vegas restaurants: This could be a really big deal.

Red Rock Resort

If you guessed we wrote this entire article as an excuse to share this kick-ass photo we took of Red Rock resort, you could be right.

The change in relationship between Station Casinos and Clique Hospitality is going to mean a number of restaurants will be rebranded or replaced.

If the rumors are true, Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar, Salute Trattoria Italiana and Libre Mexican Cantina will soon be out at Red Rock resort.

At Green Valley Ranch, Bottiglia and Borracha Mexican Cantina will be getting a swan song as well.

Bottiglia

It sounds like Bottiglia is one of the restaurants about to get whacked.

Clique Hospitality was founded by Andy Masi, founder of Light Group, and his partners Brian Massie and Shane Monaco.

Clique Hospitality is, at its heart, a relatively well-regarded nightlife company. The firm’s expansion into restaurants has been less successful. (Don’t even get us started about our experience at their “restaurant” at Mirage, The Still. It was so disappointing, we couldn’t even bear to write about it.)

Replacements for the outgoing restaurants have yet to be finalized. Red Rock Resorts could seek other partners, or just retool the restaurants and manage them in-house.

An interesting side note is Red Rock Resorts recently bought the Palms resort. We predicted Clique Hospitality would play a key role in rebranding the resort’s restaurants, but that now
seems an unlikely scenario.

Palms recently announced it will open a new 24-hour cafe, Lucky Penny, on July 1. The Bistro Buffet at Palms closes June 30, with a new food hall concept coming in December 2017. In the meantime, a temporary offering, Social Table, will operate in the hotel’s former Hooter’s space. Clique is nowhere to be found in plans for the Palms.

Clique Hospitality

What doesn’t kill us can still be fairly awkward.

The falling out with Red Rock Resorts means a hefty chunk of Clique’s restaurant portfolio could be wiped out by the end of the year.

We quite enjoyed Clique Bar & Lounge at Cosmopolitan, so here’s hoping Clique Hospitality will continue to seek out nightlife opportunities around town with other resort partners.

Update (6/15/17): According to Lori Nelson, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Station Casinos, the rumors in our story are unfounded. She states, “The rumors in your blog about the restaurants at Red Rock Resort and Green Valley Ranch Resort are false. We value and enjoy a great relationship with Andy Masi and Clique Hospitality.”

Thanks to the folks at Station for taking the time to reach out.

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