Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

Ellis Island Tiki Lounge is Like a Luau in Your Pants

Look, we’ve written more than 2,000 headlines for this site, not every one can be gold.

Let’s not allow the visual of a luau in your pants distract from the fact the pop-up tiki lounge at Ellis Island is awesome, and we’ve got the photos to prove it.

Front Yard is one of our favorite off-Strip hangs. Now, it’s even hangier.

The new tiki lounge, called The Island at Ellis, is on the second floor of the Front Yard, a restaurant venue attached to the popular family-owned casino.

The team at Ellis Island went all out to decorate the place, and nailed it on the tropical vibe.

In Maori mythology, Tiki was the first man created. Sort of a more tanned Adam.

The food is excellent, although the menu is somewhat limited.

The options are coconut shrimp, pork belly bites, wings, a quesadilla, pizza and a couple of burgers.

It’s even better than it looks.

And yes, the pizza is delicious, despite the fact pineapple should never, ever be on pizza. Everyone knows that.

Guests of Front Yard can order items from the tiki lounge menu, but not the other way around.

You have to admire any menu where the drinks take up twice the space as the food.

The specialty cocktails are equally awesome! From what we remember, we highly recommend the Painkiller and Mermaid’s Hangover.

Consider your pain killed.

Once you’ve worked your way through the food menu and cocktails, it’s time to play.

There are two blackjack tables in the new tiki lounge, and four very generous, branded slot machines.

We had a couple of nice video poker hits just to ensure our visit was especially memorable.

Tikis, it turns out, protect against evil spirits, also known as “random number generators.”

Also memorable is a 15-foot swordfish hanging in the tiki lounge.

Fun fact: It’s a replica of an actual swordfish caught by the patriarch of the Ellis family, Gary Ellis, easily one of the nicest casino owners in Las Vegas, despite how the swordfish feels about him.

Swordfish are also known as broadbills, despite that being really sexist.

Officially, The Island at Ellis is supposed to go away after July 4, but no way that’s happening if we have anything to say about it. Which we don’t, but still. We expect the tiki lounge will be extended a month or two beyond its announced expiration date.

The tiki lounge is open Saturdays and Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. to midnight; Mondays from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and 4-10 p.m.; Tuesdays through Thursdays, 4:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Don’t freak out. Grass is legal in Nevada.

Props to Ellis Island, already know for the freshness of its beer (there’s a brewery on-site), the lowness of its table minimums and fleekness of its barbeque, for finding a creative way to give guests another reason to visit.

If you hit the pop-up tiki lounge at Ellis Island, let us know what you think, but only if you agree with our take. If you disagree, have another Painkiller and get back to us.

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill Closes Permanently at Harrah’s

Toby Keith’s fans will no longer be able to hoist their red Solo cups at Harrah’s Las Vegas.

Signs point to Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill being closed permanently at the mid-Strip¬† casino.

Toby Keith closed Harrah's

Toby Keith has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and you still didn’t know “Keith” is his middle name. Last name: Covel.

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill never reopened following a closure in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Harrah’s, nor its owner, Caesars Entertainment, have officially confirmed the venue has closed for good, despite multiple requests.

However, Harrah’s staffers say the restaurant is current being used for storage, the gift shop has been completely cleared out and Harrah’s management is looking for a new concept for the space.

Toby Keith Las Vegas closed

Dibs on one of these Solo cup chandeliers.

The closure wasn’t too much of a surprise given some of the drama around Toby Keith-branded restaurants in 2020, the culmination of years of controversy.

Toby Keith’s restaurant and bar opened at Harrah’s Las Vegas on June 29, 2005.

I Love This Bar & Grill had an impressive run, given the fact most restaurants in the chain averaged a two-year lifespan.

The 262-seat venue featured live music, a dance floor, country-themed decor and a guitar-shaped bar.

Toby Keith restaurant Las Vegas

Many honkeys were tonked here.

Harrah’s recently finished what’s been touted as a $200 million renovation project.

All 2,542 rooms at Harrah’s have been redesigned, and the casino floor has been remodeled.¬†Harrah’s has two new high-definition LED screens to show off its amenities.

About a year ago, Harrah’s removed a lot of the theming from its facade, and now the hotel boasts a more modern feel.

Creepy jesters are out.

The investments made at Harrah’s are directly attributable to the construction of the new Caesars Forum Conference Center nearby.

Yes, there’s already a Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. This will not cause any confusion whatsoever.

Anyhoo, conventioneers don’t love cheesy themes, so Harrah’s has largely gotten rid of its Mardi Gras jesters and other outdated touches.

In anticipation of your question, yes, Winnie and Buck survived the renovation.

Winnie Buck Chip Harrah's

Are you Vegas enough to know the dog’s name is Chip?

Today’s rabbit hole: If you look closely at that photo of Winnie and Buck, you’ll notice Winnie’s hand is in great shape.

Back in 2017, Winnie’s fingers were intact and sporting a huge rock.

Thanks to some asshattery, Winnie’s fingers have since been vandalized. We’d argue some of that $200 million spent on the Harrah’s renovations should’ve been devoted to restoring Winnie’s digits to their former glory.

Winnie Harrah's fingers

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Bringing things full circle, it’s worth noting the news release touting the Harrah’s renovations and entertainment offerings did not include Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill. (It also didn’t mention the awkward departure of Mac King after 22 years. He’s relocating to Excalibur.)

Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill will be missed by country music fans, and we look forward to seeing what’s in the works for the space.

Wynn Buffet Returns July 1, Encore’s Dog-Friendly and More

There’s a lot going on at Wynn and Encore, including the return of the resort’s popular buffet.

The Wynn Buffet reopens July 1, 2021, according to the company.

Wynn Buffet

Let’s just say The Buffet at Wynn isn’t your typical Las Vegas buffet.

Following an extended closure due to the pandemic, Wynn tried reopening the buffet back in June 2020, but the effort was short-lived.

Guests didn’t take to a served buffet, preferring a “traditional buffet experience” (serving themselves), so Wynn closed up shop again in Sep. 2020.

Now, the buffet will be back as self-serve, the way Mother Nature, in all her bloated glory, intended.

Also up at Wynn and Encore, valet parking services will be back in mid-June.

The resort’s new restaurant, Delilah, opens July 14.

Delilah is a “modern-day supper club,” and will feature a “troupe of female dancers moving to the sounds of a live jazz band.”

Delilah is in the former Alex space.

The menu for Delilah isn’t available yet, but if you’re into the supper club thing, feel free to visit the official Web page and hit refresh until it appears.

Delilah Wynn Las Vegas

Delilah’s dress code will be “smart casual.” Translation: No clothes that attended public school allowed.

Finally, Wynn Resorts announced Encore will now be dog-friendly.

Guests can now bring up to two dogs, and the pampered pooches will get a doggy bag of welcome gifts including a neckerchief with the Wynn logo, a toy and dog treat.

The hotel will offer canine guests “Bone Appetite, the new room service doggy dining menu.”

Dog-focused clothing and accessories (like Wynn-branded leashes, collars and bowls) will be available for purchase, and there will even be a Wynn Resorts signature robe, an exact replica of its human-sized counterpart.

Happy dog

We took this photo at the Animal Foundation shelter, and are always looking for an excuse to share it again.

Wynn Resorts recently shared it has maintained its Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards for 2021. The company holds the most Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star awards of any independent hotel company. This distinction is all the more impressive because it was earned during a flipping pandemic.

Company officials say the resort’s hotels have had 90-98% occupancy on weekends of late, a strong sign Las Vegas is back, even before international travel (a significant source of business for Wynn Resorts) resumes.

It’s worth noting that while other Strip resorts are bringing back paid parking (including Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts), we’ve heard about no such plans at Wynn and Encore. Parking remains free.

Wynn parking

The best kind of parking machines are the ones where there’s no place to stick in your credit card.

Now, you know what’s up at Wynn and Encore.

We can’t wait to hit the Wynn Buffet again, and we’re happy to hear all the buffet employees will be back to work to deliver one of the best-reviewed buffets in Las Vegas.

Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas Reopens After More Than a Year

Gird your cheeks, Hofbrauhaus is back.

The off-Strip beer hall and restaurant reopened June 1, 2021.

The lively venue has been closed since March 2020. That’s because medical experts agree the leading causes of COVID-19 spread are spankings and Austrian sing-a-longs.

Top tip: When you enter Hofbrauhaus, familiarize yourself with the location of the restrooms.

Hofbrauhaus, of course, is known not only for it brews and schnitzel, but also for the paddling.

Hofbrauhaus guests can receiving a spanking by a “Spankstress” with a shot paddle upon request.

In related news, what in the hell is wrong with people?

Then again, people voluntarily order sauerbraten, so the answer is “a lot.”

Welcome back, you beautiful hangover-maker.

Hofbrauhaus is located just across the street from Virgin Las Vegas, formerly Hard Rock, at Paradise Road and Harmon Avenue.

The popular venue has been in operation for 17 years.

Hofbrauhaus hours of operation are: 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Sunday.

While we are not a beer person (we’ve never had one, actually), whenever we visit Hofbrauhaus, people seem to be having an absolute blast.

Honestly, it’s all about the bigass pretzels.

Hofbrauhaus pretzels

Skip the salt, heavy on the mustard.

Fun fact: It took the owners of Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas two years to negotiate a license with the original Hofbrauhaus in Munich to replicate the iconic tavern.

The return of Hofbrauhaus is another long-awaited symbol of a return to normalcy in Las Vegas.

So, bottoms up. In more ways than one.

Reports of Death of Circus Circus Buffet Were Dead Wrong

Long-standing reports the buffet at Circus Circus would close permanently were wrong.

We know, because we were one of the people reporting it.

In an unexpected twist, Circus Circus is reopening its buffet on May 29, 2021.

Circus Circus Lucky clown

Fun fact: The Circus Circus sign includes subliminal images of food to promote the buffet, including orange slices (lollipop), a cherry (nose), ribbon candy (collar), curly fries (hair), an ice cream cone (hat) and cheese (the whole thing).

Circus Circus says its buffet “will reopen to serve guests delectable American comfort food daily for breakfast, brunch and dinner.”

Oddly, we scoured dozens of Yelp reviews of the Circus Buffet, but could not find a single reference to the food being “delectable.”

On the bright side, Circus Circus has a new owner (TI’s Phil Ruffin), so we trust the buffet will catapult from a two-star “meh” to a five-star “OMFG.”

Your results may vary.

It was previously reported the buffet wouldn’t return as it was being replaced by a food court, but the casino says the buffet will be next to the new food outlets.

Circus Circus food court

Who knew Pick Up Stix was still a thing?

Circus Circus isn’t saying why it changed course, but we assume they heard from value-seeking guests who were disappointed the buffet went away.

Something the Circus Buffet certainly has going for it is the price.

We recently shared Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace costs $65.

The most you’ll pay for your meal at Circus Buffet is $25.99, and that’s holiday pricing.

Here are the prices as we are too lazy to type them.

Circus Circus buffet prices

You can pay $20 for one cocktail at a lounge on The Strip, so dive in.

Circus Buffet serves breakfast and brunch from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., dinner from 4:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

We wish you all the best in trying to tell the difference between breakfast and brunch.

We haven’t ever been to the Circus Buffet, but it’s probably time.

For one thing, we want to support Circus Circus as it emerges from the challenges of the pandemic.

Secondly, we like buffets and appreciate them more given the fact many said the era of cheap buffets was over and done.

Lastly, we’d love to dispel the Circus Buffet’s reputation as a “you get what you pay for” buffet. Even a modestly-priced buffet can serve up a great value if there’s competent management, experienced kitchen and waitstaff and attention to the freshness of the food and overall cleanliness (especially now).

Truth be told, our only hesitation about a visit to the Circus Circus buffet would be easily overcome if Pfizer or Moderna would invent a vaccine against kids.

Next Level Bacchanal Buffet is Back at Caesars Palace

The Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace is back and better than ever.

The variety and quality of this buffet are unmatched on the Las Vegas Strip.

Combine that with the euphoria of guests being able to serve themselves at a buffet again, and Bacchanal Buffet has regained its place as as must-try dining experience.

Bacchanal Buffet Caesars

Start with dessert, of course.

Bacchanal Buffet reopened May 20, 2021, to much hoopla.

It was big deal because many wondered if Las Vegas buffets would ever come back following the pandemic.

Two buffets, at Cosmo and South Point, have plugged along with an altered format for months (the food was served by attendants), but Bacchanal Buffet’s reopening marks a return to buffets the way Mother Nature intended.

A hundred dishes. Outstanding freshness and quality. Self-service. That’s right, it’s time to tong again.

All your favorite food fantasies, all in one place. All right, almost all, you freak.

Oh, and fully vaccinated guests need not wear masks.

Put simply: Guests are eating it up. Let’s take a look around.

Visiting the Bacchanal Buffet after more than a year of being closed provides a genuine sense of glee, as well as a feeling of complete overwhelm.

There’s just so much to try, and virtually all of it is extraordinarily good.

People who balk at the $65 price apparently don’t eat out much in Las Vegas.

The seafood and meat stations alone are worth the price of admission.

Chefs were doling these crab legs out with forklifts.

If Bacchanal’s price still seems daunting, visit any mid-level restaurant in Las Vegas and order a salad, appetizer, entree and dessert. Note the price. That’s for four things. At Bacchanal, add 96 more menu options. Unlimited amounts of it.

We aren’t a math person, but by any measure, Bacchanal is an undeniable value.

Bacchanal Buffet got a $2.4 million renovation while it was closed, but we honestly couldn’t tell where it was spent. The 25,000-square-foot space has always been gorgeous. Bacchanal Buffet originally cost $17 million.

Bacchanal’s decor is a mixture of glass, steel, wood and adamantium. Just to make sure you’re paying attention.

The buffet has nine open kitchen areas, and staff seem genuinely thrilled to be back to doing what they love, including piling plates high with crab legs.

Prior to the pandemic, Bacchanal Buffet served lots of small plates, and that continues to be the case.

New, however, are roaming carts. Or, more accurately, cart, as we only saw one during our visit. These carts presumably deliver dim sum, but during our visit, it was the Wagyu hot dogs and that’s it. Tasty, though.

Adorable, bite-sized and made from really spoiled cows.

A change guests will definitely notice is the way reservations are made. Guests no longer hang out in long lines. You book a reservation and arrive at your reservation time.

Bacchanal Buffet reservations through OpenTable is new, so take full advantage.

Plan ahead, because the buffet is incredibly popular at the moment. Partially because there are few buffets operating in Las Vegas right now, but mostly because Bacchanal Buffet is awesome.

There’s a stated time limit of 90 minutes, but it’s not being strictly enforced, and if you need more than 90 minutes, you’re doing dining out in Vegas wrong. There’s a lot to do, so get busy doing it.

Before you head to Bacchanal, you’ll want to check out our 10 Ways to Make the Most of a Las Vegas Buffet.

Our top buffet tip: When you first arrive, walk the entire buffet without a plate. This is so you can build a strategy without being tempted to fill your plate impulsively.

Your capacity is limited, and you have to save room for dessert. Sorry, that should be plural, “desserts.”

Three words: Creme. Brulee. Shots.

Oh, and here’s out other buffet tip: Tip. Tip the Wagyu hot dog cart guy, anyone preparing a dish to order, the gelato scooper and, most importantly, your servers.

Figure on tipping at least $5 per person at your table when you’re finished with your meal.

If that seems to fly in the face of long-standing cheapness, note how often your server brings drinks, clears used plates or checks on you throughout your visit.

If you think buffet servers do less than typical servers, you’re barking up the wrong pasta station. Why, then, are they tipped so much less than servers at other restaurants? Don’t get us started.

Don’t fill up on bread. Fill up on pizza.

Beyond the vast selection of food, there’s a beverage menu.

It’s worth noting there’s a special deal on beverages as you enter the buffet. Buy a drink coupon for $12, and it’s good for any cocktail, glass of wine or two beers. That’s about a $4 savings on each drink.

High maintenance people with peculiar dietary requirements will find vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free menus. Take a look.

If you can’t find something to love at Bacchanal, you’re probably a robot.

Bacchanal Buffet is simply a unique, exceptional Las Vegas dining experience, and we’re thrilled it’s back.

The fact is, many Las Vegas buffets won’t be returning. For example, we hope you weren’t emotionally attached to the buffet at Circus Circus. It’s being replaced with a food court. The Flamingo buffet is also done, and TI’s buffet has also been nixed.

Casinos are re-evaluating the costs associated with buffets, and some are bailing on them altogether. The loss leader era of Las Vegas is done.

Check out what’s happening with Station Casinos buffets. So-called experts like us think they aren’t coming back. See more.

The fact Bacchanal reopened means it’s a winner, and there’s no better way to confirm that fact than a visit.

Bacchanal Buffet isn’t just a restaurant. It’s a culinary dream come true. It’s over-the-top excess without compromising quality. It’s a story. It’s something for absolutely everyone.

Bacchanal Buffet is a succulent, sinful symbol Las Vegas is not only back, but as adept at overwhelming the senses as ever.