Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

First Word: Kestrel Planned for Area 15

Our crush on Area 15—the quirky, “experiential” mall two minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip—is officially maturing into full-fledged love with word of yet another restaurant coming to the popular destination.

Kestrel, described as a “cyberpunk dim sum bar,” is expected to open in early 2022.

It’s rare when you visit somewhere and see things you’ve never seen before. Area 15 is pretty much all that.

A kestrel is a small falcon. Falcons symbolize ambition, superiority, freedom and victory. They’re also a blast at parties, unless you keep mice as pets.

Kestrel is the newest concept from powerhouse entrepreneur Ryan Doherty.

Doherty’s Oddwood lounge is the centerpiece of Area 15, and he also operates Museum Fiasco. Museum Fiasco is the first Kunsthalle-style museum in Las Vegas, whatever that might actually be.

All we know is it’s cool.

Area 15 isn’t your average shopping mall. We are a huge fan of the mind-bending Omega Mart, as well as the next generation VR attraction, Virtualis. We also really like the bar inside the ax throwing place.

Area 15 seems an ideal playground for Ryan Doherty, as his concepts are often offbeat and creative.

Doherty has a cavalcade of offerings downtown, including the newly-opened Peyote restaurant.

Doherty also has Commonwealth, Park on Fremont, Lucky Day and Discopussy.

Discopussy

Discopussy’s restroom is a glimpse into Ryan Doherty’s brain.

In the works on Fremont Street are also Cheap Shot, a theater space (formerly Don’t Tell Mama), and We All Scream, a nightclub with an ice cream window, in the former Beauty Bar space.

We honestly have no idea what a “cyberpunk dim sum bar” is, or could be, which is part of the fun.

Watch for an official announcement of Kestrel soon. If you know this blog at all, you know waiting for official announcements isn’t how we roll. Thank you for the kind words. You can also leave them in the comments. Just saying.

Nobu Restaurant Slated for Paris Las Vegas

On the heels of a restaurant shake-up at Paris and neighboring Bally’s, chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa will bring a new offering to Paris Las Vegas.

Nobu opened at Caesars Palace in 2013, and there’s also a Nobu at Virgin Las Vegas.

The third Nobu is expected to open in early 2022 at Paris, and will sit in the space formerly occupied by Sekushi, next to Cafe Americano.

Chef Nobu

“Nobu” is a Japanese word meaning “trust” or “prolong,” making it especially useful on condom packaging.

Caesars Entertainment says it will open additional Nobu restaurants in places much less interesting than Las Vegas, specifically, at Harrah’s New Orleans and Caesars Atlantic City.

In related news, Nobu’s hotel-within-a-hotel at Caesars Palace will be getting a multimillion dollar facelift, a project expected to be done by the end of 2021.

Nobu is the colorful one.

Nobu’s spot at Virgin got a refresh when the casino transitioned from Hard Rock to Virgin under new ownership.

Nobu movie

Fun fact: Chef Nobu played Mr. Roboto in “Austin Powers in Goldmember.”

Nobu recently closed a temporary location at Bally’s, which was weird, but it kept the restaurant’s employees working as Hard Rock became Virgin, so there’s that.

Nobu’s chain of restaurants was founded by chef Nobu Matsuhisa, Robert De Niro (yes, that Robert De Niro) and Meir Teper (yes, that Meir Teper).

Let’s just say when Nobu opened at Caesars Palace, local media wet themselves.

Nobu restaurants are known for their food we don’t eat because it’s just strange.

Please, someone, get a frying pan and cook some of this fish, already.

There are lots of changes in the works for Paris, and as we’ve shared exclusively, it sounds like Martorano’s will be replaced by a new concept from Snoop Dogg (yes, that Snoop Dogg) and Martha Stewart (yes, that Snoop Dogg). Unconfirmed, but give it a minute.

We were also the first to report the Paris Laurel Lounge would permanently close, and it’s being filled with a Vanderpump lounge.

In other breaking news, Paris finally dumped the timeshare desk at the bottom of the escalators as you enter from self-parking.

In still more breaking news, the $777 burger is no longer at thing at Burger Brasserie.

There’s a reason there’s a “vital” in our name.

Caesars Entertainment seems to be doubling down on its celebrity partnerships, with new venues in the works from Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay (give it a minute), Nobu Matsuhisa and Lisa Vanderpump.

While these licensing deals take a bite out of profit margins (the celebrity usually gets five percent of profits), they’ve been lucrative for Caesars Entertainment, so expect the trend to continue.

Glorious Olive Garden Opens on Las Vegas Strip, Haters Invited to Suck It

A new Olive Garden has opened on the Las Vegas Strip and it’s glorious.

Detractors enjoy poking fun at this popular restaurant chain, but there’s a reason it’s described as a “popular restaurant chain,” so the haters can suck it.

It’s Vegas, and everything’s cooler in Vegas, including this new Olive Garden.

Olive Garden Las Vegas Strip

This is really embarrassing to your local Olive Garden.

Olive Garden is located in the Showcase Mall, across from Park MGM.

It’s three floors up, above a Target store, and it’s not easy to find, despite a number of large video screens adorning the outside of the building.

This isn’t your grandpa’s Las Vegas, Targetwise, Rosswise or Italian restaurantwise. Get used to it.

On the night we visited, there was an Olive Garden employee helping people find their way to the restaurant via a special elevator.

Olive Garden Las Vegas Strip

This gentleman spared us 20 minutes of hangry.

Logisitics aside, this new Olive Garden is genuinely impressive. That’s understandable, as it cost $3.75 million to build.

The most impressive part of this 12,500-square-foot restaurant is the fact designers left the back of the aforementioned video screens visible to guests inside.

This creates a colorful, constantly shifting backdrop with a “Bladerunner” feel. The screens aren’t bright to the point of distraction, and add a striking and unique element to the interior design.

Here’s a hastily slapped-together video to give a sense of the eye candy Olive Garden is serving up.

Fact: Anyone hating on this Olive Garden hasn’t been to this Olive Garden.

The sexy doesn’t stop there. The entire restaurant is pleasing to the eye, including some cozy booths.

Olive Garden Las Vegas Blvd.

The perfect place to pitch some Olive Garden woo. Yes, that’s a thing.

A fun aspect of the Olive Garden’s decor are a number of video screens along the walls, presumably live feeds from Italy.

The feeds don’t appear to be live, but it’s a great nod to Italy, and is an enjoyable diversion for diners.

Olive Garden Las Vegas Strip

If you’re in a quaint Italian square and get the sense you’re being watched, well.

The restaurant is far more expansive than it looks, with at least three large dining areas. It seats more than 400 people and has two bars, because Las Vegas.

Olive Garden Las Vegas Strip

Eight bucks for a Captain and diet on The Strip is an increasingly rare find.

Beyond the winning design of Olive Garden, there’s the value.

We expected inflated prices given the restaurant’s Strip location and venue size, but were pleasantly surprised to find the same low prices for which Olive Garden is known.

You can view the Olive Garden menu on the restaurant’s official Web site, or squint at our photos. Whatever butters your bread.

Olive Garden Vegas

You may break your belt, but you won’t break the bank. Feel free to steal that line, Olive Garden.

Those breadsticks, though. Endless breadsticks, salad and soup for $12.49 is easily one of the best deals in Las Vegas, and certainly on The Strip.

One does not live by breadsticks alone, but we’re up for trying.

We followed up with the iconic Tour of Italy, of course, which they’ll split, if asked.

This combo of chicken parm, lasagna and fettuccine Alfredo is hard to beat at this price and completely satisfying.

Olive Garden Tour of Italy

Endless bread sticks and salad means half an entree portion is twice as much as you’ll need. Olive Garden math.

Nobody’s claiming this is gourmet-quality food, and yes, there are tons of great, high-end Italian restaurants in Las Vegas, blah, blah, blah.

It’s dinner for two, including two wines and two cocktails, for $69. That’s the price of ice water and a napkin in some Strip restaurants.

Do you know this blog at all?

Our food was tasty and filling, and the service was top notch at the bar.

Big sections of the menu can be viewed on tabletop screens, including cocktails and desserts. Everything looks more delicious backlit!

Olive Garden doughnuts

Next time, you gorgeous carb squares.

The bottom line is our new Olive Garden is a winner, and Vegas likes winners.

If you drive, be forewarned parking is $12 for two hours in the fairly awful Showcase parking structure, and it’s virtually impossible to get to Olive Garden from there. (Guests are forced to walk around an entire block at street level. Oh, well, it helps burn off some of those calories returning to your vehicle.)

Here’s where you park. Wear comfortable shoes. It’s a cluster.

Awareness of the Strip Olive Garden hasn’t really kicked in yet, so there’s no waiting.

As mentioned, the restaurant has a visibility problem, and there’s some chatter about an awning out front to help catch the eye of visitors.

There’s a ton of foot traffic on that part of The Strip, and we suspect this will eventually be a go-to for value-seeking tourists.

We love an unpretentious, low-cost dining option on The Strip, and Olive Garden is that.

Yes, Olive Garden gets a good amount of razzing from food snobs, but this chain is laughing all the way to the bank.

Olive Garden Strip

This Olive Garden chair isn’t laughing. It’s sad because you’re leaving.

Olive Garden has consistently been named the “Best Italian Restaurant” in Las Vegas by readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. It’s not, of course, but that means something. It means what people are supposed to enjoy isn’t always what they actually enjoy, and we probably shouldn’t spend so much time telling people what they should enjoy or where.

Bloggers are exempt from this “not telling people what to enjoy” rule, of course.

Check out more photos of the new Olive Garden on the Las Vegas Strip, and if you’re in the camp that insists upon bashing a place without even trying it, feel free.

More breadsticks for us.

Steak ‘n Shake is Done at Oyo Casino, Per Staff

Employees are informing guests of Oyo casino that its Steak ‘n Shake restaurant has closed permanently.

The restaurant never reopened following the shutdown of March 2020, due to the pandemic.

Steak N Shake Oyo

It sounds like the Steak ‘n Shake at Oyo is fried.

The permanent closure of Steak ‘n Shake leaves slim pickings for dining options at Oyo, although Hooters is reliably good, even during our national chicken wing crisis.

There’s also the Splash Cantina (we’ve never seen it open) and Southside Eatery (more of a snack bar, and currently closed).

So, yeah, Hooters.

While Steak ‘n Shake is closed, the video poker bar out front is still in operation. We trust that part’s owned by Oyo.

Steak ‘n Shake is part of a national chain, with more than 600 locations.

The owner of Steak ‘n Shake, Biglari Holdings, was in trouble prior to the pandemic, and it was reported the company could file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. That was avoided, following an infusion of cash.

Steak ‘n Shake permanently closed 82 locations in 2020. There are 57 locations temporarily closed, with the company saying it intends to reopen “most of them.”

According to staffers at Oyo, it seems their location won’t be one of the restaurants reopening, although Oyo hasn’t confirmed the closure is permanent yet.

We enjoy our visits to Oyo, and the values are strong.

Oyo Las Vegas casino

Let’s just say you can’t get lost in Oyo’s tiny casino. Sorry, “boutique.”

Oyo is one of the few places in Las Vegas where you can still find $1 blackjack, for example.

Oyo is the former Hooters, formerly Hotel San Remo, formerly Polynesian, formerly Pacifica, formerly Treasury, formerly 20th Century, formerly Paradise, formerly Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge.

Let’s just say it’s been a wild ride and leave it at that.

Oyo reopens

Our liver has been impatiently waiting for this cocktail spot at Oyo to open for some time now.

Hooters became Oyo on September 16, 2019. Yes, we broke the story. Do you know anything about this blog at all?

Even though Oyo is a petite hotel, it could use another restaurant or two. Pizza springs to mind, as the typical guest is a value-seeker with modest dining requirements.

Oyo may not feel the pressure to bring in another restaurant, because for many the hotel is an inexpensive altrenative to The Strip, and Oyo tends to be their jumping off point for nearby resorts.

For those hankering for some Steak ‘n Shake, there’s another location just 415 miles away from Oyo at South Point Hotel.

Also, there’s an In-N-Out a minute away across the freeway on Tropicana. They also have excellent shakes. Just saying.

Update (9/17/21): Dawn Wolf, Oyo’s Directory of Marketing, says the casino plans to reopen Steak ‘n Shake, but no date has been set. Per Wolf, “We are monitoring our future occupancy forecast very carefully to determine the right period of time to reopen.” Hope lives for Steak ‘n Shake fans, but time will tell.

Downtown’s New Peyote Restaurant Is a Trip

A trendy new restaurant, Peyote, opens in downtown Las Vegas on Sep. 24, 2021.

Thankfully, you have us, so you don’t have to wait to get a taste.

Peyote restaurant Las Vegas

In Vegas, everything’s better with sparkle.

Peyote is located at Fergusons Downtown Motel, sort of just east of Fremont East.

Look for the bigass tractor trailers doing a mating dance.

Big Rig Jig

You thought we were kidding?

Peyote is a boutique restaurant from the awesome Ryan Doherty, founder of Corner Bar Management.

While Peyote is Doherty’s latest venture, he’s got his fingers in a plethora of other popular spots.

He’s got Commonwealth, Park on Fremont, Discopussy, Lucky Day on Fremont Street and Oddwood lounge at Area 15.

Peyote is further evidence Ryan Doherty believes in downtown, and has built a team so good you’ll want to try this out-of-the-way spot even if you’ve never visited downtown before.

If you’re a Vegas virgin, hit Circa and the Viva Vision light show first, but after that, Peyote.

Peyote Las Vegas

It’s not a patio, it’s “al fresco dining,” rube.

Some of the players at Peyote include Hall and Kim Owens, the folks behind Main St. Provisions; Jolene Mannina, managing partner; Max Solano, beverage and cocktail program consultant; and Juyoung Kang, general manager and lead mixologist.

Peyote is 3,400-square feet of great food, drink and eye candy, including a patio with a custom 3D-mapped LED bistro-light canvas.

There’s also a ton of quirky art.

Peyote Fremont East

It would be difficult for us to love this hippo balancing on its tongue more.

It’s telling that at Ryan Doherty’s venues, staff are given cheat sheets about the artwork in case guests inquire. They inquire.

We knew you’d ask.

Naturally, we tried a cocktail first, and it was awesome. It doesn’t come backlit like this. That’s a blogger thing.

Peyote cocktail

We love telling friends we had a Peyote cocktail. This one’s called the Big Bliss.

The Big Bliss has Volcan de Me Tierra blanco tequila, Giffard Pamplemousse liqueur, fresh strawberries, lime-orgeat sour and fresh sage. We don’t know about you, but if they didn’t have lime-orgeat sour, we’d have been out of there.

Here’s a look at the cocktail menu.

Gird your liver, you’re downtown.

One does not live by cocktails alone, of course. Although, we have expressed a willingness to try.

We don’t entirely know how to describe the cuisine at Peyote, we just know we liked it.

Here’s the menu.

Peyote downtown menu

It sounds snootier than it is.

Here’s a bigger version of the menu so your eyes don’t implode.

We’ll let the news release do the talking. “Peyote’s upscale dinner menu will offer a decadent arrangement of appetizers, such as an heirloom tomato summer squash tart; mini shrimp toast topped with wild smoked salmon roe; American country ham on toast served with tangy pickled mustard seed, carrot aioli and wild arugula topped with red eye gravy; and more. Savory main dishes include Carolina Gold rice risotto with grilled corn, sunflower seeds, leeks and almond milk; heritage pig sandwich with grilled pork belly, grass-fed butter, radish, plum mustard, rouge creamery cheese and red pepper pickles; Santa Maria vintage tri-tip grilled on oak served with grilled baby gem, corn salad, pickles, chili preserved radish, butter ball potatoes and fry bread designed to feed three to six guests; and more.”

Which all sounds great, but our tastes are a tad simpler. So, during our media visit, we let our host, Ryan Doherty, order.

Two words: Pork chop.

Simple, effective and grilled to perfection. If you’re 80 or older, insert a Peter Brady reference here.

Even the weird food (we aren’t exactly a tangy pickled mustard seed type) ended up being delicious, and we hate everything.

We even accidentally had vegetables thinking they were French fries.

Peyote veggies

Best way to make kids eat their veggies, ever.

One of the best surprises was the Heirloom Tomato Tart, something we typically never would’ve ordered unless we were being water-boarded. It was great, despite the presence of tomatoes.

Peyote tart

Thanks to Ryan Doherty for making us eat this thing we ended up loving despite our best efforts.

There aren’t any desserts on the menu, but you won’t have room for them, anyway.

It’s worth mentioning, Peyote adds a five percent fee to its checks. We aren’t a fan of such service charges, and asked owner Ryan Doherty about the fee. He said it’s temporary, and has to do with the big price fluctuations for products (liquor and food) at the moment due to the pandemic. Because prices ebb and flow so much (he noted chicken wing pricing “is like the Bitcoin index” half the time), the fee was deemed a better way of addressing those challenges, as opposed to changing the menu prices every week. Just a heads up.

Beyond the walls and patio of Peyote, it sounds like there will be some live music in a small amphitheater that sits just outside.

Ryan Doherty doesn’t just create bars and restaurants, he creates experiences. He makes places people want to hang. Peyote is that.

Just because we don’t eat something doesn’t mean we can’t take pictures of it for you.

Peyote will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from noon to 2:00 a.m. Fridays through Sundays.

There’s some free street parking nearby, but rideshare is recommended. That way you can explore the cocktail menu more thoroughly, if you get our drift.

Riseshare also sidesteps the fact it’s not the best neighborhood, although we’ve never had any issues. The area around Peyote is well-lit and there’s security at the main entrance to Fergusons.

Peyote could very well be a thing.

While Peyote is a little out of the way, it’s a great excuse to explore the Fremont East Entertainment District.

This wayfinder should help, should you choose to make the trip. See how that tied back into our headline? This isn’t our first rodeo.

It’s a challenging location for a new venture, but if you flame broil it, or create the right cocktail menu, they will come.

Enjoy more Peyote images in our expansive and poorly-focued photo gallery below.

See you there. We’ll be the one balancing on our tongue.

Little Tony’s Out at Palace Station, Tacos & Tequila Moving In

Little Tony’s, a sister restaurant to downtown’s popular Pizza Rock restaurant, has closed at Palace Station.

The off-Strip casino has announced Little Tony’s will be replaced with Tacos & Tequila.

Tacos & Tequila will be familiar to Luxor fans, as the restaurant and bar operated there for more than a decade.

It’s really about the tequila.

After some extensive research, we have determined Tacos & Tequila features both tacos and tequila.

There will also be an ass-ton of high-def TVs.

According to Palace Station, “The menu will include the ‘#1 Alambre,’ made with filet mignon, applewood smoked bacon, Oaxaca cheese, poblano chili, onion and cilantro served on a corn tortilla; the shrimp quesadilla, made with grilled shrimp, black beans, Oaxaca cheese, pico de gallo, chipotle aioli, crema fresca and avocado wrapped in a flour tortilla; and beef barbacoa enchiladas, made with slow-roasted brisket, roasted Guajillo-tomato sauce, gouda, Oaxaca and
jack cheese, pickled onion and sour cream made with corn tortillas.”

Tacos & Tequila will also serve vegan and gluten-free selections so weirdos have something to occupy themselves while other customers eat the delicious food. All due respect.

Signature cocktails include margaritas and more than 100 different tequila selections. Pace yourself, hombre.

We trust Tacos & Tequila will not transfer over its annoying CNF charge to Palace Station. Locals would put up with that crap for about zero seconds.

According to Palace Station, Tacos & Tequila will open near the casino’s sports book “later this year.”

It’s a little strange to think about how little “later this year” is left in this year.

Photo via the Station Casinos blog, and props to them for being one of the few Las Vegas casinos that understands the value of having a blog. Looking at you, Caesars Entertainment.

If you’re looking for another Mexican option at Luxor, you can still hit Diablo’s Cantina. We visited recently and it did the trick.

So, what happened with Little Tony’s at Palace Station? Well, it wasn’t that great, for one thing. Tony Gemignani, the pizza god behind Pizza Rock, hasn’t been able to translate the downtown restaurant’s sucess at other locations. The same goes for the Pizza Rock at Green Valley Ranch. It’s just O.K.

Either Little Tony’s wasn’t meeting expectations or the lease ran out and Palace Station, owned by Station Casinos, just didn’t care for the existing deal and found a new partner.

Let’s just say successful restaurants rarely close in Las Vegas, unless there’s a sex scandal. This wasn’t that.

Dibs on one of these sweet booths at the former Little Tony’s.

It’s hard to go wrong with casual Mexican fare and booze with locals.

For visitors, Palace Station is well worth a short trip, as the values (including table minimums) are a refreshing departure from The Strip. The place is full of reasonable dining options, including the Charcoal Room steakhouse, the always-packed Oyster Bar and relatively new Tailgate Social.

Palace Station recently got a $192 million facelift, and it shows.