It’s the James, Dean show!

Congratulations to James, who just won his third Where In Vegas! He correctly identified the location of our photo (Benny’s Bullpen) in only 22 minutes. It’s James’ second consecutive win! You’ve got to be quick to beat this guy! Dean, our other two-time winner also piped up, but he held back on the answer and wasn’t quite quick enough to win. Thanks for playing!

We’ll be at it again early next month. Will we have a new winner for Where in Vegas 11?

Where In Vegas: A Perfect 10

We’re at it again! Last month we had our second two-time winner! James is now the proud owner of two copies of the American Casino Guide 2013, just like Dean. These guys sure know their Vegas! With two two-timers out there after only nine contests, you’ll have to hurry to score a win!

Where_In_Vegas-010Here’s your chance to win. Be the first to correctly identify where the photo at left was taken and you’ll get your choice of two fantastic prizes. Have you seen that room full of dark wood, brick and leather before? Where In Vegas is it?

If you think you might know, get that guess in quick! Only the first correct answer wins. The sooner you guess, the better your chance of winning. The first correct answer gets their choice of two great 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

Aces and Ales Comes To Tenaya

Aces and Ales Tenaya EntranceBack in April I wrote with much enthusiasm about my visit to Aces and Ales, just east of the Boulder Highway on South Nellis Blvd:

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.

So, when I heard that they opened a new location in Summerlin (opened on Jun 21st) I just had to check it out!

Aces and Ales Tenaya BarThe new location at 2801 North Tenaya Way is not a carbon copy of their original location, but they got the important stuff right. There’s comfortable seating, friendly staff, an amazing selection of reserve, limited and other hard to find craft brews in the fridge and enough flat screen HDTVs that you can easily catch a game or three no matter where you choose to sit.

Aces and Ales Tenaya Mac and CheeseI went for their House Mac and Cheese ($9.50) for comparison (I loved this dish at the original Aces and Ales). I was not disappointed. It arrived in the skillet it was cooked in, just like at the original Aces and Ales – and was just as creamy and delicious. We also tried an order of their Arrogant Bastard Fried Zucchini ($6), which has a similar batter to their fantastic onion rings, but with a little extra spice. There are three sauces to tame that spice… ranch, blue cheese and marinara. I thought the marinara was the best match. I can’t say they are quite as good as the onion rings, but we did clean our plate.

So what’s different about the new Aces and Ales? Well, I didn’t see a pool table or any video games. Instead, they do have a nice outdoor patio for when the weather is a bit less oppressive. The music is a bit more diverse, covering everything from Lady Gaga to Johhny Cash while we were there. The new location is bigger, brighter and feels a bit more upscale. The happy hour specials didn’t carry over from the original bar, so you’ll still have to go to South Nellis for that burger and a beer special I raved about from 12-3.

Oh, and there’s one other little change. Fifty taps! That’s easily twice as many as you get at the original location, and the beers they put on them are just as special. They’ve got a great selection of popular craft brews from the likes of Stone, Deschutes and Lagunitas, plus a selection of local Las Vegas brews from Big Dogs, Tenaya and Joseph James. There’s plenty to choose from whether you’re looking to try something new or indulge in an old favorite.

Aces and Ales Tenaya KegsAnd just like the original, they change the taps and clean the lines regularly. Unlike the original, you can watch them do it. The kegs and lines are on display inside a cool glass case near the entrance that reminds me how much I want to set up a kegerator at home.

Looks like Las Vegas has another great beer bar!

Aces and Ales Tenaya on Urbanspoon
Website: www.acesandales.com

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Sauced Food Truck: Awesome Balls!

Sauced MenuI didn’t have much appetite left when I caught up with the Sauced food truck at the Vegas StrEATS Festival, but with a menu item like “Big Easy Balls” I had to give them a try. Sauced menu is divided up into small plates and big tastes, with offerings of appetizers and sandwiches. The “Big Easy Balls” is considered a small plate ($4 for 1, $7 for 2, $10 for 3), and includes two golfball sized balls of deep fried goodness.

Big Easy Balls

Big Easy Balls

The “Big Easy” part is the fillings… including andouille sausage, chicken, rice, cheese and sriracha mayo. It’s a flavor straight out of New Orleas. The “Balls” part is the shape… big round textured balls filled with warm goodness. I’ve never had anything quite like them. They’re hot, moist but not greasy, with a crispy fried chicken type coating on the outside and the insides are bursting with texture and flavor. Awesome balls!

Sauced TruckBased on my small plate, I’ll definitely be back in line at the Sauced truck soon. Next time I’m trying the Loaded Fries with drunken cheese, bacon and jalapenos! How evil is that?

Website: www.saucedvegas.com
Sauced on Urbanspoon

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Another Two Timer!

We have another two time winner! Congratulations, James! After his first win back in December, James won again tonight, correctly naming the location of our contest photo – Ronald’s Donut’s. If you’re not James, then you didn’t win, but don’t fret… We’ll be back at it again next month!

Where In Vegas: Number Nine

Another month, another Where In Vegas contest! Last month we had our first two-time winner! Dean is now the proud owner of two copies of the American Casino Guide 2013. He sure knows his Vegas! If you don’t want Dean to win them all, get your guess in quick!

Where In VegasHere’s your chance to win. Be the first to correctly identify where the photo at left was taken and you’ll get your choice of two fantastic prizes. Have you seen that snazzy blue and yellow sign before? Where In Vegas is it?

If you think you might know, get that guess in quick! Only the first correct answer wins. The sooner you guess, the better your chance of winning. The first correct answer gets their choice of two great 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

Bridge: Cello Rock!

Bridge PlayingFremont Street is full of enterprising folks trying to make a buck. There are beggars, costumed characters, dancers and artists. There are people doing stupid human tricks, con artists and musicians. It’s a bit of a carnival experience. And, most of these people are more of a nuisance than they are entertainment. They clog up the pathways, pester you for change, and generally offer minimal entertainment for your dollar – should you choose to offer them one. So, while I’m a big fan of the official entertainment the Fremont Street Experience offers, most of the unofficial entertainment downtown doesn’t deserve a mention.

Except for one act – Mert and Jerry. These guys are classically trained musicians who used to play in the string section of the Lion King production, and when that gravy train rolled off the tracks they got creative. Very creative. Together they formed the strangest, most fascinating street music duo I have ever seen – Bridge.

They perform tons of great cover tunes with no guitars, no drums and no vocalist. They tear it up, belting out songs like “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N Roses, “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson and “Communication Breakdown” by Led Zeppelin on, get this, a pair of electric cellos. Their fingers are quick and their bows are accurate. They take turns, one cellist on lead, playing the vocal track the other playing the melody and/or rhythm. They finger, they bow, they even bang on their ridiculous looking instruments… and the crowd loves it. I loved it.

I can’t really explain why. Maybe it’s the energy with which they play, how amazingly recognizable the songs are, or the novelty of hearing Metallica played on dueling cellos – yes, they play Metallica too. It’s different, it’s fun, and it drew me in. For the first time in countless trips to Fremont Street I found myself tossing dollar after dollar into a street performer’s tip jug.

Bridge SignThey play late at night (typically from midnight onward) on the Fremont Experience when the official entertainment on the stages ends and the FSE security won’t hassle them about the volume they play at. There is no official schedule, but the best nights to catch them on Fremont are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

They’ve been playing together like this for about a year – though they sound like they’ve been at if for much longer. They are constantly adding new songs to their repertoire. They will take requests, even playing one song that neither of them knew, using sheet music displayed on their iPad, on the night I was there. And I’ve got to say they did a pretty good job. These guys are very personable, they’re great musicians, and their act is very unique. If you’re out on Fremont after midnight, look for them.

Bridge on Facebook: www.facebook.com/WeAreBridge/

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Four Queens: Fremont Street Experience without the Fee

Four Queens MarqueeIf you love the Fremont Street Experience like I do, then one great way to stay in the heart of it is to book your room at 202 Fremont Street – The Four Queens. The Four Queens offers small (by Vegas standards) clean, comfortable rooms with all the expected amenities for a very reasonable price, right in the heart of Fremont. The casino has a classy old-school vibe, yet still contains some of the newer games. There are plenty of good paytables for video poker enthusiasts. You get Hugo’s for upscale, romantic (ladies receive a rose) basement dining, and Chicago Brewing Company for great pizza and beer.

I stayed on a gambling comp, which are easy to come by. Just give them a little play with a player’s card at either Four Queens or Binion’s and you’re likely to get comped or discounted room offers for the Four Queens. That said, even the going rate to the general public is quite reasonable. Midweek rates are showing for $37/night with your third night free throughout the month of July as of this writing. Some nights on the rate calendar are as low as $29.

Four Queens BedMy “Standard Deluxe” room included a comfortable queen bed, flat screen television, coffee maker, electronic safe, hair dryer, iron and ironing board. There were two desks with chairs for work and a clock radio on the nightstand to wake me in the morning. All the basics. The bathroom was adequate with one sink and a tub. The shower head was high enough for a six footer to use without too many contortions. Toiletries were limited to soap, conditioner and shampoo. All were adequate but not fancy.

On this particular trip I decided to go against all the advice I have read online and book a low floor in the North Tower. The common advice is to either request a high floor or the South Tower in order to avoid the noise from Fremont Street keeping you up at night. I figured it’s Vegas… why would I be trying to sleep before 1am?

Four Queens BathroomSo, I will preface this with a word of warning – if it is important to you to sleep between the hours of 6pm and 1am, then you should definitely follow conventional wisdom and avoid these rooms. However, if you love the Fremont Street Experience and you plan to be up during the Viva Vision show anyways, then a room like mine on the sixth floor of the North Tower facing Fremont Street affords a pretty amazing experience.

View from the 6th floor of the Four Queens North Tower

View from the 6th floor of the Four Queens North Tower


If you’re up high like the room I had on the eleventh floor on a previous trip, you look down upon the framing and scaffolding of the Viva Vision screen… it’s not a pretty sight. Furthermore, the screen actually blocks your view of all the cool casinos on Fremont. You might hear the Viva Vision shows, but they’re on the opposite side of the screen, so you see nothing more than a few flashes of light. However, my room on the sixth floor looked right out on Fremont Street. I could see the full length of the screen with very little obstruction, and the music was loud enough to penetrate the window to my room. It was like having a luxury box for the Viva Vision shows!

I’m pretty sure this is the best view you can get of the Viva Vision shows from a hotel room. I took these video clips of the Doors and Bon Jovi shows from inside my room:

Another advantage of the North Tower at Four Queens is that these rooms are the closest rooms to Fremont Street of all the hotels. It takes about fifteen steps to reach the sidewalk from the North Tower elevators. So, if you’re out having a good time on Fremont and want to make a trip back to your room, it’s quick and easy. I find that to be a big advantage staying downtown as I’m often popping back up to the room to change camera batteries, grab a drink, or use the bathroom.

So, grab a room at the Four Queens and ask for a low floor in the North Tower. You get a decent clean room with all the amenities you need, a short walk to and from the Experience, box seats (your room) to the Viva Vision shows, all inside a classy old-school casino with good video poker, good restaurants and beer. You get all of this with no Resort Fees and no “Fremont Experience Fee”. I’d call that a win!

Update (11JUL13): The name of the “Fremont Experience Fee” at the Golden Nugget has been changed. It is now referred to as the “Downtown Destination Fee” and includes a coupon book for local attractions.

Website: www.fourqueens.com

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Sin City Wings: The Word On The StrEATS

Sin City Wings taking ordersThe first truck I tried at the Vegas StrEATS Festival was Sin City Wings. It’s was easy to find. It’s a bright yellow truck with a big red wing logo on the side. Fans of the show “Doctor Who” will appreciate the blue police box on the side. They offer boxes of meaty deep fried chicken wings (bone-in) or tenders (boneless) with your choice of half a dozen homemade sauces for seven bucks. Sauces range from mild (The Feinberg – an apricot based sauce) to wild (The Oscar Goodman – made with ghost chilies… need I say more?). The wings may be southern style, but those super-spicy wings are really “Oscahhhh” Goodman style. The owners hail from closer to Southie (Boston) than the deep south. Don’t let that put you off though, they know how to cook!

There are also french fries ($5), fried pickles ($5) and pot stickers ($5). They serve Shasta brand soda cans for a buck. I chose to bring my wings back to my room where I could enjoy them with a cold Fat Tire – a great combination!

Bobby Q Wings

Bobby Q Wings

For my wings I went with the Bobby Q sauce. The wings came smothered in a brown sugar barbeque sauce similar to what you might get if you could buy Sweet Baby Rays sauce on the day it was made and spice it up just a touch. It had a nice balance between the sweet and the spice, and there was more than enough sauce to cover the tender juicy wings (bone-in), my fingers and my face. Like most truly good, eat with wild abandon foods, these wings are messy! Finger-licking and a pile of napkins may not be enough – get some moist towelettes or eat them in reasonable proximity to running water.

They sprinkled a few specks of fresh cilantro on top, adding more visual appeal. On the side was a small cup of creamy ranch dressing that did a good job of cutting the spice. There’s not really enough to smother all the wings, so save some for the end to keep the heat from lingering.

Sin City Wings Sauce MenuI must say, my wings were delicious! I’ll definitely be back to try more of their sauces – and those fried pickles!

  • The Sin City Wings Truck shows up at a lot of multi-truck events like the Vegas StrEATS festival.
  • Although the fries are a bit pricey at five bucks, they offer a special “box” price – $10 for wings or tenders and fries- a far better deal!
  • The best way to know where to get you wing fix is to follow Sin City’s Twitter feed.

Website: www.sincitywings.com

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Vegas StrEATS Festival: Road Food!

Vegas StrEATS entranceOn the second Saturday of each month from 6pm – 1am, just across Sixth Street from the El Cortez, is a fantastic community event with local bands, djs, artists and food. Admission to the Vegas StrEATS festival is free, and it’s easy to come and go throughout the night, sampling the wares of the various food trucks.

Since we first discovered the great gourmet food trucks of Las Vegas, we’ve made it our mission to try out some of the most highly recommended trucks and share our experiences with you. In the last few months we caught up with Bad Ass Coffee downtown by the courthouse and Fukuburger outside MadHouse Coffee.

Vegas StrEATS trucksChasing around the trucks is fun, but having them all gather together in one place is even better! Especially when I happen to be staying across the street. If only I had an unlimited appetite I could try them all!

I had to return to Bad Ass for a frozen mocha, and say “hi” to John, the truck’s friendly wild-eyed proprietor. After that, I followed his suggestion and hit up Sin City Wings. John was the one who convinced me to try out Le Thai on East Fremont. He hasn’t steered me wrong yet.

Later on, I finally got my hands on some of the famous Big Easy Balls at the Sauced truck. More on that coming soon.

Vegas StrEATS DJHere are a few things you should know before you head out to the StrEATS festival for an eating adventure:

  • There is a gate, but admission is free. They check bags, so leave your weapons and contraband at home.
  • There are no tables, no seating. Be prepared to eat on your feet, and order accordingly.
  • Drinks are available (beer and shots) at a single beer tent towards the front.
  • You also get local artists, local musicians and local DJs. Plan to hang around a while and take in some local talent!
  • The lineup of food trucks, musicians and artists varies from month to month – it’s never the same experience twice!

Website: www.vegasstreats.com

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