Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

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 official opening date for the Front Yard is Dec. 6, 2019.

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.

Oakville Steakhouse at Tropicana is an Underrated Gem

There are so many steakhouses in Las Vegas, it’s easy for even a great one to be overlooked. That seems to be the case with Oakville Steakhouse at Tropicana.

This unassuming restaurant serves up fare worthy of more attention. So, this would be an attempt at that.

Oakville Steakhouse

Let’s meat.

Then menu at Oakville Steakhouse isn’t the most expansive, but all the bases are covered.

You’ll want to start with a shrimp cocktail appetizer, of course. In Las Vegas, it’s the law.

Oakville Steakhouse Tropicana

Few things are as adorable as shrimp spooning.

As you’re choosing your entree, make sure to dive into the specialty cocktail menu. Here’s a look at the cocktail menu.

Oakville Steakhouse Tropicana

Happy libationing. Which, if it isn’t a word, should be.

The Barely There was recommended by our server, and we owe her bigtime for that one. This immediately made its way into our list of favorite fancy cocktails on The Strip.

The Barely There has Patron Silver tequila, peach schnapps, Apple Pucker liqueur and sour mix.

Oakville cocktail Tropicana

We aren’t a tequila person, but the Barely There says otherwise.

Oakville Steakhouse absolutely nailed our filet mignon. It sort of had to. “Steakhouse” is right in the name of the place.

Oakville Steakhouse Tropicana

Perfectly seasoned, just like we are, whatever that might mean.

While a delicious steak was to be expected, we didn’t expect the mac and cheese side to win our heart. It did.

Oakville Steakhouse Las Vegas

We’re pretty sure this mac and cheese is going to ruin you for other mac and cheeses.

More dranks, as the kids say.

Next, we had intimate relations with the Pineapple Express, with Pineapple Ciroc vodka, pineapple juice, orange juice and cranberry juice.

Oakville Tropicana Las Vegas

You can legitimately say, “I’m not drunk, I’m juicing.”

We were foolishly about to call it a night when our server walked by with a dessert on its way to another table.

We ordered one, and when you see it, you’ll know why.

Our server confided, “When I serve one of these, I serve 10.”

We have no idea what it’s called, but it’s a little bit cake, a little bit ice cream, a little bit chocolate cookie in between and a little bit chocolate syrup just to make the whole thing ridiculously decadent.

Oakville Las Vegas

Dessert: Brought to you by gravity and fusion.

Among the other temptations at Oakville Steakhouse are Australian Tajima Wagyu, fresh seafood and a wine list with more than 150 labels.

Check out the full menu at the official Oakville Steakhouse Web site.

Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Tropicana has free parking.

Oakville Steakhouse Trop Las Vegas

The Web site says the dress code is business casual. Translation: Just put on pants, freak.

Big thanks to Tropicana for hosting our dinner, and we’re happy to highly recommend it.

While you’re there, stop by their new lounge, Trago. Check out our story about it, and not just because there’s a lot of cleavage. Probably.

The Strat Has a Winner With Blvd. and Main Taphouse

The Strat is in the middle of a $140 million renovation, and that means lots of new offerings, including a new bar and restaurant, Blvd. & Main Taphouse.

We dove headlong into the menu at Blvd. & Main Taphouse and can happily report this new venue serves up hearty bar food (sorry, “pub cuisine”) with lots of satisfying twists.

Strat Blvd. & Main Taphouse

It’s always smart marketing to include your restaurant’s address in the name of the place. The “Blvd.” is Las Vegas Boulevard, of course.

Blvd. & Main Taphouse spans about 6,000-square feet and sits near the resort’s shiny new sports book and a new lounge, View Lounge. Yep, The Strat is pulling out all the stops.

Oh, and The Strat is now The Strat rather than The Stratosphere. Please try and keep up.

Blvd and Main Taphouse

We’d tap that again.

The menu at Blvd. & Main Taphouse was concocted by Executive Chef Johannes Bernau. His name makes him sound like one of those fancy, snoot chefs, but he’s down-to-earth and has a great sense of what guests are looking for, especially given the proximity of the restaurant to the sports book.

Real food for real people, with a little something for everyone.

Hell, we even liked the salad, which is no small feat. This is the Super Food Salad and it was as pretty as it was tasty.

Strat Blvd. & Main

Destination salad, actually.

It didn’t take long for us to notice the cocktail menu, of course, and we made quick time of In the Clouds, with Don Julio Blanco, La Pinta pomegrantate tequila, lime sour and cantaloupe juice.

Strat Blvd & Main

No, we’re not going to make a melons joke. It’s called maturity. Check out those balls, though!

You won’t want to miss the meatball appetizer, half beef and half Nueske’s bacon, which is apparently a thing for bacon lovers.

Strat Blvd & Main

Nueske’s bacon is “smoked 24 hours over smoldering Applewood embers.” We’re so turn on right now.

Another must-try are the Bierocks (pronounced bee-ROKs).

The dish comes with three rolls filled with stout-braised short ribs. There’s also a Pilsner beer cheese dipping sauce for good measure.

Blvd. & Main restaurant

Bierock can also be spelled beerock, berrock, bierox and beerrock, which can be very confusing when a bierock renews its drivers license.

Here’s a peek inside that bad boy.

Blvd & Main Taphouse

Your salivary gland are working just fine.

Next up, some delicious BBQ short rib sliders with chipotle BBQ sauce, a sauce so good they named a restaurant chain after it.

Blvd and Main Stratosphere

How are these not a thing everywhere?

We definitely didn’t have room for the fish and chips, but wouldn’t want to let you down, so we powered on. The fish and chips were great, we’re pleased to report.

Blvd and Main Stratosphere

Kneel before cod.

We felt compelled to try several desserts on your behalf, so we went for the butter toffee cake.

There’s a whole production around the butter toffee cake, as the buttered rum-toffee sauce is poured tableside. There’s creme fraiche ice cream inside.

Blvd & Main dessert

Remember, Vegas calories don’t count.

A fine finish to our visit was the “Fondue for Sharing.” What’s not to love about dipping things into melted chocolate? Our only suggestion for this dish would be to include Rice Krispie Treats as one of the dippable treats.

Strat fondue

Oh, yes, we fondid.

All in all, Blvd. & Main Taphouse delivers a diverse selection of accessible snacks and entrees, all in a welcoming, casual atmosphere.

Yes, there are sports on the TVs, but the volume isn’t intrusive, and during our visit there was live entertainment, a lone singer with a guitar.

The decor features art pieces commissioned by local artists, too, so make sure to explore.

Check out the full menu on the official Stratosphere site.

You’ll also want to pop next door to View Lounge.

Strat View Lounge

View Lounge serves up drinks and small bites. Yep, the bar has video poker.

Here’s a look at the Strat’s William Hill sports book, in case you’re into sportsball.

Strat sports book

There’s a lot of new, with more to come. That’s just how we roll in Vegas.

Blvd. & Main Taphouse is a solid addition to the restaurant line-up at The Strat, and big thanks to the folks at The Strat for hosting our visit.

While you’re at The Strat, one more item of interest: The hotel recently unveiled a statue out front called “Look.”

Strat Look statue

It was originally called “Point,” but they didn’t want to be rude.

Stratosphere’s transformation into The Strat is ongoing, and the marquee is getting an upgrade at this very moment.

Stratosphere Strat

A refresh isn’t official until it makes its way to the marquee. It’s the law.

Let us know what you think of all the changes at The Strat! Especially if you agree with us about the Blvd. & Main Taphouse. We’re a big fan of being agreed with.

Blvd. and Main Taphouse at The Strat

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Oscar’s at Plaza Endures as Stand-Out Vegas Steakhouse

While Oscar’s Steakhouse has been around since Dec. 2011, we figured it was time to loop back around to see how the joint’s doing.

We’re glad we did.

Oscar's Steakhouse

A touch of class without pretense, that’s Oscar’s.

In the early days of the restaurant, it was called Oscar’s Beef, Booze & Broads, but downtown’s Plaza has perhaps wisely backed off of using that saucy name. Now, it’s pretty much just Oscar’s Steakhouse.

The “Oscar” in “Oscar’s,” of course, is former Las Vegas mayor and mob lawyer, Oscar Goodman. Goodman spent a dozen colorful years as mayor, 1999 to 2011. Now, his wife, Carolyn Goodman, is mayor and just won re-election. Vegas loves its Goodmans.

In the spirit of Oscar Goodman, literally, let’s have a cocktail.

The signature cocktails at Oscar’s are reliably top-notch, including the Q 1908. The Q 1908 has Empress gin, fresh lemon and simple syrup.

Oscar's Plaza

We aren’t personally a gin person, yet we enjoyed this a lot, anyway.

We’re fairly sure every meal at Oscar’s should begin with the crab cakes. They’re a sight to behold.

Oscar's crab cakes

Oscar’s crab cakes are big enough to be dinner, but that’s not how appetizers work. Pace yourself, for once.

The official name of the appetizer is Johnny Quinn’s Crab Cake, by the way. Lots of dishes at Oscar’s have creative names, often inspired by Oscar Goodman’s life and sometimes controversial career.

Johnny Quinn was a raconteur and head of the hotel’s race and sports book when the Plaza was called Union Plaza. How do we know this? Oscar’s has thoughtfully put together a “List of Included Persons” booklet, a nod to the famous “Black Book” authorities use to keep track of folks unwelcome in casinos.

Oscar's Plaza Las Vegas

This entertaining booklet will keep you company while your date is on her phone. Ahem.

Let’s get into the entrees, already.

We had to get the filet mignon (sorry, Joey C’s Filet Mignon), and it was excellent.

Oscar's filet mignon

We’re more into “eating our steak” than “taking notes about the sauce,” sorry.

The sides were also outstanding, and Oscar’s serves what we’d call destination mac and cheese.

Oscar's mac and cheese

Again, a whole meal, but that’s not how sides work, either.

Our dining companion braved a dish with a face only a mother could love, the whole roasted branzino. Branzino, of course, is European sea bass. The dish involved brown butter-caper beurre blanc and arugula, but mainly we were left wondering what is wrong with people. She loved it, though, so to each their own.

Oscar's Steakhouse fish

Oh, just cover up the face with your arugula.

Time for another delectable cocktail!

We’re a fan of sweet, tropical drinks, so we went with the Jungle Bird. The Jungle Bird has Real McCoy three-year rum, simple syrup, Campari, fresh lime and pineapple juice.

Oscar's Las Vegas

We may not be into fish faces, but we sure as hell are into Jungle Birds.

When you dine a Oscar’s, you won’t have room for dessert, as if that’s going to stop you from having it.

The chocolate mousse prevailed in the dessert battle royale, with a trio of imported chocolates in mousse terrine. No, we don’t have any idea what half those words mean. Don’t judge, just gawk.

Oscar's mousse

Now, that’s a Vegas threesome.

Oscar’s is a traditional Las Vegas steakhouse with a twist. What’s the twist? The restaurant sits in a spot that was once the hotel’s pool.

Here’s what Oscar’s looks like from the outside.

Oscar's Steakhouse

There’s no place like dome.

The service is old-school charm, the atmosphere is warm and welcoming (no need to scream over intrusive live or piped-in music, thankfully), the drinks are strong and the prices are quite reasonable.

You can check out the full Oscar’s menu online.

Big thanks to the Plaza for hosting our visit, and Oscar’s is a worthy addition to your Las Vegas must-try list.

Oscar's Steakhouse at Plaza

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Uno Mas is a Step in the Right Direction for SLS Las Vegas

SLS has opened a new Mexican restaurant, Uno Mas, a step in the right direction for the casino likely to be rebranded as Grand Sahara Resort.

Uno Mas

If you don’t think of “Shanghai Noon” when you hear “uno mas,” we can’t be friends.

Uno Mas takes up residence in the space formerly occupied by Ku Noodle, near the resort’s Northside Cafe.

Uno Mas has a modest menu, but the tacos hit all the right notes, despite their being a tad on the pricey side. Three for $18 isn’t outrageous, though, for The Strip.

Uno Mas menu

It must be good if we cheated on Cleo.

We had the Pork al Pastor, Carne Asada and Vegetarian tacos.

You are so gullible! We had the Crispy Pollo.

Uno Mas SLS

A trifecta of tempting, titillating tastes. Alliteration not included.

The tacos are scrumptious, at the risk of sounding like we’re writing this blog post in 1830.

The tacos are served on fresh corn tortillas and the pastor is spit-roasted.

Beyond the tacos, there’s a healthy selection of specialty cocktails ($13). We tried the El Fuego, Spanish for, “Ah, so that’s what Jalapeno tequila tastes like.”

The El Fuego has Dulce Vida Pineapple Jalapeno tequila, banana liqueur, mango and ginger beer. The garnish is a pineapple kissed with Tajin.

Uno Mas SLS cocktail

This one’s like a brisk slap to the jowl.

The menu says there’s Tajin on the rim, but no such luck. If you’d like to try and make this cocktail at home, make sure to get a Tajin rimmer, which we didn’t know was a thing until just now.

Everyone who visits Las Vegas should make sure to get a rimmer!

Yeah, we should probably work for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Uno Mas has apparently done well since it opened March 23, 2019. The official opening date is April 12.

Uno Mas SLS

Solo-friendly counter seating gives guests a view of the open kitchen.

Expect more changes in the dining options at SLS Las Vegas as the resort transitions to Grand Sahara. (The new name hasn’t officially been announced, but all signs point in that direction.)

Another SLS restaurant, Katsuya, closed in March to make way for a relocated high limit room.

It’s expected Umami Burger and Cleo may also be replaced, as they are leftovers from an earlier era when the former owners of SLS partnered with SBE Entertainment. Now, these SBE licensing deals are just cutting into potential SLS profits, so out they go.

SLS Las Vegas

SLS isn’t looking much like SLS anymore, and that’s a good thing.

Word is Bazaar Meat will survive the resort’s evolution, and will even get an expansion.

One more juicy tidbit from SLS: We hear the former Foxtail nightclub space will be split up and part will be a lounge called Casbah, a throwback to the resort’s Sahara roots.

(Update 5/22/19): The new lounge is open, and it’s named Casbar, a clever nod to Sahara’s past with a twist that plays up “bar.” We approve!

SLS Las Vegas

We love this snazzy new SLS tagline, and we hate everything.

Uno Mas represents a solid move toward more accessible, crowd-pleasing dining options at SLS, and we look forward to tasting what’s next.

Uno Mas at SLS Las Vegas

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