Here’s look at the restaurant, along with a good dose of throwback charm.
Were Battista’s Hole in the Wall to close, a quirky chapter in Las Vegas history would close as well.
Innumerable celebrities have found their way to Battista’s, known for its (wait for it) off-the-wall Italian decor and Gordon Jaffe, an accordion player who roams the restaurant as he has for more than three decades.
Lots of longtime fans of this barely off-Strip restaurant will bemoan its demise if the rumor pans out, but change is a constant in Las Vegas, just like poker chips, neon and women carrying their pumps after a night in the club.
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 comes from well-known Michigan restaurateur Paul Saginaw.
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.
“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.
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.
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).
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.
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.)
Why do we feel like our pleas for a “No Sports” section is going to go unanswered?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Hit the second floor so you can say you did a stair workout in Vegas.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.