Photo by Megan Edwards
Photo by Megan Edwards
Say what you want about Las Vegas, you can’t deny there’s always something new. This remains true even though the city has begun to pay homage to its roots. Not every old building is getting the implosion treatment these days. Quite a few are getting facelifts instead. Still, “something new” is high on the list of what Vegas does best, even if it’s housed in vintage digs. All the food and drink destinations in this lineup are either brand spanking new or a fresh version of a seasoned — or even historic — venue.
1. Atomic Liquors
The oldest tavern in Las Vegas outside of a casino, Atomic Liquors opened right after World War II and owes its explosive name to the Atomic Test Site 65 miles north of the city. During the 1950s, A-bomb tests caused mushroom clouds so large that they were visible from the bar’s roof. Popular with the Rat Pack and other celebrities seeking refuge from the Strip, Atomic was a best-kept Vegas secret until it fell on hard times in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Now, new owners have not only restored the iconic watering hole but also improved and expanded it. Stop by for hand-crafted cocktails and unique retro ambiance. A restaurant is in the works.
Pronounced “PUB-li-cus” (not public-US), this is a new café in a vintage building not far from Atomic Liquors. Inside, everything is not only new but innovative and original. Custom tables near the windows have live trees growing through them. A long counter called “the kitchen table” displays a variety of tempting sandwiches, pastries, and hot dishes. An award-winning barista will prepare coffee or tea to suit your taste precisely. Beer and wine are options, too. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or even early dinner as you eavesdrop on the conversations of artists, musicians, and writers who frequent this place. PublicUs is a great place to get a feel for the new creative vibe of downtown Las Vegas.
For an unconventional dining experience on the Strip, head to Eggslut at the Cosmopolitan. Chef Alvin Cailan launched Eggslut back in 2011 with a food truck in West Hollywood. Two years later, he opened a venue at LA’s Grand Central Market. Two more locations in Southern California soon followed, and now Las Vegas is enjoying Cailan’s enormously popular egg dishes 24 hours a day. The signature “slut” is “a cage-free coddled egg on top of house-made potato puree, cooked in a glass jar topped with gray salt and chives, served with slices of baguette.” A variety of egg sandwiches round out the menu. Rumor has it that any of them are excellent hangover cures. Oh, and the name? Chef Cailan’s explanation is that “lut” means “lover” in Yiddish. So… lover of eggs. Righto.
4. The Golden Tiki
Tiki may have fallen out of favor during the ‘90s, but Mai Tais, zombies, and Singapore Slings are now back with a vengeance. The Golden Tiki, located west of the Strip in Chinatown, is the newest tiki bar to open its doors in Las Vegas, joining the well-loved Frankie’s Tiki Room on west Charleston. No expense was spared in creating the Golden Tiki’s décor. Low lights, fire breathing statuary, smoky volcanic effects, island music — it all adds up to instant Tahitian vacation. The drinks are all hand crafted and include tropical classics along with originals like the Chinatown Swizzle and Goldie’s Dirty Banana. The bar recently began serving food, too, or you can always walk a few doors over and enjoy the best Vietnamese cuisine in the area at Pho Kim Long.
5. Nora’s Italian Cuisine
A longtime favorite with locals, Nora’s has also attracted knowledgeable visitors to its original spot in a nondescript strip mall on West Flamingo since 1991. The restaurant recently opened the doors of its spacious and stylish new free-standing restaurant a few blocks to the west. It’s still the same fabulous and friendly family-run operation, only now it has outdoor seating and even a bocce court. Everything on the menu is , but for a real experience, try the Crazy Alfredo: classic fettucine alfredo piled with chicken, sausage, jumbo shrimp, porcini mushrooms, domestic mushrooms, roasted bell peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and jalapeños. Nora’s also has a full bar and great pizza.
6. Lovelady Brewing
If you’re headed to Lake Mead or Hoover Dam, pick up a couple of “Crowlers” at Henderson’s newest craft brewery on Water Street. “Crowlers” are 32-ounce cans filled and sealed while you wait with the beer of your choice. Or stay a while and enjoy the friendly atmosphere of this family-run taproom in Henderson’s “old town.” A variety of beer styles are always available, including sour, IPA, porter, and Belgian tripel. Perennial favorites are the HopAtomic Double IPA and the 9th Island Pineapple Sour. Food trucks often park out front, or walk down the street to enjoy one of old Henderson’s popular eateries.
Megan Edwards is a writer based in Las Vegas and the founder of living-las-vegas.com. Her debut novel, ‘Getting Off on Frank Sinatra,’ is coming out March 14, 2017.