Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

Redneck Riviera Rumored to Be Closing at Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s

It’s been open for less than a year, but we hear Redneck Riviera is closing at Grand Bazaar Shops at Bally’s.

Redneck Riviera opened in Feb. 2017, backed by country star John Rich, whoever that might actually be.

Redneck Riviera

Every time a place with country music closes, an angel gets its wings.

The decision to pull the plug on the country-themed Redneck Riviera comes after months of struggling to connect with Las Vegas visitors.

Redneck Riviera featured live country music and a “Heroes Bar,” touted as being “staffed by veterans” and offering military members and veterans their first drink free.

The bar had some distinctive decorative elements, including an American flag fashioned from beer cans, a sequined saddle and creative bathroom fixtures.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

Dibs.

It’s unknown what will replace Redneck Riviera after it closes, expected to happen as soon as the end of the month.

Updated (2/20/18): Our story has been confirmed with the closure of Redneck Riviera at Grand Bazaar Shops. It appears the venue’s Facebook page hasn’t been informed of the closure, and the Grand Bazaar Shops Web site is also in denial.

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Fremont East’s Eureka Restaurant Reveals Menu

Eureka restaurant is coming to Fremont East, and we’ve got a peek at the menu.

Eureka Fremont East

The Emergency Arts building was started as a “arts and cultural business complex.” Some bemoan the deminse of The Beat Coffeehouse, but we aren’t them. Coffee is gross.

The Eureka menu exclaims, “All-American scratch kitchen and craft bar driven by energy, discovery and community.” Translation: “Look! We got a marketing copywriter!”

Anyway, here’s the left half of the menu, featuring shareable appetizers, salads, sandwiches and tacos.

Eureka restaurant menu

Every single item on the “Share It” menu would make a great band name.

We want to point out the Mac N’ Cheese Balls, mainly because we like saying “Mac N’ Cheese
Balls,” and also get to point out they’re serving balls in a scratch kitchen. Yes, we’re 14.

Here’s the right side of the menu, including signature dishes, a robust, funky selection of
burgers and a couple of token desserts.

Eureka restaurant menu

Thanks, Eureka, for narrowing down our dining options by including bone marrow, bison, veggie beet, jalapeno egg and fig.

Here’s a larger version of the whole Eureka menu so you don’t herniate yourself.

Eureka opens Feb. 12, 2018 in the space formerly occupied by the beloved The Beat Coffeehouse, just across from El Cortez.

If you’re having difficulty imagining where Eureka is located, we’ve got a handy photo that
covers the whole north side of Fremont East.

Fremont East district

From left to right, it’s Park on Fremont, Evel Pie, Red, Vanguard Lounge, Therapy and Eureka.

While those price points on the menu don’t seem outrageous compared to The Strip, this restaurant is opening on Fremont East. Revelers can get two of the best burgers in Las Vegas at El Cortez or Binion’s for about $5, so we’ll see how Eureka fares.

We look forward to being pleasantly surprised.

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Shark Fin Soup Finally Banned in Las Vegas

Shark fin soup has been banned in Las Vegas, and it’s about time.

The disgusting soup, harvested from sharks in an even more disgusting and cruel way, has been a favorite of Asian visitors, despite the controversy surrounding it.

As of Jan. 1, 2018, shark fin soup is no longer an option in Nevada.

shark fin soup

You can damn well bet we don’t have any photos of shark fin soup. Just play along.

Now that S.B. 194 has been signed into law, it’s illegal to sell soup or other items made from shark fin. It’s also against the law sell products made from other endangered wildlife like rays, sea turtles, rhinos, whales and others.

Fines for violating the new shark fin ban are $6,500 or four times the market value of the product.

Our first thought when we heard about the shark fin soup ban was restaurants would continue to serve it, taking their chances with enforcement. In the past, restaurants couldn’t afford to
refuse the requests of high rollers because they’d take their business, including big gambling budgets, elsewhere.

Now, that’s simply not going to happen.

While that may not sound like a lot, it would hit a restaurant’s bottom line hard, especially after
repeated violations.

In addition, industry insiders say it’s going to be nearly impossible to get shark fin for soup because distributors and suppliers won’t risk endangering their businesses to please their restaurant clients.

Also, restaurants won’t want to end up on any enforcement watchlists. As with the Health
Department, if you’re caught violating regulatory laws, you get for more attention and more frequent visits and restaurants abhor that kind of scrutiny.

So, it looks like shark fin soup is, at long last done in Las Vegas.

shark

Let’s keep shark fins where they belong. On sharks. In case that wasn’t clear.

In case you’re unfamiliar with why shark fin soup is such a hot button topic, here’s the bottom
line: Shark fins are harvested through “finning,” or the practice of catching a shark, cutting off its fin and throwing it back, alive, into the ocean, resulting in a slow, painful death for the shark. Seriously, WTF is wrong with people?

It’s estimated 100 million sharks are killed globally each year.

For posterity, we should probably list the Las Vegas restaurants known to serve shark fin soup (never listed on the menu, cowards) right up until the ban was implemented.

Casinos that served shark fin soup included Fin at Mirage (closes Feb. 10, 2018), Beijing Noodle No. 9 at Caesars Palace, Blossom at Aria, Jasmine at Bellagio, Paiza Club at Venetian, Ping Pang Pong at Gold Coast and Phoenix at Lucky Dragon, among others.

Props to the Nevada legislators who made this shark fin soup ban a reality, and a big “screw you” goes out to all the asshats who voted “nay.”

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Mon Ami Gabi Takes a Poke at Paid Parking

How far things have come in Las Vegas.

Paid parking is now the norm, and at least one Strip restaurant is attempting to use customer frustration about the “new normal” as a marketing tool.

Mon Ami Gabi, a popular restaurant at Paris Las Vegas, is openly offering a deal to help customers offset their parking fees.

Mon Ami Gabi

Las Vegas restaurants listen to their customers, and many are saying a sentence with just three letters, “WTF?” Sometimes followed by “bro.”

Mon Ami Gabi is offering guests $20 off their bill (with a $40 minimum purchase).

It’s a fairly standard discount, but the marketing hook is what’s new in Las Vegas.

While casinos are doing great business, we’ve heard anecdotally restaurants, shows and retail stores inside casino resorts have taken a hit due to the roll-out of paid parking.

There are still a few Las Vegas casinos where parking is free, but the majority aren’t on the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Monopoly

It would be funnier if it were inaccurate.

These Strip casinos still have free parking: Tropicana, Planet Hollywood, Treasure Island, Venetian and Palazzo, Casino Royale, Circus Circus, SLS Las Vegas and Stratosphere.

Our favorite way to bypass parking fees is to get the MGM Resorts credit card. The M Life Rewards Master Card bumps players up to a loyalty club tier where parking is free.

Caesars Entertainment’s credit card does the same thing, but requires a $5,000 a year spend on the card, so they can suck our knackers, a word we didn’t know was a euphemism for “testicles” until four minutes ago.

While parking fees have bolstered the bottom line of Las Vegas casinos, the practice has left a bad taste in the mouth of many visitors. Expect more promotions along the lines of Mon Ami Gabi’s, and similar offers from the casinos themselves, which will be more than a little awkard.

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Lucky Dragon Abruptly Closes Casino and Restaurants

The struggling Lucky Dragon resort has closed its casino and restaurants.

We were the first to report Lucky Dragon was recently put up for sale, and while the resort’s hotel continues to take reservations, entrances to the casino have “Casino Temporarily Closed” signs.

Lucky Dragon closed

“Temporarily” sounds a little optimistic at this point.

Lucky Dragon’s casino and restaurants closed on Jan. 4, 2018.

Lucky Dragon has had a tumultuous history, including ongoing questions about whether the Asian-themed, boutique resort would be financed or completed.

Lucky Dragon

Even a massive dragon couldn’t change Lucky Dragon’s fortune.

Lucky Dragon officially¬†opened Dec. 3, 2016, thanks in great part to EB-5 financing. With EB-5 financing, investors (typically from Asia) contribute funds to projects and get green cards in return. In the case of Lucky Dragon, those investors will henceforth be referred to as “the monumentally screwed.”

Here’s a statement from Lucky Dragon.

Lucky Dragon closed

Every time a Las Vegas casino closes, an showgirl loses her tassels.

Optimism for the win!

Despite a strong opening, Lucky Dragon failed to attract its intended customers (including snagging local Asian customers who frequent casinos like Gold Coast and Palace Station), and has made a number of changes to its restaurant offerings.

Lucky Dragon

Normally, this would provide some consolition, but not so much.

Lucky Dragon’s challenging location, on Sahara, just off The Strip, near the Bonanza Gift Shop and SLS Las Vegas, made the resort an long shot, but sometimes in Vegas those pay off.

A Lucky Dragon insider says wild swings in baccarat were major factor in the closure of the casino. Whales (however few) would win big, then leave for bigger resorts on The Strip with more amenities. Casinos obviously rely on guests staying on-site for a chance to win some back.

Lucky Dragon

Remember, Las Vegas was built on miracles. We hope that’s what the future holds for Lucky Dragon.

We were rooting for Lucky Dragon, but haven’t visited in some time, despite the great rooms (we were quoted a rate of $45 for early February), welcoming casino and top-notch (although limited) cuisine.

We’ve heard Lucky Dragon would need at least $90 million from a buyer to cover its first and second (EB-5) tier investors.

It’s unknown what’s next for Lucky Dragon, but here’s hoping employees find other options as the resort tries to change its luck.

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Naked City Pizza Takes Over for Pizza Lotto at El Cortez

Pizza Lotto is out at downtown’s El Cortez casino, Naked City Pizza is in.

Pizza Lotto always hit the spot, even with superior pizza in the neighborhood at Evel Pie and Pizza Rock. Pizza Lotto was never able to deliver on its marketing hook of providing lottery-style scratch-off discount cards, and now we’ll never know what might have been. Pizza Lotto has moved on to that big pizzeria in the sky.

Without skipping a beat, Naked City Pizza has opened in the Pizza Lotto space.

Naked City Pizza El Cortez

We dare you to tell the difference between Pizza Lotto and Naked City Pizza, even with the naked.

By our layperson’s estimates, Naked City Pizza spent roughly zero dollars to move into El Cortez.

Virtually nothing in the space has changed, beyond the removal of a couple of symbolic video poker machines.

Naked City Pizza is a known quantity in Las Vegas. The chain has been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”

While Naked City Pizza has been well-received at its other Las Vegas locations, our first visit to the El Cortez location was decidedly forgettable. Our cheese slice was 90% cheese, reminiscent of the awful Chicago-style “pizza” at Giordano’s. And not in a good way.

The one benefit of the disappointing pizza was it gave us the opportunity to test the “pull” of the cheese. The cheese pull is a big deal in the pizza world, a long-standing advertising trope where a slice is slowly lifted from a hot pie, resulting in a gooey waterfall of cheese.

Our pal Marc Meltzer, of Edgevegas.com, was along for our Naked City Pizza visit, and he generously volunteered to demonstrate Naked City Pizza’s world-class cheese pull.

Naked City Pizza El Cortez

Marc’s going to need longer arms.

While our first Naked City Pizza slice was underwhelming, we were immediately smitten with the restaurant’s Grandma’s Meatball, a mind-boggling half pound (that’s not a typo) of sheer succulence.

Naked City Pizza meatball

Grandma’s Meatball is a meal for two. At least.

Naked City Pizza’s menu is simple, with some favorites from other locations, as well as original pizzas created just for the El Cortez location.

The new pizza styles include Bugsy’s Bianco, 6th Street, “Freemont” Street and (wait for it) the El Cortez.

Naked City Pizza El Cortez menu

Spelling it “Freemont” is a rookie gaff. It’s Fremont.

Determined to have a slice that’s worthy of Naked City Pizza’s reputation, we visited again, and found just that.

The slice was vastly better proportioned, and if Naked City Pizza can deliver that quality on a consistent basis, we’ll be back.

Naked City Pizza El Cortez

Nice recovery, Naked City Pizza.

Don’t look for Naked City Pizza’s hours on the El Cortez Web site, as Pizza Lotto is still listed (it’s also in the hotel’s on-hold messaging system and featured in its internal P.A. rotation).

Yes, you can pay for your pizza with your Club Cortez player’s club points.

Oh, and Naked City Pizza’s liquor license is still in the works, so head to a casino bar first for libations.

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