Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room Close at Mandalay Bay

Two restaurants from noted chef Rick Moonen have closed abruptly at Mandalay Bay, RM Seafood and Rx Boiler Room.

Chef Rick Moonen has been called the “Godfather of Sustainability,” possibly the least imposing nickname, ever.

Seriously. The guy uses knives constantly. Why not the “Godfather of the Monarch Steampunk Dragon Knife”? So much cooler.

Rx Boiler Room

We never dined at Rx Boiler Room, but we sure as hell libated there, if that’s a thing.

Anyway, RM Seafood (the RM stands for Rick Moonen, in case that wasn’t obvious) opened at Mandalay Bay—The Shoppes at Mandalay Place, to be more exact—in 2005 and Rx (pronounced Rick’s) Boiler Room opened in 2013.

It seems the chef couldn’t hammer out a mutually agreeable deal on the lease, so Moonen packed it in, to the great delight of a good many Spanish octopuses which will now avoid being sustainably charred.

Rick Moonen

Take a few days off, Rick. Years of pan searing can take a lot out of a person.

Fun seafood fact: The fish people know as “Chilean seabass” is actually the Patagonian toothfish. The sexier name was invented by a fish wholesaler named Lee Lantz in 1977 to make it more appealing to Americans.

Moonen says he’ll be back soon with a new restaurant concept in Las Vegas, which we also won’t visit because we are not a seafood person.

Plug Pulled on Tao Group Nightclub and Restaurant at Palms

Boom. We did not see this one coming.

Seemingly out of the blue, Tao Group and Red Rock Resorts announced they’re bailing on plans for a massive nightclub and restaurant at the off-Strip Palms.

The companies made the announcement in a joint statement. (Las Vegas translation: They have to play nice in public.)

Here’s the entire statement, as there’s not a lot of other information about this sudden change of course at Palms.

“Red Rock Resorts, Inc. and Tao Group announced today that they have jointly agreed to terminate the agreements previously entered into by the parties in connection with the dayclub/nightclub and a restaurant that are scheduled to open around the end of the first quarter in 2019 at the Palms Casino Resort. The terms of the agreements are confidential, but no payment will be required of either party under the agreements.”

Palms

This marquee came down as part of the Palms overhaul, probably in an attempt to make us openly weep.

Crazy, right?

Palms has been trumpeting its partnership with Tao Group for some time now, and a substantial investment has already been made in the nightclub space.

The 29,000-square-foot nightclub will presumably move forward at Palms, just without Tao Group as a partner.

Tao was also slated to bring its Vandal restaurant brand to Palms. The original Vandal has been a trendy smash in New York City, and was highly-anticipated in Las Vegas.

Tao Group

It’s pronounced “dow,” no matter how many people insist upon mispronouncing it.

So, that’s all the hard news about this turn of events. The rest is mostly conjecture, and our usual sources are being tight-lipped about the divorce between Palms and Tao, although it’s fairly obvious it was due to “irreconcilable differences.”

There’s a chance Tao got cold feet. Palms is in the midst of a $620 million makeover, and Tao was going to play a significant part.

But Palms already has a nightclub, Apex Social Club. Sources tell us Apex has struggled since opening in the former Ghost Bar space. Reports are mixed about the hotel’s new steakhouse, Scotch 80 Prime.

Did Tao Group lose faith in the new “From Dust to Gold” direction of Palms? See more.

Palms dust to gold

Wasn’t this the plot of a James Bond movie?

Tao Group, of course, sold a majority interest to Madison Square Garden in 2017 for about $180 million. The Madison Square Garden Company has gained a higher profile in Las Vegas with the development of the Sphere at Venetian.

Is there a chance Las Vegas Sands, owner of the Venetian, wasn’t thrilled with Tao Group (and by extension, it’s Sphere partner) playing in somebody else’s sandbox?

There have also been rumblings related to Tao’s Marquee nightclub at Cosmopolitan (rumors it would close have been denied by Cosmopolitan and Tao reps) and Tao Beach at Venetian (we’ve heard its planned expansion was stalled until news of the Palms deal fell through).

We’ll keep poking around to see what we can dig up about what we’re sure is some juicy drama!

Unknown bar Palms

The new Unknown bar at Palms recently joined our list of offbeat Vegas photo ops.

At the moment, it seems Red Rock Resorts and Palms are in need of a dayclub/nightclub partner.

On the restaurant side, there’s no time to cry over spilled hot pretzel steak tartare, whatever that might be. Bottom line: There are tons of exciting new restaurant offerings in the works at Palms.

New concepts on the way include restaurants from Michael Symon (BBQ), Marc Vetri (Italian) and Bobby Flay (seafood). We’re literally getting hungry typing that sentence.

There’s also a new buffet, AYCE (All You Can Eat), a new cafe (Lucky Penny) and a new noodle bar (Send Noodles).

That’s just for starters. Check out our list of 22 New or Renovated Things Coming to Palms.

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina Knows How to Throw a Party

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina in Mandalay Place doesn’t tend to get a lot of ink, but it’s a go-to for many Vegas visitors looking for memorable food and drinks in a festive atmosphere.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

A great night out you’ll partially remember begins here.

While we’d heard of Hussong’s, we weren’t entirely sure what to make of the name, but we we fairly sure “Hussong” isn’t Mexican.

In fact, the founder of the original Hussong’s was John Hussong, a German. Hussong’s original cantina, in Ensenada dates back to 1892.

The Las Vegas Hussong’s opened in 2010 and has been putting livers to the test ever since.

Hussong's Cantina Mandalay Place

You’ll need to know this word in Spanish, “resaca.” You’re welcome.

Hussong’s Mexican Cantina’s claim to fame is it was allegedly where the margarita was invented, in 1941.

Nobody’s actually sure who made the first margarita, but we were damned well going to have one no matter who invented it.

Here’s the original margarita at Hussong’s.

Hussong's Cantina Las Vegas

It’s believed the margarita was based upon a popular Prohibition drink called the Daisy. Margarita is Spanish for “daisy.”

Naturally, there are quite a few variations of the margarita available. We’d like to say we remember the names, but margaritas.

There’s a small chance this is the Raspberita.

Hussong's

Ever see happiness in a glass? You have now.

An undeniable hit is the Bulldog. There’s not only a margarita of some sort involved, but also an inverted bottle of beer.

Even if you weren’t in the mood for a fiesta before you arrived at Hussong’s, the Bulldog is guaranteed to manhandle your maracas. Or something.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

Consider your Vegas vacation underway.

The frosty libations are certainly a big draw at Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, but the restaurant’s “sing-along rock ‘n’ roll Mariachi band” tends to steal the show.

While we are famously not a loud, live music person, the energy of the performers is infectious so we’ll give Hussong’s a pass.

Hussong's Las Vegas

This bigass guitar is called a “guitarron.” Please remember that as it will increase your appreciation of a joke coming up.

The mariachi band roams from table to table, lingering at tables with bachelorettes, of course. The band plays an eclectic mix of tunes, many of which are funny takes on pop hits. Lots of places in Vegas tout their “interactive” entertainment, but the mariachi band at Hussong’s actually delivers.

Hussong's

Trumpets began as signaling devices in battle or hunting and only later were used as musical instruments. Because you can never have too much information you’ll never, ever need.

The food at Hussong’s Mexican Cantina, described as “authentic Baja cuisine” is consistently satisfying.

We started out with a taco threesome. Hey, it’s Vegas.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina

Taco can mean wedge, plug ramrod, short or even billiard cue. It can also mean “those things we stuff into our face when we have the drunchies.”

Also tasty was the carne asada, Spanish for “At this point, we were so drunk, we’d have enjoyed a bite of a guitarron.

Told you you’d need to know what.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

The carne asada is a skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, mainly because you can’t not have fun if you say “chimichurri.”

See the full Hussong’s Mexican Cantina menu online.

Topping off the meal was the delicious fried ice cream.

There are nearly as many origin stories of fried ice cream as their are for margaritas, so let’s just say friend ice cream was invented by Saint Charles Borromeo, patron saint of big thighs.

Hussong's Mexican Cantina Las Vegas

There are few things in life that cannot be improved by frying.

If you’re looking for a tranquil, low-key evening out in Las Vegas, Hussong’s Mexican Cantina isn’t it.

But if you’re looking for strong drinks, filling fare at a decent price and a raucous good time, include Hussong’s at Mandalay Bay part in your Las Vegas escapades.

Block 16 Urban Food Hall Comes to Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan is ready to unveil its new Block 16 Urban Food Hall on Aug. 31, 2018, but we couldn’t wait.

It’s not the first time we’ve been premature, trust us.

The Cosmo was kind enough to pull down its construction curtains early so we could get our first look at this new batch of six distinctive restaurants.

Block 16 Food Hall

Some security breaches are easier than others.

Each of the six restaurants at the new Cosmo food court is an import, as far as we can tell, and each has a unique story we don’t have the energy to research. Thanks, YouTube!

First up is District, described as a “cult favorite” from New Orleans. District has doughnuts, sliders and brews. Hard to go wrong there.

Block 16 Food Hall

District says they use “real food made with integrity.” We prefer massive amounts of sugar, but whatever.

District will also serve biscuit sandwiches and “kolache,” a sweet pastry “filled with a selection of sweet and savory ingredients.” A little vague, but we’re in.

Here’s an endearing video about District, which, sadly, only had 74 views when we wrote this story. Come on, show some love and watch the damned thing.

Next up is Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. This restaurant comes from Nashville. It’s all about the fried chicken as far as we can tell.

Block 16 Food Hall

Sorry we caught you without your sign, Hattie B’s. Welcome to Vegas!

Here’s the video for Hattie B’s. Please watch it. The video has 75 views, and somebody went to a lot of time and trouble to produce this thing. Make it worth their while.

Then, there’s Lardo.

The Cosmo Web site says Lardo has a “ruthlessly bold and flavorful approach,” which is dumb, but the food looks so good, we’re willing to overlook it.

Block 16 Food court

Don’t make eye contact. Don’t make eye contact. You made eye contact!

We sort of can’t wait to hang out with the Lardo guy because he seems like he’s been places.

Here’s the video. It has 65 views. Don’t embarrass us. Watch it.

There’s also Pok Pok Wing. Don’t roll your eyes until you know the whole story!

See, “pok pok” is the sound of a mortar hitting a pestle. Or possibly a pestle hitting a mortar. We can never keep those straight.

Block 16 Urban Food Hall

You’d be surprised how few Las Vegas restaurants use pestles.

Here’s the video for Pok Pok Wing, with 79 views.

Pok Pok Wing, which we’re pretty sure should be pluralized, is based in Portland and, man alive, we’re hungry.

You can’t tell much from a short video, but all these folks seem passionate about what they do which bodes well for Block 16.

Here’s a first look at Tekka Bar: Handroll & Sake.

Block 16 Urban Food Hall

Tekka has the best location of the bunch. No pressure, Tekka.

We couldn’t find a video for Tekka Bar, but assume it’s in the works.

We already like Tekka Bar because the name is taken from “tekka ba,” which translates as “old gambling place.”

Tekka Bar is poised to print money because it not only has handrolls, which we trust is a form of sushi, but also sake.

Last, there’s Ghost Donkey Mezcal & Tequila Bar. We’re a little concerned about Ghost Donkey because it was nowhere to be found at Block 16.

We also couldn’t find a video for Ghost Donkey.

We trust Ghost Donkey is just playing coy and wants to make a grand entrance.

The emphasis at Ghost Donkey appears to be beverages, but the words “Truffle Nachos” kind of jumped out at us.

Block 16 Urban Food Hall

Pace yourself.

We have never been all that excited by a food court before, but Block 16 Urban Food Hall seems like anything but a typical food court.

The universally hard chairs at all the Block 16 restaurants telegraph its grab-and-go sensibility, perfect for those seeking party fuel before a Vegas foray or a cure for their drunchies as the evening wears on.

A key element of the success of Block 16 will be the price points. It won’t be cheap, but here’s hoping the prices are reasonable while delivering a value.

The new Block 16 Urban Food Hall is located on the second floor of the Cosmo, just across from Holsteins and next to the Marquee nightclub.

It’s worth noting “Block 16” is a nod to the early days of Las Vegas. Block 16 was located in what is now downtown, on 1st Street between Ogden and Stewart. Block 16 was the only place that could legally sell liquor in Las Vegas, but also became known for its rampant prostitution. For whatever reason, that tidbit has been left out of Cosmo’s marketing for its new food hall.

Here’s an oddity to look for while you’re making your way to the new Cosmopolitan food court, just because it’s bad luck to write a story with only seven photos.

Cosmopolitan Tyrannosaurus rex skull

We got up close to this T-rex skull and we think it could be real. Then again, we are a blog, not a paleontologist.

Block 16 is set to add some welcome variety to the dining mix at Cosmopolitan and we can’t wait to give this eclectic sextet of dining and drinking venues a go.

And not just because we’re 12 and were looking for an excuse to use the word “sextet.”

W Hotel Shown the Door at SLS Las Vegas

It took longer than expected, but W Hotel is no longer a hotel-within-a-hotel at SLS Las Vegas.

SLS marquee

The W sign no longer sits atop the SLS marquee. Thanks a lot, Illuminati!

We were the first to share that SLS would discontinue its relationship with W Las Vegas.

Initially, the plan was to integrate W back into the SLS resort in May 2018, but talks between the two entities hit a snag.

Soon after, it was announced W would be “reincorporated back into SLS Las Vegas as the SLS Grand, a Starwood hotel” on July 20, 2018. Nope.

W hotel notice

The best laid plans.

At one point, W Las Vegas employees were let go, rooms were redecorated to remove W branding and a crane showed up to take down the W sign. Because a deal couldn’t be finalized, employees were invited back, all the rooms in the tower were reverted to the W branding and the crane was asked to turn around.

Finally, the deal between the new owners of SLS (Meruelo Group) and W Las Vegas was done and W is officially out as of Aug. 17, 2018.

Our eagle-eyed reader Michael A. captured the removal of the W sign from the SLS marquee.

W hotel sign removal

Paging M Resort. You should totally bid for this on eBay!

The W sign went up in Oct. 2016. Yep, less than two years ago, making it one of the weirder Las Vegas casino stories in quite some time. (We’re looking at you, The Quad.)

Here’s a shot of the W sign as it was being foisted into place with much fanfare back in 2016. Or maybe it was hoopla. We always get those mixed up.

W Las Vegas at SLS

Not awkward. At all.

So, W is out. Bygones.

All visible signs of W Las Vegas branding have been removed at SLS, and the W tower has been renamed The Grand Tower.

A news release explains, “SLS Las Vegas will assume full operational control of the resort’s reservations system from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and the SLS Las Vegas brand will discontinue membership as a Starwood Tribute Portfolio Hotel & Resort.”

We have only the most superficial understanding of what that means, so you’re on your own.

One of the more distinctive design touches at the W Hotel valet entrance was a wall fashioned from 20,000 poker chips.

W hotel Las Vegas

No, we didn’t count all 20,000 chips. We have a life. Sorry, we probably should’ve put quotation marks around “life.”

Now, SLS has taken a page from Park MGM playbook and replaced the chips with greenery.

SLS rear entrance

This isn’t the first time a Las Vegas casino has made chips disappear.

Otherwise, the W Las Vegas lobby and bar area remain largely untouched.

W hotel lobby

This is the Living Room at the former W. And just as with your own living room, there’s mismatched furniture, a bartender and possibly prostitutes.

Just in case SLS decides to overhaul the former W Las Vegas lobby area, we would like to call dibs on three decorative items.

First, this dice display.

W hotel dice

You’d be surprised how seldom “dibs” actually works once you reach adulthood. Sorry, we should’ve put quotation marks around “adulthood.”

Second, this textured wall accent, inspired by the bumps on a craps table. Glorious.

W Las Vegas

These “alligator bumps” run floor to ceiling and we absolutely love them.

Third, Belvis.

W Las Vegas Belvis

Belvis is like Zoltar, but much, much cooler.

Wresting back operational control of the W Hotel is just one of many changes happening at SLS.

Owner Alex Meruelo and his team have been aggressive at cost-cutting measures so far, and a $100 million “re-imagining” is planned.

How about this? Imagine being profitable for the first time in four years!

Fun fact: SLS opened on Aug. 23, 2014, so the hotel’s fourth anniversary is the very same day we’re publishing this story. You go, synchronicity.

Part of the resort’s re-imagining will undoubtedly involve a name change, most likely to Grand Sahara Resort. The new name plays off the Reno resort owned by Meruelo, Grand Sierra Resort.

Plans for the hotel’s venues haven’t been announced, but we’ve heard Bazaar Meat and the Northside Cafe are likely to be the only restaurants to survive the transition. It’s rumored Bazaar Meat will not only stay, but will get an expansion.

Bazaar Meat

How serious is Bazaar Meat about its meat? This serious.

Since SLS opened, it’s been rumored the resort’s restaurants generate more revenue than its casino.

Cleo is not only our favorite restaurant at SLS, it’s one of our favorites in Las Vegas. Sadly, our “Save Cleo” campaign hasn’t gained much traction, but only because you probably haven’t dined there yet. Ahem.

We’ve long been a cheerleader for SLS, as the quirky spawn of the classic Sahara has a lot to like, despite its challenging location.

SLS casino chip

The crane will be back for this guy. Dibs.

Here’s hoping the new owners and management can defy the odds, turn plans for a turnaround into action and make the north Strip resort a success.

Including keeping Cleo. Yes, we’re saying it again. Traction doesn’t just magically happen, you know.

AquaKnox and Public House to Close at Venetian

Two well-regarded restaurants at Venetian Las Vegas are slated to close, AquaKnox and Public House.

The closures haven’t been officially announced yet, but we have no interest in waiting for news releases. (Update: Our story has been confirmed. See below.)

AquaKnox

Fun fact: AquaNox is a series of submarine-based first-person shooter video games. And, yes, we’re using the term “fun” very loosely.

An employee confirmed via phone AquaKnox will close in January following a large convention. We can’t remember which one because, honestly, we drink heavily.

AquaKnox is a Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Award recipient located in restaurant row at Venetian. The restaurant has been at Venetian since 1999.

The AquaKnox staffer also confirmed Public House will close.

A rep of Public House said the restaurant isn’t allowed to provide any information at this time, but did mention the restaurant’s contract is expiring “soon.”

Public House AquaKnox

Here’s where everything sits.

Public House, a gastropub, opened in early 2012.

Public House comes from Billy Richardson, a well-known restaurateur whose company, Gen3 Hospitality, also operates Holsteins at Cosmo, Flour & Barley and Haute Doggery at Linq Promenade, The Barrymore at Royal Resort and recently-closed Pink’s Hot Dogs at Planet Hollywood.

Public House Venetian

Public House at Venetian should not be confused with Public House at Luxor. Or, for that matter, Public House at Tropicana. Because naming things is hard.

Thanks to our Twitter pal @FYMYAWF for the tip on this story.

It’s apparent Venetian and Palazzo are shaking up their restaurant line-up.

Three Mario Batali restaurants were closed at Venetian and Palazzo in July 2018, Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria.

There’s no official word on what might replace AquaKnox and Public House, or if employees have even been notified of the closures, but Las Vegas always has something new up its little black dress.

Unless that’s offensive in some way, then nevermind.

Update (8/22/18): Our story has been confirmed. Both restaurants will close Jan. 16, 2019.