Off-Strip Dining Recommendations

For those who have asked, here (in alphabetical order) are our favorite places to eat and drink away from the Strip, and why we love them. Mileage given is distance from the Venetian (DFV); ymmv. Bonus: excellent food, unpretentious surroundings, and you’ll likely save more on your bill than you’ll spend on the taxi.

Carson Kitchen. New-ish downtown eatery from famed chef Kerry Simon. Absolutely delicious small plates, burgers, mac-n-cheese. Three words for you: fried chicken skins. No reservations and some tables are community style. Bonus: head around the corner to the Downtown Cocktail Room after. DFV: 3.6 miles.

Chada Thai and Wine. Spectacular food, with an impeccable wine list to match (particularly Rieslings and Burgundies), both brought to you by owner Bank Atcharawan. Call ahead; it only seats about 40. Pro tip: Open until 3am. DFV: 3.3 miles.

District One: In the same shopping center as Chada. Recent and much-lauded addition to the Vegas dining scene. Predominantly Vietnamese menu, and insanely delicious Vietnamese iced coffees. Open until 3am. DFV: 3.3 miles.

Herbs & Rye. Cocktail it like the locals do. Enjoy some steak or tapas while you’re at it. Open until 3am. DFV: 2.5 miles.

Honey Salt. Seasonal farm to table menu, and a darling of Westside locals for both lunch and dinner. Owned and operated by LV restaurant power couple – and darned nice people, too – Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla. DFV: 9.1 miles.

Japanese Cuisine by Omae. Michelin-starred Tokyo chef Takeshi Omae opened his Vegas outpost not in a glittering casino, but in a nondescript Strip mall, and it’s well worth your time and wallet. This utter jewel box of a restaurant – it seats only 12 – is open for dinner only, Tuesday – Saturday. Prix fixe menus ($65-$150 per person) only. Reservations, if you’re lucky enough to score one, are mandatory. DFV: 2.4 miles.

Made L.V. This second restaurant by Blau and Canteenwalla, opened about 5 months ago, is more of a tavern than its sister Honey Salt. Try the flash-fried chicken wings; if you’re a veggie, the “eggplant pastrami” sandwich is for you. Lovely staff. DFV: 9.3 miles.

Marche Bacchus. Lakeside dining in Las Vegas not at Bellagio? Check. The longtime chef from Valentino in the kitchen? Check. A wine shop in front that serves as the “wine list” – just add $10 for corkage? Check. As in, check it out. Lunch and dinner daily. Free wine tasting on Saturdays (usually 11:30-1:30). DFV: 10.6 miles.

Raku. You don’t need me to sell this Japanese grill to you – just check out the number of “Best in Vegas” lists atop which it sits. Only seats 50 or so; calling ahead advised. Open until 2am. DFV: 2.3 miles.

Raku Sweets. Sister of Raku. A sparkling, tiny restaurant that offers a gourmet 3-course “meal” of desserts. Looking to impress a client, vendor or boss with a sweet tooth? This is your place. Only seats 20 and doesn’t take reservations. Hold out for one of the dozen seats around the counter. Closed on Wednesdays. Open until midnight. DFV: 2.3 miles.

Yonaka. Innovative, excellent Japanese tapas/sushi. Open ’til midnight Sunday-Thursday; ’til 2am Saturday and Sunday. DFV: 2.7 miles.

For more on these places and some further suggestions, read Las Vegas, Off The Eaten Path, a recent piece by NY Times critic Peter Wells, or check out the Eating Las Vegas Top 50 by longtime local critic John Curtas.

Have a fun CES, and bon appetit!





Wynn Villas

Wynn Las VegasAn upper floor window at Palazzo affords a glimpse of what few get to see otherwise: the luxury villas at the front of Wynn Las Vegas. Three of them sit above the casino floor; three face toward the pool complex (click on the photo to enlarge it for a better view). They each have private plunge pools and lush foliage for privacy.


Las Vegas Lighting

I’ve long had a fascination with light fixtures, and Las Vegas – my newly adopted hometown – offers an exciting array of them. From functionally utilitarian to over-the-top, from vintage finds to multi-story custom-designed installations, I find them irresistible. I’m documenting my discoveries on a Pinterest board:

Follow Arlene Wszalek’s board Las Vegas Lighting on Pinterest.

Do follow along, and let me know any others you recommend in the comments below.

10 Things To Know About The High Roller

The High Roller is visible from almost everywhere in Las Vegas. Seen here from the Hard Rock Hotel.

The High Roller is visible from almost everywhere in Las Vegas. Seen here from the Hard Rock Hotel. Photo by Arlene Wszalek.

The High Roller, which opened on March 26, is an engineering marvel. At 550 feet, it’s the tallest observation wheel in the world – even taller than the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer. It’s already an indelible part of the Las Vegas skyline and well worth a visit. Here are 10 things to know before you go:

1. The 360-degree views of The Strip and the entire Las Vegas valley are stunning, whether you ride during the day or at night. Helpful videos played onboard point out your altitude, various landmarks, and when you’re about to reach the top of the wheel. The ride lasts about 30 minutes.

2. Each capsule (as they’re called) can hold up to 40 people, and has two seating areas for those unable or unwilling to stand during the ride. When crowds aren’t extensive, you may have as few as a dozen or so people in your capsule, which gives you plenty of room to roam around and take in the 360-degree view.

Here’s an example of the view during an evening ride. Note that the wheel moves quite slowly – about a foot per second – and very smoothly. This video was taken with a handheld iPhone.

3. The cost of a ride depends on when – and with how much flexibility – you want to ride. Current prices: $25 for daytime rides, $35 for nighttime, and $60 for an “express pass” to ride day or night and skip any lines. If you’re unsure exactly when you’ll be able to ride during your stay, you can buy a one-day flex pass that lets you ride once anytime on a given day for $45, or a three-day flex pass (ride one time during a 3-day window of your choosing) for $55. You can buy tickets online or on site; they’re the same price either way.

Pro tip for Nevadans: During the month of April, kids under 12 can ride free with an accompanying paying adult showing a valid Nevada ID.

This panoramic view includes (from left) The Venetian, The Palazzo, and Wynn Las Vegas.

This panoramic view includes (from left) The Venetian, The Palazzo, and Wynn Las Vegas. Photo by Arlene Wszalek.

4. Those with deep pockets (or who hit it big at the casino) can buy out a capsule starting at $1,600. (You still only get a single 30-minute ride, however.) Food and beverage catering is available for buy-outs at an additional cost. For private capsules or group rates, call 866-574-3851 or email Group Sales.

5. No outside food or drink is permitted on the High Roller, so finish up before you head over. You can buy drinks at a bar located inside the queue area, however, and take them on board with you.

6. As a new operation, they’re still working out some of the kinks. The first time we tried to go, we had pre-paid tickets for an 11:30pm ride. However, it was a slow night and they decided to shut down early despite having pre-sold tickets for later rides. We turned up to find the entrance locked. We tracked down a manager via the gift shop, who gave us passes to return another day. So my advice for now would be to avoid pre-paying for ride times that fall within an hour of closing time.

7. Getting there:

High Roller

The High Roller as seen from The LINQ.

  • By Foot. The High Roller is located at the end of The LINQ, a lively new restaurant, club and retail thoroughfare off The Strip. It’s located directly across from Caesar’s between The Flamingo and The Quad (formerly the Imperial Palace).
  • By Car. Plentiful free parking is available in back of the High Roller, off Koval Road. However, during special events (like the ACM’s “Party For A Cause” April 4-5), the parking lot might be unavailable. In that case, your best bet is to park at a nearby hotel and walk on over.
  • By Taxi. There’s a dropoff right at the High Roller entrance. However, during busy times (like the ACM event mentioned above), the taxi queues will likewise be daunting. Have the driver drop you at Caesar’s or Bally’s or the Venetian instead, and walk over.
  • By Monorail: The Las Vegas Monorail passes right under the wheel. Exit at the Harrah’s/The QUAD station.

8. The wheel generally stays in continuous motion. As it passes through the loading area at the bottom of the wheel, doors on both sides of the capsule open. Those boarding enter from one side, and those leaving disembark from the other. 

9. The wheel does occasionally stop, without notice, to allow wheelchair access or to give a large party time to board. That might be disconcerting to those already mid-ride, so I hope they’ll be adding an announcement when such delays happen to let people know that they’re intentional, brief, and no cause for alarm.

10. You might be so entranced by the view that you don’t notice the music played during your ride, but it’s a clever, thoughtful playlist. All the songs are themed to being aboard the wheel or to Las Vegas. You’ll hear snippets of Iggy Pop’s “The Passenger,” Dead Or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round,” Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” Elvis’ “A Little Less Conversation,” and so on. For good measure: The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” serenades you as the ride ends.

Disclosures: None. We paid for our tickets, and have no affiliation with The High Roller or The LINQ.

My Vegas

photoThere’s more – much more – to Las Vegas than The Strip. Inventive cuisine, art, recreation, and nature abound. As the crow flies we’re eight miles from Bellagio, and this is our view. Don’t get me wrong – we love The Strip for all its amazing food and wine, architecture, theater, music, recreation, and of course, people-watching.

But next time you’re in town, venture off the well-worn path and take in something new and inspiring. A few suggestions? Downtown Container Park. The Smith Center for the  Performing Arts. Chada Thai and Wine. The Neon Museum. Red Rock Canyon.

What are your off-the-beaten-path favorites when you’re in town? Let me know in the comments.

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