Gold Coast

Gold Coast Deluxe King BedJust a short drive west of center strip lies a no frills locals casino with a good Chinese restaurant (Ping Pang Pong), a very reasonable 24 hour liquor store (the gift shop), good video poker (9/6 Jacks or Better at the quarter level) and plenty of low-roller action. We spent two nights in a “Deluxe King” (their lowest priced room) at the Gold Coast in March, during Viva Las Vegas.

Gold Coast has to be one of the easiest casinos in Las Vegas to come and go from. There is a large self parking garage with it’s own entrance road and traffic light on the east side of the casino. At 4000 West Flamingo Boulevard, it is about a half mile from I-15, and about a mile from the strip. If you don’t have a car, or don’t wish to drive, there is a shuttle that goes to the Orleans and to Bally’s (mid-strip) that runs every half hour from 9:00am until just past midnight. (During Viva Las Vegas there was an additional shuttle running between Gold Coast and the Orleans, 24 hours a day. Very nice!) Both the Rio and the Palms are within walking distance.

Gold Coast Deluxe King DresserWe arrived Saturday around noon and had no trouble checking in. The front desk staff was very friendly and had us booked into a room on the third floor in just a couple of minutes. The rooms in the hotel are mostly down one long corridor leading from the elevators, so it was a pretty long walk down the hallway to our room (number 370). This was no trouble for us, but if you have mobility issues or a large amount of luggage I would recommend asking for a room close to the elevators.

Inside, the rooms are a little smaller than average (by Vegas standards), but clean and comfortable. Our room had a King sized bed with end tables on either side, a sitting area with a table and two chairs, a flat screen, and a large dresser containing an iron and ironing board that doubled as an entertainment center. The mattress was firm and comfortable, and the sheets were of a good enough quality to not feel scratchy. The view from our room, only three floors up, was nothing to write home about – just a parking lot and a nearby apartment building.

Gold Coast Deluxe King BathThe bathrooms at Gold Coast are more “updated” than those at the Orleans, and like the Orleans they offer a side-hinged window that you can open to let in some fresh air. There was a small coffeemaker on the counter with coffee and cups, and a hair dryer for those more stylish than I. The standard sized tub had a shower head that was high enough for a six-footer and provided decent water pressure.

Gold Coast Deluxe King SinkWireless internet was available for a fee ($4.99 basic/$9.99 premium 24 hours), they offered room service, and wake-up calls. The only things blatantly missing in the room amenities list were a safe and a fridge (there was an ice bucket). In addition to the room amenities there was a small, but very nicely landscaped pool area for guests, and a nice gym with cardio and strength training machines with large windows overlooking the aforementioned pool.

Gold Coast GymDownstairs, the casino has plenty of good video poker, slots of every description, table games from $5 minimums up, keno and bingo, and a decent sports book. The cocktail waitresses are friendly and attractive, and the video poker bar serves New Belgium Fat Tire (a favorite of mine) on draft. There’s a bowling alley, a T.G.I Fridays, a Subway, the delicious dim sum at Ping Pang Pong, a noodle shop, a coffee shop and a buffet. For a more upscale dining experience there’s the Cortez Room.

The Gold Coast offers everything most people need. Rooms are quiet, comfortable and clean, service is friendly, and there’s a variety of food and beverage options. Comps are fairly easy to come by, and room rates are often a fraction of the cost of those just a mile east, on the strip. It’s not huge, it’s not flashy, and it probably won’t impress your friends back home, but it’s a solid option for the budget conscious traveler.

  • Gold Coast charges a mandatory resort fee of $3.00 plus tax per night. This is typically waived for stays comped through the player’s club.
  • Prices on beer and liquor in the gift shop are competitive with local liquor stores and the selection is very good for a casino gift shop.
  • Gold Coast also sports an arena which hosts occasional concerts and sporting events and a comedy club with shows Wednesday through Sunday Nights.

Website: www.goldcoastcasino.com

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Aces and Ales – Serious Beer

Aces and Ales EntranceAces and Ales is a standalone pub at 3740 South Nellis Boulevard, (just east of the casinos on Boulder Highway) which offers, as the name implies – video poker and beer. But that hardly tells the whole story. There are lots of places in Las Vegas to drink beer and play video poker, but this one in particular is worth a special trip. You see, Aces and Ales takes their beer as seriously as Herbs and Rye takes their cocktails.

Aces and Ales Tap WallAces and Ales maintains more than twenty taps and regularly updates their twitter feed to let you know which beers are on, and off. The focus is on craft and imported brews, their ever-changing list typically favoring Belgian style ales and unique American craft brews. The only Anheiser-Bush or Miller-Coors product I spotted was the six-pack holder on our table – used to hold the condiments.

Aces and Ales Jolly Pumpkin Oro de CalbazaLook for beers from Dogfish Head, Mikkeller, New Belgium (and we’re not just talking Fat Tire), Lagunitas and Ballast Point. The beers range from bathwater light to motor oil dark, from sour to bitter, from session to strong. They are served fresh, from clean lines, in proper glassware. It’s enough to satisfy the most finicky of beer geeks. And that’s just the draft beers.

Then there’s the beer fridge. Any beer geek worth his or her malt will pause in awe of the beer fridge. It’s rare, aged and unusual beer nirvana. Aces and Ales Beer FridgePhantom beers you may have heard about, but never caught sight of in a liquor store – much less a bar, live here. There are bottles of Stone Vertical Epic from every year from 2004 to 2008, Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast and Brunch, one-offs and aged beers from Firestone and Deschutes. They’re all kept properly refrigerated, and (if they came that way) boxed. And, since Aces and Ales has the proper license, you can enjoy them in the bar, or take them home for later (this also applies to their draft beers, available in growlers).

Aces and Ales Mac and CheeseNot a beer snob? This place still has plenty going for it. The food is outstanding. They use fresh, quality ingredients. Their thick, beer battered onion rings have batter that’s soft and light but not too greasy and onions that are the perfect combination of crisp and caramelized. Their hearty, flavorful home-style, mac and cheese comes in varieties like buffalo chicken mac, shrimp mac and Cajun mac. Their burgers are among the best pub burgers in Vegas – beer steamed, so they are thoroughly cooked but still juicy and served with fresh, crisp lettuce, tomato and onion on a soft white bun that held up surprisingly well. I am consistently impressed with their kitchen. If the beer wasn’t so amazing I would write this place up on the merit of its food alone.

Aces and Ales Cheeseburger and Onion RingsThe service is good too, with servers that can offer real, meaningful and experienced advice on which beer to choose and what food to order. My server’s overly enthusiastic endorsement of the onion rings might have been suspect at another restaurant, but it came off as genuine and turned out to be spot on. “They’re money!”

To complete the Las Vegas pub experience there are televisions everywhere, with private listening stations so you can follow your favorite game, and the commentary. There’s a couple of pool tables, some classic arcade games, a small stage, some interesting things plastered to the walls, and I imagine there’s some video poker. I got so caught up in the beer and the food that I never got around to checking it out.

Aces and Ales Pool Table

  • If you are there at the right time, you might just meet up with rock guitarist Keri Kelli – he’s one of the owners.
  • Order your beers by number, not name. Numbers are easier to understand when slurred, and the waitstaff insists on it.
  • All drafts are priced the same, but serving sizes vary from beer to beer.
  • Go between twelve and three (day or night) and you can get any burger and any draft for $10
  • Sunday is a great day to get your drink on at Aces and Ales. From 8am to 8pm all drafts are $4 each (regularly $6) and growler fills are half price.

Website: www.acesandales.com
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Babystacks Cafe – Pancakes for Dessert

Babystacks LogoIn our quest to find new and interesting places to eat breakfast, I came across BabyStacks Cafe. I noticed that it seemed to be highly rated online and a lot of people had great things to say about it. Despite being more of an ‘eggs and homefries’ breakfast type (who is more than a little addicted to Omelet House), I figured it was worth a try.

When we first got there, there was a bit of a wait. It was around noontime and we seemed to have hit quite the local lunch crowd. The wait wasn’t long – around 15 minutes. And even during that time there were a lot of people coming in and out for takeout. A good sign.

The interior was fairly bright and modern, with wooden tables and chairs and a feature wall that had their logo. There was also a wall where they had hung a bunch coloring book-type images of their logo, colored and signed by a variety of children. A small bar towards the back had limited seating and a TV. We were told that seating at the bar was also by reservation/line number – as opposed to some places that let you bypass the tables to sit at the bar.

Red Velvet

Red Velvet Pancakes

Once seated we had to wait a few minutes to order. Not a big deal since they were very busy. Being unable to decide, I ordered a short stack of the red velvet pancakes and the carrot cakes with a glass of milk. The boyfriend ordered a coffee and their specialty Kalua Grilled Cheese.

The drinks came out quickly but the food seemed to take a long time. It seems as though the kitchen was a bit overwhelmed with all the orders, which was kind of understandable given the constant line at the door.

Short Stack

Short Stack

When the food came, I was immediately impressed by the size of the ‘short stacks’. They looked delicious and tasted even better. The carrot cakes tasted just like a carrot cake smooshed into a pancake. The red velvet pancakes had an incredible color to them and were better than any red velvet cake I have ever had. I didn’t even end up using much of the cream cheese syrup that everyone talks about in the reviews. The pancakes tasted great without it.

Kalua Grilled Cheese

Kalua Grilled Cheese

I also tried a bite of the Kalua Grilled Cheese. It consists of Kalua Pork with cheddar and muenster cheese on sourdough bread. I thought it tasted really good, even though I wasn’t really craving cheese right then. The fries were also quite tasty.

I have to confess, I didn’t actually finish my pancakes – but only because they were so filling. I don’t know how big the normal stack is but I couldn’t even finish the small stacks (despite some help from the boyfriend). Seriously, I would recommend sharing them with someone unless you are REALLY hungry.

This is a place I would definitely recommend. I plan on trying to make it back, myself. There are some Lemon Ricotta and Bacon pancakes with my name on them….

  • Babystacks has two locations: The one we visited at 4135 South Buffalo Drive Suite 101 (Spring Valley) and the original at 2400 North Buffalo Drive Suite 145 (Summerlin).

Website:www.babystackscafe.com
Babystacks Cafe #2 on Urbanspoon

Market Street Cafe – Get the Oxtail Soup!

Market Street Cafe EntranceMany of the casinos in Las Vegas offer what’s referred to as a “Coffee Shop.” This refers to a restaurant within the casino that offers a good, basic American meal at any time of day. To help fill tables, many of these restaurants offer graveyard specials, available from eleven or twelve at night into the wee hours of the morning. None that I have found beats the Oxtail Soup ($9.99) at the Market Street Cafe in the California Hotel/Casino downtown.

Aimed at the predominantly Hawaiian clientele that frequents the California, Oxtail soup is a hearty beef stew that is made using beef (cow) tail bones which are simmered for hours to bring out their flavor and tenderize the meat. I know some of my readers will be skeptical, so I will walk you through it… Think of a t-bone steak… You know how great the meat next to the bone tastes? You know how the deepest, most wonderful broths come from simmering the bones? Alright, well, with Oxtail Soup you get both. The Market Street Cafe serves a huge bowl full of deep, rich beef broth, celery, peanuts, carrots and about half a dozen meaty beef tail vertebrae. The vegetables and nuts are crisp and flavorful. The meat is tender and delicious, the bones are brimming with marrow. It’s a carnivore’s dream, and a great way to satisfy your hunger after a night of drinking.

Market Street Cafe Oxtail Soup The brothy, meaty goodness isn’t all you get. Grated ginger, cilantro and white rice are served on the side, and I definitely suggest dumping in a bunch of that ginger and sopping up some of that fantastic broth with the rice.

The last time I was there my waiter had a look of shock and awe on his face when I (with my pale skin and Boston accent) ordered the Oxtail Soup. He returned to our table four times during my meal to check to see if I was enjoying it. So, if you don’t look and sound like you’re from the islands and you order this dish you may get some strange looks and some are-you-sures. Don’t let that put you off. For me, it’s part of the fun.

Market Street Cafe Banana FrittersIf you’re still hungry after the Oxtail, and I find that hard to believe, there’s one more late night special you have to try – the Banana Fritters ($3.99). These are like miniature banana turnovers, served with a tasty cinnamon sauce and quality vanilla ice cream. A few raw banana slices are served on the side. If you’re craving something sweet, it makes a fantastic late night snack. My girlfriend gets it nearly every time we go.

The Market Street Cafe also serves traditional American breakfast food 24 hours a day, a salad bar, and typical diner fare (with a few Hawaiian specialties thrown in). The food and service are always on point. I have never had a bad meal there. My only complaint is that some of the vegetables served as side dishes are canned, but that’s a small quibble – easily overlooked when you consider the meal as a whole. Really though, just wait until 11pm and go for the Oxtail Soup. I’m salivating just thinking about it.

  • Oxtail Soup is only offered from 11pm until they run out (typically around three in the morning). At this time the large restaurant is usually packed. Nearly every customer is there for the Oxtail Soup – it’s that good. So get there late, but not too late – you won’t want to miss out.
  • Accept no substitute. There are other restaurants in Las Vegas that serve Oxtail Soup, but none I have found is as good as the graveyard special at the Market Street Cafe. Even the other Boyd owned properties don’t seem to make it as well.
  • The lines for seating are usually quite long, but they move quickly. Seating is done in waves to avoid overwhelming the waitstaff.

Website: www.thecal.com/dine/market-street-cafe
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Red Rock Canyon Part 2: Guided Night Hikes

Red Rock Canyon Night HikeProbably the safest and most educational way to hike in Red Rock Canyon is to join one of their many guided hikes (free with paid admission to the park, $7 per car). These hikes are led by a qualified guide from the Red Rock Interpretive Association. They require advance reservations, a waiver of responsibility, and a commitment to stay together as a group. With these requirements satisfied, they offer many hiking experiences that would not be available to solo hikers. One such experience is to hike at night when the park is otherwise closed.

I discovered the Moenkopi Nocturnal Animals Night Hike led by Aaron Leifheit in the events section of the Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association web page and called about two weeks in advance to book our hike. My reservation was confirmed and I was given a time and location to meet up with the hike. I was told to bring water, a snack and a flashlight. Although this wasn’t mentioned to me over the phone, having completed this hike I would also recommend wearing hiking boots. I was glad I did. The hike was mild enough that it could have been completed in sneakers, but the added traction and support of hiking boots made me feel safer and helped me enjoy the hike more.

We arrived about fifteen minutes ahead of the scheduled meeting time, which gave us enough time to use the facilities, pack the aforementioned water, snack and flashlights, plus a camera, sign the waiver and meet our guide. Aaron made sure everyone from the reservation list had arrived, that we all had everything we needed, and that we were all physically capable of completing the hike. He identified one regular hiker to use his radio to get assistance should something happen to him, and laid out the ground rules: Everyone stays together, stay on the trail, etc.

Red Rock Night Hike Yucca in BloomThen he reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out two “bat detectors”. These are small electronic devices that pick up the sounds that bats make and translate them into a lower frequency that humans can hear. He engaged the two children in our hiking group, lending them the detectors, showing them how to use them, and asking them to use them to help us “hear” any bats that we encountered on the hike. He also produced a special UV flashlight. This flashlight, he said, would cause scorpions to glow blue. He gave the children a stern safety talk about not shining the UV light at anyone, including each other, asked their dad to keep an eye on them to enforce this, and gave them the shared responsibility of finding scorpions. Both children were engaged and well behaved throughout the hike, and I’m sure that Aaron and his bag of tricks had a little something to do with that. Sadly, we never saw any scorpions.

Red Rock Night Hike Joshua Tree in BloomOur first stop on the hike was beside a yucca tree. Aaron again engaged the children, asking what the plant was. He explained that this was a rare opportunity, as the time and weather were just right for the yucca, and it was in bloom. It hadn’t bloomed in two years. He also pointed out a nearby joshua tree that also was blooming. Aaron glowed with enthusiasm, and it was contagious.

We continued on our hike, crossing the scenic road and dropping down into a valley where one of the more than forty (according to Aaron) natural water sources in the park lie. Just before we began our descent, Aaron gathered the group and brought out a plastic case containing tiny bat skull from his bag of tricks. He talked a bit about the bats, how they are the only mammals that fly, Red Rock Night Hike Water Sourceand gave a few other interesting facts while one of the children showed off the skull to each member of the group. Then we made our way to the water source. Here we encountered the bats. The kids aimed their detectors so we could hear them and I aimed my camera, trying to catch a picture of one. It’s not as easy as I thought, but I did get one picture that is clear enough to tell it’s a flying bat – barely.

Red Rock Night Hike - BatHiking back up out of the valley we caught some glimpses of the city lights off in the distance. It was completely dark now, the park was closed, and we were using our flashlights to see where we were going. We stopped to rest for a moment and Aaron brought out another skull from his pack – this time it was the skull of a horned owl. One of the kids showed it around while Aaron told us a bit about how an owl sees and hunts in the darkness.

We continued along the trail, down behind a ridge that shielded us from the city lights. Aaron stopped and asked us to turn off our flashlights – if we dared. In the darkness behind this ridge on this new moon night we were able to clearly see many constellations that could not be seen from the trail above, much less from the city below. We spent quite a few minutes there as Aaron pointed out a handful of constellations and told the stories behind them.

Red Rock Night Hike Wild BurrosWe continued on, heading back towards our original meeting point, and our cars. Along the way someone in the group saw a a movement in the distance. We stopped and shined our flashlights. Although Red Rock Canyon takes some measures to keep them out (because it can be a danger to both the wildlife and the people if people start feeding them) a family of wild burrows was wandering through the canyon, maybe fifty feet away. It was quite the sight.

Red Rock Night Hike Owl SkullThe entire hike took about two and a half hours over mostly easy trail. Our small group of a dozen or so hikers got a real treat – a chance to experience Red Rock Canyon in a very different way than most visitors. Aaron was a fantastic guide, keeping us all together and safe, teaching us about the canyon and why it’s so important to protect it, and most importantly, sharing his enthusiasm with us all.

Red Rock Canyon has numerous guided hikes throughout the year. Some are day hikes. Some, like the one I attended, are at night when the park is closed. Some are centered around cleaning up the grounds (a worthy cause!), some focus on the stars, some on geology, others on the wildlife that inhabits the canyon. Check their events page to see if one fits your schedule and give them a call for a reservation. It’s a great way to experience Red Rock Canyon!

Website: www.redrockcanyonlv.org

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Related:
Red Rock Canyon Part 1: Driving the Scenic Road
Red Rock Canyon Part 3: Hiking the Calico Tanks Trail

Rachel’s Kitchen – Al Fresco Dining Downtown

Rachel's Kitchen EntranceRachel’s Kitchen is a small local chain with four locations in the Las Vegas area, the newest of which just opened in Suite 160 of the Odgen Building at 150 North Las Vegas Blvd. Lunch (burgers, sandwiches and salads, with fresh juices and smoothies for the health conscious and a decent selection of beer and wine for the rest of us) will probably be their most popular meal. Breakfast is, however, what I went there to check out.

Rachel's Kitchen Dining AreaWe arrived at 9:30 am on a Saturday and the place was mostly empty. Rachel’s is a bright cheery space with a counter where you place your order and tables where you can relax while your food is prepared and delivered. We were in line behind a couple of guys from Las Vegas Fire and Rescue who were picking up a large order to bring back to the station, probably a good sign.

We ordered a hot mocha to share, I had the French Toast ($7.50) and my girlfriend ordered the Breakfast Burrito ($7.25). We were given a number to place at our table so our order could be delivered. We chose to take advantage of the mild weather and dine on the patio.

Rachel's Kitchen French ToastThe mocha arrived in a to-go cup. It was hot and was good, but really more of a hot chocolate. If you’re like me, and you want more coffee than chocolate flavor in your mocha, you better ask them to go easy on the chocolate. To be fair, I have this issue with most places that serve “mocha” drinks.

My french toast with fresh fruit was very nicely presented, and it tasted as good as it looked. It was made with a sweet bread and had strong flavors of cinnamon and vanilla. It was served with cut fresh fruit and syrup on the side. All the fruit was good, but the highlight was the pinapple, which tasted very fresh and juicy.

Rachel's Kitchen Breakfast BurritoI couldn’t resist tasting my girlfriend’s breakfast buritto. Inside were scrambled eggs, fresh salsa, fresh guacamole and cheese. Very nice! All wrapped in paper and cut in half, this would make a great breakfast on the go. It came with a side of home fries.

We found the staff to be very friendly, and overall the food was quite good. It’s great to have another restaurant downtown with outdoor seating. During our meal we were approached by a man looking for some change, otherwise it was quiet and peaceful watching the world go by from our table on Las Vegas Blvd. So place your order and take a seat out front, as long as you don’t mind being approached by a beggar or two. It might remind you that you’re in a real city, and not just an adult Disneyland.

Rachel's Kitchen Delivery Bicycle

  • Rachel’s Kitchen serves breakfast and lunch fare from 7am-7pm Mon-Thu, 7am-8pm Fri/Sat.
  • Local delivery is available (via bicycle!) from 10am-2pm. $20 minimum, $2.50 fee.
  • Rachel’s has three other locations: 3330 Hualapai Drive, 9691 Trailwood Drive and 2265 Village Walk Drive (in the District, Henderson)

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Park on Fremont – A Peek Down the Rabbit Hole

Park_on_Fremont-behind-the-barMaharaja Hookah Cafe, at 506 Fremont Street, has finally been replaced. The new gastropub that takes its place, called Park on Fremont, had it’s grand opening at the end of March. A few short days later (after the crowd dissipated a bit) we wandered in to take a look. I’m not sure what they’ve been smoking in there since the hookah lounge closed.

Park on Fremont Men's RoomOur visit was a short one, but I can tell you a few things: The food coming out of the kitchen looked good, and diners seemed happy. Cocktails are served in mason jars. The decor is unique and interesting. There’s Lewis Carroll inspired artwork everywhere, there’s a mounted deer head with copper assault rifles for antlers (I can’t make this stuff up), and behind the bar is what can only be described as a twisted taxidermist’s collage. Even the restrooms are wildly decorated. Music leans towards 90′s grunge. It’s all a bit of a trip.

I dragged my girlfriend in here for a beer after a couple of happy hour cocktails across the street at Downtown Cocktail Room (liquor before beer, you’re in the clear). We sat at the copper topped bar, admired the copulating birds in the taxidermy display, and gaped at the beer list. Park on Fremont has the strangest beer list I have ever seen. Most bars either carry a bunch of the standard macro-brews (Bud, Coors, Corona, etc.) and maybe one or two of the bigger microbrews/imports (Newcastle, Sam) or they carry almost exclusively micros, with maybe one or two macros. Not this place. This is the something-for-everyone beer bar.

Park on Fremont Beer ListWhether you’re a gangsta looking for some Colt 45, a hipster looking for a PBR, a hop-head looking for Dogfish 120 minute IPA or a Belgian beer snob looking for a glass of Chimay Cinq Cents – this place has what you’re looking for. There are roughly sixty beers on their list, some 40′s, some cans, some bottles and some drafts. The only organization to the beer list is that drafts are stacked at the end – not that the drafts are marked or anything, they just seem to all be in the bottom right corner of the list. Otherwise there’s Schlitz next to the Chimay, Moosehead next to Young’s. It’s chaotic.

Our friendly bartender brought us our beers (a Tetley’s ($6 pint can) and a Shift ($5 12oz can), cracked open. No glass was provided. We paid, tipped and left after just one beer. No doubt we’ll be back, though. I’m eager to try out the food, and this place has, by far, the broadest selection of beers downtown. I look forward to doing some additional “research” for a full fledged write-up sometime soon. Stay tuned.

Park on Fremont Tables

  • Park of Fremont opens at 11am daily.
  • There are no prices on their drink menus, so ask before you order if you’re watching your budget.
  • I am not a fan of Bloody Marys, but I understand this place has a killer version, made with bacon infused vodka. Give it a try and click “Leave a Reply” to tell us all about it.

Website: parkonfremont.com
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Herbs and Rye: Classic Cocktails 101

Herbs and Rye frontHerbs and Rye at 3713 West Sahara Avenue is the kind of place that you could drive right by and never even notice it. It’s dark. It has no windows. The sign is barely lit and the building sits back a bit from the road. Entering through that dark wooden door from a shadowy parking lot could be a little intimidating on your first visit. Don’t let that stop you. If you want the best things the city of Vegas has to offer, you have to scratch beneath the surface of things. Beyond that door, it’s nothing like what you would expect.

Herbs and Rye BarInside you will find beautiful chandeliers hanging from a dark ceiling, dark woods everywhere, from the tables, to the floor and along and behind one of the best looking bars I have had the pleasure of imbibing at. Seats are wrapped in dark leather and quite comfortable – even the barstools. Deep, dark textured reds on the walls give the room some color without making it too bright. The exposed brick on the walls and the brass lanterns on the bar make the room feel almost as old as the city itself (Las Vegas was founded in 1905). It is a scene that wouldn’t be out of place in an episode of Boardwalk Empire, save for the flat screen television over the bar. As inviting as this space is, please don’t come to Herbs and Rye for the decor, come for the cocktails.

Here’s what makes Herbs and Rye special: There are plenty of bars in Vegas where you can have a 25 year old “mixologist” make you their version of a hundred year old cocktail. This isn’t one of them. If you want an authentic, perfectly made classic cocktail, then this is the place to go.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against those bars making fancy variations on classic cocktails… in fact, some of my favorite bars in Las Vegas fit this description. However, I believe you should taste a dish before before seasoning. So in order to fully appreciate the drinks at places like Downtown Cocktail Room and The Lady Silvia, I recommend you come to Herbs and Rye and taste the drinks that are the inspiration for those modern twist cocktail lists that are all the rage at other bars. No other bar in Las Vegas takes their cocktails more seriously.

Herbs and Rye menuThe cocktail menu at Herbs and Rye absolutely dwarfs the food menu. And you’ll probably learn something new on every page of it. Cocktails are listed according to the period in which they were invented, and there’s plenty of back-story to inform your choice of libations. Each time period has an informative description. Below that, the listing of each drink tells you what’s in it, and gives some history of the drink – who invented it or recorded it, and where. Throughout the menu are reproductions of vintage books and advertising that further illustrate the history of the drinks and add a bit of whimsy.

Herbs and Rye CocktailThe cocktails they serve are all authentic classics – creative variations are not encouraged, in fact I could tell I made the bartender rather uncomfortable when I asked about them, and that’s a good thing! The bar is teaming with liquors, cordials, bitters (many house-made), glassware (they even have copper mugs for a proper Moscow Mule) and garnishes. They use premium ingredients and take care to build your cocktail the way it might have been done fifty years, or one hundred and fifty years ago. The drinks are strong and flavorful, and the bartenders are knowledgeable enough to help you discover your new favorite old drink. If you already have a favorite, they can probably make it – correctly.

And that’s the reason that every budding classic cocktail enthusiast should make a pilgrimage here. To taste the drinks (as close as possible to) the way they were originally intended. To get a delicious and intoxicating lesson on the origins of a truly American invention – the cocktail. Who knew learning history could be this fun?

  • Happy Hour is from 5-8pm and 12-3am, with half-off select dishes (even the steaks).
  • The music (and the crowd) gets younger and louder the later it gets, so come early for low key and relaxing, late for more of a club-like atomopshere.
  • It’s okay to bring the winos and the beer drinkers. Unlike some of Las Vegas’ more elite cocktail lounges, Herbs and Rye also happily serves beer and wine.

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Where In Vegas: Six (April Fools Edition)

If you’re on Las Vegas Off Strip, then clearly you’re no fool! You know just where to go to get the low-down on all the eats, drinks, sights and entertainment Vegas has to offer, away from the strip. We’re six months old today (happy 1/2 birthday, us) and we hope you like where we’ve taken you so far.

All fooling aside, it’s time for another edition of “Where in Vegas.” After lots of guessing and a few hints, last month’s winner, Heather came up with the correct answer, and the prize. We hope Heather enjoyed her champagne brunch buffet!

Where In Vegas?Check out the photo to the left. If you’ve been in this room, then you know exactly where it is. If you haven’t, you ought to go. Well, maybe not to this specific room, but at least to the building it’s in. Actually, if you spend much time in the building it’s in, you’ll end up in a room like this eventually. So, Where In Vegas is it?

If you think you night know, get that guess in quick! Only the first correct answer wins. The first correct answer gets their choice of two fantastic prizes: A styling Las Vegas Off Strip t-shirt, unisex, size M, L, or XL. Very exclusive! Or, a copy of the American Casino Guide 2013.

Rules:

  • One entry per person, please.
  • Due to the high cost of international shipping, I can only offer these prizes to those with a US/Canadian address.
  • You must provide a valid email address so that I can contact you for shipping info and choice of prize if you win.
  • Have fun!

Prizes: (your choice)
Prize-TshirtAmerican Casino Guide 2013 Front