Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

Commissary Restaurant at Downtown Grand Closes, Converts to eSports Lounge

The long-struggling Commissary After Dark restaurant at the Downtown Grand resort has closed.

The space is still being used, however. The restaurant’s tables and chairs have been removed, and now the space has been reconfigured as the Downtown Underground eSports Lounge.

Commissary

Out with the underperforming restaurant, in with the millennials playing first person shooters.

The eSports lounge could once be found in the former high limit slot room in the casino at Downtown Grand.

Moving the eSports lounge across the street makes some sense given the fact eSports tends to draw a younger crowd, but only those 21 and older can be in a casino. The move to the former Commissary space means another, even younger, crop of video game competitors and enthusiasts can join in the fun.

The Downtown Underground eSports Lounge hosts events and tournaments Fridays and Saturdays, 4:00 p.m. to midnight.

Downtown Underground eSports

For better or worse, everybody in Vegas is jumping on the eSports bandwagon, but Downtown Grand was way ahead of the pack.

You can stay abreast of all things eSports at Downtown Grand on the official Facebook page of the Downtown Underground eSports Lounge.

Downtown Grand had big plans for Commissary After Dark when it opened, including using the space as a nightlife venue. In recent months, the restaurant had been reduced to serving coffee and snacks for a few hours each morning.

There are tons of great dining options in the immediate vicinity of the closed Commissary, including Freedom Beat inside Downtown Grand, the reliably excellent Triple George Grill and the incomparable, must-try Pizza Rock.

Who knows if eSports is going to be a thing for Las Vegas casinos. If it is, though, now it has a new place to be it. A thing, that is. Please try and keep up.

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World’s Largest Hooters to Close at Palms Resort

Rumors we’d heard back in January 2017 appear to be true. The world’s largest Hooters restaurant is set to close at Palms Casino Resort Las Vegas.

Hooters restaurant opened at Palms Las Vegas in June 2015, and is expected to close May 11, 2017.

At 15,200-square-feet, the Palms location was touted as the world’s largest.

Hooters at Palms

Don’t freak out. Las Vegas still has a good number of Hooters.

Hooters management and employees were given a 30-day notification of the restaurant’s closure around April 11, 2017.

Following this story, representatives of Palms confirmed the restaurant will close, stating “Hooters will be closing in the coming weeks to make way for exciting new enhancements we are planning for The Palms.”

The closure of Hooters doesn’t come as a huge surprise, and not just because of rumors it was struggling.

Hooters at Palms Vegas

Any excuse to share a photo of Hooters girls works for us.

In May 2016, Palms was purchased by Station Casinos (Red Rock Resorts, Inc.) for $312.5 million, and a number of restaurant and venue rebrands are in the works at the resort.

There’s no word on what will replace the world’s biggest Hooters, possibly the best sentence we’ve ever written, to be honest.

Thanks to Jeff G. for the tip on this scoop.

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Smith and Wollensky Steakhouse to Close on Las Vegas Strip

A fixture on the Las Vegas Strip, Smith & Wollensky restaurant, is set to close on May 26, 2017.

The three-floor steakhouse, with its distinctive facade, is located across from Monte Carlo resort.

Smith & Wollensky

Thanks a lot, Smith & Wollensky, for photobombing our picture of these palms trees.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, there are plans in the works for Smith & Wollensky to open in another location, but no specifics been provided by the restaurant.

The Smith & Wollensky steakhouse on the Las Vegas Strip is one of nine locations throughout the U.S. and U.K. The chain was founded in 1977 by partners Alan Stillman and Ben Benson. Stillman is best known for creating T.G.I. Friday’s.

Surprisingly, Smith & Wollensky isn’t named after people. Those names were chosen randomly from a Manhattan phone book. (Note to millennials: Yes, people used to look up phone numbers in books.)

The announcement of the very first Smith & Wollensky restaurant used the names Charlie Smith and Ralph Wollensky, but founder Alan Stillman later confided Charlie and Ralph were the names of his dogs.

Dog

This is neither Charlie nor Ralph. We just like dogs.

Smith & Wollensky opened on the Las Vegas Strip in December 1998. The restaurant chain changed hands in March 2016.

A rep for Smith & Wollensky said it’s anticipated the company will share information about their new location closer to the restaurant’s closing date, but that remains to be seen. Smith & Wollensky is a rare free-standing steakhouse on The Strip (we can’t think of another one that’s not inside a hotel-casino), and we’ve never heard much about it, good or bad.

The reason for the restaurant’s closure is unknown, but a good rule of thumb is financially successful restaurants don’t tend to close in Las Vegas.

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Third Las Vegas Chick-fil-A Opens On the Down-Low

When the first two Chick-fil-A restaurants opened in Las Vegas (or the general vicinity), Sin City went nuts.

The flood of pent-up demand for the chain’s glorious chicken sandwiches in Nevada caused traffic jams and was a brutal time for Chick-fil-A team members. Teams of off-duty police officers did crowd control and directed traffic.

The honchos at Chick-fil-A apparently decided to avoid the crush of customers with it’s third restaurant in Vegas. The new location, across from Palace Station, sidestepped the hype and has deftly managed to balance tons of business with short wait times, an easier pace for staffers and, well, sanity.

Chick-fil-A

Hey, we had to stop by before Chick-fil-A opened. It’s sort of our thing.

Despite the lack of hysteria at the new Chick-fil-A, we understand from an employee, “We’re still hitting the numbers.” Chick-fil-A is the most profitable fast food chain in the country, by the way.

The third Chick-fil-A in Las Vegas will look very familiar to those who have visited the existing locations. The floorplan is exactly the same at all three locations.

Chick-fil-A Rancho

Just the way we like it, with as few obstructions between us and our fries as possible.

The one difference at the Rancho Drive and Sahara Ave. location is the absence of a children’s play room. This small change is about the only thing that could make a Chick-fil-A even better.

And having Chick-fil-A in town is about the only thing that could make Las Vegas better.

Chick-fil-A

If anyone else had done this, we’d be steamed. In this case, though, we’re pickle juice brined. Allegedly.

Despite the newest Chick-fil-A opening recently (March 30, 2017), the overtime cops have already been dismissed, and team members are delivering meals in three to five minutes, tops, whether inside the restaurant or in the drive-through (60% of a Chick-fil-A’s business).

It’s expected there will eventually be 10 Chick-fil-A locations in Las Vegas over the next few years. We anticipate giving every single one the once-over. At the very least. The sacrifices we make for you.

Chick-fil-A sandwich

Never make us choose between a Chick-fil-A sandwich and the life of a loved one. It will not go well for the loved one.

Enjoy more photos from both before the Chick-fil-A opening and the just-after opening. Because, for some, Chick-fil-A isn’t just a restaurant, it’s a fetish. Which, by the way, isn’t necessarily sexual. A fetish can also be “an inanimate object worshiped for its supposed magical powers.” So, let’s just say it’s that second thing so we don’t get blacklisted.

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BurGR Restaurant at Planet Hollywood Gets Rebrand, Now Gordon Ramsay Burger

It seemed like a good idea at the time. BurGR restaurant at Planet Hollywood has dropped its awkward name and is now simply Gordon Ramsay Burger.

BurGR was an attempt to integrate Gordon Ramsay’s initials (the “GR” part, please try and keep up) into the name of the popular Strip restaurant, but it’s likely Caesars Entertainment found the subtle reference more difficult to market than just using the celebrity chef’s name outright.

Gordon Ramsay Burger

“Less clever, more cheddar,” some food and beverage executive said, probably.

There’s been no official announcement of the name change, we’re just really observant. And clearly have too much free time.

The signage at Gordon Ramsay Burger has already been switched out, and menus and other printed materials also reflect the new name.

Even the official Web site for the restaurant has been scrubbed clean of the BurGR name.

Gordon Ramsay Burger

When it comes to naming restaurants, it’s best to just whip out your big gun.

Gordon Ramsay has a stellar record with his Las Vegas restaurants, all in partnership with Caesars Entertainment.

Besides the excellent Gordon Ramsay Burger, his winning collaborations are Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris and Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips at Linq promenade. Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill has gotten fewer rave reviews, but is still holding steady Caesars Palace.

Gordon Ramsay Burger

At Gordon Ramsay Burger, we even like the burgers with stuff on them, and we are not a stuff person.

There have been recent rumors Ramsay could take over the recently rebranded Serendipity 3 space for a “Hell’s Kitchen” concept, but at the moment that space is Stripside Cafe & Bar.

Whatever you call it, BurGR or Gordon Ramsay Burger, it gets our vote for the best burgers on The Strip, and that’s saying something in a town where epic burgers abound.

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Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts Three New Venues: Redneck Riviera, Born and Raised, Giordano’s

There’s been a flurry of activity at Grand Bazaar Shops outside Bally’s Las Vegas in recent months, including the unveiling of three shiny new venues: Giordano’s, Redneck Riviera and the newest offering, Born and Raised.

It’s time to explore these new venues as only we can—superficially, and with generous amounts of snark so we don’t fall asleep at the keyboard.

First up is Redneck Riviera. Redneck Riviera is a country bar, founded by John Rich of the country duo Big & Rich.

Redneck Riviera

We are not a country music person, so we honestly wouldn’t recognize a Big & Rich song if it were stapled to our forehead.

Redneck Riviera is billed as “a Vegas experience like none-other.” No, they actually say that, in writing. What makes Redneck Riviera so different? “Great music, great drinks, great people!” We are not making this up.

If you want to stand out from other bars in Las Vegas, you have to give customers something they can’t get anywhere else, and you certainly can’t find great music, great drinks or great people, so Rednect Riviera is pretty much guaranteed to succeed.

Hey, we warned you about the snark.

Redneck Riviera

You know, just the typical Las Vegas marketing strategy of having young women stand on barrels.

Beyond the country music and any number of white people attempting to dance, Redneck Riviera also has some great decorative touches.

First, there’s a saddle-shaped disco ball over the dance floor.

Redneck Riviera

It’s like the love child of John Wayne and Liberace. Millennial translation: Oh, nevermind.

There’s also an American flag fashioned from beer cans over one of the establishment’s two bars.

Redneck Riviera

‘Merica.

In the men’s room, you’ll find urinals made from beer kegs. They’re so cool, we’re tempted to listen to a portion of a country song.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

This is going directly to the top of our list of offbeat Las Vegas photo ops.

Also in the restroom are sinks made from tires. The faucets are gas pumps. Seriously charming.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

You’re welcome, Asian tour groups.

One of the best selling points of Redneck Riviera is it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.

The vibe is casual and often rowdy, the staff is friendly, and Redneck Riviera serves a niche clientele likely to stray from Toby Keith’s restaurant at Harrah’s and Gilley’s at Treasure Island to give this new honky-tonk hangout a try.

Next, we move to Born and Raised.

Born and Raised is an offshoot of an existing, locally-owned bar and pub. Named Born and Raised. Please try and keep up.

Born and Raised

St. Paddy’s Day seemed a good day to visit, hoochwise.

Born and Raised at Grand Bazaar Shops is technically named “Born and Raised CRAFT PUB.” Seriously. The “craft pub” is capitalized in all the media and marketing materials.

It’s as if Born and Raised suddenly contracted Tourette Syndrome.

Born and Raised has a tiny footprint, even by Grand Bazaar Shops standards. The bar has seating for about 14 people inside, with another 12 seats just outside.

Born and Raised

Born and Raised is so small you could fit it in your pocket. But don’t. That’s shoplifting.

While other Born and Raised locations in Las Vegas serve food, the Grand Bazaar Shops outpost does not. Which is probably for the best, as we recently had our first encounter with Born and Raised’s food, and it fell firmly into the “Meh” category.

Yes, “Meh” is a category. Other categories include “Mind-Blowing” (Pizza Rock, downtown), “Forgettable” (Beerhaus at The Park), “Regrettable” (The Still at Mirage) and “It’ll Do in a Pinch, Especially If We’re Wasted” (everywhere else on The Strip).

Born and Raised

We look forward to getting to know each and every Born and Raised cocktail personally.

Born and Raised offers a menu of signature cocktails, each runs $13. There is also beer, although we have never personally had a beer, so we aren’t able to comment upon the breadth or quality of the selection.

Finally, we get all up inside Giordano’s.

Giordano’s is a name that may sound familiar. The chain is known for its Chicago-style stuffed deep dish pizza.

Giordano's Las Vegas

Giordano’s sits astride a Starbucks that once announced it would serve liquor. Never happened, to our chagrin, whatever a “chagrin” might actually be.

Giordano’s has gone malls deep into Grand Bazaar Shops, with what amounts to three locations. There’s the second floor main restaurant, another dining area and bar on the ground level (fancifully called the Grand Allee walkway), and there’s also a walk-up window.

Giordano's Grand Bazaar Shops

The Giordano surname has its roots in “Yarden,” the Hebrew name of the Jordan river. Yes, we have exhausted our supply of photo captions.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it, Giordano’s is disappointing on any number of levels.

First, the wait time if you order pizza is agonizing. It took nearly an hour to get our simple cheese pizza, and the restaurant was pretty much empty.

During our wait, staff was sweeping up and mopping, one of our biggest pet peeves in any restaurant. (We were there two hours before closing time, but it was obvious employees were champing at the bit to close up shop.) Adding to the unpleasantness of our visit, staff members were moving chairs around the dining room not by lifting them, but by dragging them, lending the restaurant roughly the same welcoming ambiance as a smoke detector testing facility.

Giordano's Las Vegas

We predict only one of the Giordano’s spaces will survive. It’s anybody’s guess which.

It was only after our pizza arrived that the WTF began in earnest.

Stuffed pizza isn’t actually pizza, it turns out. It’s 14 pounds of melted cheese ladled onto a flaky, flavorless crust. A layer of sauce sits on the cheese, clearly embarrassed to be part of such a bastardization of the world’s greatest food.

Giordano's pizza

Fun fact: The word “no” is the same in English and Italian. Apply liberally at Giordano’s.

We’d love to say we’ll be back to try the thin crust pizza at Giordano’s, but why would we when there are so many other, far-more-worthy pizza offerings in the neighborhood? We’d hit Pin-Up Pizza at Planet Hollywood, Martorano’s at Paris or The Pizzeria (also known as “Secret Pizza”) at Cosmopolitan 100 times before doing Giordano’s again.

Sorry, but pizza is serious business, and what they serve at Giordano’s barely qualifies. It’s more like fondue, although that’s probably doing a disservice to fondue.

Here’s a better look at the Giordano’s menu, and here’s the pizza menu, because you wisely don’t blindly trust the opinion of blogs when it comes to pies.

If you love Giordano’s, we love hearing differing viewpoints. Or at least pretend to.

Giordano's Las Vegas

When it doubt, margarita.

It’s great to see Grand Bazaar Shops bringing in new talent. The mall seems to churn through tenants (mall management would owe harsh penalties to Caesars Entertainment, owners of Bally’s, if Grand Bazaar Shops falls below a certain percentage of occupancy), but a few successful bars and restaurants could give some of the millions of people who walk by each year a reason to stop.

It was recently announced Philly Pretzel Factory is coming to Grand Bazaar Shops later in the year. We’re struggling to contain our excitement.

Our friends at Eater Vegas say another restaurant will open across from Giordano’s patio bar, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. We’ve tried it, and we’re filing that one in the “Forgettable” category, too.

Hey, not everything’s going to stick. Only time will tell which venues will thrive or expire. In Vegas, change is always on the menu.

Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts New Venues

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