Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

11 Reasons You Need to Visit The Strat Again

There’s a lot more to love about The Strat since the last time you visited.

Golden Entertainment bought Stratosphere back in 2017, and a $140 million renovation and rebrand ensued. Now, Stratosphere is The Strat, which totally spoils the surprise of item number one on our list. Oh, well.

Please enjoy our hastily slapped-together list of wildly compelling reasons you need to go back to The Strat.

1. Stratosphere is The Strat

Stratosphere became The Strat in Feb. 2019. Lots of folks already called it The Strat, but the rebrand made it official. Golden Entertainment saved a ton of money by giving Stratosphere a streamlined name rather than having to start from scratch with an entirely new one.

Strat casino sign

The Strat’s official new name is The Strat Hotel, Casino and SkyPod. The “SkyPod” is just the tip. And, yes, some photo captions write themselves.

2. Sexy New Chips

Along with the resort’s new name came a roll-out of some fancy new casino chips. We love them, and yes, we understanding loving a casino chip is a little weird, but the heart wants what the heart wants. Worth noting: Your previously-issued Stratosphere chips expire on Dec. 9, 2019, so cash ’em if you got ’em.

Strat chips

We can only afford to collect the $1 chips. We are not an Adelson.

3. Sparkly Table Games Area

Golden put its money where its casino is with the unveil of a new casino table games area. We hit the new table games area on the day it opened, being the first person to roll the dice on a beautiful new craps table. Over the next 24 minutes, we personally contributed financially to the renovation of The Strat. Note: We’ve since made it back, and much more, on video poker.

Strat casino

Light blue is associated with health, tranquility, understanding and doubling down on blackjacks, or at least those first few things.

And adjoining section of the casino has a different look. We try not to play favorites.

Strat casino

The Strat has its groove back.

4. Enlightened Selfie Policy

While The Strat has a lot of great changes happening, this is one of our most beloved: You can take photos in the casino. Shocker, right? The Strat is one of the few casinos in town that has an actual clue when it comes to allowing guests to take selfies at the tables. It says so right on the felt, and it’s a huge step in Las Vegas casinos moving away from outdated policies that only serve to annoy customers. Bravo, bigtime, Strat.

Strat selfie

Common courtesy still applies, of course. No photos of guys with their mistresses.

5. Blvd. & Main Taphouse

We’ve been working our way through the menu at Strat’s new Blvd. & Main Taphouse restaurant and we’ve yet to have anything that wasn’t great. We look forward to tapping that again soon.

Strat Blvd. & Main

The fish and chips are consistently fleek. Stop rolling your eyes, we’re using “fleek” ironically.

6. View Lounge

We’re not entirely sure how the new View Lounge became one of our favorite places to play in all of Las Vegas, but it has. This casino bar and lounge not only looks great, but the machines feel loose, the bartenders are top notch (and visually appealing) and you can get anything on the Blvd. & Main menu at the bar. There’s honestly no reason to leave View Lounge, ever.

View Lounge Strat

Your video poker and hooch needs are handled: It’s View on The Strip (at The Strat) and Vue downtown (at The D).

7. Remix

As if one great casino bar and lounge weren’t enough, The Strat built two. Behold Remix.

Remix

You can never have too many casino bars. Or just bars, come to think of it.

Remix made its debut very recently and, again, the video poker machines feel generous and the drinks are far better than they have to be. The signature cocktails are well worth exploring, including this gorgeous purple thing called the Jumping Empress.

Remix

The sacrifices we make to bring you all the latest cocktail news.

8. Top of the World Revamp

The Top of the World restaurant at Strat has long been on the short list of must-do restaurants in Las Vegas. The restaurant recently got an overhaul, including an entirely new menu. Combined with the stunning views, and Messermeister steak knives (whatever those might be), Top of the World isn’t just a restaurant, it’s an experience, and it’s not to be missed.

Top of the World

Our photography is so good, we should start a blog of some sort.

9. “Celestia”

Simply put, “Celestia” is a Cirque-style show without the Cirque-style price (tickets start at a ridiculously low $29). This show, in a 30,000-square-foot tent, features dozens of acrobats and variety performers and bendy people. It also has the “Wheel of Death,” which is worth the price of admission on its own. The show has mercifully little clown, is unburdened by a plot and is a great night out for the whole family. Here’s the official Web site.

 

10. Free Parking

No, free parking isn’t new at The Strat, but it’s worth mentioning because, well, free parking.

Strat free parking

The Strat’s doing a lot right, and it starts and ends with free parking.

11. Make Sahara Mad

This reason to visit The Strat isn’t something new, it’s just something fun. See, Sahara has started positioning itself as one end of The Strip. They’re even using a new tagline, “The Strip starts here.” Hooey. The Strip isn’t based upon legal boundaries, it’s based upon what structures are depicted on keychains. The Strat is part of The Strip. So, when you visit The Strat, you’re sending a clear message to Sahara (formerly SLS) to get over itself. We love that.

Strat Las Vegas

Sorry, Sahara, The Strip begins (or ends) right here.

While our list covers our favorite new things, there are actually quite a few more.

The resort unveiled its “Elevate” room, a complete remodel of 311 rooms with new decor, furniture and amenities.

Strat also recently opened Strat Cafe & Wok, its 24-hour restaurant which replaced Roxy’s Diner.

Strat Cafe Wok

Roxy’s had singing. ‘Nuff said.

The Strat also has a shiny new sports book, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Also new is The Strat’s Link Lounge, named for Aristocrat’s “Link” game series, which will make fans of Lighting Link, Dragon Link and Liberty Link very happy.

We’d also be remiss if we didn’t mention 108 Eats and 108 Drinks, two new venues on the hotel’s 108th floor. These spots are courtesy of chef James Trees, our culinary hero because of his Esther’s Kitchen downtown and Ada’s in Summerlin.

Oh, and we can’t forget the Strat’s sweet new carpeting. We probably should’ve done a top 20 list, but we are often both drunk, lazy or both.

Strat carpet

One for the casino carpet fetishists, and they are legion.

The bottom line: It’s time to visit The Strat again. Let us know what you think of all the upgrades and we’ll see you at The Strat.

Tacos El Gordo Original Strip Location Closes, But Don’t Freak Out

The original Strip location of Tacos El Gordo, a restaurant with a cult-like following, has closed. But don’t freak out.

Luckily, there’s another Tacos El Gordo a mere 300 feet away.

Here’s a look at the closed location fans know and love.

Tacos El Gordo

Following your crushing disappointment, walk 12 seconds to the other Tacos El Gordo. It’s good to work up an appetite.

This isn’t the first time this location of Tacos El Gordo has closed. It closed in Nov. 2014 and returned a year later.

Tacos El Gordo has long battled with the management of the strip mall where it’s wrangled some serious drunchies for years.

Recently, Tacos El Gordo has operated two Strip locations simultaneously, a testament to the popularity of the brand.

Now, the newer of the two locations has prevailed.

Tacos El Gordo

“Tacos El Gordo” is Spanish for “The Gordo Tacos.” We are a blog, not a universal translator.

Here’s more about the gloriousness that is Tacos El Gordo. Find the menu, as well as information about other locations, on the official Web site.

What makes the place special? Well, for one thing, we love it and we are not even really a taco person.

The address you seek is 3041 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. If you’ve never tried Tacos El Gordo before, you’re welcome.

Binion’s Nails It With New Whiskey Licker Up

It’s been a busy few months at Binion’s Gambling Hall.

In July 2019, the downtown casino opened (technically re-opened) the historic Hotel Apache, with a modest 81 old-timey rooms. The original Hotel Apache opened in 1932.

Now, Binion’s has opened a new restaurant, bar and nightlife venue, Whiskey Licker Up. And, no, we honestly never thought we’d use the words “Binion’s” and “nightlife” in the same sentence.

Whiskey Licker Up

Yes, it’s open during the day, too, but “nightlife” just sounds sexier.

Whiskey Licker Up officially opened on Sep. 30, 2019, with some perfunctory hoopla, which is the best kind of hoopla in our humble opinion.

Where to begin? With the bar, naturally! Do you know this blog at all?

The centerpiece of Whiskey Licker Up is a sweet revolving bar. It was inspired by Carousel Bar, a hot spot in the French Quarter in New Orleans.

You’re familiar with New Orleans. It’s like Las Vegas, but stickier.

Whiskey Licker Up

Our newest happy place.

The revolving bar has variable speeds and rotates counter-clockwise. We talked to an engineer who said bars that rotate clockwise can cause people to feel woozy. We honestly have no idea what difference that would make, but we are a blog, not an engineer.

Here’s a look at the revolving bar during construction.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Heavy drinking precludes us from sharing any fun facts about the revolving bar, sorry.

The bar takes 15 minutes for a complete revolution.

Here’s a badass time lapse video of the revolving bar at Whiskey Licker Up.

It’s downtown, so the venue has a back-up bar, of course. This one doesn’t rotate, but the long pours are still in effect.

Whiskey Licker Up

Proof a person can have more than one happy place.

Video poker players will note that Whiskey Licker Up has none. Video poker, that is. You’ll survive. We were surprised about that, too, but the bars were built so they can accommodate video poker machines should they be installed in the future.

For now, it’s just food, hooch and a section of the restaurant that can be used as a dance floor.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Everyone asks where one can go to dance downtown. This will apparently be that.

The food we’ve tried has been delicious, including the wings, beef sliders and meatballs. The pork sliders were a disappointment, but the chicken tenders more than made up for them as they are some of the best we’ve had in Vegas.

Here’s a look at the meatballs.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

These meatballs are far better than they have to be.

The fact Binion’s gets meat right shouldn’t come as a surprise if you’ve have the hamburger in the Binion’s Cafe. It’s also one of the best in Las Vegas, possibly because they use meat trimmings from their steakhouse, and that often means your burger is made from filet mignon.

Here’s a look at the Whiskey Licker Up appetizer menu. Please don’t strain your eyes, click here or possibly here for a larger image of the full food menu.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

Please don’t call them “tapas.” Downtown hates that pretentious crap.

The liquor is ample at Whiskey Licker Up, which probably wasn’t difficult to predict given “whiskey” is right in the name of the place.

The signature cocktails are $12 ($18 for a double), and there’s an extensive beer selection. Again, click here (for the cocktail and wine menu) and definitely here (for the beer menu).

Yes, they have Captain Morgan from the bottle. Don’t you ever think about anything else?

The original plan for Whiskey Licker Up was to have a mechanical bull, but apparently it was nixed. Instead, the venue features one of those new-fangled virtual reality machines. Isn’t it funny you never hear about things being old-fangled?

The VR machine is a four-seater. Here’s a look.

Whiskey Licker Up

If you start to freak out, just close your eyes. This isn’t rocket science.

The VR machine, the X World 360, has the option of 89 different rides. We, naturally, chose a mellow one. It was awesome, and we are not even a ride person, virtual or otherwise. Here’s more about the X World 360 if you’re into that kind of thing.

Rides are $15 a pop. The mellow rides last 7-9 minutes, the more intense ones last 3-4 minutes.

On the service front, Binion’s has wisely hired a bevy of model servers. They’re like your typical servers, but are younger, more attractive and less roboty.

The theme of Whiskey Licker Up is a little bit country, but without the bull, they have the flexibility to feature a variety of music styles. We suspect, though, country will be prominent when the rodeo is in town. There’s even a rodeo gate (slash advertisement) for photo ops.

Whiskey Licker Up

It’s hard to beat this bucking chute. Which sounds far more inappropriate than it really is.

Whiskey Licker Up is bigger than you’d think, and there’s tons of seating at tables, at the bars, on the outdoor balcony (enclosed by windows that can be rolled open) and in VIP booths.

Again, never expected to say “VIP booths” in a story about Binion’s, but we’re always open to surprises.

Whiskey Licker Up Binion's

No paper straws for the win.

One of the absolutely best things about Whiskey Licker Up, of course, is it’s at Binion’s, and Binion’s is an iconic part of Vegas history.

Part of that history has been exposed at the street entrance to Whiskey Licker Up. Guests go up a flight of stairs, and can see a wall of petrified wood that dates back to the Mint. It’s downright old-fangled.

The Mint was absorbed into Binion’s in 1988.

Vegas fanatics will enjoy the fact a portion of the Mint’s famous facade has been left exposed. Prepare yourself for engorgement, if you get our drift.

Whiskey Licker Up Mint

Swoon fodder. Which, come to think of it, wouldn’t be a bad band name.

Preliminary hours are 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., except for Friday and Saturday, when the place will stay open until 4:00 a.m.

It’s gratifying to see Binion’s doing this new venue right. We’d love to see some video poker, but the prices are reasonable and the service is perky, so we expect to be back soon and often.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience and Binion’s is one of its member casinos. Opinions are our own.

Of course, we’ve got more photos of Whiskey Licker Up, so mosey on through them or whatever the kids are doing.

Whiskey Licker Up

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Golden Nugget Las Vegas Confirms Chick-fil-A is On the Way

Golden Nugget has confirmed it will soon boast a Chick-fil-A restaurant, the first in downtown Las Vegas.

The new Chick-fil-A was announced by Golden Nugget via social media.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

We love when a juicy rumor pans out! Emphasis on “juicy.”

While this item was news to the world, it wasn’t new to us, because we know things.

We also have access to the Internet.

We originally got wind of the new Chick-fil-A because of a job posting on LinkedIn a few months back.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

Great gig (average salary is $53,000), except for the “always having to be nice to everyone” thing.

Scant details have been announced about the Chick-fil-A at Golden Nugget, but we’ve got a few additional unconfirmed, ahem, nuggets to share.

Golden Nugget has said the new restaurant will open “this winter,” but we’ve heard Dec. 2, 2019 as the slated opening date.

The location, from what we understand, is the hotel’s Carson tower. We scouted the area in question, and employees said Chick-fil-A will move into the location currently occupied by a gift shop next to one of Golden Nugget’s two Starbucks. See more.

Golden Nugget

Out with the keychains, in with the waffle potato fries.

Employees claim the Essentials gift shop will move right next door.

If this location skinny pans out, it’ll be a surprisingly low profile spot for such a high profile restaurant. Carson tower is deep inside Golden Nugget, past its restaurant row, and about as far as you can get from all the foot traffic on Fremont Street.

Still, we predict this Chick-fil-A is going to print money, and having large numbers of chicken sandwich fans making their way through hundreds of slot machines is bound to be a boon for
Golden Nugget.

Golden Nugget has already gotten a start on creating visibility for its new offering. Specifically, this big-ass sign on Fremont.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

We are currently pre-salivating.

As with all Chick-fil-A announcements, there’s been some “hate chicken” chatter, but relatively little compared to when Chick-fil-A first came to Las Vegas in 2017.

Yes, we droned Chick-fil-A. We were excited, don’t judge.

Here’s some background on the Chick-fil-A controversy. Bottom line: We believe in the separation of church and chicken.

We honestly can’t wait to add Golden Nugget’s Chick-fil-A to our lunch rotation.

You can bet we’ll be watching this one closely! We would be remiss if we didn’t use this opportunity to remind you we were the first to share Chick-fil-A was coming to Planet Hollywood on The Strip.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience, and Golden Nugget is one of its member casinos. Opinions and snark are our own.

Wolfgang Puck Teams With Vegas Golden Knights Players for Sports Restaurant

Doubt our sources at your peril, as we’ve broken yet another story and it’s probably a good time to remind you of the incontrovertible adage, “It’s not bragging if it’s true.”

We were the first to share Wolfgang Puck will close his Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in Downtown Summerlin (about 15 minutes west of The Strip) and the celebrity chef will re-open the venue as a sports restaurant and lounge.

Wolfgang Puck Downtown Summerlin

Solid food, prices a tad too high, good time for a refresh.

In addition, Wolfgang Puck will launch his new effort in partnership with team members of the Vegas Golden Knights. The hockey team. That’s the sport with the ice and the pummeling.
Some people are into it.

Our scoop was immediately confirmed by Tom Kaplan, Senior Managing Partner of Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining.

Wolfgang Puck Vegas Golden Knights

Props to Mr. Kaplan for making this announcement on Twitter. News releases can suck it.

Boom, as the kids say.

Let us be the first one to point out the fact someone with the last name of Puck is teaming up with hockey players. You’re welcome. (Yes, his real last name is Topfschnig. Don’t be a buzzkill.)

The official statement, of course, glosses over the fact restaurants don’t rebrand if they’re doing booming business.

The Downtown Summerlin shopping center is awash in dining options, creating business challenges for dozens of restaurants, even those bearing the names of bigtime chefs.

Downtown Summerlin has 30-plus dining options, and the neighboring Red Rock Resort has an additional 15 or so. Translation: That’s a lot, and a number of good restaurants have gone under, including Crave, Casa Del Matador, Fogo de Chao and others.

We were the first to share another struggling restaurant, Andiron Steak & Sea, will close for at least two months for an overhaul.

As for the new Wolfgang Puck concept, we can all agree the company’s assertion this effort will be “the city’s first true sports restaurant and lounge” is hooey. That aside, having Vegas Golden Knights players involved certainly won’t hurt the chances of success (the team’s practice facility is 30 seconds away).

It also can’t hurt to have a culinary icon doing the menu!

We met Wolfgang Puck a couple of times, he’s a hoot.

Wolfgang Puck

Wolfgang Puck is widely credited with making badass restaurants in Las Vegas a thing.

While details about the new Wolfgang Puck concept are few, we’re going to make a wild guess there will be TVs. In Las Vegas, it’s the law.

We trust there will also be puckball-themed food items like: “Barnburner Burgers,” “Clapper Snapper,” “Sin Bin Potato Skins,” “Goon Guac,” “Hat Trick Fish Sticks” and “Faceoff Beef Stroganoff.” Not too shabby for making up that list while inebriated.

We’re looking forward to checking out the new Wolfgang Puck sports restaurant and lounge when it opens, yes, despite the sports part. It’s flipping Wolfgang Puck.

Hooters Casino Could Be Oyo Hotel Las Vegas

Ever hear of Oyo Hotels? If our sources are right, you’re about to.

We’ve learned exclusively Hooters Casino is now under contract with hotel operator Highgate and the company plans to make Hooters Las Vegas an Oyo brand hotel.

Our sources say the Hooters restaurant at Hooters hotel-casino will close after the hotel rebrands. The Hooters restaurant inside the Hooters resort is said to be the most profitable in the company’s entire chain.

Oyo Las Vegas

We’re fairly sure “OYO” stands for “on your own.” Related: Once you see the face, you can’t unsee it.

Highgate Hotels is a real estate investment and hospitality management company, also involved with the Westin and Renaissance hotels in Las Vegas. The company operates more than 100 hotels around the world. Learn more.

Oyo is a rapidly-expanding Indian budget hotel company which recently entered the U.S. market in Dallas, San Antonio and Houston. It now appears the company has its sights set on Las Vegas.

Oyo describes itself as “the world’s fastest growing company and world’s sixth largest chain of operated hotels, homes, managed living and workspaces.”

The company’s portfolio boasts more than 23,000 hotels in 800 cities in 18 countries. Combined, the company has more than 330,000 rooms. See more.

This is the Oyo business model: Oyo partners with existing hotels, rebrands them as Oyo franchises and streamlines booking, pricing and technology services. It then gets a percentage of the hotel’s monthly revenue.

The company reports occupancy increases of 30-40% at Oyo hotels, and revenue increases of as much as 60%, which would be welcomed by the owners of Hooters, of course.

Hooters is owned by Trinity Hotel Investors and operated by Paragon Gaming.

Oyo Hotel Las Vegas

You go, palindrome?

The arrival of Oyo in Las Vegas could bring some drama along with it, as the company’s founder and CEO, 25-year-old Ritesh Agarwal, is not controversy-free. Let’s just say gaming regulators aren’t big fans of controversy. Get details.

Hooters has been known by a lot of names, so if it’s rebranded to Oyo, it’ll join this long list of past names: Paradise, Treasury, Pacifica, Polynesian and Hotel San Remo. There will be a quiz.

Details about these moves at Hooters are scant at the moment, but that’s never stopped us from passing along scoop before!

You’ll hear more when we do.

Update (8/6/19): Here’s our take on Channel 8.

Update (8/7/19): Our sources confirm Hooters restaurant won’t be around following the transition to Oyo. At its peak, the restaurant served a million customers a year.

Update (8/17/19): We’re now hearing the Hooters rebrand to Oyo will happen Sep. 16, 2019.

Update (8/23/19): As if we weren’t already unbearable enough, our story has been confirmed. Oyo has acquired Hooters hotel for a reported $135 million and will be rebranded Oyo Hotel & Casino Las Vegas. Highgate will manage the hotel and Paragon Gaming will continue to operate the resort’s casino. Read more.

Update (8/26/19): We’ve learned not only will the Hooters restaurant at Hooters hotel close, it will be brought to a resort on the Las Vegas Strip. While there won’t be a Hooters hotel on The Strip, an existing resort will be getting a Hooters restaurant and Hooters-branded casino (think casino-within-a-casino, like Pussy Cat Dolls at Caesars or Playboy Club at Palms when those were a thing). More details to come.