Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

Mesa Grill to Close at Caesars Palace, Amalfi by Bobby Flay Up Next

A longtime Las Vegas institution, Mesa Grill, will close on Nov. 14, 2020.

Bobby Flay fans shouldn’t freak out, though. The celebrity chef is replacing Mesa Grill with a new Italian concept, Amalfi.

Amalfi Caesars Palace

“Amalfi” in Italian means, “Some of these dishes will have eyeballs.”

The popular Mesa Grill had an amazing 16-year run at Caesars Palace.

Even we liked it, and we are not a Mexican food person.

Amalfi will debut in spring 2021.

Flay’s new restaurant is inspired by his visits to the Amalfi coast. The one in Italy. You need to get out more.

Damn, can you imagine the tough time Italians are having right now? Especially the Italians lining up for buses. They have zero concept of personal space. Social distancing could very well be the worst thing to happen to Italians since Alfredo sauce.

The news release about Amalfi has a lot of fancy food talk, but we tend to skip to the dessert part: “Dessert staples will include pistachio olive oil cake, pistachio butter, pistachio gelato, pistachio brittle and Amarena cherry sauce and a dark chocolate tiramisu.”

Breaking news: Bobby Flay clearly has a thing for pistachio.

Here’s another rendering from Bobby Flay’s new restaurant coming to Caesars Palace.

Amalfi Caesars lounge

We zoomed in, there’s Captain, we’re good.

According to the news release, “The entrance of the restaurant will serve as a gateway, enveloping guests’ senses from the moment they arrive.”

Oy, news releases.

Amalfi will have four spaces, the lounge, the main dining room, the market room and a private dining room.

Mesa Grill was a beloved go-to for lots of Vegas visitors, but in our opinion, you can never have too much Italian, so we’re looking forward to trying Amalfi.

You still have a few weeks of Mesa Grill, so stop by to say “adios” before saying “ciao” to Amalfi in the spring.

Mesa Grill Las Vegas

We’ve always thought the Mesa Grill logo looked like it had been vandalized.

“Ciao,” by the way, is pronounced “chow.”

Ah, the circularity of the universe.

Saltgrass Steak House Opens at Golden Nugget

Golden Nugget officially has its second steakhouse, Saltgrass Steak House.

The steakhouse joins the popular Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse at Golden Nugget, taking over the former Grotto Italian Restaurant space.

Grotto has moved into the former Lillie’s Asian Cuisine restaurant space, in the hotel’s Carson tower. Lillie’s closed in Oct. 2019.

There will be a quiz.

Saltgrass Golden Nugget Vegas

As the old Vegas adage goes, you can never have too much meat.

Saltgrass was poised to open several months ago, but then the pandemic happened.

It appears casino officials now believe demand has returned enough to sustain both its steakhouses.

Saltgrass Steak House fills a need for value-oriented customers who prefer their fare casual, while Vic & Anthony’s is considered fine dining. We consider it flipping delicious. Bonus: Casual Meat would make a great band name.

Saltgrass is also more kid-friendly than the fancier Vic & Anthony’s, despite our best efforts.

Saltgrass Las Vegas

The genus name for saltgrass is “distichlis,” which sounds like it could very well be the German word for “distillery,” so we’re good with it.

The price points at Saltgrass are appealing, with our go-to (nine-ounce) filet for $34.49. There’s also a crowd-pleasing selection of chicken and ribs entrees, as well as sandwiches and seafood.

Find the full menu on the official Golden Nugget site.

We’re anxious to try some of the signature cocktails at Saltgrass. Oh, who are we kidding with “some.”

Saltgrass Vegas

Please stop putting calorie counts on cocktail menus. It’s buzzkill.

Saltgrass is in the Landry’s family of restaurants, owned by Tilman Fertitta, as is the Golden Nugget. The chain has more than 80 locations across the country.

Golden Nugget cowboyed up its Grotto footprint for Saltgrass. It’s now replete with wood paneling, steer horns and rodeo photos.

Saltgrass Golden Nugget

Vegas Vic is next door to Golden Nugget, so they’d better stock up on Howdy Podner Burgers. Which should be a thing.

At the moment, reservations are by phone, but will soon be available on Open Table.

For now, Saltgrass is closed Monday through Wednesday. Thursday through Saturday, hours are 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Saltgrass is open Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

It’s worth noting the Saltgrass bar is open until 11:00 p.m. Thursdays, 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 10:00 p.m. on Sundays.

Saltgrass

Saltgrass kept Grotto’s little side dining area with a great view of the pool, with its shark tank and a number of people with a little too much body confidence, all due respect.

While we haven’t been to Saltgrass yet, we’re looking forward to a visit. Landry’s has the mid-level restaurant game down, and Golden Nugget has one of the best dining mixes in town.

Other restaurant options include the reliable Claimjumper, excellent Cadillac Mexican Kitchen, Red Sushi (recently rebranded to Red Asian Cuisine) and even Chick-fil-A.

Anticipate our clumsy review of Saltgrass Steak House at Golden Nugget soon!

Here’s the Scoop on Planet Hollywood’s Reopening Plans

Planet Hollywood has announced it will reopen Oct. 8, 2020, following a months-long closure due to the pandemic.

As has been the pattern of late, Planet Hollywood is taking things slowly, and says its hotel will operate Thursday through Sunday only.

The most important part of Planet Hollywood, the casino, will operate seven days a week.

Planet Hollywood

So many memories. And so many partial memories, which are the best kind, actually.

Dining options will open selectively when Planet Hollywood does.

Guests can seek out sustenance at Gordon Ramsay Burger (formerly BurGR), Strip House, Cafe Hollywood, Earl of Sandwich, Starbucks and, just outside, Chick-fil-A.

Burger Planet Hollywood

One cannot live by burgers alone. The Oreo shake at Burger is a must-try.

Koi will remain temporarily closed, as will P.F. Chang’s, Yolo’s Mexican Grill and the Ringer sports bar.

Our beloved Spice Market Buffet won’t be reopening, and it remains unclear if it ever will.

Spice Market Buffet

We miss our visits to Gluttony Central.

Planet Hollywood’s two popular lounges, Heart Bar and Extra Lounge, will reopen Oct. 8 as well.

The resort’s freshly-rebranded William Hill sports book will be open, along with the resort’s spa.

The adjoining Miracle Mile Shops mall has been open since June 9, 2020.

Worth noting: Self-parking at Planet Hollywood is free, as was the case prior to the shutdown.

Now, all Caesars Entertainment casinos have free parking on The Strip, and we couldn’t be happier typing that sentence.

Crazy Girls statue

“Crazy Girls” may not be back yet, but the butts are, so there’s that.

The reopening of Planet Hollywood is a welcome turn of events. Rumors have been ongoing about a potential sale of Planet Hollywood, with the Seminoles (Hard Rock) being an often-cited suitor.

We’ve also shared industry chatter Twin River has kicked the tires at Planet Hollywood, too.

The announcement by Caesars Entertainment seems to put to bed any uncertainty about whether Planet Hollywood would reopen again under its current ownership. We’d have lost money on that bet.

Planet Hollywood

Welcome back, you beauty.

The reopening of Planet Hollywood is also welcome because the Strip-side walkway that runs along the resort has become a tad sketchy since cleaning crews and security became scarce during the closure.

The general rule: More foot traffic, less WTF.

When Planet Hollywood reopens, we’ll be another step closer to feeling some normalcy in Las Vegas again. The resort is a fixture on The Strip, and it was painful seeing it shuttered.

Let’s Planet Hollywood again.

Charcoal Room at Palace Station Brings the Value

Las Vegas has so many great steakhouses, it’s virtually impossible to visit them all.

We finally got around to trying Charcoal Room at Palace Station, and we’ve added it to our list of go-to Las Vegas steakhouses.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

Charcoal is obtained when carbonaceous material is partially burned. Not the sexiest tagline, but there it is.

Charcoal Room at Palace Station isn’t flashy, but what it lacks in Strip-style glamour it more than makes up for in value.

Palace Station caters mainly to locals, so the price points are appealing, with most entrees about 25 percent less expansive than equivalent offerings on The Strip.

Charcoal Room Las Vegas

Basic math: The less you spend on dinner, the more you have for Wheel of Fortune.

Every part of the meal, from the bread to the steak to the dessert, hit all the right notes at Charcoal Room.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

One does not live on bread alone, but we’re damned well not living without it.

See the full menu on the Palace Station Web site.

We went for the grass-fed filet mignon from Grass Run Farms, whatever that might actually be, and it was excellent.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

Whatever grass-feeding is supposed to do, it’s doing.

A highlight of our visit was a signature cocktail we would like several dozen more of next time.

We would share the ingredients in the Absolutely Bananas cocktail, but that would involve “having taken notes” or “listening to the server rather than drinking our Absolutely Bananas cocktail,” so, you’re S.O.L., sorry.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

We spoke to a manager about receiving this cocktail via I.V. tube. Pretty sure they thought we were joking.

The service at Charcoal Room was top notch, as expected at a place in the Stations Casino family.

We’re a big fan of the style of service where someone’s helpful when needed, without the constant interruptions to see how things are going.

We also love servers who watch the liquor level in our glass. Ask too soon (glass half full) and it’s awkward, wait too long and it feels like you’ve been wandering the Mojave for a week with holes in your safari hat. Yes, that’s exactly what it feels like.

Thankfully, Charcoal Room nails it on all counts.

Charcoal Room Palace Station

Sometimes, being indecisive pans out.

Palace Station is about five minutes west of the Las Vegas Strip, and the Charcoal Room is just off the casino floor.

Charcoal Room is next to the casino’s popular oyster bar. “Popular” is probably an understatement. The line for the oyster bar starts at the entrance of Charcoal Room and often stretches to Hoover Dam.

Charcoal Room

Our first rule of steakhouses and creme brulee: Don’t muck with a classic.

Many tourists don’t venture away from The Strip or downtown during a visit, but Palace Station is worth a little rideshare action.

Palace Station recently got a major overhaul and the casino’s transformation has been amazing. Bottom line: Less train, more urbane.

Charcoal Room at Palace Station

Margarita lovers are covered, of course.

Palace Station has a new dining offering in the works as well. The casino is working with Clique Hospitality to open a new restaurant, Tailgate Social, in November 2020. Tailgate Social replaces the recently-closed burger place, BBD’s. Fair warning, there may be sports.

Big thanks to the Charcoal Room steakhouse for hosting our visit, a refreshing value just off the Las Vegas Strip, and we can’t wait to Absolutely Bananas again soon.

Park MGM Confirms It Will Be Smoke-Free Upon Reopening Sep. 30

Our sources knocked it out of the park this time. MGM Resorts has confirmed Park MGM and its hotel-within-a-hotel NoMad will be entirely non-smoking when they reopen on Sep. 30, 2020.

This news confirms our story of June 3, 2020, not that everything has to be about us. Just this one thing. Probably.

Park MGM smoke-free

First, either commit to title case or don’t. Second, pretty sure whichever drunk Fiverr artist did that graphic also designed the Park MGM logo.

No, really.

Park MGM logo

We’ll stop making fun of it when it stops being the Park MGM logo.

When it reopens on Sep. 30, Park MGM will be the only non-smoking casino resort in Las Vegas, and it’s about damned time.

The long-standing myth casinos can’t survive without smoking is about to be settled once and for all.

The smoke-free angle will be a great hook for Park MGM. The resort has failed to meet financial expectations ever since being rebranded from Monte Carlo, and going completely non-smoking could give Park MGM a much-needed boost.

While we sometimes hear tourists say they wouldn’t go to a non-smoking casino, we hear vastly more saying they’d specifically go out of their way to visit one.

That bodes well for Park MGM, especially during a challenging time for Las Vegas resorts.

We’d be visiting anyway because one of the greatest slot machines of all time, Hundred or Nothing, lives at Park MGM.

Hundred or Nothing slot

We will be reunited soon enough, you beauty.

Amenities will be limited at Park MGM when it reopens.

Eataly, the awesome Italian marketplace (food court) will be open, as will the pitch black but tasty Bavette’s Steakhouse, the French-inspired Primrose restaurant and the hotel pool.

Eataly Las Vegas

Fun fact: Park MGM is the only Strip casino we can think of with no direct access to the casino from Las Vegas Boulevard. You have to go through Eataly.

That leaves a lot closed at Park MGM, including the Park Theater.

Among the venues closed at Park MGM will be La La Noodle, Best Friend and Manzo. See all the Park MGM restaurants on the official site.

As with all MGM Resorts casinos, the place has been overhauled to meet COVID-19 safety protocols. The mask mandate will be in place, as well as physical distancing.

MGM Resorts casinos also have some handy, free-standing hand-washing stations. We would like those to stick around even after the pandemic is a distant memory.

Casino hand-washing station

Las Vegas casinos have needed hand-washing stations since about 1941.

Buried in the Park MGM news release was word Four Seasons Las Vegas, at Mandalay Bay, will reopen Sep. 25, 2020.

We’re thrilled Park MGM will be back in the mix on the Las Vegas Strip again, even the scaled back version.

Hope to see you there. We’ll be the one devouring pizza at Eataly, grabbing a cocktail at West Bar (remember, guests must be using a loyalty card to get comped drinks now) and camping out in front of Best Friend on our Hundred or Nothing machine.

Let’s Park MGM again.

Linq Hotel on The Strip Has Reopened-ish

The Linq hotel has reopened for the first time since March 17, 2020. Linq’s casino reopened June 12, 2020, but now guests can actually stay at the Strip resort.

We should mention Linq is officially called “Linq Hotel + Experience.” How many people call it that? Just one. She’s in the marketing department at Caesars Entertainment, owner of Linq. Even other people in the marketing department look at her funny.

Linq hotel

Since your last visit, Linq’s gone hexagonal.

While Linq’s hotel is back in action, it’s not the Linq we all know and love (and often feel sort of ambiguous about).

The hotel will essentially be open on weekends only, or Thursday through Sunday.

We broke the news a solid 11 days before the official announcement, but who’s counting?

Linq reopening Tweet

Does it always have to be about us, you asked, rhetorically?

Our sources say initial interest in Linq has been stronger than anticipated. For “shoulder” days (Thursday and Sunday), occupancy is sitting at about 25 percent. On Friday and Saturday, though, it’s about 60 percent, and that’s before same-day bookings that typically bump up weekend reservations further.

The original plan was guests would need to check out on Sunday, but we hear that’s been expanded so they can stay overnight Sunday, checking out on Monday.

Guests who want to stay midweek will be moved to Harrah’s, according to our sources.

Linq casino

This is the Linq casino, open. Casinos really need hotels.

As with other Vegas resorts at the moment, what’s open and what’s not is tricky.

Now that the hotel is back, the spa/salon and fitness center have also reopened.

On the food side, Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen, Hash House and Nook Express are open (albeit with odd hours).

Most restaurants are open again in the adjoining Linq promenade, so you should be covered.

O’Sheas Casino has reopened, but Friday through Sunday only, noon to midnight. The bar is closed, and there’s no live entertainment, but something is better than nothing.

O'Sheas Vegas

O’Sheas without people is like chicken without parm or Penn without Teller.

Even with all the Bizarro Vegas elements (including “daily housekeeping and other hotel services may be limited or unavailable”), it’s great Linq is back online. Everyone’s doing what they can to navigate a particularly challenging time in Las Vegas.

There are some great deals to be found, including rooms from $33 a night (Thursdays and Sundays), so take a look.

Welcome back, The Linq, formerly The Quad, formerly Imperial Palace, formerly Flamingo Capri. There will be a quiz.