A Must-Visit for Beer Lovers: Banger Brewing

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Banger Brewing

Banger Brewing at Neonopolis

I’m not what you would call a beer connoisseur, nor am I very experimental with my beers. Once I find something I like, I generally stick with it.. But I live in a state where craft brewing happens on practically every corner, where tourists actually visit to drive the Brew Trail and where this year’s annual Vermont Brewer’s Festival sold out in 11 minutes. So I guess you could say I’ve picked up a fondness for craft beers due to constant exposure.

For fun, I’ve developed a habit of sampling local brews everywhere I travel. It’s become a hobby-within-a-hobby. They’re not always craft beers or draft beers, but they must be locally brewed. So in New Orleans, I sampled Abita beer, in San Antonio, it was Lone Star and Shiner Bock, in Hawaii Kona Longboard Lager, and so on.

Up until the past few years, Nevada has been surprisingly quiet in the craft beer world (Triple 7 at Main Street Station being one of the more visible exceptions). Now, though, I feel as though Nevada’s craft brew scene is on the cusp of exploding. I visited one of the hottest new breweries in town, Banger Brewing, on my recent trip, and I have to confess I’ve never tasted better beers in my life. Continue reading

The Downtown Grand: I Love an Underdog

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Chip-shaped signIf you follow Vegas news on blogs and social media, you can’t avoid hearing about the problems the new Downtown Grand has–restaurants and bars reducing hours (or closing altogether) and a casino that’s not exactly jumping with customers. I saw this with my own eyes during my June trip to Las Vegas, because the Downtown Grand was my home for two nights. I might have passed it off as mid-week low crowd levels, except the hotels on Fremont Street were very busy, so the lack of business was unique to the Grand. For instance:

Commissary at the Downtown Grand

Maybe it was too hot for people to eat outside at the Commissary….

I desperately wanted a shave ice to cool off in the 100 degree Vegas temps, but Ninth Island was never staffed. The casino was never busy; the bars and restaurants were mostly empty. People cluster around check-in, where there are no queues, making it hard to know who’s next “in line” and who’s just standing there waiting to meet the rest of their party to go out for the day. And that half-wall of glass in the shower is a bathroom flood waiting to happen.

So yes, the place has problems. Let’s get the biggest of those out of the way first, shall we? Continue reading

F.A.M.E.: Will It Live Forever?

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F.A.M.E. at the Linq

If you’re a Vegas fan like me, you probably eagerly pored over the list of restaurants, bars and stores opening up at the Linq when it first came out. One of the eateries at the Linq that intrigued me the most was F.A.M.E. The idea of an Asian night market themed eatery sounded different from anything Vegas had shown me before, and Asian night markets have a reputation for being good, cheap street food. So I made it a priority to eat there on my latest trip.

F.A.M.E. stands for Food.Art.Music.Entertainment. According to their website, F.A.M.E. will “recreate a culinary bazaar, combining the great street foods of Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, China and Malaysia on a menu serving dim sum, stir-fry, ramen, barbecue, crepe and more. Live Asian-inspired entertainment, such as dragon dances and Taiko drum performances along with Gangnam-style beats will add to the upbeat, festive energy.” For the record, I’ve never been to a real night market in Asia. I have no idea if this place even remotely resembles one.

F.A.M.E. Ceiling

I did like the ceiling here

I didn’t see any dragon dances, Taiko drum performances, or anything else in the A.M.E. categories, so I just want to call it F. (For so many reasons.) While I still like the concept of a festive Asian night market at the Linq, they need to work out some service kinks in a big way. Continue reading

Summer Garden Party at the Bellagio

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Horse running through flowers

The Bellagio Conservatory’s summer 2014 display

Because I wasn’t feeling well during my recent trip to Vegas, I spent a lot less time focused on my hobby of photography than I normally do. In fact, overall, I’m very disappointed with my photos from this trip. But I did manage to snap some good pictures at the Bellagio Conservatory one day. You almost can’t walk away from a visit to the Conservatory without some gorgeous shots. This year’s display is called “Summer Garden Party” and it will be on display through September 7.

Snail and flowers

I often feel a sense of deja vu here. I’m sure I’ve seen all this before.

I’ll admit, while I get a little tired of seeing many of the same elements recycled year after year for the summer display (giant flowers, giant birds, kites, treehouse, aviary with live birds, snails made of flowers, etc.), they always manage to add in a few new surprises each year to mix things up and refresh the look for those of us who are repeat visitors.

This year, I spotted a few things I hadn’t–like this: Continue reading

Thoughts on the Monte Carlo-NYNY Renovations

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Monte Carlo

The Monte Carlo

In the past, I have been pretty vocal about my feelings about the construction of Diablo’s Cantina in front of the Monte Carlo: I hate it. In one fell swoop, the Monte Carlo’s exterior transformed from a very classy, old-school resort casino facade with sweeping steps, a beautiful fountain, and lovely statuary leading into the front doors to a cheap, tacky carnival in a white trash neighborhood, thanks to that gigantic She-Devil out front.

So you can imagine how much my head spun around when I heard they were going to be renovating the front of the Monte Carlo with multiple new restaurants with outdoor seating. Oh boy, I thought. There goes the neighborhood.

Well, I was wrong. So, so wrong. Continue reading