Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

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.

Chica at Venetian Serves Up Latin Flavors With Feminine Flair

We finally got around to checking out Chica restaurant at Venetian, and this under-appreciated dining destination is as appealing to the palate as it is pleasing to the eyes.

Yes, Chica opened in May 2017, but we are very busy and important.

Let’s take a gander at this seductive eatery, assuming people still take ganders. We, for one, have never seen anyone leave a gander, but we don’t get out all that much.

Chica Venetian restaurant

We sort of want to have a completely consensual relationship with this interior design.

The chef behind Chica is Lorena Garcia.

Garcia is known for competing on “Top Chef Masters,” a series whose entire purpose is pretty much to make those of us who are clueless in the kitchen feel even more clueless. It’s believed Lorena Garcia is the first Latin-American woman to open a restaurant on the Las Vegas Strip, as hard as that is to believe.

Garcia, born and raised in Venezuela, is not only a chef, but a cookbook author and cookware designer. She also designed us some scrumptious food.

Chica Venetian

These empanadas were by far the best, and possibly first, we’ve ever had.

You know the food is good at Chica because we did brunch, and we are not a brunch person.

You also know the food is good if we voluntarily tried the grilled Peruvian octopus. If you’re into food with suction cups, you should try it, too.

Chica Venetian Las Vegas

We would not know an aji amarillo sauce if we landed in a vat of it, but it was tasty nonetheless.

The Dulce De Leche French Toast (translation: milk of the dulce) was great, although next time we’d get the macerated berries on the side as it overwhelmed our favorite part, the bread. It’s not called Macerated Berries Toast, after all.

Chica restaurant Vegas

Fun fact: It’s a myth you can get hairy palms from excessive maceration.

Chica says of itself, the restaurant gives guests “the opportunity to explore the flavors of Latin American cuisine as one culture, with influences from Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina, among many more.”

This food gets around. All due respect.

Chica Las Vegas

Chica is home to some world-class guac.

The interior of Chica matches the appeal of the cuisine, and has an irresistible interior design with lots of Latin American flair like ironwork and large pieces of art reflecting the restaurant’s feminine theme.

Chica Venetian

Some restaurants just give good vibe.

The beverages are in plentiful supply as well. We even tried the Some Like It Hot, despite it having zero Captain Morgan. The Some Like It Hot is a margarita with a twist, featuring Dos Armadillos Reposado tequila, lime juice, papaya jam and Scotch bonnet peppers.

Chica also makes some mean Bloody Marys and an excellent margarita. We know how you are.

Chica Vegas

We make no apologies for not remembering which cocktail this is. That’s one of the ways we decide how good a cocktail is.

You may also want to try the mimosa deal⁠—bottomless champagne with a choice of fresh-squeezed juices like orange, guava, grapefruit and pomegranate ($25). Technically, they’re health drinks. Because juices.

If we remember correctly, which is highly unlikely, Chica is located between The Dorsey Cocktail Bar and Yardbird.

Chica Las Vegas Venetian

Es este.

You can check out the various Chica menus on the official site.

Thanks to the team at Chica for hosting a portion of our meal so we could try things we wouldn’t normally. Looking at you, Peruvian suction cups.

There are tons of great dining options inside the Venetian, Palazzo and Grand Canal Shoppes, but Chica is definitely a stand-out.

Flamingo Drops Sweet Renderings for Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse

Flamingo Las Vegas has shared some great-looking renderings for its new restaurant, Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse.

Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse takes up residence in the former Center Cut, Cafe to Go and Diamond Lounge spaces.

Bugsy Meyers Steakhouse Flamingo

When a rendering makes you thirsty, then you realize everything in Vegas does.

The restaurant’s name, of course, makes reference to two infamous mobsters, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and his longtime friend and associate, Meyer Lansky.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Flamingo’s news release about the restaurant doesn’t dive too deep into the history of its namesake crooks.

“Bugsy” Siegel (no one who knew him dared call him that, as the term means “crazy”), was a violent thug with a long history of making money from extortion, bootlegging and gambling rackets. He was connected to at least a dozen murders.

Meyer Lansky knew Seigel from their days in New York’s Lower East side where they ran a floating crap game, then progressed to auto theft, burglary, liquor smuggling and far more serious crimes.

Here’s a fun fact: Meyer Lansky’s real name was Maier Suchowljansky.

Siegel and Lansky ran a murder-for-hire operation, too, but let’s not let the fact these guys were douchebags get in the way of enjoying more details about this beautiful new venue at Flamingo. Remember, Las Vegas was built on short memories (and optimism).

To make the name Bugsy & Meyer’s name even more cringeworthy: Historians believe Bugsy Siegel’s whacking was approved by (wait for it) Meyer Lansky.

Bugsy Meyers Flamingo

According to the official news release, the Lansky family is involved in the restaurant at Flamingo. Awkward, given the whole “douchebag” thing.

At the new restaurant, guests will enter through a “bakery” facade, past a kitchen and dry-aged meat cooler. The meat is dry-aged, not the cooler. Words are hard.

The restaurant will have a variety of atmospheres, including the main bar, patio dining, the main dining room, three private dining rooms and a raw bar. We’re pretty sure the raw bar is pictured below. Why is it raw? It’s in Vegas, if you get our drift.

Bugsy Meyers Steakhouse Flamingo

Great fit for Flamingo, we say.

Vegas fanatics will appreciated that the main dining room will feature vintage photos of the early days of Flamingo and Las Vegas.

Bugsy & Meyers will have a speakeasy and private bar lounge, “The Count Room.”

Bugsy Meyers Flamingo

We intend to spend many bleary hours at this bar.

The cocktail menu will have both classics and originals. Our favorite part: “Rum cocktails will be heavily featured.”

From the renderings, we’d say Caesars Entertainment, owner of Flamingo, has found great partners with designers Studio K Creative and Jonathan Adler.

Studio K Creative has done other projects in Las Vegas, including La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas, Crush at MGM Grand and MB Steak at Hard Rock.

We can’t wait to give Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse a try when it opens in the spring of 2020.

Front Yard at Ellis Island Is Worth the Wait

It’s taken a minute, but Front Yard at Ellis Island is ready for its debut. The new restaurant and bar opens Dec. 6, 2019.

Here’s a first look inside. Although, if you follow us on Twitter, it’s a second look inside, but let’s not get bogged down by details.

Ellis Island Front Yard

You know we like a place if we like it even when sports are on.

The Front Yard was announced all the way back in July 2017 and broke ground in April 2018.

We’re pleased to report it was worth the wait, as Ellis Island’s new venue offers top-notch food, ample booze and great values. So, it’s pretty much Ellis Island, expanded.

You sort of can’t miss the Front Yard. First, it’s in front of Ellis Island. Second, the exterior of the
Front Yard constantly changes colors, a clever marketing tool sure to catch the eye of drivers-by.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Ellis Island just got 400% more fleek or whatever the kids are calling it now.

The Front Yard is a two-story affair described as an “outdoor dining, drinking and entertainment venue.” It’s a temperature controlled structure with a fabric roof and capacity of about 300 people.

Front Yard boasts two bars (one with 15 video poker machines) and approximately 4,700 televisions.

One of the TVs is roughly the size of Lancaster, Michigan and nearly blinded us when hockey was on the screen.

A cocktail or three helped us recover. The Welcome to Jamrock cocktail features Bacardi Silver rum, Malibu rum, melon liqueur, pineapple and cranberry.

Front Yard Ellis Island

These are better by the half dozen.

The signature cocktails at Front Yard will run $8-12, with big-ass shared drinks (for 2-3 people) a bit more. For context, a Captain and diet in the casino is around $5, a freakish anomaly for a casino on or near The Strip.

The food at Front Yard continues the Ellis Island tradition of hearty, approachable, old-school offerings including bar food, sandwiches and burgers.

Nothing fancy, everything satisfying. Yes, Ellis Island, feel free to put that in your advertising.

We dove headlong into the chicken wings appetizer.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Fun fact: The average American eats 90 chicken wings a year. Not so “fun” for chickens, probably, but don’t be a buzzkill.

The Front Yard burger was awesome, too, and bacon fanatics will not be disappointed.

Front Yard burger

Ellis Island’s burger game is strong.

As for the food prices, still being finalized, we’re talking $6-10 for appetizers, $16-20 for main courses, with flatbreads (that’s pizza to us regular folk) in the $12-15 range.

Ellis Island is known for its beer, much of which is brewed on the premises.

While we are not a beer person, we know a value when we see it. During our visit, prices weren’t available, but if the cost of beer inside the casino is any indication (in the $2 range for a massive glass), beer lovers are in for a treat.

And speaking of the casino, Ellis Island continues to offer some of the best gambling near The Strip, and there’s easy access to and from the Front Yard.

Oh, and there’s free parking.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Hit the second floor so you can say you did a stair workout in Vegas.

You know we got a panorama of the second floor, so check it out.

Our love of Ellis Island is fairly obvious, due in no small part to the above-mentioned values, but also the absolutely charming family behind Ellis Island. The Ellis family, in case that wasn’t clear.

A family-owned casino is a rare breed and Ellis Island’s unpretentious vibe, and commitment to great fun at a great price, make it a Las Vegas must-visit in our book.

For the record, Ellis Island is a block east of The Strip, just off Flamingo on Koval Lane.

Front Yard Ellis Island

Front Yard at Ellis Island is our new favorite hang.

We’re excited about the long-awaited opening of the Front Yard and Ellis Island has a winner on its hands. Be strong, liver, be strong.

Updated (11/29/19): We went back to Front Yard and the restaurant is officially open. We got a look at the menu, and you can click here for the Front Yard food menu and drink and dessert menu. Prices may change, so don’t get emotionally attached.

Front Yard Ellis Island menu

Please don’t try and read this, it’s for illustrative purposes only. Click on the links.

We also discovered another surprise at Front Yard. The restaurant’s sound system is connected to the Rockbot app. That means you get to be the DJ at Front Yard.

Front Yard Ellis Island

Oh, yes, there was a hell-ton of Duran Duran.

Guests get to add their favorite songs to the queue, and give the whole venue an interactive vibe. Give it a try, it’s free.

Here are more photos from Front Yard at Ellis Island.

Red Square Restaurant and Vodka Bar Closes at Mandalay Bay

A longtime Las Vegas fixture, Red Square Restaurant and Vodka Bar at Mandalay Bay, has closed.

The Russian-themed restaurant closed Nov. 17, 2019. It opened back in 1999.

Red Square lounge

When we heard Red Square was closing, we were just sickle about it.

We honestly have no idea what made Red Square last 20 years, but we’re betting there was vodka involved.

At one time, Red Square boasted what was billed as the largest collection of vodka in the world.

Perhaps Red Square’s most recognizable feature was its headless Vladimir Lenin.

Lenin statue Las Vegas

Lenin had a head when Red Square opened. It was lopped off after the hotel was criticized for glorifying the Communist leader.

Red Square was taken over by Disruptive Restaurant Group, a division of SBE (the folks involved with SLS at one point), in Feb. 2019.

It’s likely MGM Resorts, owner of Mandalay Bay, realized what the new owners of SLS—now Sahara—did: Paying licensing fees to a third party can take a hefty bite out of profits and leave a restaurant (wait for it) in the red.

While plans for the Red Square space haven’t been announced, we’d wager the new restaurant will be managed in-house.

Dasvidaniya, Red Square.

11 Reasons You Need to Visit The Strat Again

There’s a lot more to love about The Strat since the last time you visited.

Golden Entertainment bought Stratosphere back in 2017, and a $140 million renovation and rebrand ensued. Now, Stratosphere is The Strat, which totally spoils the surprise of item number one on our list. Oh, well.

Please enjoy our hastily slapped-together list of wildly compelling reasons you need to go back to The Strat.

1. Stratosphere is The Strat

Stratosphere became The Strat in Feb. 2019. Lots of folks already called it The Strat, but the rebrand made it official. Golden Entertainment saved a ton of money by giving Stratosphere a streamlined name rather than having to start from scratch with an entirely new one.

Strat casino sign

The Strat’s official new name is The Strat Hotel, Casino and SkyPod. The “SkyPod” is just the tip. And, yes, some photo captions write themselves.

2. Sexy New Chips

Along with the resort’s new name came a roll-out of some fancy new casino chips. We love them, and yes, we understanding loving a casino chip is a little weird, but the heart wants what the heart wants. Worth noting: Your previously-issued Stratosphere chips expire on Dec. 9, 2019, so cash ’em if you got ’em.

Strat chips

We can only afford to collect the $1 chips. We are not an Adelson.

3. Sparkly Table Games Area

Golden put its money where its casino is with the unveil of a new casino table games area. We hit the new table games area on the day it opened, being the first person to roll the dice on a beautiful new craps table. Over the next 24 minutes, we personally contributed financially to the renovation of The Strat. Note: We’ve since made it back, and much more, on video poker.

Strat casino

Light blue is associated with health, tranquility, understanding and doubling down on blackjacks, or at least those first few things.

And adjoining section of the casino has a different look. We try not to play favorites.

Strat casino

The Strat has its groove back.

4. Enlightened Selfie Policy

While The Strat has a lot of great changes happening, this is one of our most beloved: You can take photos in the casino. Shocker, right? The Strat is one of the few casinos in town that has an actual clue when it comes to allowing guests to take selfies at the tables. It says so right on the felt, and it’s a huge step in Las Vegas casinos moving away from outdated policies that only serve to annoy customers. Bravo, bigtime, Strat.

Strat selfie

Common courtesy still applies, of course. No photos of guys with their mistresses.

5. Blvd. & Main Taphouse

We’ve been working our way through the menu at Strat’s new Blvd. & Main Taphouse restaurant and we’ve yet to have anything that wasn’t great. We look forward to tapping that again soon.

Strat Blvd. & Main

The fish and chips are consistently fleek. Stop rolling your eyes, we’re using “fleek” ironically.

6. View Lounge

We’re not entirely sure how the new View Lounge became one of our favorite places to play in all of Las Vegas, but it has. This casino bar and lounge not only looks great, but the machines feel loose, the bartenders are top notch (and visually appealing) and you can get anything on the Blvd. & Main menu at the bar. There’s honestly no reason to leave View Lounge, ever.

View Lounge Strat

Your video poker and hooch needs are handled: It’s View on The Strip (at The Strat) and Vue downtown (at The D).

7. Remix

As if one great casino bar and lounge weren’t enough, The Strat built two. Behold Remix.

Remix

You can never have too many casino bars. Or just bars, come to think of it.

Remix made its debut very recently and, again, the video poker machines feel generous and the drinks are far better than they have to be. The signature cocktails are well worth exploring, including this gorgeous purple thing called the Jumping Empress.

Remix

The sacrifices we make to bring you all the latest cocktail news.

8. Top of the World Revamp

The Top of the World restaurant at Strat has long been on the short list of must-do restaurants in Las Vegas. The restaurant recently got an overhaul, including an entirely new menu. Combined with the stunning views, and Messermeister steak knives (whatever those might be), Top of the World isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience, and it’s not to be missed.

Top of the World

Our photography is so good, we should start a blog of some sort.

9. “Celestia”

Simply put, “Celestia” is a Cirque-style show without the Cirque-style price (tickets start at a ridiculously low $29). This show, in a 30,000-square-foot tent, features dozens of acrobats and variety performers and bendy people. It also has the “Wheel of Death,” which is worth the price of admission on its own. The show has mercifully little clown, is unburdened by a plot and is a great night out for the whole family. Here’s the official Web site.

 

10. Free Parking

No, free parking isn’t new at The Strat, but it’s worth mentioning because, well, free parking.

Strat free parking

The Strat’s doing a lot right, and it starts and ends with free parking.

11. Make Sahara Mad

This reason to visit The Strat isn’t something new, it’s just something fun. See, Sahara has started positioning itself as one end of The Strip. They’re even using a new tagline, “The Strip starts here.” Hooey. The Strip isn’t based upon legal boundaries, it’s based upon what structures are depicted on keychains. The Strat is part of The Strip. So, when you visit The Strat, you’re sending a clear message to Sahara (formerly SLS) to get over itself. We love that.

Strat Las Vegas

Sorry, Sahara, The Strip begins (or ends) right here.

While our list covers our favorite new things, there are actually quite a few more.

The resort unveiled its “Elevate” room, a complete remodel of 311 rooms with new decor, furniture and amenities.

Strat also recently opened Strat Cafe & Wok, its 24-hour restaurant which replaced Roxy’s Diner.

Strat Cafe Wok

Roxy’s had singing. ‘Nuff said.

The Strat also has a shiny new sports book, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Also new is The Strat’s Link Lounge, named for Aristocrat’s “Link” game series, which will make fans of Lighting Link, Dragon Link and Liberty Link very happy.

We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention 108 Eats and 108 Drinks, two new venues on the hotel’s 108th floor. These spots are courtesy of chef James Trees, our culinary hero because of his Esther’s Kitchen downtown and Ada’s in Summerlin.

Oh, and we can’t forget the Strat’s sweet new carpeting. We probably should’ve done a top 20 list, but we are often both drunk, lazy or both.

Strat carpet

One for the casino carpet fetishists, and they are legion.

The bottom line: It’s time to visit The Strat again. Let us know what you think of all the upgrades and we’ll see you at The Strat.