Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

Binion’s Nails It With New Whiskey Licker Up

It’s been a busy few months at Binion’s Gambling Hall.

In July 2019, the downtown casino opened (technically re-opened) the historic Hotel Apache, with a modest 81 old-timey rooms. The original Hotel Apache opened in 1932.

Now, Binion’s has opened a new restaurant, bar and nightlife venue, Whiskey Licker Up. And, no, we honestly never thought we’d use the words “Binion’s” and “nightlife” in the same sentence.

Whiskey Licker Up

Yes, it’s open during the day, too, but “nightlife” just sounds sexier.

Whiskey Licker Up officially opened on Sep. 30, 2019, with some perfunctory hoopla, which is the best kind of hoopla in our humble opinion.

Where to begin? With the bar, naturally! Do you know this blog at all?

The centerpiece of Whiskey Licker Up is a sweet revolving bar. It was inspired by Carousel Bar, a hot spot in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

You’re familiar with New Orleans. It’s like Las Vegas, but stickier.

Whiskey Licker Up

Our newest happy place.

The revolving bar has variable speeds and rotates counter-clockwise. We talked to an engineer who said bars that rotate clockwise can cause people to feel woozy. We honestly have no idea what difference that would make, but we are a blog, not an engineer.

Here’s a look at the revolving bar during construction.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Heavy drinking precludes us from sharing any fun facts about the revolving bar, sorry.

The bar takes 15 minutes for a complete revolution.

Here’s a badass time lapse video of the revolving bar at Whiskey Licker Up.

It’s downtown, so the venue has a back-up bar, of course. This one doesn’t rotate, but the long pours are still in effect.

Whiskey Licker Up

Proof a person can have more than one happy place.

Video poker players will note that Whiskey Licker Up has none. Video poker, that is. You’ll survive. We were surprised about that, too, but the bars were built so they can accommodate video poker machines should they be installed in the future.

For now, it’s just food, hooch and a section of the restaurant that can be used as a dance floor.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Everyone asks where one can go to dance downtown. This will apparently be that.

The food we’ve tried has been delicious, including the wings, beef sliders and meatballs. The pork sliders were a disappointment, but the chicken tenders more than made up for them as they are some of the best we’ve had in Vegas.

Here’s a look at the meatballs.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

These meatballs are far better than they have to be.

The fact Binion’s gets meat right shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve have the hamburger in the Binion’s Cafe. It’s also one of the best in Las Vegas, possibly because they use meat trimmings from their steakhouse, and that often means your burger is made from filet mignon.

Here’s a look at the Whiskey Licker Up appetizer menu. Please don’t strain your eyes, click here or possibly here for a larger image of the full food menu.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Please don’t call them “tapas.” Downtown hates that pretentious crap.

The liquor is ample at Whiskey Licker Up, which probably wasn’t difficult to predict given “whiskey” is right in the name of the place.

The signature cocktails are $12 ($18 for a double), and there’s an extensive beer selection. Again, click here (for the cocktail and wine menu) and definitely here (for the beer menu).

Yes, they have Captain Morgan from the bottle. Don’t you ever think about anything else?

The original plan for Whiskey Licker Up was to have a mechanical bull, but apparently it was nixed. Instead, the venue features one of those new-fangled virtual reality machines. Isn’t it funny you never hear about things being old-fangled?

The VR machine is a four-seater. Here’s a look.

Whiskey Licker Up

If you start to freak out, just close your eyes. This isn’t rocket science.

The VR machine, the X World 360, has the option of 89 different rides. We, naturally, chose a mellow one. It was awesome, and we are not even a ride person, virtual or otherwise. Here’s more about the X World 360 if you’re into that kind of thing.

Rides are $15 a pop. The mellow rides last 7-9 minutes, the more intense ones last 3-4 minutes.

On the service front, Binion’s has wisely hired a bevy of model servers. They’re like your typical servers, but are younger, more attractive and less roboty.

The theme of Whiskey Licker Up is a little bit country, but without the bull, they have the flexibility to feature a variety of music styles. We suspect, though, country will be prominent when the rodeo is in town. There’s even a rodeo gate (slash advertisement) for photo ops.

Whiskey Licker Up

It’s hard to beat this bucking chute. Which sounds far more inappropriate than it really is.

Whiskey Licker Up is bigger than you’d think, and there’s tons of seating at tables, at the bars, on the outdoor balcony (enclosed by windows that can be rolled open) and in VIP booths.

Again, never expected to say “VIP booths” in a story about Binion’s, but we’re always open to surprises.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

No paper straws for the win.

One of the absolutely best things about Whiskey Licker Up, of course, is it’s at Binion’s, and Binion’s is an iconic part of Vegas history.

Part of that history has been exposed at the street entrance to Whiskey Licker Up. Guests go up a flight of stairs, and can see a wall of petrified wood that dates back to the Mint. It’s downright old-fangled.

The Mint was absorbed into Binion’s in 1988.

Vegas fanatics will enjoy the fact a portion of the Mint’s famous facade has been left exposed. Prepare yourself for engorgement, if you get our drift.

Whiskey Licker Up Mint

Swoon fodder. Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad band name.

Preliminary hours are 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., except for Friday and Saturday, when the place will stay open until 4:00 a.m.

It’s gratifying to see Binion’s doing this new venue right. We’d love to see some video poker, but the prices are reasonable and the service is perky, so we expect to be back soon and often.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience and Binion’s is one of its member casinos. Opinions are our own.

Of course, we’ve got more photos of Whiskey Licker Up, so mosey on through them or whatever the kids are doing.

Whiskey Licker Up

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Golden Nugget Las Vegas Confirms Chick-fil-A is On the Way

Golden Nugget has confirmed it will soon boast a Chick-fil-A restaurant, the first in downtown Las Vegas.

The new Chick-fil-A was announced by Golden Nugget via social media.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

We love when a juicy rumor pans out! Emphasis on “juicy.”

While this item was news to the world, it wasn’t new to us, because we know things.

We also have access to the Internet.

We originally got wind of the new Chick-fil-A because of a job posting on LinkedIn a few months back.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

Great gig (average salary is $53,000), except for the “always having to be nice to everyone” thing.

Scant details have been announced about the Chick-fil-A at Golden Nugget, but we’ve got a few additional unconfirmed, ahem, nuggets to share.

Golden Nugget has said the new restaurant will open “this winter,” but we’ve heard Dec. 2, 2019 as the slated opening date.

The location, from what we understand, is the hotel’s Carson tower. We scouted the area in question, and employees said Chick-fil-A will move into the location currently occupied by a gift shop next to one of Golden Nugget’s two Starbucks. See more.

Golden Nugget

Out with the keychains, in with the waffle potato fries.

Employees claim the Essentials gift shop will move right next door.

If this location skinny pans out, it’ll be a surprisingly low profile spot for such a high profile restaurant. Carson tower is deep inside Golden Nugget, past its restaurant row, and about as far as you can get from all the foot traffic on Fremont Street.

Still, we predict this Chick-fil-A is going to print money, and having large numbers of chicken sandwich fans making their way through hundreds of slot machines is bound to be a boon for
Golden Nugget.

Golden Nugget has already gotten a start on creating visibility for its new offering. Specifically, this big-ass sign on Fremont.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

We are currently pre-salivating.

As with all Chick-fil-A announcements, there’s been some “hate chicken” chatter, but relatively little compared to when Chick-fil-A first came to Las Vegas in 2017.

Yes, we droned Chick-fil-A. We were excited, don’t judge.

Here’s some background on the Chick-fil-A controversy. Bottom line: We believe in the separation of church and chicken.

We honestly can’t wait to add Golden Nugget’s Chick-fil-A to our lunch rotation.

You can bet we’ll be watching this one closely! We would be remiss if we didn’t use this opportunity to remind you we were the first to share Chick-fil-A was coming to Planet Hollywood on The Strip.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience, and Golden Nugget is one of its member casinos. Opinions and snark are our own.

Wolfgang Puck Teams With Vegas Golden Knights Players for Sports Restaurant

Doubt our sources at your peril, as we’ve broken yet another story and it’s probably a good time to remind you of the incontrovertible adage, “It’s not bragging if it’s true.”

We were the first to share Wolfgang Puck will close his Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in Downtown Summerlin (about 15 minutes west of The Strip) and the celebrity chef will re-open the venue as a sports restaurant and lounge.

Wolfgang Puck Downtown Summerlin

Solid food, prices a tad too high, good time for a refresh.

In addition, Wolfgang Puck will launch his new effort in partnership with team members of the Vegas Golden Knights. The hockey team. That’s the sport with the ice and the pummeling.
Some people are into it.

Our scoop was immediately confirmed by Tom Kaplan, Senior Managing Partner of Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining.

Wolfgang Puck Vegas Golden Knights

Props to Mr. Kaplan for making this announcement on Twitter. News releases can suck it.

Boom, as the kids say.

Let us be the first one to point out the fact someone with the last name of Puck is teaming up with hockey players. You’re welcome. (Yes, his real last name is Topfschnig. Don’t be a buzzkill.)

The official statement, of course, glosses over the fact restaurants don’t rebrand if they’re doing booming business.

The Downtown Summerlin shopping center is awash in dining options, creating business challenges for dozens of restaurants, even those bearing the names of bigtime chefs.

Downtown Summerlin has 30-plus dining options, and the neighboring Red Rock Resort has an additional 15 or so. Translation: That’s a lot, and a number of good restaurants have gone under, including Crave, Casa Del Matador, Fogo de Chao and others.

We were the first to share another struggling restaurant, Andiron Steak & Sea, will close for at least two months for an overhaul.

As for the new Wolfgang Puck concept, we can all agree the company’s assertion this effort will be “the city’s first true sports restaurant and lounge” is hooey. That aside, having Vegas Golden Knights players involved certainly won’t hurt the chances of success (the team’s practice facility is 30 seconds away).

It also can’t hurt to have a culinary icon doing the menu!

We met Wolfgang Puck a couple of times, he’s a hoot.

Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck is widely credited with making badass restaurants in Las Vegas a thing.

While details about the new Wolfgang Puck concept are few, we’re going to make a wild guess there will be TVs. In Las Vegas, it’s the law.

We trust there will also be puckball-themed food items like: “Barnburner Burgers,” “Clapper Snapper,” “Sin Bin Potato Skins,” “Goon Guac,” “Hat Trick Fish Sticks” and “Faceoff Beef Stroganoff.” Not too shabby for making up that list while inebriated.

We’re looking forward to checking out the new Wolfgang Puck sports restaurant and lounge when it opens, yes, despite the sports part. It’s flipping Wolfgang Puck.

Hooters Casino Could Be Oyo Hotel Las Vegas

Ever hear of Oyo Hotels? If our sources are right, you’re about to.

We’ve learned exclusively Hooters Casino is now under contract with hotel operator Highgate and the company plans to make Hooters Las Vegas an Oyo brand hotel.

Our sources say the Hooters restaurant at Hooters hotel-casino will close after the hotel rebrands. The Hooters restaurant inside the Hooters resort is said to be the most profitable in the company’s entire chain.

Oyo Las Vegas

We’re fairly sure “OYO” stands for “on your own.” Related: Once you see the face, you can’t unsee it.

Highgate Hotels is a real estate investment and hospitality management company, also involved with the Westin and Renaissance hotels in Las Vegas. The company operates more than 100 hotels around the world. Learn more.

Oyo is a rapidly-expanding Indian budget hotel company which recently entered the U.S. market in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. It now appears the company has its sights set on Las Vegas.

Oyo describes itself as “the world’s fastest growing company and world’s sixth largest chain of operated hotels, homes, managed living and workspaces.”

The company’s portfolio boasts more than 23,000 hotels in 800 cities in 18 countries. Combined, the company has more than 330,000 rooms. See more.

This is the Oyo business model: Oyo partners with existing hotels, rebrands them as Oyo franchises and streamlines booking, pricing and technology services. It then gets a percentage of the hotel’s monthly revenue.

The company reports occupancy increases of 30-40% at Oyo hotels, and revenue increases of as much as 60%, which would be welcomed by the owners of Hooters, of course.

Hooters is owned by Trinity Hotel Investors and operated by Paragon Gaming.

Oyo Hotel Las Vegas

You go, palindrome?

The arrival of Oyo in Las Vegas could bring some drama along with it, as the company’s founder and CEO, 25-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, is not controversy-free. Let’s just say gaming regulators aren’t big fans of controversy. Get details.

Hooters has been known by a lot of names, so if it’s rebranded to Oyo, it’ll join this long list of past names: Paradise, Treasury, Pacifica, Polynesian and Hotel San Remo. There will be a quiz.

Details about these moves at Hooters are scant at the moment, but that’s never stopped us from passing along scoop before!

You’ll hear more when we do.

Update (8/6/19): Here’s our take on Channel 8.

Update (8/7/19): Our sources confirm Hooters restaurant won’t be around following the transition to Oyo. At its peak, the restaurant served a million customers a year.

Update (8/17/19): We’re now hearing the Hooters rebrand to Oyo will happen Sep. 16, 2019.

Update (8/23/19): As if we weren’t already unbearable enough, our story has been confirmed. Oyo has acquired Hooters hotel for a reported $135 million and will be rebranded Oyo Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. Highgate will manage the hotel and Paragon Gaming will continue to operate the resort’s casino. Read more.

Update (8/26/19): We’ve learned not only will the Hooters restaurant at Hooters hotel close, it will be brought to a resort on the Las Vegas Strip. While there won’t be a Hooters hotel on The Strip, an existing resort will be getting a Hooters restaurant and Hooters-branded casino (think casino-within-a-casino, like Pussy Cat Dolls at Caesars or Playboy Club at Palms when those were a thing). More details to come.

Front Yard at Ellis Island is Looking Like a Thing

One of our favorite Las Vegas casinos, Ellis Island, is getting an expansion, The Front Yard.

To put it simply: It took less time to build the Great Wall of China.

Now, however, we are pleased to report The Front Yard is starting to look like a thing and we even have a new timeline for the venue to open. We’ll leave you in suspense as you look at this photo we took.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Hey, if you were a construction worker, would you rush to finish a job six feet from a brewery?

The Front Yard, a two-story dining and entertainment venue, was originally announced way back in July 2017. It was supposed to open in late 2018.

Emphasis on “late.”

Look, Ellis Island is a family-owned casino and not like those monolithic corporate entities on The Strip. It’s one of the reasons we love the place, beyond the fact you can get a beer and a Captain Morgan and diet for $8.

Ellis Island just moves at a different pace, and The Front Yard is no exception. Yes, this expansion has taken forever, but here’s the thing: Ellis Island is sort of in on the joke.

Ellis Island Front Yard

We love this new venue because it’s as far away from Ellis Island’s karaoke lounge as possible.

We asked for a comment from our friend, Christina Ellis, Director of Marketing for Ellis Island, she said, “We’ve been promoting the project for over a year-and-a-half at this point, so it’s no secret The Front Yard has taken a bit longer than expected! When we first started brainstorming the beer garden we were basically just adding a patio, now it’s a huge, beautiful structure that we’ll be able to keep open close to 365 days a year.”

She also shared, “We added a larger kitchen, more seating and some structural changes. All great things, but things that required new permits, new drawings, etc. This is really the first construction project I’ve been a part of, so I’m learning a lot and it’s exciting how eager everybody is for us to open!”

That we are.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Yes, it’s basically the same photo again. Get your own blog if you don’t like it. We’re trying to keep the words from slapping together.

The revised open date for the Front Yard is September 2019, and that’s the story they’re sticking to.

In the meantime, there’s already a lot to love about Ellis Island. There’s the cheap-ass drinks, and the fact they brew beer on the premises.

Ellis Island BBQ is easily some of the best in all of Las Vegas, all at a rare value. Visit their Web site for all the details.

Here’s a model of the Front Yard for good measure.

Ellis Island Front Yard

You can sort of see miniature us being thrown out by miniature security for having too many miniature cocktails.

We can’t wait to have our first Captain and diet at the Front Yard at Ellis Island, and thanks to the utterly lovable Ellis family for their ongoing patience with our drunk Tweets about the construction delays.

We kid because we love! Let’s get this place did, already!

Rumor: Cleo Restaurant at SLS to Close and Everything is Ruined

We knew it was on the horizon, but it didn’t seem real until now.

We’ve heard one of our favorite all-time Las Vegas restaurants, Cleo at SLS Las Vegas, will close by Labor Day.

And everything is ruined.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas

Feeling a little weepy right about now.

This fantastic restaurant has never really gotten the attention it deserves, and it appears Cleo won’t survive the transition from SLS Las Vegas to Grand Sahara Resort.

SLS Las Vegas is in the process of a major overhaul, as anyone who visits the casino can attest.

SLS Las Vegas

The casino at SLS is unrecognizable. Specifically, there are people in it.

Among the changes is a purge of many of the resorts restaurants, specifically legacy restaurants from when SLS was partially owned by SBE Entertainment. (The restaurants are largely SBE brands, and that partnership is costing the new owners of SLS licensing fees better spent elsewhere.)

Katsuya closed in March 2019 to make way for a high limit room.

A new Mexican restaurant, Uno Mas, recently opened in the former Ku Noodle space.

It’s expected Umami Burger’s days are numbered as well. Ditto 800 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria, although few will miss that disappointing offering.

One restaurant will stick around, however, the much-loved Bazaar Meat, which will even get an expansion.

Should the rumor of a Labor Day closing come to pass, we’ll be in mourning about the loss of Cleo.

Cleo SLS Las Vegas laffa

You complete us, laffa.

We have never had a dish like the chicken tagine at Cleo, and don’t get us started about the laffa bread and lebaneh with feta. We don’t even know what those things are, really, or how to pronounce them, and yet we love them so very much.

Here’s more about Cleo Mediterranean restaurant, the best Las Vegas restaurant you haven’t tried yet.

Check out the menus on the official Web site, and get there while you still have the chance.

Update (8/9/19): We’ve now heard Cleo at SLS will close on August 25, 2019. It will be replaced with an Italian restaurant, according to our sources.