Category Archives: Las Vegas Restaurants

Behold the Biggest Circa Las Vegas Resort Preview Photo Gallery in the World

Circa Las Vegas, the first new downtown casino resort for decades, opens Oct. 28, 2020.

As usual, we couldn’t wait, so we’ve put together the biggest pre-opening photo gallery of Circa in existence.

Vickie Circa

Nearly done, but Vegas Vickie’s already a knock-out.

During our recent visits, we got the witness the resort putting the final touches on Circa (which is why you’ll see some ladders, exposed wires and plastic-covered tables in the pics).

We can’t thank Circa enough for letting us get an early look at this amazing new Las Vegas destination.

The bottom line: We loved every inch of the place. If you get our drift.


This isn’t even her best side.

We were literally breathless seeing Circa’s massive sportsbook for the first time, and we are not even a sports person.

Rumor has it the manufacturers of Circa’s sportsbook screen, upon seeing it for the first time, were equally stunned. And they made the thing!

Circa sportsbook

Come get your swoon on, sports fans.

Circa’s restaurants were cranking out delicious food during an employee play date as bartenders and dancing dealers were put through their paces.

Thanks to Circa owner Derek Stevens, we were given the honor of being the first to share Circa’s chips (photo below).

The reveal of the chips was topped by Stevens’ “secret” project, the creation of casino plaques. He was giddy to share these beauties he describes as “highly desirable.”

Circa's casino chips plaques

One of each of Circa’s chips and plaques, please.

There was some truly unique and remarkable moments at the Circa play date, as Derek Stevens actually got to gamble at his own casino, a no-no for owners when actual money is being wagered.

Stevens tried his hand at video poker, roulette and craps.

Derek Stevens slot machine

Top casino tip: You don’t have to be a casino owner to get freebies. Always use your players card.

Fun fact: Stevens and his wife Nicole won $183,000 in pretend money at dice thanks to his wise choice to find a “virgin” shooter, his executive assistant, Yivi.

Circa is as beautiful as the renderings, and Circa has pretty much delivered on the hype, much of it ours. Yes, we’ve been a Circa cheerleader. That’s because beyond loving what we’ve seen and consumed so far, it’s objectively awesome. Circa is also the good news Las Vegas could use right now.

Mega Bar

Let’s just say Circa isn’t “under-barred.”

The only asterisk is Circa’s much-touted “adults-only” status isn’t technically accurate. A contractual loophole means kids will be allowed into the resort’s steakhouse, Barry’s. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

The centerpiece of Circa features the long-awaited return of Vegas Vickie, an iconic Las Vegas neon sign which sat above the former Glitter Gulch strip club.

She is absolutely glorious, and Circa is making the most of this newly-refurbished blast from the past.

We are confident enough in our masculinity to admit seeing Vickie lit up for the first time was one of several times we started opening weeping during our initial visits to Circa. Ditto our first Captain Morgan and diet.

Circa cocktail

Seal broken.

There’s far too much ground to cover in one blog post, so we’ll set you on your visual journey through Circa via our photo gallery.

There, you’ll get an inside peek at Circa’s special places (hello, high limit slot salon), its restaurants and menus, its artwork and its casino floors.

Circa screens

Want behind-the-scenes? You’ve got it. This is the hidden area where technicians can replace modules in the sportsbook’s video screen without the use of cranes.

We’ve made no effort to hide the fact we’re smitten. We love what Circa co-owners Derek and Greg Stevens (more from the latter on our next podcast episode) have done downtown and Circa is the crown jewel.

Big socially-distanced hugs to Circa for letting us share these work-in-progress, unretouched, plastic-wrapped, home stretch blemishes-and-all images.

Circa casino

Nothing beats that new felt smell!

Circa has already exceeded expectations and it hasn’t even opened yet! Say “hello” to our new home away from home, Circa Las Vegas.

Related: We get the question about how much Circa Las Vegas cost often. Since we’re the only one with the answer, here it is: While it’s never been officially announced or confirmed, our information is Circa resort cost $1.156 billion to build.

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 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.